12/11/2017 11:30AM

Most Hong Kong International winners have solid options

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Hong Kong Jockey Club
Hong Kong Vase winner Highland Reel has earned more than $10 million during his racing career.

HONG KONG – It’s not like the Breeders’ Cup, where a good deal of the assembled talent scatters to the four corners of the earth once the races are over. No, the Hong Kong International Races, moniker aside, bend much more to the local, and most of the best performers Sunday at Sha Tin went home to their stalls on the backstretch after jockeys dismounted and they were led off the track.

Notably not among that group was Highland Reel, who is off to stud now after a memorable end to his career winning the Hong Kong Vase for the second time. Under Ryan Moore, Highland Reel capped a $10 million career in style, brushing away Breeders’ Cup Turf hero Talismanic after he came to his flank a furlong from the finish.

While Highland Reel is at the farm making babies, Vase runner-up Talismanic, to the relief of track photographers the world over, is expected to continue his racing career next year. The photogenic 4-year-old and his white face and socks will return home to trainer Andre Fabre in France, but with a preference for firm and flat tracks and Godolphin as his owner. A start in the Sheema Classic at Meydan in March seems a likely goal.

The John Size-trained pair of Mr. Stunning and D B Pin, the one-two finishers, separated by a neck, in the Hong Kong Sprint, have plenty of options at home in Hong Kong. The first is the Group 1 Stewards’ Cup on Jan. 28 at Sha Tin.

Left far behind the top finishers was the lone American runner in the four Group 1’s Sunday, Stormy Liberal, who checked in 11th in the Sprint. Stormy Liberal, trained by Peter Miller in California, flies home Wednesday.

“He appears to have come out of the race fine,” Miller said. “We’ll regroup him, settle in and see his condition.”

Miller’s operation was at the center of the horrific fire last week at San Luis Rey Downs. His San Luis Rey horses have moved to Del Mar, and Miller still is sorting everything out, but he could go abroad again for the Dubai World Cup card in late March. Richard’s Boy finished an encouraging fifth there this year in the Al Quoz Sprint, a six-furlong, straight-course turf race, and both he and Stormy Liberal will be considered for the race in 2018, Miller said. Breeders’ Cup Sprint winner Roy H is a possible for the Dubai Golden Shaheen.

Hong Kong Mile winner Beauty Generation also could wind up in Dubai, with the 1 1/8-mile Dubai Turf being considered by his connections. Beauty Generation has recently excelled in one-mile races, but has run creditably in starts as long as 1 1/2 miles, and could well be as effective over the Dubai Turf distance as he was in the HK Mile, where he led virtually all the way under jockey Derek Leung Ka-shun.

It’s fair to say Time Warp stole Sunday’s main event, the Hong Kong Cup, but while he was gifted an easy lead in the two-turn race over about 1 1/4 miles, Time Warp turned in a scintillating final 400-meter split of 22.08 seconds, the fastest in the race. Not many horses can produce that turn of speed regardless of circumstances, and Time Warp, a fairly lightly raced 4-year-old, could have a bright future for trainer Tony Cruz. Cruz will consider an array of options for his emerging star, including a shift to dirt, which could put in play a goal as lofty as the Dubai World Cup.

Hong Kong Cup runner-up Werther ran to form, getting his final 400 meters in 22.09, but he was playing catchup from the start and had no chance at the winner given the race shape. Werther has plenty of local options the rest of the Hong Kong season, though the big prize in his range is the Group 1 QE II Cup over 2000 meters on April 29.