07/03/2014 2:04PM

The Fugue looks to keep momentum in Eclipse Stakes at Sandown


The Fugue will attempt to repeat her brilliant performance last month winning the Prince of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot when she starts Saturday in the Group 1 Eclipse Stakes at Sandown.

The Fugue is one of 10 entered in the 1 1/4-mile Eclipse, and hot, dry weather this week has boosted her chances, though over good-to-firm going in this race last year, The Fugue struggled home last of seven. In the Prince of Wales’s, The Fugue finished with a flourish to beat Magician by 1 3/4 lengths, but only once in her excellent career has she strung together consecutive victories.

Among her competition is Verrazano, the former Todd Pletcher trainee who, after an announcement of his retirement to stud was made last season, wound up in Ireland with trainer Aidan O’Brien this season. Verrazano has done well switching continents and racing surfaces, finishing third in the J.T. Lockinge and second last out in the Queen Anne at Ascot, and though American followers of the sport might be surprised to consider it, the stretch from those mile races to Saturday’s 10 furlongs might actually aid Verrazano’s chances. O’Brien has won the Eclipse five times the last 14 years.

The Eclipse is the race in which 3-year-olds – which get a break in the weights – begin in earnest forays into older-horse group stakes competition, and there are five 3-year-olds entered Saturday. Night of Thunder, who won the English 2000 Guineas and finished second behind an awesome showing from Kingman in the St. James’s Palace, has been the most heavily bet of the quintet in ante-post wagering, but Kingston Hill and War Command also merit consideration.

Kingston Hill finished second of 16, beaten only by Australia, in the Epsom Derby, and was taken out of the Irish Derby last weekend because of concerns about the fast ground there. War Command, another O’Brien charge, won four out of five races last year at 2, and after a modest ninth in the 2000 Guineas, his 3-year-old bow, he showed signs of progress with a fourth in the St. James’s Palace.