10/07/2016 9:55AM

Churchill streaking into Group 1 Dewhurst Stakes


Churchill is the early favorite for the 2017 English 2000 Guineas and therefore will be heavily favored Saturday at Newmarket in the Group 1 Dewhurst Stakes for 2-year-olds over seven furlongs.

Churchill – and this is becoming a broken record in European racing these days – is a Galileo colt owned by Coolmore and trained by Aidan O’Brien. He finished third in his career debut in May but since then has won four races in a row in progressively impressive fashion and comes into the Dewhurst after a 4 1/4-length romp in the Group 1 Vincent O’Brien National Stakes. The two behind him that day, Mehmas and Lockheed, are Group-stakes class, and Churchill has won on going ranging from soft to good. The Newmarket course Saturday is expected to be good-to-firm.

South Seas, trained by Andrew Balding for Qatar Racing, has won all three of his starts and won them comfortably, and had little trouble ascending to Group stakes competition and stretching from six to seven furlongs when capturing the Group 3 Solario in his most recent race. South Seas was flattered when the Solario runner-up, Salouen, finished second last weekend in the Group 1 Jean-Luc Lagerdere at Chantilly.

Bluepoint, a Godolphin colt, is a Group 2 winner, but he has yet to race beyond six furlongs and was beaten in July by Mehmas, the distant runner-up behind Churchill last month in Ireland. Seven Heavens, a Juddmonte-owned Frankel colt trained by John Gosden, makes his Group stakes debut but has started his career with two wins and in his debut beat the decent Lockheed by one length. He won over seven furlongs last out at Goodwood and probably has room to improve again Saturday.

:: Enjoy news and analysis from DRF? Unlock access to handicapping analysis, real-time coverage, reports, charts, and more. Start your 30-day trial for 1¢. (First-time members only.)