06/22/2017 2:06PM

Top jockey Moreira rides topweights in pair of Group 3 stakes

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Hong Kong Jockey Club
Pakistan Star will carry 133 pounds in Sunday's Premier Plate at Sha Tin.

Pakistan Star and Thewizardofoz are topweights in two Group 3 stakes on turf Sunday at Sha Tin. If that does not justify sufficient attention, both will be ridden by Joao Moreira, Hong Kong’s leading jockey this season.

Pakistan Star will carry 133 pounds in the $384,684 Premier Plate at 1 1/8 miles, a race that drew a field of six. Thewizardofoz will carry 133 pounds in the $384,684 Premier Cup at seven furlongs, a race that drew eight entrants.

Moreira will ride Pakistan Star for the first time since a win in the $256,000 Griffin Trophy at seven furlongs on turf in December. Silvestre de Sousa, now riding in England, rode Pakistan Star in four races in the first four months of the year, including second-place finishes in two legs of the Hong Kong Triple Crown and a second by a neck in the Group 1 Queen Elizabeth II Cup at 1 1/4 miles on turf April 30.

Tony Cruz trains Pakistan Star, a 4-year-old gelding who has won 3 of 10 starts in his career, all in Hong Kong. Pakistan Star tends to race from off the pace and will be in pursuit of runners such as Anticipation, Eastern Express, and Romantic Touch.

Anticipation was second in a handicap at 1 1/4 miles on turf June 4. Eastern Express and Romantic Touch were second and sixth in the Group 3 Lion Rock Trophy at a mile on June 4. Cruz trains Anticipation and Romantic Touch.

Thewizardofoz is winless in four starts during the current Hong Kong season, but he won five of his first nine races, all in Hong Kong. Trained by John Size, Thewizardofoz was third in the Group 3 Sha Tin Vase at six furlongs May 28, beaten a length after a tough start and a wide trip.

Cruz starts Winner’s Way, who has won his last two starts in lesser races and will make his group stakes debut in the Premier Cup. Winner’s Way won the MacWhinnie Cup at seven furlongs May 13, beating Horse of Fortune, who is part of the Premier Cup field.

Winner’s Way, who will carry 120 pounds, will be ridden by Zac Purton. Going into Sunday’s program, Moreira led all riders with 162 wins at the season, which began in September. Purton was second with 98 wins.