GREEDWOOD CUP | PURSE: $200,000 | 3-YEAR-OLDS & UP | 1 1/2 MILES
For the second straight year, A. U. Miner earned an automatic berth in the Breeders' Cup Marathon at Churchill Downs by winning the Greenwood Cup Stakes July 16 at Parx Racing.
Ridden by Calvin Borel for trainer Clark Hanna and owner Don L. Benge, A. U. Miner was at the rear of the eight-horse field before going around rivals on the far turn. The 6-year-old son of Mineshaft took the lead while four wide entering the stretch and drew off under a drive to win by 3 ½ lengths as 7-2 second choice. The final time for 1 1/2 miles was 2:30.30.
Birdrun, the 11-10 favorite under Rajiv Marah, led after 1 1/4 miles was completed and held second by a neck over Afleet Again.
The winner paid $8.80, $3.20, 2.80, with Birdrun worth $2.60 and $2.10, and Afleet Again $3.
Previous to this year's Greenwood, A. U. Miner was an even fifth in his 2011 debut June 17 at Churchill. Bred in Kentucky by Ten Broeck Farm, the horse has won five of 23 starts and earned $471,756.
By winning the Breeders' Cup Challenge "Win and You're In" event, A. U. Miner earned a return trip to the Marathon, which will be run at 1 1/2 miles for the second straight year at A. U. Miner's home track. In the 2010 Marathon, A. U. Miner ran fourth but was placed third in one of the most dramatic moments in recent Breeders' Cup history.
As the jockeys were weighing out following the 2010 Marathon, the ESPN cameras treated an international television audience to a fight between Borel and jockey Javier Castellano. Borel was upset because A. U. Miner was bumped hard by the horse Romp and steadied. Borel contended that Castellano, aboard runner-up Prince Will I Am, had caused Romp to impede A. U. Miner.
Prince Will I Am was disqualified and placed 10th, and Borel and Castellano were both fined for the post-race fight. Castellano was also suspended six days.