Trainer Randy Morse is gearing up his star turf sprinter Morluc for a third trip to the Far East for the rich Hong Kong Turf Sprint on Dec. 17 at Hong Kong's Sha Tin Racecourse.
Morluc and Morse have traveled to Hong Kong for the five-furlong race in each of the past two years and suffered head-bobbing, photo finish losses to the same horse, Australian rival Falvelon, in both races.
Mike Cloonan's 6-year-old son of Housebuster will face Falvelon one more time in this year's renewal of the Sprint, which carries a purse of more than $1 million. The race will be Morluc's first since a strong runner-up finish to Good Journey in the Firecracker Breeders' Cup (gr. IIT) on July 4 at Churchill Downs. That effort pushed Morluc's career record to 11-8-5 in 37 races and improved his earnings to $1,022,698.
"I wished I had a little more time," said Morse. "We can't miss a beat from here on out. He's going to have to breeze two more times and everything has to go perfect."
Despite his narrow defeats in each of his Hong Kong journeys, Morse does not believe that Morluc has run close to his best in either race. Morse thinks the course, which is five furlongs on the straight, may be a factor.
"He just (doesn't) seem like he levels off and runs over there like he does here," he said. "Morluc will hang with a horse and I think that's what he does down that straightaway. I wish it were around a turn, I know that."
Morse said Morluc would leave Churchill Downs on a Nov. 26 flight to California, the first leg of the journey to Hong Kong.