Rise and shine! You’ll have to be an early bird to play the Wednesday card at Happy Valley in Hong Kong, which gets underway at 6:15 a.m. ET.
You might be tempted to sleep in and skip the first couple of races, but I wouldn’t recommend it. The first two events on the card are enticing races with large, competitive fields, and we’ll make them the focus of our latest Hong Kong spot plays:
Race 1: Ma Tau Wai Handicap (Class 5, 6:15 a.m. ET)
The 132-pound highweight #1 U W Brother looks like the horse to beat in this bottom-level 1,000-meter dash. The Australian-bred 3-year-old has been competing admirably against Class 4 company, finishing within 2 1/2 lengths of the winner in his last three starts.
U W Brother has tactical speed, but has been weakening late while racing over 1,200 meters. The cutback in distance, coupled with the drop in class, should be a winning combination.
Let’s bet U W Brother to win and key him in the quinella with #4 Demons Rock and #6 Great Son. The former cuts back in distance after finishing second over 1,200 meters on Feb. 5, while the latter gets a 7-pound break in the weights courtesy of jockey Alfred Chan.
- $13 to Win on #1 U W Brother
- $6.50 Quinella: 1 with 4,6 ($13)
Race 2: Kowloon Tong Handicap (Class 4, 6:45 a.m. ET)
There’s hardly any speed entered in this 1,800-meter Class 4 handicap. #4 California Legend and #11 Curling Luxury are the lone front runners in the field, and only #10 Gala Night prefers to track or press the pace. The rest tend to settle farther back before rallying late.
Could this give an insurmountable advantage to the speed horses? It might. California Legend certainly looks competitive on paper, having led all the way to win over this class, course, and distance on Jan. 29. Gala Night followed California Legend around the course to finish third, beaten less than a length, while the veteran Curling Luxury has a couple of victories over this distance to his credit.
Let’s bet the speed horses in the exotics with #8 Dionysus Collin, runner-up behind California Legend on Jan. 29 and seemingly the best of the late runners with Joao Moreira in the saddle.
- $5.20 Quinella: 4,8 ($10.40)
- $1.30 Trifecta: 4,8 with 4,8,10,11 with 4,8,10,11 ($15.60)