09/13/2006 11:00PM

Yeats heads Irish St. Leger


Europe's best stayer, Yeats rates an odds-on choice in the Group 1, $380,000 Irish St. Leger at the Curragh on Sunday, when the biggest question he faces may be whether the 1 3/4 miles is too short for him.

A 5-year-old son of Sadler's Wells, Yeats won Epsom's 1 1/2-mile Coronation Cup at the Group 1 level in June 2005, but was subsequently ninth at the same distance in the Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud. Trainer Aidan O'Brien stepped Yeats up to staying distances in last year's Irish St. Leger, but Yeats failed again, finishing fourth.

It has been a different story this season. Yeats's first start of the year came at 2 1/2 miles, in the Group 1 Ascot Gold Cup on June 22, when he powered to a four-length victory. He followed up Aug. 3 with a five-length score in the two-mile Group 2 Goodwood Cup.

Among Yeats's Saturday opponents, Fracas would need to improve off his distant second in the Group 1 Rheinland-Pokal to have a chance. Percussionist and Kastoria are adept at the Irish St. Leger distance, but Yeats should have little trouble asserting his authority.