The Comer Group International Irish St. Leger (G1) highlights a Sept. 10 card at the Curragh that also offers two Breeders' Cup Challenge races, but a promised rematch between Order of St George and Big Orange was washed out due to forecast soft turf.
That matchup was highly anticipated by a British audience that loves its stayers and relished the drama as Big Orange held off Order of St George by the narrowest of margins after 2 1/2 miles in the Gold Cup (G1), one of the dramatic highlights of this year's Royal Ascot meeting.
Since then, Order of St George, a 5-year-old son of Galileo, returned to Ireland to win the Ballyogan Comer Group International Irish St Leger Trial Stakes (G3) at the Curragh Aug. 19. Aidan O'Brien trains for the Coolmore connections.
Big Orange, a 5-year-old gelding by Duke of Marmalade, finished second to Stradivarius in the Aug. 1 Qatar Goodwood Cup (G1) in his only intervening race. Michael Bell trains the veteran whose globetrotting has seen him in Australia and Dubai. He called the decision not to run "a no brainer" given the weather forecast and said he will point Big Orange to the Qatar Prix Cadran (G1) at Chantilly Sept. 30.
That leaves Her Majesty's star, Dartmouth, as a main rival to Order of St George. The 5-year-old son of Dubawi (IRE) kicked off his season with a group 2 win at York but then finished fourth in the Hardwicke Stakes (G2) at Royal Ascot and second in the Weatherbys Hamilton Lonsdale Cup Stakes (G2) back at York Aug. 25. Seamie Heffernan has the mount for trainer Sir Michael Stoute.
The 10-horse field also includes Torcedor, a 5-year-old Fastnet Rock (AUS) gelding who defeated Order of St George in the Coolmore Vintage Crop Stakes (G3) at Navan in April as both were cranking up for the year.
While the 1 3/4-mile Irish St. Leger is the day's star attraction at the Curragh, American fans' eyes might be drawn to two events on the undercard with potential for the Breeders' Cup World Championships at Del Mar.
The Derrinstown Stud Flying Five Stakes (G2) is a five-furlong Breeders' Cup Challenge race for the Nov. 4 Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint (G1T). Caravaggio, winner of his first six starts, followed by two recent defeats, is the favorite to get back on a winning course for trainer O'Brien.
The Moyglare Stud Stakes (G1) is a seven-furlong Breeders' Cup Challenge race for the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1T) Nov. 3. As usually is the case in Irish racing, O'Brien holds a strong hand here, too, with Magical, Happily, Clemmie, September, and Ballet Shoes comprising half the field. Magical, another of those Galileos, is the slight favorite. Alpha Centauri, a Niarchos Family homebred by Mastercraftsman, also has drawn some attention after two wins and a group 3 second.