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Dec 02, 2011

BC Marathon champ heads Woodbine stakes


Toronto, ON (Sports Network) - Afleet Again, the surprise winner of this year's Breeders' Cup Marathon, tops a field of six in Sunday's $150,000 Valedictory Stakes at Woodbine Race Course. The 1 3/4-mile race, the same distance as the Marathon, will be run over Woodbine's synthetic main surface.

Afleet Again, owned by Kasey K Racing Stable, has drawn post three with Cornelio Velasquez returning to ride the four-year-old colt. Butch Reid trains the gray son of Afleet Alex who won the Marathon as a 41-1 longshot.

In the $500,000 Marathon, the gray four-year-old trailed for most of the race, running in ninth about a dozen lengths from the lead. At the top of the stretch a gaggle of horses were on the lead as Afleet Again began to move on the outside. The colt opened up down the stretch and posted a 2 1/4-length victory over Birdrun.

"He was very aggressive, which is rare for this horse," Reid said following the upset win. "This horse is a real Jekyll and Hyde. Sometimes he shows up and sometimes he doesn't really. He (Velasquez) said he was very aggressive. I saw the fractions they were going, 48 in the first half, and he was only six or seven lengths out. I thought we were in pretty good shape."

The Breeders' Cup victory was the colt's first of the year in nine starts and his fourth win in 24 career races. He has lifetime earnings of $686,470.

Making just his third start of the year will be last year's Valedictory runner-up Eye of the Leopard. Trained by Mark Frostad, the five-year-old will be ridden by Luis Contreras from post four.

Eye of the Leopard was off from last year's Valedictory Stakes until the Durham Cup in October when he was fourth. Three weeks ago the Sam-Son Farms' horse finished second at Woodbine in an allowance race.

In 15 career starts Eye of the Leopard has four wins and $921,487.

Here is the full field for the Valedictory in post position order: Alpha Bettor, Tyler Pizarro; Eagle Poise, Patrick Husbands; Afleet Again, Cornelio Velasquez; Eye of the Leopard, Luis Contreras; Harrods Creek, Chantal Sutherland and Getta Rhythm, Justin Stein.

Post-time is set for 5:21 p.m. (et).

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