The road to the Korea Sprint begins at Busan on Sunday and the Sprint Series gets underway with a heavyweight clash as Grand Prix Stakes winner Power Blade faces Queens’ Tour champion Silver Wolf over 1200M in the Busan Ilbo Cup. There are 6 races at Busan from 12:40 to 17:05 and 11 at Seoul from 10:45 to 18:00.
After spending the first part of 2017 in Dubai where he placed in Group 2 company, Power Blade ran 2nd to Japan’s Graceful Leap in the Korea Sprint. He went on to finish the year in style, winning a memorable Grand Prix Stakes over the longest race distance in Korea, 2300M, in December.
Although he skipped Dubai this year, the Busan Ilbo is his first start of 2018 but he went through trials in March and earlier this month, looking in good shape and he will be very hard to beat on Sunday.
Entering in good form though is Silver Wolf. The Aussie-bred 6-year-old mare by Orotorio, was 5th in the Korean Sprint and finished back down the track in the Grand Prix but has been spectacular in everything else though. She made a clean sweep of the Queens’ Tour series last year, including two wins at Busan and has begun her year with facile wins in the Donga Ilbo Cup in February and then in a handicap tune-up at this distance a month ago. Both Lee Hyo SIk on Power Blade and Kim Dong Soo on Silver Wolf are likely to employ similar tactics and ride patiently and it could be quite the finish.
There is plenty of other talent in the field too. Success Story and Perdido Pomeroy will likely set a hot early pace and the favourites will have to come past them while the dangerous Doraonpogyeongseon and Morning Daero are there as well.
Race 1: Class 6 (1000M) Allowance / KRW 40 Million
After getting it all wrong on debut in January, (12) BAEKSAN FORCE was a much improved 2nd over the distance on March 25th. The wide draw shouldn’t matter, and she should have far too much for her rivals here. It’s just three-year-old fillies here and (4) GONG SAN has made a promising start, especially her 3rd place at 1300M on April 1st. She drops to the minimum distance for the first time today and looks the clear second-favourite. (2) HIN BYEOL and (9) I’M HAPPY have shown some glimpses of ability too while among the five first-timer starters, (10) L CHOICE looks the most progressive for now having won her trial last month.
|Selections||(12) Baeksan Force (4) Gong San (10) L Choice (2) Hin Byeol|
|Next Best||9, 1|
|Fast Start||4, 8, 9, 12|
Race 2: Class 6 (1200M) Allowance / KRW 40 Million
Six debut-makers and six with at least one start behind them make up this race which is comprised of three-year-old colts and geldings. For the most part, we’re going to favour experience. (7) GANGHWA CHONGGAK and (12) HANSEN VOLT have the most of it with three starts apiece and both have a 3rd place finish to their names as well. Ganghwa Chonggak’s was at this distance while Hansen Volt steps up in trip for the first time and both can go well. (3) HANIL DALBIT was a good 5th on debut all the way back in January, It has been fifteen weeks since we saw him but if he runs the same way he did that day, he should be competitive. (10) MYEONGJIN MAN was a bit disappointing on debut, having won a trial leading up to it. Hopefully he will have come on for the experience and can improve here. We’d best pick one of the newcomers as well and (5) SOMETHING DELIGHT is the standout.
|Selections||(12) Hansen Volt (7) Ganghwa Chonggak (3) Hanil Dalbit (5) Something Delight|
|Next Best||10, 2|
|Fast Start||4, 5, 7|
Race 3: Class 5 (1300M) Handicap / KRW 40 Million
(3) JUNGDONG JIJON has come close on a number of occasions, beaten only by some good horses in the tail end of last year and then running (admittedly a distant) 3rd behind Dokdo Jigi and Chambit on his only start of 2018 so far on April 1st. He surely has a win in him at some point and it could be here. Should he manage to get beaten again then (12) HAMBAK MISO was just a neck behind him in that April 1st race and could overturn the form while both (2) KING POSE and (11) GARA GARA GA are up in class following very useful wins at 1300M and 1200M respectively and should go close here. (4) MONEY ZIF was an also-ran in that April 1st race behind Jungdong Jijon but is worth another chance for a place today.
|Selections||(3) Jungdong Jijon (11) Gara Gara Ga (2) King Pose (12) Hambak Miso|
|Next Best||4, 10|
|Fast Start||6, 7, 8, 10|
Race 4: Class 4 (1300M) Handicap / KRW 60 Million
(1) BLACK WIND come in seeking a hat-trick of wins following consecutive victories at 1000M, the latter of which was at this level. Her only previous try at further than the minimum distance didn’t go well but she looks ready for another go in this all-filly event. (10) BRAVE UP seemed to lose her way a bit at the end of last year but her latest two starts have been very encouraging with a 3rd and a 2nd, the latter at this distance and she could very well be the one to beat. (8) CHOROK JILJU beat three of these on the way to 2nd place in a very similar race to this on March 31st and surely gets close once more. (2) SKY CITY and (6) MENI PARK are others to take into consideration.
|Selections||(1) Black Wind (10) Brave Up (8) Chorok Jilju (6) Meni Park|
|Next Best||2, 11|
|Fast Start||1, 4, 5, 9|
Race 5: Class 4 (1300M) Handicap / KRW 60 Million
(4) PARK SOCKS and (7) HAENAEMA are the two standouts here with both coming in having not been too far away in recent starts. Park Socks is stepping up in trip following 3rd place at 1200M last time while Haenama drops back after a solid effort at 1700M. Haenaema was the better of the pair when they met back in February, but Park Socks has perhaps come on a bit since then and is the slight preference. In Park Socks’ latest outing on April 1st, (10) ECHO GOLD and (6) SUN START came home 4th and 5th respectively and those two look set to provide the stiffest competition to the two top picks here although (1) YEONGNAM ARIRANG is capable on his day and can aim for a place.
|Selections||(4) Park Socks (7) Haenaema (6) Sun Start (10) Echo Gold|
|Next Best||1, 2|
|Fast Start||2, 4|
Busan Race 2: Class 5 (1600M) Handicap / KRW 40 Million
(8) CHOEGANG THUNDER beat three of these on his way to 3rd place over class and distance on April 6th. He was favourite that day and it was a tight finish and he could well get it right this time. (2) BIG RED IJI was 4th that day on his first try at this class and should be in the hunt again. He closed strongly that day having made all to win over the same distance at class 6 in March. (9) ACE FORCE was a surprise class and distance winner on March 25th. He was able to keep out of trouble and out of the kickback in that race and if he gets a good start again, can’t be ruled out. (3) SHARP KING and (6) GHOST WARRIOR perhaps best of the rest.
|Selections||(8) Choegang Thunder (2) Big Red Iji (9) Ace Force (6) Ghost Warrior|
|Next Best||3, 10|
|Fast Start||6, 8|
Race 6: Class 4 (1200M) Handicap / KRW 60 Million
Competitive race. (1) RAON ACE was 2nd to Musa at class and distance on March 31st, finishing strongly. He has tended to leave himself a little too much to do in recent starts but if he can take up a handy position, he has claims. (4) CALLIOPE’s three wins have all been at 1000M, but he ran on well enough last time to suggest he is ready to try an extra furlong again and he should be on pace early. So should (8) GOLD LEG, who has won his latest two, again both at 1000M, and has also gone well at this distance at lower levels and should be a threat. The one they all need to beat is the up in class (11) GALAXY POWER. He was an eight-length winner over 1000M at the end of February and steps up in class following nine weeks off. He ran 4th to Musa in January and should be a big danger here. (9) PHILLANIKE looks best of the rest.
|Selections||(11) Galaxy Power (1) Raon Ace (4) Calliope (8) Gold Leg|
|Next Best||9, 6|
|Fast Start||4, 5, 8, 9|
Busan Race 3: Class 4 (1600M) Handicap / KRW 60 Million
(3) RAON JEONSEOL comes in having won his latest two in exceptionally handy fashion, the latest of which was at this class. Both were over 1300M, so he is up in distance today, but this isn’t an especially intimidating field and he’ll be expected to be on speed again and indeed, to win again. It’s hard to see anything beating him but in the unlikely even he doesn’t get the trip, (2) KKODAEGI is a useful type who won at class and distance in March before weakening late at 1800M three weeks ago and can be a threat. (5) CHEONJI CHAMP and (7) ANY NINE too can give a good account of themselves and should be in the placing hunt.
|Selections||(3) Raon Jeonseol (5) Cheonji Champ (2) Kkokdaegi (7) Any Nine|
|Next Best||4, 6|
Race 7: Class 3 (1200M) Handicap / KRW 75 Million
(3) CHEONGDAM JEWANG was just beaten a neck by Money Blade in a tight three-way finish at this class over 1400M on March 25th. It continued a run of decent performances by this Shackleford colt and he looks the one to beat in what is a good race for this level. (2) EUNHA CHELMA hasn’t been quite the same filly she was when she won three of three starts including an Oaks trial before getting injured over a year ago. She’s raced three times since coming back and her latest two have been very encouraging. She’ll be on speed here and can continue to get closer. Also on speed will be (4) MUNHAK PRINCESS, a four-length winner on debut at 1000M before running a solid 3rd at this distance on March 10th. She looks to have plenty of scope for further progress. (5) I.B.S. MARINE and (6) EMPIRE KINGDOM came home 1st and 3rd respectively at class and distance on April 1st. The former carries an additional 4kg today, but both should get close here.
|Selections||(3) Cheongdam Jewang (2) Eunha Chelma (4) Munhak Princess (6) Empire Kingdom|
|Next Best||5, 9|
|Fast Start||2, 4, 6, 7, 8|
Busan Race 4: Class 4 (1300M) Handicap / KRW 60 Million
(5) DELMARUI GIJEOK has beaten a couple of these on his way to consecutive 2nd place finishes, both at a mile. He drops back in trip today and could well get it right. (7) BAEKMUNBAEKDAP was well-backed but only managed to beat two home over 1200M last month. He raced keenly early and then lost ground pulling wide. He looks to still be learning but has potential to improve and if he can behave this time, he’ll be much closer. (2) WHIIK has been beaten by Delmarui Gijeok in both his latest two and while he obviously has form to make up on that one, can beat plenty. (8) KOREAN FORCE was a useful 3rd at the distance last start and can look to match that today while (10) HAESEONG STAR exceeded expectations in 2nd over 1200M on her latest and could be in the frame as well.
|Selections||(5) Delmarui Gijeok (7) Baekmunbaekdap (2) Whiik (8) Korean Force|
|Next Best||10, 3|
|Fast Start||2, 7|
Race 8: Class 5 (1700M) Handicap / KRW 40 Million
Both (7) WONDERFUL LUCKY and (11) BULSA BULPAE are winners at this distance, albeit both of them at class 6, and they are among several who have claims on this competitive race, with Bulsa Bulpae likely to try to lead all the way. Wonderful Lucky raced again on March 31st where he finished 6th, sandwiched between (8) SKY BIG and (4) YAHO AURORA. Yaho Aurora too has won at this distance and went on run a good 4th two weeks ago and could go well again today. (1) SUN PLAZA remains a maiden but has a 3rd place to her name at class and distance as well as decent finishes in stronger company than this. She didn’t go well at 1300M last time but gets another chance here with David Breux riding for the first time.
|Selections||(1) Sun Plaza (7) Wonderful Lucky (11) Busa Bulpae (4) Yaho Aurora|
|Next Best||8, 5|
|Fast Start||2, 6, 11|
Busan Race 5: Busan Ilbo Cup (Listed – Sprint Series 1st Leg) 1200M / KRW 350 Million
- DORAONPOGYEONGSEON – Winner of last year’s SBS Trophy at this distance at Seoul, he was a somewhat disappointing 7th, behind a few of these at the distance on March 25th. Afterwards, he was found to have bled for the first time. He trialled up well with Power Blade two weeks ago though and at his best can be very good.
- MORNING DAERO – Beat four of these on his way to 2nd at the distance on March 25th. Not the fastest of starters but he generally finishes very strongly and while one or two will probably be too quick here, he can be taken seriously. Will be dropped in at the back and should pass plenty.
- PERDIDO POMEROY – 6th in last year’s Korea Sprint, he returned to Busan with a win in October but has just seemed to lose his way a little in three starts since. 6th behind Morning Daero last time. He is a fast starter who needs to be on pace early.
- MACHEON BOLT – 2nd to Hong Kong’s Super Jockey in the 2016 Korea Sprint, he had a few setbacks afterwards which made him unable to push on. Three starts into a comeback following seven months off, he showed some signs of progress when 3rd behind Morning Daero and ahead of a few of the others here last time.
- SILVER WOLF – The best filly or mare in Korea, she swept all three legs of the “Queens’ Tour” last year which involved winning at Busan twice and was 5th in the Korea Sprint. Cruised to victory in a warm up for this at Seoul a month ago. Power Blade has had her number on previous meetings, but she shouldn’t be underestimated.
- DYNAMIC STAR – The Hansen colt has won five out of six starts so far and has plenty of potential. He is yet untested at anything higher than class 3 though and this could well a little bit too much too soon.
- PARTY AGAIN – Thomas Gillespie’s colt is holding his own at class 1 and was 4th behind Morning Daero and Macheon Bolt at the distance on March 25th. Most likely to go back at the start and hope to pass horses late on. He has to be an outsider here though.
- CHEONHA TONGIL – Takes his chance here following a string of solid performances at class 2 in recent months, even if just one of them has ended in victory. This is a very tough ask. Likely to start as quickly as possible and try to lead.
- PARANG JUUIBO – Evergreen eight-year-old making his 51st career start here. He’s a solid competitor from Seoul, who regularly picks up prize-money including 3rd behind Silver Wolf last month. He’s not on her level or that of Power Blade though.
- SUCCESS STORY – Once ran 3rd to California Chrome in Dubai. Last year’s winner drops back to sprinting for the first time since the second leg of the 2017 series in Seoul. He’ll be on pace early and the others will have to catch him. A repeat is unlikely but not beyond the bounds of possibility.
- POWER BLADE – 2nd in the Korea Sprint to JRA horse Graceful Leap and 2nd in the President’s Cup to Triple Nine before sensationally winning the Grand Prix Stakes in December. That was at 2300M but this horse can really do anything. Draw not the best but he can overcome. First start since the Grand Prix but has looked in good form in Barrier trials. All things being equal, he wins and wins well.
- SAENGIL GIPPEUM – Very game type who has run well in some big races over the last couple of years. This is his first-time sprinting in a very long time and he’ll not be very well fancied.
Verdict: It has to be (11) POWER BLADE. He’s the best horse in Korea and is just as good at sprinting as he is at a mile or further. (5) SILVER WOLF is a very good mare, but at Busan and at 1200M she’s going to have to run out of her skin to beat Power Blade. (3) PERDIDO POMEROY and (10) SUCCESS STORY will do their thing from the front and one or both may stay on to play a role in the finish. (1) DORAONPOGYEONGSEON can take a sit early and be a factor later on while (2) MORNING DAERO could surprise a few. It’s set to be a great race, but Power Blade should win.
|Selections||(11) Power Blade (5) Silver Wolf (2) Morning Daero (3) Perdido Pomeroy|
|Next Best||1, 10, 7|
|Fast Start||3, 8, 10|
Race 9: Class 3 (1900M) Allowance / KRW 75 Million
(2) LION ROCK has just come up short in his latest three, two of them as favourite, but up against less stiff opposition today, Triple Nine’s brother should make no mistake, most likely leading all the way. The horse likely to challenge him for the early lead is also the one most likely to pose a threat. (3) YES YOU CAN was 2nd to Daejangbak over 1700M on March 25th and can go close again on what is his first try at this distance. (1) GEUMTUSA comes in too after a useful 2nd at 1800M four weeks ago and can be a factor. Aside from those three, the rest have a bit to do. (5) AREUMDAUN SUNGAN was 5th – and a full eight lengths – behind Lion Rock last start but should beat a few. (8) SONOGONG’s recent form doesn’t inspire much confidence but he can go well on his day.
|Selections||(2) Lion Rock (3) Yes You Can (1) Geumtusa (5) Areumdaun Sungan|
|Fast Start||2, 3|
Busan Race 6: Class 3 (1600M) Handicap / KRW 75 Million
(3) YEONGHUI SIDAE has won five of her nine starts so far and Thomas Gillespie’s Hansen filly steps up to a mile for the first time with every chance of keeping her solid form going. She was a winner at this class over 1400M a month ago and is likely to lead from gate to wire here. (11) AMERICAN POWER finished 3rd in the first two legs of last year’s Korean Triple Crown but after finishing 7th in the concluding leg, didn’t run again for the rest of the year and got gelded along the way. He’s one start into a comeback, which took place in February and while things didn’t go well that day, more than two months on he could improve here and must be taken into consideration. (12) CAPTAIN GUY ran a good 4th at class and distance on April 1st and can match or better here while (7) MR. SPENDING and (9) BLUE TIME should also be in the hunt.
|Selections||(3) Yeonghui Sidae (11) American Power (12) Captain Guy (9) Blue Time|
|Next Best||7, 5|
|Fast Start||3, 12|
Race 10: Class 1 (1800M) Handicap / KRW 150 Million
After missing much of last season, (2) CHEONJI STORM was 3rd in a desperately tight finish to the Segye Ilbo Cup in January before registering a dominant win in the Owners’ Association Trophy in March. He’s had seven weeks off since then and returns to racing around two-turns here. Before his long layoff he had proved himself at this trip and he can overcome top weight to win. (1) HEUNGRYONG is turning into a very consistent campaigner at both sprint and longer distances and he’ll surely be close again. (9) SAMSEONG BULPAE was 2nd on his first attempt at this level on March 11th, beating a couple of these in the process and must be considered. (3) GEUMA ZEUS steps up to class 1 for the first time following a solid win over 1900M last month while (4) UNBEATABLE is very beatable but can be forgiven his latest outing and given another chance to get in the places here.
|Selections||(2) Cheonji Storm (9) Samseong Bulpae (1) Heungryong (3) Geuma Zeus|
|Next Best||4, 12|
|Fast Start||1, 6, 7|
Race 11: Class 2 (1400M) Handicap / KRW 90 Million
Luigi Riccardi’s (8) ROCKET QUEEN was a surprise class and distance winner on March 18th and while she is going to have to find a bit more to win again, she needs far more respect today. (5) MIGHTY SSING is up in class following back to back triumphs over this distance and 1700M. There’s little to fear at this level and he can make it three in a row. In the first of those wins, Mighty Ssing beat (12) CHEONGSU YEOGEOL, who went on to run a very close 3rd again at this distance (behind Money Blade and Cheongdam Jewang) in March. She too steps up in class as a result and can come under consideration on what will be just her sixth career start. (1) IGWANGSASEOK was an improved 4th at the distance last start while (4) PRIME GOLD also comes in with recent form reading well.
|Selections||(5) Mighty Ssing (8) Rocket Queen (12) Cheongsu Yeogeol (1) Igwangsaseok|
|Next Best||4, 2|
|Fast Start||6, 8, 9, 10|