On this weekend last year, Silver Wolf was setting out on a clean-sweep of the Queens’ Tour Series with a narrow win over Haeya in the Ttukseom Cup. This Sunday at Seoul, it’s surely Haeya’s turn to win the Ttukseom while Silver Wolf turns her attention to the SBS Sports Sprint, the 2nd leg of the Sprint Series, having already won the Busan Ilbo Cup last month. The exciting Today, a winner of 10 of 12 starts is among a full field of fifteen rivals and the Aussie-bred superstar will be under huge pressure in the 1200M test, but she has the class to overcome it. There are 11 races at Seoul from 10:45 to 18:00 and 6 at Busan from 12:40 to 17:05.
A$40,000 yearling purchase, Silver Wolf was last year’s champion filly/mare in Korea. In between winning all three legs of the 2017 Queens’ Tour series, she also went sprinting, winning the Munhwa Ilbo Cup and running a strong 5th in the Korea Sprint. Silver Wolf has made an unbeaten start to 2018 with three consecutive victories including the Donga Ilbo Cup at 1800M in February and significantly, the 1st leg of the Sprint Series at Busan last month, when she downed Today’s stablemate Power Blade over this distance.
Six-years-old and arguably still getting better, the mare by Orotorio is the one to beat. Tactically versatile, she can win from anywhere but is usually ridden patiently and with lots of early speed in the race, it may well play to her advantage.
Drosselmeyer colt Today was imported in-utero and has set about winning ten of his twelve starts so far at distances of up to a mile. The Kim Young Kwan stable has such an embarrassment of riches that Today has gone somewhat under the radar and with any stable only permitted to run a maximum of two in any race, he is yet to get the opportunity to run in Stakes company. However, with Power Blade kept home, Today gets his chance here. He enters on a four-race winning streak with his latest having been at this distance on March 25th. Jockey Franco Da Silva rode the winner of the Korean Derby three weeks ago and returns to Seoul with another big chance.
The three who contested last year’s finish all return. Doraonpogyeongseon got the decision that day by the narrowest of margins ahead of Parang Juuibo and Choegang Schiller. Doraonpogyeongseon has won just the once since but was an excellent 3rd in the Korea Sprint, beating Silver Wolf, and remains a danger at the top level.
Parang Juuibo isn’t quite of the elite but rarely finishes outside the top five – although making top five will take some doing this time. Choegang Schiller has only raced four times (and switched trainers twice) since the race a year ago. He’s won two of them, most recently in February at this distance and broke the track record in the other and is a live chance.
There are wildcards. Today’s stablemate Finest Warrior gets to step up. A winner of four from seven so far, he was unconvincing when sent up to class 1 for the first time last month but it’s unlikely trainer Kim Young Kwan has opted to bring him to Seoul simply for the experience. There is further Australian interest as Peter Wolsley brings Ace Korea up from Busan. The three-year-old Smiling Tiger colt has won his latest two in facile fashion, both at this distance and while this is a huge step up, he’s highly thought of. It’s a massively competitive contest bit Silver Wolf can win it from Today, Doraonpogyeongseon and Cheogang Schiller.
The Ttukseom Cup should be a little bit more straightforward in terms of finding the winner.
Haeya is rated no fewer than 27 points higher than the next best and that fact alone tells its own story. She’s been plagued by soundness issues across her career which has restricted her to thirteen starts of which she has won six. The ones she has lost, however, have tended to be in top class company. She was 2nd to Silver Wolf in this race last year before running 3rd in the second leg, the KNN Cup at Busan.
With a mile considered her limit, she didn’t run in the concluding race of the series but did take a crack at the Korea Sprint in which she finished 11th. Haeya has begun 2018 in good form with a win and a 2nd place in two class 1 outings, both at this distance of 1400M. Her last start was in March, but she was kept ticking over with a trial win in late April. A front-runner, this could be her year.
Behind Haeya though, it is anyone’s race, with all fifteen other competitors having at least some claim on the places. Hi Sexy and Cheongsu Yeogeol look to have the best claims but Luigi Riccardi’s Rocket Queen might make for an interesting one at odds. Here is the race-by-race:
Race 1: Class 6 (1000M) Allowance / KRW 24 Million
Just one debut-maker among the eleven who kick us off but he’s probably going to start the favourite. (1) WINNER SPIRIT took part in an outrageously fast trial on May 18th, registering the kind of time that would win the vast majority of actual class 6 races at this distance. It was a wet track, but he certainly looked competent and while he will surely be slower today, can still win. (2) LIVINGSTONE comes in off back to back 4th place finishes and looks to be improving, despite disappointing when favourite last start. (5) I’M HAPPY and (6) MONKEY SOCKS have both shown glimpses of ability and should go close. (11) RAON SITIEOSEU beat (3) GOLD SEUTAK and (8) NAMJJOK NARA as the trio filled out 3rd to 5th at the distance on May 5th and he should beat plenty again.
|Selections||(1) Winner Spirit (2) Livingstone (5) I’m Happy (6) Monkey Socks|
|Next Best||11, 3|
|Fast Start||1, 2, 6, 10|
Race 2: Class 6 (1300M) Allowance / KRW 24 Million
(4) BARAM KING beat a couple of these on his way to 4th place at this distance on April 29th. He’s not been too far away in five of his six starts so far and against this modest opposition, with Moon Se Young taking over in the saddle, looks the most likely to make the breakthrough. (8) SEUNGNI PLUS started favourite against Baram King last time but could only manage 6th place. Nevertheless, he is one of only two horses in the race who have managed a 2nd place finish and he can be given another chance. The other one with a 2nd is (6) KHENDUM POWER though he looks to have more to find on recent form. (5) ROAD WOMAN and (11) MACHO HIME can improve on recent starts while (10) DAEJIUI SAESSAK was so slow on debut last month, she was sent back to trial. She completed that trial well last week though and could do much better this time around.
|Selections||(4) Baram King (8) Seungri Plus (11) Macho Hime (5) Road Woman|
|Next Best||1, 9, 10|
|Fast Start||3, 6, 8|
Race 3: Class 6 (1300M) Allowance / KRW 40 Million
(4) SPECIAL GOLD got her second 3rd place finish from four starts so far and she could well be the one getting it right in this maiden for three-year-olds. She’s finished well in all her starts so far and so long as she doesn’t leave herself with too much to do, she can win. She was chased home that day by (5) HANEUL ACE and (1) HYEONGMA PUBU, the later disappointing as favourite for the second consecutive time, but it is still early days for both and they can be given another chance here. Both (6) MAIN RACER and (7) GWACHEON HERO come in after posting 2nd place finishes in their latest starts. Main Racer’s was at this distance while Gwacheon Hero’s was in a fast contest at 1000M and both look like dangers here.
|Selections||(4) Special Gold (6) Main Racer (1) Hyeongma Pubu (7) Gwacheon Hero|
|Next Best||5, 3|
|Fast Start||3, 6, 7|
Race 4: Class 4 (1000M) Handicap / KRW 60 Million
(8) CHAPEL ACE beat (7) ILGAKSU when the pair came home 1st and 2nd at the distance at class 5 back in March. Chapel Ace went on to run 2nd in his first attempt at this level at 1200M on April 7th beating a couple of the others who go here. Ilgaksu, meanwhile, ended his string of three runner-up finishes by winning a modest contest, again at 1000M four weeks ago. The pair of them now meet again, with both looking for fast starts and Chapel Ace favoured to prevail once more. Joining them on pace will likely be (6) AMAZING SOCKS, who remains a maiden but has twice gone close at this distance and should do o again. (3) HEUNG BARAM weakened last time out having led but is worth another chance here while (9) YEOKJEONUI SUNGAN is one race into a comeback where he was beaten by (11) MANHATTAN MUSIC, but could improve today.
|Selections||(8) Chapel Ace (7) Ilgasu (6) Amazing Socks (3) Heung Baram|
|Next Best||9, 5, 11|
|Fast Start||3, 6, 7, 8|
Race 5: Class 5 (1200M) Handicap / KRW 40 Million
(7) DEOBUREO SOOP and (8) FINAL STORM were both eye-catching winners over 1000 on their respective latest starts and both step up in class and in distance today with solid claims to be involved. They’ll be well-backed, but neither will probably end up as favourite. That will be (1) RAON PRIMER. She’s still a maiden after four attempts but has never been worse than 4th and has been beaten by some useful animals. She should be on speed from the gate and this time may not be passed. At the other end of the experience spectrum, (2) SOKDO SHINHWA showed signs of coming back into form with a good 4th of 11 last start at this distance and may feature. (6) BORN WINNER has only won once in twenty-one attempts but was a decent 2nd last time and can build on that under Manoel Nunes once again.
|Selections||(1) Raon Primer (8) Final Storm (7) Deobureo Soop (6) Born Winner|
|Next Best||2, 9|
|Fast Start||1, 3, 8|
Race 6: Class 5 (1300M) Handicap / KRW 40 Million
It’s hard to look past (10) SMARTY BLUE here. A good winner on debut in March, he was favourite for his first crack at this class and distance on a wet track on May 6th. He led for much of the race but just came up short finishing 2nd. He should have come on for that and should win here. (5) EUMAK DAEJANG and (9) BAIKAL JEONSA are both a little better than their slightly disappointing recent runs of form would suggest, and they look to be the main dangers with Baikal Jeonsa down in class today. (4) MIGHTY WA drops back in trip and could be interesting if he challenges Smarty Blue for the lead early. (8) CHILJONG CHILGEUM is up in class after an all the way win over this distance on May 6th and shouldn’t be out of his depth.
|Selections||(10) Smarty Blue (9) Baikal Jeonsa (4) Mighty Wa (8) Chiljong Chilgeum|
|Fast Start||4, 5, 8, 10,|
Race 7: Class 4 (1700M) Allowance / KRW 60 Million
Small field here but plenty of nice horses among it. (8) SHARK DAEJANGGEUN beat (2) DAESEUNG BIBEOB as the pair ran 2nd and 4th in a similar strength race to this at class and distance on April 21st. It continued a god run of form for both and they really should be battling it out for top honours today. Shark Daejanggeun is racing for the first time since that race, while Daeseung Bibeob ran a decent enough 3rd over 100M three weeks ago. (4) ROYAL PARK has won two of her latest three, the latest of them at this class over 1300M a month ago. She tries two turns for the first time and it may well suit. (6) BRANDON too is up to this trip for the first time. The Katsumi Yoshida colt has never been worse than 4th and can maintain that run today. (5) YEOKDAE CHOESANG won at this distance at class 5 in March and has followed up with two strong 3rd place finishes at this level and surely won’t be too far away again.
|Selections||(8) Shark Daejanggeun (2) Daeseung Bibeob (5) Yeokdae Choesang (6) Brandon|
|Next Best||4, 1|
|Fast Start||2, 6, 8|
Race 8: Class Open (1200M) The SBS Sports Sprint / Weight for Age / KRW 300 Million
The 2nd leg of the Sprint Series and it’s ultra-competitive. There are two standouts. (14) SILVER WOLF, the best mare in Korea and winner of the 1st leg in Busan last month, and (11) TODAY, winner of ten from twelve so far and who finally gets a crack at a big Stakes race. Silver Wolf just seems to find a way, however, so we’ll stick with her. Today will be one of a number of horses looking to get up on to what is likely to be a frenetic early pace whereas the versatile Silver Wolf can be more patient and show her class at the end. That may also suit last year’s winner (2) DORAONPOGYEONGSEON who will surely be a factor again. (4) CHOEGANG SCHILLER was involved in the finish last year and is the track-record holder. At his best he is very good and is well drawn to get on the early pace. Peter Wolsley’s (6) ACE KOREA and Today’s stablemate under Kim Young Kwan, (13) FINEST WARRIOR are up and comers who may play a role. Never completely rule out (1) FINAL BOSS or (8) PERDIDO POMEROY.
|Selections||(14) Silver Wolf (11) Today (2) Doraonpogyeongseon (4) Choegang Schiller|
|Next Best||6, 13, 1, 8|
|Fast Start||3, 4, 6, 8, 10, 11|
Race 9: Class Open (1400M) The Ttukseom Cup / Allowance / KRW 400 Million
The 1st leg of the “Queens’ Tour” for fillies and mares. Silver Wolf swept the series last year but is now too old, so it is surely set up for (1) HAEYA, at least in this first leg at a sprint distance. She was 2nd in the race last year and while she has had soundness issues which account for her only having run thirteen times in total, on her day she is very good and should be too good today. She’s the clear top pick but behind her it is absolutely wide open. (9) HI SEXY is a decent looking up and comer representing Kim Young Kwan’s stable and has plenty of talent. She comfortably beat (13) HELLO VENUS when they raced in late April and and challenge here. (14) ROCKET QUEEN beat (10) CHEONGSU YEOGEOL as the pair finished 2nd and 5th at the distance at the end of April and both could play a role. (7) MUNHAK PRINCESS and (8) SHARK RUN are both relatively unexposed and could go well. (11) P.K. PARTY is one of very few here who has made it up to class 1 and must be respected although this may be at the top of her distance range. (16) GOLD BLUE is another and she has proven competitive in top class company. (6) BRIGHT STAR was 2nd in last year’s Oaks and has a win and a 3rd place finish in two starts so far this year.
|Selections||(1) Haeya (9) Hi Sexy (14) Rocket Queen (10) Cheongsu Yeogeol|
|Next Best||16, 7, 8, 6, 11, 13|
|Fast Start||1, 6, 7, 11, 13|
Race 10: Class 3 (1800M) Allowance / KRW 75 Million
(8) ARGO AWESOME ran disappointingly when favourite last time, failing to get on the early speed as intended and then resenting the resulting kickback and ending up in 6th place. He’s well worth another chance today. (3) HONEY BUTTER NINO was a good 2nd – albeit twelve lengths behind winner Lion Rock – over 1900M on April 29th. That was a good uptick in form and he can keep it going here. (7) YES YOU CAN was disappointing in that race but has shown plenty of ability around two turns and should be better today. (9) WANGUI DAERO and (5) GIANT KILLER came home 4th and 5th over 1800M on May 6th and both can be involved here – it would be no surprise were Giant Killer to overturn that form. (4) JISANGMYEONGRYEONG is up in class following a smart win over 1700M three weeks ago and can be competitive at this level.
|Selections||(8) Argo Awesome (3) Honey Butter Nino (7) Yes You Can (5) Giant Killer|
|Next Best||4, 11|
|Fast Start||2, 8|
Race 11: Class 4 (1300M) Handicap / KRW 60 Million
(6) KING EXPLOIT was 2nd in a quick race on a wet track at class and distance on May 6th continuing his recent run of good form and he’s a prime candidate to score here. Not the fastest of starters, he’ll be ridden patiently and could be too strong in the later part of the race. To win though, he’ll have to go past (1) CALLIOPE. A winner of three from seven to date, he was 4th over 1200M last start but is likely to lead here and can win. (4) JAJINMORI enters off the back of consecutive 3rd place finishes and can at least match those here. (8) KING MESENGER was a slightly surprising winner over 1200M on May 6th and must be respected. (9) AMENDA was a touch disappointing in the same race that day but has won at this distance and can be given another chance.
|Selections||(6) King Exploit (1) Calliope (8) King Messenger (9) Amenda|
|Next Best||4, 3|
|Fast Start||1, 3|