11/22/2017 5:00PM

Two Breeders' Cup winners set for Hong Kong

Susie Raisher
Breeders' Cup Turf winner Talismanic will try for his second straight Grade 1/Group 1 in the Hong Kong Vase.

Two Breeders’ Cup winners, Talismanic and Stormy Liberal, are among 55 horses selected for the four Group 1 stakes Dec. 10 at Sha Tin that comprise the Hong Kong International Races.

The selected horses include 32 international shippers from Asia, Europe, and North America, and 23 Hong Kong-based horses.

Talismanic won the Breeders’ Cup Turf for trainer Andre Fabre and will try for his second straight Group 1 in the $2.3 million Hong Kong Vase over 2,400 meters, about 1 1/2 miles. Expected to be among his opponents is Highland Reel, who was third in the BC Turf and second in the 2016 Vase. Highland Reel is one of two Aidan O’Brien-trained horses selected for the Vase along with Idaho.

Stormy Liberal is the only U.S.-based horse among the selected runners and faces a daunting task in the $2.37 million Hong Kong Sprint, which is contested over 1,200 meters (about six furlongs) around one right-handed bend. High-class Hong Kong sprinters generally are excellent, and the locals this year are headed by Mr Stunning and Lucky Bubbles. The Tin Man is expected to travel from England for the race.

:: Save on PPs, digital subscriptions, and more with DRF's Black Friday sale!

The richest of the four races, the $3.2 million Hong Kong Cup over 2,000 meters (about 1 1/4 miles) has 13 selected runners, including four from Europe and the leading local hope, Werther. Two O’Brien-trained horses, Deauville and War Decree, are among the projected starters, as is the Michael Stoute-trained Poet’s Word. Two Japan-based horses, Neorealism and Staphanos, are among the higher-rated horses selected for the Cup.

Two more O’Brien charges, Lancaster Bomber and Roly Poly, are listed as selected horses for the $2.9 million Hong Kong Mile. Lancaster Bomber, who relishes firm turf, was second to World Approval last out in the Breeders’ Cup Mile, and three races ago was second to the same horse in the Woodbine Mile. Roly Poly, a 3-year-old filly, was 11th in the BC Mile, where she did not cope at all with the sharp turns at Del Mar. She should be better suited by the one longer and gentler bend in the Sha Tin race. Also selected was the BC Mile seventh-place finisher Karar, as well as Beauty Only, the Hong Kong-based horse who won the 2016 Hong Kong Mile. Beauty Only has not yet come back to his top form this Hong Kong season, and Helene Paragon, second in the 2016 Hong Kong Mile, could be the top local hope.