The Keeneland Phoenix Stakes (G1) at the Curragh is an early test of local 2-year-olds, usually with a heavy emphasis on trainer Aidan O'Brien's Ballydoyle yard.
Sioux Nation, a Scat Daddy colt from the Oasis Dream mare Dream the Blues (IRE), arrives with two wins from five starts for the Coolmore ownership team and stepped up nicely in his most recent outing, winning the Jun 22 Norfolk Stakes (G2) at Royal Ascot. Ryan Moore keeps the mount.
Actress, a Declaration of War filly out of the Gulch stakes-winning mare Nasty Storm, also boasts two wins with the most recent coming July 15 in the Jebel Ali Silver Jubilee Anglesey Stakes (G3) over the Curragh turf. Seamie Heffernan is her regular rider.
That leaves O'Brien's jockey son, Donnacha O'Brien, to ride U S Navy Flag, a full brother by War Front to star 3-year-old filly Roly Poly. U S Navy Flag, out of champion 2-year-old filly Misty for Me, has a single win from six starts, with Heffernan and Moore riding in his earlier races.
Last and, on paper, least of the quartet is Declarationofpeace. The War Front colt is a half brother to U.S. champion Honor Code . Last out, Declarationofpeace won over the Dundalk all-weather course in his second start but reported 22nd and last in the Windsor Castle Stakes at Royal Ascot in his last outing.
O'Brien's dominance in the race makes his starters the primary focus. But with a 2-for-2 record and both wins coming over the course, the Gordon Elliott-trained Beckford merits a look. The Bated Breath colt's second start was a handy victory in the GAIN Railway Stakes (G2).
Among the other three, some attention goes to Frozen Angel, a Dark Angel colt who finished second in his last start, the Prix Robert Papin (G2) at Maisons-Laffitte. He finished fourth behind Sioux Nation in the Norfolk.