02/25/2002 1:00AM

Nad Al Sheba: Sakhee step closer to World Cup

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DUBAI - Sakhee made a successful comeback with a victory in an allowance race at Nad Al Sheba on Sunday evening, covering the 1 1/4 miles on fast dirt in a rapid 2:0l.30.

Ridden by Frankie Dettori, Sakhee, the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe winner and Breeders' Cup Classic runner-up, beat his stablemate Atlantis Prince by nine lengths. Pentagonal was third, 15 lengths back, in the five-horse field.

After disputing third place early on, Sakhee moved up to chase the pacesetting Atlantis Prince before halfway and hit the front rounding the final turn.

Dettori said: "That was a good effort because he tends to only beat his lead horses by half a length in the mornings. He needed the run as he was only 85 percent fit and that will put him right for the [Dubai] World Cup" on March 23.

Trainer Saeed bin Suroor said: "It took him a long time to get over the Breeders' Cup. We brought him here because we knew that the lights would wake him up."

Simon Crisford, the Godolphin racing manager, added: "He won with plenty of authority, putting in his best work at the finish.

"He worked on the sand here at the racecourse a few weeks ago, but this was his first race here and he was experiencing the lights for the first time. He handled it all very easily."

- International Racing Bureau