06/19/2002 11:00PM

Johannesburg looking to rebound


Johannesburg will attempt to atone for his Kentucky Derby debacle in Saturday's Group 1 Golden Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot against a field of older horses that includes the American sprint star Caller One.

The Golden Jubilee, run over a straightaway six furlongs on turf, is the feature race on the fifth and final day of the Royal Ascot meeting.

Johannesburg, unraced since finishing eighth in the Kentucky Derby, faces 15 others. Trained by Aidan O'Brien, Johannesburg is seeking his first win since the Breeders' Cup Juvenile at Belmont Park last October.

Johannesburg was beaten 13 lengths in the Kentucky Derby, never threatening race winner War Emblem. Unbeaten in seven starts last year, Johannesburg lost his 3-year-old debut by a nose to Rebelline in the Group 3 Gladness Stakes at The Curragh, Ireland, on April 7.

Last year, Johannesburg won six races over five and six furlongs, including three consecutive Group 1 stakes in Europe.

Caller One, the California-based sprinter, is making his third start in as many countries this year.

After successfully defending his title in the Golden Shaheen Stakes at Nad al-Sheba in Dubai in March, Caller One was unplaced in his turf debut in the KrisFlyer Sprint in Singapore on May 11. A winner of 10 of 20 starts, the 5-year-old Caller One has been based in England this month with James Chapman, the father of trainer Jim Chapman, who has remained in California.

Jim Chapman says Caller One is over a foot abscess that threatened the Royal Ascot trip. He is optimistic that Caller One will handle the Ascot turf course despite the setback in Singapore.

"They are different turf courses," Jim Chapman said. "My father says he is doing well."

Caller One was ridden by Gary Stevens in Dubai and Singapore, but will be ridden by Frederic Sanchez at Royal Ascot. Sanchez rode briefly at Santa Anita during the 2000-01 winter-spring meeting.

The competition includes Vision of Night, who was second in a prep in England earlier this month, and Three Points, who was second in the corresponding race at the 2001 Royal Ascot meeting.

Royal Rebel repeats in Gold Cup

Royal Rebel, a 16-1 shot, won his second successive Ascot Gold Cup on Thursday after a thrilling finish in which any one of the first three home could have won. Royal Rebel is the first horse to win back-to-back Gold Cups since Drum Taps in 1993.

He defeated the favorite, the Irish-trained Vinnie Roe, by a neck at the end of a stamina-sapping 2 1/2 miles. The Godolphin pair of Wareed and Hatha Anna filled the next two places.

For winning trainer Mark Johnston, it was his third Gold Cup victory.

Earlier in the day, Irresistable Jewel came from last to first to win the Group 2 Ribblesdale Stakes. Shadow Dancing, third in the Epsom Oaks finished second.

Winning trainer Dermot Weld revealed that Irresistable Jewel could possibly run in the American Oaks at Hollywood Park on July 6. The Irish Oaks a week later is also under consideration.

In the Brittania Handicap, the last race on the card, Queen Elizabeth's runner, Green Line, was backed down to favorite as punters tried to give her a Golden Jubilee winner through weight of money and collective will. They were unsuccessful, however, as the colt ran unplaced behind Pentecost.

Murtagh and Dettori get suspensions

Johnny Murtagh, who rode Royal Rebel to win the Gold Cup, and Frankie Dettori, who was on the third-placed Wareed, were both handed four-day suspensions at the end of the afternoon. Their bans, which were for excessive use of the whip, last from June 29 to July 2. The riders will miss the Budweiser Irish Derby meeting unless they appeal.

Murtagh hit Royal Rebel 14 times in the final two furlongs but it has to be said that the horse responded well and would not have regained the lead in the final furlong without the encouragement.

Royal Rebel is famously reluctant to compete and had not finished closer than third in seven races since his first Gold Cup victory 12 months ago. Murtagh even had to give him a couple of slaps soon after the start to set him going.

- additional reporting by the International Racing Bureau