Hong Kong Spot Plays: Down and Dirt at Sha Tin
If you enjoy high-class, competitive racing at Sha Tin, you’ll be excited to learn Hong Kong’s signature racecourse will be hosting an unexpected day of racing on Sunday, October 27.
The card had originally been scheduled to take place at Happy Valley, but the ongoing political situation in Hong Kong has prompted officials to transfer the meet to Sha Tin. The unintended consequence is that all nine races will take place on the dirt track at Sha Tin, since the turf course is currently undergoing preparations for the Hong Kong International Races on December 8.
To celebrate this extra day of racing at Sha Tin (first post time is 12:15 a.m. ET), let’s take a look at the card and come up with a couple of spot plays on a $60 budget:
Race 4: The Kwangtung Handicap Cup (Class 2)
The improving #7 Buddies is stepping up into Class 2 company, but he might be able to handle the jump. Trained by John Moore, Buddies boasts a near-perfect 3-for-4 record on dirt, with his lone defeat being a second-place finish in a Class 3 handicap on June 12, after which he was reportedly breathing abnormally.
Whatever might have compromised Buddies on that occasion certainly hasn’t affected his subsequent performances. His next two runs on dirt yielded easy victories with solid finishing fractions. On September 15, in his first start of the 2019-20 season, Buddies overcame a stumble at the start of a 1,650-meter Class 3 handicap to track the pace and sprint the final 400 meters in :22.33 for a comfortable victory.
Buddies has the tactical speed to work out a clean, forwardly-placed trip, and the 1,650-meter distance of Sunday’s race is right in his wheelhouse. He’ll just have to handle a challenge from Elusive State, a consistent Class 2 competitor with five victories over this track and distance to his credit. On his best day, Elusive State has proven to be faster than Buddies. But the latter is still improving and will carry 10 pounds less on Sunday, which could make all the difference.
- $10.40 to win on #7 Buddies
- $10.40 quinella: 1,7 ($10.4)
- $2.60 trifecta: 1,4,7 with 1,4,7 with 1,4,7 ($15.6)
Race 7: Guangzhou Handicap (Class 3)
#2 Silver Fig was beaten over this class and 1,200-meter distance two weeks ago, but had a wide trip and actually rallied well down the stretch to finish third by 2 ½ lengths. He had previously won a Class 3 sprint by three lengths in a fast time, and a bounce back to peak form could be in the offing for Silver Fig’s third start of the 2019-20 season. Take note, he won his third-up run last season while racing on turf.
The only concern is that there’s not much pace in Sunday’s dash, which could give an advantage to the lightly-raced #11 Aquila. This speedy son of Exceed and Excel has never run on dirt, but seemed to handle the surface well enough when winning a barrier trial on October 15. Leading jockey Joao Moreira has the mount.
- $13 to win on #2 Silver Fig
- $10.40 quinella: 2,11