January 30, 2023

Hong Kong Harry swoops in time in Seabiscuit

Hong Kong Harry (left) collars Beyond Brilliant (center) and Masteroffoxhounds in the Seabiscuit (Photo © Benoit Photo)

For the second straight day at Del Mar, jockey Flavien Prat made a well-timed move aboard a Phil D’Amato trainee to win a Grade 2 turf event. In Friday’s Hollywood Turf Cup (G2), an early move was the key to victory for Prince Abama. In Saturday’s Seabiscuit H. (G2), patience was the watchword, as Prat produced Hong Kong Harry late to nab Beyond Brilliant and Masteroffoxhounds at the wire.

The 8-5 favorite after taking the Sept. 3 Del Mar Mile (G2), Hong Kong Harry figured to have another rollicking pace set-up in the 1 1/16-mile Seabiscuit. Stablemate Masteroffoxhounds, who was coming off a wire job in the John Henry Turf Championship (G2), was just one of the forward types here, along with Beyond Brilliant and Smooth Like Strait.

Masteroffoxhounds wasn’t fastest from the gate, but he soon advanced between Smooth Like Strait and Santin to set up shop in his comfort zone. Smooth Like Strait prompted in second, while Santin eased back into third. Beyond Brilliant, perhaps surprisingly, was content to switch off in fourth, and Hong Kong Harry was another few lengths adrift in fifth.

Rattling off splits of :23.32, :46.31, and 1:09.56, Masteroffoxhounds pulled away from Smooth Like Strait rounding the far turn and kicked 2 1/2 lengths clear. Beyond Brilliant hustled in pursuit and began to inch nearer.

But Hong Kong Harry was now unleashed. Just as Beyond Brilliant was reeling in Masteroffoxhounds, Hong Kong Harry swamped them both in 1:39.79. That’s the fastest Seabiscuit since its transfer from old Hollywood Park (where it was the Citation H.) to Del Mar.

Beyond Brilliant, denied by a neck, crossed the wire a head in front of Masteroffoxhounds. There was a gap of 3 1/4 lengths back to Santin in an even fourth. Irideo made up ground in fifth, followed by Set Piece, Smooth Like Strait, and the ever-trailing Kentucky Ghost. Lincoln Hawk, D’Amato’s third entrant, was scratched.

Hong Kong Harry is nearly flawless stateside for co-owners Scott Anastasi, Jimmy Ukegawa, and Tony Valazza. His 6-5-1-0 record in his adopted California home reflects wins in the American (G3) and Del Mar Mile, with his lone loss a troubled second in the July 31 Eddie Read (G2). Formerly a handicapper for Richard Fahey in Great Britain, he has compiled an overall mark of 13-9-2-1, $565,096.

Bred by Amarath Business Management in Ireland, Hong Kong Harry is by the Danehill-line stallion Es Que Love and out of the multiple French stakes-placed Vital Body, by Gold Away. The five-year-old gelding was not made eligible for the Breeders’ Cup, but D’Amato commented that his connections might consider taking that step if he continues his ascent on the mile scene.