06/10/2005 12:00AM

Rey de Cafe wins despite bump

Rey de Cafe and jockey Javier Castellano come through between Prince Rahy (outside) and Classic Campaign to score a nose victory in Friday's Hill Prince at Belmont Park.

ELMONT, N.Y. - Following a blanket finish and a bumping incident steps before the finish line, Rey de Cafe emerged a nose winner over Prince Rahy in the Grade 3, $114,700 for 3-year-olds at Belmont Park on Friday.

As the wire loomed, Prince Rahy, with Eibar Coa aboard, was racing to the outside of Rey de Cafe and Classic Campaign. When Coa hit Prince Rahy right-handed, Prince Rahy bumped with Rey de Cafe, who was in the middle of the trio. Rey de Cafe then bumped Classic Campaign into the rail. Prince Rahy finished second, a neck in front of Classic Campaign.

Javier Castellano, aboard Rey de Cafe, immediately lodged a claim of foul through the outrider to the stewards because he wasn't certain whether he had won the race.

The stewards allowed the result to stand because they believed the incident happened at the wire, not before, and therefore did not affect the outcome.

The win was Rey de Cafe's second straight in a graded stakes. Rey de Cafe returned $5.90 as the favorite and covered 1 1/8 miles on turf in 1:49.25 over a firm course.

Coa said Prince Rahy "stepped in," and that he had to steady the horse. "That maybe cost me the race," he said.

After the race, Castellano didn't blame Coa. "Someone hit me behind," he said. "My horse really took a bad step. I looked at Coa and he said, 'I'm sorry, I'm sorry.' It wasn't his fault."

Rusty Arnold, who trains Rey de Cafe for his breeder, G. Watts Humphrey Jr., said the $750,000 Virginia Derby at Colonial Downs on July 16 would be Rey de Cafe's next start.

"I'm really proud of him. He is just a fighter," Arnold said. "The mile and an eighth was a question, but he did it. We'll try him at a mile and a quarter in the Virginia Derby."

The day before the Kentucky Derby, Rey de Cafe won the Grade 3 American Turf at Churchill Downs.