Seoul Sunday – Minister’s Cup Day: Race-By-Race Preview (July 16)

The final leg of the 2017 Korean Triple Crown takes place on Sunday at Seoul Racecourse with the winners of the Cup Mile, Derby and Oaks all taking their chance in the Minister’s Cup. Sunday sees 11 races at Seoul from 11:45 to 19:00 and 6 at Busan from 13:25 to 17:40.

FinalBossDerby

Final Boss won the Korean Derby (Pic: KRA)

Derby winner Final Boss is the favourite. He was Champion Juvenile last year but arrived at the first leg of the Triple Crown, the KRA Cup Mile (Korean Guineas) in Busan in April looking anything but himself. He still ran 5th as Indian King took the honours ahead of Royal Ruby and American Power.

Back home in Seoul in the Derby in May, Final Boss once more didn’t make things easy for himself. He dawdled at the back of the field in the early stages of the race and once he launched his late challenge, veered violently across to the stands-side rail. Regardless, he hit the front in the final furlong and raced on to win by an easy three lengths. Royal Ruby and American Power once more came home in 2nd and 3rd.

So to Sunday and stretching out to 2000M in the Minister’s Cup, a distance none of the 12 runners have tackled before. That surely won’t be a problem for Final Boss who looked ready to go round again after the Derby. Nor should it be for Royal Ruby and American Power who could well end up filling out the places in all three legs of the Triple Crown.

Across the first two legs of the Crown, only one filly took her chance. This time there are four and they’re the top four place-getters from last month’s Oaks. That race produced a record breaking trifecta dividend as longshot Jejui Haneul enabled Kim Hye Sun to make history as the first Korean female jockey to win a Classic. She goes again, however, it is the runner-up that day, Bright Star who could turn out to be the best of them.

All in all though, the race looks set up for Final Boss to confirm his position as the standout of his crop. Notes on all Seoul races are below:

Race 1: Class 6 (1300M) Allowance / KRW 22 Million
1. SPECIAL BIG C – 7th behind Little Wing last start but looks to have potential for better. Placing chances.
2. UPDATE – Woeful in first few outings but getting the hang of it now. Minor money chances.
3. NANGMAN STAR – Not beaten many in three goes so far.
4. WIND POWER – Not too far away in recent outings and should be looking to match career best of 4th.
5. LITTLE WING – Beat Special Big C last start and can look for the places again.
6. YAHO WORLD STAR – 8th of 11 on debut a month ago. Needs a bit of improvement before he can be considered.
7. SACHEON DAESEONG – Best finish to date a 5th over 1000M. 7th of 11 on first try at this distance at the end of May.
8. MIGHTY COOL – Underwhelming so far but from an enterprising stable so may improve.
9. BEST MISSION – Best of 4th from five. Plenty to find here.

10. SMART BOBAE – 2nd of 10 on debut over this distance on June 17th. Likely to be overwhelming favourite here.
Verdict: Very hard to oppose (10) SMART BOBAE who was quick and beaten only by a decent one on debut last month. Should lead the whole way despite the wide gate. The rest of them aren’t up to much so we’ll be looking at (1) SPECIAL BIG C, (4) WIND POWER and (5) LITTLE WING to step up and fill out the places.
Selections (10) Smart Bobae (5) Little Wing (1) Special Big C (4) Wind Power
Next Best 2, 6
Fast Start 10
Race 2: Class 5 (1000M) Handicap / KRW 40 Million
1. PERFECT BIC C – Recent form is uninspiring.
2. LITTLE ANGELS – In the best form of her career. She’s still to win in 24 starts but has a 2nd and two 3rds from her latest two. It’s not impossible.
3. VICAR MUSIC – Struggled in two outings at this class since maiden in win March. Others likely quicker.
4. NAMWON QUEEN – A win and never worse than 3rd in her four races to date. 2nd last time beating three of her rivals here, she’ll be on pace early and should lead all the way.
5. DALDARI – 4th behind Little Angels last time on first try at this level. Still scope for improvement and very much in the placing frame today.
6. PUREUN JILJU – Won as a longshot on debut last summer but the closest she’s come to a repeat is 4th. Could look to match that today.
7. ROYAL ESSENCE – Maiden win was last November but she’s not missed out by much in each of her five tries at this class. 3rd behind Namwon Queen last start, she goes close again.
8. EXCELLENT GOLD – Up in class following victory over this distance last time. Will have to improve here though.
9. SSONSALGACHI – Improved 5th last start but more to find today.
10. EVA ROAD – Recent form not great. Well back behind Namwon Queen and others last time.
Verdict: (4) NAMWON QUEEN looks to have the potential to go on to better things than this and really should be seeing off these rivals with some degree of comfort. She beat three of them last time including (7) ROYAL ESSENCE, who is one of the closest things to a danger here. (2) LITTLE ANGELS is yet to win but arrives in good form. She was 3rd to (5) DALDARI’s 4th at the distance last time and both of them are in the placing hunt.
Selections (4) Namwon Queen (2) Little Angels (5) Daldari (7) Royal Essence
Next Best 6, 10
Fast Start 4, 2, 3
Race 3: Class 5 (1200M) Handicap / KRW 40 Million 
1. SAEROUNSIN – One despairs of her chances of getting that maiden win. 66 starts and counting now.
2. HANIL MAGIC – Found things tough in three goes since maiden win in March. Beaten by a couple of these last time.
3. YEONGAM ARIRANG – Seems to have found his level. Usually beats a few but always runs into a few others too quick.
4. POKPUNG JEONYA – Got promoted to this level without a win and hasn’t found it easy.
5. GEUMTUSA – Winless after five outings but close on a number of occasions. 4th at this class last start and can aim for a place today. Should be the pacesetter.
6. NEW PARTNER – Fourth start today and first at further than the minimum. Should cope with it fine and is a danger.
7. CHOWON JJANG – 5th and a pair of 6ths in three starts at this level since maiden win. Similar looks most likely here.
8. CHOINMA – Up in class and distance following eye-catching win on debut last month and every chance of following up today. The favourite.
9. WANGDAEJANG – Gone a little cold of late and likely one of the outsiders here.
10. FLYING STORM – Last of 10 last time out and lots to find.
11. THINK OF ME – Best in five efforts at this class is 3rd. Matching that not impossible.
Verdict: (8) CHOINMA was a convincing winner on debut last month and while up in class and distance, should have the beating of these. There are a few other promising ones though. (6) NEW PARTNER surely has wins in here at this level while (5) GEUMTUSA too looks bound to get it right one of these days. (7) CHOWON JJANG looks best of the rest.
Selections (8) Choinma (6) New Partner (5) Geumtusa (7) Chowon Jjang
Next Best 11, 2
Fast Start 5, 6, 8, 11
Race 4: Class 5 (1300M) Handicap / KRW 40 Million
1. SONGAM GANGJA – First start since April. Won a trial last week but one be among the top fancies.
2. TRUE CIELO – Enters following three consecutive 3rd place finishes and is accordingly up in class. Tougher assignment here.
3. OPTIMUM RUDY – 9th of 11 on first attempt at this class following maiden win in April. Worth another chance here.
4. BULHUUI MYEONGGOG – Three 3rd place finishes sees him up in class today. Not going to be easy here.
5. EXCELLENT QUEEN – Three 2nd place finishes including one at this level. 4th last time and in the frame today. Maiden win not impossible.
6. MIGHTY MAMBO – Maiden win at 7th time of asking over 1300M a month ago. Up in class here but could go close. Never finished worse than 5th.
7. EUNBIT BADA – Slow starter who tends to give herself a bit too much to do. Light weight under an apprentice today.
8. HANIL ENSEMBLE – Comes in after a 3rd and 4th at class and distance in latest two. More needed today.
9. SUSEONG CHAMP – 4th on what was first try at this level three weeks ago and winner at the distance the time before. Can get on pace early and can win.
10. SHARP PRINCESS – Scored her maiden victory in May at long odds but was last on first try at this level a month ago.
11. YEONDARA – Comes in off back to back 4th place finishes and a repeat is possible here.
Verdict: (9) SUSEONG CHAMP scored well over this distance in May and was a decent enough 4th on first try at class 5 on June 24th. That’s enough to make him favourite here. (6) MIGHTY MAMBO is up in class following his own maiden win a month ago and should be competitive while (3) OPTIMUM RUDY and (5) EXCELLENT QUEEN both look like they have more to give.
Selections (9) Suseong Champ (6) Mighty Mambo (3) Optimum Rudy (5) Excellent Queen
Next Best 11, 2
Fast Start 9, 1, 2, 5, 6
Race 5: Class 4 (1000M) Handicap / KRW 60 Million
1. YEWON K – She’s won both starts to date at long odds. Up in class again, she’s not going to be favourite once more but must be respected. Not impossible.
2. COLORFUL CAT – First start since October last year. Looked sharp in trials but others likely to be favoured.
3. SPECIAL ROAD HILL – 3rd behind Smart Dream last time and ahead of Geum Kaera on what was first start since February. Could match.
4. GEUM KAERA – Comes in off two 5ths and a 4th behind Smart Dream and Special Road Hill so form to overturn.
5. WONDER LIGHT – First start since the end of May when she beat Smart Dream on her way to a three-length win over 1200M. More weight but back in trip and can repeat.
6. SMART DREAM – Never finished any worse than 3rd despite just one victory. Back to 1000M today if she gets in front, she’ll be hard to beat.
7. JURINGHEOU – Class 5 winner at this distance in April, she was 4th on first try at this level in similar race last month.
Verdict: (5) WONDER LIGHT comfortably defeated (6) SMART DREAM as the pair raced 1st and 3rd over 1200M at the end of May, however, stepped back to the minimum today, Smart Dream has every chance of overturning that form. Those two look superior but (1) YEWON K hasn’t been given much chance in either of her two races so far and she’s won both of those so needs a bit more respect here.
Selections (6) Smart Dream (5) Wonder Light (1) Yewon K (7) Juringheou
Next Best 2, 4
Fast Start 1, 2, 6
Race 6: Class 4 (1300M) Handicap / KRW 60 Million
1. JINGYEOGUI YEONGUNG – Best of 4th so far. Matching that would be a good result here.
2. JEOMIPGASOK – Never far away and landed his second career win on his first try at this class on June 18th. It was at this distance and the weight is still light so every chance.
3. SEONJE ILGYEOK – Yet to score in 22 and probably won’t here either but he’s capable of finding at least minor money on his day.
4. FINE TODAY – First start for 10 weeks, he put in a couple of promising performances at the start of the year but struggled last time.
5. RUN WITH GOLD – Just two prior starts and he’s offered few clues.
6. ARCH ARCH – Hasn’t scored yet but has come close on each of his latest two, finishing 3rd in both. Should be on pace early here and could do it.
7. WHANGHORAN JILJU – No better than 4th in eight previous tries. Would be a surprise were he to go any better today.
8. KYE RI – Decent 3rd last time behind a couple of useful ones and ahead of Tricker. Not impossible.
9. TRICKER – 5th behind Kye Ri last start and 3d the time before that. Should be claiming at least some minor money.
Verdict: Competitive little race this. We’re going to go with the proven winner though and (2) JEOMPIGASOK can make it two in a row at this distance having won a similar race last time. It often pays to go for the Korean breds in races such as this and he can confirm that here. Plenty of the others have come close and (6) ARCH ARCH and (8) KYE RI especially look like they have wins in them at some stage.
Selections (2) Jeompigasok (6) Arch Arch (8) Kye Ri (9) Tricker
Next Best 3, 1
Fast Start 2, 6
Race 7: Class 4 (1300M) Handicap
1. SAEBYEOCK BULKKOT – Managed a 3rd at this class in March but hasn’t impressed in two starts since.
2. ROCKET ROAD – Put in a rare for Korea sub 1-minute 1000M last start and looks headed for higher grades than this. Should be winning.
3. MOONHAK CHIEF – Didn’t do a huge amount on debut but looks like he needs distance so can get another chance here.
4. CITY WOLF – Disappointed last time but should be competitive in this company. Placing chances.
5. NASCAUI BYEOL – A$120,000 purchase, this Aussie import makes his debut here. He trialled up ok and will surely have some backers.
6. BORN WARRIOR – Drops back in trip today and could make for an interesting outsider.
7. DELAGO KING- Was out for over a year before returning in June. Hasn’t shown a lot in two starts back.
8. CAPTAIN PARK – Best from eight starts so far is a 5th place and it would be a surprise were he to better that today.
9. KING ZENON – Two starts so far were separated by nine months. 7th of 12 on return and can improve on that today.
10. RACE SIN – Useful 3rd place over 1200M last start and looks in the placing frame again.
Verdict: (2) ROCKET ROAD was a fast 2nd over 1000M a month ago and while her one previous attempt at this distance didn’t go well, she is favoured to get it right this time. The experienced (4) CITY WOLF and (10) RACE SIN are capable of placing in this company while (3) MOONHAK CHIEF can build on his debut from last month. Expensive import (5) NASCAUI BYEOL may not have hugely impressed in his trial but shouldn’t be overlooked.
Selections (2) Rocket Road (3) Moonhak Chief (4) City Wolf (5) Nascaui Byeol
Next Best 10, 9, 6
Fast Start 1, 4, 5, 10
Race 8: Class Open (2000M) The Minister’s Cup (KOR G2) / Allowance / KRW 600 Million
1. DAEHO SIDAE – 4th in Cup Mile and 7th in the Derby, he shouldn’t be too far away again but others are favoured.
2. BRIGHT STAR –2nd in the Oaks last month, just beaten a head on just her third career start, this may just be a little too soon but she looks a really good prospect. Could be a pacesetter.
3. JEJUI HANEUL – The shock 50/1 winner of the Oaks flying home from off the pace. Distance should be fine but the competition is stiffer today.
4. UJU STAR – 4th in the Oaks, she’s a stablemate of American Power. Good potential but tough ask. Should be close to early speed.
5. WILD THUNDER – Didn’t run in Cup Mile of Derby but won over 1700M at class 4 in May. First start since, he has a strong finish but most likely an outsider.
6. CHOEGANG JEOLLYEOK – Didn’t run in Cup Mile of Derby but was a nine-length winner over 1300M at Busan last month. Bit of a wildcard.
7. ROYAL RUBY – 2nd in both Cup Mile and Derby, he trialled up last week looking well. Distance no problem and he’ll surely be involved. May have to settle for a Triple Crown of 2nd places though.
8. FINAL BOSS – Came from last to 1st to win the Derby by three lengths and if he runs anything like his best, he will win. The nagging doubt is that at Busan in the Cup Mile, he didn’t run his best but here at Seoul, he has to be favourite.
9. INDIAN KING – Cup Mile winner was 4th in the Derby and last month put in a fairly nondescript performance running 4th over 1400M in a class 2 handicap. Close to early speed, he should run on well enough but others may be quicker.
10. YEONGGWANGUIHUNTER – Comes in off a useful 3rd place over 1800M at class 3. He’ll get the distance but has plenty to find in this company.
11. AMERICAN POWER – 3rd in both Cup Mile and the Derby, this could be his day. He’ll settle behind the early speed and has a strong finish.
12. TEUKBYEOL STAR – Longest shot on the board in the Korean Oaks she ran a huge race to finish 3rd. She’s still a maiden and still will be after this but she’ll stay on.
Verdict: So far (8) FINAL BOSS has been the only real stand-out among this crop. He looked woeful at Busan in the Cup Mile yet rallied to finish 5th before messing about in the early stages of the Derby, then ducking across to the stand-side in the home straight and still managing to win by three lengths. If he behaves, he wins. That could leave (7) ROYAL RUBY and (11) AMERICAN POWER with a hat-trick of 2nd and 3rd places respectively but Cup Mile winner (9) INDIAN KING and the always well-backed (1) DAEHO SIDAE can’t be ruled out. The fillies have joined in too and while it will be a big ask for Oaks winner (3) JEJUI HANEUL to repeat what she pulled off in Busan last month, she’ll see out the trip as will the one she narrowly beat that day, (2) BRIGHT STAR, who looks a serious prospect but is this still just a little soon for her?
Selections (8) Final Boss (7) Royal Ruby (11) American Power (2) Bright Star
Next Best 3, 9, 1
Fast Start 2, 4, 9
Race 9: Class 4 (1300M) Handicap / KRW 60 Million
1. DREAM SLEW – 4th on first try at this level last time out and should look to at least match that today.
2. SERA KING – Surprise class and distance winner on June 17th. Carries more weight today but repeat not impossible.
3. MIRACLE TO YOU – A 2nd and three 3rd place finishes among his most recent four outings. Should be matching those today.
4. JIGONG BULPAE – 4th of 1 behind Miracle To You on first try at this level three weeks ago and 4th should be a minimum requirement here.
5. SPERO – Good winner over 1700M a month ago. Looks unlikely to be detained at class 4 for very long and is the one to beat here.
6. SIVERGRAY CAT – Hasn’t found it easy at this level with a best of 5th from four attempts.
7. NABOM CASTLE – Won on first try at this class all the way back last summer but hasn’t looked like following up since.
8. TOUR MIDAS – Was out for eight months and hasn’t looked the same in three starts since returning.
9. GUTONGSA – Up in class after smart win over the distance last month. Slow starter but strong finisher, the danger is he leaves himself too much to do in this stiffer company.
10. IN BORN CHAMP – 8th of 12 on solitary start this year last month. Much to find today.
Verdict: (5) SPERO drops back in trip following a gutsy win over 1700M a month ago and is favoured to win once again here. He’ll likely sit behind any early speed and finish strongly. (3) MIRACLE TO YOU and (4) JIGONG BULPAE came home 3rd and 4th over class and distance three weeks ago and look to be the main dangers while (1) DREAM SLEW and the up in class closer (9) GUTONGSA are others to look out for.
Selections (5) Spero (3) Miracle To You (4) Jigong Bulpae (9) Gutongsa
Next Best 1, 2
Fast Start 2, 3
Race 10: Class 3 (1700M) Handicap / KRW 75 Million
1. BELLA LAURA – Up in class having come too close too many times at class 4. A bit to find today.
2. BROOKS – Generally finds a few too quick at this level.
3. ECO BOOSTER – A 4th and two 6ths in three tries at this level since a win in February. In the placing frame.
4. MOLLYDOOKER – Really good 4th last start over 1800M but may struggle to follow up on that here.
5. DAEBAKIDA – Comes in off a win and a 2nd place both at class and distance, beating a couple of these both times. A chance.
6. LUCKY HEART – Little in recent form suggests she can compete here.
7. BANYA DONGHAENG – 3rd to Daebakida in May but then beat two of these on way to three-length victory at class and distance on June 18th Big chance today.
8. TIZ RUN – First try at two turns today and no reason why it won’t suit. Shown plenty of speed and has good potential. The favourite.
9. FACTUM’S IMAGE – Not lived up to early promise. Outsider here.
10. SOJUNGHAN MANNAM – Not too far away in latest two and firmly in the placing hunt here.
Verdict: This is a competitive race but we’re going to go with the up and comer (8) TIZ RUN to continue his progress on what will be his first start around two turns. He’s come from off the pace in recent outings but could well go forward here and lead all the way. (5) DAEBAKIDA and (7) BANYA DONGHAENG are both proven class and distance winners and must be respected while (10) SOJUNGHAN MANNAM has every chance of finding the places once more.
Selections (8) Tiz Run (7) Banya Donghaeng (5) Daebakida (10) Sojunghan Mannam
Next Best 3
Fast Start 7, 8, 10
Race 11:  Class 2 (1200M) Handicap / KRW 90 Million
1. POWER BISEUL – Mildly surprising winner over Cheongdam Bulpae at 1700M a month ago. Steps down in trip today but must be respected.
2. CHEONGDAM BULPAE – Winner of 5 from 11 so far. He saw his winning streak come to an end on first try at two turns last start, beaten by Power Biseul, but back at 1200M today is going to be hard to beat.
3. RAON ROUIS – Back in form with a really good win over 1400M at the end of May. However, that’s put him up in class. Nevertheless, he’s talented and can compete.
4. KODIAK LOVE – Finished last in each of his latest three.
5. SPECIAL JOY – Beat three of these on his way to 2nd place at this distance in May. Couldn’t follow up though and up against it today.
6. WOW CAT – 3rd behind Special Joy in May and then beat that one when 6th last month. Not among the favourites today.
7. CHOWON GANGTA – Won fast race in April at this distance before only beating a couple home in big race over 2000M last month. In the frame here.
8. SIMSIN JIRYEO – Comes in off a couple of 4ths when sent off at long odds. Could match today.
9. S ROSE – 5th behind Simsin Jiryeo last time and 5th would be a good result again.
Verdict: (2) CHEONGDAM BULPAE looks a prospect. He saw his three-race winning streak come to a halt on his first try at two-turns at the hands of Power Biseul last month. He was a solid 2nd but rather than try again at the distance he’s dropped back to 1200M and really should turn the tables today. (1) POWER BISEUL earned plenty of respect for that win and is in the hunt again while (3) RAON ROUIS and (7) CHOWON GANGTA are others who could compete.
Selections (2) Cheongdam Bulpae (1) Power Biseul (3) Raon Rouis (7) Chowon Gangta
Next Best 8
Fast Start 2, 3, 6
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