12/11/2006 12:00AM

With Cup win, Pride goes out on top


Pride established herself as the the world's leading distaff Thoroughbred with a narrow victory in the Hong Kong Cup at Sha Tin on Sunday as Ouija Board failed to make it to the racetrack, having been scratched from the Hong Kong Vase due to lameness in her left foreleg.

On a day immersed in controversy, Takeover Target was also scratched from the Hong Kong Sprint by order of the stewards as a Sunday morning drug test once again revealed traces of a banned substance. And Rebel Rebel, who finished eighth in the Hong Kong Mile as America's lone representative on International Raceday, was forced to run without blinkers as the pair he had been wearing did not conform to local rules.

Emerging from the confusion intact, Pride came from last to first in the day's feature, the $2.5 million Hong Kong Cup at 1 1/4 miles. Christophe Lemaire gained the lead on the Peintre Celebre 6-year-old at the eighth pole and was soon two lengths in front, but Lemaire had to work hard to maintain a short head edge at the line over the Japanese-trained Admire Moon. Vengeance of Rain, who had beaten Pride by a half-length in last year's Cup, was third, 1 3/4 lengths further back, while 2004 Cup winner Alexander Goldrun was ninth, beaten 7 1/4 lengths. Pride, who was 5-2, clocked 2:01.60 on good to firm ground to conclude a career in which she won 9 of 26 starts for earnings of $3,915,539.

"She has been a marvelous filly who has a brilliant turn of foot," said her trainer, Alain de Royer-Dupre. "Today is a special story in a long career."

Pride ends 2006 on a high note, with her unlucky neck second in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe sandwiched between victories in the Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud and the Champion Stakes. All three of her Group 1 wins this season came against males.

Ouija Board's remarkable career also came to an end, but not in the manner owner Lord Derby and trainer Ed Dunlop had foreseen. Her attempt at a second straight title in the $1.8 million Hong Kong Vase was stymied when she came up lame on Saturday morning. Slated to visit Kingmambo next spring, the 5-year-old Cape Cross mare bows out with 10 wins from 22 starts for earnings of $6,312,552, the most ever by a European-trained filly or mare. Her seven Group or Grade 1 triumphs came in four different countries and included two Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turfs, the English Oaks, the Irish Oaks, the Hong Kong Vase, the Prince of Wales's Stakes, and the Nassau Stakes.

In her absence, Canadian International winner Collier Hill was left to pick up the pieces of the Hong Kong Vase. Ridden by Dean McKeown, Collier Hill, an 8-year-old son of Dr Devious trained by Alan Swinbank, just held on by a nose over the John Oxx-trained mare Kastoria, getting the 1 1/2 miles in 2:27.10 at odds of 11-1. The Royer-Dupre-trained Shamdala was third, with the Aidan O'Brien entrant Scorpion seventh in the nine-runner field.

Swinbank said that Collier Hill would be aimed at the the Dubai Sheema Classic at Nad Al Sheba on March 31, a race in which he finished second this year.

Takeover Target's owner-trainer, Joe Janiak, faces a fine of $89,000 as well as a lengthy suspension as a result of the positives for 17-alpha hydroxyprogesterone hexaxnoate taken from his 7-year-old gelding. He will also forfeit the travel costs that all foreign-based International Races participants receive from the Hong Kong Jockey Club.

In the absence of Takeover Target, the locally trained Absolute Champion denied Silent Witness a third $1.5 million Hong Kong Sprint title. The 5-1 winner, an Australian-bred 5-year-old trained by David Hall, defeated Hong Kong's favorite horse by 4 1/4 lengths, getting the one-turn six furlongs under Brett Prebble in a track-record 1:07.80. British invader Benbaun was third, three-quarters of a length behind Silent Witness.

Blinkers or no blinkers, the Richard Dutrow-trained Rebel Rebel never got involved in the $2 million Hong Kong Mile as he was a one-paced eighth all the way under Edgar Prado, beaten a total of 4 1/2 lengths. Mile honors went to another Hong Kong trainee, the Australian-bred The Duke. Piloted by Olivier Doleuze, The Duke, a 14-1 son of Danehill, held on by a head over the favored Armada, with Italian invader Ramonti third. Dance in the Mood could only manage 12th. Clocking the mile in 1:33.40, The Duke captured the Mile after having finished fourth, third, and second in its last three runnings. He was sent out by this year's leading Hong Kong trainer, Casper Fownes.