Racing continues on Wednesday at Happy Valley in Hong Kong with an eight-race card kicking off at 7:15 a.m. ET.
With an increasing number of U.S. tracks suspending live racing to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, Happy Valley offers an appealing alternative to bettors looking for competitive midweek racing action.
Let’s tackle the card with a pair of spot plays:
Race 3: Sha Wan Handicap (Class 4, 8:15 a.m.)
#4 Winning Ways has been in strong form, cracking the trifecta in his last four runs over this class, course, and 1,000-meter distance. A powerful stretch kick is his greatest weapon—he routinely sprints the final 400 meters of his races in less than :23 seconds—and he’ll be guided by hot jockey Zac Purton, who has won 21 of his last 80 rides.
But according to the Hong Kong Jockey Club, Winning Ways came back with “substantial blood in (his) trachea” after finish a close third on Feb. 26. Considering Winning Ways has been racing steadily for seven months, packing in eight starts during that time frame, I think it’s fair to wonder if regression is on the horizon.
#1 Zero Hedge is a logical alternative. He’s been competing admirably over both dirt and turf at Sha Tin, but three of his four career victories have come here at Happy Valley, where he’s cracked the trifecta in two of his three runs sprinting 1,000 meters. A speedy son of Medaglia d’Oro, Hero Hedge finished a troubled sixth on Mar. 14 and should step up his game with a clean trip on Wednesday.
Let’s bet Zero Hedge to win and box him in the quinella with Winning Ways and #9 Oversubscribed, who rallied to finish just a neck behind Winning Ways on Feb. 5:
- $10.40 to Win on #1 Zero Hedge
- $6.50 Quinella Box: 1,4,9 ($19.50)
Race 8: Kong Sin Wan Handicap (Class 3, 10:50 a.m.)
At first glance, #6 Green Reign looms as the horse to beat in this 1,200-meter sprint. Conditioned by Caspar Fownes, the lightly-raced son of Lope de Vega has shown gradual improvement since his debut last December. Green Reign has compiled a particularly promising record at Happy Valley, where he’s finished second in two of his three runs over this class, course, and distance.
Green Reign will be guided by leading jockey Joao Moreira, but as a late runner in a field without much pace, there’s no guarantee he’ll receive the setup he needs to rally and win. In this instance, the speedy #3 Winning Method could be viable upset candidate. His recent form has been muddied by a run over dirt on Feb. 8 and a poor start on Mar. 11, but he won nicely over this course, class, and distance last December and looms as the lone front-runner in Wednesday’s race. Shaking loose on an easy lead could well be a winning method for Winning Method.
Let’s bet Green Reign and Winning Method in the omni/swinger:
- $20.80 Omni/Swinger: 3,6