10/22/2002 11:00PM

Cox Plate draws world class field

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The W.S. Cox Plate, a 1 1/4-mile, 40-yard Group 1 contest worth $1,657,500 to be run at Moonee Valley in Australia on Saturday, has drawn a field of nine that is the equal of any of the Breeders' Cup races, which will be run the same day.

In fact, the Cox Plate has drawn Frankie Dettori away from Arlington Park, as Godolphin will employ him aboard Grandera, the Grand Lodge 4-year-old who narrowly defeated Breeders' Cup Classic hopeful Hawk Wing in the Irish Champion Stakes on Sept. 7.

As the Cox Plate's lone European challenger, Grandera faces a tough task against the defending champ, Northerly, who won his fourth group race in a row when he won the 1 1/2-mile Group 1 Caulfield Cup last Saturday, and Sunline, the gallant 7-year-old New Zealand-bred mare whose 13 Group 1 victories include two Cox Plates.

Sunline prepped with a neck second to Lonhro on the 1 1/4-mile Group 1 Yalumba Stakes at Caulfield on Oct. 12. A reversal of that form could be good enough to take the measure of both Grandera and Northerly.