04/27/2005 11:00PM

Oratorio has potential to stun favored Dubawi


Dubawi has become the latest incarnation of the proverbial "talking horse" in Newmarket this week as he prepares to put his tall reputation on the line in Saturday's classic 2000 Guineas Stakes.

Having arrived on Monday from Dubai, where he had wintered for Godolphin Racing, Dubawi, listed at 11-10 odds by several British bookmakers, is being described as unbeatable in some circles. But it must be remembered that only one Guineas favorite - Zafonic in 1993 - has been successful over the straight Rowley mile in the last 15 years.

The undefeated winner of the seven-furlong National Stakes at The Curragh on Sept. 19, Dubawi prepped for the $570,000 Guineas with a handy four-length score in a private Godolphin trial on the Nad Al Sheba turf on April 11. That should have advanced him enough to repel the challenges of his 18 Guineas rivals, and with Frankie Dettori aboard, he is certainly the one to beat.

But there is something of a cloud hovering over the Godolphin camp of late. Shamardal failed miserably in the UAE Derby, then the winner of that race, Blues and Royals, was knocked out of the Kentucky Derby with an injury. More recently, Suez, Godolphin's main hope in Sunday's 1000 Guineas, was withdrawn from the fillies classic with an injury.

Should Dubawi fail, who can pick up the pieces? It may be Oratorio.

The winner of last October's Group 1 Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere at Longchamp on fast ground similar to what he will encounter at Newmarket, Oratorio, an Aidan O'Brien trained son of Danehill, is bred to stay a mile. While O'Brien's first-string rider, Kieren Fallon, has opted to ride his stablemate, the unbeaten Group 3 winner Footstepsinthesand, Oratorio is the value play at 14-1 with the reliable Johnny Murtagh aboard.

Rob Roy should improve off his fast-finishing but troubled second to Democratic Deficit in the Group 3 Craven Stakes, a course and distance Guineas prep. Trained by five-time 2000 Guineas winner Michael Stoute, he looks set for a big effort at 5-1.

Kandidate and Iceman, a close third and fourth in the Craven, are two others to beware, while Group 3 winner Diktatorial holds a dark horse chance.

Clive Brittain, who saddles both Kandidate and longshot Tony James, may have a surprise package in Party Boss, a Silver Patriarch colt who has won his last six starts versus lesser on assorted dirt tracks around England.