Day: July 13, 2018

Seoul Saturday: Race-By-Race Preview (July 14)

A familiar face will be in action on Saturday as jockey Masakazu Tanaka returns to Korea to take up an initial four-month engagement at Seoul Racecourse. There are 11 races from 14:00 to 21:00.

Masa Tanaka

Masa Tanaka (Pic: Busan Ilbo)

Now 34, Tanaka, who has spent the majority of his career riding in New Zealand, joined Busan Racecourse in June of 2013 and returned solid results, riding 24 winners in his first seven months up to the end of that year.

2014 was challenging for the Japanese rider, but Tanaka still emerged with 29 winners from 330 rides. It would be in 2015, however, when his persistence paid off and he became acknowledged as one of the top jockeys in the country. He rode 49 winners that season, taking him to 5th place in the jockey championship.

Although he couldn’t secure a Stakes race victory, he landed a 3rd place on New York Blue in the Asia Challenge Cup in 2014 and the following year another 3rd, on Ildeung Hanghaesa in the President’s Cup, at that time Korea’s joint-richest race. He left Busan having ridden 101 winners from 907 rides and returned to New Zealand where he has been riding since.

Tanaka, who this time will be based in Seoul, has four rides in the capital on Saturday but the odds are against him making an immediate winning return although some of the other foreign jockeys at the track should be in the winner’s circle at some stage with Johan Victoire, Manoel Nunes and Antonio Da Silva all on plenty of live mounts.

The day’s feature is a class 2 handicap over 1800M (race 10). Samjung Tapit, Thunder Light and Tosconova Cat, who came home 2nd, 4th and 6th respectively in last month’s TJK Trophy will be among the favourites in an ultra-competitive eleven-runner race.

Race 1: Class 6 (1200M) Allowance / KRW 24 Million

Just seven runners to kick us off with and it’s as weak a maiden as you’ll find. (2) HANIL GANGJA ran reasonably well in three outings around the turn of the year before being taken lame. He returned to training a couple of months ago trialling up in early June in good order and he should have far too much here. He will try to lead from gate to wire although he will be challenged for the early lead by (4) GOODCHOICE, who has show a couple of glimpses across eight outings so far and should be aiming for a career-best finish here. (6) SAND CHAMP has only raced twice so far, and the jockey booking makes one take note here. (5) JEONGMUN Y and (7) SUNSHIN MARINE the others with scope for improvement.

Selections (2) Hanil Gangja (4) Goodchoice (6) Sand Champ (7) Sunshin Marine
Next Best 5, 3, 1
Fast Start 2, 4

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

The second maiden of the day is only marginally stronger than the first. (2) DAESEUNG AGAIN is the clear standout having run 4th and 3rd in his first two starts. He came close to making all last time, just being headed in the closing stages and this time can go all the way. (1) DALLYEORA RAON steps back to the minimum trip following a decent 3rd place 1300M last time. He’s also returning from seventeen weeks out and can go well first-up here. (4) GWANGPOK JUHAENG and (5) SO ARA DAEWANG have both demonstrated progress over their limited starts so far and while for both, this is slightly harder than their latest assignments, both can be competitive.

Selections (2) Daeseung Again (1) Dallyeora Raon (4) Gwangpok Juhaeng (5) So Ara Daewang
Next Best 3, 6
Fast Start 2, 8

Race 3: Class 6 (1000M) Allowance / KRW 60 Million

Japanese jockey Masa Tanaka, who rode 100 winners at Busan in a previous Korean stint, makes his debut as full-time Seoul jockey here but the Japanese rider may have to wait a little longer for his first winner as his mount in this juvenile maiden, (1) CHEONJI GISANG, won’t be among the favourites. That’s not to say the colt did badly in his trial though, but it’s a competitive affair. Three have raced before and of them, (6) CHANGPA was a solid 4th on June 16th, running on nicely and if she has come of for the run, she’ll be the one to beat. Among the first-timers, (7) GUREUM WANGJA and (9) UP LIGHT looked most impressive in trials. The pair of them will likely join Changpa on the early speed and all three should still be involved at the business end. (4) JACOB and (8) RAYMOND are others to keep an eye on and as ever in races like this, watch the market for clues.

Selections (6) Changpa (7) Gureum Wangja (8) Raymond (9) Up Light
Next Best 4, 1, 11
Fast Start 6, 7, 9

Race 4: Class 5 (1000M) Handicap / KRW 40 Million

(1) BODEURAM and (3) WAIT AND SEE are both up in class after maiden wins at the distance last time. Both are from in-form stables and both look to have more to offer at this level with the filly Bodeuram slightly favoured to make the step up faster. Main danger to both is (4) ARGO GALLOPER. He remains a maiden but now has three 3rd place finishes and a 2nd place at this distance. The 2nd came last time out when he was well-beaten by a good winner having led early on but still finished comfortably ahead of the rest and should be a factor here. The experienced (8) PERFECT BIC C was 4th behind Argo Galloper that day but can run closer here. (7) JUNGJEON MAMA returned to racing (more…)

Busan Friday: Race-By-Race Preview (July 13)

It’s Oaks weekend at Busan and while the big race is on Sunday, things get underway with a 10-race Friday card from 14:30 to 21:00. Here are the previews:

Race 1: Class 6 (1200M) Allowance / KRW 24 Million

(4) OCEAN PHOENIX ran a decent race on debut at this distance at the start of June and should come on here with solid claims to win. He’ll settle behind the early leaders and can finish well. (7) ROYAL CLUB started poorly and then suffered in kickback when relatively well-supported last time. He has shown ability though and if he can get away to a good start today, he can go very close. (1) BAEKDU JANGSU offered precisely nothing across his first two outings but was a much-improved 2nd when tried at this distance for the first time four weeks ago and he can build on that here. (3) GIJEOGUIMYEONGSEONG ran very promisingly on debut all the way back last September but only ran once more before being out for nine months. He trialled up well at the end of June and can be backed first-up. There are two debut-makers and of them, (9) GOLD TREE has a top trainer/jockey combination and looked competent in trials.

Selections (4) Ocean Phoenix (7) Royal Club (3) Gijeoguimyeongseong (9) Gold Tree
Next Best 1, 2
Fast Start 2, 3, 7

Race 2: Class 6 (1000M) Allowance / KRW 60 Million

Two-year-old maidens here hence the enhanced prize-money. Just two of them have run before and (7) POWER WINDY is likely to be strong favourite. He ran a very solid 3rd on debut in a similar race three weeks ago and the experience should see him in good stead. He led in that race from the gate and can do so again – without being caught this time. (6) TROPHY COLLECTOR debuted in the same race on June 22nd and while he only beat three home, didn’t run badly after a slow start and he can improve here. Of the first-timers, (5) FRIDAY is from the track’s top stable and is out of a Korean Derby winner and will get some backing. Others impressed a little more in trials though, with (2) SINBIHAN YEOIN and (4) YEONGGWANGUI FIGHT looking most likely.

Selections (7) Power Windy (2) Sinbihan Yeoin (5) Friday (6) Trophy Collector
Next Best 4, 1, 3
Fast Start 1, 7

Race 3: Class 6 (1300M) Allowance / KRW 24 Million

Since returning from five months off in early June, (3) INTERCEPTOR has run well twice, coming 3rd over this distance three weeks ago, beating a couple of these in the process. He’s one of a number with a chance in this competitive contest. (4) THE FACT and (6) HORTENSE too come in off the back of 3rd place finishes on what was their respective second and first starts. Both should be firmly in the frame here. Hortense is likely to be on the early pace along with (7) ROYAL BLUE. Thomas Gillespie’s colt has been close in four of his five starts so far and just missed out by a nose at 1200M on June 1st. He can go well here under a brand-new apprentice, who is claiming 4kg.  (8) MIRACLE ALICE hung outwards throughout her last start but still managed to finish 5th and with manners no doubt better today, she can get closer.

Selections (4) The Fact (3) Interceptor (6) Hortense (8) Miracle Alice
Next Best 7, 9
Fast Start 1, 6, 7, 8

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

After a nondescript trial, (6) VICAR BLADE ran on very nicely for 2nd on debut over 1200M, pushing the talented Christiano all the way to the line. It’s been seventeen long weeks since then, but he returns here surely ready to get his maiden win. He’s not necessarily going to be a fast starter but with the extra half-furlong today, should have too much. (9) PEACE RIDER finished four lengths behind Vicar Blade that day. He’s race three times since and has acquitted himself well each time and can get close once more. Aside from those two, we’re looking for improvers. (10) HWANGGEUM BEOLMA did indeed improve last start, registering a 4th place at this distance in what was arguably a deeper field than this and can aim to at least match today. (2) GEODAEHAN WONSEOK and (5) GOLDUI INYEON should contest the early lead and both are capable of staying involved at the business end of the race.

Selections (6) Vicar Blade (9) Peace Rider (10) Hwanggeum Beolma (2) Geodaehan Wonseok
Next Best 5, 4
Fast Start 2, 5

Race 5: Class 5 (1000M) Handicap / KRW 40 Million

Bart Rice’s (11) CLEVER WILLIE was a five-length winner on what was his second career start – a full nine months after the first – on June 24th. It was at this distance and while he is up in class and will be coming out of the widest gate, he’s very much the one to beat here. (4) DANCING BLAZE was a touch unlucky in running last start four weeks ago but still finished a very creditable 5th, proving he can be competitive at this class and he can build on that here. (5) HAEDONG YEOGEOL remains a maiden after twenty-two attempts but comes in off the back of a 3rd and a 4th in her latest two, both at class and distance (more…)