05/22/2004 12:00AM

Bachelor Duke upsets Irish 2000 Guineas


Bachelor Duke, who had never been one of the first two finishers in four previous career starts, sprang a 12-1 surprise Saturday, winning the Irish 2000 Guineas at The Curragh.

The finish was dominated by horses who had run in the English 2000 Guineas at Newmarket three weeks earlier. But their order of finish was unexpected, as Bachelor Duke, seventh at Newmarket, came with a late thrust down the outside to beat Azamour, who was sent off the 3-2 favorite off his third-place finish in the English 2000 Guineas, by a length. Grey Swallow, fourth at Newmarket, was a half-length back in third. The winning time for the mile on good to firm turf was 1:40.

It was the first classic victory in the 25-year career of Bachelor Duke's trainer, James Toller, and just a second Group 1 victory for 32-year-old jockey, Seb Sanders.

The success of Bachelor Duke, an American-bred son of Miswaki, was tinged with sadness, however, as his owner, the Duke of Devonshire, died last month.

A delighted Toller said, "Bachelor Duke looked like he had improved since Newmarket and has been working well at home. This faster ground also helped, and we'll probably now look towards the St James's Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot."

In the St. James's Palace, Bachelor Duke will probably come up against the English Guineas winner, Haafhd.