07/24/2010 1:39PM

Harbinger wins King George by 11 lengths at Ascot


Harbinger blew them away in the $1.5 million King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot on Saturday as he cruised to an incredibly easy 11-length triumph in England’s most important mile-and-a-half weight-for-age race.

Sent off at a generous 4-1, the 4-year-old son of Dansili left seven-length Epsom Derby winner and 8-11 favorite Workforce 16 3/4 lengths behind in fifth as he sped the 1 1/2 miles on good ground in a track record 2:26.78, shaving .46 of a second off the mark set by Linas Selection in 2006.

Harbinger was one of three runners in the six-horse field trained by Michael Stoute, who also sent out Workforce and Confront. Harbinger was content to sit chilly under Olivier Peslier in fourth behind a fast pace set by Confront, then cruised up alongside Workforce entering the stretch.

By that time Ryan Moore was already hard at work on the faltering Workforce as Irish Derby winner Cape Blanco grabbed a brief lead. But Harbinger quickly dispatched them with Peslier only giving him a single reminder approaching the eighth pole. Cape Blanco finished second, 3 1/4 lengths over Youmzain, who finished a neck ahead of the French filly Daryakana.

The margin of victory was the largest in the 60 runnings of the King George and gave Stoute his fifth victory in the race as he had won it previously with Shergar (1981), Opera House (1993), Golan (2002), and Conduit (2009). Stoute is now tied with Dick Hern and Saeed bin Suroor for the most King George victories. Harbinger’s triumph came in one of the best renewals of the race in recent years, with Derby winners Cape Blanco and the highly disappointing Workforce well beaten, as were three-time Arc runner-up Youmzain and Hong Kong Vase winner Daryakana.

In what must be the understatement of the year, Stoute said that he and Harbinger’s owners at Highclere Thoroughbred Racing “will consider the Arc” for Harbinger, a horse that has improved greatly this year with victories in a pair of Group 3’s and, most recently, the Group 2 Hardwicke Stakes over the course and distance at Royal Ascot. William Hill was so impressed with Harbinger’s performance that they installed him as the even-money favorite for the Arc, which will be run at Longchamp on Oct. 3.

◗ Any chance Debussy had of running in the Arlington Million came to an end at York on Saturday when the 3-1 favorite weakened to finish fourth behind the 8-1 Summit Surge in the Group 2, $152,000 York Stakes. Debussy challenged briefly for the lead at the five-sixteenths pole but was outfinished in the end as the Luca Cumani-trained Summit Surge beat Bushman by 1 1/4 lengths with Godolphin’s Allybar third. The time for the 1 1/4 miles, 88 yards on good to firm ground was 2:08.82. The winner will go next in the 1  1/2-mile, Group 3 Rose of Lancaster Stakes at Haydock on Aug. 7.