06/04/2002 11:00PM

Islington favored at Epsom

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Islington has been installed as the 11-4 (2.75-1) favorite for the English Oaks at Epsom on Friday, but she faces a host of lightly raced fillies who will challenge her for first prize in the 1 1/2-mile, $510,000 classic.

A Michael Stoute-trained daughter of Sadler's Wells, Islington was a one-length winner of the traditional Oaks prep, the Group 3 Musidora Stakes, but beat only the maiden Spinnette, a Spinning World filly who had begun her career with a second in a listed race last November. If Spinnette has improved as much as Islington she has a license to win, although she must be a question mark at the distance.

The selection is the 4-1 Kazzia. Purchased by Godolphin after her victory in the Group 3 Premio Dormello last fall, she scraped by in the 1000 Guineas to improve her record to 3 for 3 and should appreciate the added distance with two-time Oaks winner Frankie Dettori aboard.

Mellow Park won her maiden race with an 11-length score over Kootenay in the listed 1 1/4-mile Lupe Stakes. By comparison, Kazzia had just 2 1/4 lengths on Kootenay in the Dormello, so Mellow Park's trainer, Jeremy Noseda, who will also saddle Spinnette, has two good chances of victory.

The best of the four Aidan O'Brien trainees entered is Quarter Moon. By Sadler's Wells, she was a Group 1 winner at 2 and improved on her 1000 Guineas fifth with a distant second to Gossamer in the Irish 1000.