05/12/2011 6:05PM

York: Carlton House best in Dante Stakes

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The six-horse Dante Stakes, a major Epsom Derby prep on Thursday at York in northeastern England, included three major Derby hopefuls in Carlton House, Seville, and World Domination, but World Domination failed to progress from a strong maiden win, and Carlton House emerged as the sharpest of the trio with a 1 1/2- length victory over Seville in the Group 2 Dante.

Trained by Michael Stoute and ridden by stable jockey Ryan Moore, Carlton House became the early-betting favorite for the Epsom Derby with his victory Thursday. Were he to win again at Epsom, it would give his owner, the Queen of England, her first tally in the prestigious 1 1/2-mile race.

Carlton House, making his first since a romping maiden win last October, got a little hot before the Dante and was quite reluctant to enter the starting gate. But once the field was sent on its way, Carlton House relaxed nicely several lengths off the lead, and it was World Domination who failed to settle in behind the walking pace of Pisco Sour. Seville raced closest to the pacesetter and responded to the first challenge from Carlton House about a quarter-mile from the finish, but the winner steadfastly increased his tempo through the final furlong, edging away from Seville. Winning time for the one mile, two furlongs and 88 yards over good going was a slow 2:13.49.

The top three finishers are likely to head on to the Derby, but World Domination seems unlikely to participate.

Midday starts year with Middleton Stakes win

One race before the Dante, 2009 Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf winner Midday won her seasonal debut for the first time in her career, capturing the Group 2 Middleton Stakes by two lengths over pace-setting Sajjhaa.

Midday finished seventh in her career debut in 2008, second in her first start of 2009, and second in the 2010 Middleton before notching a comeback win Thursday for trainer Henry Cecil, jockey Tom Queally, and owner-breeder Khalid Abdulla. Second in the 2010 BC Filly and Mare Turf, Midday was timed in 2:10.05 for the one mile, two furlongs and 88 yards, more than three seconds faster than the winning time in the Dante Stakes.