07/02/2008 11:00PM

Carribean Sunset best of the Euros


Dermot Weld knows something about sending horses around the world to win big races from his home at the Curragh. In 1990 he won the Belmont Stakes with Go and Go. A year later he saddled Additional Risk to win the Hong Kong Bowl. He has won the Melbourne Cup with Vintage Crop and Media Puzzle and has landed Group 1 races in England, Italy, and Germany.

Three victories in the American Derby have made him a household name around Arlington Park. In 2003 he engineered Dimitrova's victory in the American Oaks. Now he is back at Hollywood Park with the best of the four foreign raiders in Saturday's Oaks, hoping to set off some Irish fireworks with Carribean Sunset.

By the excellent Danehill stallion Danehill Dancer, Carribean Sunset has been knocking heads with some of Europe's best fillies throughout her brief career. She had the misfortune to run into Lush Lashes not once but twice, first when third in the $2.2 million Goffs Fillies Million, and again last out when third in Royal Ascot's Group 1 Coronation Stakes.

Although she was beaten by four lengths that day, Carribean Sunset probably turned in her best performance, one that sets her up well for her first try at 1 1/4 miles. The right-handed Ascot mile is almost entirely uphill and has proved a past springboard for horses going longer. The Coronation was won by Banks Hill in 2001, three starts before she stepped up to 1 1/4 miles for the first time to win the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf. In 2000, Giant's Causeway finished second at Ascot in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes before narrowly missing in the Breeders' Cup Classic.

Carribean Sunset was unlucky not to win the Irish 1000 Guineas two back when she was carried wide in the latter stages, finishing just a half-length behind Halfway to Heaven. Possessed of a touch of class, the two-time Group 3 winner will take all the beating with Pat Smullen in the irons.

While Carribean Sunset must still prove herself at 10 furlongs, Satan's Circus will have no problem with the Oaks distance. By Gone West out of Delmonico Cat, winner of Gulfstream's 1 1/16-mile Grade 3 Honey Fox Handicap, Satan's Circus won a 1 5/16-mile listed race at Toulouse before finishing a good fifth in the French Oaks at the same distance. That performance is better than it looks on paper as the three-length winner, the undefeated Zarkava - currently the 5-1 co-favorite for the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe - is the best 3-year-old filly in the world by a comfortable margin. In the French Oaks, Satan's Circus finished 2 3/4 lengths in front of Group 3 winner Leo's Starlet, who was just a nose second in the Group 2 Prix de Malleret on Sunday. She will be ridden by Ioritz Mendizabal, the Basque rider who won this year's French Derby aboard Vision d'Etat.

The slow-starting Annie Skates finished second to subsequent Group 2 Ribblesdale Stakes winner Michita two back, but was only third against lesser last time in a Newbury listed race. Zaskar, trained by the unheralded Tom Dascombe, is an improving type who has won at the Oaks distance but who is also slow off the mark and tends to pull hard early on.

The Group 1 form of both Carribean Sunset and Satan's Circus is the equivalent of the Grade 1 form of Pure Clan and the Grade 2 form of Raw Silk and Bel Air Sizzle. The winner may be the filly that gets the best trip. If you're looking for a European winner, Carribean Sunset is the play.