Choinma vs Gaon Champ at Seoul / Divide Wind vs Captain Force & Haeya vs Captain Blade at Busan
Sunday’s Sports Seoul Cup at Seoul Racecourse may have only attracted a field of eight-runners but it features two of the hottest three-year-olds at the track right now as Choinma and Gaon Champ meet over 1400M. Meanwhile at Busan, Divide Win faces stablemate Captain Force as well as Gimhae Mayor’s Cup winner Major Sun in another big three-year-old contest, the Gyeongnam Sinmun Cup
Choinma was Seoul’s top juvenile of 2017 winning both the Gyeonggi Governor’s and Gwacheon Mayor’s Cups before running 2nd to Busan prospect Ecton Blade in the Breeders’ Cup in December.
Gaon Champ wasn’t involved in any of those races, however, the Ecton Park colt only debuted at the start of December and picked up two modest races before blowing away a strong field in a valuable juvenile race in December, two weeks after the Breeders’ Cup. He’s won his three starts to date by a combined margin of thirty-lengths. There have been concerns throughout about his soundness and he does race at 1400M for the first time, but he is reportedly fit and ready to go and will surely be hard to beat.
Choinma has raced once as a three-year-old already, surprisingly beaten into 2nd in his first try around two turns at 1700M in January but he is still very much in the hunt. Neither he nor Gaon Champ are front-runners so the early pace will most likely be set by Mask and Sinui Myeongryeong, both good prospects themselves, while Sharp Kaylan too looks a better horse than he was when beaten by Gaon Champ in December – since then he’s won two in a row by six and four-lengths respectively.
The Sports Seoul Cup is the highlight of an eleven-race Sunday program at Seoul while at Busan, The Gyeongnam Sinmun Cup headlines five races. Only Seoul is available on overseas simulcast so only full comments for Seoul but Busan Selections are at the bottom:
Race 1: Class 6 (1300M) Allowance / KRW 40 Million
This one looks to be (11) ROAN DOLPUNG’s to lose. The Victoire Pisa gelding didn’t show much in his first two starts but has since followed up with consecutive 3rd place finishes both at this distance and at 1000M and should take some beating today. Despite being drawn wide, he should get on the early speed and lead all the way. The others have plenty to find. (3) BLACK SPIRIT and (7) SPEED YEONGUNG have both hinted at some potential talent, the latter beating a couple of these on his latest outing. (8) EOMJI YEOWANG showed signs of improvement when 5th last start and could maintain that momentum here. (2) FIRST THUNDER the best of a limited rest.
|Selections||(11) Raon Dolpung (8) Eomji Yeowang (7) Speed Yeongung (3) Black Spirit|
|Next Best||2, 12|
|Fast Start||5, 6, 10, 11|
Race 2: Class 6 (1300M) Allowance / KRW 24 Million
(2) DAE CAIN was considered promising enough by connections to be given a run in Gwacheon Mayor’s Cup, one of Seoul’s top juvenile races, las October. He was overmatched, only beating two home. He has since bounced back and his latest two starts, both at this distance and ending in 4th and 2nd placed finishes suggest a maiden win isn’t too far away and he’s the pick to score. (10) ONLY BARAM enters off back to back 3rd places and should be competitive again, while one of those he beat a couple of starts ago, (6) MIGHTY COOL, hasn’t been too far away in his recent tries and can be close again. (7) RUN AWAY was an improved 4th last time and enters the placing frame as does (12) SKY DOLPUNG, who can be given another chance after a lacklustre effort behind Dae Cain a month ago.
|Selections||(2) Dae Cain (10) Only Baram (6) Mighty Cool (7) Run Away|
|Next Best||12, 11, 4|
|Fast Start||1, 7, 8, 9|
Race 3: Class 5 (1000M) Handicap / KRW 40 Million
(2) GULCHARMNAMUSUP finished strongly to record a maiden win on debut on January 20th and while she is up in class today, she showed enough to suggest she is going to be very dangerous once more. (4) GANGCHONUI BYEOL used different tactics on her own debut two weeks later, leading from the gate, but the result was the same as she made all for a very comfortable win and she too steps up in class. At least one 100% record is going to be broken and it could go either way. We’ll come down marginally on the side of Gulcharmnamusup. Should both be beaten then it’s another up in class one, (7) SEONGBUL CHAMP, who could be best placed to take advantage. She has never been worse than 5th and was a really good winner last start at this distance. (1) HI EUREKA was a decent class and distance 4th last time while (8) SIMPLE RULES is better than the 8th place he registered on his first try at this class back in December and should be better dropped back in trip today.
|Selections||(2) Gulcharmnamusup (4) Gangchonui Byeol (7) Seongbul Champ (8) Simple Rules|
|Next Best||6, 9|
|Fast Start||2, 4, 6, 7|
Race 4: Class 5 (1300M) Handicap / KRW 40 Million
(2) JEONGSANG DOLPUNG steps up in class today following a commanding four-length win over 1000M at the end of January. On his only previous try at this distance he led early only to fade to 5th late on but he should be better now and can stay on this time. The big danger is (7) HYEONMU. He couldn’t get on the early pace from a wide draw when well-backed last time but looks better positioned to do so today and is a proven performer at this class. (9) DICE KING must be respected entering as he does a class and distance winner a month ago. It wasn’t an especially strong race, but Dice King won handsomely enough by a three-lengths and while he carries more weight today, can’t be ruled out. (4) POWER MOVE was 4th that day and could match here. (11) GWACHEON TUHON is another who can improve.
|Selections||(7) Hyeonmu (2) Jeongsang Dolpung (9) Dice King (11) Gwacheon Tuhon|
|Next Best||6, 4, 10|
|Fast Start||2, 7|
Race 5: Class 5 (1300M) Handicap / KRW 40 Million
She’s not been too far away in three starts since returning from a nine-month absence and this all-filly race could be when (3) ROYAL PARK returns to the winner’s circle. The start will be important but if she can get on or close to the early speed then she has an excellent chance. (2) RAISE ME UP is up in class after a narrow victory over the distance a month ago and should be in the hunt again while (11) SEUNGJAUI MISO enters following a class and distance 3rd at the end of January and looks to be getting to grips with this level. (10) MONEY CAMP makes her third start for Luigi Riccardi today having finished in 3rd place in both previous tries. She’s another who’ll want to be on pace early and if she can overcome the wide draw, she can go well. Last time, Money Cam beat (1) EPIPOLAR and that filly too has experience of placing at class and distance.
|Selections||(3) Royal Park (2) Raise Me Up (10) Money Camp (11) Seungjaui Miso|
|Next Best||11, 12|
|Fast Start||1, 3, 5, 10|
Race 6: Class 4 (1700M) Handicap / KRW 60 Million
Competitive contest here but we’ll go with the up in class (7) HANSEONG KING to back up straight away from his maiden win in January. That was at 1300M and he’s up to two turns for the first time, but he looks the type who can get the trip and can win from the front. (10) ALPHAKAN has plenty of experience at the distance and even has a win at it to his name. His latest run in 4th place behind a couple of useful ones suggests that he could be coming back into form and can be competitive here. (4) DAESUNG BIBEOB has taken to the distance well with a 2nd and a 1st rom his latest two at class 5 and is up in class here with reasons to be confident. (5) DELTA K and (6) CHARMING GOOD are two others who may be considered, the latter up to the distance for the first time.
|Selections||(7) Hanseong King (6) Charming Good (10) Alphakan (4) Daeseung Bibeob|
|Next Best||5, 11|
|Fast Start||2, 5, 7, 9|
Race 7: Class 3 (1800M) Handicap / KRW 75 Million
Intriguing race in prospect here. (11) GWACHEON BOLT was an eye-catching seven-length winner over 1700M on January 27th and accordingly moves up in class – and slightly in distance – today. He tends to start very slowly before rapidly improving in the middle of the race and everything fell into place perfectly for him that day and it could do so again although he will probably need a little bit of luck. (12) SAMJUNG TAPIT steps up considerably in trip today having previously gone no further than 1400M. He’s likely to try to lead early and the stable is in great from right now. (9) BEONGAE FIGHTER has raced at the distance before, coming in following a solid 4th place ahead of a couple of these three weeks ago and may be considered to match or better that today. (1) KRYPTO KID ran poorly in that race having been well-backed but is proven at class and distance and can be given another chance today. (3) REWARD HIGH is another one who tries the 1800M for the first time and could be an interesting outsider.
|Selections||(12) Samjung Tapit (11) Gwacheon Bolt (9) Beongae Fighter (1) Krypto Kid|
|Next Best||3, 5|
|Fast Start||7, 12|
Race 8: Class 2 (1800M) Handicap / KRW 90 Million
He’s not been too far away in each of his latest three and today it’s time for (8) GOLDEN GATE to get back in the winner’s circle. 3rd in a very good contest at 1900M last time, he steps back marginally in trip today and can win likely from the front. (2) BIG TRIO moves back up in trip following an underwhelming spin around 1200M four weeks ago. He had two 4th places at this distance in two tries before that and has the services of David Breux to help him to better those today. (6) ULTRA ROCKET and (9) HILLTOP come in following good efforts at class and distance last time and should be in the frame while (10) TIZ RUN closed strongly to win at 1400M last time. He’s up in class but has gone well at 1700M in the past and can be considered today.
|Selections||(8) Golden Gate (6) Ultra Rocket (2) Big Trio (10) Tiz Run|
|Next Best||9, 11|
|Fast Start||2, 4, 5, 8|
Race 9: Class Open “The Sports Seoul Cup” (1400M)
- MASK – Really good all-the-way winner at class 4 over 1700M but has been beaten by both Gaon Champ and Sinui Myeongryeong. Both his wins have come when he’s led from the gate and that won’t be easy today but he’s not without a chance.
- ÉCLAIR BEAUTY – Winner over 1700M at class 6 in December but has struggled in two starts since then. Steps back in trip today but has plenty to find.
- SEOURUI BYEOL – Convincing class 5 winner over 1300M in January but struggled when sent up to 1700M last start. Should be better at this distance but others will be favoured.
- SHARP KAYLAN – Has twice finished well back behind Gaon Champ but is two for two this year with a pair of comfortable victories both at 1300M. Will need to continue to improve here.
- SINUI MYEONGRYEONG – 2nd to Choinma in the Gwacheon Mayor’s Cup and was then 3rd to Choinma’s 2nd in the Breeders’ Cup at this distance in December before rounding out the year with a good victory over Mask in a fast race at 1200M. Don’t rule out.
- CHOINMA – Top juvenile at Seoul last year with victories in in the Gyeonggi Governor’s and Gwacheon Mayor’s Cups followed by 2nd place in the Breeders’ Cup but surprisingly beaten on 2018 debut over 1700M in January. Still plenty of potential and he could win.
- GAON CHAMP – Utterly crushed all opposition in three starts so far with Mask and Sharp Kaylan having finished behind him. First start since December 16th and first at further than 1200M. Some soundness concerns but if he is right, he wins.
- MENI BADA – Last of fourteen in the Gwacheon Mayor’s Cup but recovered to win over 1200M in December. 2nd to the promising Hoeng Un Gol on reappearance in January. Outsider here.
Verdict: (7) GAON CHAMP has looked exceptional in his three outings to date, winning all of them easily. He has had issues with his shins and he returns to racing for the first time since December but he should win. (6) CHOINMA is the other stand-out and if Gaon Champ is not at his best then he’ll be the one to take advantage but (1) MASK (5) SINUI MYEONGRYEONG and (4) SHARP KAYLAN also have strong placing claims.
|Selections||(7) Gaon Champ (6) Choinma (5) Sinui Myeongryeong (4) Sharp Kaylan|
|Next Best||1, 8|
|Fast Start||1, 2, 5, 8|
Race 10: Class 3 (1200M) Handicap / KRW 75 Million
Absolutely wide-open sprint with (5) MY VISION getting the narrowest of top picks. He came 4th in what was perhaps a marginally stronger race than this at class and distance on February 4th having registered impressive wins in his two prior outings. He was poorly away that day too and it cost him, but today he can get on the early speed and can return to winning ways. (2) GOLDEN STEP has struggled to string a run of races together, but last time was encouraging, and he can be expected to be close today while (3) JINNGYEONGUI GEOIN is better tan recent results suggest and, in this company, should be improving. That’s the case too for (10) SWEET ROCK and (11) LEAD QUEEN, both of whom are talented but inconsistent but if they can overcome wide draws, will be dangerous.
|Selections||(5) My Vision (2) Golden Step (3) Jingyeongui Geoin (11) Lead Queen|
|Next Best||10, 1, 8|
|Fast Start||5, 9, 10, 11, 12|
Race 11: Class 1 (1400M) Handicap / KRW 110 Million
The form is with (8) TAEYANGWANG, who came from off the pace to run 2nd at class and distance on January having previously finished in the same position in the ultra-competitive Trainer’s Cup race in December. He’s the one to beat today. (9) ZENTENARY and (4) CUPID POWER ran 2nd and 4th at the distance a month ago and while Zentenary must be respected, Cupid Power should overturn that form today and go close. (6) DYNAMIC JILJU comes in off a run of four consecutive 6th place finishes, generally in slightly stiffer company than this so will be expected to improve. (7) SANGGAM MAMA is the track record holder at the distance, set during a spell of four consecutive wins last summer and early autumn and while he seems to have lot his way recently, he can still be respected – but he needs to start well.
|Selections||(8) Taeyangwang (6) Dynamic Jilju (7) Saggam Mama (4) Cupid Power|
|Next Best||3, 5, 9|
|Fast Start||2, 7, 9, 11|
Race 1: 3-7-6-2
Race 2: 7-1-5-4
Race 3: 10-6-12-5
Race 4: 4-8-1-2
Race 5: 7-3-6-1
Race 6: 10-8-3-1