The Japan Cup Dirt was the first time Dettori had been aboard Eagle Cafe as well. But he watched the horse run third in the Prix Dollar Fouquet's Barriere (Fr-II) at Longchamp in October, and liked what he saw. When the horse drew in from an alternate list to make the Japan Cup Dirt field, he told his old friend Kojima he would be happy to ride the Kentucky-bred son of Gulch, who had spent most of his career running on turf. Eagle Cafe was purchased by Shadai Farm for $375,000 from Nick de Meric, agent, at the 1999 Barretts March sale of 2-year-olds in training. Bred by the E.J. Hudson Jr. Irrevocable Trust and W.S. Kilroy, the colt was bought back by consignor Lane's End for $120,000 at the previous year's Keeneland July select yearling sale. Teruya Yoshida of Shadai sold half-interest in the horse to Kiyoshi Nishikawa, who also co-owned the top turf runner Manhattan Cafe, who was retired after suffering an injury in the Arc de Triomphe. Yoshida convinced his partner and trainer Kojima to ship both horses to France for races this fall. The pace was set by Alvin Haynes' Abreeze, a front-runner who improved dramatically this year for trainer Kiaran McLaughlin, rising from claiming races to grade I competition. But jockey Richard Migliore knew before reaching the final turn that the 7-year-old Danzig gelding would not last over the tiring, sandy surface. David Flores, aboard Alex Trebek's Reba's Gold, had the same sinking feeling as his mount floundered for footing while trying to reach contention turning into the stretch. "A mile and an eighth is just too far on that sand for this horse," he said.
Gold Allure, the second choice in the betting, held the lead into the stretch, but Dettori charged up along his inside to snatch the victory. Regent Bluff was up late to get second, with Admire Don third. The order of finish was completed by Preeminence, Gold Allure, Toho Emperor, Smart Boy, Hagino High Grade, Reba's Gold, Be My Nakayama, Kanetsu Fleuve, Abreeze, Double Happiness, Red Sun, Ar Alan, and Pappus. Japanese horses have taken the first three runnings of the Japan Cup Dirt. Dettori was happy to win the race as a way of thanking Kojima for watching over him in his younger days. Kojima thinks so much of Dettori he recently named his dog, a Japanese terrier, "Frankie." b