Santa Barbara may have another chance to provide a public demonstration of her potential as one of three possible contenders for Aidan O’Brien in the Group 1 Alwasmiyah Pretty Polly Stakes at the Curragh.
A lofty reputation on the Ballydoyle gallops preceded Santa Barbara as she set out to augment last season’s juvenile win at the Curragh, in two British classic assignments over the past two months.
On each occasion, however, the daughter of Camelot finished out of the first three as less-fancied stablemates Mother Earth and Snowfall respectively won the 1000 Guineas at Newmarket and the Oaks at Epsom.
She is in the reckoning to return to the Curragh on Sunday, over the intermediate trip of 10 furlongs, with Oaks third Divinely and Irish 1000 Guineas winner Empress Josephine also bidding to extend O’Brien’s successful record in a race he has won four times in the last 10 years.
Divinely and Empress Josephine both followed their classic exploits by finishing out of the first three over contrasting distances at Royal Ascot last week.
In potential opposition this weekend, among 13 confirmations, are five more challengers within the O’Brien family.
Aidan’s eldest son Joseph supplies four – Thundering Nights, Pretty Gorgeous, who is a Group 1 winner but unplaced twice at the top level this season, My Generation and Sense Of Style – while his younger brother Donnacha may be represented by Shale.
Only two trainers still stand in the way of an O’Brien winner of this year’s race.
Jessica Harrington has three possible starters in dual group winner Cayenne Pepper, Munster Oaks runner-up Silence Please and Oodnadatta.
Willie McCreery may yet be double-handed, with three-time group winner Epona Plays and last month’s lightly-raced Blue Wind Stakes heroine Insinuendo.
The O’Briens also dominate entries for the Group 2 Comer Group International Curragh Cup
But Willie Mullins’ globe-trotting mare True Self, also still engaged in Group 3 company on the previous day of the meeting, is a notable possible challenger to the likes of Pondus, Santiago and Tiger Moth.
So too is Dermot Weld’s dual Irish St Leger heroine Search For A Song, among the 18 who remain.
The 12 juvenile fillies in the Group 2 Airlie Stud Stakes include Fozzy Stack’s pair Hermana Estrella and Cheerupsleepyjean.
The former beat subsequent Royal Ascot winner Quick Suzy on her sole start at Naas last month, while Cheerupsleepyjean outran big odds to be a good third to Gavin Cromwell’s Queen Mary Stakes heroine last week.