Big race action returns to Seoul on Sunday in the shape of the Donga Ilbo Cup. However, it’s at Busan where arguably the pick of the action is with a high quality handicap just 25 minutes later.
The Donga Ilbo Cup is for domestic-bred fillies and mares and has attracted eight entries. Favouritism is likely to be contested by Meni Money, 2nd in last year’s Korean Oaks and Pinot Noir, 2nd in the Jeju Governor’s Cup.
At Busan, the feature class 1 handicap has attracted some of the biggest names at the track. President’s Cup winner Triple Nine takes on Grand Prix runner-up Gumpo Sky and nine other very solid competitors over 2000M. Here is a full run-down of the prospects of each horse in both races:
Donga Ilbo Cup (Listed) (F&M) – Seoul Racecourse – 1800M – February 28, 2016 (16:40)
1. Argo Asset (KOR) [Menifee] 5 (23/4/3/2) BJ Choi – Lim Gi Won
Not especially proven around two turns and was a well beaten 5th behind Smart Time last start. Likely to go forward early and an outside chance of the money.
2. Meni Money (KOR) [Menifee] 4 (15/6/6/1) DK Kim – Moon Se Young
Seoul’s top 3yo filly of last year was 2nd in the Korean Oaks and Nonghyup Chairman’s Cup. 3rd behind Pinot Noir in the Jeju Governor’s Cup on November 15, she could overturn that form here. 4th in her only start so far this year, she will settle behind any early speed.
3. Space Shuttle (KOR) [Menifee] 5 (20/4/0/3) HJ Bae – Jo Jae Ro
An outsider, she was an also-ran in the Jeju Governor’s Cup. A winner over 1800M at class 3 in December, she will need to find plenty here. She will probably go back early and look to close.
4. Pinot Noir (KOR) [Capital Spending] 6 (24/5/7/2) CS Park – Park Eul Woon
2nd in the Jeju Governor’s Cup, two lengths ahead of Meni Money, she is a very solid racemare. She could only manage 6th place in a tough class 1 handicap in December but comes in following a couple of months off and can go well. She has tended to go back of late and attempt to close but there is no guarantee that’s what she’ll do here.
5. Lucky Music (KOR) [Creek Cat] 4 (16/4/2/5) HS Seo – Lee Hyeon Jong
Moreof an outsider, she has decent results at the distance though and was 3rd to Space Shuttle last start when giving her weight. She will probably go forward and could place.
6. X File (KOR) [Exploit] 7 (38/5/3/10) YS Kim – Kim Dong Soo
Comes in following three consecutive 5th place finishes, one of them the jeju Governor’s Cup. Should be looking to improve on that here. Decent speed and will sit behind any early leaders.
7. Smart Time (KOR) [Ft. Stockton] 4 (13/5/3/0) DK Kim – Djordje Perovic
Sixth in the Jeju Governor’s Cup, she followed that up with a win over 1400M and then a 4th at 1800M, both at this class. A probable front-runner, she will be well-backed and is the likely 3rd favourite.
8. Punggwae (KOR) [Ft. Stockton] 5 (14/3/2/2) ST Shim – Yoo Seung Wan
An outsider to finish with, she’s two races into a comeback following six months out. She hasn’t shown a great deal in those. Generally goes back at the start.
Class 1 Handicap – Busan Racecourse – 2000M – February 28, 2016 (17:05)
1. Heba (USA) [Peace Rules] 6 M (37/9/5/3) 56kg SJ Kwon – Song Keong Yun
Queens’ Tour and therefore Champion filly or mare of 2015, the Grand Prix Stakes in December was perhaps a race too far. Nevertheles she was back last month, running 3rd behind Yuseong Dream and she wil be well-backed to at least place. Usually settles in midfield.
2. Dynamic Dash (USA) [Pleasantly Perfect] 4 C (15/7/5/1) 55kg BH Kim – Pasquale Borelli
2nd to Yuseong Dream and ahead of Heba and a couple of others in that 1900M race on January 10th, he was a class 1 winner the time before that. Very talented but there are one or two here who are a bit better. He could find the money.
3. Cheonji Bulpae (AUS) [Bernadini] 7 H (33/11/3/4) 54.5kg BE Kang – Park Jae I (-3)
Took advantage of a low impost to win over 1800M last October. 4th behind Yuseong Dream, Dynamic Dash and Heba last time he will need to find a bit more today. Likely to drop back at the start.
4. Viva Ace (USA) [Macho Uno] 8 G (51/11/14/7) 51kg CY Yoo – Chae Sang Hyun (-1)
A Busan stalwart in his sicth season of racing, he is very capable of picking up minor prize money – he’s done it on two of his last three starts. Sometimes goes forward, sometimes goes back, he won’t win this but 4th or 5th is possible.
5. Nobody Catch Me (USA) [With Distinction] 6 G (25/6/5/2) 54kg JK Min – Lyu Gwang Hee (-3)
Nobody has needed to catch him lately as he has led very few. This one time Mayor’s Cup winner suffers from a rating based on past glories and although the apprentice jockey will alleviate that somewhat, he isn’t in good form. Changed trainers lately and he may well go forward today.
6. Goji Jeongbeol (USA) [Congrats] 5 G (23/5/4/5) 51kg KY Baik – Jin Kyum (-3)
Another who has an apprentice on board and who looks very nicely in here. 2000M is ideal and while others are better, he can go well. He is likely to go back early and look to close.
7. Chogwang (AUS) [Lion Heart] 7 H (36/4/6/5) 54.5kg JK Min – Park Geum Man
Returns to the track for the first time since September. Sauntered through a barrier trial not looking especially impressive last month and he will be an outsider here. Likely to go forward.
8. Cowboy Son (USA) [Cowboy Cal] 5 H (22/10/2/3) 57kg SY Lee – Makoto Okabe
Not generally thought of as being ideal for 2000M although he did once run 3rd at it, it is hard to see him beating the specialists at it, especially carrying 57kg. He’s failed to win prize money on only three occasions but this could be a fourth. In his favour, he has a smart jockey aboard who can help him get the trip.
9. Yuseong Dream (KOR) [Giacomo] 4 C (17/7/1/4) 52kg DS Bang – Kim Dong Young
A really nice looking winner on his very first try at class 1 last month, beating four of his rivals here. One on the up and still very nicely in the handicap. He’s won three in a row and a fourth isn’t impossible. He made all last time and will try to do so again.
10. Gumpo Sky (KOR) [Vicar] 5 H (26/9/8/3) 57kg SJ Kwon – Seo Seung Un
Just beaten a neck in a thrilling end to the Grand Prix Stakes in December, Gum Sky is a proven class and distance winner. Although he beat Triple Nine in the Grand Prix, he suffered a reverse to him at this distance in the President’s Cup at Seoul last October and he is likely to be 2nd favourite here. He will go forward though and Triple Nine will have to come past him.
11. Triple Nine (KOR) [Ecton Park] 4 C (12/7/4/0) 53kg YK Kim – Yoo Hyun Myung
The favourite. 2nd in the Korean Derby and the Minister’s Cup, he won the President’s Cup in October. He couldn’t quite get up the Grand Prix but was only a length and a half behind the winner and it is his debut this year that is anticipated more than almost any other. He will settle just behind the early leaders and he can win.