Ireland is the next way-station on the ‘Road to the Kentucky Derby’, with the Patton Stakes at Dundalk under the floodlights on Friday night offering 20 RTKD points to the winner. An intriguing field faces the starter, with the main interest centring upon Triple Crown-nominated colt Absolute Ruler taking on the promising filly Juncture.
**The odds displayed are the Jazzsports morning-line.
There are more ‘Road to the Kentucky Derby’ points available in Ireland on Friday night, with the Patton Stakes at Dundalk – north of Dublin, near the border with Northern Ireland – offering 20 points to the winner. Unlike at Kempton on Wednesday, on this occasion we have a horse already nominated to the Triple Crown.
The horse in question is Absolute Ruler who won over course and distance – Dundalk is a left-handed track, with a one-turn mile – on his debut before moving right up to a Group 2 at Leopardstown, in which he was a creditable third despite showing his inexperience when things got serious a furlong out. He ran on well when the penny dropped and on that form would be an easy recommendation, especially as the runner-up was later Group 1-placed.
However, last time out he threw in a clunker when tenth of 11 in a stakes here over seven furlongs, never in the game; although Absolute Ruler is officially top-rated, 4lb clear, that final run raises concerns.
Fellow course-and-distance winner In Ecstasy has won twice since being gelded, showing improvement here on his most recent start when spotting weight all round and demonstrating plenty of resolve in the closing stages for a narrow win. He makes his stakes debut now and is ready for the move up.
Others to have won on Dundalk’s synthetic surface are Morning Soldier, who took a maiden over seven furlongs before disappointing over the same course and distance behind Doitforandrew, who was eighth in a stakes at Santa Anita last month on his first start Stateside, Angel Girl, who got up in the last few jumps to win a maiden over six furlongs and will certainly appreciate stretching out to a mile today, and Sister Bridget, who turns out for the second time in a week after getting the job done over course and distance at the fourth attempt.
If a filly is to beat the colts it’s more likely to be Juncture, who hails from the powerful yard of Ger Lyons and who showed her share of class when runner-up in a Group 3 at Leopardstown in July. The winner went on to be runner-up in the Group 1 Moyglare Stud and the form is strong, although Juncture does have a long layoff to overcome and is making her debut on synthetics.
Curragh maiden winner John The Baptist was only eighth behind Absolute Ruler in that Group 2 at Leopardstown, beaten another four lengths, and although he has the scope to do better he faces a difficult task, as does Mercurial, who posted an improved effort on his first run for a new trainer but is one-for-ten and may need an easier spot.
|Horse||Jockey||Horse Racing Odds courtesy of JazzSports|
|ABSOLUTE RULER (USA)||G M Ryan||+250|
|IN ECSTASY||D P McDonogh||+600|
|JOHN THE BAPTIST||M A Enright||+800|
|MERCURIAL||S D Bowen||+1600|
|MORNING SOLDIER||W J Lee||+1200|
|ANGEL GIRL||B M Coen||+1400|
|JUNCTURE||C T Keane||+175|
|SISTER BRIDGET||G P Halpin||+1600|
Betting Prediction for Patton Stakes:
The focus is on Absolute Ruler, who is nominated to the Triple Crown, but the class belongs to the filly JUNCTURE, who is the choice despite a long absence from the track.
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