Updated on 09/15/2011 1:40PM

Galileo tops engaging King George


As accomplished as they are, neither Galileo nor Fantastic Light have scared anyone away from Saturday's $1.07 million King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Diamond Stakes.

In what promises to be the European race of the year, 10 horses take on the two favorites in Ascot's 1 1/2-mile Group 1 contest, which is the second leg of the 12-race Emirates World Series Racing Championship.

Two of the 10 are pacesetters for the favorites, Ice Dancer for Galileo and Give the Slip for Fantastic Light, but this King George would have Group 1 cachet even without its two big stars.

Golden Snake, a two-time Group 1 winner at the King George distance in Italy and Germany for trainer John Dunlop, was just a neck behind Fantastic Light in the 1 1/4-mile Tattersalls Gold Cup. He has been freshened for this race and will be pressing the leaders all the way.

Mutamam may prefer something softer than the prevailing good to firm ground, but he has never been better and can be expected to improve off his recent Princess of Wales's Stakes score, which came after a seven-month layoff.

French raider Hightori, trained by Philippe Demercastel, has been knocking on the door against this sort of company all year. If Gerald Mosse can keep him close to what should be a hot pace, he will be a threat through the 2 1/2-furlong stretch.

Even Fantastic Light's rabbit, Give the Slip, is not without a chance. A course and distance winner at the handicap level, Give the Slip has fought on bravely after cutting out the early fractions when helping his star stablemate win the Prince of Wales's Stakes and the Tattersalls Gold Cup.

Anabaa Blue has been pointed to the King George since squeaking home in the French Derby. He will love the ground and is open to improvement with France's latest riding sensation, Christophe Soumillon, in the irons.

Anabaa Blue, Italian Derby winner Morshdi, and King Edward VII Stakes winner Storming Home all receive scale weight of 12 pounds from their older rivals, as will the 4-7 favorite Galileo. However, giving that much weight has not stopped older horses from taking the last five King Georges.

Five-year-old Fantastic Light, the winner of Group 1 races in four different countries, will have his backers at 5-2, but his Godolphin team understands that he will have to run the race of his life to beat Galileo.

Galileo may really be that extra special horse that is advertised annually in Europe. A victory by the dual Derby winner will only be what the entire world expects, regardless of whether he is ridden by Michael Kinane, whose appeal hearing for a two-day suspension was adjourned until Friday, or Johnny Murtagh, Kinane's likely replacement should he lose the appeal.

King George past performances are available on the Daily Racing Form website www.drf.com.

for King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Diamond Stakes PPs and for Alan Shuback's King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Diamond Stakes Graded Entries.