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2000 GUINEAS: Twelve will challenge Frankel

The top 3 colts in the betting for this year's Group 1 2000 Guineas Stakes at Newmarket (post time 3:10 British Summer Time) - Frankel, Pathfork and Roderic O'Connor - won't have to look too hard to see where the other one is after drawing spots 1-2-3 in the starting gate.  The three colts have combined for ten victories in twelve career races, with Roderic O'Connor's 3rd and 2nd place finishes last summer/fall the only non-wins amongst the trio.  Today's running of the 2000 Guineas will be the 203rd in the race's history.

The ground at Newmarket is listed as "Good to Firm", which should suite both Frankel and Pathfork but might be a bit firmer than Roderic O'Connor prefers, although he may be versatile enough to handle a wide-range of conditions.

Dubawi Gold has won over Good to Soft ground in the past but has done his best work over all-weather/synthetic surfaces in recent weeks.  This spot may be asking a bit too much from him.

Goldolphin's Casamento is a bit of an intriguing colt in this spot; he's been solid in four lifetime starts with a 2nd to Pathfork at the Curragh the only blemish on his record.  He's got a bit of tactical speed in him which should allow him to stay a bit close to the . However, like most in this field, he probably needs to combine a career-best effort with a sub-par performance from Frankel if he's to come out on top.  Tough task.

Saamidd, another Goldolphin entry, finished 17 lengths behind Frankel in the Dewhurst Stakes at this same course last fall.  That's a lot of ground to make up. He didn't get the best of starts that day so he's likely due for some improvement, but he's still got a lot of work to do.

Native Khan interests me for exacta and trifecta possibilities as he's run well at Newmarket and over firmer going in the past.  Might be a nice "horse for course" play in the underneath spots.

The Pick

Form-wise, it's had to come up with anything other than Frankel in this spot; he's beaten everything that's faced him (including several of his top challengers in this race) and he done it fairly easily every time.  He seems to perform well over firmer ground and he's shown the ability to win from last or by tracking the early speed.  Pathfork appears to be the obvious top challenger but we really don't know how strong those Curragh races were until he matches up with the favorite in this spot.  Value-wise, he might be the shot that you take to try and beat Frankel...of course, there's no value in picking a horse that doesn't win and it looks hard for most in here to stop the Frankel train.

Roderic O'Connor, even though I'm not entirely sure about his ground preference, is probably a bit of a better value-play than Pathfork.  His win at Saint -Cloud certainly flattered Frankel.  The favorite in that race, French Navy, came in undefeated in three starts after wins at Deauville and Longchamp.  The ground was listed as Heavy that day, so that may have had a lot to do with the outcome.

Frankel is the obvious pick on top but the odds won't get you much for a straight win play.  My strategy might be for a small win bet on Roderic O'Connor (if his odds stay at 10+, no play if anything lower) backed up by a strong exacta play with Frankel on top of Roderic O'Connor and Newmarket/firm ground specialist Native Khan.

Post Horse Jockey Trainer Best Odds
1 Frankel T. Queally H. Cecil 4/7
2 Pathfork F M Berry Mrs. J. Harrington 13/1
3 Roderic O'Connor R. Moore A P O'Brien 10/1
4 Fury J Murtagh W. Haggas 16/1
5 Dubawi Gold R. Hughes R. Hannon 50/1
6 Slim Shadey L. Morris J S Moore 250/1
7 Happy Today M. Dwyer B. Meehan 150/1
8 Loving Spirit R. Havlin J. Toller 66/1
9 Saamidd M. Barzalona S. Bin Suroor 33/1
10 Casamento F. Dettori M. Al Zarooni 12/1
11 Native Khan O. Peslier E. Dunlop 18/1
12 Broox W. Buick E J O'Neill 150/1
13 Rerouted M. Hills B W Hills 100/1