08/09/2013 2:45PM

Dawn Approach meets Intello in Group 1 Jacques Le Marois


Dawn Approach just had a showdown less than two weeks ago with fellow top-class 3-year-old Toronado in the Sussex Stakes at Goodwood in England. On Sunday, he has another one lined up in France with Intello, who has a claim to being the leading French 3-year-old of 2013.

The two meet in the Group 1 Jacques Le Marois, a one-mile race at Deauville that also lured the excellent mare Moonlight Cloud, and is a Win and You're In race for the Breeders' Cup Mile. A total of 13 horses passed the final declaration stage, but one of the best of them, Elusive Kate, is likely to take a pass in favor of the Matron Stakes in Ireland next month.

Dawn Approach, based in Ireland with Jim Bolger, was the leading European 2-year-old of 2012, and, save for his notable flop in the Epsom Derby, where he became very rank and faded to 12th in the longest race of his career, he has been just as good at 3. Dawn Approach won the English 2000 Guineas by five lengths in his 2013 debut and quickly bounced back from the Epsom disappointment to beat the vastly talented Toronado by a head in the St. James’s Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot.

Toronado, however, got the best of Dawn Approach in the Sussex, making a late move to overtake him and win by a half-length.

The Sussex provided further proof that the 3-year-old class of 2013 is fully capable of beating older rivals, and Intello is yet another highly qualified member of that class. Trained by Andre Fabre, Intello had a pair of quiet runs at 2 before being fully unleashed this season.

Intello finished third but was the best horse in the French 2000 Guineas, his only loss in six starts, and came back with a sharp victory over 1 3/8 miles in the French Derby. He scored another win at a mile in the Prix Messidor, a July 7 race serving as a bridge to the Jacques Le Marois.

Moonlight Cloud, bred and owned by George Strawbridge and trained by Freddie Head, almost certainly poses the biggest threat to the 3-year-olds. Moonlight Cloud, 2 for 2 so far in her 5-year-old season, returns to action just one week after winning the Group 1 Maurice de Gheest over seven furlongs at Deauville. The mare made the same quick turnaround last season, finishing a close, troubled fourth behind the victorious Excelebration in the Jacques Le Marois.

◗ Two other European Group 1 races are on tap Sunday, the Phoenix Stakes for 2-year-olds at The Curragh in Ireland and the Grosser Preis von Bayern at Munich in Germany. The Phoenix is led by War Command, a Joe Allen homebred trained by Aidan O’Brien who won the Group 2 Coventry at the Royal Ascot meeting by six lengths.