Hong Kong Spot Plays: Sprinters shine on return to Happy Valley

Profile Picture: J. Keeler Johnson

September 24th, 2019

One week after an entire race card was cancelled at Happy Valley, night racing will return to Hong Kong's oldest racetrack on Wednesday.

Nine races (one more than usual) are scheduled, with the first taking place at 6:45 a.m. (EDT). From a handicapping perspective, two of the most intriguing races of the day are sprints situated later on the card.

We'll make these two quick dashes the focus of our Wednesday spot plays:

Race 6: Shum Wan Handicap (Class 3)

#8 Super Junior was an improving Class 4 sprinter through the first half of 2019, but he stepped up his game a notch on September 1, rallying to finish second in a Class 3 handicap traveling 1,000 meters at Sha Tin. The jump in class proved to be no obstacle, as Super Junior rallied to miss by a short head against Multimillion, a quality 1,000-meter specialist with four victories to his credit in 2019 alone.

Multimillion isn't entered in Wednesday's sprint at Happy Valley, and indeed, Super Junior appears to have found a much easier spot to take another shot at Class 4 company. One of his key rivals—the lightly-raced #11 Aquila—is stepping up in class, while another—#12 Gentle Breeze—was soundly beaten by Super Junior on September 1.

Let's bet Super Junior to win and key him in the quinella with Aquila, Gentle Breeze, and #4 Explosive Witness.

$10.4 to win on #8 Super Junior

$3.9 quinella: 8 with 4,11,12 ($11.7)

Race 9: Yip Fat Handicap (Class 3)

We featured #6 Reliable Team when he was entered to race over this course and 1,200-meter distance last week, but since the card was cancelled, Reliable Team was left without a race. The good news? He's back in the entries already, and he still boasts all the positives we highlighted last week.

Aside from the obvious—he'll be ridden by Hong Kong's leading rider Zac Purton—Reliable Team is 2-for-2 sprinting 1,200 meters against Class 4 company at Happy Valley, including a dominant 3 1/2-length triumph back in July. On that occasion, Reliable Team recorded a final time of 1:09.64, significantly faster than the class standard of 1:10.10 and slightly faster than the Class 3 standard of 1:09.85.

Wednesday's race might be a little tougher than the one Reliable Team entered last week, but if he takes a step forward in his third career start—and his first of the 2019-20 racing season—he can still emerge on top. He did win a 1,200-meter barrier trial on September 6, so there's no reason to doubt his fitness off the 2 1/2-month layoff.

$19.5 to win on #6 Reliable Team

Good luck!

Happy Valley photo (c) Vance Hanson