Hong Kong Spot Plays: Moreira set for big day at Happy Valley

Profile Picture: J. Keeler Johnson

February 4th, 2020

Acclaimed jockey Joao Moreira has been on fire in Hong Kong this season. With 69 winners since the start of the 2019-20 season in September, Moreira is leading all other jockeys in Hong Kong by a wide margin.

Moreira will ride all eight races on Wednesday at Happy Valley and figures to land in the winner's circle at least once or twice. Let's dig through the card and put together a couple of spot plays focusing on Moreira's mount:

Race 5: Wong Nai Chung Handicap (Class 4, 8:15 a.m. EST)

#4 Dor Dor is on the rise for trainer John Size, winning two of his last three runs over this course, class level, and 1,650-meter distance. He was really motoring on Jan. 22, sprinting the final 400 meters in :22.81 to win by a half-length under Moreira.

But on Wednesday, Dor Dor will lose Moreira to rival #5 Casa de Forca, who was beaten a neck under these conditions on Oct. 30. Typically a front-runner when negotiating 1,650 meters, Casa de Forca looks poised for improvement after prepping with a couple of late-running efforts sprinting 1,200 meters.

In a race without much speed on paper, Casa de Forca and #10 Lightning Steed may control the outcome by setting a modest tempo on the front end. We'll box them in the quinella with Dor Dor and cross our fingers for a favorable outcome in this highly competitive heat:

$7.80 Quinella Box: 4,5,10 ($23.40)

Race 8: Sports Road Handicap (Class 3, 9:50 a.m. EST)

The improving #4 Meridian Genius should land in the winner's circle in this 1,200-meter turf dash. The 4-year-old Australian-bred has shown significant improvement since returning from a layoff in September, going 2-for-3 while missing by a neck in his lone defeat.

Meridian Genius has been effective even while stepping up against increasingly tough company. On Nov. 27 he rallied to win as Class 3 handicap over this course and distance, sprinting the final 400 meters in a quick :22.94. This marked the fourth straight race in which Meridian Genius shaded :23 for the final 400 meters, a testament to the powerful turn-of-foot he possesses.

Meridian Genius hasn't run since November, but he won off a similar layoff on Sep. 21 and has the tactical speed to sit a nice stalking trip from post 9. Moreira has the mount, so let's bet Meridian Genius to win and play him in the quinella with the consistent #8 This Is Class:

$20.80 to Win on #4 Meridian Genius
$10.40 Quinella: 4,8