Born To Sea bred to be champion
Four years after Henrythenavigator chinned New Approach in the 2,000 Guineas, Camelot is a hot favourite to deliver Aidan O'Brien a first British Classic win in 20.
The Ballydoyle maestro, who has won the Newmarket Group One five times, also saddles Power, while John Oxx relies solely on Born To Sea, a three-parts brother to his brilliant 2009 victor Sea The Stars.
Johnny Murtagh bids for a third success in the £350,000 feature aboard Born To Sea, Ryan Moore tries for a first on Power, while Joseph O'Brien has his first ever mount in the race on the outright market leader.
For all that there is a distinctly lop-sided hue to the book, with Camelot as low as evens and 8/1 or more available about the rest, the 18-year-old dual champion apprentice has a mighty task on his hands. In short, this could be a serious Guineas.
After recording stylish wins in both his starts at two, Camelot is clearly a smart horse but he has always looked more of an Epsom Derby prospect. In the autumn, the son of Montjeu -- whose progeny excel over further -- sluiced up in a Doncaster Group One that is a bona fide Derby trial and hasn't produced the Guineas winner since 1972.
Moreover, the lack of worthy opposition in October added to the immense visual impression that has spawned much of the hype. With slow ground likely to aid his cause, Camelot's class may yet see him through but, as is evidenced by the success of just one of five O'Brien-trained favourites in the one-mile showpiece over the past 10 years, high-profile Ballydoyle horses are often over-bet in the opening Classic.
There is plenty of better value elsewhere, Top Offer and the French contenders Abtaal and French Fifteen being three for which you could readily make a solid case.
However, this corner has long been a fan of Born To Sea, with Oxx's record of a winner and a third from just two Guineas runners a fine recommendation in itself. A son of Invincible Spirit that impressed in a soft ground Listed race on its Curragh bow in September, Born To Sea is also a brother of Galileo's and can be excused his Leopardstown defeat to Nephrite on the basis that he was later found to be lame.
When you look at how Born To Sea's stride shortened inside the distance on that occasion, it is obvious something went amiss. Granted, that Nephrite was then held on his reappearance was slightly disappointing, but most of the O'Brien three-year-olds have needed a run to put them right this term, so not too much need be read into that.
In a nutshell, Born To Sea is bred to be a champion, is unexposed and has one of the best riders in the world up top. At up to 9/1, he is overpriced for an in-form stable.
Earlier, Murtagh steers Mikel Delzangles' Melbourne Cup and Hong Kong Vase hero Dunaden in the Jockey Club Cup. A six-year-old that is patently a late bloomer, Dunaden could be hard to beat but his French compatriot Meandre is preferred.
Andre Fabre's four-year-old won the Grand Prix de Paris last year, before finishing sixth in the Arc. With today's weights in his favour, the top-rated runner should make a bold bid on his reappearance under Maxime Guyon.
Given the ground conditions, Hayley Turner is fancied to take the Palace House Stakes on last year's Nunthorpe winner Margot Did, while tonight at Churchill Downs there is also the small matter of O'Brien's bid to become the first European handler to taste glory in the Kentucky Derby.
In an open renewal of the 'Run for the Roses', he and Colm O'Donoghue team up with Daddy Long Legs.
Although last year's Royal Lodge winner floundered inexplicably on his previous dirt outing at the Breeders' Cup, he was decisive in landing the UAE Derby at Meydan in March, and is bred to handle the surface.
Whether he will be good enough or not is impossible to call, but O'Brien bagged seven Stateside Grade Ones in 2011, which makes odds of 25/1 about Daddy Long Legs seem more than a shade generous.
Best Bet: Meandre