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Weather poser for Cruz and California Spangle

April 26, 2024 at 6:24:59 AM

Hong Kong’s challenging spring weather rather than barrier position is the only concern Tony Cruz has for his highly-fancied California Spangle in Sunday’s (28 April) HK$22 million G1 Chairman’s Sprint Prize (1200m) at Sha Tin.

Hong Kong’s challenging spring weather rather than barrier position is the only concern Tony Cruz has for his highly-fancied California Spangle in Sunday’s (28 April) HK$22 million G1 Chairman’s Sprint Prize (1200m) at Sha Tin.

California Spangle, who won his past two starts at the highest level, continues to reinvent himself as a sprinter after taking out the G1 Al Quoz Sprint (1200m) in Dubai at his most recent start.

After California Spangle was allocated barrier seven in the 11-horse at today’s barrier draw ceremony at Sha Tin, Cruz said he had no problem with the six-year-old gelding’s gate.

Cruz has one runner in each of the three feature races and they will all be ridden by Brenton Avdulla.

Tony Cruz is bidding for more Group 1 glory.
Tony Cruz is bidding for more Group 1 glory.
Cruz will also saddle Beauty Joy (barrier four) in the G1 FWD Champions Mile (1600m) and Five G Patch (barrier eight) in the G1 FWD QEII Cup (2000m).

Cruz said he didn’t have any complaints with the barriers, but said California Spangle had never raced on a wet track.

“We will have to see but I am not very confident and I prefer a good track,” Cruz said.

“You have got to know where you are because (on) a good track, we all know he can perform and we don’t want a wet track to gamble on.”

Despite not wanting to encounter a rain-affected surface, Cruz remains confident the Sha Tin surface will dry out significantly for Sunday’s racing.

“This track really is amazing compared to any track in the world,” he said.

“No matter how much rain there is, it can turn out to be a very good track, still.”

With Japanese raider Mad Cool and Hong Kong’s Victor The Winner – both also Group 1 winners – also front-running horses like California Spangle, it shapes as an intriguing battle.

Cruz said Victor The Winner and California Spangle were probably the two fastest front-runners in the race but would be challenged by Mad Cool, who won the G1 Takamatsunomiya Kinen (1200m) on a rain sodden Chukyo Racecourse in Japan at his last start. Victor The Winner finished third after leading.

After starting as a sprinter and then running second to Romantic Warrior as a four-year-old in the Hong Kong Derby (2000m), California Spangle won over 1600m at Group 1 level.

His victory at 1200m in Dubai was his first return to the distance in 18 starts and two years.

“From the very beginning he held records in the sprint races of 1000m and 1200m (for Griffins) in Hong Kong and then we stepped him up to run at a mile (1600m),” Cruz said.

“He is a real sprinter-miler. When we didn’t get success at the mile, I thought in the end I think we should race back in the sprint races because we don’t want to clash with Golden Sixty any more. We were lucky to beat him once because of the barrier draw and the way he was going.

“He has had natural speed all his life and sprinting is really his distance.”

Cruz said that despite Mad Cool drawing out in barrier 11, he rates him as the biggest challenge.

Five G Patch will challenge Romantic Warrior in the G1 FWD QEII Cup.
Five G Patch will challenge Romantic Warrior in the G1 FWD QEII Cup.
In the FWD QEII Cup, Cruz said Five G Patch had been an unlucky horse in past runs this season and there were three races he should have won.

“I believe he still has a shot here,” he said. “If he can’t win, he’ll be second, third or fourth.”

He also rated Beauty Joy a good chance in the FWD Champions Mile.

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