09/24/2005 12:00AM

Dettori's mistake helps Starcraft defeat Dubawi

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Australian import Starcraft defeated favored Dubawi by three-quarters of a length in Saturday's Group 1 Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Newmarket.

A tactical error by Dubawi's jockey, Frankie Dettori, made things easier for the 5-year-old Starcraft, the 7-2 third choice.

Instead of tracking his rabbit, Blatant, as planned, Dettori took Dubawi to join Rakti and Mullins Bay in a breakaway group up the middle of the track only to end the race back on the stands side dueling with Starcraft. By sticking to the rail, jockey Christophe Lemaire on Starcraft found himself among the two outsiders in the race - Blatant, who was third at 100-1, and Sleeping Indian. When Dubawi finally joined them after racing down the center of the course for three-quarters of the race, he was still travelling comfortably but the effort took its toll and after a brief challenge Starcraft began to pull away in the final half- furlong.

Starcraft covered the straight mile on good turf in 1:37.87.

Dettori blamed himself for Dubawi's defeat.

"I was on the best horse and I got beat," he said. "I was meant to come on the stands' side but unfortunately Rakti and the other one - Mullins Bay - took me too far across and I stayed put in the middle and got beat. It was a costly mistake. I just wish I could ride the race again."

Dubawi will now be aimed for the Breeders' Cup Mile, which remains a possible target for Rakti, who finished fourth.

While Dubawi is already nominated to the Breeders' Cup, Rakti's connections would need to pay a $135,000 supplementary entry fee. Owner Paul Makin would have to come up with $300,000 if he wants Starcraft to run. Makin said if he pays the fee, he might enter Starcraft in the BC Classic.

* Elsewhere on the card, Ouija Board scored a 2 1/2-length victory in the Group 3 Princess Royal John Doyle Stakes.

"She felt awesome going to post," said Dettori. "All credit to [trainer] Ed Dunlop for bringing her back after her problems. She is special. She can now go for any target."

Doyle said the Prix de l'Opera and the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe - both next Sunday - are still under consideration, along with sending Ouija Board to New York to defend her title in the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf.

* In the other Group 1 race on the card, the Meon Valley Stud Fillies' Mile, the John Gosden-trained Nannina beat Alexandrova by a short head. She will be aimed at next year's 1000 Guineas.