Gayego, Godolphin's leading sprinter, makes his United States return in the Grade 1 Triple Bend Handicap over seven furlongs today at Hollywood Park in California. The five-year-old son of Gilded Time steps up in distance having raced over six furlongs on his five previous appearances, including a disappointing eighth-place in the Dubai Golden Shaheen at Meydan Racecourse on March 27. Gayego ended last season with two strong performances at Santa Anita. He missed out in a four-way photo for the Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Sprint in November, and won the Grade 1 Ancient Title Stakes the previous month.
He also scored in a dirt allowance race at Saratoga on his first US start last season. Rafael Bejarano takes the ride on Gayego today. "He was a little disappointing in Dubai earlier this year," trainer Saeed bin Suroor said. "But he's ready to race and he has won on both his previous starts at Hollywood Park, so the course and surface won't be an issue." Yesterday, Starspangledbanner followed up last month's success at Royal Ascot with another Group 1 victory in the July Cup at Newmarket.
Now trained by Aidan O'Brien in Ireland, the horse was steered over towards the far rails by jockey Johnny Murtagh in the six-furlong dash. The pair then battled the uphill finish to edge out by a neck over Equiano, the mount of Michael Hills. * Agencies