Updated on 09/16/2011 7:59AM

O'Brien has four in Phoenix


Aidan O'Brien will saddle four colts in the six-furlong Phoenix Stakes, the first European Group 1 race of the season for 2-year-olds, at the Curragh on Sunday.

O'Brien has won this prestigious event each of the last four years - with Johannesburg, Minardi, Fasliyev, and Lavery. His hopes for a fifth consecutive victory in the $265,000 contest rest with Hold That Tiger, Ontario, Marino Marini, and Spartacus.

Hold That Tiger, a half-brother to Belmont Stakes winner Editor's Note, was a course and distance winner in the Group 3 Railway Stakes six weeks ago. He looms the vulnerable 5-4 choice with Michael Kinane in the irons.

He is vulnerable because Ontario, half-brother to three-time Group 1 winner Desert Prince, comes in off a similar victory over Spartacus in the Group 3 Anglesey Stakes. Marino Marini, a $1.8 million Storm Cat yearling, is in with a chance off his victory in the listed Marble Hill Stakes.

The Richard Hannon-trained Tacitus was far behind O'Brien's leading juvenile, Statue of Liberty, in the Coventry Stakes, but improved to be a close second in the Group 3 July Stakes.

Cassis is a danger for Jeremy Noseda off her second by a nose to Spinola in the Group 2 Cherry Hinton Stakes.

* Salve Regina will receive a whopping 18 pounds on the scale from Millenary in the 1 1/2-mile Group 1 Credit Suisse Private Banking Pokal at Cologne. Winner of the German Oaks, Salve Regina was second last time to her Andreas Schutz-trained stablemate Next Desert in the German Derby.

* The 6-1/2-furlong Group 1 Prix Maurice de Gheest at Deauville has drawn a competitive international field of 10. French-based Zipping and May Ball were separated by only a nose in the six-furlong Group 3 Prix de Ris-Orangis on July 7. From England comes Nayyir, an impressive winner of a seven-furlong Group 3 at Goodwood last week, and the lightly raced Frenchmans Bay, who took the seven-furlong Group 3 Prix du Palais-Royal in May.

Iron Mask, a flop in America when trained by Todd Pletcher, is back with Criquette Head-Maarek, for whom he was a five-length allowance winner in his return to Deauville, while Japanese invader Air Thule attempts to emulate the 1998 Maurice de Gheest victory of her countrymate Seeking the Pearl.