08/05/2005 12:00AM

Phoenix belongs to O'Brien

Email
Horsephotos
Whipper preps for the Jacques le Marois in Sunday's Maurice de Gheest.

George Washington, favorite for next year's 2000 Guineas, can give trainer Aidan O'Brien his seventh Phoenix Stakes victory in the last eight years at The Curragh on Sunday when seven 2-year-olds line up for the first Group 1 juvenile contest of the European season.

A Danehill half-brother to three-time Group 1 winner Grandera, George Washington defeated stablemate and subsequent Group 3 winner Amigoni when taking the six-furlong Group 2 Railway Stakes on June 26 over the Phoenix course and distance. With Kieren Fallon in the saddle and Amadeus Mozart also entered by O'Brien to ensure an honest pace, George Washington can add his name to the list of his trainer's Phoenix winners, which includes Fasliyev and Johannesburg.

His most potent rival in the $371,000 race appears to be Red Clubs. A Barry Hills-trained son of Red Ransom, Red Clubs earned Group 2 laurels when he won the six-furlong Coventry Stakes at Royal Ascot at York. Although seventh behind George Washington's stablemate Ivan Denisovich last time in the Group 2 July Stakes a month ago, Red Clubs was beaten by just 3 3/4 lengths while spotting the winner five pounds and finding himself short of room at a crucial moment.

* In the Group 2, $154,000 Debutante Stakes, the undefeated Modeeroch can confirm the promise she showed when she beat colts in the listed seven-furlong Tyros Stakes at Leopardstown on July 23. In British invader Vague and the O'Brien-trained Rumplestiltskin, she has the second- and third-place finishers from Royal Ascot's Group 3 Albany Stakes to beat in Sunday's seven-furlong Debutante.

* At Deauville on Sunday, Whipper will prep for a defense of his one-mile Prix Jacques le Marois title on Aug. 14 in the 6 1/2-furlong Prix Maurice de Gheest, a Group 1 contest worth $247,000. A half-brother to Marois favorite Divine Proportions, Whipper was fourth last time to Cacique in a Group 3 mile, and looks vulnerable in a 13-runner field of sprinters. Defending champ Somnus will be dangerous if the ground softens up. The Trader took the five-furlong Group 2 Prix du Gros-Chene two back. Abundance is a promising, lightly raced 3-year-old filly by Anabaa. But the selection is the Richard Hannon-trained Lucky Spin, a 4-year-old Pivotal filly who has won Group 3 races in England this season at both six and seven furlongs.

* In the Group 2, $148,000 Prix de Pomone, a 1 9/16-mile race, Paita should relish the step up in trip from her good third behind Divine Proportions in the 1 5/16-mile French Oaks. She can prevail over last fall's Prix de Royallieu runner-up Russian Hill.