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Monday, Oct. 28, 2002

Symboli Kris S. overcomes older foes


Staff writer

FUNABASHI, Chiba Pref. -- Youth and age paired off for a winning run in the Emperor's Cup on Sunday, with the field's youngest member, the 3-year-old colt Symboli Kris S. and Japan's most senior jockey, Yukio Okabe, 53, bringing home the money by 3/4 length in a course-record-tying time of 1:58.5.

News photo
Symboli Kris S. wins beating a hard-driving Narita Top Road to the wire.
News photo
Yukio Okabe holds the winning cup.

The decision to forego the Kikkasho, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for a 3-year-old, and take on the Emperor's Cup, Japan's most prestigious race and "the" showcase for older horses, had undoubtedly been difficult.

"People had been asking what a 3-year-old was doing in the Emperor's Cup, but now I think he can hold his head high and show them what he's made of," Okabe said of the American-born colt.

The 13-2, third-choice Symboli Kris S. held off Sunrise Pegasus after taking the lead at the 150-meter mark and beat a hard-driving Narita Top Road to the wire. The second-pick Narita Top Road caught and passed Sunrise Pegasus mere strides before the end to finish in second place by a neck. Air Shakur finished in fourth while race favorite T.M. Ocean disappointed in 13th.

Okabe, who celebrates his 54th birthday Thursday, won his sixth Emperor's Cup, but his first at the Nakayama venue, where the race was being held for the first time in 35 years due to renovation of the Tokyo Course.

After the race, open tears were visible among the winning family members. Yoko Wada, 72, of the owner family, was overjoyed at the win. Crying, the elder Wada threw her arms around Okabe as he emerged from the weight room.

The Wadas' dream of capturing the 2,000-meter fall version of the Emperor's Cup had been realized. Earlier champions of the Wada racing family, Speed Symboli, the first Japanese to participate in the Arc, and Japan triple crown winner Symboli Rudolf, had both won only the spring version of the race.



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