Top European contender for the Mile (gr. IT), Banks Hill, was pre-entered in the race only as a second preference along with fancied American runner Hap, but a surprise nominee from Sir Michael Stoute's Newmarket yard, Sheikh Maktoum's No Excuse Needed, was among the pre-entries on Monday.
Stoute is concerned about soft ground in New York for No Excuse Needed, who was withdrawn from the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Ascot because of soggy underfoot conditions. No Excuse Needed is one of three Stoute entries for the Dubai Champion Stakes (Eng-I) this weekend at Newmarket.
Other fancied Mile runners were entered as expected with a total of 19 on the list, five of them showing the Mile as their second preference. Coral Eurobet still offer Godolphin's hard-knocking Noverre as their favorite but Forbidden Apple has joined Irish Prize as the second choices in a wide-open market.
Forbidden Apple, seventh in last year's Mile at 29-1, zoomed up the list on the strength of his win in the Kelso Handicap (gr. IIT), Oct 6, where he beat other Mile pre-entries Sarafan and City Zip by a half-length under Jose Santos. In his favor this year is that Arthur Appleton's runner will come into the Mile a fresher horse...last year's Mile was his seventh race of a busy campaign where this year it will be his fourth for trainer Christophe Clement.
Another Mile probable, although he has a second-preference in the Turf (gr. IT), and highly fancied by Coral is Anstu Stable's Balto Star, beaten a neck by Guided Tour in the Kentucky Cup Classic (gr. II) after a grassy allowance win at Saratoga. The 3-year-old was on the Triple Crown trail for trainer Todd Pletcher earlier this year and has limited experience on the inner course, but five wins from nine 2001 starts, two of them in grade II races, mark him out as a legitimate Mile contender.
With American-trained UAE Derby (UAE-II) winner Express Tour being supplemented to the Mile, Godolphin will have two runners in the race along with trainer Neil Drysdale, who won last year with War Chant and who sends Irish Prize and Gary Tanaka's Sarafan into the fray this year. The only other supplement into the Mile is David Milch's Val Royal, who bagged the Oak Tree Breeders' Cup Mile (gr. IIT) for trainer Julio Canani, who collected the BC Mile two years ago with Silic.