05/01/2004 12:00AM

Haafhd dominates in 2000 Guineas


Haafhd won the 2000 Guineas at Newmarket on Saturday with a dominating performance that, even at this early stage of the season, stamps him as one of the world's premier milers.

Sweeping to the lead two furlongs from home, he ran on strongly at 5-1 to defeat Godolphin's Snow Ridge by 1 3/4 lengths with the Aga Khan's Azamour a length farther back in third. One Cool Cat, the 9-5 Aidan O'Brien-trained favorite, did no running at all, plodding home 13th of 14. He was later reported by the track vet to be suffering from an irregular heartbeat.

By Group 2 mile winner Alhaarth out of Irish 1000 Guineas winner Al Bahathri, Haafhd was bred to be a miler. He proved that he truly is by romping home by five lengths in the Group 3 Craven Stakes over the Guineas course and distance in his seasonal debut. Haafhd's 2000 Guineas victory was the second for owner-breeder Hamdan al Maktoum, who first won the race with Nashwan in 1989. It was also the second Guineas triumph for trainer Barry Hills, who won the race 25 years ago with Tap on Wood.

Ridden by Barry's son Richard, Haafhd covered the undulating, straight mile on good ground in 1:36.64. Sheikh Hamdan, who collected $309,337 as the winning owner, suggested that the Group 1 St. James's Palace Stakes, a one-mile race at Royal Ascot on June 15, could be Haafhd's next assignment.

Snow Ridge finished well but was not catching the winner. Rider Frankie Dettori said that Snow Ridge, a son of Indian Ridge, would be aimed at the Epsom Derby on June 5, as will Azamour. Dermot Weld announced that his fourth-place Grey Swallow would go next in the Irish 2000 Guineas at The Curragh on May 22, while plans for French invader Whipper, who led briefly before being headed by Haafhd and fading to fifth, are fluid.

Martillo wins Prix du Muguet

Last year's German 2000 Guineas winner, the Ralf Suerland-trained Martillo, won Saturday's Group 2 Prix du Muguet at Saint Cloud over soft ground.

Recently a close fifth in the Dubai Duty Free, Martillo held off a late challenge from the filly Sarre to score by a head at 4-1 under William Mongil while traveling the mile in 1:36.40. My Risk, winner of the Group 3 Prix Edmond Blanc over the Muguet course and distance on March 28, was fifth, beaten 2 1/4 lengths. Last October's Group 2 Prix Daniel Wildenstein winner, Special Kaldoun, finished 10th of 11.

The soft footing prompted Andre Fabre to scratch Nebraska Tornado from the race.

* The Capannelle in Rome was the scene of a pair of Group 2 classic miles on Saturday. In the first, the 1-2 favorite Spirit of Desert won the Premio Parioli, or Italian 2000 Guineas, by two lengths from Bravo Tazio. A son of Irish 2000 Guineas winner Desert Prince, Spirit of Desert got the distance in 1:41.20 on ground labeled heavy. He was followed to the winner's circle by Rumba Loca, who took the Premio Regina Elena, or Italian 1000 Guineas.