07/07/2011 2:52PM

Newmarket: Delegator eyes Group 1 breakthrough in July Cup


Delegator, unplaced in the last two runnings of the Breeders’ Cup Mile, may finally win the first Group 1 race of his career in Saturday’s July Cup for sprinters at Newmarket, England.

A 5-year-old horse owned by Sheikh Mohammed’s Godolphin Racing, Delegator is a lukewarm favorite for the July Cup, which is run over a straightaway six furlongs on Newmarket’s July course and has a purse of approximately $640,000.

The July Cup will be Delegator’s second start of 2011, preceded by a win in the Group 2 Duke of York Stakes over six furlongs at York Racecourse on May 11. Delegator was a candidate for the Group 1 Golden Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot on June 18 but did not start after rain left the course soft.

Trainer Saeed bin Suroor has stated that Delegator prefers firmer turf. Conditions at Newmarket on Saturday are expected to be good to firm.

“I think we will get better ground at Newmarket on Saturday – good to firm would be ideal for him,” Suroor said at a press conference earlier this week.

Delegator was second in the English 2000 Guineas and St. James’s Palace Stakes as a 3-year-old in 2009, the year he finished fifth in the BC Mile at Santa Anita. Last year, he was eighth in the BC Mile at Churchill Downs.

Suroor said that six furlongs “is probably going to be the best trip for him. He was second in the 2000 Guineas two years ago, but his work in the mornings shows that he is more of a sprinter than a miler.”

A 5-year-old horse by Dansili, Delegator will be ridden by Frankie Dettori and is likely to come from behind.

“Ideally, I would like him to sit just off the pace and then come through because he has a good turn of foot,” Suroor said.

Star Witness, a multiple Group 1-winning sprinter in Australia, will be well-backed. An Australian-bred colt who will have his fourth birthday in late September, Star Witness ran in two sprints at Royal Ascot last month, finishing second in the King’s Stand Stakes on June 14 and third in the Golden Jubilee Stakes on June 18.

The July Cup drew a field of 17.

◗ In the Group 2 Summer Mile Stakes at Ascot on Saturday, Cityscape, third to Canford Cliffs and Goldikova in the Group 1 Queen Anne Stakes at Royal Ascot on June 14, leads a field of six in a race worth approximately $160,000.

Cityscape, trained by Roger Charlton, is winless in two starts this year, including a second Dick Turpin in the Group 2 Bet 365 Mile at Sandown Park in April. Dick Turpin is part of the Summer Mile field and is seeking to rebound following a ninth in the Group 1 Prix D’Ispahan in France in May.