08/27/2001 12:00AM

France: What's the word? Johannesburg


Johannesburg could join Galileo and Mozart as part of Aidan O'Brien's assault on the Breeders' Cup after a convincing win in the Group 1 Prix Morny at Deauville.

Having watched Johannesburg slam Group 2 winner Zipping by 1 1/2 lengths in the six-furlong Morny, O'Brien said he would give Johannesburg, an undefeated 2-year-old Hennessy colt, a brief rest before deciding between the seven-furlong Group 1 Dewhurst Stakes at Newmarket on Oct. 20 and the Breeders' Cup Juvenile a week later.

With Galileo already earmarked for the Classic and Mozart for the Sprint, the presence of Johannesburg at Belmont Park would create the strongest invasion party by a European trainer in Breeders' Cup history.

Johannesburg's victory as part of a 3-5 Michael Tabor/Mrs. John Magnier entry with pacesetter Line Rider did not come without trouble.

Just as Mozart had overcome a slipped saddle when taking the Nunthorpe Stakes on Thursday, Johannesburg's victory came despite his having thrown a shoe. Nevertheless, he won comfortably, clocking 1:10.40 on good to soft ground.

The Morny was the thirteenth Group 1 victory for O'Brien this year, and the tenth for rider Michael Kinane, bringing the Irish jockey within two of Johnny Murtagh's Group 1 haul of 12 last year.

Earlier at Deauville, the Michael Jarvis-trained Holding Court (5-1) won for the first time since taking last year's French Derby with a front-running 2 /2-length tally over Marienbard in the 1 9/16-mile Group 2 Grand Prix de Deauville. Holding Court, a Hernando colt, thus earned himself a place in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe lineup on Oct. 7.