05/18/2005 11:00PM

Footstepsinthesand is absent, but O'Brien still has 4 at Curragh

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Aidan O'Brien will saddle four of the nine starters in Saturday's $485,000 Irish 2000 Guineas at The Curragh, but Footstepsinthesand is not one of them. Footstepsinthesand picked up a stone bruise during his victory in the English 2000 Guineas Stakes on April 30 at Newmarket. He subsequently missed a few days of training and was not quite ready to go for a Guineas double on Saturday.

Thus, O'Brien's first-string rider, Kieren Fallon, will ride the English 2000 Guineas fourth-place finisher, Oratorio, while Johnny Murtagh, who rode Oratorio at Newmarket, takes the reins on Showdance.

Oratorio should be able to confirm favoritism in the classic mile. The winner last fall of the Group 1 Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere at Longchamp, Oratorio was not fully wound up for Newmarket. After a slow start, he finished well and has surely come on for that effort.

Showdance, a Kingmambo half-brother to Yellow Ribbon and Gamely winner Fiji, is an intriguing maiden winner who has not run since June 12.

Albert Hall, fifth behind Epsom Derby favorite Motivator in the 1 5/16-mile Dante Stakes last week at York, makes a quick reappearance, while Galway maiden winner Hills of Aran completes the O'Brien quartet.

Rebel Rebel, the surprise 100-1 runner-up behind Footstepsinthesand in the English Guineas, has been supplemented to the Irish edition, but there is a bigger threat to O'Brien's hopes for a fourth success in this Curragh classic in Dubawi. A wandering fifth for Godolphin at Newmarket, Dubawi will appreciate any additional rain, which might soften a course rated good to yielding on Thursday morning.

Democratic Deficit, winner of the Group 3 Craven Stakes but sixth in the 2000 Guineas last time, needs to show more.