Hong Kong Spot Plays: Amazing Star returns fresh in Happy Valley finale

Profile Picture: J. Keeler Johnson

May 18th, 2020

An exciting card is on tap for Wednesday at Happy Valley, where a couple of promising sprinters are seemingly poised to post impressive victories.

The action gets underway at 6:45 a.m. ET, and we’re ready to play along on a ~$100 budget:

Race 5: Shan Pui River Handicap (Class 4, 8:45 a.m. ET)

The lightly-raced #1 Ares has shown a lot of potential for trainer Frankie Lor. Under the guidance of reigning champion jockey Zac Purton, Ares finished fifth in his debut sprinting 1,000 meters in November, then showed improvement when stretching out over 1,200 meters, rallying to victory on Feb. 26 before finishing second with a slightly troubled trip on Mar. 18.

Ares hasn’t run in two months, but he was much the best in a 1,200-meter barrier trial over the Sha Tin dirt track on May 8, leading all the way to beat five rivals by 2 3/4 lengths. This sharp trial suggests Ares is ready for another big run on Wednesday, so it’s going to be tough for anyone to hold off Ares’ powerful stretch kick. In all three of his starts to date, Ares has sprinted the final 400 meters in less than 23 seconds, a strong turn-of-foot his rivals have struggled to consistently match.

Let’s bet Ares to win and play him in the quinella with #4 Monkey Jewellery, racing for the high-profile team of jockey Joao Moreira and trained John Size. Monkey Jewellery has finished third in his last two runs over this class level and distance and can employ pace-stalking tactics to finish in the money again on Wednesday.

  • $26 to Win on #1 Ares
  • $13 Quinella: 1,4

Race 9: Ho Chung River Handicap (Class 2, 10:50 a.m. ET)

#1 Amazing Star has turned into a winning machine this season, nabbing four of his five starts while steadily ascending the class ladder. A brilliant front-runner with an abundance of early speed, Amazing Star’s lone defeat came in a Class 1 handicap on Feb. 26, when he broke through the gate and ran off pre-race. The 5-year-old gelding subsequently shrugged off the setback with a pace-pressing victory in a Class 2 handicap on Mar. 18.

After racing heavily during the winter, Amazing Star has taken a couple months off, which will hopefully freshen the son of Darci Brahma for another big effort. He had no difficulty winning a 1,200-meter barrier trial over the Sha Tin dirt on May 12, leading all the way to win by 1 3/4 lengths, and he figures to be ultra-tough to beat on Wednesday while retaining the services of regular rider Zac Purton.

Let’s bet Amazing Star heavily to win and key him in the quinella with the improving #8 Larson and newcomer #12 Prince of Frog, a Group 2 winner in Australia making his local debut:

  • $39 to Win on #1 Amazing Star
  • $13 Quinella: 1 with 8,12 ($26)

Good luck!