Yeats, the slight early favorite for the June 5 Vodafone Derby at Epsom, turned in a workmanlike performance for trainer Aidan O'Brien in winning the Derrinstown Stud Derby Trial (Ire-II) at Leopardstown on Sunday.
While the effort, a front-running victory by 1 1/2 lengths over Relaxed Gesture and two other opponents in the 1/14-mile test, was not sparkling, O'Brien said the Mrs. John Magnier-owned son of Sadler's Wells was doing little more than playing.
"The plan was always to come here and get him ready for Epsom," O'Brien told The Racing Post
. "He wanted to come away for the day and do a good bit of work and that's just what he's done. He's a very good horse."
O'Brien balked at comparing Yeats, the 1-5 favorite Sunday, to a pair of his famous stablemates who also took this path to Epsom.
"It's very hard to make comparisons between him, Galileo and High Chaparral. All you can say is that he gallops, he stays, he's genuine and he's tough, like they both were. He is a very relaxed horse and I don't think Derby day is going to bother him, because it takes a lot to get him excited.
Under a relaxed ride from Jamie Spencer, who shook Yeats up a bit a quarter-mile from home and he kept on well to win in 2:10.30 on good to yielding conditions.
Relaxed Gesture, who was eighth in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile (gr. I) last year, was making his seasonal debut for Dermot Weld. He returned with a cut to his hindquarters after being clipped by the winner, but Weld said the wound was superficial. It's possible Relaxed Gesture could return to the United States for the Belmont Stakes (gr. I) rather than supplement to the Epsom race.
"I thought he ran a very good race in the Breeders' Cup, even though he was only eighth. Pat (Smullen) wasn't hard on him that day and running on dirt again certainly wouldn't worry me," Weld said. "We'll watch the Preakness and watch the Derby trials and see how things look. I'm not leaning one way or the other yet, but he's a very good colt."
Medicinal was third, a length behind Relaxed Gesture, with Barati trailing.
In the seven-furlong Derrinstown Stud 1,000 Guineas Trial
(Ire-III), Alexander Goldrun overcame problems to win for owner Miriam O'Callaghan.
After missing the break and being forced to check off heels and nearly going down on the back straight, she made headway late for jockey Kevin Manning and got up close to home to win by a shoulder over Misty Heights. Miss Childry was third, just a neck behind. Lucky, the 9/4 favorite, was fourth for trainer O'Brien.
Alexander Goldrun is destined for the Irish 1,000 Guineas (Ire-I) at The Curragh on May 23.