11/22/2002 1:00AM

Symboli Kris S home hope

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Symboli Kris S is poised to land a fifth consecutive Japan Cup for the home side at Nakayama on Sunday. Sarafan is one of only a handful of foreign invaders with a chance for an upset.

A Kentucky-bred son of Kris S., Symboli Kris S has beaten two Japan Cup rivals in his last two starts, when taking the Grade 2 Kobe Shimbun Hai from No Reason and the Grade 1 Autumn Tenno Sho from Narita Top Road. Second by a length to Tanino Gimlet in the Japanese Derby in May, Symboli Kris S appears to be at the peak of his powers and is a deserving favorite for trainer Kazuo Fujisawara, who has gained the riding services of French ace Olivier Peslier.

Sarafan and jockey Corey Nakatani will be able to keep a close eye on the favorite, as they have drawn just outside Symboli Kris S in post 8. Ever consistent, Sarafan's lone try at this year's Japan Cup distance of 1 3/8 miles was a close third to With Anticipation and Denon in the United Nations Handicap at Monmouth. A Neil Drysdale-trained son of Lear Fan, Sarafan would probably have to improve a bit off that effort to pose a threat Sunday in what is always a highly competitive race.

There is a five-prong challenge from Europe, with Golan and Bright Sky the biggest dangers. This race has always been Golan's ultimate objective and trainer Michael Stoute is sure to have him ready off a lackluster effort in the Breeders' Cup Turf when the ground didn't suit him. That race is looking like a prep for the Japan Cup, in which Golan - the winner of the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Diamond Stakes - was sixth last year.

Bright Sky used a rousing four-length score in the Prix de l'Opera to prepare for the Japan Cup. The French Oaks winner, Bright Sky has been working well since arriving in Japan and could join Mairzy Doates, Stanerra, and Horlicks as female winners of a race which, at $3.9 million, is the world's most valuable turf event. Thierry Thulliez picks up the mount on Bright Sky, as regular rider Dominique Boeuf was denied entry into Japan because of a previous drug possession conviction.

Irresistible Jewel's distant second behind Bright Sky in the Opera does not bode well in this much-tougher company, but Storming Home must be given a chance off his victory in the 1 1/4-mile Champion Stakes. The Italian entry Falbrav, the mount of Frankie Dettori, is a multiple Group 1 winner at home but was a dull ninth in the Arc.

Narita Top Road, third in last year's Japan Cup, and Jungle Pocket, the defending champ, could pose problems for Symboli Kris S. But even with Yutaka Take on board the defending champ, Jungle Pocket looks like an underlay at 5-1 because he has been out of action since finishing second to Arc flop Manhattan Cafe in the Spring Tenno Sho on April 28.

It has become increasingly difficult to beat the Japanese on their home turf, so Symboli Kris S should add his name to those of El Condor Pasa, Special Week, T.M. Opera O, and Jungle Pocket to make it five straight for Japan.