06/25/2017 5:51PM

House of Fortune, Thewizardofoz win HK's final group stakes

Hong Kong Jockey Club
House of Fortune wins the Premier Plate by 1 1/4 lengths.

Horse of Fortune and Thewizardofoz won Group 3 stakes at Sha Tin Racecourse in Hong Kong on Sunday, the final group stakes of the Hong Kong 2016-17 season.

Horse of Fortune won the $384,684 Premier Plate at 1 1/8 miles, a race overshadowed by the behavior of 1-2 favorite Pakistan Star, who refused to race shortly after the start. Pakistan Star was racing at the back of a field of five after the opening furlong when he stopped to a walk under leading rider Joao Moreira.

“I urged him and tried hard to get him running, but he just didn’t want to go,” Moreira told Hong Kong publicity.

Pakistan Star later finished a distance behind the other four runners.

Pakistan Star displayed similar behavior prior to a workout in advance of the Hong Kong International Sale in 2016.

The Hong Kong stewards ruled Pakistan Star must complete two gate works, including one at a mile, before being allowed to resume racing. The Hong Kong season ends on July 16, meaning Pakistan Star will not race again until the 2017-18 season that begins in September.

Horse of Fortune (11-1) finished 1 1/4 lengths in front of 14-1 Romantic Touch and was timed in 1:48.09. Horse of Fortune, 6, was a Group 3 winner last November and was later sixth in the Group 1 Hong Kong Cup at Sha Tin last December.

A South African-bred by Stronghold, Horse of Fortune was ridden by Callan Murray for trainer Tony Millard. Horse of Fortune will have one more start before the end of the season, Millard said.

Thewizardofoz, ridden by Moreira, won the $384,684 Premier Cup at seven furlongs to give trainer John Size a record 92nd win of the current Hong Kong season.

Carrying topweight of 133 pounds, Thewizardofoz (4-1) closed from last in a field of eight to win by 3 1/2 lengths over 4-5 favorite Wizard’s Way, finishing in 1:20.86.

A 5-year-old Australian-bred by Redoute’s Choice, Thewizardofoz was winless in five starts dating back to February 2016. The span of losses included a fourth in the Group 1 Chairman’s Sprint Prize on May 7 and a third in the Group 3 Sha Tin Vase on May 28. Those races were at six furlongs on turf.

“They set up the pace quite nice for him,” Moreira said. “When I pulled him to the outside, he responded. Even with the top weight, he was just able to sprint past them. He has a brilliant turn of foot.”

Moreira, 33, has won 166 races at the current season, two less than his record set during the 2015-16 season.

Size, 62, surpassed the previous mark of 91 wins set by Tony Cruz in 2004-05.