11/11/2002 12:00AM

Reba's Gold bound for Japan

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INGLEWOOD, Calif. - Reba's Gold is bound for a $2 million race in Japan later this month following a hard-fought win in Sunday's $72,850 Steinlen Handicap at Hollywood Park.

Owner Alex Trebek, the host of "Jeopardy", and trainer Dan Hendricks, said the 5-year-old Reba's Gold will reappear in the Japan Cup Dirt over approximately 1 1/8 miles at Nakayama Racecourse on Nov. 23.

He travels to the Far East, having won two of his last three starts in the U.S. Following a win in the Pomona Invitational at Fairplex Park in late September and a third in the Goodwood Breeders' Cup Handicap at Santa Anita in early October, Reba's Gold was a heavy favorite in the Steinlen Handicap.

Ridden by David Flores, Reba's Gold was always close to the front. Reba's Gold fought off the early challenge of Futural, took a half-length lead on the final turn and was all out to outfinish Mercenary, a 16-1 shot. Seinne rallied from last in a field of seven to finish third.

Reba's Gold ($4.60) ran 1 1/16 miles in 1:44.77 on a muddy track that played slow throughout the day. The win left Hendricks confident that Reba's Gold has earned the trip.

"He's been right there in his last three," Hendricks said. "I've weighed all the plusses and minuses. We've got a game horse and a game owner. If the horse looks good, he'll fly on Tuesday."