12/11/2011 2:38PM

Hong Kong: California Memory takes roughly ridden Hong Kong Cup

Shigeki Kikkawa
California Memory rallies to take the $2.5 million Hong Kong Cup, but his jockey, Matt Chadwick, was fined and suspended for careless riding.

California Memory typically is the deepest of deep closers, sitting at the back of the pack until the stretch, when he comes with a big slingshot run. But a change in tactics Sunday probably won California Memory the $2.57 million Hong Kong Cup at Sha Tin Racecourse.

With the Hong Kong Cup pace glacial in the early stages, jockey Matt Chadwick placed California Memory in fourth position, just behind the early leaders while saving ground. Finding a hole between horses in midstretch, California Memory let fly his usual late burst to beat Irian by one length. Zazou was another neck back in third, with Hong Kong star Ambitious Dragon fourth, flattening out after making a big move in upper stretch.

Trained by Tony Cruz, California Memory is a 5-year-old American-bred son of Highest Honor who has been among the top middle-distance runners in the Far East for a couple years. In February, he captured the Group 1 Hong Kong Gold Cup, but this was the biggest win of his career.

Pure Champion set the early pace, if “pace” is the right word. It took Pure Champion 27.38 seconds to cover the first 400 meters (about a quarter-mile) of the 2000-meter race, validating Chadwick’s decision to let California Memory stay close. The issue then became finding a gap between Pure Champion and Zazou in midstretch, but California Memory got a split and shot through to victory. Hong Kong stewards, however, fined and suspended Chadwick for careless riding, asserting that his maneuver hampered both Zazou and Byword.

Cirrus des Aigles, winner of the Group 1 Champion Stakes at Ascot in his most recent start, ran at one pace and finished fifth, with Juddmonte Farms color-bearer Byword 6th.

Dunaden captures Hong Kong Vase

Dunaden pulled off an historic double Sunday, becoming the first winner of the Melbourne Cup to annex a Group 1 race in Hong Kong when he won the $1.8 million Hong Kong Vase by three-quarters of a length over Thumbs Up.

Dunaden has been based in France with trainer Mikel Delzangles most of his career, but has spent this fall on the road, winning the prestigious Melbourne Cup by a nose over Red Cadeaux on Nov. 1. The Melbourne Cup is a two-mile marathon, and Dunaden, a 5-year-old French-bred by Nicobar, showed he is very much a staying type again Sunday.

Racing mid-pack for much of the trip under Australian rider Craig Williams, Dunaden came between horses in upper stretch and was out-quicked for a furlong by Thumbs Up, who came down the middle of the track and looked like a winner with 200 meters to go. But Dunaden stayed on resolutely, getting to Thumbs Up about 100 yards out to post a clear victory.

Silver Pond and Red Cadeaux dead-heated for third, with Campanologist fifth and Redwood 12th. The filly Sarah Lynx did not finish, but apparently was uninjured.

Able One takes Mile by a neck

The 9-year-old Able One upset the $2.57 million Hong Kong Mile, hanging on for a neck win over Cityscape. Xtension was third and Dubawi Gold in a tight finish.

Able One, a New Zealand-bred based in Hong Kong with trainer John Moore, was making his four start in the Hong Kong Mile, having finished 10th in 2007, second in 2008, and eighth in 2009. He had not won a race of any kind since November 2010, and appeared well past his best before posting his unexpected Group 1 tally Sunday.

Flying Blue opened up a big early lead in the Mile, and when he quickly came back to the field with 400 meters to go, it was Able One who was in perfect position to pounce and take the lead. Still clear 200 meters from the finish, Able One desperately held on under strong urging from jockey Jeff Lloyd.

Lucky Nine reaches Sprint wire first by a head

Lucky Nine rallied down the middle of the course under jockey Brett Prebble to win the $1.8 million Hong Kong Sprint by a head. Entrapment and Joy and Fun dead-heated for the place, while favorites Sacred Kingdom and Rocket Man could only finish 10th and 12th, respectively.

Caspar Fownes trains 4-year-old Lucky Man, an Irish-bred son of Dubawi who was winning his second Group 1.