07/06/2017 12:26PM

3-year-olds look superior to elders in Coral-Eclipse Stakes


The 3-year-olds Barney Roy, Cliffs of Moher, and Eminent will race outside their age group for the first time in Saturday’s Group 1 Coral-Eclipse Stakes at 1 1/4 miles on turf at Sandown Park, south of London.

Judging from their positions in the future-book market, they are more than ready for a new test in the $647,500 race.

As of Thursday, Cliffs of Moher, second in the Group 1 English Derby at 1 1/2 miles on June 3, was 2-1 with British bookmakers, a slight favorite over 11-4 Barney Roy, who won the Group 1 St. James’s Palace Stakes for 3-year-olds at a mile at Royal Ascot on June 20. Eminent, fourth in the English Derby, was 4-1.

Among older horses, the leading contenders are Decorated Knight and Ulysses, who were second and third behind Highland Reel in the Group 1 Prince of Wales’s Stakes at 1 1/4 miles on turf at Royal Ascot on June 21. Highland Reel won the Breeders’ Cup Turf at Santa Anita last November.

Decorated Knight, trained by Roger Charlton, won the Group 1 Tattersalls Gold Cup at The Curragh in Ireland in May.

Cliffs of Moher, trained by Aidan O’Brien, had his group-level stakes debut in the English Derby. Ridden by Ryan Moore, who has the mount on Saturday, Cliffs of Moher led in the final furlong but was caught near the finish by stablemate Wings of Eagles, a 40-1 outsider.

Saturday’s distance should suit Cliffs of Moher, who won the minor Dee Stakes at 1 5/16 miles at Chester Racecourse in England in May.

Barney Roy, trained by Richard Hannon, has never raced beyond a mile. In the St. James’s Palace Stakes, he beat a field that included the heavily favored Churchill, trained by O’Brien. Churchill and Barney Roy were first and second in the English 2000 Guineas at a mile in May.

Cliffs of Moher and Barney Roy have similar running styles, racing just off the pace, although Cliffs of Moher was farther back in the first half of the 18-runner English Derby.

Cliffs of Moher could be helped by the presence of the O’Brien-trained Taj Mahal, who is likely to set the pace. Taj Mahal was sixth in the Group 1 Irish Derby last Saturday.