08/02/2006 12:00AM

Court Masterpiece takes Sussex

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The horse-for-course theory proved golden at Goodwood on Wednesday, when Court Masterpiece made it 3 for 4 at the track with a stunning victory in the Group 1, $562,000 Sussex Stakes at a mile.

Off at 15-2 despite having won last year's Group 2 Lennox Stakes at seven furlongs, Court Masterpiece came through on the rail under Jimmy Fortune to score a two-length win over Soviet Song, the 2004 Sussex winner and last year's runner-up. Rob Roy was third, and French 2000 Guineas winner Aussie Rules was fourth. Araafa, the 11-10 favorite who had taken the 2000 Guineas and the St. James's Palace Stakes in his last two starts, weakened late to finish fifth, 3 1/2 lengths behind Court Masterpiece. The time for the mile on good to firm ground was 1:36.10, a half-second off Aljabr's 1999 track record.

The Sussex was Court Masterpiece's second success at the Group 1 level; he also won the seven-furlong Prix de la Foret at Longchamp last fall. Trainer Ed Dunlop, who has Ouija Board earmarked for the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf, said he is thinking of the Breeders' Cup Mile for Court Masterpice, who could be joined at Churchill Downs by Ifraaj, Tuesday's Lennox Stakes winner.

Earlier, Group 2 July Stakes winner Strategic Prince escaped at 6-1 to land the seven-furlong Group 2 Vintage Stakes by a neck over Duke of Marmalade. Strategic Prince joins Epsom Derby winner Sir Percy and French Derby winner Shamardal on the Vintage's roll of honor. His ultimate goal this season is Newmarket's Oct. 14 Dewhurst Stakes.

* On Friday at Goodwood, Hamoody, impressive winner of a Newmarket allowance in his debut, is the choice in the six-furlong Group 2 Richmond Stakes. In the seven-furlong Group 3 Oak Tree Stakes, the undefeated Red Evie should continue her winning ways for trainer Michael Bell.