HK Mile beckons California Spangle
HONG KONG - California Spangle has surged to a potential Group 1 Longines Hong Kong Mile (1,600m) showdown with Golden Sixty in December, after the exciting gelding resumed with an emphatic victory in the Group 3 Celebration Cup Handicap (1,400m) at Sha Tin on Sunday.
With options to contest either the Group 1 Longines Hong Kong Sprint (1,200m) or the Hong Kong Mile on Dec 11, trainer Tony Cruz has decided to target the longer race because of California Spangle’s relentless racing style.
“I think he’s a miler. He’s a real front runner,” said Cruz, after California Spangle improved his record to seven wins and four seconds from 11 starts, and adding a HK$500,000 (S$91,000) Top-Up bonus to Sunday’s HK$2.2 million winner’s prize money.
“At the 1,200m, it’s hard to get to the front if you’ve drawn wide. But, in the 1,600m, there are no fast horses around. I think he will be the fastest one and easily lead the race, and have it his own way again.”
A 10-time winner over Sha Tin’s 1,600m course, Golden Sixty has won the last two Hong Kong Mile editions. He beat California Spangle by two lengths when they clashed in the Group 1 FWD Champions Mile at Sha Tin on April 24.
Clocking a sizzling 1min 20.49sec after bouncing straight to the lead on Sunday, California Spangle demonstrated customary high-cruising speed under Zac Purton. He clocked mid-race sectionals of 21.72sec and 22.61sec, before completing the final 400m in 22.78sec to defeat Healthy Happy by two lengths.
Duke Wai was a further three lengths back in third.
“He’s just won the easiest race he’s ever had,” said Cruz. “Zac took it so easy. It made the race look like he hardly had to push the horse.
“He went to the front and he got the rail and, at the home turn, he could relax. Coming into the straight, he only had one horse to challenge him, Healthy Happy, and I think it was the easiest race he’s ever had.
“Zac said the horse can relax even better now than last season, so there’s been improvement in him. He thinks we need to go a mile race next time.”
Cruz, who is leading the 2022/23 trainers’ championship with five wins, said California Spangle would be prepared for the Group 2 Oriental Watch Sha Tin Trophy Handicap (1,600m) at Sha Tin on Oct 16. - HKJC