It’s one of the oldest races on the Korean Racing calendar and while it’s not one of the biggest or most prestigious, there’s plenty of interest in the 26th running of the Sports Chosun Cup at Seoul Racecourse on Sunday. There are 11 Sunday races at Seoul from 10:45 to 18:00 and 6 at Busan from 12.40 to 17:05.
Restricted to horses with a rating of 80 or less, the 2000M test was last year won by Geombit Gangja and the now five-year-old gelding returns for another crack having only run once in the meantime. He’s joined by last year’s Oaks winner Jejui Haneul, the improving Nasca Prince – a winner of five from eight and likely favourite – and five others making up a field of eight where all have at least some claim and all have some kind of vulnerability. That may leave the reliable pair of Golden Gate and Spero being well backed. Here are the Seoul previews, with Busan Selections below;
Race 1: Class 6 (1000M) Allowance / KRW 40 Million
After winning a trial, (5) SAGWARANG was sent off as favourite on debut at this distance on May 27th. She could only manage 3rd place but showed enough to suggest she can be winning sooner rather than later. She should have come on for that run and can get away to a better start today and if she does that, can win. The big danger is (3) STAR LIST, who already has a 2nd place to her name at this distance. She was a bit one-paced over 1200M last time out but drops back in trip today and has the services of Moon Se Young for the first time. (2) WANY K and (9) MIRACLE GOLD both put in encouraging debuts last month and can build on them here while (6) STAR SOCKS was just beaten a neck on her latest appearance, beating a couple of these in the process. She’s had ten weeks off since then and can go well today.
|Selections||(5) Sagwarang (3) Star List (2) Wany K (6) Star Socks|
|Next Best||9, 1|
|Fast Start||5, 6|
Race 2: Class 6 (1200M) Allowance / KRW 40 Million
After positive showings in his first two efforts, including only being beaten a neck at this distance at the end of April, (4) HANIL DALBIT was sent off as favourite on his latest start on May 27th. He never really got going that day, ending up in sixth place, but his prior performances mean he is worth another chance here. The trainer/jockey partnership has been on good-form recently and they can get another win here. (7) MYEONGJIN MAN was 4th behind Hanil Dalbit last time and the Drosselmeyer gelding could get a little closer today. (9) STRONG RUNNER has shown improvement across four starts to date and if he continues on that trajectory, should be looking for at least a place. (3) DONGHAE SILVER has shown glimpses of ability and will likely try to get on the early speed with Hanil Dalbit. (11) SOKBO WANGWI had shown absolutely nothing in four starts prior to a surprise 2nd last time out and will need to be treated with care here.
|Selections||(4) Hanil Dalbit (7) Myeongjin Man (9) Strong Runner (3) Donghae Silver|
|Next Best||11, 10|
|Fast Start||3, 4, 10, 11|
Race 3: Class 5 (1300M) Handicap / KRW 40 Million
(6) MENI BLADE got her maiden win with a six-length score at this distance on April 28th. She was sent up to 1700M for her first try at this level at the end of last month and while she began as odds-on favourite, she didn’t look comfortable from start to finish and ended up well down the field. Dropped back in trip today, she should be a vastly different prospect. This is a competitive race though. (2) HAENGBOK STAR may still be a maiden but is up in class today having been close at hand in each of his four outings so far. He was beaten five-lengths by Meni Blade back in March but seems to have come on a bit since and can be a factor. (9) HANIL MAGIC and (10) DAECHEON ACE are both a little more experienced and have placing finishes to their names at this class which they can repeat. (3) NEUNGRYEOK SIDAE and (4) PRINCE OF SUN (half-brother to American star Mind Your Biscuits) are others to take into account. (11) VICAR SCOOP the wildcard.
|Selections||(6) Meni Blade (10) Daecheon Ace (9) Hanil Magic (2) Haengbok Star|
|Next Best||3, 4, 11|
|Fast Start||1, 6, 8, 11|
Race 4: Class 5 (1700M) Allowance / KRW 40 Million
Very tricky contest this. We’ll side marginally with (1) KING POSE, who ran well enough on his first try at 1700M a month ago to suggest he has some aptitude for it. Prominent throughout, he only managed to finish 5th but can get back to the front today and this time go all the way. (3) MAMKKEOT DALYEO was only 7th in the same race but he has already shown ability at the trip and he too can be given another chance here. (4) GANGSEO EUTTEUM is up in class having won at this distance on May 26th. He looks to have more improvement in him and should be competitive. (5) MONEY ZIF tries two turns for the first time having run on well for 2nd over 1300M last month. (6) CLEAN UP DREAM and (10) DUMANGANG are among several others who can go close.
|Selections||(1) King Pose (4) Gangseo Eutteum (3) Mamkkeot Dalyeo (5) Money Zif|
|Next Best||6, 10, 8|
|Fast Start||1, 3|
Race 5: Class 4 (1200M) Handicap / KRW 60 Million
(8) RAON ACE beat (2) GOLD FASHION as the pair finished 1st and 3rd at class and distance on May 27th. For Gold Fashion that was a big uptick in form but Raon Ace, while a little inconsistent, has shown plenty of ability and has every chance here. A big danger is (1) M.J. ROAD. She comes in off the back of consecutive 3rd place finishes at class and distance, both times behind good horses. She can take up a position just behind the early leaders and can finish strongly. (5) COMPLETE SWEEP won two of three outings around the turn of the year, his only defeat being 3rd place behind Sinui Myeongryeong and Mask (the latter went on to finish 2nd in the Korea Derby) in a valuable race on Christmas Eve. He’s been out since a seven-length win in January but comfortably won a trial last week and he could still turn out to be a very good horse. The other one to look out for is (4) BOLD NINER. Up in class despite still being a maiden, there shouldn’t be too much for him to fear at this level.
|Selections||(5) Complete Sweep (1) M.J. Road (8) Raon Ace (2) Gold Fashion|
|Next Best||4, 10|
|Fast Start||4, 5, 6, 7|
Race 6: Class 4 (1300M) Handicap / KRW 60 Million
Congrats gelding (6) STAR PLATINUM has performed solidly if unspectacularly in his five races so far. Crucially, the competition in all of those has been a touch stiffer than what he faces today he has an excellent chance of making the breakthrough under David Breux. It isn’t an especially strong race and equally the likes of (2) BADA CHIEF and (8) EOMJI JJANG can be looking to improve on their best finishes with both having offered a few clues as to some ability in tougher company. (1) CHEON YANG races for the first time since March and is another who can improve. (5) SEOUL EOMJI should be on pace early and may benefit from Manoel Nunes in the saddle.
|Selections||(6) Star Platinum (5) Seoul Eomji (2) Bada Chief (8) Eomji Jjang|
|Next Best||1, 4|
|Fast Start||2, 5, 9|
Race 7: Class 4 (1400M) Handicap / KRW 60 Million
(3) JUMEOK DOKKI has won his latest two in handsome fashion, both at 1300Mand both by three lengths. That brings the Weigelia gelding rapidly up to class 4 where he has every chance of extending his winning streak to three. It won’t be easy though. (8) WONDERFUL CHAMPION was 2nd at class and distance on May 27th and could well go one better today. (1) YEONGAM ARIRANG was five-lengths behind in 3rd that day and while he has plenty to find to overturn that form, he can challenge for the places again. (7) HAE HU showed a lot of promise when starting out as a juvenile but has had a couple of setbacks. He has plenty of talent though and a return to form here is possible. (9) MENI PARK, a good winner at this level over 1300M in April, tries 1400M for the first time and is another who can’t be ruled out as is the up in class (6) CITY ANGEL.
|Selections||(8) Wonderful Champion (7) Hae Hu (3) Jumeok Dokki (6) City Angel|
|Next Best||9, 1, 4|
|Fast Start||4, 6, 7|
Race 8: Class 3 (1400M) Handicap / KRW 75 Million
A winner of three from six so far and a close 2nd at this class over 1200M last time out on May 26th, (4) YAHO SMART CAT looks to be the one to beat today. It’s his first time at the distance but there is little to suggest it won’t suit and he can lead from gate to wire. (1) HYEONMU too tries the distance for the first time and is up in class following a three lengths victory at 1300M on a wet track last start. He’ll be similarly looking to get to the front straight from the gate and is a big danger. (8) GUREUM SONJITHAE is another up in class and distance, in his case following two consecutive wins and he should be taken seriously. He’s another front-runner in a race with plenty of them. (7) LEAD QUEEN was a surprise winner at this class on May 19th at 1200M. A repeat isn’t impossible although the additional weight and trip today are not in her favour. (5) OFFIDAY, who was well back in that race can improve while (9) SONOGONG registered an unlikely 2nd place at the distance last start and warrants more respect today.
|Selections||(4) Yaho Smart Cat (1) Hyeonmu (8) Gureum Sonjithae (5) Offiday|
|Next Best||9, 2|
|Fast Start||1, 4, 7, 8|
Race 9: Class Open (2000M) “The Sports Chosun Cup” / Allowance / KRW 200 Million
- JEJUI HANEUL – Last year’s Korean Oaks winner, she’s only won one of six starts since, a class 3 handicap at 1900M last November. 4th last start at 2000M gives hope of a place here.
- COSMOS KING – One start into a comeback after exactly a year off. That was back in March at 1200M and while today’s distance may suit a bit better, he’s an outsider.
- GOLDEN GATE – Solid class 2 competitor who enters in good form. She’s been favourite for her last three starts but has come up short each time but nevertheless she’s consistently close and is one of very few here who enters with no major question marks. Settles in midfield.
- LEAD MONEY – Beaten by Jejui Haneul at this distance in April before running in midfield in the Ttukseom Cup at 1400M three weeks ago. Could well seek to lead here and can find the money.
- NASCA PRINCE – Enters off back to back wins most recently a six-length score over 1900M at class 3 on March 17th. Fourteen weeks off since then which is a slight concern but has every chance.
- SPERO – Can be forgiven his last start when he only beat one home as favourite over 1800M. He got a bad trip early in the race, hitting the running rail and never recovered. Had been performing well in previous races, he should be on the early speed and he has a chance.
- DAEJANGBAK – Beat Spero when the latter was luckless a month ago but was beaten by three of these at this distance in April and has plenty to find.
- GEOMBIT GANGJA – Last year’s winner is a stablemate of Nasca Prince. He has only raced once since and didn’t impress when beaten by Jejui Haneul and Lead Money on April 21st. Hopefully will have come on for that run but he’s an outsider to retain. Stablemate of Nasca Prince.
Verdict: It’s not a strong renewal and it’s tempting to play safety-first and go for (3) GOLDEN GATE, who has at least been consistent across his recent starts, rarely being too far away and although he hasn’t raced at this distance before, should be able to handle it with very few concerns. He will surely be there or thereabouts again. The exciting one though is (5) NASCA PRINCE. True, he’s not raced since March and this is the first time he’s tried over 2000M but the manner of his win at 1900M couple with the fact he is from a stable that generally gets it right in the big races, puts him on top. (1) JEJUI HANEUL and (6) SPERO can go lose while (4) LEAD MONEY and last year’s winner (8) GEOMBIT GANGJA are the wildcards.
|Selections||(5) Nasca Prince (3) Golden Gate (6) Spero (1) Jejui Haneul|
|Next Best||4, 8|
|Fast Start||5, 6|
Race 10: Class 3 (1800M) Allowance / KRW 75 Million
(5) NAMCHON ARTIST is up in class on the strength of back to back wins at class 4, both of them over 1700M and with others who go here running 2nd each time – (9) GEOM HAENG and (11) SEOUL TANK. He made all both times and the extra half-furlong shouldn’t cause him too many problems. He’ll be on pace again and looks the one to beat. (4) CHUKACHUKA and (6) TOTAL WALKER are established competitors at this level and should get close. Total Walker beat Chukachuka as the pair came home 3rd and 4th at class and distance back in April with (1) ARCH ARCH and (2) FANTASTIC COMBI in 5th and 6th behind. The latter pair are next best here.
|Selections||(5) Namchon Artist (4) Chukachuka (6) Total Walker (1) Arch Arch|
|Next Best||2, 3|
|Fast Start||1, 4, 5, 10|
Race 11: Class 1 (1400M) Handicap / KRW 110 Million
(4) WINNER GOLD saw his winning streak come to an end at five when he was beaten over 1200M on what was his first try at class 1 on May 6th. Back up to 1400M today – a distance at which he has a 100% record, he’ll settle behind the early speed and should be too strong in the home straight. Seven of the others raced each other at class and distance on May 20th. The ever reliable (10) DAISYAN finished best among them in 3rd and he is a horse who can never be ruled out of at least a place. A couple of the ones who finished behind him that day may be able to go a little better though. (2) GWANGBOK CHILSIP was 4th in that race but was returning for the first time since last October and can improve for it. (12) OP SEVEN was racing at class 1 for the first time and still looks to have improvement in him while (6) JANGSAN POWER, 6th in that race is another who will be fancied to improve.
|Selections||(4) Winner Gold (2) Gwangbok Chilsip (12) OP Seven (10) Daisyan|
|Next Best||6, 5|
|Fast Start||1, 2, 6, 9|
Race 1: 3, 5, 1, 7
Race 2: 1, 3, 2, 7
Race 3: 6, 4, 3, 1
Race 4: 2, 12, 4, 3
Race 5: 7, 2, 9, 4
Race 6: 1, 7, 11, 4