04/20/2012 2:27PM

Ireland: Excelebration makes 2012 debut in Gladness Stakes at the Curragh

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Excelebration, one of Europe’s best milers in 2011, makes his first start of 2012 and first for trainer Aidan O’Brien Sunday at the Curragh in the Group 3 Gladness Stakes.

Four-year-old Excelebration has won 5 of 9 career starts, but had the misfortune to be born the same year as Frankel, the undefeated two-time champion who has handed Excelebration three of his four losses. Excelebration was second to Frankel in his final start of 2011, the Group 1 Queen Elizabeth II Stakes, but managed to land his own Group 1 races last season, capturing the Prix Moulin de Longchamp in a modest edition of that race.

Excelebration is expected to have five rivals in the seven-furlong Gladness, which will be contested over good-to-yielding going. Among his opponents is another O’Brien trainee, Windsor Palace.

◗ Trainer Roger Charlton has taken Best Terms, the ante-post favorite, out of the Fred Darling Stakes, a Group 3 2000 Guineas prep on Saturday at Newbury. Charlton cited soft course conditions as the reason for Best Terms’s withdrawal, and said Juddmonte Farms’s once-started maiden winner will head straight to the 2000 Guineas if all goes well before that May 5 race at Newmarket.