Busan Friday: Race-By-Race Preview (March 24)

There’s Group action at Seoul this weekend with the re-named “Welcome Spring” Stakes on Sunday. Before that though, the weekend’s racing gets underway at Busan on Friday with 10 races from 11:30 to 18:00. 

English Race Cards are here. Notes on races to be simulcast overseas are below:

Race 4: Class 6 (1300M) Allowance / KRW 40 Million 

1. RISING AGAIN – On the rise with 6th and 4th in two prior outings and ran on well last time. First try at 1300M and in the frame.

2. ADELE HERO – Best of 6th from three tries to date. Needs to find more here. (more…)

150-Up Perovic As Shamrocker & Champ Line Win Well At Seoul & Busan

Djordje Perovic rode his 150th Korean winner at Seoul Racecourse on Sunday afternoon and not many of them will have been easier than the landmark one which arrived on Shamrocker in the 2300M Championship Series feature.

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Djordje Perovic returns to scale on Shamrocker

Possibly the biggest challenge for Perovic on Sunday would have been the 52kg weight assigned to the on the up Shamrocker but once that was made there was only likely to be one winner in the race which was run over the maximum distance used at Seoul. After a steady start, Shamrocker hit the front early in the home straight and cantered away from the field to win by six lengths on the line.

It had taken Shamrocker (Dublin), a $30,000 purchase as a 2-year-old at OBS in Florida, eight starts to get his maiden victory but yesterday’s was his fifth in total and second consecutive at class 1. He could have a big summer ahead of him.

Djordje Perovic could well have a big summer ahead of him too. Shamrocker was his 31st victory of 2017 and leaves him five clear of perennial champion Moon Se Young at the top of the standings. With Moon set to spend at least three months of this year in Singapore, Perovic is in pole position to become the first foreign jockey to claim the Seoul championship.

150 wins also ties Perovic with Joe Fujii – who spent Saturday watching Winx disappear into the distance at Rosehill – in 2nd place in the all-time foreign jockey standings in Korea.

Down at Busan a foreign jockey was on top too with Yonekura Satoshi winning Sunday’s feature – also a Championship Series race – over 2200M. It came on Thomas Gillespie’s Champ Line over what was a high class Busan field.

Success Story, as ever, set the early pace but was always likely to struggle to maintain it over the extended distance and so it proved as a host of horses swept by him in the closing stages.

It was Champ Line who did it the most convincingly, running on very strongly for victory by almost three lengths. Places 2nd-6th came home within a half-length of each other, surprisingly headed by 100/1 outsider Bathsheba Park, who was given an enterprising ride by Marios Mina.

Champ Line (Curlin) moves on to 10 wins from 19 starts and is on a four-race winning streak and heads an impressively effective string that has been put together by talented trainer Gillespie.

Busan Friday Race-By-Race Preview (March 17)

Ten races at Busan on Friday March 17 with the first at 11:30 and the last at 18:00. English racecards can be found here. Notes on races to be simulcast are below:

Race 4: Class 6 (1600M) Allowance / KRW 22 Million 

1. TIMELESS – Much improved 2nd in an all-filly race last time out. Well back behind a couple of these at a mile in February but looks better now.

2. MALIBU RULER – A year since his last start and showed little in trials.

3. PUREUN GANGJA – 4th of 8 at a mile last time but plenty to find here.

4. SEUNGNI JEONGSEONG – 6th of 12 behind Geumbit Hwanho latest. Similar expected here. (more…)

2017 Korea Triple Crown – First Preview

We’re less than three weeks away from the KRA Cup Mile – the Korean 2000 Guineas – which will be run at Busan on Sunday April 2. Last year, Power Blade swept all three jewels of the Triple Crown, the first horse to do so in its current incarnation. This year, we’re in the unusual position of a Seoul-trained horse, Final Boss, being the early favourite to emulate him.

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Power Blade won the KRA Cup Mile on his way to the Triple Crown last year (Pic: KRA)

Only four Seoul horses are among the 21 currently nominated for the race but three of those four are strong. The unbeaten Lion Rock is a full brother to Triple Nine (who will race in the Godolphin Mile at Meydan on World Cup night on March 25th) joins Final Boss and the promising Taeyangui Jeonseol as contenders. Here’s a run-down of the current nominations with race records and trainer:

Blue Time (filly) (8/3/1/0) Oh Mun-sik – Won three in a row at the back end of 2016 but hasn’t really pushed on. 9th behind Ice Marine in the Gyeongnam Sinmun.

Morning Park (7/1/3/0) Oh Mun-sik – Yet to go further than 1300M and 5th of 12 on first try at class 4.

American Power (4/3/1/0) Kim Young-kwan – Won his first three but unexpectedly defeated by a nose by a 6-year-old gelding (Yankee Dream) on his first try at a mile last start. A contender.

Wonder Wall (9/3/4/1) Kim Young-kwan – Owned by Shunsuke Yoshida he’s come back into form after being 4th to Final Boss in the Breeders’ Cup. A win at a mile and a 2nd at 1800M last start.

Happy Gongju (filly) (5/3/0/2) Jang Se-han – 3rd to Ice Marine in the Gyeongnam Sinmun. Oaks likely to be the bigger target.

Adeleui Bom (9/2/1/1) Baik Kwang-yeol – Holds a 2nd place over a mile at class 4. Not one of the top contenders but not impossible.

Daeho Sidae (6/4/2/0) Baik Kwang-yeol – 2nd in the Breeders’ Cup and a winner at both a mile and 1800 since. Already a class 2 horse and arguably Busan’s top hope.

Party Tonight (8/0/3/1) Baik Kwang-yeol – One of only two maidens still in. Three 2nd places, one at this distance. Likely to be the one from the trainer who drops.

Illyu Star (8/4/0/1) An Woo-sung – Back among the wins last start. Previous try at a mile didn’t go particularly well.

Muhan Yeoljeong (8/3/1/2) An Woo-sung – 3rd in the Breeders’ Cup and a class 4 winner at a mile last time. He’s in the frame.

Seongsan Jilju (6/2/0/1) Yang Kui-sun – Won a couple of five furlong races but hasn’t looked especially smart at any further.

Ice Marine (filly) (9/5/2/0) Choi Ki-hong – Dominant winner of the Gyeongnam Sinmun puting her in pole position for the Oaks. She’s been beaten by some of these colts before though.

Yongwangdam (5/2/0/1) Mun Je-bok – Class 5 winner at a mile but 5th to Ice Marine in the Gyeongnam Sinmun suggests there is plenty to find.

Indian King (8/2/2/2) Mun Je-bok – Two class 4 3rd places at a mile suggests there could be more to come from this one.

Royal Ruby (7/4/1/1) Peter Wolsley – This one has been under the radar a little bit but has won over 1800M and looks a serious player.

Bulkkot Nori (6/3/0/1) Peter Wolsley – Won three of his first four and was 3rd over a mile at class 4 last start. Others  look more advanced at this stage.

Yeonggwanguihunter (6/2/0/0) Lim Keum-man – Not shown an awful lot so far and was 5th on his only try at class 4 so far.

Final Boss (8/6/1/0) Ji Yong-cheol (Seoul) – The Breeders’ Cup winner has gone on to win twice around two-turns this year. A Seoul horse going to Busan aside, he is the favourite and a strong one at that.

Daeseung Bibob (6/0/2/1) Ji Yong-cheol (Seoul) – Stable-mate of Final Boss which is perhaps the only reason for his inclusion.

Lion Rock (3/3/0/0) Lee Shin-young (Seoul) – Full brother to Triple Nine, he’s the only one who enters unbeaten. It may be too much too soon with the Derby & Minister’s Cup the main targets, but don’t rule out.

Taeyangui Jeonseol (5/3/0/0) Yoo Jae-gil (Seoul) – Back to back wins at 1700M puts this still unexposed colt firmly in the hunt.

The maximum field size is 16 so at least five will miss out and it is possible for others to nominate this week as well – Nasca Prince, who won at Seoul on Sunday, being a potential one, given that as it stands the Capital as usual isn’t taking up as many spots as it has been assigned.  As in all races in Korea, no more than 2 horses can be from the same trainer. Seoul last won the race with Cheongnyong Bisang, now improbably a ranch horse in the USA, in 2014, but Final Boss currently looks the one to beat here. We’ll have plenty more build up to the start of a fascinating Triple Crown series over next couple of weeks.

Always Winner All The Way Again

He did it in January in the Segye Ilbo Cup and today in Group company, Always Winner once more got the jump on the field and scored an all the way victory in the Seoul Owners’ Association Trophy.

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Always Winner and Park Eul Woon return to scale having won the Seoul Owners’ Association Trophy

Always Winner was sent off as a 20/1 outsider in the Segye Ilbo but hit the front early to beat a decent field that included four who returned to face him again. This time he was a little bit more respected, punters making him the 7/1 fourth choice.

Today under Park Eul-woon, Always Winner once more broke the best and found the front form the gate and once more it was a lead he would not relinquish as he ran on to win by half a length. Coming 2nd was favourite Cheonji Storm who, while expected to be on pace instead went right to the back of the field before flying home down the outside. A few more strides and he would have won – and surely will will plenty later this year.

Best Guy, 2nd in the Segye Ilbo, put in another creditable run in 3rd while Gorgeous Dream returned to some semblance of form in 4th. There was no luck for Brian Dean’s Jangsanjewang, however, who gave it a good go tracking Always Winner early in the race but just couldn’t get home.

Always Winner, a 5-year-old gelding trained by Shim Seung-tae was winning for the 7th time in 24 races.

Owners’ Association Trophy (KOR G3) – Seoul Racecourse – 1200M – March 12, 2017

1. Always Winner (KOR) [Creek Cat – Hallat’Eukgeup (Land Rush)] – Park Eul Woon – 7.8, 2.7
2. Cheonji Storm (KOR) [Admire Don – Great Thought (Empire Maker)] – Kim Yong Geun – 1.5
3. Best Guy (KOR) [Didyme – Madam Winette (Danewin)] – Kim Cheol Ho – 3.4
Distances: 0.5 lengths / 3 lengths – 13 ran

Seoul Owners Association Trophy: Runner-By-Runner Preview

Thirteen horses will line up on Sunday afternoon for Korea’s first domestic Group race of 2017, the Seoul Owners’ Association Trophy. And there are plenty in with a shout in the Group 3 contest.

(Always Winner made all to beat a number of his rivals here in the Segye Ilbo Cup in January. Can he do the same on Sunday?)

The Owners Trophy is race 9 on an 11-race Sunday ard at Seoul which runs from 10:45 to 18:00. There are also 6 races at Busan from 12:35 to 17:05. Here’s a run down of the field:

1.  Cheonji Storm – 6th in last year’s President’s Cup and class 1 winner over 1800M on season debut a month ago. Steps back to 1200M for the first time since debut as a 2-year-old. Front runner and strong claims.

2 . Cheonnyeonuigippeum – Has suffered plenty of setbacks and last raced at the beginning of December, only beating two. Hard to see him having the required speed to be a danger here.

3 . Chang Se – Won a good race last summer but has gone cold in three starts since, most recently a one-paced effort over this distance on Feb 5th. Improvement not impossible but big upturn in form needed.

4 . Sambong – Consistent performer who, surprisingly, has never actually raced at 1200M before. Latest was 2nd behind Cheonji Storm at 1400M in February and he should be a danger again.

5 . Haemaru – Won this race last year and followed up with 2000M Stakes win a month later. Only returned to winner’s circle once since & was 5th in the Segye Ilbo Cup, despite suffering interference and laying out throughout. A closer, even in sprints, he’ll need some luck in running but it’s not impossible.

6.  Global Fusion –  3rd in the Segye Ilbo running on really well having been bumped at the start. Good winner at the distance the time before. Tactically versatile, Djordje Perovic take the mount for the first time and he has a chance.

7. Winner’s Glory – 4th in last year’s Korean Derby, he enters having won three in a row around two turns. Back to 1200M for the first time since he was a juvenile, he should be on pace early and has solid claims.

8. Theme Deunggeuk – Beaten by plenty of his rivals here in his last two races but both were over 1800M. He was a winner at class 2 over 1400M last November. Won’t be among the favourites but can give a decent account of himself.

9. Always Winner – Got the jump on the field to make all in the Segye Ilbo Cup ahead of five of these at odds of 20/1 in February. Tougher ask today but with a good start must be respected.

10. Best Guy – 2nd to Always Winner in the Segye Ilbo running on very nicely. He is a decent sprinter with class 1 wins to his name. Others will be favoured but another good run can’t be ruled out.

11. Jangsanjewang – Brian Dean’s gelding is a top-class sprinter who won his first class 1 outing at this distance last month. Trialled up very nicely last week, this is his toughest ask to date but he has every chance.

12. Gorgeous Dream – Looked a potential star winning 8 of his first 9 starts but has gone off the rails lately. Had excuses when beaten in November but fewer in his last two, including 7th in the Segye Ilbo Cup. Undoubetedly talented though and will be backed.

13. Gumanseok – Very solid competitor who won over 1800M in January beating a couple of these. Well back behind Cheonji Storm last time though. Steps back to this distance for the first time since this race last year, he always gives an honest account of himself.

 

Busan Friday: Race-By-Race Preview (March 10)

Korea’s first Group race of 2017 takes place on Sunday with the G3 Owners Association Trophy at Seoul. More on that over the next couple of days. In the meantime, racing gets underway at Busan on Friday with a 10-race card from 11:30 to 18:00.

English race cards can be found here. Notes on races to be simulcast overseas are below:

Race 4: Class 6 (1300M) Allowance / KRW 40 Million

1. MUNHWA DAERO – Beaten a few in four starts to date but much to find.

2. HWANGGEUMBITYEONGU – 5th of 12 his best in January but only beat one home last time.

3. SAMSEONG BLADE – Debut maker from top owner & trainer. Decent trial and will be backed. (more…)