Trainer Charles Simon said he doesn't know what to expect when Battle Won takes the gate for the Dec. 12 Cathay Pacific Hong Kong Sprint (HK-I) at Sha Tin Race Course, but he is looking at the trip as a positive opportunity.
"We could be walking into a lion's den for all I know," Simon said. "But there are not many opportunities for turf sprinters in American at the best of times -- certainly not at this time of the year.
"Then you have to consider the prize money for these races -- it is pretty anemic compared to the dirt sprint purses. But in Hong Kong, if he finishes fourth it will be worth more than what he earned for winning the Woodford County Stakes (at Keeneland) last time. We've got to take it on."
Battle Won is the latest American turf sprinter to look for success in Hong Kong. Morluc finished second in 2000 and 2001 Hong Kong Sprint and Big Jag ran third in 1999.
Simon conditions Battle Won for California resident Jay Manoogian, who owns grade I winning dirt sprinter Kela and grade II winner Quinton's Gold Rush, in partnership with Satish Sanan's Padua Stables.
The trainer privately purchased the son of Honour and Glory
for $150,000 from trainer Frankie Brother and Lazy Lane Farm in May.
Battle Won scored a three-length win over a sloppy Churchill Downs surface May 19 in his first start for Simon. Since then he has finished third in the Aristides Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. IIIT) and scored wins in the Kentucky Cup Turf Dash Stakes and Woodford County Stakes.
Battle Won currently has a 106 International Rating and will be challenging a field that includes last year's Hong Kong Sprint winner Silent Witness, who has a 121 rating, and former American runner Var, who is carrying a 117 rating.
"It's hard to handicap these races," Simon said. "American racing is a reflection of American society in ways, as nobody really pays attention to what is happening outside out borders but if he is rated 106, and knowing what I know his recent runs, I reckon he is better than that bare figure. He should probably be closer to 112 or so, but that's just me pulling a number out of a hat."
Simon said he hopes to book Irish jockey Kieren Fallon for the mount.
The Hong Kong Sprint will mark the first time Battle Won has raced at the 1,000-meter distance (five furlongs) and Simon said his runner is probably better over 1,200 meters. "He'll have no problem down the straight and I guess he will probably race in mid-pack and then finish off strong," the trainer said.
"It's a case of nothing ventured, nothing gained," Simon said. "I've got a good horse, the money is excellent and the Hong Kong Jockey Club covers the expense tab. I'd be crazy if I didn't think it was attractive."