Saturday, January 23, 2016

Hong Kong Classic Mile Preview


1/24/2016  Sha Tin Race 10

All season, the hot topic in Hong Kong has been the strength of this year's four-year-olds -- particularly those in the John Size yard -- and here we'll get to see the best of them face each other over a mile.

The aforementioned Size has the top two entrants on local ratings and while Sun Jewellery (formerly Tan Tat Sun) has won three of four thus far in Hong Kong, he also comes with legitimate distance queries being by Snitzel and out of an Umatilla mare. He'll be a short price come post time and taking the distance queries and poor draw into account, he looks the one to take on.

Our focus here is instead on Thewizardofoz. A son of Redoute's Choice, Thewizardofoz asserted himself as the leader of this crop last year when he effortlessly won his first three starts. While some look at his two losses this season as him faltering, in reality he was simply beaten by a fitter individual first-up and he ran well second-up to finish as close as he did when near a scorching pace early. In a race which melted down, he was the only pace presence to stick around late. To top it off, that was while carrying 131 lbs. It was in his third start of the season that Thewizardofoz silenced his doubters, trouncing a field which included Blizzard, Hero Look, and Consort and there is little reason to think any of those three will reverse form with him here.

Concerning for his competition is the possibility that Thewizardofoz could in fact improve for the step up to a mile. Out of New Zealand Oaks winner Princess Coup, this distance should be ideal.

There is little early speed signed on in this race, which shouldn't hinder Thewizardofoz, but such a tempo could in fact aid Dashing Fellow. A regular frontrunner this season, Dashing Fellow has led twice over 1400m and should have a softer time of things over this longer trip. Even if Sun Jewellery is sent forward from the wide barrier, one wouldn't expect him to force a strong tempo.

Dashing Fellow ran well when third behind Multivictory and Apollo's Choice in his lone try over a mile. He finished only one half of a length back despite carrying eight and ten pounds more than the two who beat him, respectively, and that form has stood up since. Two of today's competitors Sun Jewellery and Lucky Bubbles defeated him last time out, but he's now drawn inside both of them and appears better suited by the step up in trip. Of those who are likely to be double digit odds at post time, he's the one to use.

First time racing in Hong Kong is never easy, but King Genki (formerly Toruk) caught the eye physically when I saw him back in December and his most recent trial was encouraging. Pushed to lead by Joao Moreira, King Genki showed nice early foot in what will have been a solid fitness builder. There's every reason to believe he'll be near the speed and having ran third only one and one half lengths behind eventual Hong Kong Vase third place finisher Dariyan, he brings class to the table. While he's likely to find this mile distance too sharp, a solid run could set him up well for a Hong Kong Derby bid.

Blizzard beat Thewizardofoz this season, but that form was emphatically reversed last time out. He's drawn wide three times this season and some will point to a better draw here as reason to upgrade him. Of concern, however, is the step up to a mile. While he visually shapes as if a mile could be within his realm, his pedigree suggests otherwise, as it's loaded with sprinting influences.

We'll round things out with Werther, who easily won his only start in Hong Kong to date. Like Dashing Fellow, Werther has form through Apollo's Choice whom he defeated by one and one half lengths when receiving two pounds. Second to Delicacy in the G1 South Australian Derby, Werther clearly has talent, he's proven locally over a mile and there's reason to believe he'll improve second-up.

Verdict and Early Odds:
1. Thewizardofoz (4.0)
2. Werther (4.2)
3. Dashing Fellow (14.0)
4. King Genki (32.0)

Suggested Play:   2 / 5,6 / 4,5,6,11 trifecta 
                   

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