05/26/2017 10:56AM

Winter goes from longshot to heavy favorite in Irish 1000 Guineas


The filly Winter won the English 1000 Guineas over her favored stablemate, Rhododendron, at odds of close to 10-1 but won’t sneak up on anyone Sunday at The Curragh, where Winter bids for a second classic victory in the Group 1 Irish 1000 Guineas.

Winter is one of eight 3-year-old fillies entered in the one-mile Guineas and deservedly will be an odds-on favorite. Winter is trained by Aidan O’Brien after having a quiet three-start 2-year-old campaign for trainer David Wachman, who retired at the end of 2016. Winter raced wide and without cover while making her 3-year-old debut in a Guineas trial at Leopardstown and ran the race of her life May 7, winning the English 1000 Guineas by two lengths.

If Winter doesn’t take a step backward and none of her seven opponents takes a significant step forward, she will give O’Brien his sixth win in the race. Besides Winter, he sends out Hydrangea, Roly Poly, and Asking, and the race is replete with other O’Briens as well. Aidan’s son, Joseph, trains Intricately, who will be ridden by Joseph’s brother Donnacha, while Aidan’s daughter Ana has the mount on Asking.

The solid second choice in antepost betting, Rehana, is trained by Michael Halford for the Aga Khan. Rehana will appreciate the good-to-firm going that’s expected Sunday and comes into the Guineas following a career-best showing in winning the Group 3 Athesi Stakes on May 1 at Naas.

Aidan O’Brien also has three runners in the card’s second Group 1, the Tattersalls Gold Cup, but Minding is not among them. The Gold Cup had been the target for Minding’s second start this year, but the two-time champion filly has been taken out of training, her connections announced this week, and won’t race again until at least the fall.

In her absence, the 1 5/16-mile Gold Cup offers a hodgepodge of choices, with Deauville, Decorated Knight, and Moonlight Magic the tepid favorites. Deauville and Decorated Knight both traveled to America to race last year, but only Deauville actually started. Decorated Knight got loose in the Arlington quarantine barn the night before the Arlington Million and had to be scratched, while Deauville, facing older rivals, finished third in that race after winning the Belmont Derby.

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Both horses raced in the $6 million Dubai Turf, neither to great effect, with Decorated Knight sixth and Deauville seventh. In their defense, the sodden course that night suited neither horse, and both should do better with firmer ground Sunday.

◗ There’s also a Group 1 race for older horses on Sunday at Chantilly, with six set to start in the Prix d’Ispahan over 1 1/8 miles. Zarak is the horse to beat after a somewhat troubled fourth-place finish in the Dubai Turf and a close second last out in the Group 1 Prix Ganay. Zarak could get good ground for the first time in three years, and that probably helps his chances of beating Dicton, Usherette, and Robin of Navan.

◗ On Thursday at San Isidro in Argentina, Ordak Dan earned an automatic berth in the Breeders’ Cup Turf by winning the Group 1 Gran Premio 25 de Mayo, a Breeders’ Cup Challenge race. The 8-year-old Ordak Dan finished ninth in the 2015 BC Turf after qualifying for the event with a win in the same race.