We’re into February already and the penultimate weekend of racing before the Lunar New Break. Things kick off at Busan on Friday with 11 races from 11:30 to 18:00. Here are the previews:
Race 1: Class 6 (1000M) Allowance / KRW 24 Million
Even by his own standards, trainer Kim Young Kwan is on a remarkable run at the moment with each of his last eleven starters finishing in the first two; eight of them winners. He simply has far greater firepower than anyone else and another one looks to have rolled off the production line in the shape of (8) BLACK SHIELD. The Einstein filly trialled up nicely behind two experienced race-horses in January and she’ll be well backed to keep her trainer’s run going first-up here. She may have to settle for 2nd though with (6) YEONGCHEON STAR looking ready to win. He’s been getting closer across five outings to date and led for much of the way last time before ending in 2nd behind a good winner. (2) SHARP BELL has looked promising with a 2nd and 3rd in two starts back following a lengthy spell with (9) OS TOP and (7) TANGO AND TANGO others who may improve.
|Selections||(8) Black Shield (6) Yeongcheon Star (2) Sharp Bell (9) OS Stop|
|Next Best||7, 10|
|Fast Start||6, 7, 8|
Race 2: Class 6 (1000M) Allowance / KRW 24 Million
(8) PYEONGCHANG HORANGI was a much improved 2nd when dropped back to this distance on December 22nd and will be favourite to take out this modest contest. He led from gate 2 that day but jockey Lee Sung Jae may be content to allow others to lead and take up a handy position in preparation for a strong finish. It’s perhaps a measure of just how modest this race is that (3) GOLDEN AGE, who was well back that day looks in with a chance of going close here, especially given a better draw which should enable her to get on the pace. (4) EVER GOOD TIME and (9) GIPPEUM SARANG have shown some traces of ability and have good chances to secure career-best finishes. Given the strength (or lack thereof) of the race we have to consider the debut-makers and of the two of them, (1) STORM CAPER looks most ready.
|Selections||(8) Pyeongchang Horangi (1) Storm Caper (3) Golden Age (9) Gippeum Sarang|
|Next Best||4, 2, 5|
|Fast Start||1, 3, 9, 10|
Race 3: Class 6 (1000M) Allowance / KRW 40 Million
Restricted to three-year-olds hence the enhanced prize fund. (10) SINGAEBYEOK was 3rd of 7 on debut three weeks ago beating a couple of these in the process. It was in line with expectations and he can progress today with every chance of winning, likely from the front. The main threats looks to be a couple of first-time starters. (4) WHIPLASH MARINE looked nice and handy when trialling up at the beginning of December. She crossed the line within a length of Lucky Korea who has gone on to record a win and a 2nd place finish in two actual outings since then. She’ll likely challenge for the lead early. (3) SEUNGNI DAEJANG was supposed to debut two weeks ago but refused to parade and had to be scratched. Bart Rice sent the gelding back to trial last week and he came through it very nicely and may be considered here. Returning to those who have raced before, (6) SUCHEOJAKJU and (11) SWEEP MAN both look to have scope for improvement.
|Selections||(10) Singaebyeok (4) Whiplash Marine (3) Seungni Daejang (11) Sweep Man|
|Next Best||6, 7, 1|
|Fast Start||1, 4, 10|
Race 4: Class 6 (1300M) Allowance / KRW 40 Million
(8) CHEOGANG THUNDER just missed out by a nose when tried at this distance for the first time four weeks ago. He benefited from being on speed as he had previously resented the kickback. He has shown a tendency to jump out of the gate a bit awkwardly but if he can get away well today, he could win. (7) GREAT ROCK (who until he starts winning himself will always be referred to as one of Triple Nine’s full brothers) has a 4th and a 2nd in two outings to date. He’s been favourite for both and while he hasn’t quite seemed to hit top gear yet, it could come right today. (3) BIG RED IJI and (1) BEST ROYAL were both beaten by Choegang Thunder last time, but both can have placing chances today. (9) CATCH NINE is the only debut-maker and she looked very comfortable when winning a trial with plenty in hand two weeks ago.
|Selections||(8) Choegang Thunder (7) Great Rock (9) Catch Nine (3) Big Red Iji|
|Next Best||1, 10|
|Fast Start||7, 8, 9|
Race 5: Class 5 (1300M) Handicap / KRW 40 Million
(4) ICE LEG was a six-length winner over the distance on a bitterly cold day three weeks ago, beating Great Rock, who we saw in race 4. He is up in class here but the manner of that win and the progression shown across three starts in total, suggests there is more to come and he will most likely start as favourite today. (8) MANY DESCENDANT is yet to win in nineteen attempts but his recent form reads well, and he was a solid 2nd – albeit a long way behind a very good winner, at class and distance on January 14th. (9) BLACK FINE was 3rd behind highly-rated Rainha a month ago and can at least match that today while (7) GEUJIKOJI enters here after a similar 3rd place two days earlier. (10) BUGYEONG BOLT was a comfortable enough winner on debut on New Year’s Eve and while he is up in class and distance today, can be respected.
|Selections||(4) Ice Leg (8) Many Descendant (9) Black Fine (10) Bugyeong Bolt|
|Next Best||7, 1|
|Fast Start||1, 7, 10|
Race 6: Class 5 (1000M) Handicap / KRW 40 Million
Wide open race and many possible contenders. (6) BAENGNYEON SONNIM was favourite for a very similar class and distance contest three weeks ago but stumbled out of the barriers losing ground and had to race from an unfavourable position from then on, ultimately ending up in 5th. With a better start, there’s no reason why he can’t win today. (2) ISIDAE YEONGGWANG was 3rd in that same race, a big improvement on recent form, and could place again. (10) MAKGANG BOLT, (3) NORTHERN VICAR and (4) RECHAE came home 2nd, 3rd and 4th as the trio raced each other at class and distance on January 5th and the former two especially look in the frame today. (5) TWO TWO ACE is up in class having secured his maiden win on his fourth start n January 7th. He made all that day and if he gets away to a similarly good start here, he could repeat.
|Selections||(6) Baengnyeon Sonnim (5) Two Two Ace (10) Makgang Bolt (3) Northern Vicar|
|Next Best||2, 9, 11|
|Fast Start||2, 5, 8|
Race 7: Class 4 (1000M) Handicap / KRW 60 Million
Small field but competitive contest for fillies and mares and (2) EVERGREEN TREE, a filly who had shown plenty of talent prior to some setbacks returned from over nine months out on January 12th to win over this class and distance. It was a strong performance and she has every chance of repeating. The filly she beat into 2nd that day has the best chance of stopping her here. (1) BUGYEONG DAEBAK was less than a length behind having briefly led a furlong from home. It was her first defeat and she looks to have more wins in her. Both those two will likely compete for the lead from the gate and they will be joined by (4) BEAUTIFUL ACT. A winner of two from five, she is up in class following a front-running win victory over the distance on December 22nd and she can be competitive at this level too. (5) JEONSAUI HUYE and (6) DAEHOYEOJANGGUN are among a number of others who have placing claims.
|Selections||(2) Evergreen Tree (1) Bugyeong Daebak (4) Beautiful Act (5) Jeonsaui Huye|
|Next Best||6, 8, 9|
|Fast Start||1, 2, 4, 5|
Race 8: Class 4 (1600M) Handicap / KRW 60 Million
Having been an also-ran in the Breeders’ Cup race (Korea’s top juvenile race) in Seoul in early December, (3) DIVIDE WIND came back to Busan and stepped up to this trip on New Year’s Eve, comfortably scoring ahead of what was arguably stiffer competition than this. Accordingly, he’ll carry an additional 4kg this time, but it shouldn’t stop him from repeating and he could well get a soft lead here which will suit him even more. (4) SHE JUST WIN did just that in both her first two starts but she has begun to meet her match at his level. Nevertheless, she’s performed admirably in both her class 4 outings so far with a 3rd and 4th place and steps up to a mile for the first time here under a nice light weight. (7) GEOWIUI KKUM was well back behind Divide Wind on New Year’s Eve but returned just two weeks ago to run a very pleasing race in 2nd again at class and distance and could repeat. (1) BUSAN BOLT and (5) FIRST SUN are others in the hunt.
|Selections||(3) Divide Wind (4) She Just Win (1) Busan Bolt (7) Geowiui Kkum|
|Next Best||5, 6|
Race 9: Class 4 (1200M) Handicap / KRW 60 Million
Kim Young Kwan again. (8) BAEKMUNBAEKDAP didn’t do an awful lot in two starts last year but he made all to win a trial ahead of some good horses two weeks ago. He races for the first time since September so it’s a completely fresh start and e’s favoured to make all. He has a stablemate here. That’s (4) RUNNING SOCKS and he himself raced just the once without distinction last August but returned in a trial a month ago which he won handily and he will probably join Baekmunbaekdap on the early speed. This isn’t a strong race and it’s the kind of contest that the likes of (1) AJU PUJIMHAM and (10) CHASEDAE, both of whom have been around the block a few times, can go well in and certainly challenge for places. (11) FLYING RANGER too is perhaps a little better than recent form suggests and can compete for at least minor prize money.
|Selections||(8) Baekmunbaekdap (4) Running Socks (1) Aju Pujimhan (10) Chasedae|
|Next Best||11, 9|
|Fast Start||4, 8|
Race 10: Class 2 (2000M) Handicap / KRW 90 Million
(1) WORLD NUMBER ONE was 2nd to Ppudeut and ahead of a number of decent ones in what was a strong race for this class on December 30th. He remains under a relatively light weight here and from gate 1 can sit behind the lead early and finish strongly. (3) IN THE BACK was narrowly beaten over a mile on January 12th in a race where the longest shot on the board pulled off a shock win. He has a lot of experience at this class and while he is one of eight here who try the distance for the first time, can get close once more. (5) MUHAN YEOLJEONG, (6) HEUMUT and (7) FOUR NINES, the latter a stablemate of In The Back, are all up in class following wins of varying ease over 1800M across the past month. All three are nicely weighted and all have chances here with Muhan Yeoljeong, who beat Four Nines on Christmas Eve, slightly favoured among them.
|Selections||(1) World Number One (5) Muhan Yeoljeong (3) In The Back (7) Four Nines|
|Next Best||6, 4|
|Fast Start||5, 4, 7, 9|
Race 11: Class 3 (1200M) Handicap / KRW 75 Million
(3) SECRET MARINE was 2nd in a good race at class and distance just two weeks ago and looks very nicely in here to go one better this time, most likely trying to lead from the gate. (6) TAEYANGUI SINHWA was 6th in last year’s Derby. He’s since been gelded and has a number of near-misses including 3rd place in a very competitive race over a mile on January 7th. He’ll be a threat today. (5) DANGDAE ALPHA could only manage 7th last start but is a class and distance winner and may be considered. (8) HAEUNDAE YEOGEOL dead-heated for victory last start and will be challenging Secret Marine and Dangdae Alpha right form the start. (11) KKEUTPAN AERO returned from several months off to run 4th behind Secret Marine two weeks ago and can build on that today.
|Selections||(3) Secret Marine (8) Haeundae Yeogeol (6) Taeyangui Sinhwa (11) Kkeutpan Aero|
|Next Best||5, 12|
|Fast Start||1, 3, 5, 8|