03/02/2017 4:45PM

Peniaphobia totes high weight in Friendship Bridge Handicap

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Hong Kong Jockey Club
Peniaphobia wins the Group 2 Centenary Sprint Cup at Sha Tin in January.

The world-class sprinter Peniaphobia is a five-time stakes winner in Hong Kong and was second and third in the $1 million Al Quoz Sprint in Dubai in March the last two years.

This March, the focus is on domestic races. On Sunday, Peniaphobia starts as the 133-pound highweight in the $322,069 Friendship Bridge Handicap at five furlongs on turf at Sha Tin Racecourse in Hong Kong.

Peniaphobia is part of a field of six in the Friendship Bridge Handicap, the day’s third race. Trained by Tony Cruz, Peniaphobia has sharp recent form, having won the Group 2 Centenary Sprint Cup at six furlongs on turf at Sha Tin on Jan. 30. The victory ended a five-race losing streak and was Peniaphobia’s first win of the 2016-17 Hong Kong season.

Peniaphobia won two stakes at Sha Tin during the 2015-16 Hong Kong season.

In the Friendship Bridge Handicap, Peniaphobia has a familiar rival in Not Listenin’tome, who was third in the Centenary Sprint Cup. Not Listenin’tome has won three group stakes in his career in Hong Kong.

Not Listenin’tome will carry 131 pounds. There is a tremendous drop in weight assignments to the other four runners, who will carry 113 or 114 pounds.

Mr Stunning, a 4-year-old Australian-bred gelding, will carry 113 pounds and has improved remarkably in recent months.

Mr Stunning has won Class 2 handicaps in two of his last three starts. The Friendship Bridge Handicap is a Class 1 race, the first time Mr Stunning has started at this level. The gelding is a threat as a stalker and will be ridden by leading rider Joao Moreira.

There are 11 races at Sha Tin on Sunday. Wagering is available through DRFBets.com.

The seventh race is the $322,069 Hong Kong Macau Trophy at seven furlongs on turf for runners from Hong Kong and Macau. There are eight starters from Hong Kong and six from Macau in the main body of the 14-horse field.

Dashing Fellow and Lucky Year share the highweight of 133 pounds.

Dashing Fellow has something to prove on Sunday. He is winless in seven starts during the current season. Dashing Fellow was second in the Group 3 Chinese Club Challenge Cup on Jan. 1 but only sixth in a minor handicap Jan. 30.

Lucky Year was a troubled third in a handicap at Happy Valley Racecourse on Feb. 15, closing with a rush to lose by a half-length.

The highest-rated runner from Macau is River Bobo, who has won 11 of 22 career starts. River Bobo will carry 132 pounds. This will be his first start in Hong Kong.

Bobo So Cute, a Macau shipper who will carry 118 pounds, has an American connection. A 5-year-old New Zealand-bred gelding, Bobo So Cute will be ridden by Ryan Curatolo, who was a finalist for the Eclipse Award in 2011 for champion apprentice.

A native of France, Curatolo won 183 races in the United States from 2010 to 2013, including eight stakes at Aqueduct, Belmont Park, and Parx Racing.

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