The Vintage Stakes appears to be very contentious with the potential for several of the seven colts running in the race to claim Group honors. Red Duke (4-1), the morning line third-choice, is the only horse in the field with a Group win to his credit.
The favored Lethal Force comes into the race with two second-place finishes and a fourth-place finish in the Coventry Stakes (Group 2) at Royal Ascot where he was beaten 1½-lengths by the Timeform rated Power (108) and Roman Soldier (107).
If Lethal Force improves off of his Ascot form he could win but two horses I like the most in this race are Red Duke and Rockinante (5-1).
Earlier this month at the Piper Heidsieck July Festival, Red Duke earned Group honors and a 110 Timeform rating narrowly defeating Chandlery in 32red.com Superlative Stakes (Group 2) at Newmarket Racecourse.
In three starts, Red Duke has never been out of the money and he should improve off of his win the Superlative Stakes.
Red Duke is a descendant of the Danzig branch of the Northern Dancer sire line and since 1990, that line has produced four Vintage Stakes winners: King Torus (2010), Orizaba (2008), Strategic Prince (2006) and Maroof (1992).
Red Duke is a precocious colt out of the first crop of Hard Spun who never earned classic honors but was a multiple Graded-Stakes winner and tough, gritty competitor in sprint and route races winning the 7-furlong Kings Bishop Stakes (G1) and finishing second in the Kentucky Derby (G1) and third in the Preakness Stakes (G1).
To date, Hard Spun is off to a good start at stud. On the Racing Post Top sires of two-year-olds list Hard Spun has four winners in six runners for a 67% strike rate.
Gone West, the damsire of Red Duke, is also the damsire of Epsom Derby (Group 1) winner Motivator and he is the sire of Zafonic, winner of the British 2,000 Guineas (Group 1), and Belmont Stakes (G1) winner Commendable.
Triple Crown winner Affirmedis the sire of the second dam, Bint Pasha – winner of the Yorkshire Oaks (Group 1) and Prix Vermeille (Group 1). In addition, the other three dams on the tail-female line – Saudia, Icely Polite and Royal Kin – were winners on the race track and producers of winners.
Of the four horses entered in the Vintage Stakes by trainer Richard Hannon, Rockinante is stepping up in class and has the least experience. But, Rockinante showed promise of more good things to come when made a nice move in the final yards of the 7-furlong Free Group Pic Maiden Stakes to win his maiden debut last month at Newmarket Racecourse.
His time of 1:26.3 is the third fastest of all the other horses entered in the Vintage Stakes and Rockinante should improve off of his maiden win. Also, Rockinante has a good pedigree and if he lives up to his breeding he should be a factor in the Vintage Stakes.
Rockinante is a descendent of the Danzig sire line. His sire, Rock Of Gibraltar, was the 2002 Cartier Champion Three-Year-Old Colt and Horse of the Year who won numerous Group sprint races and earned classic honors with victories in the England and Ireland 2,000 Guineas.
Night Shift, the damsire of Rockinante, is known for getting good two-year-old thoroughbreds. Some of his most notable progeny include Azamour, In The Grove and Dream Eater.
Acatenango, the sire of the second dam, is the damsire of 2011 Kentucky Derby winner Animal Kingdom and a legendary Classic Champion Thoroughbred and German Derby winner. In addition, Acatenango was a three-time Horse of The Year in Germany and champion sire in 1993, 1995, 1997, 1999 and 2001.
Granted, it's a big step up in class for Rockinante but if he repeats the form of his maiden win, he will be competitive.
Chandlery was a close second to Red Duke in the Superlative Stakes and I will probably use him in the bottom of the exotic wagers.
Good luck at Glorious Goodwood!