11/12/2001 1:00AM

Val Royal eyes Hong Kong


In pursuit of an Eclipse Award, Julio Canani is leaning strongly toward sending Breeders' Cup Mile winner Val Royal to Sha Tin for the Hong Kong Cup rather than run him in the Citation Handicap at Hollywood Park.

"I don't think he can win the Eclipse Award for best turf horse even if he wins the Citation," Canani said on Monday. "I want to breeze him on Thursday, but if it rains I would work him on Friday. After that I will talk with [owner] David Milch, but he will probably go to Hong Kong."

The Hong Kong Cup, worth $2.3 million, is a 1 1/4-mile Group 1 contest that is expected to attract 1999 winner Jim and Tonic, Arlington Million winner Silvano, Hap, Hawkeye, Choc Ice, Tobougg and recent Japanese Grade 1 winner Agnes Digital. Canani thinks that Val Royal would have a much better chance for an Eclipse Award with a victory against horses like that than he would winning the Grade 2 Citation, which is worth a mere $500,000.

If Val Royal does go to Sha Tin for the Mile on Dec. 16, he would be the first Breeders' Cup winner to run in one of the Hong Kong International Races.