Silver Wolf was last year’s Champion Mare and she returns to action at Seoul Racecourse on Sunday when she is expected to start a strong favourite in the Donga Ilbo Cup over 1800M. She will be ridden by Djordje Perovic, making his last appearance at Seoul for at least the time being as he seeks to recover from a back injury. There are 11 races at Seoul from 10:45 to 18:00 and 6 at Busan from 12:40 to 17:05. Here are the previews (only Seoul is on overseas simulcast this week):
Race 1: Class 5 (1000M) Handicap / KRW 40 Million
A winner at class 6 over 1300M in December, (7) LEONNING STROM was 3rd on his first try at this level in a stiffer contest than this on January 13th having led for most of the race. He drops back to the minimum today and will be expected to win. (9) SUN BOLT was an all the way winner on debut on January 7th. He’s up in class here but if he gets off to the same kind of start he did that day, then he has a big chance. (2) MYEONGPUM BOBAE remains winless but steps back to the minimum today having weakened in both her latest two over further and she should be close. Back on Myeongpum Bobae’s debut, she was 2nd to (6) LUCKY MISS. The latter has only raced once since – a full thirteen weeks ago – and is worthy of another chance. (10) MAGIC AI returns to action for the first time in nine months and performed pleasingly enough in a January trial to come straight into placing contention.
|Selections||(7) Leonning Strom (9) Sun Bolt (2) Myeongpum Bobae (10) Magic Ai|
|Next Best||6, 12|
|Fast Start||2, 5, 6, 9|
Race 2: Class 5 (1300M) Handicap / KRW 40 Million
Both (6) KWAEHAN YEBONGSAN and (10) AMARONE are up in class having registered their maiden wins, both at this distance, on their respective last starts. This all-filly/mare contest is not a strong one and both can be expected to go well with Amarone slightly favoured to prevail. She’ll likely try to come from just behind the early speed which will probably be set by Kwaehan Yebongsa. Form doesn’t read well for the rest of them so we’re looking for one who finds herself in a better spot today than in recent outings. Punters will turn to (11) CHUKBOGUI YEOLMAE who comes in following a series of 4th and 5th place finishes in slightly sterner company and can benefit from the services of Moon Se Young today. (1) ARABIA GONGJU and (7) JASEONG GUNJU are others who fit the criteria for improvement here.
|Selections||(10) Amarone (6) Kwaehan Yebongsan (11) Chukbogui Yeolmae (1) Arabia Gongju|
|Next Best||7, 3|
|Fast Start||3, 6, 9|
Race 3: Class 6 (1300M) Allowance / KRW 24 Million
(2) DUAL CHOEGANG makes his first start for Italian trainer Luigi Riccardi and it could very well be a winning one. The four-year-old had been getting closer culminating in a 2nd place, just beaten a neck, at the distance in December. That wasn’t a very strong race, but this isn’t much stiffer, and he should win. (11) JEJUI HEUKSEON was sent off as favourite in a similar contest to this back on January 14th. He briefly touched the front about a furlong out before being beaten into 4th and he may well provide the biggest test today. We’re struggling with the rest though. (3) LAST CONCERT has a 5th place finish to her name in similar company in December and while she hardly impressed on return last month, she could go well here. (6) VALLEY MOON and (12) BAEKDU POWER best of a limited rest.
|Selections||(2) Dual Choegang (11) Jejui Heukseon (3) Last Concert (6) Valley Moon|
|Next Best||12, 1|
|Fast Start||4, 5, 8|
Race 4: Class 5 (1200M) Handicap / KRW 40 Million
Three of these raced each other at class and distance on January 13th. (2) BOLD SHINING finished the best of them in 2nd with (1) BACK TO BACK in 4th (the pair of them split by Leonning Strom who we saw in race 1) and (4) HAENGUN NURI 5th. Back To Back began the race as favourite on the strength od a very solid December win over 1200M that got him promoted in class although Bold Shining also entered a winner. We’re going to go for the form to be overturned today and for Back To Back to be on top. (3) MACHA BUCHA comes in following a useful 4th place over 1300M two weeks ago and will likely set the early pace alongside (5) CHAMBIT, who may benefit from the slight step back in trip. (8) NONGBON DAERO, up in class following narrow victory over 1000M last month is the potential wildcard. He held his own at 1300M, albeit at class 6, and can be competitive here.
|Selections||(1) Back To Back (2) Bold Shining (5) Chambit (3) Macha Bucha|
|Next Best||8, 10|
|Fast Start||3, 5, 6, 10|
Race 5: Class 4 (1300M) Handicap / KRW 60 Million
(2) CHOEGANG GOSU was a good 2nd on debut over 1000M on January 21st and steps up in trip here with chances it will suit. Last time out, he beat (5) JANGSAN BEARS, who was a full six lengths back but running on well enough to suggest that he too may benefit form a bit more distance after coming 4th on both his outings so far. (4) EAST PALOS already has two 3rd place finishes at this distance and while he only managed 6th on his most recent start, it was a tougher race than this and he can get much closer today. Having not previously shown much talent (3) KING ZENON was a surprising 2nd at class and distance on January 7th. He led almost the while way here and with not a huge amount of early speed in this race, he may well get to the front quite easily. Whether he stays there is another matter but it’s not impossible. (1) JISANGMYEONGRYEONG and (10) SUPER TRICK are others in contention.
|Selections||(2) Choegang Gosu (4) East Palos (5) Jangsan Bears (3) King Zenon|
|Next Best||1, 10, 6|
|Fast Start||3, 5|
Race 6: Class 4 (1300M) Handicap / KRW 60 Million
Back on December 23rd, (6) CONTRAIL made all to just manage to hold off (7) LITTLE SOCIE and (5) JIGONG BULPAE as the three of them filled out the first three place over 1400M. That was Contrail’s second consecutive win and third from four starts in total and while he carries an extra 4kg today, he has every chance of another. Both Little Socie and Jigong Bulpae have raced each other again since running 2nd and 4th respectively at class and distance on January 20th and both are firmly in the hunt here. They were split that day by (8) SAEBYEOCK BULKKOT, who is inconsistent but not without talent and may feature again. The primary danger to the favourite, however, could be (2) SHARP KAYLAN, up in class following a commanding six-length victory at this distance on January 21st. He’ll challenge Contrail for the early lead as will (4) BLACK MUSIC, who is back in trip after a hard time around 1700M a month ago and who should be much more comfortable here.
|Selections||(6) Contrail (2) Sharp Kayalan (7) Little Socie (5) Jigong Bulpae|
|Next Best||4, 3|
|Fast Start||2, 4, 6|
Race 7: Class 6 (1700M) Allowance / KRW 24 Million
Ten maidens here but a couple of lightly raced promising ones are tried around two turns for the first time and both have a chance. Both (5) SPECIAL STONE and (10) GANADORA have shown ability at 1300M and it’s Ganadora we’ll favour to take the step up in trip the best. She is likely to come right across the field in the early stages to get on the lead and if she can do this successfully, she may be difficult to dislodge. Special Stone will likely be ridden more patiently and can finish well. (6) UPDATE has been around this trip a few times already with a best finish of 3rd. He’ll be on speed early with Ganadora and should stick on. It’s a weak event overall so the likes of (1) ONE TWO THREE and (8) MAIN EVENT could also improve.
|Selections||(10) Ganadora (5) Special Stone (6) Update (1) One Two Three|
|Next Best||8, 3|
|Fast Start||6, 10|
Race 8: Class 4 (1700M) Handicap / KRW 60 Million
2nd at class and distance last start, (11) ROAD KING looks to be the one to beat here. He was favourite for that race but just came up short by half a length and can get it right today. (12) EORIN WANGJA has already won at the distance albeit it class 5 and is up in class here. The wide draw isn’t ideal, but he will try to loop the field early to get to the lead and if he makes it, can be a danger. (7) ACE KING steps up in trip for the first time, He closed strongly for 2nd in a good race over 1200M last month and may well benefit from the extra distance. (2) FANTASTIC COMBI likewise tries a proper trip for the first time and can improve while (4) DELTA K enters with encouraging recent form and can go close.
|Selections||(11) Road King (12) Eorin Wangja (7) Ace King (4) Delta K|
|Next Best||2, 5|
|Fast Start||4, 12|
Race 9: Class Open “The Donga Ilbo Cup” (1800M) Allowance / KRW 250 Million
- THE QUEEN SILVER – She has form to overcome on most of the favourites having been well back behind Silver Wolf, Mighty Gem and O.K. Yeondab in both the KNN and Gyeongnam Governor’s Cups and rounded out 2017 with a disappointing run behind Bichui Jeongsang. She’ll try to come from well back and should beat a few.
- CHANG SE – 3rd in the Jeju Governor’s Cup at 1400M last September but off the board in two subsequent starts. Finihsed the year last in the Trainers’ Cup, again at 1400M. Should show at the front early but needs a big improvement.
- AREUNDAUNDONGHAENG – Ended last year in a bit of a rut form wise and was well back in the KNN Cup. Still some talent there and she can beat a number of these although the minor money is the most realistic goal. Likely to sit behind the early lead.
- ROCKET QUEEN – An all-the-way winner over 1700M on January 7th, she becomes trainer Luigi Riccardi’s first Listed race runner in Korea. That race was at class 3 though this is quite a step up. Likely to get away quickly and take a chance on leading again.
- BICHUI JEONGSANG – Returned to the winner’s circle with a surprise gate-to-wire class 1 win on Christmas Eve, beating Mighty Gem by over a length over 1800M. It was a very wet track that day and conditions will be different this time, but it was a reminder of the quality she’s shown throughout her career and that she may not be done yet. Used to be a deep closer but now more versatile.
- MIGHTY GEM – Beaten into 2nd by Bichui Jeongsang on Christmas Eve in a race she was favourite for, the second time she’s been beaten by her rival in her last three outings. 2nd to Silver Wold in the KNN Cup and 4th in the Gyeongnam Governor’s Cup, she’s a very good competitor who comes from off the pace with a strong finish. She can place again
- LEAD MONEY – Still at class 3 but she has put in some good performances at this distance. Looked sharp in a trial at the end of last month and likely to be on speed early. An outsider but not a no-hoper.
- SILVER WOLF – The outstanding mare of last season taking a clean sweep of the Queens’ Tour races, beating most of these along the way while also finding time to run 5th in the Korea Sprint. The Grand Prix Stakes over 2300M in December was perhaps a race too far but it would be a big surprise were she to be upset here. She can settle in midfield and should be too good late on.
- O.K. YEONDAB – First start since running a very good 2nd to Silver Wolf in the Gyeongnam Governor’s Cup in November. She may only have won two of her thirteen starts but is rarely too far away. Likely to shadow Silver Wolf and look to finish strongly.
Verdict: It’s hard to construct a case against (8) SILVER WOLF. She was far and away the best filly or mare last year and there’s no reason why it shouldn’t continue this time around. The only question in whether the Grand Prix, when she like all of them suffered behind Cheongdam Dokki’s furious fractions, took something out of her but she’s had nine weeks to recover and she should win. (5) BICHUI JEONGSANG, (6) MIGHTY GEM and (9) O.K. YEONDAB to chase her home
|Selections||(8) Silver Wolf (6) Mighty Gem (9) O.K. Yeondab (5) Bichui Jeongsang|
|Next Best||1, 3|
|Fast Start||2, 4, 7|
Race 10: Class 3 (1700M) Handicap / KRW 75 Million
(8) DAEJANGBAK beat (10) NASCA PRINCE as the pair finished 1st and 2nd in a very similar race on December 23rd. Daejangbak has raced once since then, coming 4th at this distance in another good race three weeks ago, carrying 4kg more than when he won. He carries that same load today and Nasca Prince may well reverse the form. (1) GLOBAL LINE had a chastening time in two big Juvenile Championship races last October and December nut kicked off his three-year-old campaign in fine style with an eight-length score over 1300M on January 14th. He steps up to two turns for the first time here, should be on the early speed, and could be a big danger. (3) JISANG BIHAENG returned from several months off to run a very good 2nd over 1800M last month and must be respected while (6) YESANGBAEK SEUNG is rarely too far away and can make a bid for at least the places.
|Selections||(10) Nasca Prince (1) Global Line (8) Daejangbak (3) Jisang Bihaeng|
|Next Best||6, 9|
|Fast Start||1, 3, 4|
Race 11: Class 1 (1200M) Handicap / KRW 150 Million
Could this be Djordje Perovic’s final ride in Korea? It will be for the time being at least and he can end of a winning note as (1) CHOEGANG SCHILLER, making his first start since moving to the care of Luigi Riccardi, is very much the one to beat here. He regained the track record at this distance in October before running a close 4th behind (9) DAISYAN in November. He hits the front early and he wins. (7) HEUNGRYONG enters in great form too, culminating in a really good win last month. This is stiffer, but he can push the favourite. (10) ANOTHER SMART ONE won a rather weak class 1 contest in December and looks to have more improvement in him. Never rule out Daisyan or (4) PARANG JUUIBO, both of whom are dangerous in this kind of race.
|Selections||(1) Choegang Schiller (7) Heungryong (4) Parang Juuibo (10) Another Smart One|
|Next Best||9, 2|
|Fast Start||1, 2, 8, 10|