05/09/2005 11:00PM

Motivator-Albert Hall take 2


Motivator, currently the second favorite for the Epsom Derby, will prep for the 1 1/2-mile classic in the Group 2, $275,000 Dante Stakes at York on Thursday. He will again face off with Albert Hall, the horse who ran second to him in last October's Group 1 Racing Post Trophy.

Trained by the relatively unknown Michael Bell, Motivator lost his place atop the Derby antepost market when an Aidan O'Brien-trained stablemate of Albert Hall's, Gypsy King, landed Saturday's Lingfield Derby Trial. A son of a French Derby and Arc winner, Montjeu, Motivator will be making his 2005 debut in the Dante as will Albert Hall, a Danehill colt who preceded his Racing Post Trophy second with a victory in the Group 2 Beresford Stakes.

At 1 1/4 miles, 88 yards, the Dante was won last year by subsequent Epsom Derby winner North Light and in 2003 by Magistretti. It appears to be the most competitive of this year's Derby preps. Godolphin Racing has withdrawn Belenus, a Dubai Millennium colt whose only start resulted in victory over 14 rivals in a seven-furlong Newmarket maiden last July 6. He will go in the listed Predominate Stakes at Goodwood on May 18, thus freeing Frankie Dettori to ride Proclamation, a Jeremy Noseda-trained maiden winner, in the Dante.

Recent allowance winners Plea Bargain and The Geezer as well as the 2000 Guineas third-place finisher, Kandidate, add some depth to the field.