04/24/2007 11:00PM

Red Rocks tries easier company


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.