Sunday Seoul & Busan Preview: Breeders’ Cup 2016 (December 4)

It’s the penultimate Stakes race of the year in Korea on Sunday as the juveniles take their turn to sort out the champion for 2016. A full field of 16 will contest the Breeders’ Cup over 1400M at Seoul Racecourse. The race is the highlight of an 11-race card at Seoul which runs from 10:40 to 18:00 while Busan goes from 12:35 to 17:05.

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Final Boss won the Gwacheon Mayor’s Cup, Seoul’s Breeders’ Cup trial, in October

Europa and Final Boss, who won Busan and Seoul’s respective trials for this race will both be there to contest the race that Power Blade won a year ago before going on to sweep the Triple Crown as a three-year-old. Irish trainer Thomas Gillespie also saddles his first runner in the capital as the unbeaten Pegasus Farm-bred Evergreen Tree takes her chance.

See here for runner-by-runner form comments. Here for English race cards. And below for brief notes on the three races which will be simulcast overseas.

Race 8: Class 2 / 1700M / Handicap / KRW 90 Million / 15:45

(1) WINNERS GLORY is up in class following a three-length win over this distance on October 30th. He carries a light weight here and runs best on or close to the early speed so gate 1 will suit. He has an excellent chance. Gate 12 will suit (12) SINJO DAEHYEOP who beat both (8) DOUBLE LUCKY and (9) VENI WIN when victorious over 1400M in October. A strong finisher, this is his first time around two-turns and he should take to it well. (11) GAIA THUNDER has already shown aptitude for the distance with a 2nd place in September. He’s up in class following a 3rd place last month at 1400M and will be competitive. Already established at this level is (7) LION STAR. He has placed in each of his last four outings and there’s no reason to suggest that run will end here.

Selections: (1) Winners Glory (12) Sinjo Daehyeop (7) Lion Star (11) Gaia Thunder
Next Best: 8, 4
Rating: 12, 10, 7, 9, 8
Fast Starters: 1, 2, 7
Start-200M: 2, 8, 7, 4, 1
200M-Finish: 12, 11, 10, 8, 1

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Busan Friday: Race-By-Race Preview (December 2)

This Sunday will see Korea’s Juvenile Champion of 2016 crowned at Seoul Racecourse. There’s plenty going on before that though with 10 races at Busan on Friday from 11:30 to 18:00.

English race cards can be found here. Notes on simulcast races 4-10 are below. With a number of the track’s top jockeys already in Seoul for Sunday’s big race, Seo Seung Un is very much the one to follow on Friday afternoon:

Race 4: Class 6 / 1300M / Allowance / KRW 40 Million / 13:35 

Fillies only in this maiden race and (2) SULTRY HUMOR is favoured to be the one to make the breakthrough having scored 3rd place finishes on both her two starts to date. She beat two of her rivals here last time and can lead from gate to wire. Her main danger is (7) KING STORM. She was 2nd on debut in an admittedly slow race on November 11th and should be close again here. (11) DONGNAM CHOEGO has shown glimpses since coming back from seven months out while the experienced pair of (4) PALMYRA and (5) IGIPPEUM GEUDAERO should be capable of finding minor money in this company.

Selections: (2) Sultry Humor (7) King Storm (11) Dongnam Choego (4) Palmyra
Next Best: 5, 10
Rating: –
Fast Starters: 2, 3
Start-200M: 3, 2, 11, 6, 10
200M-Finish: 5, 6, 11, 12, 10

Race 5: Class 5 / 1000M / Handicap / KRW 40 Million / 14:20 

A winner on debut all the way back in July, (1) ADELE STAR has failed to fire on two subsequent stats, both at 1200M and most recently in Busan’s top juvenile race. Back at 1000M and in more amenable company today, she can return to form. In as good a form as he’s ever been in four-year-old gelding (5) MOMENT. He has three 2nd places among his last four starts and should be continuing that record here. (7) VEGA KHAN must be respected having beaten (4) MADEIN MYEONGSEONG as the pair ran 2nd and 3rd at class and distance last month and both should be competitive here with the latter favoured to overturn that form today. (8) NAMYANG QUEEN and (10) PARTY CONCEP are both up in class here and both have potential for development.

Selections: (1) Adele Star (5) Moment (4) Madein Myeongseong (10) Party Concep
Next Best: 8, 11, 7
Rating: 5, 4, 6=7, 1
Fast Starters: 1, 4, 8
Start-200M: 8, 1, 10, 4, 6
200M-Finish: 6, 4, 11, 5, 2

Race 6: Class 4 / 1000M / Handicap / KRW 40 Million / 15:05 

(1) SANDIEGO MARINE was an impressive winner on debut at this distance on November 18th and while he carries an extra 3kg today, there’s no reason why he can’t follow up. (5) AMERANCE FASHION also won on debut before running 5th in a tough race over 1200M a month ago and can come into consideration here while (7) WHITE BLUE returns to racing for the first time since July. She won two of her first five races and impressed in a November trial. (10) YEONGGWANG SEUNGNI debuted in 4th in the same race as Sandiego Marine while the wildcard is (8) SECRET RHAPSODY. She returns for the first time since April but looked quick in a trial a month ago.

Selections: (1) Sandiego Marine (5) Amerance Fashion (7) White Blue (10) Yeonggwang Seungni
Next Best: 8, 12
Rating: 1=5, 6=9, 4
Fast Starters: 1, 5, 7, 11
Start-200M: 11, 1, 7, 4, 10
200M-Finish: 5, 1, 6, 10, 11

Race 7: Class 5 / 1300M / Handicap / KRW 40 Million / 15:50 

(6) ADELEUI BOM won over 1000M in August and has run exactly to expectations when recording a 4th and 5th in two tough races since, both over 1200M. He tries 1300M for the first time but could well get an uncontested lead here and if he runs to expectations again, he wins. It’s a similar story for (8) BAEKDUBONG who while slightly less impressive, has shown potential. (3) GANGHO IRON is yet to win in twenty-four attempts but is always close and will be close again while the up in class (1) HWAJEONG and the returning from a spell and making a first start for a new trainer (2) JEONGMAL JOA look best of the rest.

Selections: (6) Adeleui Bom (8) Baekdubong (3) Gangho Iron (1) Hwajeong
Next Best: 2, 7
Rating: 5, 6, 3=8, 1
Fast Starters: 6
Start-200M: 6, 8, 7, 4, 1
200M-Finish: 3, 8, 6, 1, 5

Race 8: Class 3 / 1800M / Handicap / KRW 72 Million / 16:35

(7) SISEON POCHAK was 2nd at class and distance, two lengths behind the useful Beolmaui Sin and plenty ahead of three who go here and he has solid claims to go one better today. He’s one of two stand-outs, the other being (11) SPECIAL ROOKIE. She was 4th in the Korean Oaks at this distance in June and can be forgiven her last start in a big Stakes race at Seoul in October. She’ll be on the early speed here and has every chance of going all the way under an apprentice jockey who gives her even more of a weight advantage. (9) GLORY DAYS was 3rd, seven lengths behind Siseon Pochak last month and can compete for the places again while (3) FINE DREAM and (12) BOUND MYEONGUN can also have similar ambitions.

Selections: (7) Siseon Pochak (11) Special Rookie (9) Glory Days (3) Fine Dream
Next Best: 12, 5
Rating: 7, 1=5, 3=9
Fast Starters: 6, 9, 11
Start-200M: 11, 6, 9, 7, 8
200M-Finish: 2, 1, 3, 5, 4

Race 9: Class 4 / 1200M / Handicap / KRW 55 Million / 17:30

2nd on debut over this distance on November 11th, (11) GOOD CASTING looks to be the one to beat here. The wide draw shouldn’t be a problem and he can finish well. Kim Young Kwan’s (6) SUPER MATCH was 4th on debut and is sure to go well again while (1) SPEED MARK was a creditable 6th in a Listed race on what was just his second career start last month and can be competitive today. The more experienced Korean-bred (4) ACE POWER will be dangerous from the early speed while (9) POKPUNGUI JEWANG also looks to have potential for further development.

Selections: (11) Good Casting (1) Speed Mark (6) Super Match (4) Ace Power
Next Best: 9, 2
Rating: 9, 11, 1, 2, 5
Fast Starters: 4, 8, 9
Start-200M: 12, 4, 9, 8, 5
200M-Finish: 7, 1, 6, 9, 2

Race 10: Class 2 / 1200M / Handicap / KRW 88 Million / 17:00 

Up in class following five wins from eight career starts, (10) JANTEUGAREU is very much the one they need to beat here. The wide draw isn’t ideal but he should be able to overcome it to sit handy and finish strongly. The experienced (4) JEONGSANG JEAP beat two when racing 3rd over class and distance last time out as indeed did (8) SUPER STORM and those two look to be the main dangers. (1) WORLD LOVE and (6) SINHEUNG GOSU were the two defeated ones on each occasion and they look best of the rest here.

Selections: (10) Janteugareu (4) Jeongsang Jeap (8) Super Storm (6) Sinheung Gosu
Next Best: 1, 9
Rating: 9, 3=5, 7, 8
Fast Starters: 4, 6, 8
Start-200M: 2, 4, 3, 6, 8
200M-Finish: 9, 8, 10, 6, 7

Saturday/Sunday Race Times (November 26/27)

It’s turned quite cold across the Korean peninsula this past week. Nevermind though, there are plenty of punting opportunities to warm up with over the next couple of days.

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Winter is coming! No snow yet, though (Pic: Ross Holburt)

There are class 1 races at Seoul on both days. The horse with the unfortunate typo, Goreous Dream, goes in search of his 9th win on what will be his 10th start in the final race on Saturday and confirm his position as the top sprinter at Seoul. A sprint accounts for the main event at Busan on Sunday too as Jeju Governor’s Cup winner Indian Star makes her return to her home track.

English race cards are here.

Saturday November 26
Seoul Racecourse: 12 races from 10:50 to 18:00
Jeju Racecourse: 8 races from 11:50 to 16:10

Sunday November 27
Seoul Racecourse: 11 races from 10:40 to 18:00
Busan Racecourse: 6 races from 12:35 to 17:00

Busan Friday: Race-By-Race Preview (November 25)

It’s been a busy week off the track in Korean racing with the US racing media reporting Take Charge Indy is the latest stallion to be Jeju Island bound. Racing gets back underway at Busan on Friday with 11 races from 11:30 to 18:00.

English race cards are here. Notes on overseas simulcast races 4-11 are below:

Race 4: Class 6 / 1300M / Allowance / KRW 20 Million / 13:35

(2) TIMELESS was 4th of 12 on debut over 1000M at the end of last month. She finished strongly that day and is favourite to score over an extended distance here. The main danger is (10) HWANGGEUMBIT JILJU, who debuted unimpressively in June but returned much more strongly last month to actually beat Timeless on October 28th. (5) ALSO POWERFUL showed improvement last month and can be considered while (11) DESTINY and (12) JIBONG YEONGUNG also look capable of finding the money here.

Selections: (2) Timeless (10) Hwanggeumbit Jilju (11) Destiny (5) Also Powerful
Next Best: 12, 1
Rating: –
Fast Starters: 2, 4, 10
Start-200M: 4, 2, 11, 3, 12
200M-Finish: 2, 5, 7, 1, 8

Race 5: Class 5 / 1000M / Handicap / KRW 40 Million / 14:20 

(1) REALLY ONE has just one win from eleven but two 2nd places among his last three outings an on October 28th was beaten only by the very promising Evergreen Tree at this distance with a couple of others here behind him He’ll be a front-runner, has a strong finish and should take this. One of the ones he beat last time was (8) TIGER SLAM, 4th in that race on what was his first try at this level and he can continue his development today. (9) GOLD FLYING was an unexpected winner last time and while up in class, will get more respect today while the ever so slightly disappointing (4) MISS CANBERRA and the unlucky (6) MOHAVE WANGJA, who did manage to get his maiden win last time out, are the others to watch.

Selections: (1) Really One (8) Tiger Slam (9) Gold Flying (6) Mohave Wangja
Next Best: 4, 10
Rating: 1=6, 8, 3=9
Fast Starters: 4, 8, 9
Start-200M: 8, 10, 4, 5, 9
200M-Finish: 8, 1, 6, 2, 4

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Voting Underway For Grand Prix Stakes 2016

Voting is underway for invitations to the 2016 Grand Prix Stakes which is set for Seoul Racecourse on Sunday December 18. Fifteen horses from Seoul and seventeen from Busan are on the ballot for the 2300M contest which will have a maximum field size of sixteen and could well be bereft of any previous winners of the traditional season-ending finale.

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Bold Kings beat Gumpo Sky and Clean Up Joy in a terrific Grand Prix last year. The winner is retired but the 2nd and 3rd are expected to line-up again (Pic: KRA)

The race is based on Japan’s season-ending Arima Kinen in which entry is also decided by a punters’ vote although admittedly, on a much smaller scale. Voting is open for registered users of the KRA’s homepage (www.kra.co.kr) and runs through until Monday November 28.

Horses expected to score highly in the vote from Seoul include KRA Cup Classic winner Clean Up Joy and Ttukseom Cup winner and Gyeongnam Governor’s Cup runner-up Bichui Jeongsang. From Busan, President’s Cup winner Triple Nine and Triple Crown winner Power Blade will of course score highly enough to receive invitations but there will be plenty of votes too for the likes of Beolmaui Kkum, Heba, Gumpo Sky, Diferent Dimension, Dongbang Daero and now, possibly after her Sunday win, Ms. Margaux. Here is the full list of horses on the ballot paper (2016 Stakes winners listed first):

Seoul

Miso Wangja (YTN Cup)
Bichui Jeongsang (Ttukseom Cup)
Clean Up Joy (KRA Cup Classic)
Touch Flying (Ilgan Sports Cup)
Winner Red
Space Port
Halla Chukje
Meni Music
Mighty Gem
Unbeatable
Theme Deunggeuk
Clean Up Cheonha
Cheonjeok
Muhudaeje
Heart Roy

Busan

Power Blade (KRA Cup Mile, Korean Derby, Minister’s Cup)
Gamdonguibada (Busan Ilbo Cup)
Triple Nine (Owners’ Cup, President’s Cup)
Beolmaui Kkum (Busan Mayor’s Cup)
Santa Gloria
Dynamic Dash
Mainstay
Success Story
Tohamsan
Miracle Line
Dongbang Daero
Diferent Dimension
Ms. Margaux
Heba
Gumpo Sky
Beolmaui Sin
Goliath Marine

If Gamdonguibada doesn’t make it in – and unless a lot of invitations are declined, there’s a strong chance she won’t – this will be the first Grand Prix in recent years not to feature a previous winner. Gamdonguibada won the race as a three-year-old all the way back in 2012 and is the only past champion still in training. 2013 winner Indie Band, 2014’s Gyeongbudaero and last year’s champion Bold Kings have all been retired.

In fact, the last time there were no previous winners in the starting line-up was 2003, when the race was won by Tempest West (Silent Tempest). Defending champion Bohamian Butler (Patton) was entered but was a late scratching on the day – he never ran again.

“Rivals” On Show / Park Jae I Wins In Australia / Imran Gets 10 Days

The villainous foreigner looks directly into the camera, eyes obscured by dark glasses no doubt in an attempt to disguise malign intentions. Meanwhile, the stout defender of Korean honour gazes wistfully, but determinedly, into the middle distance, face bathed in an almost saintly glow.

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There’s a good little exhibition running right now in the small museum at Seoul Racecourse called “The Rival” which attempts to build up some of the rivalries ongoing in racing in Korea. Peter Wolsley and Kim Young Kwan was the natural choice for the trainers while for jockeys, it is Moon Se Young and Kim Young Geun  so if you’ve ever wanted to see Moon Se Young’s schoolboy pictures, then a) why? and b) now’s your chance.

To keep things current, for horses, current stablemates Triple Nine and Power Blade were chosen (as opposed to say, Subsidy and Bally Brae) while it’s Menifee and Ecton Park for sires. The museum is located behind the Luckyville Grandstand on the Parade Ring side. It’s free entry and only takes a couple of minutes to look around. This particular exhibition runs until December 30th.

In other news, Busan apprentices Jin Kyum and Park Jae I are currently in Australia to gain overseas experience and Park was among the winners at Port Macquarie Racecourse in New South Wales on Tuesday afternoon. 20-year-old Park, who debuted in 2015 and rides off a 2kg claim with 21 winners to date in Korea, partnered 5-year-old mare Tiaconi to a two-length victory in the 1000M race 7 for owner/trainer Brett Bellamy (h/t Michael Cox):

Not such happy news for jockey Imran Chisty. The Indian rider has picked up a ten-day ban for his ride on Monday Money in race 4 at Seoul last Sunday. The fast finishing 5/1 chance just failed to get up for 2nd with Stewards of the view that slightly more vigour on the part of the jockey would have overcome the nose deficit. Because Seoul only races two days each week, it means the suspension doesn’t expire until Christmas Day.

Ms. Margaux Lands Gyeongnam Governor’s Cup For Irish Trainer Thomas Gillespie

 Ms. Margaux, so often runner-up over her career,got it right in spectacular style at Busan Racecourse this afternoon. The five-year-old mare got the better of Ttukseom Cup winner Bichui Jeongsang in a stretch duel to win the Gyeongnam Governor’s Cup, the final leg of the Queens’ Tour, and hand a first Korean Group win to Irish trainer Thomas Gillespie.

Ms. Margaux (Midnight Lute) a class 1 winner at the 2000M distance in September, was sent off as favourite for the final race in the series which is held to decided the Champion filly or mare of the year, having been 6th in both the two shorter legs. Surprise KNN Cup winner Supreme Magic was 2nd favourite and Queens’ Tour veteran New York Blue 3rd in the market.

Korean Oaks winner Ottug Ottugi showed the way early along with perennial fast-starter Halla Chukje and well-fancied Seoul raider Touch Flying. Bichui Jeongsang and and Ms. Margaux both made ground in the back straight and around the home turn and as the leaders faltered, they led into the straight.

It was one-on-one from then on and under jockey Kim Yong Geun, Ms. Margaux kicked clear in the final furlong to take the honours by just over a length on the line. FIve lengths behind Bichui Jeongsang, the unheralded Mighty Gem put in a huge run to edge New York Blue out of 3rd place in a photograph.

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First Korean Group winner – Thomas Gillespie (Pic: Ross Holburt)

Ms. Margaux was a $15,ooo purchase at the September yearling sales at Keeneland in 2012. Today she took her earnings to in excess of $700,000. She’s had quite a remarkable career, most of it spent with Peter Wolsley before transferring to Thomas Gillespie this season. She took thirteen races to get her maiden win but finished 2nd or 3rd in all of the previous 12. In 29 starts she has only finished outside the money on five occasions with a total of ten 2nd places and eight 3rds. Today she got by far the biggest of her four wins.

It was another group success for jockey Kim Yong Geun, who remains in punters’ bad books after Perdido Pomeroy’s performance against Ottug Ottugi last month but who once again ends up in a big race winner’s circle. For Thomas Gillespie, it is a 35th winner since debuting at Busan last summer. Gillespie maintains a win-rate of almost 14% and his horses find the top three well over 40% of the time. He’s proven a very solid addition to the training ranks at Busan.

Gyeongnam Governor’s Cup (KOR G3) – Busan Racecourse – 2000M – November 20, 2016

1. Ms. Margaux (USA) [Midnight Lute – Sixtyone Margaux (Cozzene)] – Kim Yong Geun – 2.6, 1.2
2. Bichui Jeongsang (USA) [Wildcat Heir – Persimmon Honey (Colonial Affair)] – Jo Sung Gon – 3.3
3. Mighty Gem (USA) [Macho Uno – Shimmer (Pulpit)] – Kim Hye Sun – 12.2
Distances: 1.25 lengths / 5 lengths
Also Ran: 4. New York Blue (USA) 5. Ottug Ottugi (KOR) 6. Areumdaundonghaeng (USA) 7. Hay Queen (USA) 8. Silver Wolf (AUS) 9. Santa Gloria (KOR) 10. Touch Flying (KOR) 11. Supreme Magic (USA) 12. Halla Chukje (USA) 13. Naesarang Damyang (USA)