02/17/2006 1:00AM

Kane Hekili in tough spot


Kane Hekili puts his tall reputation on the line at Tokyo Racecourse in Sunday in the $1.56 million February Stakes, a Grade 1 mile that is expected to produce candidates for both the Dubai World Cup and the Godolphin Mile.

Kane Hekili's victory in the Japan Cup Dirt on Nov. 26 added to his 1 1/4-mile Grade 1 tallies in the Japan Dirt Derby and the Derby Grand Prix. From the barn of champion Japanese trainer Katsuhiko Sumii, Kane Hekili, a 4-year-old son of the Sunday Silence sire Fuji Kiseki, is already earmarked for the Dubai World Cup on March 25.

He and rider Yutaka Take have two obstacles to overcome in the February: the cutback to a mile and a draw of 14 in the 16-runner field that includes most of Japan's best dirt performers.

Seeking the Dia and Star King Man were just a nose and a neck behind Kane Hekili in the Japan Cup Dirt, while the front-running Adjudi Mitsuo has won his last two starts at the Grade 1 level going 1 1/4 miles, beating Seeking the Dia both times. Time Paradox is a four-time Grade 1 winner. Utopia, winner of the Grade 1 Mile Championship in October, is preparing for the Godolphin Mile.