06/17/2009 11:00PM

Yeats seeks fourth straight Gold Cup at Ascot


Yeats goes in search of his fourth consecutive win in the $407,000 Ascot Gold Cup on Thursday, but the 8-year-old son of Sadler's Wells looks like a shaky favorite in the 2 1/2-mile Group 1 race, with his failure in the listed Vintage Crop Stakes on April 26 suggesting that he may be approaching the end of his rope.

The great stayer trudged home sixth in that 1 5/8-mile contest, beaten 32 lengths by Alandi. While trainer Aidan O'Brien was naturally upset with the performance, he is confident that Yeats will bounce back Thursday when the added distance over his favorite course should be in his favor.

Hindu Kush was second in the Vintage Crop and tries Yeats again in the Gold Cup, but Geordieland and Patkai pose much bigger threats. Trained by ex-jump jockey Jamie Osborne, Geordieland ran away from Patkai for a five-length victory in the two-mile, Group 2 Henry II Stakes at Sandown on May 28. An 8-year-old son of Johann Quatz, Geordieland has been runner-up to Yeats in the last two Gold Cups and can finally get the job done this time around, as long as Yeats doesn't suddenly awaken from his slumber.

Godolphin will have three runners, but their recent form has been so poor you can almost throw out Dubai Sheema Classic winner Eastern Anthem, who was only sixth last time in the Coronation Cup, as well as Veracity and Sagara, who has done little since joining Saeed bin Suroor a few months after his third-place finish in the 2007 Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe.

* A potential star in the making, Leocorno has a class edge in the Group 2, $230,000 Ribblesdale Stakes, a 1 1/2-mile race for 3-year-old fillies. A Pivotal half sister to Guineas and King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes winner Golan, as well as to Epsom Derby runner-up Tartan Bearer, the favorite for the Prince of Wales's Stakes on Wednesday, Leocorno has won both of her starts to date. She took a one-mile Doncaster maiden in October, then suffered a slight setback early this spring before taking a 1 1/8-mile handicap at Sandown by five lengths on May 21. Trained by Michael Stoute for her owner/breeders at Ballymacoll Stud, Leocorno will be ridden by Ryan Moore.

Take the Hint, winner of the listed Pretty Polly Stakes, and Group 3 Prix Cleopatre winner Flying Cloud, who is making her first start for Godolphin since leaving Andre Fabre, may be in the race for second.

* Yogaroo will be saddled by Wesley Ward in the Group 2, $146,000 Norfolk Stakes, a five-furlong dash for 2-year-olds. Yogaroo improved to win his second start by 5 1/2 lengths on the Keeneland Polytrack on April 23 but faces a tough task against the undefeated Monsieur Chevalier, a Richard Hannon trainee who scored for the fourth time without defeat when taking the listed five-furlong National Stakes by 3 1/4 lengths three weeks ago.