08/22/2014 2:19PM

Ward aims for second straight score in Prix Morny


Trainer Wesley Ward can win the Group 1 Prix Morny on Sunday at Deauville in France for the second year in a row, but Ward’s entrant this year, Hootenanny, lacks the cachet of No Nay Never, the sharp winner of the 2013 Morny.

Hootenanny won his career debut in April at Keeneland and finished third in the Rollicking Stakes on the Preakness undercard in his next start. Like No Nay Never, he was shipped to England for the Royal Ascot meet in June, and there Hootenanny won the listed Windsor Castle Stakes, beating 23 foes going five furlongs. No Nay Never, however, won the more prestigious Group 2 Norfolk last year at Royal Ascot before going on to France and handing the good filly Vorda a one-length defeat.

Hootenanny will have eight foes in the six-furlong Morny, and to his potential disadvantage, the going Sunday is expected to be soft. Leandro Goncalves, a complete stranger to riding European races but Hootenanny’s pilot in his two U.S. starts, is named to ride.

Leading the opposition is the Aga Khan’s homebred Ervedya, who has started his career with three wins for trainer Jean-Claude Rouget. Ervedya was a course and distance winner in a Group 3 on Aug. 3 and has scored wins over ground labeled “soft” and “very soft.”

The Wow Signal is unbeaten in two starts and, in his most recent start, won the Group 2 Coventry Stakes over good going at Royal Ascot.

Also on the Sunday card at Deauville is the Group 1 Prix Jean Romanet, a 1 1/4-mile race for fillies and mares that should have Narniyn as the favorite. Narniyn won her last three starts in 2013 and her first in 2014 and comes into the Romanet on a two-race losing streak, but both defeats come with potential excuses.

Narniyn might not quite have stayed 1 1/2 miles two races back in the Group 1 Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud and probably was not at her best on good-to-firm going when second last out in the Group 1 Nassau at Goodwood in England. Sunday’s 10 furlongs on soft going should suit the 4-year-old filly, another Aga Khan homebred trained by Rouget.

Pollyanna, Secret Gesture, and the German invader Red Lips also merit respect.