09/06/2007 11:00PM

Turf suits George Washington


The fall season at Longchamp begins in earnest Sunday when the Parisian track will play host to the Prix du Moulin de Longchamp, a $547,000 Group 1 contest that shapes up like the definitive mile race of the European season.

Five of its nine contestants have won a total of 11 Group 1 races. They are led by Europe's current leading miler Ramonti, an obscurely bred son of the Marju stallion Martino Alonso who is coming off consecutive wins in Goodwood's Sussex Stakes and the Queen Anne Stakes at Royal Ascot. Frankie Dettori will ride the adaptable Godolphin trainee, who won the Queen Anne on a contested lead and the Sussex from off the pace.

The enigmatic George Washington, as brilliant as can be when he feels like it, has had a novel 4-year-old campaign. Retired to stud after championship seasons at 2 and 3, he proved ineffectual in the breeding barn and returned to action in June when a neck fourth in the Queen Anne. Stepped up to 1 1/4 miles for the Eclipse Stakes on July 7, he was 1 3/4 lengths third behind Notnowcato and Authorized. Better suited to a mile, George Washington will be ridden by Kieren Fallon for the first time since his second-place finish in the Irish 2000 Guineas in May 2006.

Darjina is a first-class performer who has won both the French 1000 Guineas and the Prix d'Astarte this season. While some 3-year-old French fillies have proved capable of beating older colts in recent years, Darjina may be in a bit over her head Sunday.

Knocking on the door of her second Group 1 triumph is the 5-year-old mare Turtle Bowl. Third in Manduro's Prix Jacques le Marois at Deauville last month and just a head third behind Ramonti in the Queen Anne, she could be the value play with Olivier Peslier on board for trainer Francois Rohaut.

The Pascal Bary-trained Holocene may have been flattered when finishing a half-length second in front of Turtle Bowl but three lengths behind Manduro in the Jacques le Marois, while Geroge Washington's Aidan O'Brien-trained entrymate Astronomer Royal has disappointed twice since taking the French 2000 Guineas.

Linngari, a fast-closing second to Admire Moon in the Dubai Duty Free, has since been sixth in the Champions Mile in Hong Kong on April 29 and may be in need of a race.

With good ground expected at Longchamp, George Washington should return to winning ways in what could develop into a key prep for the Breeders' Cup Mile.