10/12/2004 12:00AM

Kitten's Joy tops nominees to Sha Tin stakes


Kitten's Joy, Magistretti, Hard Buck, Star Over the Bay, Pico Central, and Soaring Free head the list of North American horses nominated to the four Hong Kong International Races worth a total of $7.2 million at Sha Tin on Dec. 12.

The 1 1/4-mile Hong Kong Cup, at $2.8 million the richest race on the Hong Kong International Races card, has attracted the nominations of 29 U.S.-trained horses, chief among them the first two finishers in the Joe Hirsch Turf Classic, Kitten's Joy and Magistretti. Hard Buck, the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Diamond Stakes runner-up, is expected to run in either the Hong Kong Cup or the 1 1/2-mile Hong Kong Vase. Clement Hirsch winner Star Over the Bay is among the Hong Kong Cup nominees, as is Balto Star, the winner on Friday night of the Meadowlands Breeders' Cup Stakes.

Among the other nominees to the Hong Kong Cup are the disqualified Arlington Million winner Powerscourt, American Oaks runner-up Dance in the Mood, and American Derby winner Simple Exchange, as well as last year's Hong Kong Cup runner-up Rakti and the Hong Kong-trained 2002 winner Precision.

Atto Mile winner Soaring Free and Shadwell Turf Mile winner Nothing to Lose are nominated to the $1.8 million Hong Kong Mile, along with Blackdoun, the Julio Canani trainee who swept Del Mar's 3-year-old turf series this summer. Other Hong Kong Mile nominees are Rakti and leading Japanese milers Telegnosis and Lohengrin.

In addition to Hard Buck, the $1.8 million Hong Kong Vase could see Balto Star, Kicken Kris, Kitten's Joy, Magistretti and Star Over the Bay, as well as the French-trained defending champ Vallee Enchantee.

The undefeated Silent Witness, trained in Hong Kong by Tony Cruz, will be defending his title in the five-furlong, $1.3 million Hong Kong Sprint, a race in which he could run into Var, the impressive winner last week of the Prix de l'Abbaye de Longchamp, and Calstone Light O, who won the Sprinters Stakes at Nakayama last week. Pico Central, who has also been nominated to the Hong Kong Mile, and Dubai Golden Shaheen winner Our New Recruit top the list of American nominees.