02/16/2007 1:00AM

Seeking the Dia going for elusive Grade 1 win


The world's leading Thoroughbred bridesmaid, Seeking the Dia, will attempt to earn his first Grade 1 title at Tokyo on Sunday when he starts the lukewarm favorite for the $1.5 million February Stakes, the one-mile Japanese prep for the Dubai World Cup.

A Hideyuki Mori-trained Storm Cat 6-year-old, Seeking the Dia has finished second nine times in Grade 1 races, including the last two editions of the February Stakes and the last two runnings of the Japan Cup Dirt. Last year in the February, he finished between Kane Hekili, who was subsequently fifth in the Dubai World Cup, and the Godolphin Mile winner, Utopia. Yutaka Take will takes the reins aboard Seeking the Dia, for whom a victory would earn a trip to Nad Al Sheba for the world's richest race on March 31.

Also seeking passage to Dubai is the front-running multiple Grade 1 winner Adjudi Mitsuo. Just seventh in last year's February after a poor start, he has drawn perfectly in post 2. Blue Concorde, coming off a 1 1/4-mile Tokyo Diashoten victory in which Seeking the Dia was third and Adjudi Mitsuo fifth, is a danger but has won only once on the Tokyo dirt track.

The closer Meisho Tokon has won 4 of his last 5 starts but is stepping up off a Grade 3 score going 1 1/8 miles in Kyoto's Heian Stakes and may lack the necessary class.

Skipping the February is Vermilion. An El Condor Pasa 5-year-old, he beat Adjudi Mitsuo by six lengths when taking the 1 5/16-mile Grade 1 Kawasaki Kinen on Jan. 31, prompting trainer Sei Ishizaka to send him him straight to the World Cup off what will amount to a two-month layoff.