Dante Stakes Betting

Established in 1958, the £150,000 Group 2 Dante Stakes is the featured event of the three-day Dante Festival held each May at York Racecourse, one of the premier tracks in Europe. The race takes place on Day Two, preceded by the Group 2 totesport.com Middleton Stakes for fillies and mares aged four and older.

Like the Middleton Stakes, the Dante Stakes is sponsored by totesport and covers a distance of one mile, two furlongs and 88 yards on York’s left-handed Knavesmire turf. However, this event is restricted to Thoroughbred three-year-olds. Runners carry nine stone even, with an allowance of three pounds for fillies. A penalty of three pounds is applied to any entrant claiming a Group 1 win during the year.

The inaugural running was named after the North Yorkshire champion Dante, who won the 1945 Epsom Derby and became the 20th century’s only northern-trained winner of that race. The first Dante Stakes was captured by American-bred Bald Eagle, rated among the top 100 U.S. racehorses of the past century.

Since then, nine horses have managed to win both the Dante Stakes and the Epsom Derby, including three in the last six years—North Light in 2004, Motivator in 2005 and Authorized in 2007. The first horse to accomplish the Dante-Derby double was St Paddy in 1960, followed by Shirley Heights in 1978, Shahrastani in 1986, Reference Point in 1987, Erhaab in 1994 and Benny the Dip in 1997.

The title of top trainer in the Dante Stakes is held by Henry Cecil. His seven victories started with Approval in 1970 and climaxed with Tenby in 1993. Reference Point was one of Cecil’s protégés. He also trained the 1979 winner Lyphard’s Wish, Hello Gorgeous in 1980, Simply Great in 1982 and Claude Monet in 1984.

The jockey who stands out from the crowd here had success six times. That’s Pat Eddery, who rode Beldale Flutter to triumph in 1981 and then added wins aboard Hot Touch in 1983, Damister in 1985, Red Glow in 1988 and Sanglamore in 1990. He finished up his string of victories on Tenby in 1993.

As a leading trial for the Epsom Derby, the Dante Stakes is closely watched by bookmakers and handicappers alike. Aidan O’Brien has been the trainer to beat in recent years. He brought Saratoga Springs to the starting line in 1998 to become his first winner. In 2006, he got his second victory with Septimus. Then, just to pick up the pace a bit, O’Brien trained the most recent two winners, Black Bear Island in 2009 and Cape Blanco in 2010.

No jockey rode two or more of O’Brien’s winners, but Kieren Fallon and Johnny Murtagh each piloted one—Septimus and Cape Blanco, respectively—while adding additional victories of the their own. Fallon succeeded for Sir Michael Stoute’s Dilshaan in 2001 as well as North Light. Murtagh found success on Michael Bell’s Motivator.

Punters hoping to win at long odds might want to look closely at the Dante Stakes. In 1991, when bookmakers william hill held the title spot, Environment Friend paid 20/1 with a win by five lengths. Then no horse delivered a double-digit payout until Salford Express won at 12/1 odds in 1999, when Grosvenor Casinos was the sponsor.

Favourites took over in the new millennium, winning five of eight races from 200 to 2007. Then, in 2008, Tartan Bearer dashed home at 10/1, and Black Bear Island kept the party going by rewarding backers at 12/1 the following year.

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