04/24/2007 11:00PM

Red Rocks tries easier company

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Breeders' Cup Turf winner Red Rocks, ninth in his Dubai Sheema Classic seasonal debut on March 31, cuts back in class and distance at Sandown Park on Friday in the 1 1/4-mile Gordon Richards Stakes, a Group 3 race worth $100,000.

The 4-year-old Red Rocks was declared a "very likely" starter at Sandown by Brian Meehan on Wednesday, although the trainer said there was still a possibility that he could be switched to Longchamp for the Group 1 Prix Ganay on Sunday. Red Rocks won his first two starts going 1 1/4 miles in a Windsor maiden and the listed Fairway Stakes at Newmarket last year. In Notnowcato, however, he will face a Michael Stoute-trained son of Inchinor who is a course and distance specialist.

Notnowcato won the Group 3 Brigadier Gerard Stakes last May and was second to the Meehan-trained David Junior in the Group 1 Eclipse Stakes in July, both efforts coming on Sandown's 10-furlong course with its grueling half-mile uphill stretch. He later proved his class with a win at York in the Group 1 Juddmonte International Stakes going 1 1/4 miles and 88 yards.

Opposing the two favorites are Dubai World Cup sixth-place finisher Kandidate, the winner of the listed Gala Stakes over the Gordon Richards course and distance in July, the Group 3 Dee Stakes winner Art Deco, listed Doonside Cup winner Mashaahed, and Mountain High, a Stoute-trained half-brother to Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf winner Islington who was a close second in a pair of 12-furlong Group 2s last summer.