Hong Kong Spot Plays: A Good Day for a Gala Night

Profile Picture: J. Keeler Johnson

April 28th, 2020

Success is enjoyable, and if you’re seeking victory at the races this week, you can bet a gala night of action at Happy Valley in Hong Kong will set you up for a good day.

If you’re questioning the unusual wording of the preceding paragraph, allow me to explain -- I’m quietly hinting which horses I’m keen to play during Wednesday’s nine-race card at Happy Valley.

The first two events on the card are particularly enticing, so let’s get started with a couple of plays:

Race 1: Tai Hang Handicap (Class 4, 6:45 a.m. ET)

#7 Good Days figures to start as the favorite in this 2,200-meter route. A son of Artie Schiller out of a Thunder Gulch mare, Good Days has shown strong recent form running long, entering off a pair of runner-up efforts traversing 2,000 meters and 1,800 meters at Sha Tin. He scored a victory over this course, distance, and class level back in 2018 and picks up the services of reigning champion jockey Zac Purton for Wednesday’s test.

But Good Days doesn’t have much in the way of tactical speed, and he’s unlikely to get a solid pace to chase at Happy Valley. Speed horses are few and far between in this 12-horse field, which could give #4 Gala Night a tactical advantage. Though this Australian-bred 3-year-old has yet to negotiate 2,200 meters, he’s shown flashes of promise over 1,800 meters for trainer John Moore, recording back-to-back Class 4 victories in March. More importantly, Gala Night has the speed to set or stalk the pace, setting up the potential for a cozy trip on the front end.

We’ll play Gala Night and Good Days in the quinella and omni/swinger:

  • $13 Quinella: 4,7
  • $26 Omni/Swinger: 4,7

Race 2: Wan Chai Handicap (Class 5, 7:15 a.m. ET)

#2 Victorious Seeker might be a 0-for-12 maiden, but the Australian-bred 4-year-old has cracked the trifecta in his last five starts, most recently rallying to finish second in a 1 1/8-mile Class 5 handicap at Sha Tin. Victorious Seeker demonstrated a solid turn-of-foot that day, coming home the final 400 meters in :23.92 off a quick early pace, and he’ll be favored while retaining the services of leading jockey Joao Moreira.

But Victorious Seeker will have to be sharp to handle #3 Enjoyable Success, a veteran of 39 starts and three wins. He’s been competing primarily against Class 4 company this season, but slipped into a Class 5 handicap three starts back and produced his strongest run of the year, sprinting the final 400 meters in :23.38 to fall less than a head short of victory.

Following two more runs against Class 4 company, including a sixth-place finish behind the above-mentioned Gala Night, Enjoyable Success will dip back into Class 5 company on Wednesday. The easier competition might be all Enjoyable Success needs to spring a surprise.

Also a threat is #12 Virtus Star, who employed pace-tracking tactics to finish seventh over 1,650 meters on Apr. 14. In a race without much speed on paper, Virtus Star’s ability to be involved from the start is an asset, and we’ll hope to see jockey Zac Purton put that speed to good use.

Let’s box Victorious Seeker, Enjoyable Success, and Virtus Star in the quinella:

  • $10.40 Quinella: 2,3,13 ($31.20)

Good luck!