Dawn Approach and Magician, the respective English and Irish Two Thousand Guineas winners, look set to face off in the St. James's Palace Stakes (Eng-I) June 18 at Royal Ascot in what may well be the defining race of the five-day meeting.
The one-mile test for 3-year-olds is Ascot's "Guineas" as most runners enter off either a start in the English or Irish classic. The event is carded as the third race on opening day, with a 10:45 EDT post time.
The pair will meet as long as Irish Two Thousand Guineas (Ire-I) winner Magician makes the race after sustaining a minor bruise from a knock June 13. A decision was expected June 16 on whether the Galileo colt will start, according to a statement on owner Coolmore's website.
Godolphin Racing's Dawn Approach was a brilliant five-length winner of the Two Thousand Guineas (Eng-I) at Newmarket to be undefeated in seven career starts. But he ran too keenly and failed to stay in the 1 1/2-mile Investec Epsom Derby (Eng-I) June 1, tarnishing his previously unblemished record.
Dawn Approach was doubtful to start at the Royal meeting until trainer Jim Bolger announced June 12 he was an intended runner. The New Approach colt, the 5-4 favorite, has been more relaxed in his training since the Derby, Godolphin racing manager Simon Crisford said.
"Jim is very happy with how Dawn Approach has done since the Derby and he is keen to let him run at Royal Ascot if everything continues to go well with his preparation between now and the race on Tuesday (June 18)," Crisford said.
Bolger also will send out multiple Irish group III winner Leitir Mor.
Magician, a four-length winner of the Dee Stakes (Eng-III) and a 3 1/2-length winner of the Irish Guineas, is among three runners entered by trainer Aidan O'Brien. He is the 9-4 second favorite.
O'Brien-trained Mars, who has yet to win a stakes, was hampered in the Derby but stayed on to finish sixth. George Vancouver, winner of the 2012 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf (gr. IT), showed little in both English and Irish Guineas and is at 66-1 odds in the St. James's Palace.
O'Brien has won the race six times previously, most recently with Mastercraftsman in 2009.
Multiple group winner Toronado, trained by Richard Hannon, looms as the biggest threat to Dawn Approach and Magician.
The High Chaparral colt was unbeaten for trainer Richard Hannon before finishing fourth, 71/2 lengths behind Dawn Approach in the English Guineas, but he displaced his palate in the race. Pegged at 7-2 odds in the St. James's Palace, he will race with a tongue tie.
"We know he wasn't at his best in the Guineas, but I know how good he is," jockey Richard Hughes said. "He's the most beautiful mover you will ever ride."
Other top contenders include English group III winner Dundonnell. The First Defence colt, trained by Roger Charlton, won the Coral King Charles II Stakes May 18 at Newmarket in his most recent start, rebounding from a disappointing third behind front-running winner Toronado in the Craven Stakes (Eng-III) a month earlier.