09/06/2007 12:00AM

Hong Kong champion may try Cup


The Breeders' Cup could have its first runner from Hong Kong next month, as that country's horse of the year, Viva Pataca, is being strongly considered for the Breeders' Cup Turf.

Trainer John Moore had been planning to send Viva Pataca, a four-time Group 1 winner, to Australia for the Cox Plate at Moonee Valley on Oct. 27. But because of the the outbreak of equine influenza in Australia, he is likely to reroute Viva Pataca, a gelded 5-year-old British-bred son of Marju, to Monmouth Park for the Breeders' Cup on the same day.

Moore told the South China Morning Post that he has received the all-clear sign from owner Stanley Ho for his American odyssey. He said that Viva Pataca would have one race before the Turf, that in Hong Kong's first stakes race of the fall season, the Group 3 National Day Cup, a seven-furlong handicap at Sha Tin on Oct. 1.

Because Viva Pataca, who raced under the name Comic Strip winning 5 of 7 starts in England, is not nominated to the Breeders' Cup, Ho, a Macau casino tycoon, would have to pay $150,000 to make his horse eligible for the Cup at this time, or $180,000 at the time of entry.

Viva Pataca earned his championship laurels this spring with a pair of victories over the Dubai Sheema Classic winner Vengeance of Rain in the 1 1/4-mile Queen Elizabeth II Cup and the 1 1/2-mile Hong Kong Champion and Chaters Cup, a race he was winning for the second time. In 2006 he won the 1 1/4-mile Hong Kong Derby.