07/17/2014 4:52PM

Tarfasha inherits favorite's role in Irish Oaks


The biggest news regarding Saturday’s Group 1 Irish Oaks at The Curragh pertains not to who’s running, but to who is not.

Taghrooda would have been heavily favored in the Irish Oaks after a sharp last-start win in the Epsom Oaks, but the John Gosden-trained, Hamdan al Maktoum-owned filly was taken out of Irish Oaks consideration to instead test older males in the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes on July 26 at Ascot.

It perhaps is no coincidence that Sheikh Hamdan still has the ante-post Irish Oaks favorite, a Dermot Weld-trained filly named Tarfasha. Beaten nearly four lengths by Taghrooda at Epsom, Tarfasha previously won an Irish Group 3 over 10 furlongs, but she is no certainty to stay the 1 1/2 miles  of the Irish Oaks.

Surprisingly, it has been six years since Aidan O’Brien won an Irish Oaks, but he has five chances in this year’s edition. Marvellous, to be ridden by Ryan Moore, won the Irish 1000 Guineas over one mile on The Curragh course, and probably stays 1 ½ miles better than her sixth-place finish in the Epsom Oaks suggests. Bracelet already has won over 1 1/2 miles, having taken the Group 2 Ribblesdale Stakes at the Royal Ascot meet.

O’Brien’s son, Joseph, has won Group 1 races all over the world, but far less well known is Ana O’Brien, Joseph’s sister, who has an Irish Oaks ride in Beyond Brilliance.

Al Kazeem launches comeback at Newbury

Three-time Group 1 winner Al Kazeem races Saturday at Newbury in England, the 6-year-old’s first start since he was taken out of stud duty last year after proving infertile.

Al Kazeem is one of 10 entrants in the listed Doom Bar Stakes at about 1 ¼ miles. Trained by Roger Charlton, Al Kazeem ranked among the top older horses in Europe last season,  winning the Eclipse Stakes, the Juddmonte International, and the Irish Champion.