Although the possibility of political protests and demonstrations caused the Wednesday card at Happy Valley in Hong Kong to be canceled, the Hong Kong Jockey Club expects the Saturday card at Sha Tin to proceed as scheduled.
That’s good news for racing fans, because the 10-race card (first post time 1 a.m. [ET]) is stacked with quality runners. While we’ll never know how our Wednesday spot plays might have fared, we can look to the future with two more spot plays for Saturday.
Race 4: Lau Fau Shan Handicap (Class 4)
We played Touch of Luck (#4) over this 1,200-meter distance and class level on September 8, when he overcame a slow pace and a bit of traffic to rally and finish third by just a half-length. With an unencumbered trip and/or a better pace setup, he might have won; as it was, he managed to sprint the final 400 meters in a rapid :22.54.
This was an encouraging seasonal debut, and Touch of Luck should improve with this effort under his belt. His affinity for dirt is understandable (he’s a son of 2007 Kentucky Derby (G1) runner-up Hard Spun), and his consistency is an asset – he’s cracked the trifecta in his last six starts. Touch of Luck will retain the services of Hong Kong’s leading rider Zac Purton, so victory should be within reach.
If anyone can challenge Touch of Luck, it’s Casa de Forca (#1), who has been competing admirably (but without recent success) against Class 3 company. He actually ran quite well in a 1,200-meter dirt sprint on September 8, finishing fifth by 5 1/4 lengths in a race that elapsed in just 1:08.10, three-fifths of a second faster than the standard for the class level. The drop to Class 4 company might be all Case de Forca needs to challenge for victory.
Let’s bet Touch of Luck and Casa de Forca together in the quinella and omni/swinger:
$10.40 quinella: 1,4
$20.80 omni/swinger: 1,4
Race 6: Nam Sang Wai Handicap (Class 3)
Mr Lumieres (#1) ran a big race to finish third behind Voyage Warrior over this class and 1,000-meter distance two starts back, a noteworthy effort since the winning time of :54.89 broke the course record for the class level. Mr Lumieres himself sprinted the final two 400-meter sectionals in :20.12 and :21.86, much faster than standard, and a repeat of that effort would likely land him in the winner’s circle on Saturday.
However, Mr Lumieres regressed slightly when finishing third in a similar Class 3 handicap on May 5, and he returned bleeding from both nostrils. This marked the second time in the last year that Mr Lumieres has bled during a race, and while he’s received time off since then, it’s hard to know if he’ll rebound to his best form or continue regressing.
Alternatives to Mr Lumieres include Winning Method (#3), who has shown flashes of talent while winning two of his first four starts sprinting 1,000 meters, and Ka Ying Master (#9), who has employed pace-tracking tactics to win his first two starts against Class 4 company with solid finishing fractions of :20.66/:22.92 and :20.76/:23.50.
Let’s bet Mr Lumieres, Winning Method, and Ka Ying Master together in the quinella – if two of the three run 1-2, we should cash a decent ticket.
$7.80 quinella: 1,3,9 ($23.40)
PHOTO: Ka Ying Master (c) Hong Kong Jockey Club