07/03/2004 12:00AM

Refuse to Bend doesn't

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Refuse to Bend lived up to his name on Saturday when he outgamed Warssan to win the Group 1, $687,000 Eclipse Stakes at Sandown Park.

Owned by Godolphin, the 7-1 Refuse to Bend had signaled a return to form when winning last month's one-mile Queen Anne Stakes at Royal Ascot. He proved in the Eclipse that he is fully capable of staying 10 furlongs, a distance he was trying for the first time in the Eclipse.

Refuse to Bend and the 12-1 Warssan were fifth and sixth entering Sandown's four-furlong uphill stretch. They moved together to hit the front a furlong out, but Refuse to Bend and Frankie Dettori refused to give in, holding off Warssan by a head. The pair finished four lengths clear of third-place Kalaman.

"He has won a Group 1 at 2, 3 and 4," said Godolphin racing manager Simon Crisford, "and is in all of the big mile and a quarter races."

Included among them is the Arlington Million, although no decision has been made on Refuse to Bend's next race.

Rakti, the 8-5 favorite, was a big disappointment. The Prince of Wales's and Champion Stakes winner, Rakti missed the break from post 2 under Philip Robinson, was rank early, and had to circle the field to get position in third behind stablemate pacesetter Maktub. He led from 2 1/2 to 1 1/2 furlongs out before weakening to finish eighth, beaten 8 3/4 lengths.

While running well below form, Rakti was probably inconvenienced by the good-to-soft ground, which led to a slow winning time of 2:08.31, or 6.21 seconds off the track mark set by Kalaglow in the 1982 Sandown Classic Trial.