Triple Nine, a record-breaking four-time President’s Cup winner and Korea’s all-time leading money earner, has been retired. The eight-year-old last ran in the Herald Business Cup in June and with racing in Korea on another indefinite hiatus, the decision was taken to retire him.
With fifteen wins from thirty-three starts in Korea and 4.7 Billion Won (US$4Million) in prize money, Triple Nine retires as one of the most successful and significant horses in local racing history. He won five Korean Group 1 races, including an unprecedented four consecutive Presidents Cups from 2015 to 2018 as well as the Grand Prix Stakes in 2018.
Bred by Isidore Farm on Jeju Island, and placed by owner Choi Byung-bu with trainer Kim Young-kwan at Busan, Triple Nine ran 2nd on debut as a juvenile in late November of 2014. He then won four in a row before being beaten by Yeongcheon Ace in the Korean Derby the following May. He would be runner-up again in the final leg of that year’s Triple Crown with stablemate Rock Band besting him in the Minister’s Cup.
There weren’t many more setbacks. In October of 2015, Triple Nine turned the tables on Rock Band to secure his first President’s Cup, a race he would go on to make his own. In the 2016 edition he defeated another stablemate, the Triple Crown winner Power Blade before equaling Dangdae Bulpae’s feat of three wins in the race in 2017 with Power Blade once more coming home in 2nd place. A year later he came from off the pace to score his historic fourth win in what is, Derby aside, the richest race restricted to Korean bred horse.
Triple Nine didn’t only run well against his fellow Korean-bred horses though. He finished in 3rd place behind the Japan-trained pair of Chrysolite and Kurino Star O in the inaugural Korea Cup in 2016 and was again the best of the locally-trained runners in the international race a the following year when 4th to London Town.
In early 2017, Triple Nine joined Power Blade in travelling to the Dubai World Cup Carnival. His 2nd place on his Meydan debut coupled with a 4th and a 5th in Group company earned him a spot in the Godolphin Mile and while that was a race too far, he had proved he could hold his own internationally, a precursor of what was to come from Korea-trained horses both in Dubai and at the Breeders’ Cup in subsequent years.
Across his career, Triple Nine also picked up victories in the Gyeongnam Ilbo and Busan Owners’ Cups but the one that appeared to be eluding him was the Grand Prix Stakes, the traditional season-ending finale in December. He finished 4th in 2015, 2nd in 2016 and 3rd in 2017. In 2018, he got it right, overhauling Cheongdam Dokki and Today in the closing stages to claim victory at the fourth time of asking. Future stars Dolkong and Moonhak Chief were 4th and 6th.
That would ultimately prove to be his final victory. Injury kept him out for the entire 2019 season and while he reappeared earlier this year to run a creditable 3rd in a tune-up race, racing’s enforced shutdown then intervened. His 8th place in the Herald Business behind Cheongdam Dokki in June and then the second shutdown meant that Triple Nine’s racing days were over.
“Triple Nine has had a huge influence on my life” said owner Choi Byung-bu. “He is like a child to me and I am sorry he can’t end his career in a flashy way. I would like to express my gratitude to all those who have supported Triple Nine”.
That “flashy way” would have been an official retirement ceremony on a Sunday afternoon during racing at Busan Racecourse that as a Group 1 winner, Triple Nine would have been entitled to. Instead he quietly exits the scene, initially to Challenger Farm, which is also home to imported stallion Cowboy Cal.
Two and a half months of behind closed doors action was brought to an end of Sunday when Touch Star Man confirmed his status as Champion Three-Year-Old by adding to his KRA Cup Mile win with victory in the final leg of the Triple Crown, the Minister’s Cup at Seoul Racecourse. Following the conclusion of the meeting, Korean racing entered its most uncertain period since the Korean War with the sport going on indefinite hiatus from September after a rise in Coronavirus cases ended any prospect of any spectators – and therefore betting – being permitted for the foreseeable future.
A strong winner of the KRA Cup Mile in early July, Touch Star Man was never a factor in the Derby earlier in August though did rally late on to make it into 5th place. He was dominant in the 2000M Minister’s Cup, however, always racing prominently before leaving his rivals trailing in the home straight to record a four-length win.
It was an extremely turbulent race. After long-shot Miracle Icheon refused to leave the gates, Touch Star Man was involved in an incident himself when he crossed sharply causing a chain reaction that disadvantaged A To Z, Complete Kingdom and Top Day to all be impeded. Jockey Seo Seung-un picked up a five-day ban and was perhaps a touch fortunate that the incident was so early in the race and that his ultimate winning margin was so great.
More was to come on the second corner when at the back of the field, Derby runner-up Raon Tough Man took it upon himself to suddenly try to hurdle the inside rail. He achieved it and continued running on the empty inner-track but left jockey Choi Bum-hyun requiring hospital treatment for three fractured ribs after a heavy fall.
Thankfully the rest of the race passed off without incident and Touch Star Man [Testa Matta – Useung Touch (Menifee)] proved his superiority in the home straight. He moves on to five wins from nine starts. For jockey Seo Seung-un, it was a third win in a Classic race, having taken the KRA Cup Mile on Cheongnyeong Bisang in 2014 and the Korean Oaks on Deep Mind in 2019.
As for trainer Kim Young-kwan, Touch Star Man was his fifth Minister’s Cup winner. His previous ones were Namdo Jeap in 2009, Dongseo Jeongbeol in 2011, Rock Band in 2015 and Power Blade in 2016.
One of very few positives to come out of this wretched year is that the three-year-olds got to have their Triple Crown races (although the fillies have missed out on the Gyeonggi Governor’s Cup, the final leg of the “Tiara” which was scheduled for this coming Sunday).
This year’s juveniles look set to miss out on most, if not all the rest of the season but at Seoul, they gave us a glimpse of what to look out for in next year’s Triple Crown in the inaugural running of the “Rookie Stakes”.
Thirteen juveniles went around in the 1200M test and it was Heungbaragi [Old Fashioned – Grand Marketing (After Market)] who led from gate to wire, just as he had done on debut a month ago. Will he get further? Which of the ones he beat will emerge as threats as the distances get longer? And what about Busan which was due to run its first big juvenile race later? Those are questions about which we can only speculate on the answers.
So what now? The new shutdown will encompass at least all of September and will likely include the Chuseok holiday in the first week of October. After that things will be dependent upon whether there has been an improvement in the Coronavirus situation to the extent that there is a real prospect of spectators being allowed on course or if the legislation to legalise online wagering is making progress.
The majority of KRA staff have been placed on furlough three-days a week, however, trackwork is for now continuing as normal so that if things do go well, the horses are ready to race right away with just a week’s notice to be given for resumption.
The 2020 Triple Crown concludes at Seoul on Sunday with the running of the Minister’s Cup. There are 12 races at Seoul along with 5 at Busan, both behind closed doors and with no betting. They are likely to be the final race meetings held in Korea for some time.
Seoul Race 1: Class 6 (1300M) Allowance / KRW 40 Million
The two and three-year-old Korean-bred gallopers line up in the first. Cue the Star Wars puns as (1) JEDI looks hardest to beat coming off a nice performance on debut. The Cowboy Cal filly missed the kick last start before reeling off a strong last sectional to finish third behind Cobra Ball. The step-up to the 1300m looks ideal for the filly, who should put them to the lightsaber late (sorry). (6) REMEMBER WHEN looks next best after finishing second in three-year-old company last start over this distance. The Rock Hard Ten filly finished two and a half lengths off the winner when clocking a reasonable time. (10) CHAMPION GAMUN comes out of the same race as Jedi when finishing fourth. The two-year-old was another that hit the line strong but will need to improve to be considered a winning chance. (3) SUNNY K looks next best after finishing fifth at start two. The Officer filly gets a reasonable draw for the first time in her short career.
(1) Jedi (6) Remember When (10) Champion Gamun (3) Sunny K
Seoul Race 2: Class 6 (1400M) Allowance / KRW 25 Million
Tricky little maiden. (4) POWER MUSIC has the best time of any of these at the distance, achieved when running 3rd on a very wet track in July. She overcame a poor start to run on well for 5th at her latest start three weeks ago at 1300M and if she can just get herself into a decent position this time, she can win. (3) THROUGH THE SKY enters with the most convincing recent form in the race having registered a 2nd and a 3rd in his latest two. He’s well drawn to get on pace early and could go all the way. (11) TYCHE FIRE hasn’t shown much in the way of speed but did run an improved 3rd when stepped up to this trip a couple of weeks ago. Moon Se-young stays aboard and he should have more improvement in him. (8) RUFFIAN PARK and (9) THUNDER WIND are others who should go close.
(3) Through The Sky (11) Tyche Fire (4) Power Music (9) Thunder Wind
Seoul Race 3: Class 5 (1400M) Handicap / KRW 40 Million
The Class Five gallopers will line up in the third event over 1400m. In a race that lacks form, (9) BIG FACE looks the one to beat albeit the three-year-old still looking to break maiden status. The Simon Pure Colt has placed behind some handy types at his two starts back which puts him in good stead for his assignment. (11) GOSOK PEDAL will be second up after clocking a good time over the 1300m when first up. The Officer colt’s one win was when lining up over this distance. (7) GLOBAL WANGJA is another who is yet to break maiden status. The lightly raced four-year-old will drop back to the 1400m after finishing fifth over the 1700m last time out. His performances over the short course have been good. (4) SUNSHINE TEUKGEUP looks best of the rest but has been stuck in this class for quite some time.
(9) Big Face (11) Gosok Pedal (7) Global Wangja (4) Sunshine Teukgeup
Seoul Race 4: Class 4 (1300M) Handicap / KRW 60 Million
(9) JEONGMUN BOLT was an outstanding winner over this distance at class 5 level on a relatively dry track back on July 12th. He reappears today up in class but with every chance of scoring again. He will try to lead from the gate. It won’t be easy. (4) ICE PUNCH was a similarly impressive winner at 1200M a month ago. He’s won two of four starts to be rapidly promoted to this level and from a good draw can sit just off the speed. The slight step up in trip today should only be to his benefit. (3) LUISA perhaps has a bit more to find but nevertheless was a good winner at 1200M last start and can be competitive at this level. As for those with experience at this class, (2) LION YEOJE was a touch disappointing on his first crack at it three weeks ago following a good win in July. With Munro on today, he must be given another chance.
Seoul Race 5: Class 4 (1400M) Handicap / KRW 60 Million
The fifth event will see a field of eleven line up over the 1400m. (4) GO UP is the on top selection coming off a good Class Five victory last time out. The Tiz Wonderful filly clocked a very impressive time (1:12.8) considering it was a dry track. She has accounted for herself well in all of her starts and with 53kg on her back she looks the one to beat. Apart from Go Up, you can throw almost the rest of the field into your selections. (10) LUCKY BONGHWA we will make second elect after a fair performance when resuming last time out. The five-year-old entire finished fifth behind Federal Cat when finishing off strong. The lightly weighted galloper should show some improvement second-up. (3) VICTORY KING has been consistent since resuming, finishing in the top five at all three starts. The Magician gelding comes off a fourth placed performance behind Haedeulmoe, not the strongest form but we will include him for his consistency. (5) BACK SPIN looks best of the rest second up after finishing fourth when first up.
(4) Go Up (10) Lucky Bonghwa (3) Victory King (5) Back Spin
2, 4, 7
Busan Race 1: Class 6 (1200M) Allowance / KRW 40 Million
A maiden for three-year-olds and down with just four of the eleven having raced before. Of those four, (2) CHOEGANG DRAGON has appeared the most, racing three times already and in the latest of those recorded a 3rd place
With racing widely expected to have to shut down again from next week onwards as coronavirus reappears in Korea, this time in Seoul, Saturday is likely the penultimate day of action indefinitely in the capital city. The 15-race card is behind closed doors and runs from 10:45 to 18:00.
Race 1: Class 4 (1000M) Allowance / KRW 75 Million
The first event on another mammoth fifteen-event card will see the imports line up over the short course. (1) SIRIUS A looks a big chance in the event after finishing third on debut behind a very impressive Balvenie. Moon Se-young sticks with the Malibu Moon colt who has drawn favourably for his second run. (7) MUNHAK MOON is another main chance that finished second on debut behind Spring King. The Gemologist colt clocked a good time given he was on debut, with some improvement he is an each way chance. (8) NAESAENGAE CHOEGO comes out of the Balvenie race where the two-year-old finished fifth. He yielded ground after sitting on speed early in the event. (10) DUSON JANGGUN looks best of the debutants after a fair trial. Place chances look best for the Broken Vow two-year-old on debut.
Race 2: Class 6 (1200M) Allowance / KRW 75 Million
A field of eleven juveniles all making their racecourse debuts will line up in race 1. The eye-catcher in trials was one of the fillies, (7) REAL CONCORD. While her fast time was helped by a very wet track, the manner in which she ran away from the rest of the field was impressive and if she can bring that form to the actual races, then she looks good for the win. (2) M J STORM is the first foal out of Smart Time, a winner of five races here up to class 2 level. M J Storm won his trial in good order and shapes well to go well first-up today. (6) CHEONGSAN GANGHO and (11) CHOEGANGYEONGCHEON both ran 2nd in their respective heats and both should be competitive. So should (8) NUBIGO who looked as though she knows what’s required of her when 3rd in a trial all the way back in June.
(7) Real Concord (2) M J Storm (6) Cheongsan Gangho (11) Choegangyeongcheon
Race 3: Class 6 (1200M) Allowance / KRW 40 Million
The two and three-year-old Korean-bred gallopers line up in the third where there are many chances. (3) JINTTOBAEGI finished of nicely in his debut run when second to Hwanggeum Power. The two-year-old is likely to camp on the leader’s backs for being presented by Lee Hyeok to finish off strongly. (1) HAPPY DAY is another two-year-old that showed plenty on debut. The filly comes out of the same race where she finished third. (2) HOEDURYEONG steps up to the 1200m after finishing second behind Raon Dia on debut. The margin was big between first and second but we suspect he will appreciate the step up to the 1200m. (6) HEALING GONGJU looks next best after finishing third on debut when clocking a good time on a dry track.
(3) Jinttobaegi (1) Happy Day (2) Hoeduryeong (6) Healing Gongju
Race 4: Class 6 (1400M) Allowance / KRW 40 Million
Only one of these has raced at the distance before. That’s (1) ABOUT SOMETHING and she took to it well, running 4th on her latest start just over a month ago. She’ll need to improve again but it bodes well. (9) BIROE KING beat three of these on his way to 3rd place over 1200M on August 1st. He ran on strong that day for what was his second 3rd in two starts and the additional trip may well be to his benefit today. (6) RIDE MAN and (8) A.P. PATEK were back down the track behind him that day but the latter especially looks like he wants furthers and having previously been a runner-up at 1300M, looks to have solid claims here. (10) GO WELL went ok when 4th over 1200M on August 2nd, coming from off the pace and is another for whom the step up in trip should suit.
(8) A. P. Patek (9) Biroe King (1) About Something (10) Go Well
1, 4, 9
Race 5: Class 6 (1300M) Allowance / KRW 25 Million
The Class 6 Korean-bred gallopers line up in the fifth where there looks only a handful of winning chances. (7) GHOST VILLAGE goes on top with no great deal of confidence. The Quality Road colt finished midfield behind Old Blade on debut. Whilst beaten a big margin the quality of opposition is much less here, plus we are expecting some natural improvement at her second start. (11) MAX DAERO comes off a last start fifth
The delayed 2020 Korean Triple Crown will finally conclude this weekend with the Minister’s Cup at Seoul on Sunday. Before that, things kick off with a 15-race behind closed doors Friday card at Busan from 11.30 to 18.00.
Race 1: Class 6 (1200M) Allowance / KRW 25 Million
A pretty average set of maidens to kick things off. (2) ROYALIST hasn’t exactly been quick across three starts so far but he has been consistent and he has shown he can run on pace. He led most of the way around before weakening to 5th over 1300M two weeks ago and dropping back in trip today could be the one to beat. Of those who have tackled this distance before, (5) BEODEUL BARAM has recorded the fastest time. The track condition had plenty to do with that but she dead-heated for 3rd that day so clearly knows how to race and can be a threat. (10) MOVIE BROTHER was a much-improved 2nd on his latest start two weeks ago and while that was, if anything, an even poorer race than this, gives some confidence about another good performance. (1) THALE NOI and (7) NEW LUX are others who can improve.
(2) Royalist (5) Beodeul Baram (10) Movie Brother (7) New Lux
Race 2: Class 6 (1200M) Allowance / KRW 40 Million
Eleven maidens of which five are unraced will line up in the second event over the six furlongs. (11) CHOEGANG CUPID has had two starts to date and comes off a last start second when clocking a time that reads well for this assignment. He has sat on speed at both of his starts to date, expect Lee Hyo-sik to ask him to work forward as soon as the gates open. (5) TOP OF KOREA lines up for his second start after finishing fourth behind Geuma Bonny on debut. He was unable to reel in the leading division on that occasion, but he should take some improvement from the run. (7) COLOR WIND will line up for her second start after finishing midfield over the short course on debut. She clocked a time that with some improvement will see her figure in this event, as long as she can run the 1200m out strong at this point in time. (3) HAVE A GOOD TIME debuts after a fair trial and is capable of finishing in the minor money.
(11) Choegang Cupid (5) Top Of Korea (7) Color Wind (3) Have A Good Time
5, 8, 11
Race 3: Class 6 (1300M) Allowance / KRW 25 Million
(4) BARAMAUI YEOSIN beat a couple of these on her way to 2nd place behind Eagle Star at this distance on August 7th. There have been a couple of false dawns for him in the past but he won’t need to improve much on last time to be winning here. (9) GENERAL ANN ran well for 3rd over 1200M earlier this month. She finished well and steps up to 1300M for the first time with solid claims to go close. Similarly, (5) DAEHO ARA was a solid 3rd first-up just over a month ago. He too tries this distance for the first time and continue his positive momentum today. (8) YEONGGWANGUI EAGLE was 5th behind General Ann last start and does have a runner-up finish to his name already. In this company he can get close. Three of the runners get to carry just 50kg due to having apprentice jockeys claiming the maximum 4kg. Of the three, (2) TWO TWO CHALLENGER, impressive in a trial earlier this month, is perhaps the one to look out for.
(4) Baramui Yeosin (9) General Ann (5) Daeho Ara (2) Two Two Challenger
Race 4: Class 6 (1300M) Allowance / KRW 25 Million
The fourth is an all-aged maiden for the Korean-bred gallopers. (6) DIVINE QUEEN looks hardest to beat in a weak affair. She improved significantly at her most recent outing when finishing third behind Echo Good. She normally jumps with them and should sit just behind the pace in the run. (2) JANGMI GONGJU is another galloper that improved last time out when finishing third behind Doctor Khan over the six furlongs. A similar performance to that of last start will see him as an each way chance in this assignment. (10) QUEEN FLYING looks the likely pacemaker and it will be a case of how long she can hold on. (9) FAMILY DANCER is first up after some reasonable performances earlier on in the year. She trialed up only fairly coming into this new preparation.
Race 5: Class 6 (1400M) Allowance / KRW 25 Million
(1) ROCK PEGASUS significantly improved to finish strongly for 2nd place over 1300M on July 31st. It was a useful time albeit on a wet track, and the step up in trip to 1400M today may well suit. (10) MARK STAR has put in
The beleaguered Korean racing industry was thrown a potential lifeline this week after local media reported that a group of fifteen lawmakers submitted a bill to the National Assembly seeking to allow the online sale of horse racing betting tickets.
The group, led by Representative Kim Seung-nam of the ruling Democratic Party, have proposed a partial amendment to the Korean Horse Racing Act which currently only permits wagers to be taken in person at a racecourse or off-track betting facility.
A spokesperson for Representative Kim said the group understood there are those who are concerned about the effects of legalizing online wagering but that “minimizing the damage to the industry while preventing the spread of the coronavirus is also needed. The bill allows for a temporary suspension of online wagering should the turnover exceed an acceptable level that is set by the government.”
Racing in Korea was suspended in February due to the COVID-19 pandemic and while it resumed in June, the races have been run behind closed doors, with neither the racecourse or off-track facilities allowed to admit customers.
Both of Korea’s international races, the Korea Cup and Korea Sprint, scheduled for September have been postponed by one year with the prolonged shutdown having caused an unprecedented near-collapse of the industry.
Some other racing jurisdictions in the region such as Japan and Hong Kong have been able to continue their operations during the pandemic largely unaffected with their customers being able to place their bets online from home. The Japan Cup will be held as planned in November, albeit with only Japan-trained horses competing. Korea remains one of the only countries in the world to still not allow online wagering.
Horse racing’s collapse would have dire consequences. Not only are the racing and breeding industries significant employers, but the Korea Racing Authority is one of the largest taxpayers in Korea and provides significant support to rural communities.
Of total wagering turnover, 73% is returned as dividends, 10% goes to general taxation, 4% to local education programs and 2% to support farming and fishing communities. Operating expenses account for 7% of turnover while profits are 4% with the majority of that contributed back to an agriculture development fund. It is estimated that by the end of August, 751.7 Billion Korean Won (US $634 Million) in tax revenue will have already been lost.
Should the bill proceed in a normal manner, it would be expected to go through the various committee stages between October and December of this year before potentially coming to a vote of the full National Assembly in early 2021. All infrastructure for the processing of online bets already exists and is ready to go as soon as legalization takes place.
Dia Road firmly established herself at the top of the filly and mare division by taking out the Ttukseom Cup (KOR G2) at Seoul Racecourse on Sunday afternoon and in doing so, beat perennial champion Silver Wolf for the second consecutive time. One race later, British jockey Alan Munro recorded his first Korean Stakes race victory when guiding East Jet to a smart victory in the Seoul Racehorse Owners’ Association (KOR G3).
Coming into the Ttukseom Cup, the first leg of the Queens’ Tour, Dia Road [Captain Coltish – Gieongnal Geunal (Menifee)] had won seven of her eight prior races, including that meeting with stablemate Silver Wolf in the Donga Ilbo Cup prior to the shutdown earlier this year when she had a 5kg weight advantage.
At level weights this time, Dia Road was slowly out of the gates but by the end of the back straight, jockey Kim Yong-geun had threaded a way through the field and was up just behind the leaders. She struck the front at the top of the home straight and powered away from the rest to record a six-length win from early pacesetter Raon First and closer Ice Marine. Silver Wolf, who took a long time to find space for a run, came home 5th.
If all goes to plan – and that is a big “if” with Korean racing in an uncertain position due to the recent COVID-19 resurgence, the four-year-old Dia Road and the eight-year-old Silver Wolf will most likely meet again in the final two legs of the Queens’ Tour – of which Silver Wolf is already a two-time winner – in the autumn.
The SROA Trophy (KOR G3) brought back together some of the nation’s top sprinters including the first five home in last month’s SBS Sports Sprint. Most pre-race attention focused on the young up and comer Eoma Eoma who after three straight wins, had suffered her first career defeat when a gutsy 3rd in the SBS Sports Sprint a month ago.
Despite a much better draw, this time Eoma Eoma had to settle for 2nd place as East Jet [Strike Again – Lend (Coronado’s Quest)], the only other three-year-old in the race, made short work of a wide draw to get right on pace with the leaders and then proved too strong in the straight, holding off Eoma Eoma by just under a length. SBS Sports Sprint winner Morfhis produced his customary late charge but had to settle for 3rd.
East Jet was ridden by Alan Munro, who was recording his first Koream Stakes race victory. Munro, who only returned earlier this month from a broken wrist suffered prior to the KRA Cup Mile has now ridden 67 winners from 570 rides in the country since debuting in February 2019.
It’s Double Graded Stakes Sunday at Seoul with the Ttukseom Cup and Seoul Racehorse Owners’ Association Trophy set to be r0un in the capital. There are 12 races in Seoul from 10:25 to 18:00.
In The Ttukseom Cup, Silver Wolf will get the opportunity to avenge defeat earlier this year at the hands of Dia Road while the SROA Trophy brings SBS Sprint winner Morfhis back together with Do Kki Blade and exciting newcomer Eoma Eoma. See below for previews of all Seoul races plus horse by horse for the two Stakes.
Race 1: Class 6 (1000M) Allowance / KRW 75 Million
The two-year-old gallopers will kick off proceedings on a twelve event card from Seoul. (10) VICTORICA is the on top selection after powering to the line last start to finish fourth behind Hwanggeum Power. The Colonel John filly can position in the second half of the field before reeling of a quick sectional. (2) KKANGDORI looks as if she is one of the debutants ready to fire early in her career. The grey won her trial in good style clocking a reasonable time for the juveniles. (4) DAESAN TEUKGEUP is another trial winner who looks capable of performing at his debut run. He overcame a wide gate and covered the ground nicely to win his heat when clocking 62.7 seconds on a muddy track. (3) ACE PRINCE comes out of the race that Victorica lined up in where he finished fifth. With some improvement he can be considered an each way chance.
(10) Victorica (2) Kkangdori (4) Daesan Teukgeup (3) Ace Prince
2, 4, 6
Race 2: Class 6 (1300M) Allowance / KRW 40 Million
(11) NINE EYE was a significantly improved 2nd when stepped up to this trip for the first time on August 2nd recording in the process the fastest time of any of these so far over the 1300M. He’ll have to overcome the outside gate to work forward but should be capable and can in. (2) GEUMSEONG ACE looks to be steadily improving and is another who has demonstrated that she can run a time. She remains nicely weighted and should go close here. (4) GO GO GO debuted in that race, coming from off the pace to run 5th. She He should have come on for that and get closer this time. (7) LOVING DANCER tackles the distance for the first time following a useful enough 3rd over 1200M. She hasn’t shown much in the way of speed so far but that was a big improvement and she can build on it today.
(11) Nine Eye (2) Geumseong Ace (7) Loving Dancer (4) Go Go GO
2, 3, 11
Race 3: Class 5 (1300M) Handicap / KRW 40 Million
The third will see the Class Five gallopers go over the 1300m where there are numerous chances. (3) GLOBAL GOLD is the on top selection coming off a third behind Jeonjeongsaguem where the Thunder Mocassin gelding powered to the line in the final stages. With a better draw Lee Hyeok should be able to settle the three-year-old closer before unleashing him as they balance up for the run home. (2) LAO JIN is second up after finishing third behind Tiz City in similar company last time out. The filly will get the services of Moon Se-young for the first time. (5) TANK SOCKS is another that is second-up coming off a good performance. The filly finished second when resuming over this distance after sitting in the leading division. If Park Eul-woon can cross the filly early on she looks a big chance. (1) GOLD FIELD looks a place chance from an inside draw. The filly broke maiden status two starts ago before finishing midfield behind Yeolrin Mun last time out.
(3) Global Gold (2) Lao Jin (5) Tank Socks (1) Gold Field
Race 4: Class 5 (1400M) Handicap / KRW 40 Million
(8) COIN BLADE came from way back to get his maiden win over 1200M on June 28th. Having previously run 3rd on debut at 1300M all the way back in early 2019. He looks set to be a two-turn horse but 1400M should give him enough opportunity to stretch out and he can win again today. This is a really good race for the level though. (3) TOP SEED got his maiden win at this distance in June, making all, but was touch slow away on his first crack at this level last month, ending up in 3rd. With a better start he can be right back in the mix today. (1) CHEONJI YEOGEOL and (6) UNOECHANCHEON are both up in class following maiden wins last month at 1300M and 1200M respectively. Both ran through the line strong and should adapt to the increased trip with few difficulties. (5) CHEOGANG MAGIC comes in following a class and distance 3rd a month ago and can aim to follow up here while (7) CHOEGANG PARTY drops back in trip following a useful 3rd place around 1700M last start and is one of a number of others who can also come into consideration.
A field of eleven will line up over the seven furlongs in the fifth. (2) HAENGBOK WANGJA looks extremely hard to beat notching two runner-up performances in a row since resuming. The Daredevil colt comes off a last start second behind Mighty New which reads extremely well for this event. (4) SOUL MERIT will be sure to attract attention in betting markets. The American Pharoah colt trialed up in good fashion and was a Class Four winner before the racing hiatus. The three-year-old will have to carry 57.5kg, a substantial increase on the 52.5kg he carried to victory last start. (5) GOOD SENSE produced a solid performance when resuming last start. The Street Sense four-year-old is up in class on the strength of a second last start and as a result will carry just the 52kg. (7) BULGULUI RUNNER looks next best after finishing third behind Jangsan Forever last time out. The King Cugat gelding has been settling rearwards this time in before hitting the line strong in the final stages.
(2) Haengbok Wangja (4) Soul Merit (5) Good Sense (7) Bulgului Runner
Race 6: Class 3 (1200M) Handicap / KRW 75 Million
Entertaining little race this. (1) RUNNING BOX has looked in good form since the restart. She ran 3rd behind East Jet, who has very quickly gone on to better things, in June before running a narrow 2nd to My Hawk last month when having a hard time getting a good position from a wide draw. She has the inside gate today and could well be peaking with a real winning chance. (8) RAON TAP MAN has only finished outside the top three once in seven starts and comes in having scored at class 4 over this distance in June and then run 2nd on his first try at this class a month ago. She carries significantly less weight this time and has a real chance. (9) NEUL PUREUN CAT was well back behind Running Box last start but that was his first-up run and he has previously proven himself more than competitive at class and distance. (3) CHOIN BOLT hasn’t quite lived up to his early promise but has a class and distance 3rd place to his name since the restart and should be in at least the placing hunt again.
(1) Running Box (8) Raon Tap Man (3) Choin Bolt (9) Neul Pureun Cat
5, 6, 8
Race 7: Class 4 (1700M) Allowance / KRW 60 Million
The Class Four gallopers will go over the two turns in the seventh event where four of the engagements come off last start wins. (8) JEONGSANG YEOSIN is the on top selection after a very consistent career to date. The Colors Flying filly has notched four wins from ten starts with two minor placings. She resumed in good style when finishing second behind Best Lucky over the 1700m. (9) JANGSAN BADA is another progressive type who has notched two wins and a minor from three career starts. The Old Fashioned colt sits handy in his runs and has clocked some good times in his short career to date. (5) GAROSUGIL was a surprise winner last time out when leading throughout. The win was over the two turns, he is up in class but will carry just 54kg. (6) JEONJEONGSAGEUM is another progressive type notching two wins from the four starts as well. Lim Gi-won has been aboard the filly at all four starts to date. She normally has plenty of early speed so expect her to shoot across from barrier six. Good race.
(8) Jeongsang Yeosin (9) Jangsan Bada (5) Garosugil (6) Jeonjoengsageum
3, 5, 6, 10
Race 8: Class 3 (1700M) Allowance / KRW 75 Million
This is a super race for the level and is suitably tricky to solve. (1) GEUMA WHOLESOME has not only recorded the fastest time of those who have raced at the level before but also beat a number of these on his was to 3rd place behind Brigadier General on July 26th. He carries even more weight today but has plenty of quality and should go close. No fewer than three last-start winners are up in class here. (5) ECHO BILL won well at this distance on July 6th in a useful time. He was beaten by (6) SHU LEUB first-up in June, also at today’s distance, but can overturn that form today. (8) MOONHAK EMPIRE was a good winner over 1400M on July 19th and steps up to two-turns for the first time. His running style to date would suggest that won’t be a problem and he should be competitive here. (2) SHARK JJANG and (4) MUDO are others in the hunt.
Race 9: Class Open (1400M) Ttukseom Cup (KOR G2) Allowance / KRW 400 Million
The time-honoured Ttukseom Cup is the ninth event on the card where the fillies and mares will line up over the 1400m at Korean Group Two level. A field of fourteen will face the starter where last year’s winner Silver Wolf will rematch Dia Road, who turned the tables on the eight-year-old back in January winning the Donga Ilbo Cup. Here’s a look at each of the runners:
DAEBAK HAENGJIN – Good performance last start to finish third behind Wang Beotkkot when second-up. Somewhat of a non-winner notching just one victory from fifteen starts. Looks to be up against it at set weights.
SKY BAY – Light raced five-year-old who needs to be considered an each way chance after a very good win at Class 1 level when first up over the 1400m. Never been able to match Silver Wolf previously but has resumed in great order.
SILVER WOLF – Last year’s champion mare clean sweeping the Queen’s Tour. Found the Grand Prix not suitable and then finished second to Dia Road in the Donga Ilbo before the enforced hiatus. Will be interesting to see her run after a lengthy break.
RAON FIRST – Seems the logical choice to line up in after struggling to run a strong 1600m out in the Luna Stakes and subsequentially bypassing the Oaks. A winner of four from six she is an on-pace runner that must be respected.
SEOURI BYEOL – Has performed admirably at the highest level behind the likes of Dia Road and Silver Wolf. Whilst she is unlikely to match their efforts, she is normally a live place chance. Query lies with the 1400m.
ICE MARINE – Winner of eight from twenty-six including a last start victory when defeating last year’s Oaks winner Deep Mind. The seven furlongs not her ideal distance as she normally takes time to find her feet before hitting the line strong.
HWA GI – Hard to suggest on her two performances since resuming in June.
SEONNYANG CHEOLLI – Class 3 winner last start over 1200m. Yet to be stretched beyond the six furlongs and she looks outclassed against this field.
DIA ROAD – A winner of seven from eight starts including the Donga Ilbo back in January when beating Silver Wolf. She is all class and looks the one to beat. Resumed with a win when made to work for it over 1800m. The one to beat.
DAMYANG HWANHO – A long time between drinks and looks safely held.
CHEONGSU YEOGEOL – Lacks to class to match it with a field of this caliber. Unlikely.
LEAD MONEY – Resumed in good fashion to finish third behind Dia Road over the 1800m. Always thereabouts in Class 1 level. Place chance at best.
CHOCO CANDY – Last start Class 2 winner when carrying only 53.5kg. Another filly who is capable of finishing in the minor money.
UJU DAEWANG – Career best performances to date include a win in Class 3 company. Looks outclassed.
VERDICT: (9) DIA ROAD showed us in January that she has more than enough ability to stamp herself as the best filly or mare in Korea. Now we get to see this rematch between her and (3) SILVER WOLF for the first time since the Donga Ilbo. There is so much intrigue watching these two superstars face each other at equal weights. In January’s Donga Ilbo Silver Wolf had to carry 5kg more than Dia Road only going down three lengths. At set weights with fresh legs she is more than capable of regaining the upper hand. (2) SKY BAY showed us that she has resumed in brilliant style when winning over this distance last time out. She has placed behind the likes of Silver Wolf previously and we know she can carry weight. (4) RAON FIRST knows one way only and that is to jump and run. The Musket Man filly looks perfectly suited over the 1400m with a good draw.
(3) Silver Wolf (9) Dia Road (2) Sky Bay (4) Raon First
2, 4, 9, 14
Race 10: Class Open (1200M) SROA Trophy (KOR G3) Weight for Age / KRW 400 Million
1. WONDER BOLT – The 10-year-old never disgraces himself and will likely finish in midfield again but he simply doesn’t have the kind of speed anymore to be a serious contender in races such as this.
2. SPRING BACK – Good class 1 sprinter but perhaps not quite of the elite level at equal weights. Finished 7th in the SBS and while he could better that, he has a little too much to make up.
3. ULTRA PUNCH – Establishing himself as a competent class 1 campaigner although he is yet to win at the top level. Ran 2nd to Complete Sweep last start. Great draw so expect him to challenge for the early lead but others should end up too quick.
4. COMPLETE SWEEP – Good all the way win at this distance in July before running 3rd in a fast race on a very wet track earlier this month sandwiched between Jjang Kong and Mask in 3rd place. He’ll be aiming to get on speed from the start but isn’t among the favourites.
5. M J POWER – A very good 4th behind Do Kki Blade in the Busan Ilbo, he skipped the SBS and instead ran 2nd to Sky Bay over 1400M. Likes to come from just off the pace with a strong finish, he is unlikely to win but shouldn’t be far away.
6. EOMA EOMA – The up and comer put in a huge run to finish a desperately close 3rd in the SBS, his first serious race after three easy wins. He had to come from gate 10 that day but has fared much better with the draw this time. Moon Se-young being available means Song Jae-chul misses out despite doing everything right last time. Expect a fast start and this time he can win.
7. JJANG KONG – Put in a massive effort to run 2nd at this distance on a very wet track, beating Complete Sweep and Mask, on August 1st. That earns him his shot here but while he will grind away, aiming to close from a midfield position, surely this is too hard
8. CHEUNGDAM GENIE – Well back behind Morfhis in June, he takes his chance here having pulled off a good win over the distance on July 12th. Still potential to improve but may not have the speed to compete for the money here.
9. MASK – Returned from a lengthy absence to run 4th behind Jjang Kong and Complete Sweep on August 1st. That was a good first-up run and he has consistently posted solid times at this distance. In this company though, a few others may just be a bit quicker.
10. GLOBAL CAPTAIN – Loads of talent but he is unreliable in terms of manners. From an unpromising gate, he managed to run 6th in the SBS, coming from well back late on. At his best he is capable of winning but there are too many questions over him.
11. MEDICI GLORY – Made his way rapidly up the levels and ran a very solid 5th in the SBS. Runs best on the early speed but both draw and quality of opposition will make it difficult for him to get there. Matching that SBS performance would be a good result.
12. DO KKI BLADE – Brilliant winner of the Busan Ilbo and he can desperately close in the SBS before Morfhis snatched it away. A front-runner, his draw is worse today then in both the Busan Ilbo and SBS and he has a lot of speed inside him. Nevertheless, his quality should see him close.
13. EAST JET – A winner of five from his first six he was then a revelation in the SBS when he ran a close at hand 4th. One of just two three-year-olds in the race, along with Eoma Eoma, he gets weight allowance, but the draw isn’t kind. Will be hard to better that 4th but not impossible.
14. MORFHIS – That rarest of things in Korea; a closer who wins Group level Sprints. As in the SBS, the wide draw is arguably in his favour as he can keep out of both trouble and kickback and run his own race until the business end. If he is to repeat though he will need a lot to go right for him. A real chance once more.
15. SEONGPA – Struggled in the Busan Ilbo and skipped the SBS in order to run in the Jjang Kong race in which he finished 8th. He has posted a fast time when winning at this distance but it’s hard to make a case for him on most recent form.
VERDICT: (14) MORFHIS will aim to repeat his SBS Sports Sprint win with his customary late charge and it’s not impossible he could be successful. However, the up and comer (6) EOMA EOMA impressed that day and has drawn a much better gate. It may be that by the time Morfhis arrives on the scene, it’s too late. This time the draw does no favours to (12) DO KKI BLADE but he has plenty of quality and should be present at the business end of the race. Likewise (13) EAST JET will have to come from wide, but the wily Munro isn’t one to throw the kitchen sink early and he’ll surely be around to challenge late on. (9) MASK and (10) GLOBAL CAPTAIN are among others in the hunt for the minors in what should be a tremendous race.
Race 11: Class 2 (1400M) Handicap / KRW 90 Million
There looks an abundance of speed engaged in the eleventh where a field of eleven will line up over the 1400m. (4) DAEGUN CHEONHA has been a model of consistency in his thirteen start career. The Verrazano colt has won just the two races but has never finished worse than fifth including eight minor placings. From barrier four he should get every chance to figure, expect him to be hitting peak fitness at his third start back from the racing hiatus. (7) FLYING FORD put his brilliant turn of foot on display last start when gobbling up a good bunch of gallopers. The Shackleford four-year-old goes up a considerable 4.5kg which will make his task tougher, but his last win was very good. (3) KILIUI JEWANG is second-up after a midfield performance behind Munhak Tiger in this company last start. Expect improvement from the five-year-old second-up. (2) INCHEON CHIEF will drop back to the 1400m after finishing midfield at his first start back. He will take improvement out of that first up run, expect him to be on speed from gate two over the 1400m.
Race 12: Class 4 (1200M) Handicap / KRW 60 Million
(3) STRETTO came back into form with a strong 2nd place over class and distance on August 1st. He gets in again under a very light weight and going one better isn’t impossible. (10) LUMINESCE and (11) HIGH BEAT came home 1st and 2nd at class and distance with not much between them on July 18th. Winner Luminesce was giving away 3kg that day but it’s up to 5kg today and that, coupled with the former being drawn much wider this time, may be enough to allow the consistent High Beat to overturn the form. (5) JEONGSANG ETTEUM almost made all but ultimately finished 2nd over 1400M on July 11th. From a good draw, he’ll be on pace again and has every chance. (1) PSYCHIC BOSS and (6) GLOBAL CHEONHA came home 3rd and 4th when they raced each other on July 25th at class and distance and both can aim to go close again.
(3) Stretto (11) High Beat (10) Luminesce (5) Jeongsang Etteum
We remain at “social distancing level 2” so that means that Seoul’s Saturday card can proceed. There are 15 races at Seoul on Saturday from 10:45 to 18:00. Here are the previews:
Race 1: Class 6 (1000M) Allowance / KRW 75 Million
Eleven two-year-old Korean-bred gallopers will kick off proceedings where eight of them will grace the track for the first time. (6) BLACK CAR caught the eye in her qualifying trial when clocking 61.8 seconds for the 1000m. The time she clocked was much faster than any of her counterparts in this race. Trial watchers will note the way she covered the ground with ease. (4) JOEUNGIRL was another filly who trialed well. She won her heat by six lengths with more left in the tank. (5) COLJOY looks a top four chance on the basis of his trial. The Colonel John gelding clocked a fair time for his trial but will need some improvement to be a winning chance. (8) STAR BLADE looks next best after finishing second in his heat where he clocked 62.8 seconds on a firm surface.
(6) Black Car (4) Joeungirl (5) Coljoy (8) Star Blade
Race 2: Class 6 (1200M) Allowance / KRW 40 Million
A maiden for three-year-old fillies only and a good one too with no fewer than four of them having run 2nd on their respective latest outings. One of those was (5) SARYEONI QUEEN, who was a front-running runner-up over 1000M on debut on July 25th. She should have learned from that and the step up in trip should be of little consequence and from a good draw she can lead again. (10) MAY BLUE and (6) GRACE QUEEN came home 2nd and 3rd when they raced each other over 100M on July 19th. Both step up in rip for the first time and both should be in the hunt to match or even better those finishes today. (11) WIND HILL does have experience of this distance, having run 2nd at it a month ago, leading until close to home. The draw has not been kind to her today but she should still go close. Among those who have raced at 1200M before, (9) GLOBAL SUN has recorded the fastest time, something she achieved when runner-up to Choego Camp a month ago and she too should be in the hunt today.
(5) Saryeoni Queen (10) May Blue (11) Wind Hill (6) Grace Queen
4, 5, 7, 11
Race 3: Class 6 (1200M) Allowance / KRW 40 Million
Korean-bred maidens line up over the six furlongs in the third event. (4) CHEONSANGUI YEOIN looks hard to beat on the strength of her two runs to date. The Forest Camp filly comes off a last start third behind Joy Of King when clocking 62 seconds flat for the 1000m. This is her first try over 1200m. (8) SOARA BABA powered through the line last time out. The two-year-old is likely to settle rearwards once again with a wide draw. (10) USEUNG HWANHUI is another back marker who clocked a time that will see her be competitive in this event. (2) JEONGMUN LION looks next best based on the Divine Park colt’s trial last month where he clocked a reasonable time.
Race 4: Class 6 (1300M) Allowance / KRW 40 Million
After an unpromising trial, (7) FLYING STEED ran well for 5th on debut over this distance on August 2nd. The time was boosted somewhat by a very wet track but it was encouraging nevertheless, and the addition of Moon Se Young will do nothing to harm her chances. (4) WANGINHAENGCHA looked ready to win having started the year with a pair of minor placings before the shutdown intervened. She ran a solid 5th first-up last month, beating a couple of these along the way and from a good draw, has serious claims today. (2) HEUNG DREAM should also be on the early speed. He steps up in distance for the first time and it may well suit. (3) AMAZING WHIZ has already managed a couple of 4th places and can be aiming to at least match those today.
Race 5: Class 6 (1300M) Allowance / KRW 25 Million
The Korean-bred maidens line up over the 1300m in the fifth event on the card. (1) ACE HAMSEONG looks ready to breakthrough after placing at both starts this time in. His last effort saw him finish third behind Korean Pearl over this distance when clocking a respectable time. (2) POTENTIAL ENERGY finished fourth when resuming behind K.N. Power. The filly showed speed out of the gates on that occasion, with some improvement she can figure in this event. (4) CHEON CHONG has finished close up at his past couple of starts when hitting the line strongly. He steps up half a furlong which should assist his chances. (10) SPEED FLYING resumed over 1400m where the Colors Flying filly finished second. She showed a nice turn of foot so look for her eating up the ground late.
The recent uptick in Covid-19 cases in Korea has ended any prospect of punters returning to racecourses for the forseeable future and if the situation doesn’t stabilise soon, is likely to see racing forced back on an extended break. For now though things continue behind closed doors and with no legal betting in Korea. It’s a big weekend of action with the SROA Trophy and Ttukseom Cup at Seoul on Sunday but before that things get underway with a 15-race Friday card at Busan from 11.30 to 18.00. Here are the previews:
Race 1: Class 6 (1200M) Allowance / KRW 75 Million
Juvenile maidens kick off the card with six of the eleven racing for the very first time. We’ll go with experience though and (2) GOOD SOCKS showed potential when 3rd on debut on July 24th. The filly is well drawn to get to the front here and the additional furlong shouldn’t be an issue. (1) YEONGGWANGUICHUKJE ran 5th in that race. He is the only entrant to have raced twice prior to today and having run on well both times at 1000M, looks like he could benefit from the increased trip today. (4) ALPHA AGAIN led on debut and while he weakened late on, he should have come on for the run and can improve on the 4th place he secured. Among the first-timers, (10) PYEONGHWA SIDAE looked well when 3rd in a trial last month and can go well first up here with a top jockey on board.
(2) Good Socks (1) Yeonggwanguichukje (4) Alpha Again (10) Pyeonghwa Sidae
3, 8, 7
Race 2: Class 6 (1200M) Allowance / KRW 40 Million
The Korean-bred maiden gallopers line up in the second where there is limited early speed engaged. (6) WISE GIRL looks a promising type after finishing second on debut. The filly rattled off a solid sectional after settling well back in the run. If Jo In-kwen can settle her closer from barrier six she looks a good chance of breaking through. (5) SUN ALPHA looks an each-way chance from a good draw. The Thunder Moccasin colt should be able to settle closer in the run. Two starts ago the three-year-old finished third behind Wind Park which reads well for this assignment. (3) CHEONMA HASEO is another that looks capable of figuring. The chestnut has had the three starts with a career best fourth to date, which came at his most recent start. (7) GABO TODAY looks next best but times he has clocked to date have been slow.
Race 3: Class 6 (1200M) Allowance / KRW 40 Million
(1) HAPPY SONG looked ready to win with a solid 3rd place on the weekend of the shutdown in February over this distance. Aside from an April trial which offered few clues, she’s not been seen since but if she can pick up today from where she left off, she has to be considered a real chance here. (6) HAMAN HAPGANGJEONG has shown improvement over three starts so far, culminating in a 4th place last time out at this distance. She tends to take an age to get going but in this company she won’t need to improve very much to go close. Both (2) BAEDARI SUNSHINE and