07/27/2010 11:54AM

Starfish Bay takes on European males

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Starfish Bay will be the latest American-trained horse to test the depth of the British sprint division when she tackles males at Goodwood on Thursday in the five-furlong, $154,000 King George Stakes. Newly upgraded to Group 2 status this year, the race serves as a prep for the Group 1 Nunthorpe Stakes at York on Aug. 20.

While she will be stepping up markedly in class, Starfish Bay has the credentials to succeed at Goodwood. Trained by Todd Pletcher for Gainesway Thoroughbreds, the 4-year-old daughter of Elusive Quality has won three of her last four, all of them ungraded stakes between five and 5 1/2 furlongs. Most recently on June 13, she set a new track record of 1:00.76 for about 5 1/2 furlongs on the Monmouth Park turf. Her cause will be aided immeasurably by the addition of Frankie Dettori in the saddle.

Starfish Bay must be expected to go straight to the front in this five-furlong dash, which is run over a straight but undulating course. The other speed in the race will come from recent allowance winner Elnawin and five-furlong, Group 3 Sapphire Stakes winner Glamorous Spirit. More dangerous is Borderlescott, the two-time winner of the Nunthorpe who was third two back in the five-furlong, Group 1 King’s Stand Stakes. Triple Aspect is coming off a win in the five-furlong, Group 3 Sandown Sprint Stakes in which Group Therapy was just a half-length behind in second.

Borderlescott is the 4-1 King George favorite with Kieren Fallon riding, while Starfish Bay is the 15-2 fourth favorite behind the 11-2 Triple Aspect and the 13-2 Group Therapy.

Ascot Gold Cup runner-up Age of Aquarius returns as the favorite for the Group 2, $154,000 Goodwood Cup for Aidan O’Brien. In a highly competitive renewal of this two-mile contest, he will be challenged by 1 3/4-mile, Group 3 Curragh Cup winner Tactic and Godolphin’s 1 15/16-mile, Group 2 Prix Vicomtesse Vigier winner Kite Wood. Age of Aquarius is attempting to emulate his former stablemate Yeats, who won this race in 2006 and 2008.

◗ There was an American winner at Goodwood on Tuesday, opening day the five-day Glorious Goodwood meeting as Rebel Soldier landed the 1 1/2-mile, Group 3 Gordon Stakes for his owner Earle Mack, the former American ambassador to Finland best known as the owner of Canadian Triple Crown winner Peteski and Test-Alabama double winner November Snow. Trained by Jeremy Noseda, Rebel Soldier was winning for the third time in four career starts as he held on to defeat Dandino by a head, traveling the 12 furlongs under Ryan Moore in 2:35.04 on good-to-firm ground. Although the Gordon is a St. Leger prep, Noseda doubts Rebel Soldier’s ability to stay 1 3/4 miles and is aiming his Danehill Dancer colt at the 1 1/2-mile, Group 2 Great Voltigeur Stakes, with the Canadian International and the Breeders’ Cup Turf in the back of his mind.