It’s a busy time of year for Sha Tin in Hong Kong. The New Year’s Day holiday card is being followed by a regular 10-race slate on Sunday, Jan. 5, which will mark the third straight racing day hosted by Hong Kong’s historic track.
The action will return to Happy Valley next Wednesday, but in the meantime, let’s tackle the competitive Sha Tin card with a couple of spot plays:
Race 8: The Po Leung Kuk Cup (Class 3, 2:50 a.m. EST)
There are only a couple of genuine speed horses in this 1,400-meter elongated sprint, which should give an advantage to the front-running #3 Simple Elegant. Conditioned by leading trainer Ricky Yiu, who is winning at a 20% rate this season, Simple Elegant has set the pace in his last six starts and figures to do so again while breaking from post 7, three slots to the inside of key pace rival #11 Happy Force.
With three wins from four starts this season, Simple Elegant has been in stellar form. Formerly a Class 4 competitor, he handled the jump to Class 3 company just fine on Dec. 21, leading all the way to score by 1 1/4 lengths. By sprinting the final 400 meters in :22.86 over a good course, he eclipsed the :23.15 standard for Class 3 company.
This is a competitive field, so Simple Elegant should offer a fair price in the win pool. We’ll bet him accordingly and also play him in the quinella with #1 Star of Yuen Long (a winner over this class and distance one month ago) and #2 Noble Steed (who drops in class and picks up reigning champion jockey Zac Purton.)
$13 to win on #3 Simple Elegant
$6.50 quinella: 3 with 1,2 ($13)
Race 10: Broadwood Handicap (Class 2, 4:00 a.m. EST)
#3 Beauty Legacy rates a strong chance to win in his Hong Kong debut. An Australian-bred 4-year-old, Beauty Legacy has demonstrated a high level of form in his native country, winning the 1,400-meter Autumn (G2) and placing second in the 1,600-meter Australian Guineas (G1).
Beauty Legacy hasn’t run since Mar. 16 and might not be cranked for a peak effort in this 1,400-meter Class 2 handicap. But reigning champion trainer John Size has enlisted leading jockey Joao Moreira to ride, and Beauty Legacy has shown some promise in barrier trials over the dirt track at Sha Tin. His class alone could be enough to land him on the board.
Let’s bet Beauty Legacy in the quinella and omni/swinger with #1 Decrypt, a talented 4-year-old who finished third in the 2019 Irish 2000 Guineas (G1). Now under the care of trainer Frankie Lor, Decrypt made his local debut over this course, class, and distance on Dec. 15, rallying to finish third with Zac Purton in the saddle. With this effort under his belt, Decrypt should be ready to vie for victory on Sunday.
$10.40 Quinella: 1,3
$15.60 Omni/swinger: 1,3