Man of Iron captures Marathon

ARCADIA, Calif. -- They went 1¾ miles, and yet it was only an inch or two that separated victory from defeat Friday in the $454,500 Breeders' Cup Marathon. On the wire, it was the aptly named Man of Iron beating Cloudy's Knight in an exciting opening to the 2009 Breeders' Cup series at Santa Anita.

With Johnny Murtagh riding for the Coolmore ownership team and trainer Aidan O'Brien, Man of Iron returned $14.80 as fourth choice in a field of 10. A 3-year-old colt, Man of Iron is by the Coolmore sire Giant's Causeway and out of Better Than Honour, the mare who produced back-to-back Belmont Stakes winners Jazil and Rags to Riches.

Cloudy's Knight, a 9-year-old former Canadian champion, made a bold outside move under jockey Rosemary Homeister Jr., sweeping to the lead in the third and final turn. Mastery moved to his outside to challenge after straightening away while Man of Iron launched his run nearest the rail.

In the final 100 yards, Cloudy's Knight clung desperately to the lead, but a final surge by Man of Iron got him the narrow win.

"I asked him at the three-eighths pole, and he responded beautifully," said Murtagh.

Mastery, the 7-5 favorite for Godolphin Racing and jockey Frankie Dettori, finished third, 2¼ lengths behind the winner. It was 11¼ more lengths back to Gangbuster, a 30-1 shot, in fourth. The winning time was 2:54.11 over the Pro-Ride synthetic surface.

Cloudy's Knight "ran his heart out for me," said Homeister, bidding to become the second female jockey to win a BC race. "I'm sick."

For the first 1¼ miles, Black Astor held an open lead, and Cloudy's Knight bided his time in sixth. Meanwhile, Man of Iron lagged even farther back in a trailing group of three before commencing his move coming to the half-mile pole. With a quarter-mile to go, Murtagh angled him toward the rail for the winning run.

Coolmore is the nom de course for the powerful Irish stable of Michael Tabor, Derrick Smith and Mrs. John Magnier and is the main client of O'Brien, who had lost with his last 28 BC starters, dating to a dead-heat win by High Chapparal in the 2003 Turf.

The Marathon was the first of 14 BC races to be run this weekend at Santa Anita. Last year, Muhannak won the inaugural Marathon at a 1½-mile distance. Muhannak stalked the pace before fading to fifth Friday.


Santa Anita Park, Friday, November 6