09/09/2005 12:00AM

Centaur Stakes analysis



1. Homan Tequila 2. Maruka Kiseki 3. Keeneland Swan

HOMAN TEQUILA is a lightly raced, improving 3-year-old stepping back up into graded stakes company in a subpar Japanese sprint division. The winner of his last two going 6f against lesser, he can track the pace from the 3 post under perennial Japanese champion rider Yutaka Take and pounce late. MARUKA KISEKI, another who has won his last two going 6f in fast times against lesser, breaks from post 2 and should be running late along with the choice. KEENELAND SWAN is the class of the field. Recently returned to Japan after chasing England's best sprinters in a pair of Group 1's, he was a course and distance winner in the Grade 3 Hankyu Hai in February and was second in the Grade 1 Takamatsunomiya Kinen at this 6f distance a month later. He has had many chances, however, and is coming off a two-month absence and two halfway 'round-the-world journeys. GALLANT ARROW has a great deal of sprint experience at this level but was only third to Homan Tequila when dropped down in class last time at Kokura. This race serves as the fifth leg of the first annual Global Sprint Challenge but has failed to attract a single foreign runner. Hong Kong's Cape Of Good Hope, winner of the second leg Lightning Stakes in Australia, and two-time Hong Kong Sprint winner Silent Witness are expected to be at Nakayama for the sixth leg of the Challenge, the Sprinters Stakes, on Oct. 2. Either would have been a short-priced favorite in the Centaur.