05/12/2008 11:00PM

Twice Over may pass on Dante


Epsom Derby favorite Twice Over is slated to have his final prep Thursday for the 1 1/2-mile classic in the Group 2 Dante Stakes at York, a 1 1/4-mile, 88-yard contest worth $293,000.

But trainer Henry Cecil has warned that if there isn't some ease in the ground, which on Tuesday was listed as good to firm, he might keep Twice Over on the sidelines.

Unbeaten in two starts as a juvenile, Twice Over, who is an Observatory colt out of the disqualified winner of the 1 7/16-mile Lingfield Oaks Trial, Double Crossed, was the short-head winner of the one-mile Group 3 Craven Stakes in his seasonal debut over Raven's Pass, who would subsequently run fourth in the 2000 Guineas. f he is held out of the Dante, he would be making the same move as the Epsom Derby's second-favorite, Curtain Call, who was withdrawn from Saturday's Lingfield Derby Trial because of firm ground.

Confirmed for the Dante are Centennial, the John Gosden-trained winner of the Group 3 Sandown Classic Trial, and the Godolphin-owned duo of Young Pretender, the winner last September of the Group 3 Prix La Rochette, and McCartney, the winner of the Group 2 Champagne Stakes last fall who will be making his first start for Saeed bin Suroor.

Widely regarded as the key prep for the Epsom Derby, the Dante has been won in three of the last four years by the future Derby winner: North Light in 2004, Motivator in 2006, and Authorized in 2007.