Wednesday, October 9 will bring night racing back to Happy Valley racecourse in Hong Kong, which means bettors in North America will enjoy a morning of competitive, high-class racing starting at 6:45 p.m. ET.

For this week’s spot plays, we’ll focus on one runner dropping in class and another stepping up:

Race 2: Hanshin Handicap (Class 4)

Three weeks ago, when #1 God of Dragon was set to make his 2019-20 debut in a race ultimately canceled, I outlined the following virtues offered by the Australian-bred five-year-old:

Although he’s gone 0-for-19 so far in Hong Kong, God of Dragon has been competing exclusively against tougher Class 3 company while holding his own over a variety of distances. In his last five runs—ranging in distance from 1,200 meters to 2,200 meters—God of Dragon has finished within 3 ¼ lengths of the winner every time.

God of Dragon demonstrated a sharp turn-of-foot over this course and distance three starts back, unleashing a final quarter-mile in :22.88 to finish fifth by just 1 ½ lengths. On Wednesday, he’ll drop into a Class 4 handicap and should relish the easier competition. As an added bonus, trainer Tony Cruz is off to a sharp start this season with five wins from 25 starters, an impressive 20% strike rate.

I stand by these opinions as God of Dragon rejoins the entries in Wednesday’s Class 4 handicap traveling 1,650 meters. Cruz has stayed hot, saddling three more winners to sit in a tie atop the Hong Kong training standings, and God of Dragon is facing a generally unremarkable field of rivals. The drop in class might be all he needs to reach the winner’s circle.

$15.6 to win on #1 God of Dragon
$5.2 quinella: 1 with 8,9 ($10.4)

Race 9: Kyoto Handicap (Class 3)

#9 Snap Fit is two-for-two and cruised to an easy victory in a 1,000-meter Class 4 handicap on June 5, tracking the pace before taking command to win by 2 ½ lengths. In terms of raw times, Snap Fit needs to step up his game a little to compete against Class 3 company; his winning times of :57.12 and :57.44 are a bit slower than the class standard of :57 flat. But he’s lightly raced, improving and will have Zac Purton in the saddle, all positives that suggest he’ll handle the class jump just fine, especially while sticking to 1,000 meters.

His main opposition could come from #7 Special Stars, who has been consistently finishing within three lengths of victory over this course, class, and distance level. Joao Moreira has the ride for Hong Kong’s reigning champion trainer John Size, and Special Stars should take a step forward in his second start of the 2019-20 season.

Other contenders include the highweights #1 Baltic Whisper and #2 Forza Angel plus the versatile #4 Mega Heart, who cuts back from 1,200 meters after a series of decent efforts on both dirt and turf.

We’ll make Snap Fit our key horse in the trifecta while spreading in the other slots:

$1.3 trifecta: 9 with 1,2,4,7 with 1,2,4,7 ($15.6)
$1.3 trifecta: 1,2,4,7 with 9 with 1,2,4,7 ($15.6)

Good luck!

Find weekly Hong Kong spot plays with J. Keeler Johnson

Photo courtesy of Hong Kong Jockey Club