12/08/2013 9:52AM

Hong Kong: Lord Kanaloa, Glorious Days, Dominant, Akeed Mofeed win Grade 1 races


The Hong Kong Jockey Club rolls out the red carpet for international shippers to the Hong Kong International Races, but Sunday’s Grade 1 contests at Sha Tin continued to be inhospitable to overseas runners.

While Japanese sprint star Lord Kanaloa crushed his rivals in the Hong Kong Sprint, Hong Kong-based horses won the Hong Kong Vase, the Hong Kong Cup, and were particularly dominant in the Hong Kong Mile, sweeping the race’s top three places, as European stars Moonlight Cloud and Sky Lantern played no part in the outcome.

The two American horses who raced Sunday at Sha Tin did not perform well, either: Little Mike finished ninth of 12 in the Cup, while King Kreesa set the pace in the Mile but faded to 12th of 14.

The $2.6 million Mile went to Glorious Days, an Australian-bred 6-year-old by Hussonet who rallied from 13th to overtake Gold Fun by three-quarters of a length. Packing Whiz finished third, with Gordon Lord Byron in fourth, the best of the international runners.

Moonlight Cloud, so brilliant in the French phase of her career this season, mustered no rally and checked in sixth. Her performance on a very firm, fast-playing course was reminiscent of her only previous shipping experience outside of Europe, a failed attempt in the 2012 Breeders’ Cup Mile.

Even worse than Moonlight Cloud was multiple Group 1 winner Sky Lantern, who came home last of 14. Sky Lantern was reported early last week to have been acting unusually quiet after her long trip from England, and she ran a flat race that appeared to validate those reports.

Glorious Days, the 8-1 winner, was ridden by Douglas Whyte and is trained by John Size, who sent the horse out for a career-best score in his first start since June.

Dominant wins Hong Kong Vase

The Fugue ran the best race of any long-distance shipper Sunday, closing strongly to finish second in the $1.9 million Hong Kong Vase but unable to catch 13-1 surprise Dominant, who got the jump on The Fugue.

Dominant, a 5-year-old by Cacique, had finished eighth and 12th in his two starts this fall but turned his form around to score by far the most important win of his career. Ridden by Zac Purton for trainer John Moore, Dominant raced 12th in the early portions of the 2,400-meter race but steadily improved his position from the halfway point while running wide, rushing to the front more than a furlong from the finish and staying on well enough to hold clear The Fugue.

The Fugue, handed a tough, last-second loss in the Breeders’ Cup Turf last month, actually was in front of Dominant during the early stages but was shuffled back on the inside, forced to swing out and rally wide in the stretch, and could not reach the winner while beating Dunaden by three-quarters of a length for second, with Red Cadeaux, the race’s 2012 winner, home fourth.

Akeed Mofeed scores in Hong Kong Cup

Akeed Mofeed, saving ground for most of the trip under Douglas Whyte, who won two of the major races Sunday, tipped two wide about three-sixteenths of a mile from the finish and ran down the pacesetting Tokei Halo to win the $2.8 million Hong Kong Cup over 2,000 meters.

France-based Cirrus des Aigles’s fourth race in Hong Kong produced his best performance there, as he finished decently from a stalking position to get third, beaten 1 1/2 lengths by the winner.

Originally trained in Ireland by John Oxx, the 4-year-old Akeed Mofeed, a son of Dubawi, was a course and distance winner last March in the Group 1 Hong Kong Derby. Trained by Richard Gibson, he had lost four races in a row coming into the Cup but had finished an improved second to Endowing on Nov. 17 in the local prep for the Cup and moved forward Sunday off that performance. Endowing went in the other direction, checking in second-last. 

Little Mike tracked the pace from third but had no punch in the stretch and beat just three horses.

Lord Kanaloa dominates Hong Kong Sprint

Lord Kanaloa produced the best performance on the card, winning the $1.9 million Hong Kong Sprint by five lengths in what was expected to be his career finale.

The 5-year-old Japanese-bred had won the 2012 Sprint by 2 1/2 lengths but was even more brilliant Sunday, moving from an outside stalking position to challenge for the lead at the top of the stretch without ever being asked. Lord Kanaloa, winning for the ninth time in 13 starts, went well clear under his own power and never came close to being threatened by any of his 13 rivals. Sole Power finished second and Frederick Engels third.

Group 1 winner Jwala, who had shipped from England, was caught in very tight quarters about 50 yards from the finish, fell awkwardly, was badly injured, and had to be euthanized. Her rider, Steve Drowne, was hospitalized with a broken collarbone and a punctured lung.