Seoul Sunday: “Spring Stakes” – Full Preview

Meni Money and Pinot Noir came 1st and 2nd in the Donga Ilbo Cup last month and on Sunday at Seoul Racecourse, they take their rivalry to Group level in the newly named G3 Spring Stakes.

Meni Money Donga Ilbo

Meni Money (far side) beat Pinot Noir & Argo Champ in the Donga Ilbo Cup. They all go again on Sunday (Pic: KRA)

Sunday’s race was originally called the Gyeonggi Governor’s Cup but with said Governor considering a presidential run the race needed to have its name changed and so the Spring Stakes it is. Meni Money and Pinot Noir – the latter of whom won this race last year – will be favourites to fill out the quinella once more.

There’s plenty happening at Busan also on Sunday where Perdido Pomeroy will be favoured to get back into winning form in the feature seven-furlong sprint. In total there are 11 Sunday races at Seoul from 10:45 to 18:00 and 6 at Busan from 12:40 to 17:10.

English race cards can be found here. Three Seoul races, including the Spring Stakes will be available on Sky Racing in Australia. Form comments for those races are below:

Race 8: Class 4 (1700M) Handicap / KRW 60 Million

1. KING AHEAD – Improved 4th last time under this jockey, beaten 2.5 lengths by Compass so still some form to make up.

2. HAPPY SENSATION – Beaten a length behind Kyma when favourite last time but 7-length winner ahead of Star Bonny Bee and Compass the time before. Favourite here.

3. COMPASS – 3rd and 2nd in his last two, he’s a deep closer who has every chance so long as there’s not too much ground to make up.

4. HWANGNYONGBISANG – Two starts into a comeback, he was beaten a neck by Devil Man when running 4th last start but could improve here.

5. FORESTRY – Recent form unconvincing and tries this distance for the first time.

6. DEVIL MAN – Class 4 winner at this distance on Christmas Day and 3rd ahead of three of these last time. Don’t rule out.

7. STAR BONNY BEE – 2nd to Happy Sensation in January but struggled latest a month ago. Outsider here but should be a front-runner.

8. SILVER HERO – First start since 2nd place behind Rain Sky on Christmas Day. Never worse than 5th and looks still on the way up.

9. MISUJAE – Struggled at class 4 and tries two turns for the first time.

10. JOGUGUI DEUNGBUL – 5th of 11 on his first try at the distance last start behind Devil Man and Hwangnyongbisang. Jockey booking may tempt some.

11. I AM STAR – Beaten by three of these at class and distance on Feb 26th so much to find today.

12. KYMA – Shock winner at class and distance on Feb 12th ahead of Happy Sensation. Must be respected but won’t be fancied.

Verdict: Really competitive affair but we’ll go with (2) HAPPY SENSATION to just edge it. He’s consistent and the way he despatched a couple of these in January was impressive. One of those was (3) COMPASS and if the track is amenable to closers then he has every chance while (8) SILVER HERO, returning from three months off also looks an intriguing prospect. (4) HWANGNYONGBISANG and (10) JOGUGUI DEUNGBUL are among a strong of others who shouldn’t be ruled out.

Selections    (2) Happy Sensation (3) Compass (8) Silver Hero (10) Jogugui Deungbul
Next Best    4, 6, 1, 12
Fast Start    7, 9, 10

Race 9: Spring Stakes (KOR G3) Class Open Allowance (Fillies & Mares 4yo & Up), (2000M) KRW 300 Million 

1    THE QUEEN SILVER    Strong 2nd place at class 2 over 1800M on Christmas Day led her to be sent off 2nd favourite for the Donga Ilbo. She never really figured though. She generally operates best as a closer and this is her first try at 2000M, a distance she should get. She seemed to have a bit more in the tank last time, running on well, if far too late. She can be expected to go better here and she is in the frame.
2    ARGO CHAMP    Another one who was well-backed in the Donga Ilbo Cup coming off a class 3 win over 1700M in January. She ran well enough always being prominent before eventually finishing in 3rd place, four lengths behind Meni Money. First try at the distance, she’ll likely be close to the early speed and is a contender.
3    PINOT NOIR    The winner of both the Donga Ilbo and this race (when it was run under a different name) in 2016. She’d cgone somewhat cold by the end of last year but started 2017 in fine form with 2nd place in the Donga Ilbo, just over a length behind Meni Money. She always runs the same way; a steady start, taken right round the field to the front in the back-straight and then stay on. Meni Money had 2kg on her that day, she doesn’t here and Pinot Noir must be respected.
4    LAKSHMI    A solid 4th place in the Donga Ilbo was her best result for a year and she was running on well too having closed from the rear in the home straight. She’s raced over the distance before, albeit only once in her 62-race career, and finishing inside the money is not impossible again here.
5    SIMSIN JIRYEO    7th of 9 in the Donga Ilbo and the worst of the six who return here. That means she has form to overturn on five of her rivals and there is little in her recent history to suggest she’s going to do it. She showed close to the front early in the Donga Ilbo but couldn’t go with them in the closing stages and will be an outsider. May lead.
6    NAMSAN CHUKJE    She didn’t run in the Donga Ilbo and makes her first start here since early December. She hasn’t beaten many since a 2nd place over 1900M last July and there’s little cause for optimism here. It’s possible that she may look to lead here given the absence of any other obvious candidates.
7    MENI MONEY    Not only did she win the Donga Ilbo, she is, along with Pinot Noir, one of only two established class 1 competitors in the race. Her only previous experience of this distance was in this race last year when she finished 5th but there is little to suggest it will be a problem today. She had 2kg on Pinot Noir last month compared to level weights today but again that shouldn’t be crucial. Generally settles close to the rear, she is again, the one to beat.
8    GOLD WAVE    She didn’t run in the Donga Ilbo but already has two races behind her this year, both times in class 2 races over 1800M and both times finishing 5th of 12. In both those races she has been finishing off well having come from way back both times and it could be that she takes to this distance, which is a full furlong further than she’s been before.

Verdict: Given that this is basically a re-run of the Donga Ilbo Cup only for higher prize money, it’s hard to go against that form and while it is a furlong extra and level weights today, (7) MENI MONEY has to be the pick ahead of a rejuvenated (3) PINOT NOIR. The main disappointment in the Donga was (1) THE QUEEN SILVER and we’ll give her another go for a better performance today while (2) ARGO CHAMP can be solid once more.

Selections    (7) Meni Money (3) Pinot Noir (1) The Queen Silver (2) Argo Champ
Next Best    4
Fast Starters    2, 6, 7

Race 10: Class 3 (1800M) Handicap / KRW 75 Million

1. SSAENGSSAENG DORI – Up in class and distance following a 2nd place over 1300M last month. Tough but not impossible.

2. RED WOOD – In solid form at the moment and the extra half furlong today may enable him to overturn form on Mr. Mountain. May also look to lead today.

3. SAMBA FESTIVAL – Struggled in two starts at this level so far.

4. POWER IS KHAN – Over six lengths behind Mr. Mountain and Red Wood last start so plenty to find.

5. BIMA – 4th and 5th in his last two, well beaten by Kawon last time. Others favoured.

6. KAWON –  Class 4 winner beating Rain Sky by a nose over 1700M in January and then 2nd on first try at this class and distance in February. A contender.

7. SOKBO WANGJA – Performed creditably in two attempts at this class so far. This looks a tough ask though.

8. MR. MOUNTAIN – Been getting closer recently and beat Red Wood on his way to 2nd over 1700M last month, closing very strongly. Big chance.

9. RAIN SKY – 5th in the Donga Ilbo Cup and was expected to run in the Spring Stakes today. Evidently felt to have a better chance here.

10. CHEONUI GANGJA – Solid win over 1700M last start sees him up in class and distance today. Not impossible but not among the favourites.

11. DAEGUN MAMA – Has raced in decent company lately but performances have not been encouraging.

12. VALLEY STAR – Reasonably consistent of late but was beaten by Kawon and Bima latest.

Verdict: The way (8) MR. MOUNTAIN ran on last time over 1700M suggests he may go even better among similar company at 1800M today and he is the slight pick. It won’t be easy though with (2) RED WOOD, one of those he beat last time looks nicely in and is set to go well while (9) RAIN SKY misses the earlier Stakes race in order to take her chance here instead. (1) SSAENSSAENG DORI and (6) KAWON are others to consider.

Selections    (8) Mr. Mountain (2) Red Wood (9) Rain Sky (6) Kawon
Next Best    1, 12
Fast Start    2, 3

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