05/11/2010 12:00AM

Workforce follows proven path


Challengers to Epsom Derby favorite St Nicolas Abbey will line up in force at York on Thursday for the $223,000 Dante Stakes, the winner of which has gone on to win the 1 1/2-mile Derby in three of the last six years.

A closely matched field of six has been entered for the 1 1/4-mile and 88-yard, Group 2 contest, and four of those have serious Epsom Derby credentials. Workforce is in the nature of a talking horse. By King's Best out of a mare by Sadler's Wells, he won his only start when taking a seven-furlong Goodwood maiden by six handy lengths on Sept. 23, an effort that makes him the 7-1 second favorite for the Derby behind St Nicholas Abbey at 3-1. Moreover, the horse that was second that day, Oasis Dancer, next won the $1.6 million Tattersalls Million. Michael Stoute will give a leg up on Workforce to Ryan Moore.

Saeed bin Suroor runs his 1 1/4-mile, Group 3 Sandown Classic Trial winner Chabal. Frankie Dettori will ride the son of Galileo, whose form was enhanced when Sandown Classic Trial runner-up Azmeel won the Group 3 Dee Stakes at Chester on Friday.

Aidan O'Brien, who is sitting pretty with the Derby favorite, saddles Cape Blanco. The Galileo colt concluded a perfect 3-for-3 juvenile campaign with a victory in the seven-furlong, Group 2 Futurity Stakes at Fairyhouse and will have Johnny Murtagh aboard.

Coordinated Cut got his 3-year-old season off to a good start when he won Newmarket's 1 1/4-mile Tattersalls Trophy on April 14. Jamie Spencer will ride the Michael Bell-trained son of Montjeu.

Midday returns in Middleton Stakes

Earlier on the York card, Midday will make her first start since her winning venture in the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf in the Group 2, $148,000 Middleton Stakes for older females at 1 1/4 miles and 88 yards. The Henry Cecil-trained daughter of Oasis Dream will be ridden by Eddie Ahern, who deputizes for the suspended Tom Queally. Her task is a difficult one as she will be meeting Sariska and High Heeled, the two fillies she split when second in last year's English Oaks.

The Bell-trained Sariska, who went on to win the Irish Oaks and finish a close second to Dar Re Mi in the Yorkshire Oaks, makes her first start since finishing third to Twice Over in the Champion Stakes on Oct. 17.

The John Gosden-trained High Heeled, who is part-owned by George Strawbridge, concluded her 3-year-old campaign on Oct. 24 with a victory against males in the 1 1/2-mile, Group 3 St Simon Stakes.