06/15/2008 11:00PM

Phoenix Tower apt to relish 10 furlongs


Henry Cecil can return to the Royal Ascot winner's circle on Wednesday with the fast-improving Phoenix Tower, a lightly raced 4-year-old who looks like a perfect fit in the $730,000 Prince of Wales's Stakes.

A Chester House colt, bred and owned by Juddmonte Farms, Phoenix Tower suffered his first loss in five starts last month when he finished second to Creachadoir in the Group 1 Lockinge Stakes at one mile, but his pedigree suggests he will have no problem staying the Prince of Wales's 1 1/4 miles.

Prior to the Lockinge, Phoenix Tower had won the Earl of Sefton Stakes, a 1 1/8-mile Group 3, a remarkable performance considering that it came off an 11-month absence due to a hairline pelvis fracture.

Trainer Aidan O'Brien, who has all guns firing at the Royal Meeting this year, stands in Cecil's way with the much-improved Duke of Marmalade. Placed three times in Group 1 races last year, the 4-year-old Duke of Marmalade has blossomed this season with Group 1 victories at the Prince of Wales's distance in the Prix Ganay and the Tattersalls Gold Cup.

Michael Stoute will saddle Ask, second by a nose in last year's Canadian International. Ask most recently won the 1 1/4-mile, Group 3 Gordon Richards Stakes, while Godolphin Racing has Literato, last October's Champion Stakes winner who has disappointed badly in his first two starts this year. Sixties Icon, the 2006 St. Leger winner, cruised home in a 1 1/4-mile listed race at Goodwood last time but may find the 10-furlong competition too tough at this level. French invader Loup Breton is a Group 3 winner who would prefer something softer than Ascot's good to firm going.

But the French could land the $272,000 Windsor Forest Stakes with Sabana Perdida, a mare trained by Alain de Royer-Dupre. She was third to Nannina in this Group 2 mile last year and prepped perfectly with a winning May 10 trip to Lingfield in the seven-furlong, Group 3 Chartwell Stakes. She has the Stoute-trained Heaven Sent, winner of the Group 2 Dahlia Stakes, to beat as well as Grecian Dancer, the recent five-length winner of the Group 3 Ridgewood Pearl Stakes who is in foal to Galileo.

The Jean-Claude Rouget-trained War Officer could add to French celebrations in the Group 3, $136,000 Jersey Stakes. War Officer, a Grand Slam 3-year-old who won listed races in his last two outings at six and 6 1/2 furlongs, he must turn back a pair of tough O'Brien-trained challengers in Georgebernardshaw and Jupiter Pluvius.

Heart Shaped, an O'Brien-trained Storm Cat half-sister to A.P. Valentine, won her maiden last time in a five-furlong Curragh listed race and can use that experience to take the $155,000, Group 2 Queen Mary Stakes over the same distance for 2-year-old fillies.