The first international race of the year in Korea takes place on Sunday and Esmeraldina will be flying the flag for Japan in the Ttukseom Cup.
The race, over 1400M, is the first leg of the 2015 Queens’ Tour for fillies & mares and has attracted a solid entry from both Seoul and Busan. The Ttukseom Cup, named to commemorate the second home of Seoul Racecourse on the north bank of the Han River, is the highlight of a 10-race card in the capital.
While Esmeraldina is no doubt the star attraction, Cheonnyeon Dongan, Ua Deungseon and New York Blue are among those heading the challenge for the home team in a race that looks set to be a quick one.
Here is a full list of the runners (Name [Pedigree] (Starts/1st/2nd/3rd) – Jockey (Home track):
Ttukseom Cup (KOR G3) – Seoul Racecourse – 1400M – June 7, 2015 (16:55)
1. Halla Chukje (USA) [Gottcha Gold – C D Player (Montbrook)] (19/3/4/1) – Lee Hyeok (Seoul)
She has been regularly winning money at class 1 since being promoted there with a win over this distance last October. Like may here, she should be looking to go forward early and while a win may be too much to ask, another money finish is possible.
2. Esmeraldina (USA) [Harlan’s Holiday – Tasha’s Star (Spanish Steps)] – Joe Fujii (Japan)
The one they have to beat. Her fastest time over this distance is quicker than the track record at Seoul (albeit over a different surface) and she is in all ways a cut above her opponents here. She has traveled well and by all accounts has adapted to Seoul comfortably. There are unknowns with any travelling horse but with Joe Fujii on board, they have someone who knows the track well. The favourite.
3. Ua Deungseon (KOR) [Menifee – Singgeureoun (Mr. Adorable)] (13/6/0/1) – Seo Seung Un (Seoul)
She was 3rd behind Cheonnyeon Dongan in the Gyeonggi Governor’s Cup on her last start and is a Stakes winner at this distance in the past. Another who is likely to look to get forward early, whether she has the late speed to compete in the closing stages is open to question but she is one of Seoul’s strongest contenders.
4. Ms. Margaux (USA) [Midnight Lute – Sixtyone Margaux (Cozzene)] (17/1/7/7) – Park Geum Man (Busan)
She will only travel up to Seoul on Saturday and while she has only ever won one race, she can’t be completely discounted. A real sufferer of “second-itis”, she has a remarkable seven 2nd and seven 3rd place finishes to her name. Last seen running (where else?) 2nd behind Never Seen Before over a mile, her only previous experience at this distance was a 4th place. Perhaps likely to try to come from just off the pace.
5. Golden Lass (KOR) [Ecton Park – Golden Eagle (Big Sur)] (12/4/2/3) – Kim Do Hyun (Busan)
An outsider, she is yet to make it beyond class 2, she was 2nd on her only try at this distance so far. She has shown decent speed but will probably find that there are a few too many who are too good here.
6. Fly Top Queen (USA) [Henny Hughes – Cape Discovery (Cape Town)] (15/7/1/1) – Lee Chan Ho (Seoul)
The most expensive ever racehorse to be imported to Korea hasn’t quite lived up to her promise and she would be discounted here having been last in both her starts so far this year. However, she came out last week and flew through a barrier trial in a remarkably quick time. That suggests that she is in good shape but the distance is still against her; at this stage she probably needs shorter.
7. My Day (KOR) [Touch Gold – Smart Advice (Smart Strike)] (30/11/7/4) – Park Tae Jong (Seoul)
She comes in after a battling class 1 win over 2000M and drops down to a distance at which she has recorded some fast times in the past although she was 3rd on her only recent start over it. The last time she failed to find the money was in this race last year (when it was held in March) and she must be respected but it is hard to make the case for her beating the visitor.
8. Joy Lucky (KOR) [Vicar – Proper Gun (Prosper Fager)] (16/10/1/0) – Lim Gi Won (Seoul)
She was without doubt one of the most talented fillies to emerge over the past few years in Korea but she was pushed very hard and an unforgiving campaign of big races took its toll. Apart from an ill-advised trip to the Busan Owners’ Cup, she hasn’t run properly for a year. She won a barrier trial back in March but this is a very tough ask first up.
9. Heba (USA) [Peace Rules – Sue’s Temper (Temperence Hill)] (30/7/5/1) – Noboyuki Oyama (Busan)
Tough to assess as she drops back to 1400M for the first time since this race last year a full fifteen months ago. She was 4th then and has gone on to become a solid handicapper at Busan regularly picking up class 1 prize-money. She has one class 1 victory, emerging from the middle of the pack over 1900M on Boxing Day under the jockey who rides her here and a money finish is possible.
10. New York Blue (USA) [Candy Ride – Aim For The Moon (Deputy Minister)] (17/5/7/1) – You Hyun Myung (Busan)
You Hyun Myung, one of Busan’s top jockeys has been persuaded to give up a weekend’s income at home to ride this one who on her last visit to Seoul was 3rd behind El Padrino and Wonder Bolt in the Asia Challenge Cup. She is back at that distance for the first time since that day when she came from just off the pace and she will be looking for the places again.
11. Bichui Jeongsang (USA) [Wildcat Heir – Persimmon Honey (Colonial Affair)] (12/5/4/0) – Choi Bum Hyun (Seoul)
Another one who usually comes from just off the pace, she was beaten by Fly Top Queen at the end of last year. Since then their fortunes have diverged and Bichui Jeongsang has had a successful year so far with a class 1 win over 1800M and was just beaten a nose over 1200M by Mirae Yeongung on her last start. That was a quick race and she can go well here.
12. Cheonnyeon Dongan (KOR) [Ecton Park – Honeycakes (Hennessy)] (22/10/5/3) – Moon Se Young (Seoul)
Perhaps Seoul’s best. She’s won two Stakes races already this year, albeit both at 2000M, beating Ua Deungseon on both occasions. She tends to be not too far off the pace and has good late speed. She hasn’t raced since March although she did take part in a barrier trial last month. Champion jockey Moon Se Young rides and if the visitor makes any mistakes, she could be the one to take advantage.
* Despite the ongoing MERS outbreak, punters were out in force supporting the meeting at Busan on Friday. There is also a card at Busan on Sunday afternoon while Seoul and Jeju both have full cards on Saturday.