09/09/2009 11:00PM

Kite Wood looks good in St. Leger


All the signs point toward Godolphin winning its first British classic since 2004 as Kite Wood carries the favorite's mantle into the 234th running of the $826,000 St. Leger Stakes at Doncaster on Saturday.

Kite Wood should be perfectly suited by the 1 3/4 miles, 132 yards of the world's oldest classic, which was first run in 1776. Only ninth behind Sea the Stars in the Epsom Derby, Kite Wood next took Newmarket's 1 5/8-mile, Group 3 Bahrain Trophy before establishing himself as a serious St. Leger candidate when beating older horses in the Group 3 Geoffrey Freer Stakes going 1 5/8 miles, 61 yards at Newbury.

The form of that race wasn't hurt when the 3 1/2-length runner-up Halicarnassus took the Group 2 Bosphorus Cup in Istanbul, Turkey, last week. Frankie Dettori has the ride as he goes in search of his fourth St. Leger victory in the last five years and seventh overall.

Kite Wood's task was simplified when Aidan O'Brien decided not to enter antepost favorite Age of Aquarius. Seventh in the Epsom Derby and second in the Grand Prix de Paris, Age of Aquarius disappointed in his final work and remained at home at Ballydoyle. O'Brien will saddle 1 3/4-mile Ebor Handicap runner-up Changingoftheguard, a Montjeu colt whose cause was not helped when the Ebor winner Sesenta finished sixth in Thursday's Park Hill Stakes over the St. Leger course and distance.

Monitor Closely was supplemented for $74,000 after winning the key St. Leger prep, the 1 1/2-mile, Group 2 Great Voltigeur Stakes, but there are doubts about the Peter Chapple-Hyam trainee's ability to stay the trip as he is by Oasis Dream out of a Selkirk mare. Father Time looked sharp when taking the 1 1/2-mile, Group 2 King Edward VII Stakes at Royal Ascot but was only fifth in the Great Voltigeur. Godolphin's Italian Derby winner Mastery, 4 1/2 lengths second in the Great Voltigeur, and Irish Derby third Mourayan both have a chance to crack the first three.

Godolphin will try to double its pleasure when Poet's Voice starts as the favorite in the Group 2, $165,000 Champagne Stakes for 2-year-olds. A close third in the seven-furlong, Group 3 Acomb Stakes, he will be tested by Viscount Nelson, a Giant's Causeway half-brother to Horatio Nelson who won a 7 1/2-furlong listed race at Tipperary for O'Brien, as well as Await the Dawn, the four-length winner of a 1 1/16-mile Naas maiden in his debut. The undefeated Silver Grecian, winner of the seven-furlong, Group 3 Superlative Stakes, will make his presence felt.

* Thursday at Doncaster, The Miniver Rose, 33-1, and Starfala, 28-1, produced a topsy-turvy result in the Group 2, $165,000 Park Hill Stakes, beating the two favorites, Tanoura and Shemima, into third and fourth.

* In the listed Sceptre Stakes, George Strawbridge's 5-6 favorite Fantasia quickened clear for a two-length victory over Shamwari Lodge as she got the seven furlongs in 1:22.69 as a prep for Newmarket's one-mile, Group 1 Sun Chariot Stakes on Oct. 3.