08/08/2004 11:00PM

Somnus has Group 1 victory

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Gary Stevens won his first French Group 1 race on Sunday aboard the 14-1 Somnus in the $245,540 Prix Maurice de Gheest at Deauville.

Somnus assumed command just past halfway in the straight 6 1/2-furlong sprint, then held off the late challenge of Whipper by a neck, with Dolma another neck back in third.

This was the first victory for Somnus in three starts this season, and he will be aimed by his trainer, Tim Easterby, at a defense of his Group 1 Haydock Park Sprint Cup on Sept. 4. The winning time of 1:16.00 equaled the Maurice de Gheest stakes record.