February 20, 2024

Hong Kong Harry bids to catch Beyond Brilliant in Eddie Read

Hong Kong Harry wins the American Stakes at Santa Anita (Photo © Benoit Photo)

American (G3) hero Hong Kong Harry brings a perfect 3-for-3 stateside record into Sunday’s $250,000 Eddie Read (G2) at Del Mar. One of a quartet representing Phil D’Amato, the stalker will try to run down course-and-distance Grade 1 winner Beyond Brilliant.

Beyond Brilliant looms as the likely pacesetter, having wired the Hollywood Derby (G1) here last fall and the April 30 Charles Whittingham (G2) in his latest. The John Shirreffs charge is vulnerable if pushed to go too fast early. That was the scenario when he was swamped late in fourth in the Frank E. Kilroe Mile (G1) two back. Victor Espinoza will look to nurse the 125-pound co-highweight along.

Hong Kong Harry was an improving handicapper for British trainer Richard Fahey, but the blue-collar gelding has reached a new level in Southern California. The $122,719 Tattersalls Autumn Horses in Training Sale acquisition promptly won a pair of Santa Anita allowances at this 1 1/8-mile trip, then pounced in the one-mile American. Ramon Vazquez retains the mount.

Juan Hernandez is back aboard stablemate Masteroffoxhounds, who exits a third in the Shoemaker Mile (G1) in his debut for D’Amato. Previously with the embattled Richard Baltas, the well-bred son of War Front earned his major win in the 2021 San Marcos (G2), and chased Beyond Brilliant home in the Whittingham. Cathkin Peak has been nibbling at the minors in graded stakes. Trading decisions with Beyond Brilliant when second in the Twilight Derby (G2) and third in the Hollywood Derby, the D’Amato pupil returned to take an allowance with Umberto Rispoli. Multiple French stakes-placed Cash Equity, purchased for $284,102 at the Arqana Arc Sale last fall, was runner-up to Hong Kong Harry before winning second time out for D’Amato. Florent Geroux picks up the riding assignment.

Michael McCarthy entered two, but Hollywood Gold Cup (G1) upsetter There Goes Harvard, the co-highweight with Beyond Brilliant, might opt for Saturday’s San Diego H. (G2) on dirt. If so, also-eligible stablemate Master Piece would draw into the main body of the field. The Chilean import was a fast-finishing second in last summer’s Del Mar H. (G2) and prepped with a useful fourth in the All American S. over the Golden Gate Tapeta. Master Piece would be value at 15-1 on the morning line.

Perhaps an even greater overlay is Brazilian Group 2 romper Homer Screen at 20-1. The Team Valor International runner makes his third start off the layoff for Neil Drysdale, a 29% trainer in that category, and fits as a good second to Hong Kong Harry in the American.

American third Tarantino takes the blinkers off for Ed Moger Jr., while seventh-placer Ecrivain hopes to turn the corner for Richard Mandella. Twice a Group 3 winner in his native France, the Wertheimer et Frere homebred is still searching for that form stateside. Mike Maker ships King Cause, who sprang a 19-1 upset in the Kentucky Cup Classic earlier this campaign, and Jack Sisterson’s Tango Tango Tango was most recently runner-up in the Dinner Party (G2) on Preakness Day.