06/14/2011 4:12PM

Royal Ascot: Fame and Glory favored in Ascot Gold Cup marathon


Because of its 1 1/2-mile distance, unusually long by American dirt-racing standards, some refer to the Belmont Stakes, run last Saturday, as the Test of the Champion. Compared with the Ascot Gold Cup, the Belmont is mere child’s play.

One and one-half miles into the Group 1 Gold Cup, the runners at Royal Ascot on Thursday still will have a full mile left on their journey. Deep lungs and powerful heart will be prized over fleet feet, and favored Fame and Glory still has to prove he can see out the 20-furlong Gold Cup.

Fame and Glory has only recently been moved up to stayers’ distances, having made an excellent living in relatively shorter races for most of his 17-start career. Quick enough to have won over one mile in his career debut in 2008, Fame and Glory had the misfortune of being a high-quality 3-year-old in 2009, the sophomore season of Sea the Stars. Fame and Glory finished second to him in the Epsom Derby and the Irish Champion Stakes, and was sixth in Sea the Stars’s Prix de l’Arc d’Triomphe that year.


But while Sea the Stars was hustled off to the breeding shed, Fame and Glory has stuck around for more racing success. In 2010, he won 4 of 6 starts, and trainer Aidan O’Brien apparently came into 2011 determined to make a true long-distance horse out of Fame and Glory. Fame and Glory won over 1 5/8 miles in his seasonal bow, then beat 2010 Ascot Gold Cup winner Rite of Passage (since injured) over 1 3/4 miles late last month at Leopardstown.

It will take another six furlongs of work to land Thursday’s Gold Cup, where Fame and Glory is expected to have 14 rivals. The toughest of them may prove to be Brigantin, owned by Team Valor and trained by Andre Fabre, and a winner over two miles May 22 in a French Group 2.

Ward has juvenile sprinter in Norfolk

It will take a fraction of Gold Cup time to decide the five-furlong, Group 2 Norfolk Stakes earlier on the card, a 2-year-old race in which the American horse, Everyday Dave, should have a decent chance. Trained by Wesley Ward and to be ridden by Jeffrey Sanchez, Everyday Dave was a sharp debut winner over Keeneland’s Polytrack in April before scoring a blowout victory in a conditions race on May 2 at Chantilly.

The Norfolk goes as the Thursday opener and is followed by the Group 2 Ribblesdale Stakes, with the Gold Cup going as race 3, post time scheduled for 10:45 a.m. Eastern.