11/25/2002 12:00AM

Dettori, Falbrav deny Sarafan in Japan Cup

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Sarafan was denied victory in the $3.89 million Japan Cup on Sunday after a rough battle with Italian invader Falbrav, who gave Frankie Dettori his second big race triumph of the weekend at Nakayama.

Falbrav finished a nose in front of Sarafan, but trainer Neil Drysdale and jockey Corey Nakatani were not finished fighting yet. A claim of foul was lodged against the winner, who was leaning in on Sarafan near the line. Earlier, Sarafan had drifted out a bit, brushing with Falbrav inside the sixteenth pole.

The stewards disallowed the Americans' claim and Falbrav, a 4-year-old Luciano d'Auria-trained son of Fairy King, won at 19.50-1.

Nakatani, however, believed Sarafan got the worst of bumping.

"The stewards did a bad job," he said. "Falbrav bumped into me. I'm not happy or satisfied at all."

Dettori, on the other hand, was over the moon. On Saturday he guided the 19.80-1 Eagle Cafe to victory in the $2.02 million Japan Cup Dirt in which the Americans Reba's Gold was ninth and Abreeze 12th.

"I'm the happiest man in the world," Dettori exclaimed as he dismounted Falbrav, who is the first non-Japanese-trained horse to win the Japan Cup since Pilsudski in 1997.

Falbrav, who was coming off a dull ninth behind Marienbard in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, surpassed the form which had won him a pair of Group 1 contests in Italy, the Premio Presidente della Republica and the Gran Premio di Milano.

Symboli Kris S, the 7-5 favorite in the field of 16, missed the break but finished well to be third, just a neck behind Sarafan, who was sent off at 34.30-1.

There were just 2 1/2 lengths separating first from seventh. Defending champ Jungle Pocket ran well off a seven-month absence to be fifth, while Breeders' Cup Turf flop Golan finished seventh after being close up throughout.

Falbrav was timed in 2:12.20 for the 1 3/8 miles on firm ground. Next year, both the Japan Cup and the Japan Cup Dirt will return to a newly renovated Tokyo Racecourse.