10/12/2017 3:06PM

Expert Eye can end Stoute's drought in Dewhurst Stakes

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Trainer Michael Stoute hasn’t won the Dewhurst Stakes since 1986, but if Expert Eye turns in the performance most expect, Stoute should win it again Saturday.

The Group 1 Dewhurst, for 2-year-olds over a straight seven furlongs, is the Saturday feature at Newmarket, and its winner often is proclaimed the winter-book favorite for the English 2000 Guineas. That surely is a position Expert Eye will occupy if he runs his record to three wins from three starts for Stoute and owner-breeder Khalid Abdullah.

Stoute’s last Dewhurst winner was Ajdaal; Abdullah last won the Dewhurst in 2010 with a colt you might have heard of named Frankel. Not to compare Expert Eye with the great Frankel, but a strong debut win in a June 15 Newbury maiden race was followed by an even stronger performance in the seven-furlong, Group 2 Vintage Stakes on Aug. 1 at Goodwood.

Ryan Moore had ridden Expert Eye, a son of the British-bred Acclamation, first out but partnered in the Challenge with the Aidan O’Brien-trained Seahenge, with Andrea Atzeni taking over on Expert Eye. Atzeni still had a nice hold on his mount three furlongs from the finish even as Expert Eye, shown daylight on the outside after being held up behind horses, cruised powerfully to the lead.

Atzeni didn’t even ask his mount until just before the furlong grounds, and by then, the Challenge was over. Expert Eye is not an especially tall horse, but he has a long, efficient, easy stride, and though he won by 4 1/2 lengths over the decent-seeming Zaman, Expert Eye appeared to have something left. The Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf-bound James Garfield finished fourth in the Challenge and in his last start won the Group 2 Mill Reef.

Eight others are entered in the Dewhurst, and O’Brien is triple-handed with U S Navy Flag, Seahenge, and Mendelssohn. Moore rides U S Navy Flag, who won the Group 1 Royal Lodge in his most recent start, a solid run that lacked Expert Eye’s flash.

The second choice in antepost wagering to the odds-on Expert Eye is Emaraaty, a Dubawi colt trained by John Gosden for Sheikh Hamdan al Maktoum. Emaraaty makes his stakes debut and finished fourth in his first race, but he was an eye-catching, front-running maiden winner over seven furlongs Sept. 23 at Newbury while beating 14 rivals with enough aplomb.

The Dewhurst is the third of seven races Saturday at Newmarket, with a scheduled post time of 10 a.m. Eastern. The course was rated good as of Thursday.