04/11/2005 12:00AM

Cape Columbine heads Gwyn


Cape Columbine, a half-sister to world-class sprinter Cape of Good Hope, preps for the classic 1000 Guineas at Newmarket on Wednesday in the seven-furlong Group 3 Nell Gwyn Stakes.

A daughter of Diktat trained by David Elsworth, Cape Columbine won a maiden race in her second start, winning a $185,000 restricted allowance going six furlongs at Newmarket on Oct. 14.

Among her challengers in the Nell Gwyn are Favourita, who finished third in the Group 2 Rockfel Stakes; Bahia Breeze, winner of a listed six-furlong race at Newmarket; Read Federica, a Michael Stoute-trained Fusaichi Pegasus filly from the family of Best Pal; and Karen's Caper, a five-length winner of a maiden race at Lingfield who has been nominated to the Kentucky Oaks.

Wednesday's 1 1/8-mile Group 3 Earl of Sefton Stakes looks like a competitive affair, with Group 2 winners Alkaadhem and Hurricane Alan facing a two-time Group 3 winner, African Dream.

That trio, however, will have their hands full should the overachieving Group 1-placed Norse Dancer and the Andre Fabre-trained Valixir, third in the French Derby and winner of the Group 2 Prix Niel, be named in the final entry stage for the Earl of Sefton on Tuesday.