12/12/2008 1:00AM

Kip Deville may fall prey to Super Hornet in Mile


Kip Deville steps into the deep waters of Far Eastern competition at Sha Tin on Sunday, when he will be facing a first-class field in the $2 million Hong Kong Mile, one of four Group 1 races presented by the Hong Kong Jockey Club on that day.

With a first and second in the last two Breeders' Cup Miles, plus two other Grade 1 scores at a mile, this 5-year-old son of the Gulch stallion Kipling, trained by Rick Dutrow, is perhaps the class of the field, but there are limits to the arguments that can be made in his favor. In four races in international company, two Breeders' Cups and two Woodbine Miles, he has won only once. Moreover, this will be his first race outside of North America and his first attempt going right-handed. Having drawn post 12 in a field of 14, he must break sharply under Cornelio Velasquez to achieve his usual tracking position as he attempts to become the first American-trained winner in Hong Kong since Val's Prince took the Hong Kong Cup in 1997.

The horse who beat Kip Deville into fifth in this year's Woodbine Mile, Rahy's Attorney, paid him no compliments when he ran ninth in the Mile Championship at Kyoto three weeks ago. British bookies at Coral have eased Kip Deville out to co-second favorite at 5-1 with Japanese challenger Super Hornet and behind the defending titleholder, Good Ba Ba (9-2). A sharp second last time in the Mile Championship, 2 3/4 lengths in front of Rahy's Attorney, Super Hornet is the selection here to prevail over Kip Deville. Good Ba Ba, disappointing in his two local preps of late, will have a new rider, as Christophe Soumillon replaces Olivier Doleuze.

Pressing, the winner of Group 2 miles in his last two starts in Italy and Turkey, would be no surprise, nor would Egyptian Ra, who beat Good Ba Ba into third last time in the International Mile Trial.

The Pascal Bary-trained Natagora, winner of the 1000 Guineas in May and since placed in three Group 1 miles in Europe, will try to take them as far as she on the front end from post 10. Awesome Gem, only sixth in the Breeders' Cup Mile and winless in his last ten starts for Craig Dollase, appears to be in over his head.

Eagle Mountain poised for upset

Viva Pataca is all the rage in the 1 1/4-mile, $2.58 million Hong Kong Cup after his impressive victory in the International Cup Trial on Nov. 16. A 6-year-old British-bred son of Marju trained by John Moore, Viva Pataca was a half-length second to Ramonti in this race last year. He is a course and distance specialist and is the horse to beat this time around. The preference, however, is for the Mike de Kock-trained Eagle Mountain, the runner-up in the Breeders' Cup Turf over 1 1/2 miles that might have been a bit too long for him. The Hong Kong Cup will be his third race off a one-year layoff, suggesting further improvement is forthcoming. His nose second in last year's 1 1/4-mile Champion Stakes is at least as good as Viva Pataca's best form and with Kevin Shea at the controls, he should get up in time.

Artiste Royal has the best chance of the two Americans, and it is a good one at a price. Pegged at 25-1 by Ladbrokes, the Danehill 7-year-old is making just his second start since taking the Grade 1 Charlie Whittingham Handicap at the Hong Kong Cup distance on June 7. Trainer Neil Drysdale will have him ready for this, and he may be the best value play with big-race specialist Olivier Peslier aboard. His countrymate, the Bobby Frankel-trained Out of Control, drew widest of all in 14 in a race in which a wide post presents a severe problem because of the short run to the first turn.

Waiting to cash in should the favorites falter is Lush Lashes. A 3-year-old daughter of Galileo trained by Jim Bolger, she is absolutely first-rate and might be a two-time Group 1 winner at 1 1/4 miles if not for bad luck when she was runner-up in both the Nassau Stakes and the Prix de l'Opera.

Apache Cat, Doctor Dino look strong

Australian speedster Apache Cat is the pick over European champion sprinter Marchand d'Or in the six-furlong, $1.5 million Hong Kong Sprint, while Doctor Dino, a Grade 1 winner in America and a Group 2 winner in France, appears to have a decided edge in the 1 1/2-mile, $1.8 million Hong Kong Vase, a race he won last year by 1 1/2 lengths from Quijano. Breeders' Cup Marathon winner Muhannak is much better on synthetic surfaces, but Purple Moon, 3 3/4 lengths ninth last time in the Japan Cup, has an upset chance at 10-1 in this easier contest.