06/16/2008 11:00PM

Yeats tries for third Gold Cup win

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Yeats goes in search of a third consecutive victory in the $485,000 Ascot Gold Cup on Thursday at Royal Ascot, but the undefeated French invader Coastal Path is poised to deny the Aidan O'Brien-trained 7-year-old in the 2 1/2-mile Group 1 marathon.

As he did prior to last year's Gold Cup, Yeats prepped with a win in the listed 1 5/8-mile Vintage Crop Stakes at Navan on April 27, doing only what was necessary in posting a three-quarter-length victory over a modest field. Johnny Murtagh will handle the reins aboard the son of Sadler's Wells, who is Ladbrokes' 5-4 favorite in the 11-runner contest.

O'Brien withdrew his European champion stayer Septimus at the final Gold Cup entry stage, leaving the Andre Fabre-trained Coastal Path as Yeats's main competitor. Perfect in six career starts in France, Coastal Path, a 4-year-old British-bred son of Halling, is a half-brother to Reefscape, the four-length runner-up to Yeats in the 2006 Gold Cup. Coastal Path has won his last four outings at just less than two miles at the Group 2 and 3 level, so the Gold Cup will be a step up in class and distance for him, one that he just may be capable of handling with Stephane Pasquier aboard.

Finalmente, winner of the two-mile Group 2 Henry II Stakes, and Geordieland, last year's Gold Cup runner-up and recent winner of the 1 3/4-mile Group 2 Yorkshire Cup, are both dangerous. Le Miracle, winner in October of the 2 1/2-mile Group 1 Prix du Cadran, has disappointed in two tries this season, while Arc third Sagara failed in his first start for Godolphin after having been gelded.

A typically subpar Group 2, $291,000 Ribblesdale Stakes, a 1 1/2-mile race for 3-year-old fillies, features English Oaks also-rans Mochita and Kitty Matcham, and Musidora Stakes third Dar Re Mi.

In the $155,000 Norfolk Stakes, a five-furlong dash for 2-year-olds, Baytown, a two-time winning son of the hot first-year sire One Cool Cat, is preferred to Prolific, a Richard Hannon-trained son of Compton Place.