California Memory tuned up for his repeat bid for the Hong Kong Cup (HK-I) next month with a game victory in the Longines Jockey Club Cup (HK-II) on Nov. 18 at Sha Tin.
The race anchored a trio of group II trials for the Longines Hong Kong International Races on Dec. 9, and the diminutive Highest Honor gelding did not disappoint his legion of fans on hand for the Jockey Club Cup. He displayed his trademark electric late turn of foot from the back of the field and overhauled Irian late to win by a short head.
The victory marked his first since winning the 2011 Hong Kong Cup, at the same course and distance, by a length from Irian.
California Memory was timed in a sharp 2: 01.51 for 1 1/4 miles (2,000 meters).
“They went a bit hard up front which suited us but we were just running our own race and he finished the race off well enough to win,” said winning rider Matthew Chadwick. “He’s definitely improved for his last run and hopefully he’ll pull up sound, and we’ll be looking for the big one in December. He’s a small horse but he’s got the biggest heart.”
California Memory was bred in Kentucky by Fred Seitz. Out of the Spinning World mare Kilpita, he was raised at Seitz’s Brookdale Farm in Versailles, Ky. Brookdale Sales, agent, sold California Memory for $65,000 at the 2007 Keeneland September yearling sale.
“He came on very strong and giving five pounds to the field, you can see how big his heart was in the final stages,” trainer Tony Cruz said after the Jockey Club Cup. “He just kept digging deep and at the top of the straight he got a little bump too.”
Glorious Days, an Australian-bred Hussonet gelding, turned the tables on Ambitious Dragon when winning the Jockey Cup Mile (HK-II) by 1 1/2 lengths over Hong Kong’s reigning Horse of the Year. With 12-time Hong Kong champion rider Douglas Whyte in the irons, Glorious Days was timed in 1:34.14. He entered off a runner-up finish to Ambitious Dragon in the Oriental Watch Sha Tin Trophy (HK-III) on Oct. 28 in his season debut for owner Tom Brown’s Syndicate.
Dr. Chang Fuk To’s and Maria Chang Lee Ming Shum’s Lucky Nine captured the Jockey Club Sprint (HK-II) by a head from Time After Time, setting him up for a bid to win the Hong Kong Sprint (HK-I) for a second straight year. Bred in Ireland by Darley, the Dubawi gelding entered off an unlucky fifth-place finish in the Sprinters Stakes (Jpn-I) on Sept. 30, a race in which he finished fifth last year before winning the Hong Kong Sprint by a head. Lucky Nine was timed in 1:08.83 for six furlongs (1,200 meters).