11 Set for England's Final Classic of Season
An 11-horse field that includes Galileo Rock is set for the world's oldest classic, the Ladbrokes St. Leger (Eng-I), which will have its 237th running Sept. 14 at Doncaster.
The race is the third jewel in the English Triple Crown, but neither Investec Epsom Derby (Eng-I) victor Ruler of the World nor QIPCO Two Thousand Guineas (Eng-I) winner Dawn Approach will attempt the 1 3/4- mile stamina test that saw it's first edition in 1776 won by Allabaculia.
This year's edition has several highly regarded contenders. Coolmore and partners' resolute Queen's Vase Stakes (Eng-III) winner Leading Light was fancied early with race sponsor Ladbrokes, but Michael O'Flynn's Galileo Rock and Khalid Abdullah's Excess Knowledge have converged on the top spot in pre-race wagering.
Galileo Rock, a Galileo colt trained by David Wachman, was third to Ruler of the World in the Derby June 1 and subsequently second to Trading Leather in the Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby (Ire-I) at the Curragh in his most recent start. Wachman said the colt will skip the St. Leger if the ground is too soft and compete in the Irish equivalent against older horses the next day at the Curragh. An announcement is expected the evening of Sept. 13.
Leading Light has not raced since out-battling John Gosden's Feel Like Dancing June 21 at Royal Ascot in the two-mile Queen's Vase, which capped a three-race victory skein for the Montjeu colt from as many starts this season for trainer Aidan O'Brien. Prior to that, he captured the Gallinule Stakes (Ire-III) May 26 at the Curragh after a seven-length triumph in a conditions race at Navan earlier that month, both at 1 1/4 miles.
O'Brien seeks a fourth win in the 1 3/4-mile St. Leger. He also sends out lightly raced Foundry, whose runner-up finish in the 1 1/2-mile Great Voltigeur Stakes Aug. 21 at York marked his season debut. The Galileo colt was making his first start after a 290-day absence since impressing in his maiden bow as juvenile at Leopardstown.
Feel Like Dancing was withdrawn from the St. Leger at the final declarations stage, but Gosden sends out stablemate Excess Knowledge, a Monsun colt who looks for a breakthrough in stakes company. He enters off a close runner-up finish to Godolphin's St. Leger entrant Cap O'Rushes in the 1 1/2-mile Gordon Stakes (Eng-III) July 31 at Goodwood.
Gosden bids for a fifth St. Leger win, which would tie Godolphin trainer Saeed bin Suroor, who is the race's winningest trainer in recent history.
Godolphin has been the most successful owner in the St. Leger's modern times, with six winners thus far, including last year's winner Encke, Mastery (2009), Rule of Law (2004), Mutafaweq (1999), Nedawi (1998),
and Classic Cliche (1995).
In addition to Cap O'Rushes, the stable will be represented by Epsom Derby runner-up Libertarian and United Arab Emirates Derby (UAE-II) third Secret Number. Cap O'Rushes and Libertarian are sons New Approach conditioned by Godolphin's newest trainer, Charlie Appleby, while Secret Number, by Raven's Pass, is trained by bin Suroor.
Investec Epsom Oaks (Eng-I) winner Talent, also by New Approach, the will try to become the 42nd filly to win the classic and seventh since World War II including the most recent filly winner, User Friendly in 1992.
Trained by Ralph Beckett, Talent will try to bounce back from a disappointing last-place finish in the Darley Irish Oaks (Ire-I) July 20 at the Curragh, where the less-than-ideal firm going and slow early pace played against her.
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