10/20/2006 12:00AM

Meisho Samson goes for Japan's crown

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Meisho Samson will attempt to become Japan's second successive Triple Crown winner Sunday when he faces 17 rivals in the 1 7/8-mile, $2.28 million Kikuka Sho, or Japanese St. Leger.

While not as sensational as last year's Japanese Triple Crown champion, Deep Impact, Meisho Samson usually manages to get the job done. Trained by Tsutomo Setoguchi, he won the 1o1/4-mile Japanese 2000 Guineas by a half-length from Dream Passport on April 16, then landed the 1 1/2-mile Japanese Derby by a neck from Admire Main on May 28.

Those two runner-ups will be the biggest impediments to Meisho Samson's coronation as the seventh Japanese Triple Crown winner. Dream Passport actually nabbed Meisho Samson at the line in the 1 1/4-mile Kobe Shimbun Hai on Sept. 24, but the added distance is in Meisho Samson's favor.