Updated on 09/15/2011 12:59PM

Rematch! Fantastic Light takes on Galileo


Galileo and Fantastic Light will go at it tooth and nail at Leopardstown Saturday in the $928,620 Irish Champion Stakes as speculation swirls about which, if any, Breeders' Cup races the dynamic duo will run in.

The 1 1/4-mile, Group 1 Irish Champion Stakes, the fifth leg of the Emirates World Series, is a rematch of the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Diamond Stakes in July, in which the 3-year-old Galileo outstayed the 5-year-old Fantastic Light by two lengths going 1 1/2 miles. This time the undefeated Galileo may be vulnerable, because Fantastic Light probably prefers this shorter distance.

But Galileo is already a two-time course and distance winner and Aidan O'Brien has brought him up to the race in peak shape. Fantastic Light pleased his trainer, Saeed bin Suroor, in a seven-furlong work at Newmarket Wednesday morning, but Galileo is good enough to confirm odds that could be as low as 1-2 at the 11:05 a.m. Eastern post time.

His stablemate Bach, a Group 2 winner at 1 1/4 miles last time out, is strictly in the race for third, while the Group 2 winning filly Rebelline is the best of the rest.

Galileo and Fantastic Light will both use rabbits, Ice Dancer and Give the Slip, respectively.

Reports have been spreading throughout Europe this week about future destinations for the two big horses. On Tuesday co-owner Michael Tabor said that Galileo may remain in training as a 4-year-old, and if he does, there is a chance that he may not run in the Breeders' Cup Classic.

Then on Wednesday, Godolphin racing manager Simon Crisford said that Fantastic Light's Breeders' Cup destination is not necessarily the Turf, that the Classic is under serious consideration. Some clarification should be forthcoming following Saturday's race.

* The six-furlong Group 1 Haydock Park Sprint Cup on Saturday has drawn a field of 13. Nuclear Debate, trained in France by John Hammond, rates favoritism off his recent two-length second to Mozart in the Nunthorpe Stakes. A 6-year-old Kentucky-bred gelding, Nuclear Debate will get the soft ground he loves and should repel the challenge of Three Points, a Godolphin horse.