04/22/2002 12:00AM

Japanese dominate in Hong Kong


The Japanese continued their domination of Hong Kong's biggest races at Sha Tin Sunday as Eishin Preston and Agnes Digital finished first and second in the Group 1 Queen Elizabeth II Cup, the second leg of the World Series Racing Championship.

Only half a length separated the Japanese stars, both of whom were winners at Sha Tin last December, Eishin Preston having taken the Hong Kong Mile while Agnes Digital was winning the Hong Kong Cup.

Eishin Preston, going 1-1/4 miles for the first time, came from far out of it under Yuichi Fukunaga to lead at the eighth pole. He then held off the late challenge of Agnes Digital as the locally trained Indigenous, running in this race for the sixth straight year, finished third. The 3.65-1 winner was timed in 2:02.50 on good ground.

Trained by Shuji Kitahashi, Eishin Preston is a 5-year-old Kentucky-bred son of Green Dancer. The Japan Cup is his ultimate goal but Kitahashi said that owner Toyomitsu Hirai would also like to try Eishin Preston in the Hong Kong Cup.

Godolphin's 11-10 favorite Grandera finished fifth, beaten 2-1/2 lengths after having led early in the stretch. The result puts Eishin Preston in a first-place tie for the World Series lead with Dubai World Cup winner Street Cry.