03/19/2004 1:00AM

Roosevelt heads HK Derby


Roosevelt can finally confirm his high promise in the $1.8 million Hong Kong Derby at Sha Tin on Sunday afternoon.

The Hong Kong Group 1 contest has drawn a full field of 14 4-year-olds, among them two of Hong Kong's best milers in Lucky Owners and Tiber, but the derby's 1 1/4 miles seems better suited to the Danehill colt Roosevelt.

Then trained by Aidan O'Brien, Roosevelt finished third behind Alamshar and Dalakhani in last year's Irish Derby. He later impressed for his new Hong Kong trainer, David Oughton, when he ran fourth behind Vallee Enchantee in the 1 1/2-mile Hong Kong Vase on Dec. 14. The form of that race looks solid, as Polish Summer and Warrsan were third and fourth, while Fair Mix was fifth. All three of those European group-race winners will run in next Saturday's Dubai Sheema Classic at Nad Al Sheba.

Roosevelt will have Irish rider Michael Kinane aboard. Tiber, a top British handicapper who beat Hong Kong Mile winner Lucky Owners in the Hong Kong Classic Mile on Feb. 15, has adapted well to racing in Hong Kong, but Roosevelt appears to have a class edge at the distance.