09/14/2006 12:00AM

Yeats heavy favorite in St. Leger


Europe's best stayer, Yeats, rates a skimpy odds-on choice in the Group 1, $380,000 Irish St. Leger at the Curragh on Sunday, when the biggest question he has to answer 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 he was subsequently ninth over 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, coming home fourth, beaten 1 1/2 lengths by Collier Hill.

It has been a different story this season. Yeats's reappearance came at 2 1/2 miles, in the Group 1 Ascot Gold Cup on June 22. His class was apparent that afternoon, when he powered to a four-length victory. He followed up Aug. 3 with an equally impressive five-length score in the two-mile Group 2 Goodwood Cup.

Saturday's cut back to 1 3/4 miles might have been problematic if there was a classy 12-furlong horse such as Collier Hill challenging, but that is not the case. Fracas would need to improve off his distant second to Cherry Mix in the Group 1 Rheinland-Pokal. Group 2 Yorkshire Cup winner Percussionist and Group 3 Curragh Cup winner Kastoria are adept at the Irish St. Leger distance, but with Kieren Fallon back in the saddle, Yeats should have little trouble asserting his authority.