Updated on 09/17/2011 11:45AM

Alcazar, now healthy, goes for gold


Alcazar's Cinderella story can continue if he can outlast 12 opponents Thursday in the 2 1/2-mile Ascot Gold Cup, the $420,000 Group 1 feature that traditionally serves as Royal Ascot's centerpiece.

Alcazar, a gelded 8-year-old son of Alzao, missed the entire 1999 and 2000 seasons with a broken pelvis, won his only start in 2001 in a 1 3/4-mile handicap, then missed all of last year with tendon problems.

Yet he has prospered this season under the care of Hughie Morrison, winning the 1 3/4-mile listed Further Flight Stakes at Nottingham and the two-mile Group 3 Sagaro Stakes at Ascot on May 1.

But Alcazar's Sagaro victory didn't come without an argument. Though he crossed the line a neck in front of Savannah Bay, he was disqualified because rider Mark Fenton inadvertently hit the runner-up in the face with his whip. That ruling, however, was overturned on appeal, so Alcazar lines up for the Gold Cup sporting a five-race winning streak that stretches back to Oct. 4, 1998.

His fairy-tale comeback could be spoiled by the three-pronged Godolphin entry of Mamool, recent winner of the Group 2 Yorkshire Cup at 1 3/4 miles; the improving 4-year-old stayer Fight Your Corner; and Pugin, who was second to Mamool in a Nad Al Sheba handicap in March.

Black Sam Bellamy looms even larger for Aidan O'Brien. Twice a Group 1 winner at 1 1/2 miles, Black Sam Bellamy will be a danger on the front end.

Mr Dinos, recent winner of the two-mile Group 2 Henry II Stakes, will have his supporters, as will the popular 10-year-old Persian Punch, who is running in his seventh Gold Cup.

* In the Group 2, $235,000 Ribblesdale Stakes for 3-year-old fillies, Summitville, Inchberry, and Santa Sophia - third, fourth, and seventh in the English Oaks - may find the improving pair of Ocean Silk and Moonsprite too hard to handle over the race's 1 1/2 miles.