08/12/2001 11:00PM

O'Brien notches two more


Aidan O'Brien had a typical weekend at the office with Group 1 victories in Ireland and France, courtesy of Johannesburg and King Charlemagne.

O'Brien has now won 11 Group 1 races this year. Added to his 11 Group 3 tallies, O'Brien already has 22 European pattern races in his 2001 collection.

In running away with the Phoenix Stakes at Leopardstown, the 2-5 Johannesburg left no doubt that he is Europe's best 2-year-old. A Hennessy colt who was a $200,000 yearling purchase by Michael Tabor, Johannesburg displayed a remarkable turn of foot to defeat Miss Beabea by five lengths, getting the six furlongs on yielding to soft ground in 1:13.20.

This was the fourth time in a row that O'Brien has won the Phoenix Stakes, having scored previously with Lavery, Fasliyev, and Minardi. Fasliyev and Minardi went to become European juvenile champions, but Johannesburg may be the best of the lot.

"He has two extra gears," O'Brien said, "and his acceleration is electric."

Rider Michael Kinane said, "He is the best 2-year-old I have ever ridden."

Johannesburg will run next in the six-furlong Prix Morny at Deauville on Aug. 26 with the six-furlong Middle Park Stakes at Newmarket on Oct. 4 a possibility.

Like Johannesburg, King Charlemagne was coming off a pair of Group 3 triumphs entering the 6 1/2-furlong Prix Maurice de Gheest at Deauville. He rallied from last to first under Jamie Spencer to catch Godolphin's apparent winner, Three Points, near the line, clocking 1:19.30 on soft ground.

King Charlemagne was sent off at 4-5 as part of a coupled entry with Minardi, who finished an unthreatening sixth.

A full brother by Nureyev to Godolphin's juvenile Group 3 winner Meshaheer, King Charlemagne could go for a second Group 1 prize in the six-furlong Haydock Park Sprint Cup on Sept. 8.

At Cologne, Sabiango outgamed German Derby winner Boreal to take the Group 1 Grosser Kolner Pokal by a half-length at odds of 5-2.

Trained by Andreas Wohler, Sabiango, a 3-year-old son of Acatenango, repeated a previous success over Boreal in the Group 2 Oppenheim-Colonia-Union-Rennen. In establishing himself as a prime contender for the Grosser Preis von Baden, fourth leg of the Emirates World Series on Sept. 2, Sabiango covered the 1 1/2 miles in 2:29.41. Mutafaweq, never at ease in the good to soft going, weakened to finish last of eight for Godolphin and Frankie Dettori.