05/01/2008 12:00AM

New Approach set for Guineas mile


New Approach will put his spotless record on the line at Newmarket on Saturday in the 200th running of the 2000 Guineas Stakes.

The European champion juvenile, New Approach will be making his first start of the season in the $696,000 mile classic, but trainer Jim Bolger should have his Galileo colt ready for the biggest race thus far in his career.

The Guineas will also be New Approach's first try beyond seven furlongs, the distance at which he won all five of his starts last year, but that shouldn't pose a problem, since his sire, Galileo, was best at 1 1/2 miles and his dam, Park Express, won the 1 1/4-mile Irish Champion Stakes.

Moreover, his last outing on Oct. 20 provided New Approach with valuable experience at Newmarket when he beat his main Guineas rival, Raven's Pass, by three lengths in the Dewhurst Stakes.

The favorite's lack of a prep race is not nearly as much of a problem as it may seem, since eight of the other 14 Guineas starters will also be making their seasonal debuts.

Chief among them is Godolphin's Racing Post Trophy winner Ibn Khaldun. By Sadler's Wells out of a full sister to Breeders' Cup Mile winner Barathea, Ibn Khaldun is fresh from a winter in sunny Dubai and will be ridden by Frankie Dettori. Raven's Pass, a John Gosden-trained Elusive Quality colt, lost nothing in defeat when a short head second to the Epsom Derby bound Twice Over in the Craven Stakes, in which he showed he could stay the full mile of the straight 2000 Guineas course.

The withdrawals of Jupiter Pluvius, Fast Company, and Rio de la Plata, who will go instead in the French 2000 Guineas next Sunday, have only made New Approach's task a bit easier.

Aidan O'Brien will saddle the Group 1-placed Henrythenavigator and the untested Plan, a Storm Cat-Spain colt who won his maiden by 5 1/2 lengths at Leopardstown last time on Oct. 29. The speedy Perfect Stride, a Michael Stoute-trained son of champion sprinter Oasis Dream, will take them as far as he can, but Strike the Deal, fourth in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf and fifth in the UAE Derby, appears to have his work cut out for him, as does Stimulation, the recent nose winner of a seven-furlong Newmarket allowance.