A fierce three-way battle between Seeking the Dia, Star King Man and Kane Hekili saw race favorite Kane Hekili over the line first by a nose for a record win of the Japan Cup Dirt on Saturday at Tokyo.

The furious drive for the finish was so close that jockey Yutaka Take himself didn’t realize he was aboard the winner.

“I thought I had finished second and congratulated Nori Yokoyama. It was kind of embarrassing when he told me that I had won,” Take said.

Take held the No. 10 Kane Hekili, whose name means “spirit of thunder” in Hawaiian, to the rear of the 16-strong lineup tracking Frankie Dettori on Saqalat.

Pulling out with 600 meters to go, Take said the 3-year-old son of Fuji Kiseki felt good, but when the three lined up at the 300-meter mark, the still inexperienced colt hesitated.

“I could only hope he would hold on,” Take said.

“It wasn’t an easy finish.” It was something of a slaughter for the three foreign-based runners, all of whom finished in the last five.

Best was the American Lava Man in 11th place, followed by Tap Day, also from the U.S., in 13th. The U.K’s Eccentric finished in last place.

Kane Hekili clocked 2 minutes, 8 seconds over the 2,100 meters.

Runnerup Seeking the Dia, a longshot at 11th pick, and third-place finisher Star King Man at 13th choice, pushed the return on the trifecta winning ticket 10-7-6 to nearly 372,000 yen for a 100 yen bet.

It was the sixth running of the Japan Cup Dirt, which carries a first-place prize of 130 million yen.

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