Duke of York Stakes Betting

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The £100,000 Duke of York Stakes is one of three sprints sponsored by Blue Square on the opening day of the three-day Dante Festival each May. As a Group 2 event, it a featured highlight of Day One, along with the Group 3 Tattersalls Musidora Stakes.

Inaugurated in 1968, the Duke of York Stakes covers a distance of six furlongs on the straight turn of the York Racecourse. It is widely viewed as a preliminary to the Group 1 Golden Jubilee Stakes held in June at Ascot, where many of the leaders here have had success.

This flat race is open to Thoroughbreds age three years old and upwards, with an allotment of eight stone eleven pounds for the youngest runners and nine-stone-seven for those aged four and older. Fillies and mares receive an allowance of three pounds, and there are penalties of five pounds and three pounds, respectively, for winners of Group 1 and Group 2 races since August 31 of the preceding year.

Oddly enough, there was no Duke of York (second son of the British monarch) when this version of the Stakes was first run. A precursor by the same name was run at Kempton Park as a handicap over a mile and a quarter, but it was discontinued in the 1950s and is not considered part of the history of this event.

The initial meeting of York Racecourseís Duke of York Stakes was won by a horse named Hard Water. Perhaps the greatest champion to run here was Handsome Sailor in 1987-88, the first and only double winner of the race. The fastest horse was the Irish four-year-old Shalford in 1992, tearing through the six furlongs in 1:08.82, more than a full second better than any other winning time before or since.

When International Factors became the first sponsor of the Duke of York Stakes in 1997, it was still classified as a Group 3 event. Victor Chandler took up sponsorship in 1999, followed by Hearthstead Homes in 2003, when the race gained its current Group 2 status. Blue Square, the interactive gaming division of the Rank Group plc, has held the title since 2009.

Of all the jockeys to vie for first place in the Duke of York Stakes, three share the top of the leader board with four wins apiece. Lester Piggott was the first to accomplish it with rides on The Brianstan in 1971, Steel Heart in 1975, Thatching in 1979 and Vorvados in 1983. Next came Steve Cauthen on Flash ní Thunder in 1980, Jester in 1982, Indian Ridge in 1989 and Lugana Beach in 1990.

Most recently, Michael Hills claimed four victories of his own aboard Handsome Sailor in 1988, Owington in 1994, Royal Applause in 1997 and Steenberg in 2006. No current rider is in a position to match this feat, as Hills is the only pilot since 1995 to register more than a single win here, including Kieren Fallon, Michael Kinane, Frankie Dettori and other accomplished jockeys.

The trainer who leads all others in bringing winners to the Duke of York Stakes is Barry Hills with six triumphs. Apart from Handsome Sailorís two wins, the victories came from noble Mark in 1974 and Jester in 1982, plus the aforementioned Flash ní Thunder and Royal Applause.

Over such a short distance, an explosive pace is the critical edge that separates winners from the also-rans. No three-year-old has won here since Sampower Star in 1999, and only a trio of four-year-olds have succeeded since then. The five-year-old mounts seem to have to power this event demands, winning seven of the last thirteen times out. That time period also includes winning seven-year-old, Steenberg, along with the 2010 winner, Prime Defender, at age six.

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