08/20/2006 11:00PM

Alexandrova steps up in Yorkshire Oaks

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Europe's leading 3-year-old filly, Alexandrova, should make her first start against older fillies and mares a winning one at York on Wednesday, when she tackles five rivals in the Group 1, $450,000 Yorkshire Oaks.

At 1 1/2 miles, the Yorkshire Oaks is a perfect fit for Alexandrova, who scored impressive victories in both the English Oaks and the Irish Oaks at that distance. An Aidan O'Brien-trained daughter of Sadler's Wells, Alexandrova will be ridden by Michael Kinane and rates the odds-on choice against some accomplished challengers.

Alain de Royer-Dupre is sending the Aga Khan's Shamdala over from Chantilly. A Grand Lodge 4-year-old, Shamdala has beaten males twice this season, in the 1 1/2-mile Group 1 Gran Premio di Milano and the 1 7/8-mile Group 2 Prix Vicomtesse Vigier. She is cutting back in distance, however, after finishing fourth in the 1 3/4-mile Prix Maurice de Nieuil. Allegretto, who defeated older fillies in the 1 1/2-mile Group 2 Lancashire Oaks, looks like an even more serious threat to the favorite. An improving 3-year-old trained by Michael Stoute, she will be joined by stablemate Short Skirt, the winner of the 1 5/16-mile Group 3 Musidora Stakes in May at York.

Two other 4-year-olds who could figure are Sina Cova, who won the 1 1/2-mile Group 3 Noblesse Stakes, and Exhibit One, a 1 1/4-mile Group 3 winner in Italy.

* Elhamri, winner of the listed Windsor Castle Stakes and the Weatherbys Super Sprint, and Wi Dud, just nosed out by Enticing in Goodwood's Molecomb Stakes, will vie for favoritism in the six-furlong Group 2 Gimcrack Stakes for juvenile colts and geldings. But the selection is He's a Humbug, the highly impressive winner of a six-furlong Thirsk maiden in his July 4 debut.