07/26/2008 11:00PM

Mastercraftsman takes Phoenix for O'Brien


There's just no stopping Aidan O'Brien. A day after Duke of Marmalade landed the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes, Mastercraftsman gave the master of Ballydoyle his 15th Group 1 triumph of the year at the Curragh with an overpowering 4 1/2-length victory in the $470,000 Phoenix Stakes.

Europe's first Group 1 juvenile contest of the year, the Phoenix was also the best 2-year-old race run so far this season anywhere in the world. A game but narrow winner of the Group 3 Railway Stakes last time over the Phoenix course and distance, Mastercraftsman beat an unthreatening Group 2 Coventry Stakes winner Art Connoisseur into second with Group 3 Anglesey Stakes winner Bushranger third, a half-length behind the runner-up. Ridden by Johnny Murtagh and sent off as the 4-1 third choice, Mastercraftsman covered the six furlongs in 1:13.30 on good to firm ground.

A son of Danehill Dancer, Mastercraftsman has been installed as the antepost favorite for next year's 2000 Guineas, while his stablemate Rip Van Winkle, winner of Thursday's Group 3 Tyros Stakes at Leopardstown, is the second choice for the Newmarket classic.

France: Lui Rei captures Papin

Percolator had his four-race winning streak snapped at Maisons-Laffitte on Sunday when Lui Rei beat him by a half-length in the Group 2, $204,000 Prix Robert Papin. Trained by Amando Renzoni in Italy, Lui Rei is an Italian-bred son of the Green Desert stallion Reinaldo who had previously won the Group 3 Premio Primi Passi at San Siro in Milan. He covered the 5 1/2 furlongs in 1:06.10 on good ground at odds of 9-1.

* Later at Maisons-Laffitte, the Henry Cecil-trained Twice Over got back on the winning track with a three-quarter-length victory over Secretariat Stakes hopeful City Leader in the Group 2, $627,000 Prix Eugene Adam. Another Secretariat possible, Collection, was fifth, beaten two lengths. The time of the 9-10 winner for the 1 1/4 miles was 2:07.80.