03/25/2005 1:00AM

$1.74M Japan sprint wide open


Sunday's Grade 1, $1.74 million Takamatsunomiya Kinen at Chukyo, Japan, has attracted the maximum number of 18 runners, among them the first five finishers from the Grade 3 Hankyu Hai run on Feb. 27.

Keeneland Swan defeated Calstone Light O, Win Kluger, Admire Max, and Silver Zetto that day at Hanshin. With only 1 1/2 lengths separating the entire group, any of those five is eligible to score in Sunday's six-furlong race.

Equally qualified are Precious Cafe and Gallant Arrow, the first two from the six-furlong Grade 3 Silk Road Stakes at Kyoto on Feb. 6.

The 6-year-old Precious Cafe had previously taken the six-furlong Grade 2 CBC Sho over the Takamatsunomiya Kinen course and distance. Admire Max was a length back in fifth.