Tony Cruz believes California Spangle has the scope to maintain his upward trajectory as he readies for his rematch with Golden Sixty in the HKD$5 million Group 2 BOCHK Private Wealth Jockey Club Mile (1600m) on November 20 at Sha Tin – the traditional lead-up race to the HKD$30 million Group 1 Hong Kong Mile (1600m) next month.
“I think California Spangle has some improvement in him this year,” Cruz said.
California Spangle and Golden Sixty met in last season's Group 1 FWD Champions Mile (1600m) with the latter bettering the former by two lengths in their first encounter.
Cruz's charge is two-for-two already this season at Group 3 and Group 2 level against seasoned horses, while Golden Sixty is yet to return and will go into the BOCHK Private Wealth Jockey Club Mile first-up – just like last year's edition which he won.
The pair was expected to meet this morning (Friday November 4) in a dirt trial at Sha Tin, however, the withdrawal of Golden Sixty left California Spangle to his own devices where he then completed a first-past-the-post effort under Zac Purton on a rain affected dirt course.
“I'm happy with his trial. Zac is happy, so I am happy – he trialled good. He's a well behaved horse and he seems to handle this kind of sloppy track but he'll be ready for the race,” Cruz said.
Purton was full of praise regarding California Spangle's versatility this morning.
“He's very straightforward, he's a real dude – he just enjoyed himself as much he could because the track condition was horrific this morning.
“It was very hard for the horses to keep their footing, it was slippery and there was a lot of kickback coming up – luckily for him he was out in front so we didn't have to worry about that,” Purton said.
Purton will chase a third BOCHK Private Wealth Jockey Club Mile win aboard California Spangle following the heroics of Beauty Only (2016) and Beauty Generation (2018).
“He needs to find two lengths on what he did the other day (in the Oriental Watch Sha Tin Trophy), so it's up to him, he has to find it.
“He's still on the way up but how much more improvement is to come – I'm not really sure, it's always exciting but we have to take on the champ and here we are again, so we'll have a go and see how we go,” Purton said.
“The track (condition) is terrible, after the typhoon it's been raining for two days and we didn't want to risk anything. There's still plenty of time and we can always trial him on better ground.
“You can't really test horses out on this track, there's kick back or they might pull a shoe because it's sticky – it's not worth it,” Ho said.