10/11/2012 3:59PM

Newmarket: Breeders' Cup Juvenile Sprint berth awaits Middle Park winner


Two-year-olds – principally the undefeated Dawn Approach – are in the spotlight Saturday at Newmarket in England.

Dawn Approach, 5 for 5 to start his career, takes on just five rivals in the Group 1 Dewhurst Stakes over seven furlongs. The Group 1 Middle Park, a six-furlong dash, drew a field of 10, with Reckless Abandon the likely favorite.

The Middle Park is a Breeders’ Cup Challenge Win and You’re In race, with the winner gaining fees-paid entry into the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Sprint plus $20,000 in travel expenses. Last year’s winner, Crusade, did go on to the Breeders’ Cup, but ran in the BC Juvenile, finishing eighth.

Dawn Approach, meanwhile, won Ireland’s first 2-year-old race of 2012, a five-furlong sprint on March 23, but he has proven to be far more than merely precocious. Purchased privately this summer by Godolphin, but left in the hands of his original trainer, Jim Bolger, Dawn Approach has climbed the class ladder with aplomb. Stepped up to the Group 2 Coventry Stakes at Ascot in his first start outside Ireland, he won by three-quarters of a length over Olympic Glory, the colt who captured the Group 1 Jean-Luc Lagardere last weekend at Longchamp. And Dawn Approach’s most recent start, in the Group 1 Irish National Stakes, produced a performance at least as strong, with Dawn Approach coming home almost five lengths best in his first try at seven furlongs.

Ashdan, winner of his first two starts, appears to be the main threat. Trained for Juddmonte Farms by John Gosden, Ashdan began his career at seven furlongs and might wind up being better suited to longer distances.

Reckless Abandon, the Middle Park favorite, is based in England with Clive Cox, but has made his last two starts in France, most recently winning the Group 1 Prix Morny on Aug. 19, his fourth triumph without a loss. Reckless Abandon, said to be a quirky type, beat the Aidan O’Brien-trained George Vancouver to win the Morny and has another O’Brien trainee, Cristoforo Colombo, standing in his way Saturday.

Cristoforo Colombo clipped heels and fell at the head of the stretch when favored in the Group 1 Phoenix Stakes on Aug. 12 at the Curragh, but has enough talent to have finished third behind Dawn Approach in the Coventry earlier this year.