Monarch of Egypt gets chance in European Road finale in Ballysax

Jul 10, 2020 Kellie Reilly/

American Pharoah, who has the top two on the Japan Road to the Kentucky Derby, has a chance of furnishing the European Road leader as well with Monarch of Egypt in Sunday’s Ballysax Stakes (G3) at Dundalk. The Aidan O’Brien trainee meets fellow Triple Crown nominee Choice of Mine in the final scoring race in Europe.

The Ballysax offers points on a 30-12-6-3 scale, easily enough for the winner to clinch the European Road invitation. Few of those who competed in the preceding scoring races are even on the trail. That leaves Royal Lodge (G2) hero Royal Dornoch at the top of the leaderboard with only 10 points, but he will be overtaken after the Ballysax. 
Normally held on the Leopardstown turf as an early spring trial for the European classics, the Ballysax was not an original stop on the European Road to the Kentucky Derby. But when COVID-19 upended the racing calendar, it was postponed to Sunday, transferred to Dundalk’s Polytrack, and made the new finale on the European Road. It replaces the Cardinal Conditions S. at Britain’s Chelmsford, which was abandoned amid the pandemic.
Monarch of Egypt has yet to race beyond a mile, and O’Brien has wondered out loud about his stamina limitations. Nevertheless, he’ll get his chance in the about 1 5/16-mile Ballysax, rather than his alternative Sunday option in the about 7-furlong Prix Jean Prat (G1) at Deauville.
American Pharoah’s first winner when zipping home in a 5-furlong maiden as a juvenile, Monarch of Egypt finished second to the outstanding Siskin in last summer’s Railway (G2) and Phoenix (G1). He failed to run up to that level in two tries at Newmarket last fall, winding up unplaced in both the Middle Park (G1) and Dewhurst (G1).
But Monarch of Egypt has built upon his early promise this season. After a troubled seventh behind Siskin in the Irish 2000 Guineas (G1), where he was bottled up on the inside for too long, he was a near-miss runner-up in the Jersey (G3) at Royal Ascot
Monarch of Egypt hopes to tap into his parents’ stamina. His dam, the Galileo mare Up, won over as far as 1 1/4 miles in the 2012 Blandford (G2). If he passes the test, the $750,000 Keeneland September yearling could book his ticket for a Kentucky homecoming.
Stablemate Nobel Prize, a full brother to globetrotter extraordinaire Highland Reel, was also last seen at Royal Ascot but going much longer. Fifth in the 1 3/4-mile Queen’s Vase (G2), Noble Prize drops back in trip here. He’s not Triple Crown-nominated, though, and the Ballysax figures to be more of a stepping stone to future turf targets.
Choice of Mine, trained by Aidan’s son Joseph, is currently second in the European Road standings. He earned 8 points from his second to stablemate Crossfirehurricane in the Feb. 28 Patton S. at this track. Although eased in the Gallinule (G3) last out at the Curragh, Choice of Mine is entitled to do better back on Polytrack. If so, the Charles Fipke homebred might be just the type to try his luck at Churchill Downs. 
The remaining three entrants are unlikely to entertain Derby thoughts.
Dalvey brings useful turf form for trainer Denis Hogan. Fourth to well-regarded Sinawann in the Amethyst (G3) at Leopardstown, he was just edged for third by O’Brien’s New World Tapestry.
The filly Siamese, a well-named daughter of Kitten’s Joy, broke her maiden here last September. Trained by retired jockey Johnny Murtagh, she was fourth on debut to eventual French Oaks (G1) winner Fancy Blue and most recently a narrow runner-up in a premier Curragh handicap.
The Ger Lyons-trained Indicative Vote has to step up from his debut score at Roscommon.
The Ballysax is carded as the 7TH race Sunday, with a post time of 12:30 p.m. (ET), and you can watch and wager at 
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