10/18/2007 12:00AM

Unbeaten juveniles clash in Dewhurst

EmailThe European juvenile championship will be on the line at Newmarket on Saturday when New Approach and Raven's Pass clash in a battle of unbeatens in the Group 1, $509,000 Dewhurst Stakes, a seven-furlong race that overshadows the $814,000 Champion Stakes, the race from which this Champions Day card takes its name.

Trained in Ireland by Jim Bolger, New Approach has followed in the precise footsteps of a former stablemate, last year's European 2-year-old champion Teofilo, who won the Group 3 Tyros , the Group 2 Futurity, and the Group 1 National stakes before capturing the Dewhurst by a head over Holy Roman Emperor.

By Galileo out of Irish Champion Stakes winner Park Express, New Approach has won all four of his races, all at seven furlongs, by a combined margin of 8 3/4 lengths. Those victories have come on courses labeled heavy, soft, yielding, and good to firm, so the soft ground expected on Saturday should not pose a problem. Kevin Manning takes his regular place in the saddle.

Trained by John Gosden, Raven's Pass made it 3 for 3 at seven furlongs when he won the Group 3 Solario Stakes, defeating subsequent Groupo2 Royal Lodge Stakes winner City Leader by seven lengths. He is, however, untested on soft ground, as is Godolphin's Group 1 Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere winner Rio de la Plata. In fact, Godolphin has warned that Rio de la Plata, who was second, 1 3/4 lengths behind New Approach in the National, will not run if the ground doesn't firm up.

The ultra-deep Dewhurst also features the presence of McCartney, a Mark Johnston-trained son of In the Wings who is coming off a 2 1/2-length score in Doncaster's seven-furlong Group 2 Champagne Stakes, and the Barry Hills-trained Dark Angel, the half-length winner of Newmarket's six-furlong Group 1 Middle Park Stakes over Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf pre-entry Strike the Deal.

Trainer Richard Gibson decided to pass the Breeders' Cup Turf and the Canadian International with Doctor Dino, and run him instead in the 1o1/4-mile Group 1 Champion Stakes. But the soft ground may work against Doctor Dino, who won the Man o' War winner and ran third in the Arlington Million.

Notnowcato, whose Group 1 victories this season came at the expense of Dylan Thomas in the Tattersalls Gold Cup and Authorized in the Eclipse Stakes, would be no surprise, but the choice is Literato. Second in the French Derby, he has since won at 10 furlongs in the Group 2 Prix Guillaume d'Ornano and the Group 3 Prix du Prince d'Orange. While this will be his first try against older horses, Literato should love the soft going with Christophe Lemaire aboard.

Godolphin's three-time Group 3 winner Creachadoir may find 1 1/4 miles too far. The Aidan O'Brien-trained Eagle Mountain is a threat off his win on soft to heavy ground in the 1 1/4-mile Group 2 Royal Whip Stakes. O'Brien will also saddle soft -ground specialist Mount Nelson, who runs for the first time since taking the Group 1 Criterium International last Oct. 29.