07/27/2009 12:00AM

Ghanaati fits well vs. males in Sussex


Ghanaati, the brilliant winner of the 1000 Guineas and the Coronation Stakes, takes on older colts at Goodwood on Wednesday in a first-rate renewal of the $494,000 Sussex Stakes, the first of four key weight-for-age Group 1 European miles leading to the Breeders' Cup Mile.

Described by Barry Hills as the best filly he has ever trained, Ghanaati took the Guineas in stakes- record time on May 3. Seven weeks later, she looked even better when slamming French 1000 winner Elusive Wave and Irish 1000 winner Again in Royal Ascot's Coronation Stakes.

By Giant's Causeway out of a Mr. Prospector mare, Ghanaati is from the outstanding family that has produced Nashwan, Nayef, and Unfuwain. Hills will give his son Richard a leg up on Ghanaati, whom Ladbrokes rates as its 9-4 second choice. She is, however, probably the best pure miler in the nine-runner field.

Rip Van Winkle is pegged as the 11-8 favorite off his very good one-length second to the indomitable Sea the Stars in the Eclipse Stakes. But that race was run at 1 1/4 miles and came on the heels of his two-length fourth-place finish behind Sea the Stars in the 1 1/2-mile Epsom Derby. Prior to that, the Aidan O'Brien-trained Rip Van Winkle was 2 1/2 lengths fourth, again behind Sea the Stars, in the 2000 Guineas, and while he seems to improve with every race, a cut back to a mile does not seem to be conducive to victory.

Paco Boy won the Group 2 Sandown Mile and the Group 1 Queen Anne Stakes this year but is facing better than he beat in either of those races. Moreover, he is stepping back up to a mile after a fourth-place finish in the six-furlong, Group 1 July Cup. If, as is generally felt, his best distance is seven furlongs, Paco Boy may find Ghanaati too hard to handle.

Lord Shanakill held on by a head to beat 3-year-olds in the one-mile, Group 1 Prix Jean Prat at Chantilly on July 5, but is facing much tougher in the Sussex. Beacon Lodge was an impressive three-length winner of Chantilly's Group 3 Prix du Chemin de Fer du Nord last month, while Royal Hunt Cup winner Forgotten Voice makes an intriguing longshot.

Past winners Giant's Causeway and Henrythenavigator went on to finish second in the Breeders' Cup Classic while Rock of Gibraltar would do likewise in the BC Mile, results that point out the Sussex as a key long-term Breeders' Cup prep. That may be doubly true this year as the two favorites are owned by Coolmore and Hamdan al-Maktoum, both of whom enjoy flying their colors in the Cup.