O’Brien banks on Santa Barbara in Pretty Polly
Despite having had only one run as a two-year-old, the daughter of Camelot was the subject of a huge ante-post gamble for the 1000 Guineas at Newmarket this spring amid reports of sparkling workouts on the gallops at Ballydoyle.
And while Santa Barbara ultimately came up short over the Rowley Mile – finishing a close-up fourth – she was favourite to strike Classic gold at the second time of asking in the Oaks at Epsom, only to be upstaged as her stablemate Snowfall stole the show.
O’Brien hopes a drop back in distance to a mile and a quarter will enable his filly open her account at Group One level this weekend.
He said: “Santa Barbara is in good form and the plan has been to go back to the Pretty Polly with her.
“She’s been in good form since her run in Epsom.
“We think coming back in distance and better ground will be a big help to her.”
Santa Barbara is set to face seven rivals, with Willie McCreery fielding both Epona Plays and Insinuendo.
Epona Plays has earned her step up to the top level with wins in the Group Three Park Express and the Group Two Lanwades Stud Stakes, while Insinuendo was last seen landing the Group Three Blue Wind Stakes at Naas in May.
Jessica Harrington fires a three-pronged assault, with Cayenne Pepper joined by stablemates Silence Please and Oodnadatta, while Joseph O’Brien saddles Thundering Nights, who was beaten just a nose in a Group Two in America on her latest appearance.
“Thundering Nights has been a brilliant filly for us and was unlucky not to win a Grade Two at Belmont earlier this month. She was interfered with on the first bend and got a bit further back than ideal,” O’Brien told Betfair.
Her form entitles her to be in the mix in this race
“She finished off like a train in the closing stages, but came up a nose short. It was a fantastic run and she has come back from it in great shape.
“The big aim of bringing her back into training this year was for her to be competitive in Group One company and her form entitles her to be in the mix in this race. Conditions will suit and hopefully she’ll run a big race.”
The Donnacha O’Brien-trained Shale completes the line-up.