Santa Barbara has Pretty Polly prize in her sights
A winner on her racecourse debut at the Kildare circuit last autumn, the daughter of Camelot was sent off joint-favourite to win the 1000 Guineas at Newmarket on just her second career start following reports of sparkling workouts during the spring.
Having finished a close-up fourth over the Rowley Mile, Aidan O’Brien’s filly again headed the market for the Oaks at Epsom earlier this month, but failed to land a telling blow as stablemate Snowfall stole the show.
However, Santa Barbara is sure to be well fancied once more as she bids to make it third time lucky for the season this weekend.
Her seven rivals include Jessica Harrington’s course-and-distance winner Cayenne Pepper and the Willie McCreery-trained Epona Plays, who is on a hat-trick following wins in the Park Express and Lanwades Stud Stakes.
Harrington also saddles Silence Please and Oodnadatta, while McCreery has a second string to his bow in the lightly-raced Insinuendo.
Thundering Nights (Joseph O’Brien) and Shale (Donnacha O’Brien) complete the line-up.
Five juvenile fillies are set to contest the Group Two Airlie Stud Stakes, with the standard set by Fozzy Stack’s Cheerupsleepyjean, who finished third in the Queen Mary at Royal Ascot last week.
Stack said: “She came out of Ascot well and she looked in Ascot like she’d like to go six (furlongs), so we’ll see.
“It’s not a big field, so we’ll roll the dice and see what happens.”
Aidan O’Brien gives Yet an opportunity to bounce back from a disappointing effort in the same race.
Eternal Gold (Michael O’Callaghan), Missing Matron (Jim Bolger) and Velocidad (Joseph O’Brien) are the other hopefuls.
Group Two honours are up for grabs in the Comer Group International Curragh Cup, in which Aidan O’Brien’s high-class mare Passion makes her first appearance since finishing third at Group One level on Champions Day at Ascot in October.
She is joined by stablemate Amhran Na Bhfiann, who weakened after being deployed as a pacemaker in the Gold Cup at the Royal meeting last week, with Joseph O’Brien’s Pondus and Andrew Slattery’s Sunchart also in the mix.