10/23/2002 12:00AM

Grandera takes on Northerly


The W.S. Cox Plate, a 1 1/4-mile and 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 perhaps the equal of any of the Breeders' Cup races the same day.

In fact, the Cox Plate has drawn Frankie Dettori away from the Breeders' Cup, as he will ride Grandera, who narrowly defeated Breeders' Cup Classic hopeful Hawk Wing in the Irish Champion Stakes on Sept. 7.

Grandera faces a tough task against the defending champ, Northerly, who won his fourth group race in a row, 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.