The 2017 racing season gets underway at Busan on Friday (full fixture list to follow shortly) and with the Jeju ponies taking a rest this weekend, there is a busy day in store with 13 races from 11:40 to 18:00.
Italian jockey Mirko Sanna makes his Korean debut and has plenty of rides. English race cards are here. Races 4-13 will be simulcast overseas, notes on those races are below:
Fast Starters: Expected fastest starters today
Start-200M: Fastest average time for Start-200M (most recent 6 starts)
200M-Finish: Fastest average time for 200M-Finish (most recent 6 starts)
Race 4: Class 6 / 1300M / Allowance / KRW 20 Million / 13:30
Three starts to date and (1) GOLDEN TROPHY is surely not far away from getting a first win. He beat (3) JIBONG YEONGUNG three weeks ago as the pair raced 4th and 6th over this distance. Golden Trophy was favourite that day and this time can justify it. Inside gate may be to his advantage. Jibong Yeongung can get close to him again but (9) CAPI RUN looks the most interesting rival. Mirko Sanna has a decent book of rides on his first day in Korea and this colt keeps coming home in 4th place. If Sanna can get him to the front early, it could be better today. He was beaten last time by (11) SEONGGONG PLAN and that one can’t be ignored either.
Selections: (1) Golden Trophy (9) Capi Run (11) Seonggong Plan (3) Jibong Yeongung
Next Best: 2, 4, 8
Fast Starters: 1, 9, 11
Start-200M: 11, 8, 9, 1, 10
200M-Finish: 4, 11, 1, 7, 5
Race 5: Class 6 / 1300M / Allowance / KRW 20 Million / 14:00
(7) AQUA QUEEN may be a fifteen-race maiden but she’ll not have to be anything special to break through here. She was 3rd in a similar race last month and the same kind of run should see her home this time. (8) BADA BULPAE and (12) DESTINY are the only two who have even managed a 2nd place and they are also in with a chance as is (9) PICHICHI, who by virtue of having only run the once before, done the least wrong of any here. Slim pickings among the rest but (11) SUPER SONIC doesn’t usually miss by much and could place.
Selections: (7) Aqua Queen (9) Pichichi (8) Bada Bulpae (12) Destiny
Next Best: 11, 6
Fast Starters: 8, 12
Start-200M: 8, 10, 1, 3, 12
200M-Finish: 3, 11, 7, 12, 4
Race 6: Class 5 / 1000M / Handicap / KRW 40 Million / 14:30
(9) SEONGSAN JILJU broke through by an eye-catching 10-lengths at this distance on what was his third career start a month ago. He is up in class here but the manner of that victory makes it hard for him to be anything other than favourite again. Bart Rice had a superb 2016 and (4) RACHEL has a chance of getting his 2017 off to a good start. She seems to have got to grips with this level and returns fresh from seven weeks off. (5) CHARTERED DREAM is yet to score in seven outings but should be at least matching the 3rd places he’s achieved on both his last two starts. Grand Prix winning jockey Ham Wan Sik, who has just relocated from Seoul, takes the mount for the first time. (7) YEONGGWANGUI FORE returns from a spell and looked lively in a trial last week while (12) NAMYANG QUEEN slightly exceeded expectations with a 5th on her first attempt at this class last month and can go well once more.
Selections: (9) Seongsan Jilju (4) Rachel (5) Chartered Dream (12) Namyang Queen
Next Best: 7, 1
Rating: 9, 5, 4, 12, 2
Fast Starters: 4, 5, 9, 12
Start-200M: 12, 9, 4, 5, 10
200M-Finish: 4, 11, 8, 10, 3
Race 7: Class 4 / 1000M / Handicap / KRW 55 Million / 15:00
This race is open to foreign-bred runners but the only Korean bred in the field is sure to be favourite. That’s (8) TIGER SLAM, who has won two out of his last three and loos shrewdly entered here to get another. The rest of them are utterly unproven so for a second choice we might as well go with one of the three debut-makers, Thomas Gillespie’s (7) MUJEOK WONDERFUL. He was a $45K purchase from OBS last Spring and while it has taken him a while to be ready, he was 2nd in a trial last month. (1) PAEGWON TONGIL cost more but was slightly less impressive over two trials. Of the others with experience, (6) BESTOWED and (4) BRITE ACCOUNT have perhaps shown the most potential to improve.
Selections: (8) Tiger Slam (7) Mujeok Wonderful (6) Bestowed (4) Brite Account
Next Best: 1, 6
Fast Starters: 6, 8, 9
Start-200M: 9, 8, 5, 4, 3
200M-Finish: 8, 2, 4, 3, 6
Race 8: Class 5 / 1300M / Handicap / KRW 40 Million / 15:30
Just fillies and mares here. (2) PINK BLADE recorded a 3rd and a 2nd before getting her maiden win at the third time of asking over this distance back in October. She’s had twelve weeks off and is up in class but she is the one to beat. She’s not likely to be on speed early but can finish strongly. Her main danger is a 26-race maiden in the shape of (9) GANGHO IRON. She’s in the best for of her career and came desperately close to making the breakthrough in November when she was just beaten a nose before following up with another positive performance in running 3rd over this distance last month. (4) SWEET WHY, (11) HAEGA TTEUNDA and (12) YUSEONG FIRST will all try to get the early lead and if any of them do, they will be dangerous.
Selections: (2) Pink Blade (9) Gangho Iron (11) Haega Tteunda (4) Sweet Why
Next Best: 12, 6
Rating: 9, 2, 5, 12, 6
Fast Starters: 4, 6, 11, 12
Start-200M: 3, 12, 4, 11, 5
200M-Finish: 9, 2, 8, 7, 10
Race 9: Class 4 / 1200M / Handicap / KRW 55 Million / 16:00
(10) PHANTOM BLADE returned to the winner’s circle with a 5-length win over this distance at domestic class 4 and looks nicely entered in this foreign class 4 race. However, he’s not the only one who has been put in here with easier competition in mind as his two main rivals are also Korean-bred. (1) ACE POWER was just beaten a neck on the line at the distance last month. (8) SECRET ROSE was a further 4-lengths behind that day having led early and both can go well here. Among the imports, (6) SUPER MATCH looks to be the pick.
Selections: (10) Phantom Blade (1) Ace Power (8) Secret Rose (6) Super Match
Next Best: 5, 2
Rating: 10, 1=5, 8, 3
Fast Starters: 1, 5, 8
Start-200M: 5, 10, 1, 9, 8
200M-Finish 7, 4, 2, 6, 3
Race 10: Class 4 / 1200M / Handicap / KRW 55 Million / 16:30
Former Busan Champion Jockey Jo Sung Gon returns full time to the track and re-starts his formerly successful partnership with Aussie trainer Peter Wolsley. They team up with (7) BULKKOT NORI. The colt has won two out of three and is up in class following a narrow win over this distance last month. He was pushed all the way that day by another promising one, Two Two Raptor and despite the class difference, this field is arguably softer. That’s not to say there aren’t threats. Chief among them is (5) SEUNGNIUI CHUKJE who is already a winner at this level and steps back in distance here. The experienced (4) WONDERFULCHEONGHAE enters in good recent form and looks capable of a win at the level too while (1) GANGJA DAERO and (11) FLAMENCO came home 3rd and 5th in a similar race last month and can’t be discounted.
Selections: (7) Bulkkot Nori (5) Seungniui Chukje (4) Wonderfulcheonghae (1) Gangja Daero
Next Best: 11, 3
Rating: 3, 4, 5, 1=9
Fast Starters: 5, 7, 8
Start-200M: 8, 7, 4, 5, 9
200M-Finish: 7, 1, 3, 4, 9
Race 11: Class 3 / 1800M / Handicap / KRW 72 Million / 17:00
(8) COT WING has won his last three and responded well to pressure over a mile last time. He steps up to 1800M for the first time here and also goes up in class but he still has claims here. (10) WORLD QUICK too is up in class and distance but looks nicely in. (11) SMART VALOR has raced at this class before but steps up to two turns for the first time. He comes in having beaten a couple of these at 1400M last month and while the weights don’t favour him, an apprentice takes a couple of kilos off. Among those with experience at the distance, there was very little to choose between (3) HWARYEOHANHAMSEONG, (5) BOUND MYEONGUN and (2) FINE DREAM when they finished 2nd, 3rd and 4th at the beginning of December and all three can go close again.
Selections: (8) Cot Wing (11) Smart Valor (10) World Quick (3) Hwaryeohanhamseong
Next Best: 5, 2,
Rating: 11, 7, 1, 4, 2
Fast Starters: 4, 11, 12
Start-200M: 9, 7, 4, 11, 12
200M-Finish: 3, 11, 2, 8, 1
Race 12: Class 3 / 1200M / Handicap / KRW 72 Million / 17:30
(2) SEUNGNI UNCLE MO beat the highly-rated (then) 2-year-old I’m Your Father a month ago and if he can get a good front-running position early here, there’s no reason why he can’t win again. Cowboy Cal is so popular among Korean buyers, the stallion himself arrived to stand in Korea just before New Year. In this race his (3) DAMYANG HWANHO steps up in class and distance having won over 1000M last month and looks to have good potential. More experienced is (4) STEAL THE SHOW WHY, who is a little inconsistent but came back into some sense of form when just beaten a neck over 1200M at the end of November. (8) NO SMALL KOREA returns after five months out and looked quick in a December trial while another Cowboy Cal, (9) COWBOY CAPTAIN, looks best of the rest.
Selections: (3) Damyang Hwanho (2) Seungni Uncle Mo (4) Steal The Show Why (8) No Small Korea
Next Best: 9, 11
Rating: 12, 9, 2=8, 6
Fast Starters: 2, 3, 4, 6
Start-200M: 3, 4, 2, 11, 8
200M-Finish: 3, 1, 7, 9, 11
Race 13: Class 2 / 1600M / Handicap / KRW 88 Million / 18:00
Banker favourite is saved for last. (6) HAEYA is three for a three having won by a combined margin of 15-lengths eased down each time. Up in class here and in distance to a mile; neither should be a problem. (7) CHOEGANG PLUS narrowly beat (5) JIBONG MANSE when they met at 1400M in late November and they’ll be among the top placing contenders with (9) PANGPANG HERO and (12) YOU’RE HILARIOUS looking best of the rest.
Selections: (6) Haeya (5) Jibong Manse (9) Pangpang Hero (7) Choegang Plus
Next Best: 12, 3
Rating: 6, 7, 11, 8, 12
Fast Starters: 2, 6
Start-200M: 6, 12, 4, 2, 8
200M-Finish: 7, 6, 3, 1, 10