05/12/2017 12:10PM

Slight edge to Brametot in wide-open French 2000 Guineas

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Brametot is the mild ante-post betting favorite for Sunday’s Group 1 French 2000 Guineas, but the straight-course mile at Deauville with a 13-strong field could fall in several different directions.

Brametot was conservatively managed last year at age 2 by trainer Jean-Claude Rouget – who never has won the French Guineas– winning three of four starts while kept to maiden and conditions races. But Rouget rolled Brametot out for his 3-year-old debut in the Group 3 Prix Fontainebleau last month at Chantilly, and Brametot impressed.

The colt, by the young sire Rajsaman, blew the start and spotted his rivals several lengths, but by the head of the long homestretch, he had caught up to the pack, and over the next 2 1/2 furlongs, he mowed them down one by one while under little pressure from jockey Christian Demuro.

Brametot won by 2 1/2 lengths, and considering the early trouble he caused himself, one assumes he was even more superior than that margin.

Stunning Spirit, second in the Fontainebleau, has a connection to another Guineas contender, Inns of Court. Trained by Andre Fabre for Godolphin, Inns of Court makes his stakes debut Sunday after winning his lone start at 2 by one length over Stunning Spirit, then capturing a conditions race last month at Saint-Cloud in his prep for Sunday’s class test.

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Fabre won the French 2000 Guineas two years ago with Make Believe, while last year it was trainer Aidan O’Brien notching his fourth win in the race with The Gurkha, and O’Brien, of course, is back for more this year.

O’Brien’s top rider, Ryan Moore, is on 20-1 chance Peace Envoy, while it is Seamie Heffernan who has the ride on the better fancied of O’Brien’s pair, Orderofthegarter. Orderofthegarter has won three of four starts but makes his group-level stakes debut Sunday, and if his tactical history holds, he will be found on or near the pace.

National Defense is the second choice at about 9-2 in early Guineas betting, which seems high considering that he has the race’s best résumé. The winner of the Group 1 Jean-Luc Lagardere last year at 2, National Defense’s lone start this season produced a second-place finish in the Prix Djebel behind Al Wukair, who returned with a good third in the English 2000 Guineas.

National Defense raced too keenly in his 3-year-old debut and made the front too soon but clearly can factor with much improvement at all Sunday.

The Guineas is scheduled for 10:15 a.m. Eastern. One race before it comes the Group 1 Prix Saint-Alary for 3-year-old fillies over 1 1/4 miles. At the top of the early betting markets are Monroe Bay, Lady Frankel, Vue Fantastique, Gold Luck, and Hebah.