07/25/2016 3:06PM

In Sussex Stakes, 3-year-olds look best


A 3-year-old has beaten his older rivals in the Sussex Stakes in six of the last eight years, and the two older horses to win the race during that span, Frankel and Solow, were historically great milers. The horses ages 4 and up in Wednesday’s edition of the Group 1 mile at Goodwood in England have no such quality, which is why the Sussex is widely viewed as a showdown among a trio of 3-year-olds – Galileo Gold, The Gurkha, and Awtaad.

All three won Guineas races this year: Galileo Gold the English, The Gurkha the French, and Awtaad the Irish. Galileo Gold also won at the highest level at Royal Ascot when he beat The Gurkha by 1 1/4 lengths in the St. James’s Palace Stakes, though The Gurkha had a troubled trip that day in a race run over soft ground. The course at Goodwood, over which Galileo Gold won the Vintage Stakes one year ago, is expected to be on the quick side of good for Wednesday’s tilt, and that could make for a fairer fight between the three sophomores.

The last time he raced on good ground, The Gurkha, trained by Aidan O’Brien, won the French 2000 Guineas by more than five lengths, though the horses left in his wake to fill out the major placings have since showed themselves to be inferior to the cream of this crop. The Gurkha tried older rivals and 1 1/4 miles last out in the Eclipse Stakes at Sandown, was handed a half-length defeat by Hawkbill, and now turns back to a mile, potentially a better trip for the son of Galileo.

Wedged between Galileo Gold’s wins in the English 2000 Guineas and the St. James’s Palace was a 2 1/2-length loss to Awtaad in the Irish 2000 Guineas, and Awtaad, who had won four straight before his third in the St. James’s Palace, still is about three times the price of the other two 3-year-olds in antepost betting on the Sussex.

Lightning Spear, who in his most recent start finished third behind Tepin in the Queen Anne Stakes at Royal Ascot, appears to have the best chance among the older set, who carry eight pounds more than the 3-year-olds. Post time for the Sussex is 10:10 a.m. Eastern.