Month: May 2018

Busan Friday: Race-By-Race Preview (June 1)

June gets underway big week of racing in Korea with two huge Stakes races coming up on Sunday in the shape of the SBS Sports Sprint and the Ttukseom Cup. Before that, things kick off at Busan on Friday with 10 races from 11:30 to 18:00.


It’s Friday. It’s Busan

There are relatively small fields throughout as the grooms’ strike continues on the South Coast. Accordingly the race times are slightly different to regular Fridays:

Race 1: Class 6 (1000M) Allowance/ KRW 24 Million

(4) IHYEN led for much of her third start on May 4th, ultimately ending in 2nd place at this distance but Bart Rice’s filly can have come on for that run and can see off this small set of rivals today. (1) GIPPEUM SARANG ran a career-best 3rd last time out and looks to be the main danger although (2) BREAKING NEWS drops back in trip today after some up and down performances over 1300M and can get close as well. (6) OS HILL and (7) EUTTEUM CHAMP, who does have a 2nd to her name, the best of a limited rest.

Selections (4) Ihyen (1) Gippeum Sarang (2) Breaking News (7) Eutteum Champ
Next Best 6
Fast Start 1, 3, 4

Race 2: Class 6 (1000M) Allowance / KRW 24 Million

(6) KING’S POWER has shown progression across four engagements to date culminating in a close 3rd place last time at this distance on April 20th. That was his first start since last October and with a bit more progression today, he can win this weak affair. (5) CHEONHAUI KKUM has shown some glimpses of ability across nine outings and can get close while (7) MUCHO hasn’t totally disgraced himself and may play a part too. (3) NICE HUMOR has only run once and can be given another chance. Neither of the two debut-makers showed anything in trials although given the standard of the opposition, they can’t be completely ruled out. (4) HALLA SKY looks the most likely.

Selections (6) King’s Power (5) Cheonhaui Kkum (7) Mucho (4) Halla Sky
Next Best 3
Fast Start 6, 7

Race 3: Class 6 (1200M) Allowance / KRW 24 Million

Thomas Gillespie’s (6) ROYAL BLUE has a 3rd and a 4th from three starts so far, the latter of them at this distance three weeks ago. He’ll likely get on the early pace today and should have too much. (5) STAR WOMAN has a couple of 3rd place finishes to her name and steps up in trip for the first time here. She’s run through the line well enough so far, so it just might suit. (7) TOP HERO weakened late on over a mile last start but may be better back in trip today. He’ll likely challenge Royal Blue for the early lead and can benefit from the services of Fergus Sweeney. (2) MIR KAN was an improved 3rd on his latest outing and can build on that today. (3) BEOLMA HAMSEONG returns for the first time since January and trialed well.

Selections (6) Royal Blue (5) Star Woman (7) Top Hero (2) Mir Kan
Next Best 3, 1
Fast Start 6, 7

Race 4: Class 6 (1200M) Allowance / KRW 40 Million

(2) CHEONGDAM BLADE was 4th of 11 on debut at 1000M just two weeks ago. He was a long way behind the winner, but it was encouraging enough, and the connections will tempt many. He’s up in trip today and could win. The main danger is (4) AGUILENA. She was 4th on debut at this trip in March before stepping up to a mile for her re-appearance in May. She led for much of that race before being passed in the closing stages and (more…)

Ha Jae Heung, Derby Winning Trainer Retires

Ha Jae Heung, who trained Saebyeock Dongja to win the Korean Derby in 2005 and sits in 2nd place in the all-time winner list among trainers at Seoul, has retired. He saddled his final runner in the last on Sunday.

Ha Jae Heung trainer

Among trainers at Seoul, Ha Jae Heung was, at the time of retirement, join 2nd-longest serving behind Jung Ji Eun. 63-year-old Ha gained his license on the same day as Kim Yang San, at the old Seoul Ttukseom Racecourse in 1983.  He finished with just shy of 1000 winners from 10500 starters across his career. It may not sound a lot but Ha is from a generation of trainers who navigated the transition from the time when all racehorses were owned by the Authority, no prize money and restrictions on the number of runners a trainer could have, to the modern age of private ownership and Stakes racing.

Ha’s best horse was probably Saebyeock Dongja, who in addition to the Derby also won the Herald Business Cup in 2005 and the Sports Chosun Cup in 2006. He would win the latter race again with Sotong Sidae in 2015. His last Stakes winner was Waikiki in the Gwacheon Mayor’s Cup in 2015.

Ha Hae Heung went out with a winner on his final weekend as his Two Kay won the last at Seoul on Saturday under Manoel Nunes. It was winner 936 of his career.

Cheongdam Dokki Strolls Home In YTN Cup

It was easy for Cheongdam Dokki. He confirmed his position as Seoul’s best horse by beating Clean Up Joy by five-lengths to win the YTN Cup at Seoul Racecourse on Sunday afternoon.

There was general agreement before the race that only a mistake by Cheongdam Dokki, a restrictive favourite, could see him lose and that if that happened, Clean Up Joy would be the only one equipped to take advantage. In the end, it was Clean Up Joy who made the mistake. Never a fluent starter, the 7-year-old made his customary leap as the gates opened and was even slower into stride than usual, making a tall order next to impossible. Cheongdam Dokki meanwhile, who had as usual been a handful in the parade ring, glided regally out of the barrier and into a lead he was never in danger of giving up.

Dokki YTN

So easy for Cheongdam Dokki in the YTN Cup (Pic: KRA)

Under Park Tae Jong, Clean Up Joy ran his usual race, looping the field in the back-straight to move into 2nd place in the home turn. That he had enough in him to comfortably see off stablemate Shamrocker, speaks volumes about what a good horse Clean Up Joy is. But he’s not as good as Cheongdam Dokki. Right now in Seoul, nothing is.

For Cheongdam Dokki, it was a 10th career win on his 15th start. The time was slower than his win at the same distance in the Herald Business last month but he looked utterly within himself. Next stop is scheduled to be the concluding leg of the “Stayers’ Series”, the Busan Mayor’s Cup, on the south coast, on July 1st. Three Busan horses beat Cheongdam Dokki in the Grand Prix last December – Power Blade (who has the same owner), Triple Nine and Dongbang Daero. That was at 2300M. It would be a brave punter who takes on Cheongdam Dokki at 1800M. If he overcomes that, a serious attempt at the Korea Cup has to be on agenda.

YTN Cup – Seoul Racecourse – 2000M – May 27, 2018

1. Cheongdam Dokki (USA) [To Honor And Serve – Elusive Gold (Strike The Gold)] – Lim Gi Won – 1.1, 1.0
2. Clean Up Joy (USA) [Purge – Greta’s Joy (Joyeax Danseur)] – Park Tae Jong – 1.2
3. Shamrocker (USA) [Dublin – Portera (Lemon Drop Kid)] – Jang Chu Youl – 1.5
Distances: 5 lengths / 4 lengths
Also Ran: 4. Wonder Bolt (USA) 5. Wild Thunder (KOR) 6. Moonhak Chief (USA) 7. Places To Go (USA) 8. Miso Wangja (USA) 9. Winner Red (USA) 10. Areumdaundonghaeng (USA) 11. Chanma (KOR) 12. Cheonjeok (USA)



At Busan, Sun Day (Ingrandire) made it three wins from four starts in race 3. She’s half-sister to stablemate Today (Drosselmeyer) through their dam Gone Goodbye. Today has won ten of his twelve outings to date and is due to travel to Seoul to run in the SBS Sprint next Sunday. In Busan’s Sunday feature, Dynamic Dash (Pleasantly Perfect) returned to the winner’s circle for the first time in just over two years, outstaying a strong class 1 field over 2000M.


Manoel Nunes rode his first winner since taking up a full-time license in Korea. The Brazilian rider, three times champion in Singapore guided Two Kay (Biwa Shinseiki) to an all the way victory in race 11. Two Kay, an older half-brother of Korean Derby 3rd place-getter Choinma, was winning for the fifth time in eighteen starts. Two Kay would turn out to be the final winner saddled by trainer Ha Jae Heung, who retired after a 35-year career on Sunday.


It was left to the track’s foreign grooms and in some cases trainers themselves to saddle and lead up their horses as local stable staff went on strike. Open The Sky (Sky Mesa), 7th in last year’s Korea Sprint returned for the first time since that September day in Seoul. Though favourite, the three-year-old, with five wins from nine prior starts, would have to settle for 2nd as fellow Kim Young Kwan trainee Uju Star (Officer), took the win. Both Peter Wolsley and Bart Rice played their part in keeping the show on the road, carrying out parade ring duty with their horses and both were rewarded with winners; Rice combining with jockey Fergus Sweeney as the promising Geumsuryeong (Vicar) moved on to three wins from five in race 9.


It’s mini International Week in Seoul with a string of Exchange races, but the big action comes in the form of a pair of big group races on Sunday afternoon:

SBS Sports Sprint: The 2nd leg of the Sprint Series and having beaten Power Blade in the 1st leg at Busan last month, Silver Wolf will look to follow up with a win on her home track. Power Blade won’t travel but a strong Busan continegent will with Today, Perdido Pomeroy and last year’s winner Doraonpogyeongseon expected to make the trip.

Ttukseom Cup: The 1st leg of the Queens’ Tour for fillies and mares aged 5-year-old or younger. Silver Wolf won this series last year but is now too old so Haeya, who spent most of 2017 chasing her, will have a real chance to get some big wins on the board.

YTN Cup Sunday Seoul & Busan: Race-By-Race Preview (May 27)

It’s YTN Cup Day! Cheongdam Dokki takes on Clean Up Joy once more in the big race at Seoul but there’s a whole host of other action going on both in the capital and at Busan. Click here for an in depth preview of the big race. There are 11 races at Seoul from 10:45 to 18:00 and 6 at Busan from 12:40 to 17:05. Here is the race-by-race:


Lim Gi Won was among the winners on Saturday and should be on Sunday too, not least with Cheongdam Dokki in the YTN Cup (Pic: Ross Holburt)

Seoul Race 1: Class 6 (1000M) Allowance / KRW 40 Million

(11) ROMAN BLADE has shown promise across two starts so far, leading for much of her latest outing on April 7th before just weakening a little late on and ending in 3rd. She’s had seven weeks off since then and should win this all-filly affair. (1) CULLINAN made a fresh start in April, several months after her debut and she ran well in 3rd in a similar race to this four weeks ago. (5) BAEKSAN FORCE was three-lengths behind in 4th that day and both can challenge today. (2) L CHOICE debuted in the same race but despite being well backed on the strength of winning a March trial, only beat two home and better will be expected here. There are three first-time starters and among them, (10) SAGWARANG will be best supported, having won a trial just last week.

Selections (11) Roman Blade (1) Cullinan (5) Baeksan Force (10) Sagwarang
Next Best 2, 9
Fast Start 1, 9, 10, 11

Seoul Race 2: Class 6 (1200M) Allowance / KRW 40 Million

(5) HANIL DALBIT was just beaten a neck into 2nd place on his first try at this distance on April 29th, having made all until close to the line and he has as good a chance as any in what is not a strong, but very competitive race. (11) GANGHWA CHONGGAK registered his second consecutive 3rd place that day and can go close again. (3) GONG SAN has shown good progression across three outings so far, running a good 2nd last time and should be in the hunt. (4) STAR LIST too was an improved 2nd in what wasn’t an especially strong race last time and could go well once more. (7) BURUI GORI ran a creditable 4th on debut at the distance last month and he too has every chance of building on it today.

Selections (5) Hanil Dalbit (7) Burui Gori (3) Gong San (11) Ganghwa Chonggak
Next Best 4, 10
Fast Start 3, 5, 10, 11

Seoul Race 3: Class 5 (1300M) Handicap / KRW 40 Million

(9) THE FINAL began her career with three consecutive 3rd place finishes, improving to 2nd on her first try at this class last time. Today, she can finally come out on top, most likely looking to lead from the gate. (8) SARYEONI DREAM actually beat The Final when registering his solitary win to date back in January. He finished 4th last start but hung out to the extent he was sent back to trial afterwards. He completed his trial in good-looking fashion and should be a factor here. Other factors include (2) DUSON WANGJA, who despite being yet to win, has never been too far away across seven efforts to date, and (11) HIN BYEOL, up in class and distance following a decent win over 1000M at the end of last month.

Selections (9) The Final (8) Saryeoni Dream (2) Duson Wangja (11) Hin Byeol
Next Best 4, 1
Fast Start 9, 10, 11

Seoul Race 4: Class 5 (1200M) Handicap / KRW 40 Million

Small field and (7) HAMBAK MISO looks the one to beat. A winner on debut in March, he’s run well for 5th and 3rd in two subsequent starts at this class over 1200M and 1300M. He can take a sit behind the early lead and finish off strongly. (4) SOMETHING MYSTERY got his maiden win at the fourth time of asking in March and steps up in class here following a ten-week break. His stable is in great form at the moment and he should go close. (5) PENETRO showed some talent across four starts in the latter half of last year but hasn’t raced since running 3rd in a good race on December 17th. He romped home in a trial two weeks ago – with (1) JEONGSANG MANSE eight-lengths adrift in 2nd – and can be in the hunt first up. (2) HANIL MAGIC another one with a chance and likely to be on pace early.

Selections (7) Hambak Miso (4) Something Mystery (5) Penetro (2) Hanil Magic
Next Best 6
Fast Start 2, 4, 5

Busan Race 1 will not be on any international simulcast service but…selections…ok…(6) CLASSIC MATCH should win: 6-2-10-7.

Seoul Race 5: Class 4 (1200M) Handicap / KRW 60 Million

(9) GLOBAL QUEEN won on debut on Christmas Day 2016 and then didn’t race again until this March. She was runner-up on her return before winning at this distance at class 5 on April 28th. She is up in both class and distance today but should have too much for this field. (2) WING FLY is up in class following a good win at 1300M a month ago and should be competitive while (3) WELLBEING STORY can be respected having won at long odds on a muddy track last time out. (6) RAON ACE disappointed when favourite at class (more…)

YTN Cup Full Preview: Cheongdam Dokki Takes On Clean Up Joy Again

Cheongdam Dokki has spent the past few months systematically replacing Clean Up Joy as Seoul’s top horse. Cheongdam Dokki beat the older horse in both the KRA Cup Classic last October and the Herald Business Cup last month with Clean Up Joy the defending champion in both and found time in between to finish ahead of him in the Grand Prix Stakes and beat him in a handicap for good measure. A year ago, Clean Up Joy won the YTN Cup and on Seoul on Sunday, Cheongdam Dokki will be odds-on to take it off him. 


Cheongdam Dokki & Lim Gi Won winning the Herald Business (Pic: Ross Holburt)

A field of twelve will assemble for the YTN Cup, which the 2nd leg in the “Stayer’s Series” – the Herald Business was the 1st and the Busan Mayor’s Cup is the final leg on July 1st on the South Coast.

Cheongdam Dokki was very much a handful last year with mounting yard and post parade antics making him a difficult watch for those who had backed him at short odds. Since his 4th place in the Grand Prix Stakes when he set blistering fractions only to run out of steam in the closing stages of the 2300M, he appears to have calmed down and looks to be maturing as a racehorse too. Under Lim Gi Won, who keeps the mount despite both previous riders Moon Se Young and Kim Yong Geun being back from injury, he will be expected to dictate from gate to wire.

It’s still a ten-furlong horse-race though and anything can happen. Clean Up Joy, got within two and a half lengths of him in the Herald Business Cup and clearly isn’t a spent force yet. He will run his usual race, being badly away from the outside gate, which connections always request due to his awkward way of starting, and then improving in the back straight before finishing strongly. If he can be close enough at the top of the straight so Cheongdam Dokki feels he has some competition, then we may have a race.

Clean Up Joy’s stablemate Shamrocker will be there too as will Places To Go, who provides a final Stakes runner for trainer Ha Jae Heung, who retires this weekend. Places To Go enters off three consecutive class 1 wins and may have a say. Pioneerof The Nile colt Moonhak Chief, with five wins from his eight starts so far also takes his chance. It is probably a little too much too soon, but he looks to have plenty of promise for the future.

  1. AREUMDAUNDONGHAENG – Formerly top mare who has gone very cold of late David Breux tasked with bringing some spark to her.
  2. SHAMROCKER – Took on Cheongdam Dokki for speed in January which was predictably futile. Ran his own race in the Herald Business and did better, finishing a good 3rd. Should place again.
  3. WINNER RED – 4th behind Places To Go at 1400M on only start this year. Outsider but may challenge for the lead which could be interesting.
  4. WONDER BOLT – 2nd to Silver Wolf in the Sports Donga in March but well back behind Cheongdam Dokki, Clean Up Joy and Shamrocker in the Herald Business.
  5. PLACES TO GO – A revelation this year going 3 for 3 at Class 1. Tougher opposition today but placing chances.
  6. CHEONGDAM DOKKI – If he runs anything approaching his best, he wins leading from gate to wire.
  7. CHEONJEOK – Well back in the Herald Business and a big outsider today.
  8. MISO WANGJA – Not much in recent form stands out. Another who may well opt to take on Cheongdam Dokki early.
  9. CHANMA – Decent enough at class 1 finishing 4th behind Places To Go last start. Big ask here but outside chance of the minor money.
  10. WILD THUNDER – Class 2 winner at this distance on April 21st which allows him to take his chance here. Big step up in competition though.
  11. MOONHAK CHIEF – Plenty of promise and the only three-year-old in the race. First time at the distance and perhaps a little too much too soon.
  12. CLEAN UP JOY – Still very dangerous, if Cheongdam Dokki does anything wrong, he’s the one to take advantage.

Selections: (6) Cheongdam Dokki (12) Clean Up Joy (2) Shamrocker (5) Places To Go

Seoul Saturday: Race-By-Race Preview (May 26)

Saturday is Cheongdam Dokki-Eve! The exciting four-year-old runs in the YTN Cup on Sunday but before that there is a busy card to get through in the capital with 11 races from 10:45 to 18:00. Here are the previews:


Plenty of action set for Saturday at Seoul

Race 1 (1000M) Allowance / KRW 24 Million

(3) PALDO DAEJANG was 3rd on debut all the way back in October of last year and finally returns to the track today. She looked well in a trial at the beginning of May and she can claim this modest contest. (2) FOR J.K. was a much-improved 2nd at 1300M on April 28th, her best finish in nine starts. That race was arguably even weaker than this but nevertheless, the upturn in form is noted and could be continued. (9) YOLO similarly showed signs of improvement in 3rd at this distance last start and should be a contender. (10) BLESSING ROAD and (11) ACE TROPHY both have 3rd places to their names and should be competing for at least minor spots on the board today.

Selections (3) Paldo Daejang (2) For J.K. (9) Yolo (11) Ace Trophy
Next Best 10, 7
Fast Start 2, 3, 4

Race 2: Class 6 (1000M) Allowance / KRW 24 Million

Wide-open race. (9) STEEL RUN was a useful 4th on her latest appearance which was at this distance on April 15th. She led for much of that race and can do similar here with as much chance of any of winning. (10) LUCKY FACTORY beat (11) HANSEN VOLT as the pair ran 5th and 6th at 1200M on April 29th. The latter has been back to trial since then, performing well, and both will be expected to be in the hunt today. (4) JEONGMUN Y showed signs of getting better last time, running on well for 5th over 1300M. (5) OFFICER WOMAN is the wildcard. She returns after almost ten months off and had shown some ability prior.

Selections (9) Steel Run (11) Hansen Volt (10) Lucky Factory (4) Jeongmun Y
Next Best 5, 1
Fast Start 2, 5, 9, 11

Race 3: Class 6 (1700M) Allowance / KRW 24 Million

(4) GOLD STREET was sent off as favourite for her first try at this distance on April 28th but could only managed 5th place in a very slow race. She looks to have some ability though so is probably worth another chance here. Also with ability is (3) GANADORA. She previously ran a solid 3rd (in an even slower race) at this distance in February and steps back up in trip after a couple of useful efforts at shorter. (1) CHEONSANG GIUN wasn’t too far away when stepped up in trip for the first time last month and can make more progress here. (6) DAL SUNI and (7) STRONG RUNNER similarly tackle two-turns for the first time and it may well suit.

Selections (3) Ganadora (4) Gold Street (1) Cheonsang Guin (7) Strong Runner
Next Best 6, 5
Fast Start 1, 3, 7

Race 4: Class 6 (1700M) Allowance / KRW 24 Million 

(3) HAENGBOK STAR has been getting closer across three outings so far, culminating in a 2nd place finish behind The King last time out when he led until close to home. He is up in trip here but should get on pace and this time hold everything off. The most convincing challenger looks to be (8) GANGSEO EUTTEUM, who beat three of these on his way to 2nd place on his first try at this distance on April 21st. He only needs another 2nd place to be p in class and that should be a minimum aim. (11) GREEN TEA was 6th in that race and could get closer this time. (10) DAE UNHA steps up in distance for the first time following a good 3rd at 1300M on April 8th and could well take to it. (4) UJU BADA (more…)

Busan Friday: Race-By-Race Preview (May 25)

The weekend’s racing in Korea kicks off on Friday at Busan where there are 10 races from 11:30 to 18:00. There is potentially industrial action by the Grooms’ Union taking place at Busan today which may have an impact on some races so be sure to check as scratchings and changes are a possibility. With that in mind here are the previews, which assume a full card:

Race 1: Class 6 (1000M) Allowance / KRW 24 Million

(3) S S YOUNG has been well backed on all four of her starts to date, coming up short each time. She’s not an especially convincing type but may have enough about her to score in a race like this. (11) KING’S POWER is the danger this time. He raced three times last year and returned from seven months off to run well in 3rd in April and he can go well this time too. (9) BAEKDU MYEONGWOL was disappointing when well backed last start but gets another chance here while first-timer (5) FIRST VICTORY trialled up nicely and can be considered.

Selections (3) S S Young (11) King’s Power (5) First Victory (9) Baekdu Myeongwol
Next Best 5, 1
Fast Start 1, 3

Race 2: Class 6 (1000M) Allowance / KRW 24 Million

Three debut-makers among the eleven who go here and all of them are likely to be well backed. Principally Awesome Again filly (6) BOBAE DREAM, who trialled up convincingly earlier this month, looks to have plenty about her and she can win first up here. (4) KEEP GOING and (5) KING LION are a little less persuasive but both showed in trials they know what they’re supposed to do and can also be considered. Among the ones with prior racing experience, (9) NOPIGOM DODASHA returns for the first time in almost a year and potentially has some talent while (10) EUTTEUM CHAMP is best of the rest.

Selections (6) Bobae Dream (4) Keep Going (5) King Lion (9) Nopigom Dodasha
Next Best 10, 2
Fast Start 6, 9

Race 3: Class 6 (1200M) Allowance / KRW 40 Million

Only five of these have raced before and the favourites will probably come from among them. (10) MAGIC STREET was an improved 3rd on what was his second start in March and the Captain Coltish gelding returns following a couple of months off with a serious chance of making the breakthrough here. (1) SEONGSAN SIMON was a good 4th on debut when totally unfancied and ran on nicely at the minimum distance. Up slightly in trip today, he can get closer. (9) HWANGJE BONSAEK, on the other hand, was a touch disappointing when well-supported on her debut three weeks ago but is worth another chance here. There are six debut-makers and among them, (5) GEOMEUN JINJU and (7) BAENGNYEON JIJON look the best at this stage.

Selections (10) Magic Street (1) Seongsan Simon (5) Geomeun Jinju (9) Hwangje Bonsaek
Next Best 7, 4
Fast Start 4, 10

Race 4: Class 6 (1300M) Allowance / KRW 24 Million

Only seven runners here but it’s pretty competitive with most of them just one placed finish away from being put up in class. (4) GANGHAN JILJU just came up short when favourite over a mile a month ago. Back in trip today, he should play a major role. (5) HWANGGEUM BEOLMA similarly disappointed when favourite at 1600M last time out he too can get closer today. (6) SANGSEUNG POWER has shown promise over two starts so far and unlike the other two, is up in distance today. (1) SEOLGWANGHWA and (3) (more…)