08/16/2013 4:36PM

Ward seeks more European success with No Nay Never in Prix Morny


No Nay Never answered with a definitive “yes” the question of whether his sharp American debut could lead to success at Royal Ascot in England, and daring trainer Wesley Ward will be hoping for a resounding “oui” when No Nay Never runs Sunday in the Group 1 Prix Morny at Deauville in Paris.

Ward, who embraces long-distance shipping and international competition, was the first American to win a Royal Ascot race with a U.S.-based runner, and he did it again June 20 when No Nay Never, a Keeneland debut victor, scored a one-length victory in the Group 2 Norfolk Stakes.

The Morny, a six-furlong straight-course race offering a purse of about $470,000, has been No Nay Never’s target since days after the Norfolk, and Ward sent the Scat Daddy colt and two other horses to France on Aug. 9. California-based jockey David Flores, who rides No Nay Never for the first time Sunday, was tabbed to ride all three Ward-trained horses, the first of whom, Here’s Johnny, finished fourth in a listed stakes Thursday at Deauville.

The Deauville turf is rated good, a plus for No Nay Never, and the extra furlong with which No Nay Never must contend Sunday should not be an issue, considering his strong finish in the five-furlong Norfolk, where he beat 13 foes.

The England-based filly Rizeena, one of 10 others entered, might prove No Nay Never’s strongest rival. Rizeena has won 3 of 5 starts, including a victory in the Group 2 Queen Mary for fillies, and she started poorly when finishing second as the heavy favorite last month in the Group 2 Duke of Cambridge Stakes.

The Morny shares top billing on Deauville’s card Sunday with the Group 1 Prix Jean Romanet. The 1 1/4-mile race restricted to fillies and mares drew a moderate field of six, with the winner likely to come from the trio of Romantica, Dalkala, and Sarkiyla, the latter two both trained by Alain de Royer-Dupre.

◗ Group 1 winner Gordon Lord Byron, who was considered for the Breeders’ Cup Mile last fall, scored a neck victory on Thursday at Leopardstown in the Group 3 Desmond Stakes.