08/20/2010 12:39PM

Libranno stands out in strong Prix Morny

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Libranno, perhaps the best of Richard Hannon’s five juvenile group-race winners this year, heads a contentious Group 1 Prix Morny at Deauville on Sunday. A six-furlong sprint worth $448,000, the Morny includes five group-race winners at this still-early stage of the 2-year-old season, but Libranno is the only one of them to have succeeded twice at that level.

The leading member of the first crop of two-time Group 1 mile winner Librettist, Libranno has never been headed in three starts, all of them at the Morny distance. He followed a Newmarket maiden score with victories in the Group 2 July Cup and the Group 2 Richmond Stakes and is obviously a danger to take them all the way with Richard Hughes at the controls.

Irish Field, the winner of the 5 1/2-furlong, Group 2 Prix Robert Papin at Maisons-Laffitte, will be making his first start for British trainer John Hills after being switched from the Madrid yard of Maurizio Delcher-Sanchez, but Christophe Soumillon retains the ride on the Dubawi colt.

Three precocious fillies are all in with a chance. Pontenuovo won her maiden race second time out when she beat colts in the six-furlong, Group 3 Prix de Cabourg at Deauville on Aug. 1. Keratiya, owned by the Aga Khan, nipped Irish Field by a nose in her last start in the five-furlong, Group 3 Prix du Bois at Chantilly. Soraaya invades from England, where she landed Ascot’s six-furlong, Group 3 Princess Margaret Stakes.

The joker in the pack is Dream Ahead. A Diktat colt out of Land of Dreams, he won the five-furlong, Group 2 Flying Childers Stakes as a 2-year-old, Dream Ahead won his maiden at first asking by nine lengths going six furlongs at Nottingham on July 16.

In the Group 1, $320,000 Prix Jean Romanet at 1 1/4 miles for older fillies and mares, Stacelita tries to go one better than her recent second to Midday in the Group 1 Nassau Stakes. Midday was the winner of the Group 1 Yorkshire Oaks on Thursday, so it is difficult to see past Stacelita, a Monsun filly who won last year’s French Oaks winner and had previously beaten males in Longchamp’s Group 3 La Coupe. Third in the Nassau, the Godolphin-owned Antara will have her supporters, as will last year’s Prix de l’Opera winner, Shalanaya.

Lily of the Valley will attempt to extend her five-race winning streak in the $102,000, Group 3 Prix de la Nonette at 1 1/4 miles for 3-year-old fillies. Last time she won the 1 1/8-mile, Group 3 Prix Chloe at Chantilly, but she will be tested by Never Forget , winner of the 1 1/2-mile, Group 2 Prix de Mallerem and by Zagora, the course-and-distance winner of the Group 3 Prix de Psyche on July 31.