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Sunday, Nov. 24, 2002

Eagle Cafe sprints to JC Dirt title

Staff writer

FUNABASHI, Chiba Pref. -- Italian ace Frankie Dettori helped stage an upset in the Japan Cup Dirt Saturday as he brought the Japanese-based Eagle Cafe home a length ahead of Regent Bluff for the win at Nakayama Race Course.

News photo
Italian jockey Frankie Dettori reacts in joy after riding Eagle Cafe to the Japan Cup Dirt title on Saturday at Nakayama Race Course.

Race favorite Admire Don finished in third a neck later, followed by Preeminence in fourth and the highly touted Gold Allure in fifth place, 2 1/2 lengths off the winner.

Dettori gave Eagle Cafe a fabulous ride, one that put the 5-year-old American-born son of Gulch in the best position for a shot at victory. Known as a come-from-behind finisher, Eagle Cafe was uncharacteristically midfield through the backstretch. Moving up through the bend on the rail Dettori found himself looking for room three off the front as the field entered the straight with Yutaka Take on Gold Allure in the lead.

"Nakayama is a very sharp track. It's very hard for a horse to make ground in the straight," Dettori said. "I wanted to be as close as I could but I didn't expect him to be so willing in the early part of the race."

With 100 meters to go, Eagle Cafe surged ahead catching and passing Gold Allure.

It was the third time in as many years since the race's inauguration that the money has stayed at home, and this year, especially, home was where it belonged.

The foreign team turned in its worst performance yet. Reba's Gold from the U.S. topped the four overseas invitees with a ninth-place finish with fellow American Abreeze next in 12th place. Hong Kong's Red Sun finished 14th in the field of 16, with Germany's Pappus a far last.

Former jockey trainer Futoshi Kojima has raced Eagle Cafe in Dubai and France, both times with little success.

Owner Kiyoshi Nishikawa said he had watched the race without the usual nervousness.

"I always have hopes but I wasn't expecting that much so I was able to sit back and relax today," he said. "I was in heaven when I saw him moving up in the stretch."

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