12/10/2009 12:00AM

U.S. horses draw well in Hong Kong stakes


California Flag and Cannonball drew ideally Thursday for their Hong Kong Sprint clash on Sunday, with many of the world's best turf sprinters at Sha Tin. California Flag, who will likely go straight to the front under Joe Talamo, will start from the four spot, while closer Cannonball and rider Ramon Dominguez should get themselves a ground-saving trip from the rail.

Brian Koriner, trainer of Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint winner California Flag, was ecstatic with his draw in post 4.

"We all know he's a speed horse, and that's a perfect draw for him," he said, "particularly with the Japanese speed horse [Laurel Guerreiro] probably having to work hard from his wide gate in 11."

A late-running third in the Turf Sprint, Cannonball is a confirmed closer.

"We are happy to be coming out of there on the rail," said owner Ken Ramsey. "I am told the ground will be fresher there, and this is a game of inches, so maybe we can save a little ground."

The six-furlong Sprint has a short run from the gate a single, right-handed 90-degree turn on the Sha Tin turf course. The Sha Tin stretch is nearly 2 1/2 furlongs in length.

Ferneley, who will be ridden for the first time by Kieren Fallon, drew well in post 4 for the one-turn Hong Kong Mile. Two-time defending Mile titleholder Good Ba Ba drew post 9 and can possibly control things from a few lengths off the pace.

Black Mamba will break from post 2 under local rider Olivier Doleuze in the 13-runner, 1 1/2-mile Hong Kong Vase, but Ian Jory, assistant to trainer John Sadler, sounded a cautious note about the 6-year-old New Zealand-bred mare's chances.

"She arrived on Sunday with a temperature and that's not ideal, but she has been improving," Jory said. "To be honest, we're playing catch-up."

Three-time Arc runner-up Youmzain, who will have Fallon in the saddle, drew perfectly in post 7 for the Vase, but local hero Viva Pataca must start widest of all in post 13.

In the 1 1/4-mile Hong Kong Cup, defending champ Eagle Mountain drew the rail in a 10-runner race that has a short run to the first turn. Of the two likely favorites, Vision d'Etat drew post 7 and Presvis post 9.