It’s a Group race double-header at Seoul Racecourse on Sunday. Black-type is up for grabs in the Ttukseom Cup while one race later it is Korea vs Japan in the SBS Sports Sprint. There are 11 races at Seoul from 10:45 to 18:00 and 6 at Busan from 12:40 to 17:05.
Both races are part of a series. The Ttukseom Cup gets the “Queens Tour” for fillies and mares underway while the SBS Sports Sprint is the 2nd leg of the “Sprint Series” which will culminate in the international Korea Sprint in September.
The winner of the first leg of the Sprint Series returns here and could well be favourite. Success Story made his name with a pair of 3rd place finishes at the Dubai World Cup Carnival in 2016 and having returned to winning ways over 1800M in February, got the better of a strong field in the Busan Ilbo Cup on the south-coast last month. Only one other participant from that 1st leg tries his luck again; that’s Perdido Pomeroy, who won this race last year but has struggled for form since.
Japan sends two. Kimon Avalon, who finished 5th in the race last year, returns to the peninsula to try again but there will be more attention paid to 6-year-old mare Party Dress who operates at JRA level at home. It’s the Korea-based one that will be fancied though with 2015 Asia Challenge Cup winner Choegang Schiller, in-form Doraonpogyeongseon and Brian Dean’s Choegangja all set to be well-backed.
The Ttukseom Cup, named after the district of downtown Seoul that was home to the racecourse before it moved to its present site in the satellite city of Gwacheon, is one of six Korean races included in this year’s international “Blue Book” and there are ten fillies and mares vying for the Black Type it confers – not to mention a 228Million Won first prize.
US import Haeya went down to her first defeat in April but looks to be the one to beat in the 1400M test. Form comments below:
Race 8: Class Open (1400M) Ttukseom Cup (KOR G2) / KRW 400 Million
1. INDIAN STAR – Stakes winner at this track last October. Narrowly beaten last time out at this distance, she’s a fast starter and should be in the mix at the end.
2. MIGHTY GEM – Ended last year in great form but hasn’t looked right in three starts so far this term. Strong finisher but looks up against it here.
3. HAEYA – Suffered her first defeat in April, fading late on. That was her first start since January after lots of setbacks. If she’s right, she will be hard to beat.
4. GOLD BLUE –Won consecutive races in January and February but two subsequent class 1 starts have been at long distances. Very strong finisher, so long as she doesn’t leave too much to do, she could be in the hunt late on.
5. HIDDEN INDIAN – Class 2 winner at this distance in April, if she can get away well she can give a good account of herself but this is a significant step up in competition.
6. GAENARI – Has two 2nd places at class 1, one of them over this distance. Needs to get on the early speed and then can be competitive.
7. BEAR QUEEN TROPHY – Shown signs of coming back into form coming close in both starts this year behind good horses. Real chance.
8. HOLIDAY DREAM – Solid 3rd place over 1200M at class 1 in April but this looks a tough ask.
9. SILVER WOLF – 4th in this race last year, she’s only raced four times since and only once this year, coming 4th over 1800M. Top jockey on and could go close.
10. SUPREME MAGIC – Winner of the 2nd leg of this series last year, she was beaten a neck by Haeya last time out. Slow starter but fast finisher. Not impossible.
Verdict: The first leg of this year’s Queens Tour and the first international “Black Type” race in Korea in 2017 is a tricky affair and it may come down to which one is simply in better condition on the day, so watching the parade ring will be important. In terms of raw talent, look no further than (3) HAEYA, who has had her setbacks but still looks a genuine talent. If she gets in front here, she has every chance. Another who has had setbacks is (7) BEAR QUEEN TROPHY but she looks to be coming back into form now and should be a danger. (1) INDIAN STAR comes in following a decent 2nd place in April while (9) SILVER WOLF and (10) SUPREME MAGIC are also in the frame.
Selections (3) Haeya (7) Bear Queen Trophy (1) Indian Star (9) Silver Wolf
Next Best 10, 4
Fast Start 1, 3, 5, 6
Race 9: Class Open (1200M) SBS Sports Sprint (KOR G3) / KRW 250 Million
1. KIMON AVALON – 5th in this race last year, he returns from Japan for another crack at it. It’s been a long time since his last win though and he’ll be an outsider.
2. BEST GUY – Slightly disappointing in recent starts but trialled up nicely a couple of weeks ago.
3. DORAONPOGYEONGSEON – Enters off back to back class 1 wins at Busan, both at 1400M. He’s not the fastest of starters but has a strong finish and has a chance here. Stablemate of Success Story.
4. CHOEGANGJA – Five for five since joining Brian Dean’s stable, he’s beat Dynamic Jilju and Wonder Bolt last start. Trialled up well last week and if he gets in front, could do it.
5. DYNAMIC JILJU – 2nd to Choegangja in early April and then to Choegang Schiller later the same month, he can give a good account of himself again but has plenty to find.
6. PARTY DRESS – She’s a JRA quality runner and while her two outings so far this year haven’t been impressive, she’s not to be discounted.
7. SUCCESS STORY – Winner of the Busan Ilbo Cup last month, the first leg in this series, he surely has every chance of following up here. Stablemate of Doraonpogyeongseon.
8. ALWAYS WINNER – Won back to back big races to begin the year but struggled behind three of these last time. Slightly better draw today.
9. PARANG JUUIBO – 6th behind Choegang Schiller and Dynamic Jilju last start and trialled up behind Choegangja last week. Getting a quick start is vital for this one.
10. GEUMA RAPID – First start since December. He was quick in a trial in early May but this is a tough ask first-up.
11. CHOEGANG SCHILLER – Track record holder at this distance, set when beating El Padrino in 2015. Finally back to winning ways last start and looks like he’s peaking at the right time. Big chance.
12. PERDIDO POMEROY – He won this race last year but has shown little in two starts so far in 2017. Led early in the Busan Ilbo but faded badly. He’ll benefit from a sensible ride from Darryll Holland this time though and can improve.
13. WONDER BOLT – 3rd behind Choegangja and Dynamc Jilju in April at the distance, he followed it up with another 3rd at 1900M last month. A strong closer, if too many go too fast, he can pick plenty off late on.
Verdict: It’s Korea vs Japan and you’d have to fancy the locals to prevail although if (6) PARTY DRESS brings her best to the Seoul sand, then she can’t be discounted. (7) SUCCESS STORY won the first leg of this series last month and therefore is the one to beat but (11) CHOEGANG SCHILLER looked to be back to something approaching his best when scoring in style at the end of April and at Seoul, he may just have the edge. (4) CHOEGANGJA is unbeaten since moving to Brian Dean’s stable and if he can win the start, he could well win the race while Success Story’s stablemate (3) DORAONPOGYEONGSEON enters in great form and must be taken seriously.
Selections (11) Choegang Schiller (7) Success Story (3) Doraonpogyeongseon (4) Choegangja
Next Best 6, 13, 12
Fast Start 4, 7, 8, 9
Race 10: Class 1 (1800M) Handicap / KRW 110 Million
1. RUSH FORTH – Beaten by Yaho Sunshine and Dongbanjaui Gijeok on latest start. He’s top rated although that is on the slide and minor money seems most likely here.
2. YAHO SUNSHINE – Creditable 5th, ahead of Dongbanjaui Gijeok and Rush Forth last start, should be on speed here and is in the frame.
3. GASOKBULPAE – First start since last October, he looked good when trialling up last month. Nice race to come back in and beautifully weighted but a couple of these have had the measure of him in the past.
4. DONGBANJAUI GIJEOK – 6th and half a length behind Yaho Sunshine last start, the weights are in his favour today and he may overturn that form. A chance.
5. BICHUIBADA – Hasn’t found it easy in three class 1 outings and is likely to be an outsider here.
6. HAY QUEEN – Recent form is very cold; she’s a closer who just hasn’t closed. Improvement can’t be ruled out but she’s hard to recommend.
7. THEME DEUNGGEUK – Had a lean start to the year but was racing in tough company. Coming back into form in his latest two and at these weights, looks the one to beat here.
Verdict: Small field but interesting contest nonetheless. (7) THEME DEUNGGEUK has won at this distance in the past, albeit at a shorter distance and has shown enough in his latest two to suggest that he is the one to beat today. He’ll be on speed early and could lead all the way. (2) YAHO SUNSHINE and (4) DONGBANJAUI GIJEOK ran 5th and 6th over this distance at the end of April and both will be in the hunt for better finishes today while the returning (3) GASOKBULPAE could sneak into the money under a very light weight.
Selections (7) Theme Deunggeuk (2) Yaho Sunshine (4) Dongbanjaui Gijeok (3) Gasokbulpae
Next Best 6, 1, 5
Fast Start 2, 3, 7