09/13/2012 12:07PM

Europe: Aiken looks to spring upset in Irish St. Leger


On Saturday afternoon at Doncaster in England, trainer John Gosden will take two shots at odds-on favorite Camelot in the English St. Leger Stakes, but Gosden might have a stronger chance to take down the Group 1 Irish St. Leger on Saturday evening at The Curragh.

Gosden will send out George Strawbridge’s Aiken in the Irish St. Leger, a 1 3/4-mile race that, unlike the 3-year-old-restricted St. Leger at Doncaster, is open to older horses. Aiken, a 4-year-old, has won six of his eight starts, but has been brought slowly into group stakes competition. On June 3, he won his first try in such a race, capturing the Group 2 Prix de Chantilly, and in his most recent race, Aiken finished a creditable fourth behind Sea Moon in the Group 2 Hardwicke Stakes.

Camelot’s trainer, Aidan O’Brien, has the Irish St. Leger favorite in Fame and Glory, who most recently finished a disappointing seventh in the Ascot Gold Cup on June 21. Fame and Glory could only finish fourth a year ago in the 2011 Irish St. Leger.

Also worthy of note are Brown Panther, who was second last fall to the Gosden-trained Masked Marvel in the English St. Leger; and Hartani, second in the local Irish St. Leger prep for trainer John Oxx.

Co-featured on The Curragh card is the Group 1 Vincent O’Brien Stakes for 2-year-olds over seven furlongs. That race could come down to Dawn Approach, who has won the first four starts of his career for trainer Jim Bolger, and Cristoforo Colombo, a talented O’Brien-trained colt who clipped heels and did not finish his most recent start, the Group 1 Phoenix Stakes on Aug. 12.