Hong Kong Spot Plays: Aethero back for more in tough turf sprint
The Saturday, October 12 race card at Sha Tin in Hong Kong is one you won't want to miss. Ten events are on the agenda (first post time is 1:00 a.m. EDT), and some high-profile sprinters will be in action on both the dirt track and the grass course.
We'll make these sprinters the focus of our two spot plays for the Saturday card:
Race 3: Sha Tsui Handicap (Class 3)
It will come as a surprise if anyone defeats #2 Silver Fig in this 1,200-meter dirt sprint. The son of Hard Spun fired off a huge performance over this track and distance on September 8, rallying powerfully to win a Class 3 handicap by three lengths. By sprinting the final two 400-meter sectionals in :22.09 and :22.06—both faster than standard—Silver Fig recorded a sharp final time of 1:08.10, 0.60 faster than standard.
This was Silver Fig's second strong run over the Sha Tin dirt following a runner-up effort in a Class 4 handicap on March 10. Acclaimed jockey Joao Moreira, currently leading the jockey standings in Hong Kong, will retain the mount.
Let's bet Silver Fig to win and play him on top in the trifecta. One longer shot we'll use underneath is #9 General Dino, who boasts a 3-for-4 record on dirt. General Dino's recent form has been muddied by a pair of poor efforts on grass, but the return to his preferred surface can trigger a rebound, and cutting back to 1,200 meters could also sharpen the finishing speed of this veteran five-year-old.
$20.80 to win on #2 Silver Fig
$1.30 trifecta: 2 with 4,5,7,8,9 with 4,5,7,8,9 ($26)
Race 9: Wok Tik Handicap (Class 2)
There are some serious sprinters entered in this 1,000-meter dash over the straight course at Sha Tin. The much-hyped #7 Aethero will look to rebound after suffering a defeat over 1,200 meters on October 1, and the same goes for #5 Thanks Forever, who is 2-for-2 sprinting 1,000 meters but 0-for-2 running longer.
#6 Voyage Warrior, 3-for-4 overall, was beaten by Thanks Forever over this course and distance in May but subsequently acquired a Class 3 win with jockey Zac Purton in the saddle. On Saturday, Voyage Warrior will keep Purton, but step up in class. Can he handle the jump? The form of #4 Refined Treasure isn't quite as flashy, but he's already proven at this class level and boasts a strong record over 1,000 meters—you can just draw a line through his poor efforts running longer.
I suggest boxing these four in the trifecta. While it's an expensive (and somewhat risky) ticket, trifecta payoffs tend to be large in Hong Kong, and I think these capable sprinters rate a strong chance to sweep the top three spots.
$1.30 trifecta box: 4,5,6,7 ($31.20)
(c) Hong Kong Jockey Club photo