07/07/2006 11:00PM

David Junior runs by them all


David Junior took advantage of a fast pace to blast from last to first in the $836,000 Eclipse Stakes at Sandown Park in England on Saturday as favored Ouija Board ran into repeated trouble and finished fifth.

The result of the Group 1 race was thus almost an exact reversal of Royal Ascot's Prince of Wales's Stakes on June 21 when Ouija Board quickened off a slow pace to beat David Junior, who finished fourth. The fifth-place finisher that day, Notnowcato, came again on Saturday to be second, 1 1/2 lengths behind David Junior, who covered the 1 1/4 miles in 2:07.31 as the 9-4 second choice.

Content to settle in last place early, Jamie Spencer rallied David Junior to the lead at the furlong pole while Ouija Board and her new rider Christophe Soumillon were finding nothing but trouble. Eighth of nine in the early stages, the 2-1 Ouija Board was blocked at the quarter pole and blocked again after angling in toward the rail. Soumillon thinks the five-time Group 1 winner would have been second or third with a clear run. As it was, she was beaten 3 3/4 lengths.

Blue Monday was just up for third by a head over Aussie Rules, the French 2000 Guineas winner who led briefly at the three-sixteenths pole and who was supposed to have been ridden by Johnny Murtagh as a replacement for the suspended Kieren Fallon. Murtagh, however, suffered a small fracture in his left foot in a fall at Wexford on Friday night that knocked him out of action for a few days. Alan Munro took his place.

The runaway winner of the Dubai Duty Free over The Tin Man in his 2006 debut at Nad Al Sheba on March 25, David Junior may not have been quite fully wound up in the Prince of Wales, but that race gave him the conditioning necessary to win the Eclipse. Trainer Brian Meehan will keep David Junior, 4, at 1 1/4 miles with a switch to dirt for his ultimate goal, the Breeders' Cup Classic.