05/31/2012 3:26PM

Epsom Derby: Camelot an overwhleming favorite


The Group 1 Coronation Cup, a race with a rich history, typically is run on Friday, Oaks Day at Epsom Downs Racecourse, but in 2012, because of the Queen of England’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations, the race has moved to Saturday, Epsom Derby Day. And that shift is perfectly fitting, since most in the European racing realm have all but crowned Camelot the winner of the Group 1 Epsom Derby before the race is even run.

Camelot is such an overwhelming antepost wagering favorite for the race that the betting shop Coral is offering odds of just 5-1 that Camelot will win the Derby by more than six lengths. “Win” bets also are being taken on the race discounting Camelot’s participation.

Camelot, a son of Montjeu, has won all three of his starts for the Coolmore ownership group and trainer Aidan O’Brien. He was more than two lengths best to end his 2-year-old season in the Group 1 Racing Post Trophy Stakes, and after reportedly wintering well, he rallied strongly to capture the English 2000 Guineas in his first start at 3 while racing over a one-mile distance assumed to be shorter than Camelot’s ideal trip. And while Camelot gives the appearance of being very good, the rest of the 3-year-old crop overseas does not. No other colt has risen up as an apparently worthy rival to Camelot in the Derby, and only eight will race against him on Saturday, the smallest Epsom Derby field in more than a century.

Camelot, to be ridden by his trainer’s son, Joseph O’Brien, is drawn in post 5 for the 1 1/2-mile, left-handed race. The going at Epsom is expected to be good for Saturday’s card.

O’Brien also entered Astrology, who in his most recent start won the Dee Stakes while making the pace, a position he might again assume in the Derby. Bonfire, a capable 2-year-old, won the Dante, a major Derby prep, in his only start this year. Main Sequence is 4 for 4 in his career, but has yet to race above the Group 3 level. Mickdaam, who wintered in Dubai and already has crammed six starts into his 2012 campaign, won the Chester Vase, another traditional Derby stepping-stone. Thought Worthy, bred and owned by American George Strawbridge, has some promise. He won his only start at 2, and improved in his second start this year to capture a listed stakes at Newmarket on May 19. Cavaleiro, Minimise Risk, and Rugged Cross complete the field.

St Nicholas Abbey also short price

Breeders’ Cup Turf winner St Nicholas Abbey might be a shorter price in the Coronation Cup than his stablemate Camelot in the Derby, with just five foes expected to face St Nicholas Abbey in another 1 1/2-mile Epsom race.

St Nicholas Abbey, also the mount of Joseph O’Brien, was a good second in the Sheema Classic at Meydan on March 31. His second-place finish to stablemate Windsor Palace in the May 7 Moorsesbridge Stakes was almost certainly a preparatory run for the Coronation Cup, which St Nicholas Abbey won by one length over Midday in 2011.