12/01/2003 1:00AM

Poor showing by U.S. horses

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Atsushi Koya
Tap Dance City wins by 9 lengths in the $4.39 million Grade 1 Japan Cup on Sunday.

The American glory achieved by Fleetstreet Dancer's victory in Saturday's Japan Cup Dirt was shortlived as the four American horses in the Japan Cup- Denon, Slew Valley, Johar, and Sarafan - all finished out of the money in a Japanese-dominated finish on Sunday.

Tap Dance City led home a parade of five locally trained horses in the Grade 1, $4.39 million Japan Cup. A 6-year-old Kentucky-bred son of Pleasant Tap, Tap Dance City romped to a nine-length victory over That's the Plenty with 4-5 favorite Symboli Kris S finishing third for the second successive year, three-quarters of a length farther back.

Denon finished best of the four Americans in eighth, beaten 12 1/4 lengths. Slew Valley, a 133-1 shot, was 13th, while Breeders' Cup Turf winner Johar, eighth early on, weakened to finish 16th in the 18-runner field. The 15-1 Johar was officially distanced as was the 17th-place Sarafan, who came home two lengths behind Johar after finishing second by a nose second in last year's race.

A deluge on Saturday left the Tokyo turf course yielding on Sunday and Tap Dance City made the most of the conditions, breaking first from the rail and leading throughout to waltz home under Tetsuzo Sato while getting the 1 1/2 miles in 2:28.70. Trained by Shozo Sasaki, Tap Dance City had served notice of his chances with a similar victory in the Grade 2 Kyoto Daishoten at 1 1/2 miles Oct. 12.

As a result of his poor performance in the Japan Cup, Johar will not run the Hong Kong Cup, said trainer Richard Mandella.

Said Alex Solis, who rode Johar: "He slipped at the five-eighths pole. It happened three or four times and from then on he was afraid."

Jorge Chavez on Slew Valley and Victor Espinoza on Sarafan both said their horses failed to handle the ground. Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf winner Islington was ninth, 1 1/4 lengths behind Denon.

Denon and Sarafan are both scheduled to move on to Hong Kong for the Hong Kong International races on Dec. 14. Denon will cut back to the 1 1/4 miles of the Hong Kong Cup, while Sarafan will go in the Hong Kong Mile.

Fleetstreet Dancer's come-again nose victory over 1-2 favorite Admire Don in the $2.3 million Japan Cup Dirt paid a big compliment to Pleasantly Perfect, who had beaten Fleetstreet Dancer by 1 1/4 lengths in the Goodwood Breeders' Cup Handicap. The sloppy ground at Tokyo was a factor in the outcome.

Sent off at 48-1, Fleetstreet Dancer set a track record of 2:09.20 for the 1 5/16 miles while giving both jockey Jon Court and trainer Doug O'Neill their first victory on foreign soil.