09/24/2008 11:00PM

QEII provides insight into Breeders' Cup


Breeders' Cup clues will abound at Ascot on Saturday when Henrythenavigator, Tamayuz, and Raven's Pass clash in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes, a Group 1 mile valued at $461,000 in which the winner receives an automatic berth in the Breeders' Cup Mile. Two other races on the card also are Win and You're In events, the Fillies Mile for the Juvenile Fillies Turf and the Royal Lodge Stakes for the Juvenile Turf.

The meeting of the three top-rated milers in Europe has implications not only for the Breeders' Cup Mile, to which Tamayuz and Raven's Pass are currently being aimed, but for the Classic as well, as Henrythenavigator is being considered for both races.

A Queen Elizabeth victory by Henrythenavigator might send him to Santa Anita for the Classic, as it would be his fifth Group 1 mile tally of the year. With little else to prove at that distance, his trainer, Aidan O'Brien, and his Coolmore owners would probably seek added breeding value in the Classic for their Kingmambo 3-year-old. Johnny Murtagh has the ride.

But Henrythenavigator must rebound from a Sept. 7 loss in the Prix du Moulin de Longchamp in which he was only fifth, beaten

1 3/4 lengths by Goldikova, the Freddie Head-trained stablemate of Tamayuz. A 3-year-old son of Nayef, Tamayuz has won two Group 1 miles himself this season, the Prix Jean Prat and the Prix Jacques le Marois. The only loss he has suffered in his six-race career came in the French 2000 Guineas when he was disadvantaged by a very wide draw and roughed up in some early race scrimmaging. Davy Bonilla will be aboard.

Raven's Pass has lost to Henrythnavigator three times this year and lost once to Tamayuz, but the son of Elusive Quality will try them both again. In the St. James's Palace Stakes, he was three-quarters of a length second to Henrythenavigator, but in the Sussex Stakes, the margin was just a head. Meanwhile, Tamayuz had him by 1 1/2 lengths in the Jean Prat. Raven's Pass has since won the Group 2 Celebration Mile, but trainer John Gosden has warned that the QEII is very much his prep for the Breeders' Cup Mile and that he won't be fully wound up until then. Jimmy Fortune takes his usual place in the saddle.

Tamayuz will have the pacesetting services of Group 3 winner Racinger, while Honoured Guest will perform the same function for Henrythenavigator, so an honest pace is ensured. Sabana Perdida, who won the Group 2 Windsor Forest Stakes for Alain de Royer-Dupre at Royal Ascot, has an upset chance with Christophe Lemaire aboard.

On the QEII undercard, George Strawbridge's undefeated Rainbow View, recent winner of the Group 2 May Hill Stakes, will be a short-priced favorite in the Group 1, $370,000 Fillies Mile. The 2-year-old daughter of Dynaformer will be tested by unbeaten Group 3 Prestige Stakes winner Fantasia and by listed winner Dreamtheimpossible, a daughter of Giant's Causeway and Breeders' Cup Distaff winner Spain.

The one-mile, Group 2 Royal Lodge is headed by Goodwood seven-furlong Group 2 Vintage Stakes winner Orizaba.

* O'Brien has decided to bypass Saturday night's Thoroughbred Open Classic on the Great Leighs Polytrack with Duke of Marmalade. Instead, the five-time Group 1 winner will go next in either a 1 5/16-mile Polytrack allowance at Dundalk next Friday night, or the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe two days later. The Arc will be the likely spot if the ground remains good at Longchamp, as expected. If the rains come in Paris, Duke of Marmalade might be rerouted to Dundalk for a synthetic surface Breeders' Cup Classic prep.