05/19/2016 4:36PM

Galileo Gold going for English-Irish 2000 Guineas sweep


Trainer Aidan O’Brien will have four chances to win his 11th Irish 2000 Guineas on Saturday at The Curragh, but the race favorite, Galileo Gold, comes from the yard of trainer Hugo Palmer.

Galileo Gold won three of five starts at 2, including the Group 2 Vintage Stakes, and exceeded that form in winning the English 2000 Guineas on April 6 in his 3-year-old debut. The 1 1/2-mile Epsom Derby was deemed beyond Galileo Gold’s distance comfort zone, and thus he has been aimed at another prestigious mile race and will attempt to become the ninth horse to score an English-Irish Guineas sweep.

Galileo Gold was 14-1 racing over good-to-soft going at Newmarket, where he tracked the pacesetters and ran on to win the English Guineas by 1 1/2 lengths. Now he is favored, and fairly heavily so in antepost wagering, and racing over ground expected to be good to firm, and bettors who did not enjoy the ride in England might hesitate to board the bandwagon in Ireland.

That’s especially so when O’Brien has a four-headed monster to send into battle. The best-known name among the master of Ballydoyle’s quartet is Air Force Blue, the heavy winter-book favorite for the English 2000 Guineas and the Epsom Derby until he actually made a start at 3. His seasonal unveiling did not go well at all, Air Force Blue barely getting out of a gallop and checking in 12th of 13 behind Galileo Gold, but sharp improvement Saturday can’t be ruled out with Ryan Moore retaining the mount.

O’Brien’s other three, ranked in order of their apparent chances, are Air Vice Marshal, who was fourth in the English Guineas; Shogun, who already has raced twice this spring; and Bravery, who might be entered as a pacemaker for more talented stablemates.

Awtad makes his group stakes debut after winning The Tetrarch Stakes on May 2 at The Curragh over fellow Guineas start Blue De Vega, with the Jim Bolger-trained Sanus Per Aquam, unraced since October, rounding out the eight-runner field.

Post time for the Irish 2000 Guineas is set for 12:40 p.m. Eastern.

The race before the Guineas, the Group 2 Greenlands over six furlongs, has a 15-horse field that includes American expatriate Bobby’s Kitten, who won the listed Cork Stakes last month in his European debut.