#UPDATE – Final Boss is a non-runner in the Owners’ Cup – Lame in left-foreleg.
Final Boss produced a late surge in a dramatic finale to January’s Segye Ilbo Cup and the 2017 Korean Derby winner can see off the same rivals once more in Korea’s first Group race of 2018, The Owners’ Association Trophy at Seoul Racecourse on Sunday afternoon (Seoul: 11 races from 10:45 to 18:00 and Busan: 6 races from 12:40 to 17:05).
Segye Ilbo Cup – January 28, 2018: https://youtu.be/Xr5dN9un_TE
In total, seven of the thirteen who lined up for the Segye Ilbo Cup on January 28th, take their chances again in the Group 3 Owners’ Cup including the top five place-getters that day and they will be favoured to battle it out for top honours once more. 2017 winner Always Winner, who pulled off a Segye/Owners’ double a year ago, set out in front that day and for a time looked like he was going to repeat his feat of leading gate-to-wire.
That was until a frenetic final furlong which saw City Star, Cheonji Storm and ultimately Final Boss close at speed to sweep past, with Final Boss winning by a neck under Moon Se Young. Final Boss was Champion Juvenile in 2016 but had an up and down three-year-old campaign in which his Derby win was sandwiched between disappointing showings in both the first and final legs of the Triple Crown. His talent was not in doubt, but his maturity was but solid performances in the back-end of last season started to allay those doubts.
If the grown-up Final Boss shows up on Sunday, another big race win – and potentially another big year – awaits.
The Owners’ Association Trophy is race 9 on an 11-race Sunday card at Seoul. Here are full previews of each race (Busan selections follow at the bottom):
Race 1: Class 6 (1000M) Allowance / KRW 40 Million
Exactly half the field are first time starters here but it’s to the ones with at least some experience we turn to find out top picks. With a 2nd and a 3rd from her latest two, (3) CAMP TOUCH will be strongly favoured to score here on what is her fourth career outing. On her way to that 3rd last time on February 10th, she beat three of the others who go here and should take some beating. (7) WAIT AND SEE was 4th in that race, quite a way back but not without promise on what was his debut and he can build on that today. Among the others who have raced before, (12) RAON ZEUS was also a promising 4th in January and is likely to start as second favourite here. Of the first-timers, (5) TWO M OKAY and (9) SURFING POINT looked the best in trials and may be worth a look first-up.
|Selections||(3) Camp Touch (12) Raon Zeus (7) Wait And See (9) Surfing Point|
|Next Best||5, 10|
|Fast Start||3, 6, 7, 12|
Race 2: Class 5 (1000M) Handicap / KRW 40 Million
A winner on debut in early January, (2) JEJUI BARAM followed up with a slightly disappointing but in no way poor 5th place over the same distance on his first try at this level two weeks ago. He was on pace that day and will likely be again and this time shouldn’t get caught. Despite still being a maiden, (3) ILGAKSU finds himself up in class following back to back 2nd places both at this distance. He’s a front-runner too and has every chance of being competitive at this level. (7) BOLD NINER hasn’t been too far away in his latest two and could play a role here while (1) RUBY BEOLKIN and (6) CHAPEL ACE are others who should be in at least the placing hunt.
|Selections||(2) Jejui Baram (7) Bold Niner (3) Ilgaksu (1) Ruby Beolkin|
|Next Best||6, 12|
|Fast Start||2, 3, 5, 10|
Race 3: Class 6 (1300M) Allowance / KRW 40 Million
We’ve had relatively obvious picks in the first two races, but this looks a little trickier. (1) JUMBO CAPTAIN was a much improved 2nd when tried at this distance for the first time a month ago and can build on that today while (8) ROYAL PRINCE too took the trip well on what was just his second start a day later. Both can build on those performances here. (12) DORAON ACHIM HAE and (7) JUMEOK DOKKI came home in 4th and 5th in a decent contest at the distance on February 10th and they too should be involved today. Jumeok Dokki is the only one of the field to have a 2nd place finish to his name and he could well be the one who prevails this time. First-time starter (3) L CAR looked competent in winning a trial last time and could go well first-up.
|Selections||(7) Jumeok Dokki (12) Doraon Achim Hae (1) Jumbo Captain (3) L Car|
|Next Best||8, 4|
|Fast Start||1, 4, 9, 12|
Race 4: Class 5 (1300M) Handicap / KRW 40 Million
(2) BACK TO BACK has been favourite on back to back occasions in his latest two and has only managed to record back to back 4th place finishes. However, he has still managed to beat a few of these along the way and he can make it third time lucky today. There is competition though. (5) MACHA BUCHA wasn’t too far behind him when running 5th last time and can get close to the favourite once more. (10) BAEKSAN GUNJU comes in following a 4th place of his own over 1700M on February 3rd and steps back down to the trip at which he scored his solitary victory to date and has credible claims. (7) LAST CONCERT is up in class following her maiden win over this distance on February 11th and must be taken seriously, while (8) GEONSEOL has always found at least one too quick across the course of his thirty-three prior starts but his latest form reads well, and another minor money finish is possible.
|Selections||(2) Back To Back (10) Baeksan Gunju (5) Macha Bucha (7) Last Concert|
|Next Best||8, 6|
|Fast Start||3, 4, 5, 11|
Race 5: Class 5 (1200M) Handicap / KRW 60 Million
Some promising ones step up in class here following maiden wins and of them (11) GANGTOMA, a handsome looking winner at 1300M last time has every chance of repeating. It’s slightly surprising to see him dropped back marginally in trip today and he is drawn completely the other side of the barrier this time, but he has strong claims. However, so too does (9) MENI SMART. She was an even more eye-catching winner on what was her fourth start in mid-January. She hasn’t raced since then, but she made all that day and under Moon Se Young can repeat. (7) BURUI SOKDO is up in distance as well as class but can still be competitive while among the ones who have raced at this level before, we’ll be looking for solid showings from (1) PRIMO and especially (2) SPEED CHEONGNYONG, who defied lengthy odds to run a good 2nd at class and distance a month ago to the day.
|Selections||(9) Meni Smart (11) Gangtoma (7) Burui Sokdo (2) Speed Cheongnyong|
|Next Best||1, 4|
|Fast Start||1, 7, 9|
Race 6: Class 6 (1700M) Allowance / KRW 24 Million
(10) GOOD CHOICE has shown a bit of promise across five starts so far and he steps up to 1700M for the first time today with every chance of winning this extremely modest contest. He will likely go to the front early and should stay on. (8) WIDAEHAN BALJAGUK and (7) BAEKDU POWER have run reasonably well at this distance in the past, principally when finishing 3rd and 4th respectively just before Christmas and although neither have impressed in two subsequent starts, they can compete here. It’s possible that David Breux may have managed to get all that it’s possible to get out of (2) BINNANEUN KKUM when coaxing him to 4th place in an exceptionally slow race at the distance a month ago but this race really isn’t any stronger and perhaps there is more to come. (1) GOLDEN WEDDING is another, like Good Choice, who runs at this distance for the first time and may take to it.
|Selections||(10) Good Choice (2) Binnaneun Kkum (7) Baekdu Power (1) Golden Wedding|
|Next Best||8, 5, 6|
|Fast Start||3, 10|
Race 7: Class 4 (1700M) Allowance / KRW 60 Million
(10) SEONGUN GANGJA has begun 2018 in fine style, beating (7) BID TOWN to register his maiden win in January and then following up to beat three of these on his way to 2nd place at the start of February, both at class and distance. He carries a little bit more weight today but still looks firmly in the hunt. (6) BIG SKY enters as a class and distance winner, defying lengthy odds to come from behind and comfortably win on February 11th. That shouldn’t really have been as much of a surprise as it was because his previous two runs had been very encouraging too and he will be much shorter today. (4) CHAMPION GLORY hasn’t been too far away in his latest efforts, including 5th in what was perhaps a slightly better race than this last time and he can go close again. (2) MR. TURNER and the afore-mentioned Bid Town are others who could figure.
|Selections||(10) Seongun Gangja (6) Big Sky (4) Champion Glory (7) Bid Town|
|Next Best||2, 5|
|Fast Start||1, 5, 12|
Race 8: Class 4 (1300M) Handicap / KRW 75 Million
(9) GREEN K has won three of four so far with her latest having been at this class. This all-filly race represents by far her toughest challenge to date though and while it is possible she could come through it, she won’t be favourite. It took (11) STAR CAT four wins to get her maiden win but she did it in fine fashion at this distance last month, coming home on top by a full six-lengths. She’s up in class today and will have to overcome a wide draw but she has every chance. Those two are both promising locally bred horses who have won their way up from class 6 and they have been entered here against the imports who have to begin at this level. There is potential among them too. (2) JALOUSIE and (4) LOVE IT are both still maidens but both have shown signs of ability, the former dropping back in trip after a decent effort around 1700M and the latter coming off a close 2nd at this distance a month ago. (7) MISUJAE was a winner at this class last time over 1200M but will have to find plenty if she is to repeat.
|Selections||(9) Green K (11) Star Cat (4) Love It (2) Jalousie|
|Next Best||1, 8, 7|
|Fast Start||7, 9, 10, 11|
Race 9: SROA Chairman’s Trophy (KOR G3) / 1200M (Allowance) / KRW 400 Million
- FINAL BOSS – Last year’s Derby winner was beautifully produced by Moon Se Young to narrowly win the Segye Ilbo Cup from City Star and Cheonji Storm. He came from well back that day and has the same gate today. The most naturally talented in the race and he will be favourite.
- WILD THUNDER – Led early in an oddly run Minister’s Cup, the final leg of the 2017 Triple Crown before fading but notched three consecutive wins around the turn of the year. Steps back to this distance for the first time since a year to the day. He’s an outsider but not completely chanceless.
- HURI BARAM – First run since finishing well back behind City Star in December. Class 1 form had been up and down prior to that but he has won at the highest level at this distance. Likely to settle in the middle of the field.
- YAHO SKY CAT – 5th in the Segye Ilbo so he has form to find on plenty. He’s run once since then, coming 2nd at 1800M two weeks ago. Hard to see him as anything other than an outsider today but the stable has been in excellent form for the past couple of months.
- GLOBAL FUSION – Managed a good 3rd place at class 1 just before Christmas but could only manage 7th in the Segye Ilbo. He’s the slowest starter in the field and that’s likely to be a hindrance here.
- CHEONJI STORM – Strong closer who was an impressive winner in a time just outside the track record at this distance in November. He looked to be the one getting up in the Segye Ilbo Cup before Final Boss got the better of him, ultimately finishing in 3rd place and 3rd should be a minimum requirement today.
- RAON MAGIC – The worst finisher among the seven who ran in the Segy Ilbo Cup consigning him to what was just his second ever defeat. He showed on pace early in that race but didn’t respond well when he was put under unfamiliar pressure. The pressure is likely to be equally as intense today, so he will need to have improved.
- LEAD MONEY – Ran a creditable but distant 2nd to Silver Wolf at odds of 44/1 in the Donga Ilbo three weeks ago and drops back in trip here. Has never won at higher than class 4 so lots to find but she should get a fast start here and could pull off another surprise placing if her luck is in.
- CITY STAR – A strong class 1 winner at 1400M in October, he was just beaten a neck by Final Boss in the Segye Ilbo Cup. At one time in line for a trip to Dubai for the Carnival, it was that race and this which kept him home and he should be there at the business end of the race again.
- ALWAYS WINNER – Last year’s winner led for much of the Segye Ilbo ultimately giving way and ending up in 4th. He has the fastest start of all of these and generally does need to lead so the draw does him no favours here if they are not prepared to take a sit with him. While he will run a good race, he may end up a little bit further back than he was in January.
- GOLD MUSIC – An all-the-way win at this distance at class 2 at the beginning of February capped off a series of good results that allows him to take his chance here. Draw is not ideal and he’ll need some luck.
- DONGCHONUI ACHIM – Class 1 winner at 1400M on January 21st proving he is capable at the top level. However, this is a much stiffer race. Draw is not so much of a problem as he doesn’t need to lead from the gate and he has a strong enough finish to suggest that a money finish is not impossible.
VERDICT: This is basically a re-run of the Segye Ilbo Cup from January 28th only for even bigger prize-money with seven of that day’s runners – including the top five place-getters – returning. You’d have to fancy them again. Although you never quite know which (1) FINAL BOSS is going to turn up, the manner of his ears-back, all-out finish in that race showed that on his day he can beat anything and he is the pick to prevail again with the two he narrowly defeated, (6) CHEONJI STORM and (9) CITY STAR once more being the biggest dangers. (10) ALWAYS WINNER will go out on the early speed and it is a matter of how long he can hold on for while if there is to be a breakthrough run from one of the others, it could come from (12) DONGCHONUI ACHIM.
|Selections||(1) Final Boss (9) City Star (6) Cheonji Storm (10) Always Winner|
|Next Best||12, 4|
|Fast Start||7, 8, 10, 11|
Race 10: Class 1 (1800M) Handicap / KRW 110 Million
(9) MOONHAK CHIEF is one of the first three-year-olds up to class 1 and one of the hottest properties around Korean racing right now. Winner of five from seven so far, he stepped up to this distance at class 2 a month ago and won without any problems at all. Of course, it’s tougher today but this isn’t a very strong class 1 field and he should win again. (10) SAMSEONG BULPAE is up in class following back to back wins over 1900M and will need to be taken very seriously. It’s likely that neither will want to let the other get too far in front, so they may well both be on the early speed. (1) SOTONG SIDAE can generally be relied upon to give a good account of himself and with a strong finish, could take advantage in the unlikely event the favourites go too fast. The also usually reliable (4) DAISYAN steps back up to two-turns after almost a year a sprint distances and can go close – he is the highest rated in the race. (6) MISO WANGJA, one start into a comeback following a lengthy spell has every chance of improvement after getting rid of the cobwebs a couple of weeks ago.
|Selections||(9) Moonhak Chief (10) Samseong Bulpae (4) Daisyan (1) Sotong Sidae|
|Next Best||6, 2|
|Fast Start||6, 9, 10, 11|
Race 11: Class 4 (1300M) Handicap / KRW 60 Million
(12) NONGBON DAERO has won his latest two at 1000M and 1200M and steps up in both class and distance today. He isn’t without a chance, but it is possible this may just be a little too much too soon and a couple of others are slightly favoured. (8) HANEULUI STAR stepped up to 1800M for his first try at this level two weeks ago and faded having led for much of the race. He drops back to the distance at which both his victories have come, and he could get another, likely from on the early pace. (7) JIGONG BULPAE enters in consistent form having come close in each of his last four outings, all at this class. He has a strong finish and so long as he doesn’t leave himself too much to do, will be a threat in the later part of the race. (6) GIMOA LAUNCH too has solid experience at this level and is in the placing frame while (10) SUPER TRICK is two starts into a return from five months off and both runs since have been encouraging.
|Selections||(7) Jigong Bulpae (12) Nongbon Daero (8) Haneului Star (10) Super Trick|
|Next Best||6, 4|
|Fast Start||1, 5, 6, 8|
Race 1: 5, 2, 4, 6
Race 2: 4, 9, 6, 11
Race 3: 8, 9, 10, 11
Race 4: 8, 6, 2, 9
Race 5: 5, 1 4, 10
Race 6: 11, 4, 7, 3