06/30/2010 11:00PM

Twice Over looks solid vs. Dar Re Mi in Eclipse

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It's boy vs. girl at Sandown Park on Saturday when Twice Over and Dar Re Mi go toe-to-toe in the $750,000 Eclipse Stakes. The 1 1/4-mile, Group 1 stakes is the first weight-for-age contest on the British calendar but has drawn just a single 3-year-old in Viscount Nelson.

By any logical interpretation of recent form, Twice Over should prevail. Trained by Henry Cecil, Twice Over is a solid 10-furlong performer, having won the Group 1 Champion Stakes in October and finishing third in the Breeders' Cup Classic. He is also sharp right now, finishing a half-length behind Byword when second in the Group 1 Prince of Wales's Stakes at Royal Ascot on June 16. Tom Queally takes his usual place in the saddle.

Dar Re Mi, on the other hand, would prefer 1 1/2 miles, as she showed in her last start on March 27 when she beat males in the Group 1 Dubai Sheema Classic. She has won a Group 1 at 10 furlongs, but that was against her own sex in last year's Pretty Polly Stakes. Coming off a 16-week layoff at a distance two furlongs short of her best may be asking too much of Dar Re Mi, who will be ridden by William Buick.

Mawatheeq was very much in need of the race when 10th behind Byword and Twice Over in the Prince of Wales. A half-brother to 1000 Guineas winner Ghanaati, Mawatheeq is better judged on his half-length second behind Twice Over in the Champion Stakes, a repeat of which puts him right in the mix. Marcus Tregoning has given the mount to Richard Hills.

Third in the Irish 2000 Guineas and fifth in the French Derby, Viscount Nelson will be fitted with blinkers for the first time by Aidan O'Brien, who trained the last four 3-year-old Eclipse winners in Sea the Stars, Oratorio, Hawk Wing, and Giant's Causeway. But Viscount Nelson would have to improve markedly to have a say in the matter.

A big disappointment at a mile in his last three starts, Zacinto tries 1 1/4 miles for the first time, but there is little in his Dansili-Distant View pedigree that indicates he can stay the distance.

Sri Putra won the Group 2 Prix Guillaume d'Ornano at the Eclipse distance last August at Deauville but that was against 3-year-olds and this is much tougher.