Updated on 09/17/2011 10:46AM

Morluc in Royal company


United States-based Morluc can make history at Royal Ascot on Saturday if he can defeat 22 other sprinters in the Group 1, $420,000 Golden Jubilee Stakes.

Trainer Randy Morse has had the six-furlong Golden Jubilee on Morluc's dance card since last winter, and for good reason. A 7-year-old son of Housebuster, Morluc has proven himself adept at the international game, narrowly missing twice in the Hong Kong Sprint on Sha Tin's straight five-furlong course.

The Golden Jubilee, which was renamed from the Cork and Orrery last year in honor of Queen Elizabeth's 50th anniversary on the throne, is also run on a straight course, albeit one that is undulating, as opposed to Sha Tin's perfectly level track.

Morse has no qualms about Ascot's undulations. "Morluc won at Kentucky Downs, which is a strange, hilly course," he said. "I'm not worried about the track."

Morluc will have fellow American Gary Stevens, a four-time winner at Royal Ascot, in the saddle.

What Morluc has to fear is the presence of Choisir, the front-running winner of Tuesday's Group 2 King's Stand Stakes at five furlongs. Like Falvelon, the horse who nipped Morluc twice in Hong Kong, Choisir hails from Australia. In fact, Choisir beat Falvelon in November by a half-length in the Group 2 Emirates Classic, a six-furlong race at Flemington.

Third in that race was Belle du Jour, a 6-year-old mare who was a neck second in the Group 3 Ballyogan Stakes at Cork last Wednesday in her European debut for trainer Dermot Weld.

The British are touting a 3-year-old Henry Candy-trained filly, Airwave, as the fastest thing since Flying Childers. In her seasonal debut on May 26 she beat older colts in Sandown's Group 2 Temple Stakes at five furlongs. Unlike Morluc and Choisir, Airwave comes from behind. Another British threat is the defending champ, Malhub, making his first start since Sept. 28.

The draw will be a factor in the Golden Jubilee. Morluc has drawn post 1 on the stands side rail alongside Malhub, with Airwave in post 4. Choisir and Belle du Jour have drawn on the other side in posts 20 and 21. The Golden Jubilee is likely to become two separate races as the field splits in half in search of the rail on either side of the track. The side that is going fastest early usually produces the winner. Stevens will have to be aware of Choisir's position on the opposite side of the track, just as Choisir's rider, Johnny Murtagh, must remain aware of Morluc.

Should Morluc prevail, he would become the first American-trained winner at Royal Ascot and the first to win a European flat race since Fourstars Allstar took the Irish 2000 Guineas for Leo O'Brien in 1991. It is a prize within his grasp.

Highest would win the Group 2, $252,000 Hardwicke Stakes for older horses with a repeat of his half-length second to Warrsan in the Group 1 Coronation Cup last time. Highest will be challenged in the 1 1/2-mile race by defending champ Zindabad.