08/17/2006 11:00PM

Sandwaki a Morny threat


Holy Roman Emperor's attempt to score Group 1 victories on successive Sundays may be derailed if the ground for Deauville's Prix Morny remains soft through the weekend.

Trainer Aidan O'Brien has warned that Holy Roman Emperor, winner last Sunday of the Phoenix Stakes at the Curragh, might not even travel from his home base at Ballydoyle in Ireland for the six-furlong, $450,000 Morny unless the ground, listed as soft on Friday morning, firms up.

But whether Holy Roman Emperor is in the Morny lineup or not, Sandwaki will be a tough nut to crack. Undefeated in three starts, he has been aimed at this race by trainer Carlos Laffon-Parias since his July 2 win in the five-furlong Group 3 Prix du Bois.

British invader Dutch Art, unbeaten in two starts, including the five-furlong Group 2 Norfolk Stakes at Royal Ascot, has yet to encounter soft ground. But German raider and Prix du Bois runner-up Boccassini, more recently the winner of the 5 1/2-furlong Group 2 Prix Robert Papin, will enjoy the going, as should Excellent Art, who was third behind Holy Roman Emperor in the Group 3 Railway Stakes and has won on very soft ground.

Deauville will also host a pair of 1 1/4-mile preps for the Prix de l'Opera on Sunday. In the Group 2 Prix Jean Romanet for older fillies and mares, Team Valor has supplemented their three-time group winner Sweet Stream for her seasonal debut. In the Group 3 Prix de la Nonette for 3-year-old fillies, Germance, winner of the Group 1 Prix Saint-Alary and runner-up in the French Oaks, rates a solid choice.