Though a handful of racetracks in the U.S. have cancelled racing due to the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus, racing will continue as usual in Hong Kong on Wednesday with an eight-race card at Happy Valley.
The action kicks off at 7:15 a.m. ET, but we’ll focus our attention on the second half of the card. A pair of 1,200-meter sprints have drawn enticing fields with possible standout runners, so let’s dig in and come up with a couple of spot plays.
Race 5 – Osmanthus Handicap (Class 4, 9:15 a.m. ET)
The lightly-raced #1 Ares looks primed for victory in this 1,200-meter dash. Trained by Frankie Lor, Ares finished fifth in his debut sprinting 1,000 meters before delivering a winning effort over this class, course, and distance on Feb. 26. Favored at 2-1, the son of Zacinto tracked a faster-than-standard pace before stemming off the late-charging #11 The Show to win by a half-length.
Reigning champion jockey Zac Purton will retain the mount on Ares, who should once again employ stalking tactics while breaking from post 6. With a confidence-boosting maiden win under his belt, Ares can take another step forward in his third career start.
A win bet on Ares is definitely in order, but we’ll also play him in the quinella with The Show and #3 Gunnar, who finished second and third behind Ares on Feb. 26:
$13 to Win on #1 Ares
$6.50 Quinella: 1 with 3,11 ($13)
Race 8: Begonia Handicap (Class 2, 10:50 a.m. ET)
The brilliant #2 Amazing Star never had a fair chance when facing Class 1 company over this 1,200-meter distance on Feb. 26. The 5-year-old gelding broke through the gate pre-race and ran off for about a furlong before being brought back and reloaded. After that, he aggressively carved out the pace before understandably weakening in the final furlong to finish seventh. Even still, he was beaten just 2 1/2 lengths.
Amazing Star will drop back into Class 2 company on Wednesday, and assuming he doesn’t break through the gate again, he should bounce right back to peak form with regular rider Purton in the saddle.
Let’s key Amazing Star on top of a trifecta. Underneath, we’ll emphasize #4 Waldorf (who rallied to defeat Amazing Star on Feb. 26) and #1 Country Star (who is also dropping down out of Class 1 company.)
$2.60 Trifecta: 2 with 1,4 with 1,4,7,10,11 ($20.80)
$2.60 Trifecta: 2 with 1,4,7,10,11 with 1,4 ($20.80)