Racing in Hong Kong continues on Wednesday with a nine-race card at Happy Valley, perfectly timed for the enjoyment of early-awakening racing fans the east coast of North America.
The action kicks off at 6:45 a.m. EST, but don’t worry if you’re still groggy. The best races will come along later in the morning, after you’ve enjoyed a refreshing cup of coffee, so you’ll have plenty of time to fire up your TwinSpires account and place a couple of spot plays on the morning action.
Need advice on which horses to bet? That’s what we’re here for:
Race 5: Wai Yip Handicap (Class 4, 8:15 a.m.)
Dor Dor hasn’t been a frequent winner, scoring just once from 18 starts, but his recent form is on the rise. Two starts back he employed pace-tracking tactics to defeat Winning Endeavour over this class, course, and distance, recording a respectable final time of 1:40.60. Dor Dor subsequently fell too far off the pace in another 1,650-meter handicap at Happy Valley, but came charging late to finish just 1 1/4 lengths behind Winning Endeavour while posting a personal time of 1:40.27, faster than the class standard of 1:40.45.
Hong Kong’s leading jockey Joao Moreira has been on fire and swept the two Group 1 races at Sha Tin last weekend. He can keep his momentum going with #4 Dor Dor, who figures to start as a clear favorite for reigning champion trainer John Size in this 1,650-meter handicap.
Breaking from the rail, Dor Dor will have every chance to save ground and work out a winning trip. We’ll bet him to win and key him in the quinella with the speedy #3 Starlight Knight and the stretch-running #7 Righteous Mate:
$13 to Win on #4 Dor Dor
$6.50 Quinella: 4 with 3,7 ($13)
Race 9: Hoi Yuen Handicap (Class 3, 9:50 a.m.)
The finale of the day is a 1,200-meter Class 3 handicap with a dozen entrants. The majority are hard to endorse off their recent form, leaving three as the most logical contenders for victory: #3 Quadruple Double, #4 Winning Method, and #7 California Turbo.
The clear favorite in the early wagering is Winning Method, who attracts the services of reigning champion jockey Zac Purton after scoring a gate-to-wire win over this course, distance, and class level on Dec. 26. His final time of 1:09.49 over a good course was significantly faster than the class standard of 1:09.85.
But Winning Method will pick up eight pounds off that victory, toting 128 on Wednesday, and the presence of Quadruple Double will ensure he doesn’t shake loose on another uncontested lead. The latter gelding loves to barrel along on the front end, which has produced three victories from his last five starts at Sha Tin.
If the two favorites hook up in a pace battle, the late-running California Turbo can capitalize. A son of Fastnet Rock, California Turbo won over this class, course, and distance on Dec. 18 and returned to finish less than a length behind Quadruple Double in a Sha Tin sprint on New Year’s Day.
Let’s box Quadruple Double, Winning Method, and California Turbo in the quinella:
$6.50 Quinella Box: 3,4,7 ($19.50)