07/02/2010 11:00PM

Twice Over proves uncatchable in Eclipse


Twice Over led his four rivals a merry dance in the $750,000 Eclipse Stakes at Sandown Park on Saturday as he led virtually every step of the way in the 1 1/4-mile Group 1 as the 13-8 favorite. Two lengths clear at the quarter pole after having set a fast pace under Tom Queally, the 4-year-old son of Observatory weakened visibly in the later stages but held on gamely for a half-length victory over the 33-1 outsider Sri Putra.

Viscount Nelson, aided by the first-time blinkers applied by Aidan O Brien, was an improved third, another half-length behind the runner-up, but Dar Re Mi, running off a 17-week layoff since her Dubai Sheema Classic heroics, weakened to finish fourth, six lengths behind the winner as the continually disappointing Zacinto trailed home a tailed off last. Mawatheeq refused to enter the gate and was scratched. The winning time on good to firm ground was a fast 2:04.64, albeit 1.64 second slower than the time recorded by Sea the Stars in last year s race.

In following up on his late running half-length second to Byword in the Prince of Wales s Stakes at Royal Ascot, Twice Over was giving trainer Henry Cecil his fourth Eclipse triumph but his first since 1978 with Gunner B. The Newmarket-based conditioner has Twice Over s agenda for much of the next year firmly established. He will seek a repeat of his 1 1/4-mile, Group 1 Champion Stakes victory at Newmarket on Oct. 16, and will also take another stab at next March s Dubai World Cup, a race in which he finished 10th this year on the Meydan Tapeta surface. When asked about a second shot at the Breeders Cup Classic, in which Twice Over finished third last year on the Santa Anita Pro-Ride surface but which will be run on dirt at Churchill Downs this year, Cecil was more sanguine, saying that he would leave it up to owner Khalid Abdullah.