05/07/2013 2:07PM

Chester: Chester Vase draws a modest field of five

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With the June 1 Epsom Derby less than a month away, the race remains cloaked in uncertainty, and the handful of Derby prep races still to be run – like Thursday’s Chester Vase – could clear up the picture at the top of the 3-year-old division.

There’s no doubt that undefeated English 2000 Guineas winner Dawn Approach is the most accomplished member of his class, but Dawn Approach is far from a cinch to see out the Derby’s 1 1/2-mile distance. The Chester Vase winner will undoubtedly move up in Derby antepost betting markets, but the race’s impact on the Derby has been minimal: No Vase winner has come back to capture the Derby since Shergar did so in 1981.

This year’s Chester Vase runs only five deep, and there is not anything close to a proven group-level stakes runner in the bunch. Two horses, Ruler Of The World and Feel Like Dancing, have made but one start apiece, though this pair – the former trained by Aidan O’Brien, the latter by John Gosden – should attract attention since both won at first asking.

Feel Like Dancing won a 1 3/8-mile maiden race April 20 at Newbury in his career debut, beating 12. Ruler Of The World debuted April 7 at The Curragh and defeated 10 foes in a 1 1/4-mile maiden race.

The once-started runners, as well as Havana Beat and Mister Impatience, must deal for the first time with the American-style, tight left-handed turns at Chester. But one horse, Gabrial’s Kaka, already has demonstrated an affinity for the course, having scored a debut win last September by nearly four lengths.

Al Zarooni appeals suspension

Trainer Mahmood Al Zarooni has appealed his eight-year suspension to the British Horseracing Authority. Al Zarooni, a trainer for Godolphin, was suspended after he admitted to administering anabolic steroids to horses he trained at his stables in England, and his appeal concerns only the severity of the punishment, the BHA said in a statement. No hearing date for the appeal has been set.