There used to be a saying among certain Korean punters that at Seoul you bet the jockeys while at Busan you bet the trainers. As we head into this weekend (11 races at Busan on Friday from 11:30 to 18:00), that may not be the case anymore.
Of course, it’s probably best to bet the numbers (although my own personal strategy used to be to bet whichever one had a funny sounding name) but there was an element of truth in it; the top trainers were at Busan while the top Korean jockeys were at Seoul.
The top trainers are still at Busan in the shape of Kim Young Kwan, Peter Wolsley, Bart Rice and Thomas Gillespie but increasingly the jockeys are too and the news that Moon Se Young is Singapore-bound further drains the Seoul talent-pool which lost Jo In Kwen, Jo Sung Gon and Ham Wan Sik – all capable Korean jockeys – to the south coast at the start of the year. That’s all to Busan’s benefit.
With Yonekura Satoshi in superb form and newcomers Marios Mina and Andrea Mezzatesta getting off the mark last week while Darryll Holland continues to do what Darryll Holland does, the Busan weighing room is as competitive as it has ever been. With the exception of Jo, all will be in action on Friday. English race cards are here, notes on races scheduled for overseas simulcast are below:
Race 4: Class 6 / 1600M / Handicap / KRW 22 Million
1. HAPPY LIGHT – Beaten few in five outings. First time at a mile and needs to show more.
2. VICTORY DAY – Three figure odds for all five starts and a long shot here too.
3. GOLDEN BULLET – Much improved 4th on first try at distance and a contender today.
4. GEUMBIT HWANHO – 2nd over 1300M on Jan 20th, first time at a mile today. Should be close.
5. URI GIPPEUM – 8th of 12 in both tries at the distance so needs to up game.
6. TIME CASTLE – Gone close before and up to a mile for the first time may well suit.
7. ONNURI GANGJA – Yet to finish in the money and has a lot to find.
8. EGSEU BAND – Lost his way a little after promising start. Can improve on first try at a mile.
Verdict: Small field of which half look to have claims. (6) TIME CASTLE has gone close on a number of occasions and while she was beaten by (4) GEUMBIT HWANHO last start, the extra distance today may make the distance. Both will be in contention as should (3) GOLDEN BULLET and (8) EGSEU BAND.
Selections (6) Time Castle (4) Geumbit Hwanho (3) Golden Bullet (8) Egseu Band
Next Best 5, 1
Fast Start 4, 8
Race 5: Class 5 / 1200M / Handicap / KRW 40 Million
1. BEST PERFORMER – Enters off two below-par performances so work to do here.
2. GIPPEUM HAE – Well supported but fell short in weak event last time.
3. SEGI GANGJA – Off the mark on his latest run, up in class & distance but strong claims.
4. SWEET WHY – Not found class 5 easy since maiden win.
5. HUIMANG CHANGA – Gone cold at class 5. Races at further than 5F for the first time.
6. SAEBYEOK STAR – 3rd place sandwiched between lesser efforts in three starts since resuming from layoff.
7. YEONGGWANGUI CAMP – First start since November. Top jockey booking.
8. PERFECT HUMOR – Has run well in two starts since resuming. Could go close.
9. CHASEDAE – Poor manners in losing effort last month and sent back to trial. Hard to back here.
10. GAMSEONG POKBAL – Can’t be recommended on recent form.
11. LUCKY JILJU – Improved 5th last start. Yet to win in 17 but not impossible.
12. FIVEFOLD – Winner on debut, up in class & distance but can win again.
Verdict: Looks to be between the foreign trainers. Bart Rice’s (12) FIVEFOLD was a four-length winner on debut on December 13th and should have no concerns over the increase in both class and distance. Also up in class is Thomas Gillespie’s (3) SEGI GANGJA. His ground-out win last start on his first try at 1200M had been coming and he could make further progress today. The others will all need to improve on recent form with (6) SAEBYEOK STAR, (8) PERFECT HUMOR and (11) LUCKY JILJU having the strongest claims to do so.
Selections (12) Fivefold (3) Segi Gangja (6) Saebyeok Star (8) Perfect Humor
Next Best 11, 7
Fast Start 1, 3, 8
Race 6: Class 5 / 1300M / Handicap / KRW 40 Million
1. MAJOR SLAM – Usually not far away but poor run last start. Gets another chance.
2. YEONGGWANGUI JAEIN – Unexpected 2nd three starts ago but reverted to type in latest two.
3. USEUNG CHEONJI – Will need to improve on ordinary showing at class and distance 2 weeks ago.
4. RICH MONEY – Made all to win by 4-lengths at the distance on Feb 3rd. Up in class but solid chance.
5. YUSEONG FIRST – Underperformed last start but can be given another chance here.
6. BIG GOLD – Overmatched so far at this level.
7. OH DAEBAK – Gone very cold in recent starts. Back up in trip may help but an outsider.
8. MAJESTIC POWER – 57th start today, occasionally snatches some minor money but can’t be recommended for more than that.
9. HALLAUI DOLPUNG – Not impressed in three outings since resuming from lengthy layoff.
10. GEUMTE – Maiden winner on penultimate start at this distance. Did ok on first try at class 5 so has a chance.
11. MAIN VICAR – Solid if unspectacular effort last start. Should beat a few.
12. SEONGGONG PLAN – Maiden winner at the distance on Jan 6th. Beaten by Geumte last time. Can improve.
Verdict: An all-the-way winner at the distance on what was just his second start leads (4) RICH MONEY to be the choice to score once more. He’s up in class but faces less than spectacular opposition here and should win easily. (10) GEUMTE can get close while (11) MAIN VICAR has done well in reasonably tough company of late and can look to place. (5) YUSEONG FIRST looks best of the rest.
Selections (4) Rich Money (10) Geumte (11) Main Vicar (5) Yuseong First
Next Best 3, 1, 6
Fast Start 4, 5
Race 7: Class 4 / 1800M / Handicap / KRW 55 Million / 15:10
1. WONDERFUL CAPTAIN – Down the field in his last two. Much to find.
2. REALLY ONE – Solid 5th at 1300M last start. First time at this distance today.
3. JIBONG JILJU – Only beat two resuming from 8 months off. Look for improvement today.
4. BAEKDU YEONGUNG – Yet to win but got his 5th 2nd place last start. First time at distance today and placing chances again.
5. ARION METAL – Winless in 15 this looks as good a chance as any. Solid efforts in in his last two at a mile.
6. JUNGANG SINHWA – Returns from 5 months out to tackle two turns for the first time. Stable in form so don’t rule out.
7. HAETBAL – Improved 4th behind Heumut last start. Distance may suit.
8. USEUNG CHOEGO – 5th in both tries at class 4, including one at this distance. Should look to at least match.
9. MUJEOKUI SAMSON – Scoreless in 12, he’ll be on the early speed but distance a question.
10. FOXY BULLET – Beaten few in three prior starts.
11. HEUMUT – Much improved 2nd beating Haetbal last time. 1800M should benefit and he has claims.
12. GLOBAL CHAMPION – Well down the field in all three outings.
Verdict: Interesting contest here with a number having chances. (4) BAEKDU YEONGUNG and (5) ARION METAL are both zero for thirteen coming into today but both enter in form and try 1800M for the first time. It could be what they have been waiting for. If they fall short again, (11) HEUMUT looks best placed to take advantage. He beat a couple of these at a mile last time and should be prominent throughout. (2) REALLY ONE and (8) USEUNG CHOEGO others with chances.
Selections (11) Heumut (5) Arion Metal (4) Baekdu Yeongung (2) Really One
Next Best 8, 6
Fast Start 2, 9, 11
Race 8: Class 4 / 1600M / Handicap / KRW 55 Million
1. MABEE FLASHY – Finished well back in recent starts.
2. NURI BULPAE – Fragile type but better than last run suggests.
3. RUN STAR – Did ok on first start at class 4 on Jan 20th. Still plenty to find.
4. BUYEONG TOWER – Generally beats a few but plenty to find if he’s to break his maiden.
5. BULKKOT NORI – 3 wins from 5 and last start can be forgiven. Can go close.
6. JAYU DAERO – Beaten a nose into 3rd last start and can go for the places again.
7. BARAMUI HEUNJEOK – Shown few clues in four prior starts. Up in distance today.
8. SUPER SOLAR – Coming no closer to a maiden victory after 20 starts.
9. MORNING GANGJA – Lots of experience but cold of late.
10. MUHAN YEOLJEONG – Already a winner and runner-up at class and distance. The one to beat.
11. SEVEN PARTY – Looks to have another win in him having gone close in recent outings.
12. BETTER THAN YOU – Not been better than many lately but not without talent.
Verdict: This one is (10) MUHAN YEOLJEONG’S to lose. 3rd in December’s Breeders’ Cup race and then winner of a decent race at class and distance on New Year’s Eve, he didn’t quite manage to follow up when once again favourite in a similar event on January 20th. (5) BULLKOT NORI also looks to be on the up and can be forgiven his last start while (11) SEVEN PARTY should be close too (6) JAYU DAERO usually gives an honest account of himself and cold find the places.
Selections (10) Muhan Yeoljeong (5) Bulkkot Nori (11) Seven Party (6) Jayu Daero
Next Best 4, 3
Fast Start 5, 10
Race 9: Class 3 / 1400M / Handicap / KRW 75 Million
1. KKEUTPAN BOOSTER – Upset Limitless Win to score at class and distance on Jan 13th. Don’t rule out.
2. LIMITLESS WIN – 4 wins from 9, he was beaten by Kkeutpan Booster last start but is talented and has every chance of reversing that form here.
3. GABO STAR – Beat three of these when winning over 1200M on Jan 20th and has claims again.
4. YUSEONG TIGER – 5th behind Sunshine Alpha and Gabo Star on New Year’s Eve. Matching or improving is possible.
5. MAGIC LINE – First start since last August. Trialled averagely and may need this.
6. GIGA SPEED – Stablemate of Limitless Win and has placed in each of his last nine starts. That can continue today.
7. COT WING – Three consecutive wins saw him up to this class where he has perhaps found his level.
8. SUNSHINE ALPHA – Winner on New Year’s Eve at 1200M but saw that form reversed on Jan 20th. Not to be ruled out.
9. DYNA’S DREAM – Bit inconsistent but a good 3rd behind Gabo Star on latest outing.
10. SUPER BLADE – Up in class following two wins in last three and she’s in the frame again here.
11. LOAD CELL – 2nd to Gabo Star last time and in good form.
12. DAEBOREUMDAL – Took 21 tries to get her maiden win but now she’s won 2 of her last 3. Up in class here though.
Verdict: This is a nicely competitive race in which any number have claims. (2) LIMITLESS WIN can overturn last month’s form on (1) KKEUTPAN BOOSTER though to record his 5th win on what is his 10th start. A threat is stablemate (6) GIGA SPEED who is super-reliable and will surely be involved in the finish. Then there’s (3) GABO STAR, who beat three of these when winning at 1200M last time out and enters in good form. Also not to be ruled out is the up in class (10) SUPER BLADE. The lightly raced 4-year-old is nicely weighted and looks on the way up.
Selections (2) Limitless Win (10) Super Blade (6) Giga Speed (3) Gabo Star
Next Best 1, 11, 9, 8
Fast Start 3, 8, 11
Race 10: Class 3 / 1600M / Handicap / KRW 75 Million
1. WORLD QUEEN – 2nd at the distance at domestic class 3 last time, beating Giga Speed and in contention here.
2. LET’S WIN – Improved 3rd over 1400M on Jan 15th beating Gangja Bonsaek. Could repeat.
3. DASEOT ME – Well back in his latest two but step back to 1600M may benefit.
4. HUDADAK – Won 1 of 3 last Spring and returns after almost eleven months. Probably best to watch first up.
5. COWBOY CAPTAIN – Has beaten a few of these in recent near-misses. Should be close.
6. GOLD SUMMATION – Placed in all four starts before missing a year. Returns today up in class. He’s the wildcard.
7. TRIPLE YEONGGWANG – Never really figured at 1800M last time but has won at this distance and is the one to beat here.
8. MAERYEOK DEONGEORI – Inconsistent but is capable at this level.
9. GANGJA BONSAEK – 4th behind Let’s Win last start. Very capable of finding the places here.
10. KING THE GRAY – Decent form at this distance. Not impossible.
11. BIHOJA – Yet to score in 24. Unlikely to change here.
12. BLUE SIERRA – Beaten by a few of these in latest two.
Verdict: Another competitive affair and while (7) TRIPLE YEONGGWANG never got going in a tough race at 1800M last month, he is favourite to return to winning ways today at a more favourable distance and in more amenable company. (1) WORLD QUEEN was 2nd at the distance last start and should be competitive from the front here while (5) COWBOY CAPTAIN has been coming close in good company and will be a factor. Lots of others have placing chances.
Selections (7) Triple Yeonggwang (5) Cowboy Captain (1) World Queen (9) Gangja Bonsaek
Next Best 10, 2, 6
Fast Start 1, 4, 6
Race 11: Class 2 / 1200M / Handicap / KRW 90 Million
1. JUNGANG CHAMP – Returns from an 8-month layoff. First start for new trainer, trialled up well.
2. SUPER STORM – Beaten by 6 of these on Jan 20th so has plenty of form to overturn.
3. YESURI MYEONGUN – 6th among the 7 of these who ran on Jan 20th but can improve today.
4. WORLD LOVE – 4th of the 7 on the Jan 20th race and can be competitive.
5. SAEROUN BEOPCHIK – Beaten by a lot of these in both his latest starts.
6. JIBONG MANSE – On a downward trajectory of late.
7. RISING CHAMP – Three wins from five, solid 3rd on first try at this class behind two very good ones on Dec 30th and the one to beat today.
8. GABOGAPJJANG – 4th in the Jan 20th race. Never too far away and in the frame again.
9. YUSEONGCHEOREOM – Run of three wins came to an end on Jan 20th. Should be involved here.
10. SINHEUNG GOSU – Well back on Jan 20th and patchy form prior. Outsider.
11. UBAKI – Surprise 2nd on Jan 20th and must be respected today.
12. JANTEUGAREU – 5 wins from 10. A little disappointing when 6th behind Rising Champ and Gabogapjjang on Dec 30th but can go close here.
Verdict: There are a couple of races of reference. Five of these raced each other at 1400M on December 30th with (7) RISING CHAMP being the best place-getter in 3rd. Then on January 20th, seven of them raced against each other at this distance with (11) UBAKI being the surprising best in 2nd place. Ubaki probably won’t be favoured to strike again but Rising Champ will be and looks the one to beat. (9) YUSEONGCHEOREOM saw a run of three straight victories come to an end on January 20th but can get close once more today while (8) GABOGAPJJANG and (12) JANTEUGAREU also have claims in another very competitive contest.
Selections (7) Rising Champ (9) Yuseongcheoreom (12) Janteugareu (8) Gabogapjjang
Next Best 11, 4, 3
Fast Start 7, 9, 10