by J. Keeler Johnson The summer race meets at Del Mar and Saratoga will wrap up on Monday, but if you’re a fan of international racing, a suitable replacement is on the horizon. Following a seven-week break, the much-anticipated 2019-20 racing season in Hong Kong will kick off on Sunday, September 1. First post time for the 10-race card at Sha Tin is 1:00 a.m. (ET), so if a little late-night racing action on Labor Day weekend sounds appealing, we have a couple of spot plays lined up to (hopefully) help you start the Hong Kong season on a winning note. Let’s dig in! Race 3: The HKSar Chief Executive’s Cup (Handicap) Seasons Bloom (#2) knocked heads with some serious Group 1 competitors last season, including star miler Beauty Generation and the versatile Rise High. This handicap for horses rated 90+ is shaping up to be an easier spot, and while the 1,200-meter distance is shorter than Seasons Bloom usually races, it’s worth noting he won a similar 1,200-meter Class 1 handicap in his season debut two years ago. I’m optimistic that cutting back in distance will sharpen Seasons Bloom’s late kick, especially since he looked sharp edging capable sprint Multimillion (see below) in a 1,200-meter barrier trial on August 22. The only tricky part on Sunday might be catching California Fortune (#4), who looms as the lone front-runner in this small field. If California Fortune shakes loose on an easy lead, he could be tough to run down. $13 to win on #2 Seasons Bloom $7.80 omni/swinger: 2,4 Race 9: Lantau Peak Handicap (Class 3) Winning Method (#7) has shown some serious potential in his first three starts. After finishing second in his debut sprinting 1,000 meters at Sha Tin (beaten only by the undefeated Aethero), Winning Method came right back to win two similar races at Sha Tin in unchallenged fashion. The secret to Winning Method’s success is his ability to sprint the penultimate 400-meter fraction in a blazing time and still finish strong. In his three starts to date, he’s posted consistent internal splits of :20.60, :20.87, and :20.59 while also demonstrating the ability to come home the final 400 meters in :22.54, :22.34, and :22.86. A couple of Winning Method’s rivals have shown similar ability in 1,000-meter sprints, mainly Super Junior (#8) (who steps up in class after toting high weights against Class 4 company) and Multimillion (#1) (who has even thrown down a couple of sub-:20 fractions in recent starts). But Multimillion will carry top weight of 133 pounds, 12 more than Winning Method, and Super Junior is a big, heavy sprinter who seems to benefit from frequent racing – he was rusty off a layoff last season, but improved sharply once his campaign got underway. Let’s bet Winning Method to win and key him in the trifecta with Super Junior, Multimillion, and Jing Jing Win (#3), the mount of Hong Kong’s reigning champion jockey Zac Purton: $13 to win on #7 Winning Method $1.30 trifecta: 7 with 1,3,8 with 1,3,8 ($7.80) $1.30 trifecta: 1,8 with 7 with 1,3,8 ($5.20) Good luck! PHOTO: Seasons Bloom (c) Hong Kong Jockey Club