10/12/2010 1:57PM

Frankel, Dream Ahead to face off in Dewhurst


The stars will be come out at Newmarket on Saturday afternoon when the headquarters of British racing will conduct its annual Champions’ Day program. Topping the bill are a pair of red-hot Group 1’s, the Champion Stakes at 1 1/4 miles for 3-year-olds and up, and the seven-furlong Dewhurst Stakes, Britain’s definitive 2-year-old contest.

As important as the Champion Stakes is, it is the Dewhurst that will take center stage as it features a mouthwatering clash between Frankel, the 10-length winner of the Royal Lodge Stakes at Ascot on Sept. 25, and Dream Ahead, the equally impressive nine-length winner of the Middle Park Stakes at Newmarket on Oct. 1

Both horses will be trying something different in the Dewhurst. Trained by Henry Cecil for Khalid Abdullah, Frankel will be cutting back from the mile of the Royal Lodge to the Dewhurst’s seven furlongs while trying Group 1 company for the first time. The son of Galileo wowed workwatchers Saturday with a seven-furlong move on Newmarket’s Rowley Mile course as he cruised past an older workmate by 10 lengths.

Dream Ahead, meanwhile, will be stepping up to seven furlongs for the first time, after two victories at six furlongs in the Middle Park and Deauville’s Prix Morny. Trained by David Simcock, the Diktat colt has won his three starts by a combined 20 1/2 lengths, earning a Racing Post Rating (RPR) of 125 for his Middle Park score. Frankel, who earned an RPR of 123 for his Royal Lodge victory, has won his three starts by a total of 23 1/2 lengths. They will be challenged by Godolphin’s Saamidd, a son of Street Cry who has won his two races by a combined 9 1/4 lengths, having most recently taken Doncaster’s seven-furlong, Group 2 Park Stakes by 2 1/4 lengths.

While none of the principals in the Dewhurst is thinking Breeders’ Cup, the Champion Stakes – a Win and You’re In race for the BC Turf – could produce a runner or two for Churchill Downs. Slated to run are Arlington Million winner and Breeders’ Cup Turf-bound Debussy, Godolphin’s Queen Elizabeth II Stakes winner Poet’s Voice, defending champ Twice Over, and one-mile, Prix du Moulin de Longchamp winner Fuisse. And then there is Vision d’Etat, who just might be the best 10-furlong turf horse in the world with four Group 1 victories at that distance to his credit.

They will be opposed by Gitano Hernando, who until a few days ago was being considered for either the Classic or the Turf. Instead, Team Valor’s Marco Botti-trained 4-year-old, the recent winner of the 1 3/8-mile, Group 3 Diamond Stakes on the Dundalk Polytrack, will have his season finale in the Champion, after which he will be shipped to Dubai for the Dubai World Cup, in which he finished sixth, beaten just 2 1/4 lengths, this past March.