08/06/2010 11:58AM

Hannon sending Strong Suit in Phoenix Stakes


Richard Hannon, who has already sent out five 2-year-olds this season to win eight group races in England, will saddle the odds-on favorite in the first juvenile Group 1 contest of the year at the Curragh on Sunday when Strong Suit goes in the $264,000, six-furlong Phoenix Stakes.

Strong Suit overcame a ton of trouble to get up on the line in the six-furlong, Group 2 Coventry Stakes at Royal Ascot. Blocked at the five-sixteenths pole and checked approaching the furlong marker, Strong Suit still had three lengths to make up 170 yards from the line, but make them up he did. Unbeaten after two starts, Strong Suit, a son of Rahy, will once again be ridden by Richard Hughes.

Trainer Aidan O’Brien has won 10 of the last 12 Phoenix Stakes with horses like Johannesburg, George Washington, Holy Roman Emperor, and Mastercraftsman. This year the best of his four runners is Zoffany, a son of Dansili who recently won the six-furlong, Group 3 Tyros Stakes at Leopardstown. The Kevin Prendergast-trained Dunboyne Express, the eight-length winner of the six-furlong, 63-yard Anglesey Stakes and a son of Shamardal, should make his presence felt.

On the same card, Fame and Glory is listed as the 1-6 favorite for the $139,000, Group 2 Royal Whip Stakes at 1 1/4 miles. A son of Montjeu trained by O’Brien, Fame and Glory has won his last three starts, the two most recent at the Group 1 level in the Tattersalls Gold Cup at 1 5/16 miles and the Coronation Cup at 1 1/2 miles. Johnny Murtagh has the ride in what will be Fame and Glory’s likely prep for the Irish Champion Stakes on Sept. 4. His main challenger will be the Dermot Weld-trained Precious Gem, the winner of the 1 1/4-mile Group 3 International Stakes at the Curragh on June 26.