Day: September 19, 2009

Big Sunday Preview

Dong-a Ilbo / GC Trophy / MJC / KRA Jeju Cup
Sunday sees four big races split between Seoul, Busan and Jeju. It promises to be one of the most interesting days of the year:

Dong-a Ilbo Cup – Seoul Race Park – 1400M – 17:00

It’s the 13th running of the Dong-a Ilbo and it is, for the second time, restricted to class 2 fillies and mares. Previous winners – when it was open to all – have included Baekgwang in 2006 and Hongji in 2007.

A full field of fourteen will gather this time and they are a mixture of up and comers and those who haven’t quite made the breakthrough to the top level of Korean racing.

It’s an open looking race. Ganghan Speed and Dangdae Teukgeup should be in the mix at the end as shoud Feel It Now and Grandzif. Hwaryeohanbisang is also an interesting prospect. Never tried at this level, the three year old has won four of her six starts.

Gold Circle Trophy – Busan Race Park – 1400M – 15:35

South Africa’s Gold Circle Organization runs racecourses and betting in KwaZulu-Natal and the Western Cape. Over the past few years it has built links with the KRA which have seen three Korean apprentice jockeys going to South Africa for training and a Riding Instructor come to Korea. Earlier this year the KRA sponsored the KRA Guineas at Greyville Racetrack.

The first GC Trophy is open to class 2 horses and has attracted a field of eight including two of Busan’s most highly rated three year olds. KO Punch arrived on the scene too late for the classics while Top Grade is a gelding so was ineligible. Both have impressive records with KO Punch four for five and Top Grade four for six. Molto Presto, another three year old in a winning habit lately, can’t be discounted, nor can lightly raced four year old Namdo Myeongjang.

Macau Jockey Club Special – Busan Race Park – 1400M – 16:30

The second MJC brings together fourteen of Busan’s up and coming imports. Unlike the day’s other two big races, this one should have a clear favourite in Sweet Summertime. The Soto filly has three wins from her six starts and has beaten better than she will face in this.

That’s not to say she’ll have it easy. Essence Of Dubai colt Haegeoreum is capable of springing a surprise as are Jungwon Jepae and Double The Gold. Nevertheless, as so often this year, the most likely results is a filly beating her male counterparts.

KRA Jeju Cup – Jeju Race Park – 1700M – 15:50

This site doesn’t cover Jeju very often, however, the Jeju Ponies have one of their biggest races of the year in the shape of the KRA Jeju Cup. Minsokchum is top weight but faces a host of regular winners at the track in the shadow of Mt. Halla.

Racing is underway at Seoul at 11:20 (11 races) , Jeju at 12:10 (9 races) and Busan at 12:40 (6 races). With temperatures likely to be in the mid twenties (celsius) and a light breeze taking the edge off the sun, there really is going to be no better place to be on the peninsula – or on Jeju Island – on Sunday, than one of the racecourses. Come Racing!

Baekgwang’s Second Ends in Second

Grey runs well but beaten by Gi Ra Seong
Gi Ra Seong may have won, but most eyes were on Baekgwang in the feature race at Seoul this afternoon. The great grey was making his second start since his year on the sidelines while undergoing the stem cell treatment that has rescued his career.

While connections are still being cautious, today’s second place in a tough handicap was an improvement on his fourth in last month’s SBS Cup. By the time Park Tae Jong unleashed the now six year old’s familiar stretch run down the middle of the track, Gi Ra Seong was already out of sight. For a moment, however, there was a glimpse of the Baekgwang of three years ago as he ate into the lead and even found time to revert to his old habit of drifting toward the rail.

The distance on the line though, while only a length and a half, owed more to Gi Ra Seong easing in the final few strides. The five year old is now on three straight wins and has eleven from twenty in all.

Baekgwang, Park Tae Jong up, parades

Baekgwang, Park Tae Jong up, parades

For Baekgwang, if he has come through this race unscathed and if he continues to improve in training, a shot at the President’s Cup remains an option.

While Baekgwang’s comeback continued, there were others beginning theirs today. Another grey, New Heart, won her first and only race on her debut last November. Sustaining an injury shortly afetrwards that would keep her off the track for ten months, today she finally made her first appearance as a three year old. She duly showed punters what they’ve missed by claiming race 5 with a strong late run.

Also returning today after a lengthy spell out was jockey Lee Shin Young. Korea’s top female jock didn’t take long to make an impact, winning race 7 on Sinhwacheoreom. Tomorrow she will be re-united with former regular mount Kkumcheoreom as the pair go for the Dong-a Ilbo Cup.

Class 1 Handicap (Domestic) – Seoul Race Park – 2000M – Sep 19, 2009

1. Gi Ra Seong (KOR) [Precise End – Dauntless Cat (Mountain Cat)] – Choi Beom Hyun – 2.0, 1.1,
2. Baekgwang (KOR) [The Groom Is Red – Grey Crest (Gold Crest)] – Park Tae Jong – 1.2
3. Wontagui Gisa (KOR) [Fiercely – Grove Lady (Varick)] – Moon Jung Kyun 1.7
Distances: 1.5 lengths/3 lengths – 8 ran