05/21/2009 12:00AM

Delegator has work cut out in Guineas


Delegator will have to fend off a quartet of Aidan O'Brien trainees and a trio of dangerous newcomers to the classic scene if he is to confirm narrow favoritism for the $552,000 Irish 2000 Guineas at the Curragh on Saturday.

The runner-up behind Sea the Stars in the 2000 Guineas at Newmarket three weeks ago, Delegator will also have to contend with conditons that could range anywhere from soft to heavy for the Group 1 mile.

Delegator's best efforts have come on good to firm ground, so it is reasonable to expect that he may find the ground difficult to handle on Saturday. Brian Meehan will give a leg up to Jamie Spencer on Delegator, a Dansili colt, whose narrow 2-1 favoritism for the Guineas could melt away by post time in what will be his first venture away from Newmarket.

Mastercraftsman, a son of Danehill Dancer, is easily the most accomplished of the O'Brien runners. Only fifth in the 2000 Guineas at Newmarket, he was a two-time Group 1 winner last summer, the second of those triumphs coming on heavy ground at the Curragh in the seven-furlong National Stakes. Johnny Murtagh has the ride aboard Mastercraftsman, who could very well be the post-time choice.

While John Oxx is preparing Sea the Stars for the Epsom Derby on June 6, he will send out Rayeni in the Guineas. An Indian Ridge colt owned by the Aga Khan, Rayeni was 2 for 2 on soft ground last year, winning Leopardstown's Group 3 Killavullan Stakes in his last start on Oct. 27. A setback in March caused him to miss the English Guineas, but given his potential and partiality to the ground, he is taken to foil the two favorites.

Looming large is Recharge. A maiden winner first time out at 2 on yielding ground at Killarney, this Kevin Prendergast-trained son of Cape Cross defeated Dewhurst Stakes winner Intense Focus in the Group 3 Leopardstown 2000 Guineas Trial on March 29. Soul City, who invades from England for trainer Richard Hannon, was only 10th in the Dewhurst last fall but had previously shown an aptitude for softish ground when he won the Group 3 Prix La Rochette at Longchamp and the Goffs Million at the Curragh, where he beat subsequent English Guineas third Gan Amhras by a half-length.

* The Group 2, $158,000 Temple Stakes at Haydock Park on Saturday lost Overdose to injury two weeks ago. The six-furlong dash may now go without its new antepost favorite, Amour Propre. The winner of the Group 3 Palace House Stakes, Amour Propre will not run if the ground remains soft, as is likely. Borderlescott, third in Palace House and winner of the Group 1 Nunthorpe Stakes in August, or Tax Free, winner of a recent Newmarket listed race, could benefit by his absence.