08/11/2005 11:00PM

O'Brien stocked with top 2-year-olds

Edward Whitaker/Racing Post
Aidan O'Brien has dominated the early group races for 2-year-olds, including the Group 1 Phoenix Stakes with George Washington.

NEW YORK - That Aidan O'Brien has most of Europe's best 2-year-old colts at his Ballydoyle yard in Ireland should come as no surprise. Equally unsurprising is the almost complete dominance at this midpoint stage of the season of French 2-year-old fillies over their male counterparts. What is baffling about the juvenile scene this year is that Godolphin has yet to produce a single group- or listed-race runner in that division.

What's more, Sheikh Mohammed's outfit has not made a single entry in any of the big Group 1 or Group 2 juvenile races to be run in England and Ireland through October. Godolphin spokesman Simon Crisford says not to worry, the kids are just taking their time getting it together.

That is hardly the case at Ballydoyle, where O'Brien has himself a surfeit of first-rate youngsters. Foremost among them is one who was named for the man who made the dollar bill possible, George Washington. A Danehill half-brother to two-time Group 1 winner Grandera, he put up a memorable performance last Sunday when landing the six-furlong Phoenix Stakes, the year's first Group 1 juvenile contest, by eight lengths. Added to his victory over stablemate and subsequent Group 3 winner Amigoni in the Group 2 Railway Stakes, George Washington holds a commanding position above all other Thoroughbreds of his tender age.

In a Phoenix performance that recalled the six-length triumph of Devil's Bag in the 1983 Champagne Stakes, jockey Kieren Fallon quipped that "George" had given him "a feeling like he had never before experienced."

O'Brien is weighing his options where George Washington is concerned, noting that he is nominated to all of the big autumn Group 1's, but hinting that he may not run again this year. While that surmise may sound harshly conservative, O'Brien can afford to be patient, as he has a number of other juveniles to play with this autumn.

The aforementioned Ivan Denisovich is a case in point. By Danehill out of Breeders' Cup Distaff winner Hollywood Wildcat, he is a half-brother to Breeders' Cup Mile winner War Chant. Though racing greenly, he surged from last to first on July 6 to take the six-furlong Group 2 July Stakes at Newmarket by two lengths, and could reappear in the six-furlong Middle Park Stakes on Sept. 30 at Newmarket.

A third young Ballydoyle star in the making goes by a name etched in the collective memory of all Englishmen. Horatio Nelson, the one-armed hero of the Battle of Trafalgar, now has a four-legged colt named after him who may have the ability to surpass the accomplishments of both George Washington and Ivan Denisovich.

Like those two, he is by the late Danehill, but unlike those two, whose best future distances may be limited to 10 furlongs or less, Horatio Nelson looks like a Derby horse. He is out of the English Oaks heroine Imagine (by Sadler's Wells), herself a half-sister to Generous, winner of the Epsom Derby, Irish Derby, and King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Diamond Stakes. Horatio Nelson is the undefeated winner of the Group 3 Superlative Stakes at seven furlongs, a race won in 2004 by this year's Irish 2000 Guineas winner, Dubawi.

And if those three famous names aren't enough, O'Brien also has the winner of last Sunday's seven-furlong Group 2 Debutante Stakes, Rumplestiltskin, in his barn.

Yes, she, too, is by Danehill, but perhaps even more important, her second dam is the great Miesque, meaning that Rumplestiltskin's unraced dam, Monevassia, is a full sister to Kingmambo and Miesque's Son and a half to French 1000 Guineas and French Oaks winner East of the Moon. With a French family like that to support her, Rumplestiltskin complements a pair of French-trained fillies who have been beating the pants off colts so far this season.

It was easy to fall in love with Six Perfections and Divine Proportions as they roared through the French juvenile scene in recent years, but, French customs being what they are, it is time to introduce the aptly named New Girlfriend.

Trained by Robert Collet, New Girlfriend, an Irish-bred daughter of Diesis, began her career with a victory in the six-furlong Prix Yacowlef, a listed race restricted to first-time starters at Deauville. In her second outing she gave colts a three-length trouncing in the 5 1/2-furlong Group 2 Prix Robert Papin, a race won last year by Divine Proportions herself.

New Girlfriend will seek a repeat of Divine Proportions's victory against males in the six-furlong Group 1 Prix Morny at Deauville next Sunday, when her most serious rival may be another filly, Mauralakana, a Jean-Claude Rouget trainee who is fresh from her own 2 1/2-length victory over colts in Deauville's Group 3 Prix de Cabourg. Like New Girlfriend, Mauralakana (by Muhtathir) is one who can only get better as the distances grow longer.