06/30/2016 2:20PM

The Gurkha faces older in Eclipse Stakes


Seven horses headed by the 3-year-old The Gurkha and the 4-year-old Time Test are set to take their chances Saturday at Sandown Park in the Group 1 Eclipse Stakes.

The Eclipse is the historical jumping-off point for 3-year-olds to start facing older horses, and Golden Horn won the race last year for his first victory outside of his age set. The Gurkha is this year’s hot sophomore commodity, and to compensate for a disadvantage in maturity, he gets an 11-pound weight break (133 to 122) from older horses like Time Test.

The Gurkha, trained by Aidan O’Brien, races beyond a mile for the first time in the 1 1/4-mile Eclipse. He was the strong favorite to win the St. James’s Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot on the heels of an impressive win in the French 2000 Guineas but wound up trapped near the back of the field behind a mild pace and could not get to the victorious Galileo Gold, who got the jump. By Galileo, The Gurkha figures to stay the trip, and the good-to-soft conditions he’ll find Saturday are well within his range.

Time Test, the Roger Charlton-trained Juddmonte colt, would prefer something firmer, but the Sandown course is not too wet for him to make an appearance. Time Test, who gets a rider change to Pat Smullen with Ryan Moore riding The Gurkha, floundered on the sodden autumn course at Keeneland in the Breeders’ Cup Mile but was a course and distance winner in capturing the Brigadier Gerard in his only start this year at age 4.

My Dream Boat scored a major upset in rallying late to win the Group 1 Prince of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot earlier this month but must prove that that showing was not a fluky result over soft ground he handled better than his more accomplished rivals. Hawkbill, a Godolphin 3-year-old, was supplemented into the Eclipse on the strength of his recent win in the Tercentenary Stakes during the Royal Ascot meeting.

Post time for the race is 10:45 a.m. Eastern.