11/21/2007 1:00AM

Dylan Thomas awaits Hong Kong clearance

EmailDylan Thomas has been rerouted from the Japan Cup to the Hong Kong Vase, having accepted an invitation from the Hong Kong Jockey Club a day after he was banned from running in the Japan Cup.

His positive for equine viral arteritis disqualified him from his prospective meeting with Meisho Samson in Sunday's $4.8 million Japan Cup, but his name is among the invited horses for the $1.8 million Hong Kong Vase, at 1 1/2 miles the same distance as the Japanese race. To run in Sha Tin on Dec. 9, however, Dylan Thomas must still overcome a number of obstacles.

"The negotiations to allow Dylan Thomas to travel to Hong Kong are complex and ongoing," explained the Hong Kong Jockey Club's head of veterinary and international liaison, Dr. Brian Stewart. "But we are hopeful that a way forward can be found to enable him to compete in Hong Kong and to protect the health status of the local horse population."

Dylan Thomas is being held at the Shiroi quarantine center near Tokyo. If he can make it to Sha Tin for Hong Kong International Raceday for the Vase, he would run into Red Rocks, who was third in the Breeders' Cup Turf, and Quijano, third in the Canadian International, as well as the Man o' War winner Doctor Dino and the Canada-based Sky Conqueror, who will be the only North American horse in the four-race lineup. No American horses received an invitation to run in at Sha Tin for the last big international race meeting of the year.

Sha Tin's centerpiece, the 1 1/4-mile, $2.6 million Hong Kong Cup, will feature the rivalry between the locally trained Viva Pataca and Vengeance of Rain, who will be challenged by Godolphin's ace miler Ramonti. Excellent Art, the Breeders' Cup Mile runner-up, and Darjina, a three-time Group 1 winner, have been invited to the $2.1 million Hong Kong Mile. The English challenger Benbaun and the Australia-based Miss Andretti will duke it out with Hong Kong speedsters Sacred Kingdom and Absolute Champion in what is shaping up as the definitive turf sprint of the year, the six-furlong, $1.6 million Hong Kong Sprint.