07/21/2016 1:56PM

Rematch for Dartmouth, Highland Reel in King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes


The King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes on Saturday at Ascot was supposed to mark the next appearance by the mighty Postponed. But with Postponed laid low this week by an upper-respiratory infection, the 1 1/2-mile summer fixture could come down to Dartmouth and Highland Reel, a pair of 4-year-olds separated by a head last month when Dartmouth won the Hardwicke Stakes at Royal Ascot.

Also among the seven entered in the King George, a Breeders’ Cup Challenge Win and You’re In race linked to the BC Turf, is Wings of Desire, who was fourth in the Epsom Derby and whose win in the Dante Stakes was flattered when the horse he beat, Deauville, won the Belmont Derby Invitational.

Dartmouth, owned by Queen Elizabeth II and trained by Michael Stoute, is a late-developing son of Dubawi who didn’t even make his group stakes debut until earlier this year. He has won his last three starts, however, and scored the most important win of his career when nipping Highland Reel while turning back in distance in the 1 1/2-mile Hardwicke.

Highland Reel, the 2015 Secretariat Stakes winner, has been slightly disappointing in three 2016 starts after beating Flintshire by 1 1/2 lengths last December in the Group 1 Hong Kong Vase. He was fourth and no match for Postponed in the Sheema Classic on the Dubai World Cup card and was no factor in a return trip to Hong Kong this spring before bouncing back in the Hardwicke.

The John Gosden-trained Wings of Desire makes his first start since the Derby on June 4 and gets a significant break in the weights, getting in at 121 pounds to the 133 burden his older rivals carry.

Erupt, a Niarchos family homebred, hasn’t won in a year but might have contending form that’s somewhat obscured right now. He was a very decent fifth in the Arc last year, and his sixth of 18 in the Japan Cup also was not bad at all. Erupt was out of his element on heavy ground when last in the Prix d’Ispahan and would not have to improve much off his second to the solid Silverwave last out in the Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud to win.

◗ Time Test, whose season has been hampered by wet weather in England, finally gets the good-to-firm going he needs and should win the Group 2 York Stakes over four rivals Saturday at York. Among his opponents is Mondialiste, whose second in the 2015 BC Mile is looking more aberrant with each subsequent start. Time Test is at base the better horse, and the York has often yielded runners for the Arlington Million, which will be contested Aug. 13.