07/30/2007 12:00AM

Asiatic Boy returns in tough spot


Asiatic Boy, the star sensation at last winter's meeting at Nad Al Sheba, gets his acid test at Goodwood on Wednesday when he lines up against recent Royal Ascot Group 1 winners Excellent Art and Ramonti in the $610,000 Sussex Stakes.

Now officially a 4-year-old on the Northern Hemisphere calendar, the Argentine-bred Asiatic Boy gave his 3-year-old competition four sound beatings in Dubai, his winning margins totaling 25 3/4 lengths. He was most impressive when romping home in the 1 1/8-mile UAE Derby by 9 1/2 lengths last time on March 31, but all of his races at Nad Al Sheba were on dirt. While he did win his maiden on heavy turf at San Isidro, where he also placed second in the Group 1 Gran Criterium as a 2-year-old, his South African trainer, Mike de Kock, is not sure whether Asiatic Boy likes grass as well as he does dirt, although the Sussex mile appears to be tailor made for him.

Weichong Marwing flies up from South Africa to ride Asiatic Boy, a son of the Parade Marshal stallion Not for Sale who has been lodged in Geoff Wragg's Newmarket yard since his arrival from Dubai in April.

Sussex favoritism, however, belongs to the Aidan O'Brien-trained Excellent Art. Fresh from his June 19 victory in the one-mile St. James's Palace Stakes, the 3-year-old Excellent Art will be ridden as usual by Jamie Spencer.

Frankie Dettori has the call on Godolphin's equally dangerous Ramonti. A French-bred son of the obscure Italian stallion Martino Alonso, Ramonti captured the one-mile Queen Anne Stakes, where he nosed out Jeremy on the same day that Excellent Art won the St. James's Palace.

Jeremy, trained by Michael Stoute, should not be overlooked. A 4-year-old son of Danehill Dancer, Jeremy won the Groupo2 Sandown Mile in April, has been first or second in 10 of his 13 starts, was only caught on the Queen Anne line by Ramonti, and will be ridden by reigning British champion jockey Ryan Moore. Jeremy is listed as the 9-2 fourth choice for the Sussex by Irish bookies Paddy Power, which offers Excellent Art at 7-4, Ramonti at 5-2, and Asiatic Boy at 7-2.