10/07/2011 2:34PM

Premio Gran Criterium lacks luster of previous years

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The Group 1 Premio Gran Criterium, Italy’s most important race for 2-year-olds, often attracts a good horse from an internationally known stable. Last year, for instance, the Godolphin-owned Biondetti won the Gran Criterium and went on to finish a respectable fourth behind Uncle Mo in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. But for whatever reason, this year’s edition of the race, scheduled for Sunday at San Siro, failed to attract any serious ship-ins, and drew a field of only seven.

The only non-Italian in the race is Nayarra, an England-based filly trained by Martin Dwyer who already has raced eight times at age 2. Nayarra remains a maiden but has finished second or third six times while holding her own in decent competition, and she might be able to contend in this year’s watered-down edition of the Gran Criterium,

The horse to beat may be Vedelago, who probably rates as Italy’s top 2-year-old with wins in all four of his starts. Vedelagao has never faced higher-class competition, but that almost certainly can be said of Sunday’s race, too, despite the relative prestige of the Gran Criterium.