04/15/2008 12:00AM

Craven up for grabs


Thursday's Group 3 Craven Stakes, a course and distance prep for the classic 2000 Guineas on May 3, could be as competitive as any of the previous 126 runnings of the one-mile trial at Newmarket.

Raven's Pass, currently the Guineas second choice behind New Approach, will offer many clues as to what may transpire at Newmarket on the first Saturday in May. As for New Approach, he is expected to head straight to the 2000 Guineas.

Trained by John Gosden, Raven's Pass won the Group 3 Solario Stakes in September, beating subsequent Group 2 Royal Lodge Stakes winner and Craven opponent City Leader by seven lengths. Raven's Pass then finished third, three lengths behind New Approach, in the Group 1 Dewhurst in his last start on Oct. 20.

Scintillo, a half-brother to last Sunday's Group 3 Gladness Stakes winner Jumbajukiba, is coming off an Oct. 14 win in the Group 1 Gran Criterium in Milan. Declaration of War, sixth in the Group 1 Racing Post Trophy in which City Leader was second, and River Proud, seventh in the Racing Post Trophy and winner of Newmarket's Group 3 Somerville Tattersalls Stakes last October, also look like contenders.

The untested danger is the undefeated Henry Cecil-trained Observatory colt Twice Over, who is more likely headed to the Epsom Derby than the 2000 Guineas.