Month: July 2016

Triple Crown Sunday Seoul & Busan: Race-By-Race Preview (July 17)

Sunday is potentially Triple Crown day. Power Blade aims to add the Minister’s Cup to his KRA Cup Mile and Korean Derby triumphs at Seoul Racecourse at 2.20pm.

There is plenty more happening though. English Racecards are here. Notes on selected races as follows:

Busan Race 1: Class 5: 1200M / Handicap / KRW 40 Million / 13:00 (KST)

Open contest to begin with but we’ll make (10) YUSEONG VICTORY, 3rd in a similar contest last month and with the in-form Seo Seung Un on board the slight favourite to prevail. (6) WHITTE QUEENS was 2nd in Busan’s top juvenile race last year but only ran one more time before getting injured and requiring surgery. She’s back after eight months out, looked recovered in trials and is a contender. Also back after a spell, albeit not as long is (8) GIGA SPEED. A winner at this class in March he was very sharp in a trial last weekend and is a contender here. The up-in-class (2) NORTHERN TRACE can go close as can (4) TRIPLE PARTY.

Selections (10) Yuseong Victory (6) Whitte Queens (8) Giga Speed (2) Northern Trace
Next Best 4, 3, 5, 11
Outsiders 1, 7, 9, 12
Fast Starters 4, 5, 6

Seoul Race 5: Class 5 / 1000M / Handicap / KRW 40 Million / 13:25 (KST)

(2) SILVERGRAY CAT beat (5) CHEONJI TAP and (4) NAREUSYA QUEEN as the three of them raced 2nd, 3rd & 4th at class and distance on June 19th. Cheonji Tap led for much of the way that day and we’ll go for her to lead all the way this time. Aside from those three, Brian Dean’s (9) HAPPY EAGLE, who was stepped up to 1200M for his first attempt on class 5 last month, should be happier back at 1000M today while (1) PERFECT BIC C has struggled of late but is another for whom the distance should suit.

Selections (5) Cheonji Tap (2) Silvergray Cat (4) Nareusya Queen (9) Happy Eagle
Next Best 1, 7
Outsiders 3, 6, 8
Fast Starters 1, 2, 5

Busan Race 2: Class 3 / 1200M / Handicap / KRW 72 Million / 13:50 (KST)

Three of these are up in class today and should be competitive. (3) HAENGUN MANNAM was a solid winner at 1000M last start, has a strong finish and can go well. (7) DYNA’S DREAM has won four of her last five with the only defeat coming in the KRA Cup Mile in April. She’s had a couple of months off but will be on speed early and can go well. (5) GASI GONGJU hasn’t been seen since March when she came 2nd on what was just her second outing, coming from well off the pace. She’ll likely go forward here. None of them may be favourite though with (4) B.K. PHIL, 3rd at class and distance a month ago looking to be the one to beat. The down in class (1) GOLDEN LASS may also be considered.

Selections (7) Dyna’s Dream (3) Haengun Mannam (4) B.K. Phil (5) Gasi Gongju
Next Best 2, 1, 6, 8
Fast Starters 5, 7

Seoul Race 6: Class Open “The Minister’s Cup” / 2000M / Allowance, 3yo Colts & Fillies / KRW 500 Million / 14:20 (KST)

The final leg of the 2016 Korean Triple Crown sees (7) POWER BLADE looking to complete the set having been a dominant winner of both the KRA Cup Mile and the Korean Derby. He came from off the pace in the Mile and made all in the Derby and whatever tactics jockey Kim Yong Geun employs today, he will be favourite. The main danger is his stablemate, Korean Oaks winning filly (4) OTTUG OTTUGI who is one of only two horses to have beaten him. She will lead from the gate and Power Blade will have to come past. 2nd in the Derby, (8) ZETTABYTE can go well again and should like the extra furlong with (3) STEALTH and (5) SISEON POCHAK next best in a race that isn’t necessarily going to be simply a procession for Power Blade.

Selections (7) Power Blade (4) Ottug Ottugi (8) Zettabyte (3) Stealth
Next Best 5, 1, 2, 6
Fast Starters 4

Busan Race 3: Class 5 / 1300M / Handicap / KRW 40 Million / 14:50 (KST)

Bart Rice’s stable is in top form right now and that should continue here with (11) SUPERNOVA IJI, who can overcome the outside gate to get the lead here and get her second win in this filly-only race. Thomas Gillespie’s (5) MAJOR SLAM, 2nd at class and distance on June 24th, looks to be the main danger although (6) MISS BLUE, who has finished no worse than 3rd in each of her last four outings may also be considered. (2) BAEDARI GOSU was 4th, beaten by (9) GO JJANG on her first try at this class last month. (8) MACH BOLT ran poorly in that race but can improve today.

Selections (11) Supernova Iji (5) Major Slam (2) Baedari Gosu (6) Miss Blue
Next Best 8, 7, 10, 9
Outsiders 1, 3, 4
Fast Starters 5, 6, 11

Seoul Race 7: Class 4 / 1300M / Handicap / KRW 60 Million / 15:15 (KST)

Competitive race this but we’ll make (3) SSAENGSSAENG DORI the narrow top pick. He was beaten by (7) SHINING TRY when favourite over class and distance last month but can overcome that form today and win from the front. Shining Try will be a danger once more, however, perhaps more backed will be (5) CHEONHABI and (1) MR. TANK, who ran 3rd and 4th at class and distance on June 18th and who both look to have wins in them at this level.

Selections (3) Ssaengssaeng Dori (5) Cheonhabi (1) Mr. Tank (7) Shining Try
Next Best 6, 4, 2
Fast Starters 3, 5

Busan Race 4: Class 4 / 1300M / Handicap / KRW 55 Million / 15:40 (KST)

5th in the Korean Oaks on her last start (10) SANTA GLORIA is favoured to get back to winning ways taking on for what is the most part modest imported opposition here. Indeed it is fellow Korean breds that provide the main danger, chief among them (4) VALKYRIE, who comes up in class following a good four-length win at this distance last month and the consistent (3) SSI F STAR, who can improve on recent minor money fishes. (6) ROCKET BLADE is also up in class but races for the first time since early April and has plenty to find. Among the imports, (8) PARTYINTHEDESERT looks the best.

Selections (10) Santa Gloria (4) Valkyrie, (3) Ssi F Star (8) Partyinthedesert
Next Best 12, 6, 9, 11
Outsiders 1, 2, 5, 7
Fast Starters 4, 6, 12

Seoul Race 8: Class 3 / 1700M / Handicap / KRW 75 Million / 16:05 (KST)

A really open race here but we’re going to go for (12) HANBIT NARA to finally get her maiden win. She’s yet to win to win in eight starts but has been runner-up on no less than five occasions including last time at this distance. If she is to be defeated again, (1) WHIZ RUN looks to be the most likely to do it, looking ready to return to two turns after winning two of his last three. (7) RAON BOLAVEN is up in class following a win at this distance on June 19th while (4) SEOCHANG BIHO and (6) SUPER COMMANDO, the latter being the only one of the twelve who is yet to race at this distance, others to look out for.

Selections (12) Hanbit Nara (1) Whiz Run (7) Raon Bolaven (6) Super Commando
Next Best 4, 5, 2, 9
Outsiders 3, 8, 10, 11
Fast Starters 1, 12

 

Seoul Race 9: Class 3 / 1700M / Handicap / KRW 75 Million / 17:00 (KST)

(4) SUN ROK is up in class today having won five of his first seven starts. He has both a win and a loss at this distance but should be on speed early here and have too much for this field. Clear second-favourite will be (2) SUSEONG CAPTAIN. He is up in class following back to back wins at 1400M and 1300M and while he tries this distance for the first time, he should be competitive. He will likely join Sun Rok in looking to lead from the gate. (5) LUCKY HEART generally comes close and can place while (1) GEUMGAGI and (3) VALLEY STAR are best of the rest.

Selections (4) Sun Rok (2) Suseong Captain (5) Lucky Heart (3) Valley Star
Next Best 1, 7, 6
Fast Starters 2, 4

Seoul Race 10: Class 2 / 1200M / Handicap / KRW 90 Million / 18:00 (KST)

(8) GOREOUS DREAM is up in class having won five of his six previous outings. He generally leads from gate-to-wore and that’s what he’ll try to do here too. He does get a jockey change for the first time due to his regular rider being injured but Lee Chan Ho is a capable replacement. Also up in class is (2) THUNDER STEP following a really quick win over 1300M in May. He has had a couple of months off and can go close here. (1) SHARK and (3) HOLIDAY DREAM have experience at this level and both can put in solid races. Joining Goreous Dream setting the early pace will be (7) JANGSAN HORANGI, who showed signs of coming back into form when racing 4th over 1400M three weeks ago.

Selections (8) Goreous Dream (2) Thunder Step (3) Holiday Dream (1) Shark
Next Best 7, 4, 6
Outsiders 5, 9
Fast Starters 5, 7, 8

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Triple Crown Final Leg: Minister’s Cup Runner-By-Runner Preview

The final leg of the 2016 Korean Triple Crown is at Seoul Racecourse on Sunday afternoon and Power Blade is set to be favourite to win the Minister’s Cup and complete a sweep of the Crown.

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Power Blade won the Derby in the rain in May. He returns to Seoul as favourite to complete the Triple Crown on Sunday (Pic: Ross Holburt)

He has seven rivals in the 2000M race which is being run at the early time of 2.20pm due to the attendance of a government delegation. Korean Oaks winner Ottug Ottugi who, like Power Blade is trained by Kim Young Kwan is expected to be the main danger.

Here’s a full run down of the field:

The Minister’s Cup (KOR GII) – Seoul Racecourse – 2000M – July 17, 2016 (14:20)

1. Saeroun Stealth (KOR) [Colors Flying – Captive (Mutakddim)] (7/3/1/1) Sang Young Lee –Makoto Okabe
Distance is a concern. His one run at 1800M in the Derby and he finished 8th, beaten by four of these. Returned to win over 1300M last month but he has a lot to find in this company. He settles in the middle of the pack.

2. Kkeutpan Hero (KOR) [Colors Flying – Ya Ya Sunshine (Elusive Quality)] (3/3/0/0) Sung J-Kwon – Chae Sang Hyun
Unbeaten in three starts to date, he joins the Classic trail late. He won by half a length over a mile on his last start on June 10th at class 4. He’s done nothing wrong so far although it is hard to gauge him in terms of the opposition he’s faced. It’s a big step up here.

3. Stealth (KOR) [Colors Flying – Missed The Tower (Woodman)] (10/4/0/3) Sang Young Lee –Ikuyasu Kurakane
Same owner and trainer as Saeroun Stealth, he’s come 3rd in both legs of the Triple Crown so far. He came from well off the pace in the Derbyand while he was a full six-lengths behind Zettabyte in 2nd, he may appreciate the extra furlong. He will settle towards the rear of the field once more. A chance.

4. Ottug Ottugi (KOR) [Forest Camp – Main Objective (Lion Heart)] Filly (10/7/2/0) Young Kwan Kim – Choi Si Dae
Power Blade’s stablemate, she beat him at Busan last autumn but Power Blade has since bested her no fewer than three times including in the KRA Cup Mile. She passed on the Derby and instead went to the Oaks, which she won easily. In every race there have been concerns about her stamina and that’s true here too but she is very quick, she will lead and anything that wants to win this race will have to come past her.

5. Siseon Pochak (KOR) [Colors Flying – Myeongseo Gongju (Carry The Flag)] (14/3/4/3) Jang Ki Min – You Hyun Myung
Back to back wins in April enabled him to take his chance in the Derby in which he finished a creditable enough 7th. Disappointed on his return to Busan and to a mile last month. That will make him an outsider here. Likely to be ridden patiently.

6. Baedari Bobae (KOR) [Colors Flying – Geumgang Gongwon (Pacificbounty)] (11/3/5/1) Chung Yul You – Lee Sung Jae
A latecomer to the Classic trail, he gets to take his chance following as good 2nd place on his first try around twoturns at the end of May. Comes in fresh but he does have plenty to find here.

7. Power Blade (KOR) [Menifee – Cheonmacheong (Lost Mountain)] (8/6/2/0) Young Kwan Kim –Kim Yong Geun
He is the favourite and even visually, looks superior. Unbeaten since losing to Ottug Ottugi in Busan’s champion juvenile race last autumn, he was a facile winner of both the Cup Mile and Derby. At the Derby, jockey Kim Young Geun defied instructions in the rain and took him to the front right from the gate. It paid off. It’s most likely he will let Ottug Ottugi lead here but if Power Blade is at anything like his best, he completes the Triple Crown. There is little downside to this horse.

8. Zettabyte (KOR) [Menifee – Fight Back (Sakura Seeking)] (9/3/3/1) Keum Man Lim – Lim Sung Sil
He was 4th in the Cup Mile and then 2nd in the Derby, three lengths adrift of Power Blade but six clear of Stealth in 3rd. The distance will suit him, he will look to come from off the pace and he has a chance.

Busan Friday: Barry Irwin Gets First Korean Winner / Seo Seung Un Rides a Six-Timer

Team Valor’s Barry Irwin landed his first winner as an owner in Korea as his filly Chastity broke her maiden at the fourth attempt at Busan on Friday afternoon.

It was something of a surprise as well as Chastity [Vicar – Miss Stravinsky (Stravinsky)], who had begun her career with a pair of 2nd place finishes either side of the New Year, hadn’t raced since bleeding after her third start in mid-February. While she looked ok in a trial two weeks ago (behind the returning Hangangui Gijeok, who stole all the attention in that particular morning heat), she was sent off at odds approaching 25/1 for the 1400M race 6.

Under apprentice Lee Yong Ho those odds were well and truly defied as, always prominent, Chastity collared early leader Lucky Hanma at the furlong pole and ran on to win by a comfortable length and three-quarters on the line.

Barry Irwin was introduced to racing here by Team Valor member Joe Dallao and while he hadn’t had the best of luck with either Chastity or his other Korean horse, a Hawk Wing gelding named Swoop, he maintained his interest and now those famous crimson and forest green silks have come in front in yet another country. A very welcome presence in Korean racing, hopefully it will be the first of many.

As with Dallao’s first winner last week, Chastity was prepared by Bart Rice and the South African trainer’s remarkable run of form continued later on with another relative outsider Choegangiji (Mineshaft) winning the class 2 race 10 with Yonekura Satoshi in the saddle.  Yeongcheon Ace was 2nd in that race, a result that sees last year’s Korean Derby winner finally promoted to class 1.

With thirteen starters in July and six winners and his hot streak dating back to the start of May, Rice will take his up and coming 3-year-old Girolamo gelding Triple Five to race in the KRA Trophy at Kranji in Singapore next Sunday. Given the stable’s current form, he has to be given a chance.

Speaking of remarkable form, with so many of Busan’s top jockeys away in Seoul this weekend, Seo Seung Un was always likely to have a good Friday in the saddle at home on the south-coast. Good it was. Seo partnered no less than six winners on the afternoon including two for Aussie trainer Peter Wolsley, to close the gap on championship leader You Hyun Myung.

Saturday July 16
Seoul Racecourse: 12 races from 14:00 to 21:00
Jeju Racecourse: 8 races from 13:55 to 17:50

Sunday July 17
Seoul Racecourse: 10 races from 10:50 to 18:00
Busan Racecourse: 6 races from 13:00 to 17:30

Busan Friday: Race-By-Race Preview (July 15)

Eight of Busan’s best three-year-olds have traveled up to Seoul to contest the final leg of the Triple Crown on Sunday but it is at the South Coast track itself where the weekend’s action gets underway on Friday with 10 races from 14:30 to 21:00.

The Unions are strong here and their jockey members who have the temerity to ride in a big Stakes race at the other track on a Sunday are not permitted to ride at their own track on the other days. That means a number of top jockeys are absent on Friday. That leaves Seo Seung Un as the jockey to follow this afternoon although the Italian pair of Paolo Aragoni and Pasquale Borelli have opportunities too.

English racecards are here.  Here are notes on all races 1-10:

Race 1: Class 6 / 1000M / Allowance (2yo) / KRW 55 Million / 14:30 (KST)

Nine of these two-year-olds make their racecourse debut here. (2) SEGI GANGJA is a half-brother to top sprinter Cheongu and looked good in a trial last month. He’ll be one of the favourites as will (3) ADELEUI BOM, a trial winner in May and (9) GOLD FLYING. The other fancied ones have raced before albeit only once. (4) FIRST SUN and (10) ZENITH COUNTY were 2nd and 4th respectively at this distance a month ago with both showing promise. The former is favoured today.

Selections (4) First Sun (2) Segi Gangja (3) Adeleui Bom (10) Zenith County
Next Best 9, 7, 5, 1, 11
Outsiders 6, 8, 12
Fast Starters 2, 10, 12

Race 2: Class 6 / 1200M / Allowance / KRW 20 Million / 14:55 (KST)

Weak race and in such circumstances we’ll give another chance to (8) RED YOUNG MYEONGUN who hasn’t raced since a dreadful performance back on March 25th. He’d shown potential before that and looked ok in a recent trial and with a top trainer and jockey combination makes him favourite. (6) DYNAMIC DIVA struggled a little on a sloppy track last start when reasonably well backed and can improve today while (2) BOUND QUEENS should have progressed from an indifferent debut last month. (5) HWAJEONG and debut-maker (9) URI GIPPEUM are others to look out for.

Selections (8) Red Young Myeongun (6) Dynamic Diva (2) Bound Queens (9) Uri Gippeum
Next Best 5, 7, 1
Outsiders 3, 4
Fast Starters 6

Race 3: Class 6 / 1300M / Allowance / KRW 20 Million / 15:45 (KST)

He’s not been too far away and it’s about time (8) DORAON GASOKDO stepped up here. Jockey Borelli should take the initiative and lead and if he does, he can win. (2) CHEONGMA DAEJANGUN was a solid 5th of 12 last time out, is a strong finisher and so long as he isn’t left with too much to do, can go close while (7) TAEGWON MISO is similar and also looks to have scope for improvement. (9) GOYOHAN JILJU was an unexpected 4th last time out and is capable of finding the money in this company while we will look for improvement from (1) GERMAN JEONCHA who was a touch disappointing when well supported on debut last month.

Selections (8) Doraon Gasokdo (1) German Jeoncha (2) Cheongma Daejangun (9) Goyohan Jilju
Next Best 7, 5, 4
Outsiders 3, 6
Fast Starters 1, 8

Race 4: Class 4 / 1000M / Handicap / KRW 55 Million / 16:35 (KST)

(6) THE QUEEN beat a couple of these when easily winning a modest race at class and distance back in April and while she has been slightly disappointing when well-backed in two starts since, she is the fastest o these and can return to winning ways here. The main dangers look to be (3) SAEBYEOK BADA, who actually beat The Queen in May and should be happy back at 1000M today and (9) BIO BLUE who raced for the first time this year two weeks ago and should build on the 5th place he scored that day. Third behind The Queen in April, (1) GIPPEUM HAE is capable of finding the money at this class while (7) GOLD SKY gives apprentice jockey Jung Do Yun his first ever race ride and is not without a chance.

Selections (6) The Queen (9) Bio Blue (3) Saebyeok Bada (7) Gold Sky
Next Best 1, 8
Outsiders 2, 4, 5
Fast Starters 2, 6

Race 5: Class 5 / 1200M / Handicap / KRW 40 Million / 17:25 (KST)

(2) LIMITLESS WIN won on debut last year before suffering an injury and undergoing surgery. He returned in June with a 5th place, looked good in a trial last week and can win here. It won’t be easy. (4) CHOEGANG ADVENTURE has finished no worse than 3rd in four outings to date and was 2nd in a good event at class and distance on June 17th, having led for much of the race. He’ll be on speed again here and is a big danger. (5) REALLY ONE has beaten both Limitless Win and Choegang Adventure and must be respected here while (1) CAPE MAGIC is up in class following his maiden win and should be competitive. (6) CHOA may also be considered for at least a place.

Selections (2) Limitless Win (4) Choegang Adventure (1) Cape Magic (5) Really One
Next Best 6, 9, 12, 3
Outsiders 7, 8, 10, 11
Fast Starters 3, 4, 6, 12

Race 6: Class 5 / 1400M / Handicap / KRW 40 Million / 18:05 (KST)

(1) THE STARS and (2) BAEDARI HAENGUN were 2nd and 3rd – a full twelve lengths behind a very good winner – over a mile last time and they look to be the top picks here. Both like to come from off the pace with The Stars slightly favoured once more. (9) LUCKY HANMA is getting to grips with this class, could well get an uncontested lead in a race which doesn’t contain much early speed and can go close while (3) KWAEHAN YEONGUNG struggled last start but can be given another chance here. He struggled in a race in which (7) SHARP WIN was the shock winner. He must be respected today but he does carry an extra 5kg today and the odds are against him repeating. The up-in-class (6) EUNGNIBYEOSU makes for an interesting outsider.

Selections (1) The Stars (2) Baedari Haeungun (6) Eungnibyeosu (9) Lucky Hanma
Next Best 7, 3, 5, 4, 8
Fast Starters 9

Race 7: Class 4 / 1200M / Handicap / KRW 55 Million / 18:45 (KST)

(3) SAMIL STAR beat (5) BLUE STORM by half a length at 1300M on June 24th. Samil Star was a 25/1 outsider that day and while he’ll be nothing like that long today, Blue Storm can overturn that form. He led until close to home and back at 1200M can get it right this time. Another fast starter is (9) POKPUNGUI JEWANG. The Aussie-bred colt was a class and distance winner on June 19th, beating a couple of these in the process and can continue his good form today. (1) SANGSEUNG MULGYEOL and (2) DAEHO GANGJA look best of the rest.

Selections (5) Blue Storm (3) Samil Star (9) Pokpungui Jewang (1) Sangseung Mulgyeol
Next Best 2, 12, 11, 10
Outsiders 4, 6, 7, 8
Fast Starters 2, 5, 9

Race 8: Class 4 / 1600M / Handicap / KRW 55 Million / 19:35 (KST)

(3) WISH ME LUCK was a twelve-length winner at this distance on June 17th (beating The Stars and Baedari Haengun, who we saw in race 6 into 2nd and 3rd) and following a 14-point bump in rating, is accordingly up in class here. He’s favourite to lead all the way again here although he does face (4) OCEAN LINE, who beat him at this distance in May. Bart Rice’s (1) DAEHANUIMYEONGSEONG comes in after back to back 3rd place finishes at this class and equalling those should be a minimum requirement today while (10) FIRST KING and (11) HWARYEOHANHAMSEONG are both capable at this class.

Selections (3) Wish Me Luck (1) Daehanuimyeongseong (4) Ocean Line (10) First King
Next Best 11, 6, 7, 9
Outsiders 2, 5, 8, 12
Fast Starters 3, 8

Race 9: Class 3 / 1200M / Handicap / KRW 72 Million / 20:30 (KST)

(1) MIRACLE BOLT was over-matched – and going significantly further than suitable – when a distance last in the Korean Oaks on June 12th. Back down at a sprint distance today, she should be a different prospect. (2) RISING CHAMP won on his second start back last December but was then injured and underwent surgery. He looked very sharp when breezing through a trial at the end of last month and looks dangerous first-up here. (4) ULTRA MAGIC is up in class following a battling win at this distance in June 26th while (7) ILLYUCHEON and (8) KWAEHAN JILJU look best of the rest.

Selections (2) Rising Champ (1) Miracle Bolt (8) Kwaehan Jilju (4) Ultra Magic
Next Best 7, 5
Outsiders 3, 6
Fast Starters 1, 2

Race 10: Class 2 / 1900M / Handicap / KRW 88 Million / 21:00 (KST)

(1) BAEKDU was a very impressive winner on his first try at class 2 on June 24th and while he is top weight here, he looks in fine form and can win again. Peter Wolsley’s (5) TURNPIKE is up in class following two eye-catching successes, both at this distance and he looks to be the main danger. Baekdu and Turnpike both beat (6) DAEJONGCHEON in May but that one finally got his maiden win at the fourteenth attempt on June 24th. He is up in class here but he is consistent and should be competitive. Last year’s Derby winner (3) YEONGCHEON ACE, still yet to return to the winner’s circle since that day and (4) CHEOGANGIJI are others to look out for.

Selections (5) Turnpike (1) Baekdu (6) Daejongcheon (3) Yeongcheon Ace
Next Best 4, 8, 9
Outsiders 2, 7
Fast Starters 5

Power Blade Bids For Triple Crown In Minister’s Cup

Power Blade will on Sunday seek to become the first horse to sweep the Korean Triple Crown in its current form. The KRA Cup Mile and Korean Derby winner heads a field of eight – all from Busan – who will line up for the final jewel of the 2016 crown, the Minister’s Cup at Seoul Racecourse. 

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Power Blade in a soaking wet Derby Winner’s circle in May (Pic: Ross Holburt)

Also in attendance will be Power Blade’s stablemate Ottug Ottugi. She was runner up in the Cup Mile but skipped the Derby in favour of last month’s Oaks, a race she won easily. Unbeaten Kkeutpan Hero, who missed the Cup Mile and Derby, also takes his chance.

The Triple Crown has been won before, by J.S Hold (Ft. Stockton) in 2007. However that year, it consisted of the Ttukseom Cup, Derby and Minister’s Cup and was only open to horses trained at Seoul. From 2008 onwards, Busan horses became eligible and the KRA Cup Mile, at the south coast track, was designated the 1st leg (and became informally known as the Korean 2000 Guineas).

Sangseung Ilro won two legs of the Crown in 2009 but so far the complete set has remained elusive. This year, however, with the Minister’s Cup being run in July instead of in September or October – which previously gave late bloomers time to appear on the scene – there was always a chance it would be a little different. The Power Blade emerged. He’ll be strong favourite to complete the Crown on Sunday.

The race has had to be moved to the early time of 2:20pm. This is because the actual Minister (of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs – sadly “MAFRA” and not “FAFF” anymore) will be attending. While unavoidable bearing in mind the domestic politics involved, it is unfortunate as it jeopardizes the race’s chances of being available for betting through some of the overseas simulcast partners.

We’ll have a full runner by runner preview of the race on Saturday. In the meantime, here are the runners and riders:

The Minister’s Cup (KOR GII) – Seoul Racecourse – 2000M – July 17, 2016 (17:00)

1. Saeroun Stealth (KOR) [Colors Flying – Captive (Mutakddim)] (7/3/1/1) Sang Young Lee – Makoto Okabe
2. Kkeutpan Hero (KOR) [Colors Flying – Ya Ya Sunshine (Elusive Quality)] (3/3/0/0) Sung J-Kwon – Chae Sang Hyun
3. Stealth (KOR) [Colors Flying – Missed The Tower (Woodman)] (10/4/0/3) Sang Young Lee – Ikuyasu Kurakane
4. Ottug Ottugi (KOR) [Forest Camp – Main Objective (Lion Heart)] Filly (10/7/2/0) Young Kwan Kim – Choi Si Dae
5. Siseon Pochak (KOR) [Colors Flying – Myeongseo Gongju (Carry The Flag)] (14/3/4/3) Jang Ki Min – You Hyun Myung
6. Baedari Bobae (KOR) [Colors Flying – Geumgang Gongwon (Pacificbounty)] (11/3/5/1) Chung Yul You – Lee Sung Jae
7. Power Blade (KOR) [Menifee – Cheonmacheong (Lost Mountain)] (8/6/2/0) Young Kwan Kim – Kim Yong Geun
8. Zettabyte (KOR) [Menifee – Fight Back (Sakura Seeking)] (9/3/3/1) Keum Man Lim – Lim Sung Sil

Weekend Review: Shamrocker, Saengil Gippeum Step-Up

A couple of imports stepped up in class at Seoul and Busan on Sunday afternoon and turned in the star performances of the weekend.

At Seoul, Shamrocker [Dublin – Portera (Lemon Drop Kid)] may only have been winning for the third time in eleven starts but since he’s begun racing at distances around two turns, that figure is now three from four. On Sunday he stepped up to class 2 for the first time and cruised home from off the pace under jockey Lee Chan Ho to win the 1800M event by four lengths. Shamrocker is a 3-year-old colt who was a $30,000 purchase from Ocala last Spring.

Down at Busan Diferent Dimension, who beat Triple Nine last start, was sent off as favourite for Sunday’s feature handicap – a class 1 test for horses rated no higher than 100 – however, he never traveled well and instead it was left to the up in class pair of Saengil Gippeum and Dongbang Daero to battle it out. On the line, Saengil Gippeum got the best of their battle, taking advantage of a light weight and apprentice jockey (Lyu Gwang Hee) to win by a head.

Saengil Gippeum [Parading – Minny’s Niece (Quiet American)], purchased for $18,000 from Fasig-Tipton as a yearling in 2014, has now won five of his last six starts.

In other news, a couple of apprentice jockeys debuted at the weekend. At Busan, Lee Hyo Sik and Choi Eun Gyeung both had one ride each and were unplaced.  At Seoul, Lee Dong Ha had four rides across the two days with a 5th place finish being the best of them.

This coming Sunday, a little bit of Korean racing history is up for grabs as KRA Cup Mile and Korean Derby winner Power Blade returns to Seoul looking to win the Minister’s Cup and become the first winner of the Korean Triple Crown in its current form. Not a single Seoul horse is set to compete so Power Blade will be up against seven other visitors from Busan including stablemate and Korean Oaks winner Ottug Ottugi in the 2000M race. Full previews of the race to follow.

Sunday Seoul & Busan: Race-By-Race Preview (July 10)

It’s a hot weekend on the peninsula with temperatures reaching the mid-thirties during Saturday’s twilight card at Seoul. It’s daytime racing today. There are 11 races at Seoul from 10:50 to 18:00 and 6 at Busan from 13:00 to 17:00.

English language racecards can be found here. Notes on selected races below:

Busan Race 1: Class 5 / 1200M / Handicap / KRW 40 Million / 13:00 (KST)

Three of these are up in class and Kim Young Kwan’s (3) GABO STAR is favoured to go on to take victory once more having been impressive eon his return from surgery in June. (7) ELISHA and the more experienced (4) KARIN JJANG may also be considered following their maiden wins over 1000M but do have slightly more to find. Among those with experience at this class, (2) MUJEOK VICAR, a good 2nd ahead of (1) BIHO JILJU last time, looks the main danger.

Selections (3) Gabo Star (2) Mujeok Vicar (7) Elisha (4) Karin Jjang
Next Best 1, 6, 5
Fast Starters 1, 3, 5

Seoul Race 5: Class 4 / 1200M / Handicap / KRW 60 Million / 13:25 (KST)

There are four debut-makers here but we’ll look to the experienced ones first. (4) REWARD HIGH has beaten several of these in recent outings and looks to be ready to win following a 4th and a 3rd from his last two. He’ll look to come from just off the pace. (9) KAIZEN FORCE comes in with very similar form and looks the main danger – she actually beat Reward High back in April. (12) SENSATIONAL faded badly last start when well backed but can be given another chance today. (7) CARRIER has been beaten by Reward High in each of her last three starts but can beat plenty while among the debut-makers, the most promising look to be (2) HIPPOCRENE and (3) SPIRIT OF HANSEN.

Selections (4) Reward High (9) Kaizen Force (2) Hippocrene (12) Sensational
Next Best 7, 3, 10, 8
Outsiders 1, 5, 6, 11
Fast Starters 5, 11, 12

Seoul Race 6: Class 5 / 1300M / Handicap / KRW 40 Million / 14:10 (KST)

(7) ÉCLAIR HUMOR was a disappointing 7th on his first try at this class and distance at the end of May but comes in reasonably fresh and showed enough promise in prior outings to be given another chance in this modest company. (2) PERFECT LOVER likewise didn’t go well in his first at class 5 and should improve. The others look distinctly underwhelming with perhaps (1) RISING FUTURE and (8) ROLLING STAR most able to improve.

Selections (7) Éclair Humor (2) Perfect Lover (1) Rising Future (8) Rolling Star
Next Best 3, 4, 5, 6
Fast Starters 1, 7

Busan Race 3: Class 4 / 1200M / Handicap / KRW 55 Million / 14:30 (KST)

After back to back 3rd place finishes, (8) HWANHUIUI BYEOL is a warm favourite to record his third win here. He will look to lead from the gate and could well go all the way. (5) AJU PUJIMHAN has been back down at class 4 for two races now and one suspects she won’t be at this level for long and she looks the main danger along with (6) SECRET ROSE, who struggled at domestic class 4 last start but looks nicely in here. (2) TAEGWON CHAMP comes in following a much improved 2nd last start and can build on that here.

Selections (8) Hwanhuiui Byeol (5) Aju Pujimhan (6) Secret Rose (2) Taegwon Champ
Next Best 7, 9, 4
Outsiders 1, 3
Fast Starters 8, 9

Seoul Race 7: Class 5 / 1200M / Handicap / KRW 40 Million / 14:55 (KST)

(5) SUPER ANGEL has won just once in nineteen prior outings but she hasn’t missed the money in seven starts so far in 2016 and following 2nd places in her last two, beating a couple of these along the way, she’s favoured to get back in the winner’s circle here. Third at class and distance on June 11th, (9) LAKE LOUISE looks well placed to go better here while (6) SO ARA YEOWANG, who could only manage 9th behind Super Angel last start, can go better here. (7) HUIYANGSAN and (3) SINBIJEONGSANG look best of the rest.

Selections (5) Super Angel (9) Lake Louise (6) So Ara Yeowang (3) Sinbijeongsang
Next Best 7, 1
Outsiders 2, 4, 8
Fast Starters 4, 7, 8, 9

Busan Race 4: Class 4 / 1200M / Handicap / KRW 55 Million / 15:20 (KST)

Competitive race with two standouts. (3) STEAL THE SHOW WHY was last seen running 6th in the Korean Oaks last month. She’s a proven money winner at this level and dropping back to a sprint distance should be hard to beat. (5) MAD POWER saw his unbeaten record come to an end last start, his first try at this level but he should have come on for the experience. He was beaten by (1) ILMANGMUJE among others that day and his 2nd in the race, albeit a long way behind a good winner, also showed promise. Apprentice jockey Choi Eun Gyeong has her first ever race ride on (8) FOR MY SIS and Bart Rice’s mare is a reliable type who is more than capable of finding some prize money. Best of the rest is (6) WONDERFULCHEONGHAE.

Selections (3) Steal The Show Why (5) Mad Power (8) For My Sis (1) Ilmangmuje
Next Best 6, 2
Outsiders 4, 7
Fast Starters 3, 5

Busan Race 5: Class 3 / 1600M / Handicap / KRW 72 Million / 16:10 (KST)

(5) ACME returned from almost six months out on June 10th to run a creditable 3rd at class and distance. He should have come on for that run and has every chance of making all here. (4) CAP IN ALL missed almost two years but finally showed signs of getting back some of his old form when racing 2nd over 1400M on June 19th and can build on that today while (6) SANBANG TRAIL also looks nicely in here dropping back in distance after a couple of goes at further. (2) MACHU PICCHU tries the distance for the first time and may be considered while (7) WINNING NUMBER has suddenly burst into form at age 5 and while up in class today, he’s nicely in the weights and could score an unlikely third consecutive victory.

Selections (5) Acme (4) Cap In All (6) Sanbang Trail (7) Winning Number
Next Best 2, 1, 3
Fast Starters 3, 5

Seoul Race 9: Class 3 / 1400M / Handicap / KRW 75 Million / 16:35 (KST)

(7) JEWLERY PARK is up in class having won four of six starts to date and looks to have good potential. The trouble is, she’s racing at 1400M and last time she did that she was beaten (4) SINGGEUREOUNBOM and while it’s been a long time since the older filly actually won a race, she has come very close recently and will be favoured here. Those two should dominate the betting but (6) SMART CAPTAIN was a class and distance winner last start – he carries five extra Kilograms today – and (3) DAEDOLPUNG and (5) ARGO CHAMP could make for interesting outsiders.

Selections (4) Singgereounbom (7) Jewelry Park (3) Daedolpung (6) Smart Captain
Next Best 5, 1, 2
Fast Starters 2, 3, 7

Busan Race 6: Class 1 / 2000M / Handicap / KRW 105 Million / 17:00 (KST)

(1) DIFERENT DIMENSION beat Triple Nine by a head – and three of his rivals here too – on May 22nd and despite carrying equal top-weight, is a deserving favourite here. He’s up to 2000M for the first time but that should suit. That May race was Diferent Dimension’s first at class 1 and the time before, in April he beat (5) DONGBANG DAERO by four-lengths over 1800M at class 2. Dongbang Daero himself steps up in class and distance today following a commanding five-length win on May 20th. In 2nd place that day was (7) SAENGIL GIPPEUM and he in turn has now been promoted to this level after a good win last month. Very nicely in the weights here, Saengil Gippeum is a contender. (10) NOBODY CATCH ME may still have a win in him at some stage but at joint top-weight here it is going to be difficult once again while (11) BATHSHEBA PARK always gives a good account of himself and should be close by.

Selections (1) Diferent Dimension (5) Dongbang Daero (7) Saengil Gippeum (10) Nobody Catch Me
Next Best 11, 3, 8, 2
Outsiders 4, 6, 9
Fast Starters 1, 6, 7

Seoul Race 10: Class 2 / 1800M / Handicap / KRW 90 Million / 17:30 (KST)

It took (9) SHAMROCKER eight goes to get his maiden victory but since trying longer distances he’s now won two out of his last three and despite being up in class today is the pick to score once more. He’ll try to come from off an early pace that’s likely to be set by (3) LION STAR, who comes in following back to back 3rd places and can go well again here. Main danger though could be (5) THE QUEEN SILVER, a class 3 winner at this distance in April and then 2nd in last month’s Selangor Turf Club Trophy. (6) LUCKY MUSIC disappointed in that race but can be given another chance today while (10) ILJIN HWARANG looks best of the rest.

Selections (9) Shamrocker (5) The Queen Silver (3) Lion Star (6) Lucky Music
Next Best 10, 1, 7, 11
Outsiders 2, 4, 8, 12
Fast Starters 3, 4, 10

Seoul Race 11: Class 1 / 2000M / Handicap / KRW 110 Million / 18:00 (KST)

(1) PINOT NOIR won a Listed and then a Graded race in February and March this year and returns to the track for the first time since. She usually aims to the the front rounding the final turn and has a strong finish. Another very experienced mare, (6) MY DAY looks to be the main danger. She hasn’t won in five outings in 2016 but has been coming closer and looks to be in form. (7) SAMJEONG JEGUK has had a couple of months off since meeting trouble in running last start and should go better with the up in class (5) DIVINE SEEK looking best of the rest.

Selections (1) Pinot Noir (6) My Day (7) Samjeong Jeguk (5) Divine Seek
Next Best 3, 4, 2
Fast Starters 3, 5