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 come past him. There’s a chance he won’t be able. Those two are head and shoulders above the rest but (2) GAME CHANGER and (6) ANY NINE are also capable of running well on their day.
|Selections||(3) Geumsuryeong (1) Unseok (6) Any Nine (2) Game Changer|
|Fast Start||3, 6|
Race 1: Class 6 (1000M) Allowance / KRW 40 Million
Maiden fillies only to begin with. (2) BLESSING ROAD has been reasonably consistent across five starts to date and in this company can step up. She can get to the lead from gate 2 and can win this. She’ll be joined on pace early by (3) RAON OPTIMUS, who was an improved 3rd last start and can build on that today and (4) LEADER’S CAMP, who similarly showed improvement on her latest outing. (8) POX RANGER finished ahead of Blessing Road two starts ago and put in a useful effort finishing 3rd at 1300M last time out and can considered as can (10) AREUMDAUN CHEONSA, who was just beaten a head at this distance on May 19th and can be competitive again under Manoel Nunes.
|Selections||(2) Blessing Road (8) Pox Ranger (3) Raon Optimus (4) Leader’s Camp|
|Next Best||10, 7|
|Fast Start||1, 3, 4, 7|
Race 2: Class 6 (1000M) Allowance / KRW 60 Million
Eight previously unraced two-year-olds make their racecourse debuts here. (3) WONDERFUL FLY won his trial in competent fashion. His stable is having a good year, there is a top jockey booking and everything points to a positive debut. (2) RAON WILLIAMS posted the quickest time in trials, albeit assisted by a wet and fast track. Nevertheless, she ran on nicely and looks to have a significant chance. (7) TOHAMSAN POWER and (8) LAO JIN both led in their heats, so we will expect to see them on speed early again. Both should stay on nicely and can be involved. (1) GOD OF SOCKS trialled up in the same heat as Wonderful Fly, finishing about three and a half lengths behind him and should also hold his own first up.
|Selections||(3) Wonderful Fly (2) Raon Williams (7) Tohamsan Power (1) God Of Socks|
|Next Best||8, 4|
|Fast Start||3, 7, 8|
Race 3: Class 6 (1200M) Allowance / KRW 40 Million
(3) SAEROUN CAPTAIN has only run once, all the way back last November finishing 5th over 1300M. He requalified in a fast time at the beginning of June and if he can bring that form to the track, has a good chance in this modest affair. (7) SONGAM GONGJU was sent off as favourite for her first try at this distance four weeks ago. She could only manage 3rd, a full fourteen lengths behind the winner. With a better start today, she can get closer. (4) CHEONGANG SEONG may benefit from Manoel Nunes taking over today and can improve while (6) MAPAEBONG may appreciate the step up from the minimum trip. There is one debut-maker. (5) TAURUS won a trial in late May and has to be given a chance first-up in company like this.
|Selections||(3) Saeroun Captain (7) Songam Gongju (5) Taurus (4) Cheongang Seong|
|Next Best||6, 9|
|Fast Start||3, 4, 7|
Race 4: Class 6 (1200M) Allowance / KRW 40 Million
(1) BAEKSAN FORCE enters with a 2nd and a pair of 4ths from her last three and should be making the breakthrough here on what is her first try at further than the minimum distance, most likely leading all the way. (6) HYEONGMA PUBU has twice disappointed when favourite but ran well over 1300M last time beating a couple of these in the process and she should be looking to break into the top two for the first time here. (5) HANEUL ACE was one of those behind Hyeongma Pubu last time and can improve today while (7) JEONGMUN JEKI and (9) ADELE JEONGSANG are others who could also show some development here.
|Selections||(1) Baeksan Force (6) Hyeongma Pubu (5) Haneul Ace (9) Adele Jeongsang|
|Next Best||7, 3|
|Fast Start||1, 5, 9|
Race 5: Class 5 (1300M) Handicap / KRW 40 Million
(7) GAJA GAJA is up in class following a seven-length win over this distance on June 2nd. Luigi Riccardi has a great strike-rate and it’s not impossible he could keep it going here. It won’t be easy though. (2) EUMAK DAEJANG was just beaten a neck in a tight three-way finish at class and distance on June 3rd with a couple of these behind him in what was arguably a tougher race than this and he has solid claims here. He’ll join Gaja Gaja on the early speed as will (8) SEOUL STORY, who comes in following a 3rd place over 1200M last time and steps up to this trip for the first time. (3) MIGHTY WA was one of those behind Eumak Daejang last time and can get closer today while (9) HAETSAL WANGJA is another who can get close.
|Selections||(2) Eumak Daejang (7) Gaja Gaja (8) Seoul Story (3) Mighty Wa|
|Next Best||9, 6|
|Fast Start||2, 7, 8|
Race 6: Class 4 (1300M) Handicap / KRW 60 Million
Despite winning a trial, (3) MUNHAK JOY was a 12/1 chance when he made his debut over 1300M on May 27th. He made a nonsense of that by winning by half a length with (2) DICE KING in 2nd place. The two of them should be battling it out at the business end of the race again with Munhak Joy favoured to prevail once more. As an import, Munhak Joy debuted at this class but locally-bred (7) FRENCH STAR has won his way up from class 6. After an indifferent debut, he’s won his latest two in fine fashion, most recently at this distance. He’s had ten weeks off and enters with a chance of making it three in a row. (6) INCITATUS was much improved second-up after a layoff running 2nd over 1200M and can be a factor here. (5) KEY FACTOR comes in off three consecutive 4th place finishes and can at least match those today.
|Selections||(3) Munhak Joy (2) Dice King (7) French Star (6) Incitatus|
|Next Best||5, 4|
|Fast Start||3, 7|
Race 7: Class 5 (1700M) Allowance / KRW 40 Million
Three of these enter having won their latest starts. (6) MACHO HIME and (7) HANSEN BAROWS are both up in class following good wins over 1300M on their respective latest starts. Hansen Barows has already proven capable over this distance and of the two looks the most likely to step up. The other last time winner is (9) SHAR NAO. He was a surprising 20/1 winner at this class and distance on May 27th and is certainly worthy of respect. He carries an additional 3.5kg today and the odds will be against a repeat. (2) CREMOA POWER comes in after a useful 3rd at class and distance at the end of May and should be dangerous. (8) JEONGSANG MANSE is one start into a comeback after ten months off, He had shown plenty of talent before – including a 2nd place at this distance – and he should improve today. (10) YAHO AURORA was a touch disappointing two weeks ago but has won at the distance and can get close here.
|Selections||(2) Cremoa Power (7) Hansen Barows (10) Yaho Aurora (8) Jeongsang Manse|
|Next Best||9, 6|
|Fast Start||7, 9|
Race 8: Class 4 (1700M) Allowance / KRW 60 Million
(3) WONDERFUL JACKPOT was a three-length winner at class and distance on May 26th and despite carrying an additional 3kg today, he’s strongly favoured to repeat. (5) JAJINMORI ran well at this trip early in his career and steps back up following three very solid outings over 1200M and 1300M in recent months and can be a danger while (7) GEUMGANG CHEONHA was slightly below par when 6th last time out but can go better here. (2) SARYEONI DREAM is up in class having won over 1300M at the end of May and while a previous try at this trip in March didn’t go well, he looks ready for another go. (9) MONSTER QUEEN was 6th behind Wonderful Jackpot last start but can get closer today.
|Selections||(3) Wonderful Jackpot (5) Jajinmori (7) Geumgang Cheonha (2) Saryeoni Dream|
|Next Best||9, 8|
|Fast Start||2, 5|
Race 9: Class 3 (1200M) Handicap / KRW 75 Million
(7) EMPIRE KINGDOM made all for a class and distance win on May 26th with a couple of these well back behind him. The Bodemeister gelding has proved a little inconsistent across his seven starts to date but if he can get away well and get onto the early speed, he can win this. (1) ALPHAKAN drops back in trip with his recent work having been at 1700M and looks interesting. (2) OHTHE PAZIBILITIES was a winner on debut last September but has had plenty of setbacks since. He showed signs of improvement behind Empire Kingdom last time and could continue in a positive manner today. (5) SWEETLY HUMOR is up in class after a string of good results at 1300M and he should be competitive. (9) SAMSAM VICTORY’s latest two don’t look especially good on paper but both times have been in tougher company than this and he has every chance of improving today.
|Selections||(7) Empire Kingdom (2) Ohthe Pazibilities (5) Sweetly Humor (1) Alphakan|
|Next Best||9, 10|
|Fast Start||5, 6, 7, 9|
Race 10: Class 2 (1400M) Handicap / KRW 90 Million
This is a really competitive race. (7) GIO STAR has never been outside the top three in seven starts to date and that run will surely continue here. The Gio Ponti gelding was a beaten favourite at this distance last time but can come from just behind the early speed and finish on top today. (9) GRACE CITY returned from nine months off to run 3rd at 1200M on May 13th. He’s won at this distance in the past and is a real threat here. So is (5) SKY BAY, who was 4th in that May 13th race and is one of the most promising three-year-old imported fillies at the track. She steps up to 1400M for the first time and it could well suit. A winner of three from six so far, (6) I.B.S. MARINE is up in class today and can be competitive from the front while (10) KILIUI YEOWANG was just beaten a neck in similarly strong class and distance race back in March. She returns after fifteen weeks off as one of a number of others in with solid claims here.
|Selections||(7) Gio Star (5) Sky Bay (9) Grace City (6) I.B.S. Marine|
|Next Best||10, 3|
|Fast Start||3, 5, 6, 9, 10|
Race 11: Class 1 (1200M) Handicap / KRW 110 Million
(11) CHEONJIGA beat (5) GOLD MUSIC as the pair ran 1st and 2nd over this distance in a fast race on a wet track at the beginning of May. The latter went on to be overmatched in the SBS Sports Sprint four weeks ago but should go much better here and Cheonjiga can overcome the wide draw to be very much in the frame. (2) DIA SOCKS is up in class and back in trip after a good win in the TJK Trophy race over 1800M a month ago and has solid claims here. (12) HOENG UN GOL is still eligible for class 2 but takes his chance here having won three of his last four including a battling triumph at this distance last start in May. (8) ACE RUNNER can be forgiven his latest and can go better today while (9) CHEONMA too can improve in this company.
|Selections||(11) Cheonjiga (12) Hoeng Un Gol (2) Dia Socks (5) Gold Music|
|Next Best||8, 9, 3|
|Fast Start||1, 5, 12|