Sprinters and stayers will both be featured prominently during Wednesday’s nine-race card at Happy Valley in Hong Kong, which gets underway at 6:45 a.m. ET.
The competitive card has a lot to offer, so let’s dig in with two spot plays, one in a route and one in a sprint:
Race 3: Heather Handicap (Class 3, 7:45 a.m. ET)
The rapidly-improving #6 London Hall should relish the 2,200-meter distance of this Class 3 handicap. After rallying from just off the pace to win a 2,000-meter Class 4 handicap on Feb. 23 at Sha Tin, the David Hall-trained 5-year-old handled the jump to Class 3 company on Mar. 22 just fine, employing identical tactics to comfortably win another 2,000-meter event in 2:00.43, breaking the Sha Tin course record for the class level.
Drawing the rail should ensure London Hall works out another clean trip on Wednesday, so we’ll bet him heavily to win and play him in the quinella with the similarly improving stayer #8 Above, winner over this course and distance last November and runner-up behind London Hall on Feb. 23:
- $26 to Win on #6 London Hall
- $13 Quinella: 6,8
Race 5: Iris Handicap (Class 4, 8:45 a.m. ET)
The consistent #1 Mehboob has cracked the trifecta in each of his last eight starts, stamping the 8-year-old gelding as the horse to beat in this 1,000-meter turf dash. But with just one victory during that timeframe, Mehboob has been settling for the minor awards more often than not, making him tough to trust as the likely favorite.
It’s also worth noting Mehboob will lose the services of Hong Kong’s reigning champion jockey Zac Purton, who will guide #5 Winning Ways instead. A veteran of 32 starts, Winning Ways endured a troubled trip when finishing seventh over this class, course, and distance on Mar. 25. A clean run could help Winning Ways bounce back, but he’s been racing steadily since September and is just 1-for-24 in Hong Kong, so a big step forward seems unlikely.
Instead, we’ll take a shot with the improving #9 Farm Bumper. Winner of a 1,000-meter Class 5 handicap on Mar. 4, Farm Bumper returned three weeks later to finish second by a head in a Class 4 handicap. A slow pace compromised the chances of this late-running 4-year-old, who sprinted the final 400 meters in a rapid :22.52 to finish two lengths clear of Winning Ways.
We’ll bet Farm Bumper to win and key him in the exotics with Mehboob and Winning Ways:
- $15.60 to Win on #9 Farm Bumper
- $6.50 Quinella: 9 with 1,5 ($13)
- $1.30 Trifecta: 9 with 1,5 with 1,5,6,7,11 ($10.40)
- $1.30 Trifecta: 1,5 with 9 with 1,5,6,7,11 ($10.40)