Thursday 15th May, 3.30pm, York, 1m 2½f (1m 2f 56y) Betfred Dante Stakes (Group 2) (Class 1) (3yo)
The Dante Stakes is a recognised trial for The Derby. The race is named after Dante who was the last horse to win The Derby trained out of a yard in the North of England. He won in 1945 when the event was held at Newmarket.
The race was established in 1958, becoming a Group 3 race in 1971 before being upgraded to Group 2 status in 1980. Ten Derby winners have come out of the race, most recently Golden Horn (pictured) in 2015, making the race a major trial for The Derby.
Favourite backers have not had a good time of it over the last dozen years with just two favourites obliging. In fact over the same period only five of the winners have been found in the first three in the betting.
All of the last 12 winners had at least one win on the Flat prior to the race. Seven of the last 12 winners won on their last start and eight of the last 12 winners had run within 38 days of the race. Course form is of little relevance as only one winner over the period had run at York before. A previous run over distances between 1 mile 2 furlongs and 1 mile 3 furlongs is a useful pointer with seven of the last 12 winners having experience over the race trip. Of these, five had previous winning form over the trip.
Looking at Official Ratings, some inexperienced horses have won the Dante recently with ratings ranging from 88 to 116 with three of the last 12 runners not having had enough previous runs to qualify for an official mark. However, in the last eight years a mark of 106 or higher would have been required to win the race on seven occasions. Only three of the last 12 winners had previous winning form at Group level prior to the race.
Crossed Baton appears to have the credentials to win the race. The Bay colt is trained by John Gosden who has his yard in reasonable form. The winner of the Listed Blue Ribbon Trial at Epsom last time out over the race distance, he is entitled to improve further. (The winning form of that race has been franked, as the placed horses have since run well at Chester.)
He encounters Good to Firm ground for the first time but had won in Good ground and on the all-weather Polytrack at Kempton so should find the going to his liking. He has the considerable assistance of Frankie Dettori (pictured) in the saddle and this son of Dansili has done everything asked of him so far winning all of his last three starts. He has two wins over the race distance and runs off an Official Rating of 103.
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