06/18/2006 11:00PM

Battle of 10-furlong titans


LONDON - In a match made at Nad Al Sheba, Electrocutionist and David Junior will finally meet on Wednesday at Royal Ascot. Their long-awaited clash at 1 1/4 miles in the $647,000 Prince of Wales's matches Europe's two highest-rated horses at the distance.

And the Prince of Wales's received added luster when Lord Derby dropped the name of his well-traveled mare Ouija Board into the entry box.

Since March 25, when Electrocutionist beat some of America's best older horses in the Dubai World Cup less than an hour after David Junior had trounced The Tin Man in the Dubai Duty Free, the Prince of Wales's has been the intended target of both. They will load into the gate off 78-day layoffs.

If ring rustiness is going to stop one of them, it is likely to be Electrocutionist, a Red Ransom 5-year-old owned by Godolphin. While there is a feeling that Electrocutionist may be slightly better on turf than dirt, his trainer, Saeed bin Suroor, has warned that his stable is not fully wound up for Royal Ascot. Godolphin closed down racing operations for 10 days in late May and early June, and while Godolphin has been winning races on both sides of the Atlantic with regularity since then, Electrocutionist may be a bit short for an occasion as big as this. Even his rider, Frankie Dettori, has said that he is more hopeful than confident of victory.

On the other hand, trainer Brian Meehan has been issuing bullish reports all week about David Junior, a Pleasant Tap 4-year-old, who should start a deserving 3-2 favorite with regular rider Jamie Spencer on board. We may not yet have seen the best of David Junior. A handy winner of the 1 1/4-mile Group 1 Champion Stakes on Oct. 15, he was then a runaway winner of the Duty Free in his next outing, more than five months later.

Ouija Board's last five starts have been in America, Hong Kong, Japan, and Dubai, but English home cooking will not be enough for her to overcome the two big horses, although she can be expected to give her all, as usual. Another challenge should come form Manduro, Andre Fabre's supplementary entry who was just a short neck back in second last time to Laverock in the Group 1 Prix d'Ispahan.

Oddly, the Prince of Wales's could turn into an early summer prep for the Breeders' Cup Classic, as both David Junior and Electrocutionist already have that race penciled in as the climax of their 2006 campaigns.

Spencer, David Junior's jockey, will also be in the spotlight in the one-mile Windsor Forest Stakes, a Group 2, $370,000 race, in which he will ride Soviet Song for trainer James Fanshawe. Soviet Song won this race at York last year and also won the Group 1 Coronation Stakes at Royal Ascot two years ago. She was, however, only fourth behind Peeress in her seasonal debut this year in the Group 1 Lockinge Stakes and may be vulnerable to Echelon, who won her third in a row last time in Epsom's Group 3 Princess Elizabeth Stakes. Equally dangerous could be Luas Line, who looked sharp last time when she was a length fourth behind males in a competitive listed race at Leopardstown.