O'Brien To Run Five In Irish Derby
O'BRIEN TO RUN FIVE IN RISH DERBY
Trainer Aidan O'Brien will saddle five horses as he bids for a fifth straight win and eighth in all in the Classic at the Curragh.
O'Brien will run narrow favourite Cape Blanco, Jan Vermeer, At First Sight, Bright Horizon and Midas Touch.
Frankie Dettori will ride Royal Ascot winner Monterosso, who was supplemented for £125,000 on Tuesday.
Dettori partnered the colt to victory in the King Edward VII Stakes at Ascot, beating At First Sight, who was second at 100-1 in the Derby, into fourth.
Monterosso, owned by the son of Dettori's boss Sheikh Mohammed, has come through the ranks in spectacular fashion after winning his maiden on the all-weather at Lingfield in January.
"He's been showing all the right signs since Ascot. Everything's perfect, touch-wood," said trainer Mark Johnston.
"It's a tall order for a horse to climb from handicaps to the Irish Derby in such a short space of time but he looks the part and the way he won at Ascot the form of that race puts him right there.
"He still showed greenness but he gets better with every run. He really looks the part now."
Cape Blanco disappointed in the French Derby after beating subsequent Epsom Derby winner Workforce in the Dante Stakes at York, but Johnny Murtagh has opted to ride Cape Blanco over Jan Vermeer, who was fourth at Epsom after going off favourite.
"It was a tough decision. For some reason he didn't run well in France. I got bumped out at the top of the straight and that knocked him off balance and he never got really into his stride," said the Irish jockey.
"We saw him in a different light in the Dante. He won very well that day and I think we have him back to his best.
"Picking between him and Jan Vermeer was a very tough decision, but I've gone with him now and on Sunday we'll see what happens."
Godolphin's hopes are pinned on the pairing of Kieren Fallon and Chabal, though connections have warned that the colt will only run if the ground is suitable.
English trainers Michael Bell and David Simcock are represented by Coordinated Cut and Dubawi Phantom respectively.
Bell said of Coordinated Cut: "The track at the Curragh will suit him much better than Epsom, so hopefully we will be able to get a true handle on what real level of ability he has.
"Whether we can find the improvement and turn the tables on the likes of Jan Vermeer (fourth at Epsom) remains to be seen.
"I wouldn't like to predict that. I'll let the horse do the talking on the day and see what happens."
Bell admitted that if Coordinated Cut performed well on Sunday he might be aimed at the St Leger.
The field for the Irish Derby is completed by the Jim Bolger pair, Carraiglawn and Puncher Clynch
Workforce will not be travelling to Ireland after Sir Michael Stoute opted instead to aim him at the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot on 24 July.
Only one graded contest to report on as a field of five older fillies and mares took to the inner turf for the $150,000 New York S. (G2) over 1 1/4 miles. Race was headed by the up-and-coming LADY SHAKESPEARE (Theatrical [Ire]), who was already making her fourth start of this season, and the returning Gozzip Girl (Dynaformer), winner of the American Oaks (G1) at Hollywood Park last summer and third in the Queen Elizabeth II S. (G1) at Keeneland in her final start of 2009.
Race changed dramatically at the start when Gozzip Girl took a bad stumble and unseated jockey Ramon Dominguez at the break, leaving Daveron (Ger) (Black Sam Bellamy) with an uncontested lead which she would hold until early stretch when the other three runners all made serious bids for the win. Lady Shakespeare proved best as both Changing Skies (Ire) (Sadler's Wells) and Ave (GB) (Danehill Dancer) held winning positions late but were unable to kick with the winner in the last furlong. The winner drew clear by 2 3/4 lengths on the wire, with Changing Skies a length better than Ave and Daveron another 1 1/2 lengths back in fourth.
The winner has improved since being freshened over the winter and was coming off an impressive win in the Bewitch (G3) at Keeneland in her previous start.
Bill Mott, who is enjoying a great year, saddled the winner, who was bred in Kentucky by owner Charles Fipke.
As a side note, neither Gozzip Girl nor jockey Dominguez were injured in the incident soon after the start and that's always good news in a sport where many miscues wind up in some sort of injury.
Earlier on the card, AIKENITE (Yes It's True ) got some serious class relief and was an impressive winner of an entry-level allowance after competing against the best in his age group, making eight straight starts versus graded competition following his debut maiden win last August at Saratoga.
The Todd Pletcher-trained sophomore colt seems to thrive on racing and may yet win a big one as the year progresses.
On Sunday, a small field of five state-bred sophomores went to the post in the Mike Lee S.. and a budding star may have emerged as FRIEND OR FOE (Friend's Lake) ran his record to three for three, drawing away late over a pair of talented runners in General Maximus (Freud) and Ibboyee (Medaloist). The homebred colt tracked a solid pace, bid when asked, and drew away late to stop the clock in a swift 1:21.68 for the seven panels. Trainer John Kimmel said afterward that he would point the improving colt toward the Travers (G1) at Saratoga later this summer.
Fast and firm on all five days of racing with the main-track favoring speed and both turf courses playing fairly.
The Leader Board
Gary Contessa and Todd Pletcher ended the week tied atop the trainer's standings with 14 wins apiece, with Rudy Rodriquez in third with 12. Bill Mott and Steve Asmussen were tied for fourth with 11 markers.
In the jockey's race, Ramon Dominguez was three better (38 to 35) than Javier Castellano, with Cornelio Velasquez a close-up third with 31 victories.
by Albie Johnson
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