Busan Saturday: Race-By-Race Preview (March 6)

Saturday’s racing is at Busan with 10 races from 13:30 to 18:00. Busan Racecourse and Jeju Racecourse may admit customers along with off-course betting locations in Busan, Changwon, Daegu, Gwangju, Daejeon and Cheonan. Attendance at these locations is capped at 20% of indoor seated capacity and must be booked in advance using the “MyCard” app. Seoul Racecourse and all off-track betting centres in the Greater Seoul area remain closed to customers. Here are the Busan previews:

Ace Korea returns on Saturday

Race 1: Class 6 (1200M) Allowance / KRW 22 Million

Maidens kick things up with six of the fourteen going round for the very first time. Among those with experience, (5) ACE SOLOMON perhaps looks best. After winning a trial, he ran 6th of 14 on debut at this distance at the end of last November having led for most of the early part of the race. He has had three months off since then and is well drawn to get to the front again here. He goes close. (7) K.B. HONOR ran a good 4th on debut over 1000M. He was prominent throughout and can be a danger stepped up in trip for the first time. The most experienced runner in the race – the only one who has raced more than once – is (10) MOVIE BROTHER. While his latest three starts have been underwhelming, he does have a 2nd and a 3rd in his record and minor money at least should be in play here. Among the others with experience, (13) FANTASTIC LEADER was poor on debut in January but looked much better when sent back to trial and should improve here. The first-timers don’t exactly get the heart racing but (12) FIRST PARK looked well in her trial and should get some backing first-up.

Selections(5) Ace Solomon (7) K.B. Honor (12) First Park (13) Fantastic Leader
Next Best10, 2
Fast Start5, 7, 8

Race 2: Class 6 (1200M) Allowance / KRW 22 Million

Fillies only here. There is one previous winner in the field and it would be a surprise if she didn’t win again. That’s (12) APRIL QUEEN, who ran on well to score on her debut on January 18th over 1000M. Seo Seung-un taking the mount can only help her chances and the step up in trip shouldn’t be an issue. (4) TOP STORM ran twice last summer and was much-improved second-up with a front-running 2nd place over this distance. That was last July but she looked in decent condition in a trial two weeks ago and can be a danger here. (7) HORAENGI’s times have not been quick across three starts so far but she has done enough to be knocking on the door on each occasion. She’ll stick to her task and simply doing that can put her in the placing frame in this company. (8) BEST WIND has shown progress across four outings to date and is another who can aim for some prize-money while (10) FIRST CHOICE did nothing wrong when 5th on debut and is another in the hunt. Of the first-timers, (11) GEUMA STARLET ran 2nd in in her trial and should be in the mix first-up.

Selections(12) April Queen (4) Top Storm (7) Horaengi (11) Geuma Starlet
Next Best10, 8
Fast Start4, 8, 12, 13

Race 3: Class 6 (1400M) Allowance / KRW 22 Million

(9) MENI GLORY ran a good 2nd on debut on January 15th over 1000M, He was well beaten by a very good winner (First Edition) but showed a nice turn of foot and ran on well. The step up in trip should suit and he looks the favourite here. His main rival is (7) MONEY BAG. He’s shown steady improvement over three outings culminating in beating a couple of his rivals here on his way to 3rd place over 1200M on January 15th. He’s come from well back all three times and may well appreciate the additional furlong today. Of those who have tried the distance before, (3) MINYEO GEOMGAEK has the fastest time. She put in dreadful performance last start in January but she was first-up for five months and is worth another chance for some minor money here. (10) S. L. KING was well back behind Meni Glory on debut but didn’t do too much wrong and the jockey booking catches the eye. (14) NORTHERN LIGHTS has run on strong in most of her starts so far and is another who may appreciate a bit of distance to get stuck into today.

Selections(9) Meni Glory (7) Money Bag (14) Northern Lights (10) S. L. King
Next Best3, 11
Fast Start4, 5, 9, 11

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

Five of these raced each other at class and distance on January 15th and it was (14) GLOBAL SEUNGNI who came out on top. He ran 2nd, just half a length behind the winner but a full ten-lengths ahead of the third-place getter. The draw shouldn’t be an issue with a very long back straight before the turn and he will be hot favourite to score here. The horse in 3rd that day was (3) TEN TEN QUEEN. It was a big improvement for her having never got going in her two previous outings over shorter distances and she should build on that today. Ten-lengths is a lot to overturn though. Of the others who went in that race, (1) KEUN HAENGBOK is perhaps a placing chance. He was an improved 7th that day on what was just his second start and he can build on that here. (5) DUMUSAN has shown promise over four starts so far and looks the type who will appreciate a bit more distance while (10) WONDERFUL SECRET showed ability in his first two outings before running poorly in his third, last December. He got sent back to trial after that and looked sharp when going around in a heat last week.

Selections(14) Global Seungni (3) Ten Ten Queen (10) Wonderful Secret (5) Dumusan
Next Best1, 8
Fast Start2, 6, 10, 13

Race 5: Class 5 (1400M) Handicap / KRW 32 Million

Very competitive race here. A couple of them come up in class following last start wins. (2) TWO TWO CARLTON came from well back to score at start three on January 29th. It wasn’t a fast race but he has gone quicker before and can run on strong again today. (13) DASEUNG E hasn’t raced since getting his maiden win over 1300M last August. He looked well in a trial just last week and while there may be a concern that this is a little bit too much too soon, on his record he has strong claims. (5) ONNURI JILJU will probably start as favourite. He showed he has speed with a fast all the way win over 1200M in November before running 2nd to Alpha Again at this class on January. He led for much of the way that day before Alpha Again – who went on to win again last week and is potentially in the Classic frame – passed him late on. Onnuri Jilju is up in trip today but has a big chance here. (9) B.K JOHN is a winner at this class and distance already, scoring in a fast time last October. He had a hard time at a mile in Janaury but is worthy of another chance here. (4) TRIPLE MAGIC and (10) TAKE INDY KING are others in at least the placing frame but there are a host of others too – if you like something, it may well be available at a good price.


Jeju Friday: Race-By-Race Preview (March 5)

COVID-19 restrictions in Korea remain unchanged which means that this weekend’s racing will follow the same pattern as last week’s. There will be pony racing at Jeju on Friday, with thoroughbreds at Busan on Saturday and Seoul on Sunday. The Seoul meeting will be behind closed doors and all betting locations within the Greater Seoul area remain closed. However, Busan Racecourse and Jeju Racecourse may admit customers along with off-course betting locations in Busan, Changwon, Daegu, Gwangju, Daejeon and Cheonan. Attendance at these locations is capped at 20% of indoor seated capacity and must be booked in advance using the “MyCard” app. Jeju kicks things off on Friday with a 10-race card from 13:30 to 18:00. Here are the previews:

Friday is pony day at the moment

Race 1: Class 6 (800M) Allowance / KRW 9 Million

1BLACKCHAMP – Ran once last August without distinction. Not impressed in two subsequent trials. Outsider here.
2CHUNJESEON – Went through two trials and was a close at hand 4th in a fast time having led in the most recent. Top jockey remains aboard and a good draw to get forward again. One of the favourites.
3JANGBACKCHEONJU – Did little in two starts last year but looked a bit more promising in a useful trial performance in February. Not among the favourites but can improve.
4SINSAETBYEOL – Offered little in two outings so far, well back both times. Significant improvement needed to challenge here.
5DAEBYEORWANG – Mixed his form with a 2nd and a couple of 3rds mixed in with some poorer efforts. Has the fastest time of any of these at the distance. Others favoured but keep safe in the exotics.
6DANGDAEHAN – Has run some consistently good times over his five starts so far despite not getting any closer than 3rd. Comes from off the pace and should be in the placing mix again.
7ILSAMANRI – Ran 2nd on debut to Bongseondaero having been bested by him previously in a trial. Didn’t get the smoothest of trips and should be challenging to overturn the form here.
8WOORISIDAE – Creditable showings in all three starts so far. Should be knocking on the door of the palces again.
9BONGSEONGDAERO – A winner on debut beating Ilsanmari. Had things his own way that day drawing the inside gate and staying on the rail so today may not be so easy but he looks to have more in the tank and every chance of winning again.
10JEONGUISESANG – Just the one start and it was over a year ago. Trialed up well enough last weekend but a watching brief is advised first up today.
Selections(9) Bongseongdaero (7) Ilsamanri (2) Chunjeseon (6) Dangdaehan
Next Best5, 8
Fast Start2, 6, 7, 8

Race 2: Class 6 (800M) Allowance / KRW 9 Million

1JEWANGUIBOBAE – Made the breakthrough at start number five on January 15th and it had been coming. A front-runner, she’s drawn beautifully to have the run of the race again and it would be a surprise if she didn’t back up here with another win.
2JINGYEOGUIHIM – Did little on debut but improved to run 3rd to Jewanguibobae on his second start on January 15th. Has a full twelve lengths to overturn though and looks more a place chance again.
3KKUMUISEONMUL – Best of 5th from three outings to date. Should be on pace from a good draw but will need to improve to place.
4JEGURYEOK – Started slowly on debut but passed a few late on to run 7th of 10. Watching brief again today though.
5BIGSTONE – The solitary debut-maker, he impressed in his trial, running 3rd in a good time. Looks nicely in first-up with at least minor money claims.
6BALSAENERGY – Yet to finish better than 5th from seven starts. That was on his latest but expect to find a few too quick again.
7MIRAEYEOWANG – A front-running winner on a muddy track on debut on January 22nd. It was a solid time and she beat a number of these in the process. Will need to improve to beat the favourite but should go close.
8KKUMUIHWANGJE – 3rd on debut is her best to date and comes in having been a slightly disappointing 8th behind Miraeyeowang last start. Capable of running a time so a potential place line here.
9KWAESEUNGMIDEUM – Well back behind Jewanguibobae last start, she’s gone ok in three starts so far without looking like breaking through. Minor money at best.
10YONGUINALGAE – Best of 3rd was achieved last August but form has been drifting since then. Well back behind Miraeyeowang last start.
Selections(1) Jewanguibobae (7) Miraeyeowang (5) Bigstone (2) Jingyeoguihim
Next Best8, 6
Fast Start1, 6, 7, 8

Race 3: Class 6 (800M) Allowance / KRW 9 Million

1WOODOQUEEN – First time starter who went through two trials, looking very good in the second of them. Should be on pace from a great draw and should go close.
2EUNDUNGOSU – Yet to finish any better than 4th in five starts. Tended to be a bot one paced and minor money looks the best chance here.
3MISOGONGJU – Latest two efforts haven’t been great but she has ability and has the fastest time of any of these at the distance to her name. Place line.
4SHINGEOM – had a hard time first-up after five months off but has shown ability in the past and may improve here. Placing chances.
5TAMRAJEGUK – Ran 7th of ten on debut beating Shingeom. Solid base to build on but will need to improve to figure.
6CHEONGMABOBAE – Best finish of 2nd was all the way back last summer. Consistent but perhaps not quick enough to threaten here.
7JEJUYEONGUNG – Beat three of these when 4th at this distance on January 15th. That was his best finish so far and he will need to improve here. Place chances.
8UNGJINCHAEMPEU – First time starter. Won a trial in impressive fashion in early February before another solid showing later in the month. Looks nicely in on debut here and can go close.
9REONG – 8th on debut before being beaten by a couple of these when 6th on his latest start. Plenty to find today.
10BOLTMIIN – A warm favourite. She led almost gate to wire being taken down close to home by Miraeyeowang on January 22nd. Similar performance today in weaker company and she should win.

Three-Year-Olds Suffer Reverses / Hunch Continues To Impress

Heat Yegam and Winner’s Man came home as winner and runner-up in Busan’s top juvenile race last autumn but the two up and comers both came unstuck – and yet still emerged with credit – over the weekend. In the older division there were no such problems for Hunch as the four-year-old continued his stately progress towards the elite level of Korean racing with an easy win.

With In-person attendance severely restricted and online betting remaining stubbornly illegal, it remains to be seen if there will even be a Triple Crown series this year but both Heat Yegam went into their Saturday preps at Busan as odds-on favourites. Heat Yegam, went first, sticking to the 1200M at which he had won all his juvenile starts. Despite having led for much of the way round, the Take Charge Indy colt was passed as he drifted wide in the home straight, ultimately coming home 2nd to the four-year-old Great Boss.

Later on in the card Winner’s Man, 2nd to Heat Yegam last November but considered more of a Classic contender having already won at a mile, tackled two turns for the first time in the 1800M race 9 at class 3 level. From gate 12, the Musket Man colt had to work hard early to get on the pace. He came together with Golden Winner in the straight and ended up being pushed out slightly wide, finishing just under a length in arrears to the Djordje Perovic ridden winner.

Neither lost very much in defeat. For Heat Yegam it was a positive return after a three-month spell while for Winner’s Man, a better barrier may well have seen him victorious. The defeats though may have piqued the interest of connections of another three-year-old at Busan on Saturday who did actually win his race. That was Alpha Again (by Strike Again), who led from gate to wire over 1400M at class 4 level to take his record to three wins from six starts. It is probably enough to get him into the starting gate if and when the KRA Cup Mile kicks off the Triple Crown.

The star of the show at Busan on Friday was Hunch. Peter Wolsley’s American import made three undistinguished starts as a juvenile back in 2019 but after nine months off, he reappeared following the first shutdown last summer looking a much better prospect and has gone on to register five wins from six subsequent starts. The latest of those was in Friday’s class 2 Busan feature when under Perovic, outclassed a very useful set of rivals by five-lengths in the kind of time that would see him close in Group races.

With rating increases still being limited in line with the current reduced prize money, Hunch will get at least one more crack at class 2 before he has to dip his toe into class 1. By To Honor And Serve, more than one observer pointed out that his winning time on Friday was faster than that recorded by a somewhat more established Korean runner by the same sire in his own latest two wins – Cheongdam Dokki.  On Friday’s performance, Hunch may end up facing Korea’s favourite chestnut at some point this year.

Seoul’s fifteen-race card on Sunday was a somewhat low-key affair with the feature class 2 handicap being won by Top Brain (Uncle Mo). There were, however, doubles for foreign jockeys Johan Victoire and Antonio Da Silva while trainer Luigi Riccardi also recorded a welcome victory.

Next weekend’s racing in Korea will follow the same pattern with ten races slated for Busan on Saturday and fifteen at Seoul on Sunday.

Seoul Sunday: Race-By-Race Preview (February 28)

Sunday sees a behind closed-doors meeting at Seoul with 15 races from 10:45 to 18:00. Racecourses and OTB’s in the south of the country will be open to spectators with advance reservations (made through the MyCard app) at 20% of the indoor seated capacity. The open locations are Jeju Racecourse and Busan Racecourse as well as the off-track betting centres in Busan (both of them), Changwon, Daegu, Daejeon, Gwangju and Cheonan. All betting locations in the Greater Seoul area. including Seoul Racecourse remain closed to customers. Here are the Seoul previews:

Those were the days…

Race 1: Class 6 (1000M) Allowance / KRW 22 Million

Twelve previously unraced three-year-olds make their racecourse debuts here so it’s to the trial videos that we head. And we quickly find that (2) MORNING HILL is going to be a strong favourite. He went through two heats and while poor in the first of those, won his second on February 4th in a fast time with three of his rivals here down the track behind him. He’s well drawn and should win. (12) NORWAY THIRD came 2nd in the same heat, also in a good time. She’s a half-sister to Golden Winner, who has won five of twelve starts to date. (9) VICTORY SAM also looked very handy in her trial and is set to go well first up while (6) LONDON POWER’s time may have been slower but she won her heat well on a track surface that was considerably drier – and therefore slower – than some of the others here. (10) TIFFANY BLUE is out of Fly Top Queen, the most expensive horse imported to Korea for racing and whose other foal has won four from ten. She will have backers.

Selections(2) Morning Hill (12) Norway Third (10) Tiffany Blue (9) Victory Sam
Next Best6, 5
Fast Start2, 9, 12

Race 2: Class 6 (1200M) Allowance / KRW 22 Million

Fillies only here and the two prior winners in the field look set to battle it out for top spot. (1) DAUL QUEEN has raced twice, winning well on debut before running 3rd on reappearance in December. Both were at this distance and both in more than competitive times for this level and she has every chance of winning again. The main danger is (2) IRON MUSKET. She’s one for one having scored a comfortable win on debut on January 8th, with a front-running performance over 1000M. This is tougher but she has every chance. (6) CUPID WONDER hinted at ability when stepped up to this distance last start and while she will need to improve if she is to challenge the favourites, should be aiming for a place. So too (11) ROSEDAY MARINE and (13) GO GO STAR.

Selections(1) Daul Queen (2) Iron Musket (11) Roseday Marine (13) Go Go Star
Next Best6, 12
Fast Start1, 2, 13, 14

Race 3: Class 6 (1200M) Allowance / KRW 22 Million

Three-year-old maidens here. Both (7) RUNNING KING and (14) TOUGH MAN have raced twice and both have finished in 2nd place twice. Tough Man has recorded the superior times at both 1000M and 1200M but Running King has drawn considerably the better of the pair today. He is a front-runner, and it is possible that could be key. (13) ILGYEOK PILSAL led for much of the way on debut over 1000M on January 8th, ultimately ending up 2nd behind a good winner. He beat a couple of today’s rivals and can build on that today. (5) RAON CHAMPSELY was 5th behind Running King last start and can improve today while (1) NEW HOPE ran better than his 7th on debut suggests and could also get in the placing mix.

Selections(7) Running King (14) Tough Man (13) Ilgyeok Pilsal (1) New Hope
Next Best5, 6
Fast Start6, 7, 12, 14

Race 4: Class 6 (1300M) Allowance / KRW 22 Million

Fillies only here and it’s a competitive one. (9) JOYFUL K will almost certainly be favourite. She’s not finished worse than 3rd in four starts so far and registered a good win over 1200M two starts back. She steps up slightly in trip for the first time and has very solid claims. (2) ADAMS APPLE remains a maiden but has come close twice. A front-runner she is nicely drawn to get on pace and looks primed to go close today. Challenging for the early speed too will be (5) K N YEOSIN, a last start winner at class and distance. The apprentice who won on her keeps the weight nice and low and she has the fastest time of all those who have raced at the distance before. (11) EUNHYE PADO and (13) YULONG STAR, the latter a winner over 1200M last start, are others firmly in the frame.

Selections(9) Joyful K (2) Adams Apple (5) K N Yeosin (13) Yulong Star
Next Best11, 6
Fast Start2, 5, 8, 9

Race 5: Class 6 (1400M) Allowance / KRW 22 Million

(7) MORNING NEWS hasn’t exactly pulled up trees across her three starts so far but then again few of these have. What she has done is shown a little consistency and sticks to her task well. Johan Victoire takes the mount today and having run on well last time, expect her to be a little bit more forward a bit earlier today. (5) CHEON GONG ran poorly over 1200M on his latest outing but looks to be more suited by a bit of distance. He’ll ne close to the pace and should run on. (1) ROAD PINK is the only one of these to have recorded a good time at this distance and for that reason alone she has to enter the equation. That came in a good 4th last time out, her best to date and it could be that she’s finally figuring out what she’s meant to do. (8) CURRERECUS and (14) WONDERFUL JOY are others in the placing frame.

Selections(7) Morning News (5) Cheon Gong (1) Road Pink (14) Wonderful Joy
Next Best8, 3
Fast Start5, 6, 11, 13

Busan Saturday: Race-By-Race Preview (February 27)

Saturday’s racing is at Busan with a 10-race card from 13:30 to 18:00. Racecourses and OTB’s in the south of the country will be open to spectators with advance reservations (made through the MyCard app) at 20% of the indoor seated capacity. The open locations are Jeju Racecourse and Busan Racecourse as well as the off-track betting centres in Busan (both of them), Changwon, Daegu, Daejeon, Gwangju and Cheonan. All betting locations in the Greater Seoul area remain closed. Here are the Busan previews:

We’re at Busan on Saturday

Race 1: Class 6 (1000M) Allowance / KRW 22 Million

Twelve previously unraced three-year-olds tackle the opener and we have plenty coming in off good trial performances. The fastest was (4) MUJEOK BULPAE, who responded well when asked and ran 2nd in his heat to an already established racehorse. It bodes well for his debut here. (12) AMAZING FOOT was green in the home straight in his trial but was able to pull himself together and go up a gear to cross the line 1st. He looks like he has a nice – if not yet amazing – turn of foot and can go well under Seo Seung-un. You Hyun-myung rode both of those horses in their respective trials but he jumps aboard (1) WIND HARPOON and that alone will probably be enough for local punters to make the Thunder Moccasin filly the favourite. She led her trial, ultimately finishing a close at hand 3rd and from the inside gate, should be able to lead again. Also attracting attention will be the combination of trainer Kim Young-kwan and jockey Djordje Perovic with (2) OLD CHEONHA. He ran well in a competitive heat and has every chance of going close. (7) ADELE SMART and (8) PICTURE JASPER are others who showed promise in trials.

Selections(4) Mujeok Bulpae (1) Wind Harpoon (12) Amazing Foot (2) Old Cheonha
Next Best7, 8
Fast Start1, 2, 4, 12

Race 2: Class 6 (1200M) Allowance / KRW 22 Million

Fillies only here and the solitary previous winner among them is set to be the warm favourite. That’s (6) SAGARMATHA, who was a winner on debut last October with a front-running performance and who has since followed up with back to back 3rd places. She’s much better than class 6 and should be proving that here. (13) A PLUS ONE ran 4th to Sagarmatha on debut, running on strong from well off the pace. She was 4th on her return too in November and comes back in after three months off as one of the primary dangers. Other dangers include (1) SECOND WIND, who has the second fastest time among these at the distance. All her four races were last summer but she comes in here having looked strong in a January trial and should be very much in the hunt. (9) BAEK SEOL QUEEN has some speed about her but has just failed to hit top gear in her latest two. She’s perhaps worth another chance for a place here while (14) MASTER QUEEN led in her last start before ending up in 4th and while she has the outside gate to contend with, is another who could go close.

Selections(6) Sagarmatha (13) A Plus One (1) Second Wind (9) Baek Seol Queen
Next Best14, 12
Fast Start1, 4, 6, 14

Race 3: Class 6 (1400M) Allowance / KRW 22 Million

We have three nailed on favorites across the card and this is the first of them. (13) MILLION MAKER came from just behind the speed to get his maiden win over 1200M on November 29th. While he’s not raced since and does have a wide draw, the additional furlong should only suit and it is hard to see him being beaten here. If he does slip up, then (10) YEONGGWANGUI TEUKG is most likely to advantage He’s yet to win in eleven attempts but has steadily improved and beat three of his rivals here on his way to a solid if unspectacular runner-up finish over this distance on January 8th. (8) CHEONMA HASEO was 3rd in that same race having previously recorded the fastest time of these at this distance – although it has to be said, it wasn’t especially swift – and he looks next best. (11) LEGEND BOSS and (12) MAGIC STEALTH also came out of the January 8th race – 5th and 4th respectively – and they too look set to be in the placing frame today.

Selections(13) Million Maker (10) Yeonggwangui Teukg (12) Magic Stealth (8) Cheonma Haseo
Next Best11, 2
Fast Start1, 9, 13, 14

Race 4: Class 5 (1200M) Handicap / KRW 32 Million

Cases can be made for a few of these. Given the draw though, we’re going to put (1) TWO TWO WILD THING on top. The Modern Cowboy colt has never finished worse than 4th and runs best when he gets an early lead. He can certainly do that here and while he is carrying more weight than he has done to date, he looks well placed to get his third career victory. The draw has been less kind to another front-runner, (14) MACH TITAN. That said, he managed to overcome gate 11 to win well last start at class 6 over this distance. That took his record to two wins from four starts and if he can cross the field early, then he has a chance again. (2) JEONGMUN POWER ran 2nd to Mach Titan in that race having previously won on debut at this distance back in November. He is another front-runner and can challenge Two Two Wild Thing for the early lead. One of Mach Titan’s defeats was in a top class juvenile race last November when he was 4th, one ahead of (5) B.K. LOOKS. The latter comes in off a useful class and distance 2nd a month ago and is another in the hunt here. So too is (10) ROCK PEGASUS, already a winner at this class, as well as (9) QUEEN VRONSKY, an excellent winner at class 6 last start but facing tougher opposition today.

Selections(1) Two Two Wild Thing (14) Mach Titan (2) Jeongmun Power (9) Queen Vronsky
Next Best10, 5
Fast Start1, 2, 5, 14

Jeju Friday: Race-By-Race Preview (February 26)

Just like last week, the three Korean tracks will take it in turns to race this weekend with Jeju on Friday, Busan on Saturday and Seoul on Sunday. Racecourses and OTB’s in the south of the country will be open to spectators with advance reservations (made through the MyCard app) at 20% of the indoor seated capacity. The open locations are Jeju Racecourse and Busan Racecourse as well as the off-track betting centres in Busan (both of them), Changwon, Daegu, Daejeon, Gwangju and Cheonan. Seoul’s Sunday meeting will be behind closed doors and all betting locations in the Greater Seoul area remain closed. Jeju kicks things off with a 10-race pony meting on Friday. Here is the preview for those so-inclined:

Jeju Ponis kick off the weekend’s action on Friday (Pic: KRA)

Race 1: Class 6 (800M) Allowance / KRW 9 Million

1YANGDAEBAK – Offered little in three starts so far. Big outsider.
2EOLLUKBOBAE – Began career well with 2nd and a 3rd. Need to forgive latest outing on a muddy track and down in weights he can be a place chance here.
3TEAYANGSINGONG – 2nd and 5th in two starts so far and beaten by the two favourites here. Decent speed and placing chances.
4NAEONYEOSIN – 2nd on debut before winning on January 15th beating three of these in the process. His times haven’t been that special but he is clear 2nd favourite here.
5SANGGODAE – A long last on debut and. Any improvement today a plus.
6BONGSEONGYEOJE – Offered little in two starts to date.
7OHRAYEOGEOL – Won her first two outings very smartly indeed before narrowly failing to complete a hat-trick when 2nd last start. Has run consistently fast times and should lead gate to wire here. Strong favourite.
8TEUKBYEOLSUSADAE – Best finish of 8th was on debut and little to recommend today.
9BIYANG – Solitary debut-maker, looked competent when trialing and could be in the placing mix first up here.
10BONGGAEJARANG – Improved across three starts so far and was 3rd behind Naenyeoshin on January 15th. Wide draw not a problem and placing chances again.
Selections(7) Ohrayeogeol (4) Naeonyeosin (2) Eollukbobae (9) Biyang
Next Best3, 10
Fast Start4, 7

Race 2: Class 6 (800M) Allowance / KRW 9 Million

1DUMOAK – Consistent over five starts so far finishing 3rd to 5th and running into a couple too quick each time. Similar today.
2JAGEUNBYEOL – Good winner over the distance on January 12th making all. Well drawn to lead again and while this is tougher, she’s firmly in the hunt again.
3NAKCHEONGISANG – Best finish was a 5th in debut. Yet to show she is capable of running the kind of time that can trouble the scorers.
4JANGGUNDAEJWA – Best finish of 5th. Has tended to get a bit too far back in races. 5th would be a realistic aim here.
5MYUNGINHWANGJAE – First time starter who trialed up ok. Others favoured but no reason she can’t go well.
6SARAGONGJU – Promising 5th on debut at this distance last November. Can match or build on that here.
7CHACALL – 5th and a 9th from two starts so far. Well back behind the winner on both occasions and not among the favourites here.
8EUTTEUMYEONGWUNG – First-time starter. Looked well in his trial and with an in-form jockey aboard, is sure to have plenty of backers first-up. Place chance.
9IMMYEONGJANG – 2nd and 3rd in her first two starts she blotted her copybook somewhat with a poor effort in January on a sloppy track. Worth another chance today but only for a place.
10MYUNGSEONGYEOGEOL – The likely favourite. She has a win and a 2nd from two starts and the fastest time among these. Front-runner, if she crosses the field to lead, she will be hard to beat.
Selections(10) Myungseongyeogeol (2) Jageunbyeol (1) Dumoak (8) Eutteumyeongwung
Next Best9, 6
Fast Start2, 10

Race 3: Class 5 (1000M) Handicap / KRW 12 Million

1JUNGMUNSINHWA – Recent form has been consistent. Settles midfield and runs on well with a place a realistic target here.
2CHUGYEOKJEON – Ran 2nd to Nokwonjeil in December before beating three of these on his way to 3rd over this distance last start. Yet to win in twenty-three attempts a place looks more realistic again.
3HWANGGEUMJEGUK – Got his maiden win at start thirty-one in December before running 4th behind Chugyeokjeon last month. Outside chance of placing.
4SEOBUPYEONGJEONG – Found himself overmatched but not disgraced when 9th of 12 in Stakes company last time. He has the fastest time at the distance and is the highest rate. Giving weight away but his class may see him through. Big chance.
5GANGNAMJAEBEOL – Still lightly races, she should benefit from returning to the distance at which she recorded her only win to date. Others may be favoured but can go well.
6BIRYONGGISANG – 4th in each of her latest three outings, all of them at 800M. This looks a tougher ask and she’d do very well to match those finishes today.
7GOSUCHEONHA – Beaten by plenty of these in recent outings and while he occasionally snatches a money finish, he has plenty of form to overturn today.
8SINHEUNGYEOSIN – Class and distance winner last start, he can mix his form but while he is up in weights and this is a tougher race, he should be in the hunt again.
9NOKWONJEIL – A win and two runner-up finishes from his last three. He steps up an additional half furlong today but he should be able to cope with that. A real chance.
10YONGSEOLLAN – Super experienced and along with Sinheungyeosin, is the only one to have won at this distance. Not too far away in recent outings but others surely favoured.
Selections(9) Nokwonjeil (4) Seobupyeonjeong (8) Sinheungyeosin (2) Chugyeokjeon
Next Best1, 5
Fast Start 

Cheongdam Dokki Makes Winning Return / Munro Lands Four-Timer

Local legal betting resumed on a limited scale in Korea this past weekend and those lucky few admitted into a small number of betting branches in the south of the country were treated on Sunday to two masterclasses beamed live from Seoul Racecourse – one from Cheongdam Dokki and another from jockey Alan Munro.

Making his first appearance as a seven-year-old, Cheongdam Dokki was sent off as a heavy faovurite for Sunday’s feature class 1 handicap over 1800M. With the race run under handicap conditions, Korea’s favourite chestnut was not only giving away 8kg to his thirteen rivals but also had to contend with the widest draw.

Neither mattered a jot. David Breux opted to jump out fast on Sun Lighting giving Park Tae-jong on Cheongdam Dokki a perfect lead across to the head of the field. With five-furlongs remaining, Park allowed Cheongdam Dokki to pass Sun Lighting as the field became ever more stretched out and from then on it was a formality with the son of To Honor And Serve going away to win by five-lengths on the line.

David Breux’s tactics on Sun Lighting were thoroughly vindicated with his mount staying on for an excellent 2nd while there was a pleasing 3rd from the locally bred Mask.

For Cheongdam Dokki it was a seventeenth win on his thirty-second career start and a reassuring statement after he had stuttered a little – but still won – on his final appearance of 2020. He had spent the summer dueling with Tiz Plan, defeating him in the Herald Business and YTN Cups in June and July, before suffering a reverse in the Busan Mayor’s Cup in August.

The 2019 Korea Cup and Grand Prix Stakes winner Moonhak Chief missed the short 2020 summer season through injury but returned to action at the end of January to thump Tiz Plan by six-lengths. While this year’s Stakes schedule is still to be confirmed due to COVID-19’s continuing interference, the trio of Cheongdam Dokki, Moonhak Chief and Tiz Plan are sure to square off sooner or later. At this stage, Moonhak Chief remains favourite but few will be writing off Cheongdam Dokki.

While Cheongdam Dokki completed a double on the day for veteran jockey Park Tae-jong, another fifty-something put on a riding clinic for those paying attention. Alan Munro began his day with victory on Spot Flatter in race 4 and then came out later in the card to win on both East Ban in race 11 and Lord Ban in race 13, both for owner Lim Jong-geun and trainer Seo Bum-seok.

Munro then completed a four-timer by guiding the very promising Jangsan Missile, an American import by Will Take Charge, to an easy win in race 14. It might have been five as when trainer Tony Castenheira was seeking a late replacement for the indisposed Antonio Da Silva in race 2, Munro was his first port of call. However, the English jockey, not due to begin until race 4, could not be roused from his nap and Kim Dong-soo duly did the business on The King Blade.

In other Seoul news from Sunday, trainer Hong Dae-you, saddled his 300th career winner when filly Grace Queen scored in race 5. Hong gained a license in 2006 with his solitary Group success to date coming a year later with Bally Brae in the 2007 Grand Prix Stakes, a horse he had previously ridden as a jockey.

Next weekend’s racing in Korea is scheduled for Busan on Saturday 27th with ten races and Seoul on Sunday 28th with fifteen races.

Seoul Sunday: Race-By-Race Preview (February 21) – “Dokki Day”

Cheongdam Dokki makes his seasonal re-appearance at Seoul on Sunday and the now seven-year-old will have a weighty task to overcome in the Class 1 feature if he is to make a winning start to the season. There are 15-races at Seoul on from 10:45 to 18:00. The meeting is behind closed doors although betting locations in Busan, Jeju, Gwangju, Daegu, Daejeon, Changwon and Cheonan will be open for betting. Here are the previews:

Seasonal reappearance – Cheongdam Dokku

Race 1: Class 6 (1000M) Allowance / KRW 22 Million

A filly maiden to begin with and of the twelve, seven have raced before. They have all been extremely slow, so we’re going to pass on all of them and focus on the debut-makers and if (4) NAMSAN CHOCOLATE brings his trial form into the race itself, he should be winning fairly easily. She finished 3rd in a creditable time and the Tony Castenheira filly can lead all the way from a good draw here. (10) SMART DAEBO was 4th in the same trial not too far behind and that automatically makes her the second pick on debut as well. (2) FIRENZE CASTLE and (8) LOVE ARCH both posted decent enough times when finishing in midfield in their respective heats, while (1) SWEET KAKAO was a little slower but came out of a trial where there wasn’t much pace and she looks to have a good chance of aiming for some money on debut too.

Selections(4) Namsan Chocolate (10) Smart Daebo (1) Sweet Kakao (2) Firenze Castle
Next Best8, 9
Fast Start2, 4, 11

Race 2: Class 6 (1200M) Allowance / KRW 22 Million

(9) THE KING BLADE has never been outside the top three in three starts so far and got his maiden win on December 20th at this distance. His winning time was more than a second faster anything else in the field has achieved and he really should be backing up with another win today and complete what should be an early double for trainer Tony Castenheira. (6) GEOSEN DOLPUNG looks next best. He ran a useful enough 4th of fourteen on debut a month ago having previously won a trial. While those two jump off the page of the form guide, not much else does. (7) GRAND FLY ran on to record a creditable enough time on what was his second start on December 19th and that may be enough to put him in contention here. (14) RAON THE CHOEGANG was last in that race but previously showed a bit of speed over 1000M and can be included in the numbers here. In such a weak race, it’s worth looking at the first-timers, and of the pair, (4) MAGIC MANJEOM looks the more likely to make an impact first-up.

Selections(9) The King Blade (6) Geosen Dolpung (4) Magic Manjeom (7) Grand Fly
Next Best14, 13
Fast Start6, 8, 9, 14

Race 3: Class 6 (1200M) Allowance / KRW 22 Million

Good little race this and having come close to leading all the way his second start on December 6th, (3) DAEHAN JILJU returns to action here extremely well drawn to get to the lead again this time to hold on.  He’ll be joined on pace by (1) ELITE POWER, who has the fastest time of any of these at the distance. She has tended to weaken late on but looks a potential place line today. (4) GEUMA FLAWLESS is another who looks to be approaching a win.  He ran a solid 2nd place over this distance last start and while a touch consistent should be right in this. The main danger, however, could be (9) GRAND CASTLE. The only one of the fourteen to have visited the winner’s circle already, he stuck on debut last October and followed up with a 3rd and a 2nd. His times have been consistent, and he is another who should be competing for the early lead. (10) CHEROKEE MARINE and (14) NONSTOP CAT are others who are in at least the placing frame.

Selections(3) Daehan Jilju (9) Grand Castle (10) Cherokee Marine (4) Geuma Flawless
Next Best14, 1
Fast Start1, 2, 3, 5, 9

Race 4: Class 6 (1300M) Allowance / KRW 22 Million

Another class 6 with one previous winner in it. That’s (9) SEO E BEONJJEOK and he achieved it last time out at start number three, running on strong from midfield for a tight score at 1200M. The additional half furlong today shouldn’t matter, and he can win again. We’re going to look elsewhere though and in particular to (1) SPOT FLATTER. He was well beaten into 2nd by a good winner last time out but ran on well and with Alan Munro remaining aboard, looks to have solid claims to make the breakthrough this time. (2) TEUKGEUP YEOWANG was 3rd in that same race just before Christmas and can get close again here. The only one of the fourteen to have tackled this distance before is (13) BRAVO MAY. He did it in a reasonable time too and then ran 3rd back at 1200M last start. The draw shouldn’t matter, and he has placing chances. In a race in which overseas jockeys should do well, (4) MAGICUI HAMSEONG, to be partnered by David Breux, looks best of the rest.

Selections(1) Spot Flatter (9) Seo E Beonjjeok (13) Bravo May (4) Magicui Hamseong
Next Best2, 3
Fast Start1, 3, 9, 10

Race 5: Class 6 (1400M) Allowance / KRW 22 Million

Fillies (and one mare) only here and it looks wide open. We have one previous winner in the shape of (10) GRACE QUEEN, who bested three of these on her way to victory over 1200M on December 20th. Can she do it again? She’ll certainly have her supporters and while she hasn’t tried this distance before, she does have a 3rd place at 1300M. Nevertheless, the runner-up that day (4) ABOUT SOMETHING, has to be strongly considered. She is yet to score in seven but has run very well at this distance and today could well be her day, coming from off the pace. With an extra furlong, she may well have got there last time. (3) SEMYEONG NARAE come sin of a decent 2nd place over 1200M last start. She’s been relatively one-paced so far but sticks to her task well and she may appreciate the additional trip. Similarly, (5) SPEED FLYING doesn’t exactly fly home but does persevere and is consistently close. (9) TELOS has recorded the fastest time of any of these who have tried the distance before and along with (6) REMEMBER WHEN, has place chances here.

Selections(4) About Something (10) Grace Queen (3) Semyeong Narae (9) Telos
Next Best5, 6, 7
Fast Start1, 3, 10

Race 6: Class 6 (1400M) Allowance / KRW 22 Million


Busan Saturday: Race-By-Race Preview (February 20)

Busan flies solo on Saturday with 10-races from 13:30 to 18:00. A reminder that Busan Racecourse as well as Off-track betting centres across the south of the country will be open (attendance must be pre-booked using the MyCard app, Seoul Racecourse and all locations in the Greater Seoul area remain closed. The meeting is on the international simulcast. Here are the previews:

There will be one or two punters at least at Busan on Saturday

Race 1: Class 6 (1000M) Allowance / KRW 22 Million

Fillies only to kick things off. Six of the twelve have raced before and one of them is a prior winner. That’s (2) DONGBANUI SIJAK, who scored on debut back in October over 1200M. She ran poorly on reappearance but bounced back with a 3rd place just before Christmas. She drops back to the short course for the first time today and is in with a shout. So too (7) SEOBU QUEEN. A half-sister to the outstanding Seobu Cat, she ran 3rd on debut at this distance before running out of steam a little second-up at 1200M but drops back today and into contention. As for the first-timers, the standout is (4) BLACK OLIVE. She was an accomplished 3rd in a fast trial behind two experienced racehorses and should go well first up. (1) RAON THE BLUE did absolutely nothing in her two trials but she is a half-sister to an Oaks winner (as well as a few ordinary ones too) and has a top jockey on so may attract some interest. Returning to those with experience, (6) PARTY INDY has two 5th place finishes among three starts to date and can aim for some minor money again.

Selections(4) Black Olive (2) Dongbanui Sijak (7) Seobu Queen (6) Party Indy
Next Best1, 10
Fast Start4, 6, 8, 10i

Race 2: Class 6 (1200M) Allowance / KRW 22 Million

(1) AFLEET TAPIT didn’t do an awful lot on debut over 1200M back in October but returned with a positive trial two weeks ago and looks set to improve today. Likely favourite and one to beat though is (3) DONGNAM BULPAE. While he hasn’t shown a lot in the way of speed across three starts to date, he impressed with a front running 2nd over this distance last time out from a favourable draw again, can go one better this time. Also expected to be on pace will be (6) KING BID. He came home 5th last start beating a couple of these in the process, having previously run 3rd at 1000M. Seo Seung-un remains aboard and he should go close. Plenty of others have the potential to step up into the placing frame with (9) DREAM DANCER and (8) WONDERFUL SMARTY perhaps the best credentialed to do so.

Selections(3) Dongnam Bulpae (1) Afleet Tapit (6) King Bid (9) Dream Dancer
Next Best8, 12
Fast Start3, 6, 10, 12

Race 3: Class 6 (1400M) Allowance / KRW 22 Million

After running 4th on debut all the way back last July, (13) ETERNAL HERO returned in November and closed out the year with back to back runner-up finishes over 1200M. He gets another crack at class 6 today and stepping up to 1400M for the first time, can defy the wide draw to make the breakthrough. (10) KING BROTHER comes in off a 2nd place last start when he beat a couple of his rivals here. He has mixed his form over seven outings to dare but does have experience of the distance and looks a solid place chance. So too does (3) GREAT GO. She too beat two of these on his way to a useful 4th continuing a positive run of form. The filly can settle in midfield and finish strongly and having a 5th to her name over a mile already means there shouldn’t be any questions about the trip. (4) K K WON came from off the pace to run a much improved 3rd on his latest start and is another who can be considered for the minors. (7) FIRST WIND and (8) STAR EYE should also be in the hunt.

Selections(13) Eternal Hero (10) King Brother (3) Great Go (8) Star Eye
Next Best4, 7
Fast Start1, 7, 13

Race 4: Class 5 (1400M) Handicap / KRW 32 Million

Fillies and mares only here. (1) ADELE PUPIL was a smart winner on debut back in July last year over 1200M. She’s not raced since but trialed two weeks ago in adequate fashion. The trip looks likely to suit and it’s not impossible she could win first-up again, despite being up in class. She may need this though so punters may be tempted by a couple of others. (7) MARK ACE is perhaps the most likely. She’s never been worse than 5th in five starts to date and comes in off a strong 3rd over 1200M. (9) ACHIM BIT is similar, having run on well for 3rd in both her latest two outings and the additional trip may suit here. (11) PORRIMA has been the bane of punters – or at least tipsters – in the past, frequently looking like she is just one race away from breaking through only to just come up short. A couple of months off may have done her good and while she can’t be put on top, she may well place. (2) JANGMI GONGJU, a last start 3rd, is another in the frame.

Selections(7) Mark Ace (1) Adele Pupil (9) Achim Bit (11) Porrima
Next Best2, 3
Fast Start3, 7, 11

Race 5: Class 4 (1400M) Handicap / KRW 42 Million

Competitive race here. (3) RAON SKY MAN won his first two and while it has seemingly taken him a couple of races to get to grips with this level of racing, he comes in here following a strong 3rd place over this distance in a decent time just before Christmas. He has experience of the distance and shouldn’t be far away today. (5) YESULUI GYEUNGJI likewise began her career in a hurry with two wins from her first three before stuttering a little. She too is back in form with a front-running 2nd last start and has claims to go one better today. (6) WINNING DANCER is two from four so far and her class and distance 7th last start was no disgrace at all. She should have come on from that and has the combination of a top jockey and a very light weight on her back. The only last start winner in the field is (14) CAPTAIN STEALTH. He came from well off the pace to score at this class over 1200M on December 19th. The outside gate shouldn’t cause too many problems and he can go close again. 


Betting Locations Open In Some Parts of Korea from Friday – Jeju Preview

With the Covid-19 social distancing level having being lowered to “1.5” in all areas except Greater Seoul, some betting locations are permitted to reopen to customers from Friday. Those locations are the Busan and Jeju Raceourses, plus the off-track betting centres in Busan, Changwon, Gwangju, Daegu, Daejeon and Cheonan. They will be allowed to admit up to 20% of their official capacity. Seoul Racecourse and all off-track locations in the Greater Seoul area (Seoul and Gyeonggi Province) must remain closed as the social distancing level remains at “2.0”.

Pony racing on Jeju will be first action that some punters in Korea will be able to have a legal bet on this Friday

This means that instead of all three tracks racing simultaneously on Friday, each track will get a day to itself. Jeju will race on Friday, Busan on Saturday and Seoul on Sunday. Seoul will not be allowed to admit customers but its races will be beamed for betting to the nine open locations in the south of the country.

To mark the re-opening, just for fun (and due to Busan and Seoul declarations having been held back until today), here’s a pony by pony preview of Friday’s 10 race meeting on Jeju Island.

Race 1: Class 6 (800M) Allowance / KRW 9 Million

1CHOOJEOKJA – 5th on three of four starts so far, latest behind Tamraingi. Fourth fastest time at the distance among these and that would be a good finish today.
2WAHEULGONGWON – First time starter. Went ok in trial behind Cheonmahwangje. Watching brief first-up.
3SAEBYEOKYANGGI – First-time starter. Nothing wrong in trial but was behind both Cheongmahwangje and Waheulgongwon.
4JANGTAUIBYEOL – 2nd and 3rd in two starts so far both at this distance in races with wildly differing paces. Should be on the early speed and goes close.
5TAMRAINGI – 2nd in both starts so far having led almost the whole way on both. Fastest time of any of these at the distance, should lead again and is the one to beat.
6SEUNGJEONSOSIK – Won a trial before debut but not made much of an impact in three starts since. Well back behind Tamraingi last time
7JEILBOMUL – Offered few clues when midfield on debut. Watching brief again today.
8YESONE – No worse than 5th in four starts so far. 2nd first-up following six months off in January and a place chance again here.
9CHEONGMAHWANGJE – Best looking of the three first-time starters having run 2nd in his heat. Can be competitive.
10TTUBEOGI – Mid position in both outings so far at this this distance, sticking to task both times. Maybe more to come.
Selections(5) Tamraingi (4) Jangtauibyeol (8) Yesone (1) Choojeokja
Next Best9, 10
Fast Start4, 5

Race 2: Class 6 (800M) Allowance / KRW 9 Million

1GWANGMYEONGWHANGJE – First-time starter. Well back in trial. Watching brief first-up.
2HEALINGSTAR – Last of ten on debut on November. The time was ok compared to some of the others but it was favourable conditions and he was a long way behind the winner. Fresh start today but plenty to find.
3YANGDAESAN – Had a couple of trials before coming from off the pace to run 4th on debut behind Jejumulyeol on January 8th. Can build on that today.
4JUNGMUNILLO – Improved to 6th on his second start to date.Time hardly fast but in this company can get closer.
5CHEONJITIME – 7th of ten in debut a long way behind a super winner. That was all the way back in August of last year so it’s a fresh start today.
6SOLDIER – Made all to win his trial and needs to be considered in weak company first up.
7JEONGUISILCHEON – Last of ten on debut behind Cheonjitime. Lots to find today.
8JEJUCHEOMDAN – 7th of ten on debut, not too far behind in a slow run race at this distance. Potential for improvement here.
9JEJUMULYEOL – 4th on debut before running 2nd, ahead of Yangdaesan on reappearance on January 8th. Fastest time of these and the likely favourite.
10SINCHEONJILJU – First-time starter. Went ok in his trial in an adequate time and can be in the minor money mix first-up.
Selections(9) Jejumulyeol (6) Soldier (3) Yangdaesan (8) Jejucheomdan (5) Cheonjitime
Next Best2, 4
Fast Start4, 6, 9

Race 3: Class 6 (800M) Allowance / KRW 9 Million