10/29/2011 12:27PM

Americain favored to repeat in Melbourne Cup


The influence of French racing, and even a longshot from the United States, will be strongly felt in Tuesday’s Group 1 Melbourne Cup at Flemington Racecourse, Australia’s most famous horse race.

Defending champion Americain will be favored for French trainer Alain de Royer-Dupre. A 6-year-old Kentucky-bred horse by Dynaformer, Americain won the Group 2 Drake International Stakes at Mooney Valley Racecourse on Oct. 22, his first start in Australia since the 2010 Melbourne Cup.

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In France earlier this year, Americain won the listed Prix de Reux at Deauville and was 10th in the Group 2 Prix Kergolay behind Jukebox Jury on Aug. 21. Jukebox Jury is a 10-1 chance in the two-mile Melbourne Cup, which drew a field of 24 and is run on a left-handed track.

The Melbourne Cup has a post time of 9 p.m. Pacific on Monday.

Dunaden, yet another French invader, was the 7-1 second choice in future-book betting for the Melbourne Cup as of Saturday. It was not clear who will ride Dunaden, who was ninth in the Prix Kergolay and was a Group 3 stakes winner in France in April.

Dunaden was ridden by Craig Williams when the 5-year-old horse won the Group 3 Geelong Cup at Geelong Racecourse in Australia on Oct. 19, but Williams later picked up a suspension that is due to be in effect on Tuesday.

Williams’s appeal was denied by Australian racing officials on Friday; the jockey plans to go to court on Monday in an effort to have the suspension stayed long enough to ride the Melbourne Cup.

Williams, Australia’s top rider, will not be the only jockey in the courthouse. Nash Rawiller is in a similar situation, trying to ride the California-bred Unusual Suspect in the Melbourne Cup after a recent suspension. Unusual Suspect won the Grade 1 Hollywood Turf Cup at Hollywood Park last fall and is now owned by a partnership that includes former trainer Barry Abrams.

In Australia, the 7-year-old Unusual Suspect was sixth in the Group 1 Caulfield Cup on Oct. 15, beaten three lengths by Southern Speed after encountering a touch of trouble in the stretch. Unusual Suspect is trained in Australia by Michael Kent. “The report is that the horse is perfect,” Abrams said on Friday.

The field also includes Glass Harmonium, who won Saturday’s $1.03 million Mackinnon Cup over 1 1/4 miles at Flemington. He is considered a longshot on Tuesday.