One of the highlights of the summer racing season takes place at Busan on Sunday when thirteen of the best horses on the peninsula go to post in the Busan Mayor’s Cup (Korean Group 3) over 1800M. They include last year’s winner I’m Your Father, but all eyes will be on the clash between three-time President’s Cup winner Triple Nine and the new star on the stable-block, Cheongdam Dokki.
Cheongdam Dokki and Triple Nine have met once before, in the Grand Prix Stakes at Seoul in December last year. In a remarkable race, Cheongdam Dokki set a blistering early pace but wasn’t quite able to keep it up over the punishing 2300M – the longest distance currently used in Korean racing – and he ultimately finished 4th with Triple Nine running a big race in 3rd. Dongbang Daero, who closed late on and beat both running 2nd to winner Power Blade, is among those who join them on Sunday.
Since that Grand Prix, Cheongdam Dokki has looked invulnerable. He’s raced three times for three facile victories and has been steadily relieving Clean Up Joy, formerly the top-rated horse at Seoul, of the silverware he had amassed in recent years. Having beaten him in the KRA Cup Classic last autumn, Cheongdam Dokki beat Clean Up Joy in both the Herald Business and YTN Cups this Spring, the older horse having won all three of those races the year before. Now in advance of a likely tilt at the Korea Cup in September, he faces a true test, going to Busan to face Triple Nine on his home track. It is a test he will be expected to pass.
(I didn’t have the multi-million dollar studio at my disposal for this one so here’s a 10 minutes on Moviemaker Special!)
Triple Nine remains the benchmark against which all other horses are judged in Korea. He held his own at the Dubai World Cup Carnival at the start of 2017 and returned to beat stablemate Power Blade on his way to a record-equalling third straight win in the President’s Cup. Power Blade would gain revenge in the Grand Prix but Triple Nine lost nothing in defeat that day. He has only raced once in 2018, making a rare foray into the handicap ranks in March and coming away, inevitably, with another victory. He did trial in public last week although offered few clues. The torch may be passed at Busan on Sunday.
Here are Busan’s Race-By-Race Comments including all-horses in the big race. Scroll down for the race-by-race from Seoul:
Race 1: Class 4 (1000M) Handicap / KRW 60 Million
(7) SMART DANCER has won her latest two, both at this distance, in front-running fashion and while it means she is rapidly up in class, there is little for her to fear here and she has an excellent chance of making it three in a row. (9) MAY STAR beat (3) BAENGNYEON SONNIM as the pair came home 2nd and 3rd at class and distance on May 27th. Both can go well again with Baengnyeon Sonnim favoured to overturn that form. (1) WONDERFUL SHOW races for the first time in almost a year but has looked competent across a series of trials in the last couple of months and can go well first up. (6) RETURN OF THE KING comes in off a useful 2nd place ahead of three of these on June 10th and can go close again. (8) CHERRY VANQUISH was one of the vanquished that day, but it was just her second outing and she can improve here.
|Selections||(7) Smart Dancer (3) Baengnyeon Sonnim (8) Cherry Vanquish (6) Return Of The King|
|Next Best||9, 1|
|Fast Start||1, 2, 6, 9, 12|
Race 2: Class 5 (1300M) Handicap / KRW 40 Million
Franco Da Silva was on (1) WONDERFUL MEMORY for his only previous win and he should be guiding the Lookin At Lucky colt to another here. He was a decent 3rd last time on his first try at this class and should have too much. (7) JANGHAN JILJU and (11) SAKISAKI came home 2nd and 3rd at class and distance on June 1st and look among the most likely to challenge the favourite although (2) JAEDOYAKUI BANSEOK was an improved 2nd last time out and is well drawn to get to the front from the gate once more. (10) WHITE POINT was disappointing behind Janghan Jilju and Sakisaki but came back out just two weeks ago to run a much better 4th and can look to at least match that today.
|Selections||(1) Wonderful Memory (2) Jaedoyakui Banseok (7) Janghan Jilju (11) Sakisaki|
|Next Best||4, 10|
|Fast Start||3, 4, 8|
Race 3: Class 4 (1600M) Allowance / KRW 60 Million
(8) WORLD DAY is two for two and the Kim Young Kwan trainee steps up in class and also in distance with solid claims of maintaining his 100% record. This is a significantly stiffer test than what he has faced so far but he should be close to the front from the start and can overcome it. (6) MABEOPUI JILJU and (4) VIVA VICTORY come in having run 2nd and 3rd behind World Day’s stablemate Sun Day at class and distance on May 27th. Both are proven performers at the distance and cause World Day problems. So too can (5) CHOEGANG THUNDER, a winner at the distance in April and 2nd when dropped back to 1300M for his first try at this class three weeks ago. (10) YONGGU is up in class after a surprise win at a mile six weeks ago and while he will need to improve, could be an interesting outsider.
|Selections||(8) World Day (5) Choegang Thunder (6) Mabeopui Jilju (4) Viva Victory|
|Next Best||10, 7|
|Fast Start||1, 2, 4, 8|
Race 4: Class 3 (1600M) Handicap / KRW 75 Million
Eight of the twelve raced each other at class and distance on May 27th (race 4) so we have plenty to go on. The surprise winner that day was (7) YEONGGWANG SEUNGNI, who struck the front late and ran on to win by half a length. She warrants more respect today, but we’ll still fancy her to get beaten. (2) JUSTINE MAGIC led for most of that race, ultimately finishing 2nd in what was his first try at a mile. He should have learned from that and can overturn the form here. (1) DYNAMIC ROOKIE was favourite that day and while he finished well back, is worth another chance today but the other likely ones didn’t run that day. (4) BAENGMUNBAEKDAP is up in class following a convincing win at the distance at the end of April and can be considered while (11) TUFELLO ran a solid 3rd on his first try at this class three weeks ago and should be in the frame as well.
|Selections||(2) Justine Magic (4) Baengmunbaekdap (7) Yeonggwang Seungni (11) Tufello|
|Next Best||1, 12|
|Fast Start||1, 2, 3, 12|
Race 5: Class Open “The Busan Mayor’s Cup” (KOR G3) 1800M / Weight for Age / KRW 500 Million
- IRON TRAIN – Class 2 winner over this distance in May but only beat one home on his first class 1 try three weeks ago. Generally goes right to the back and closes. May pick off a few in the home straight.
- CHAMP LINE – Thomas Gillespie’s six-year-old is a very consistent type and he beat Buhwarui Banseok and Saengil Gippeum on his way to 2nd at 2000M last time. Usually runs at further than this but he can certainly make the minor money.
- DONGBANG DAERO – Ran a huge 2nd in the Grand Prix Stakes last December but has been a little indifferent in five starts since. Another who perhaps wants a little further to be at his most effective, but he could make a value bet for the places.
- I’M YOUR FATHER – Last year’s winner returned from seven months out to land a narrow win over King Of Ace over a mile at the beginning of June, finishing very strongly. Fergus Sweeney keeps the mount today and he has a chance of an upset.
- BUHWARUI BANSEOK – Ran 2nd to Triple Nine at 2000M in March and beat Dongbang Daero and Champ Line at the same distance in April. Champ Line returned the favour last time, but this is a very solid, consistent horse. Another who probably prefers further.
- CHEONJI STORM – Won the Seoul Owners’ Cup over 1200M in March before crushing a class 1 field by ten-lengths in the capital at the end of April. Lots of talent he is a front-runner who is likely to take on Cheongdam Dokki early. That’s risky but anything could happen.
- WINNER RED – Only two starts in 2018 so far and was a long way behind Cheongdam Dokki in the YTN Cup last time out. An outsider today.
- CHEONJEOK – Last home in the YTN Cup at the end of May continuing a run of indifferent form. Little to no chance here.
- WORLD NUMBER ONE – A stablemate of Iron Train, he was a class 2 winner at this distance in March but has been a touch disappointing in two efforts since. Likely to go right to the back from the gate and may improve late but is an outsider.
- KING OF ACE – Has suffered from a number of injury setbacks and is two starts into his latest comeback. He ran very well for 2nd to I’m Your Father in a tight finish on June 3rd and makes for an interesting outsider here.
- TRIPLE NINE – The gold standard in Korean racing. He beat four of these when winning his only start of 2018 to date in March, giving them plenty of weight too. He offered few clues when trialling up half-heartedly last weekend. Superior to all of these except Cheongdam Dokki and were he to win, it would be arguably his greatest achievement yet. He won’t challenge the Seoul horse for the lead but at this distance, neither will he let them get too far away. He often takes some time to hit top gear and that may be his undoing at 1800M.
- SAENGIL GIPPEUM – Has been beaten by plenty of these in recent starts at varying distances. Plenty of talent and has Busan’s champion jockey on board but will be an outsider here.
- CHEONGDAM DOKKI – His three outings this year have simply confirmed what we already knew – he is now better than Clean Up Joy. Here he has a chance to stamp his authority on all of Korean racing by beating Triple Nine at his home track. He is stepping back in trip for the first time since last September but even that should be in his favour. The widest gate is perhaps not ideal, but he has the speed to get to the front anyway and it would be a surprise were he not to hold off all-comers – including Triple Nine.
VERDICT: (13) CHEONGDAM DOKKI should take a big step towards asserting his hegemony by defeating (11) TRIPLE NINE. He’ll be on pace early and while there is a risk of an early speed battle with (6) CHEONJI STORM, he should have too much to able to cope with this and to see off everything else over 1800M. Cheonji Storm can go well as well as can last year’s winner (4) I’M YOUR FATHER. (2) CHAMP LINE and (10) KING OF ACE make for some potential value.
|Selections||(13) Cheongdam Dokki (11) Triple Nine (4) I’m Your Father (6) Cheonji Storm|
|Next Best||2, 10, 3|
|Fast Start||6, 13|
Race 6: Class 3 (1400M) Handicap / KRW 75 Million
Small field to finish with and there are two up and comers here. After a few near misses, (1) UNSEOK has now won three in a row by handy margins and while he’s up in class and slightly in distance today, has every chance of making it four. (3) GEUMSURYEONG has the best chance of beating him. He’s won three from five and was runner-up in the other two and there could well be more to come. He will lead early and Unseok will have to (more…)