This year’s Korean Derby winner Ecton Blade returns to his home-track of Busan this Sunday as the colt drops back in trip to contest the class 1 feature handicap over 1400M. It’s the highlight of a 6-race Sunday card at Busan while up in Seoul there are a further 11 races.
It will be Ecton Blade’s first appearance at Busan since running a close 2nd to Divide Wind in the KRA Cup Mile, the first leg of the Triple Crown, in April. Last year’s champion juvenile then comfortably won the Derby in Seoul by a full-three lengths but only managed to finish in 3rd in the final leg of the series, the Minister’s Cup, also at Seoul in June. However, that 3rd was enough to assure himself the title of 2018 Champion Three-Year-Old.
While the winner of the Minister’s Cup, World Sun, was beaten on his own return to Busan on Friday evening, things should be different for Ecton Blade. With the rating limit capped at 100, Sunday’s race is not strong by class 1 standards and it is one he should be winning. Nevertheless, there are some useful operators among his ten rivals with Mupae, Miracle Line and Daeho Sidae the ones expected to provide the sternest opposition.
While a tilt at the international Korea Cup two weeks from now was considered for Ecton Blade, it was ultimately decided to keep him in Busan and drop him down to the trip he last ran at when winning the Breeders’ Cup – Korea’s top juvenile race – last year. Franco Da Silva, who rode him in the Derby, partners him once again.
Up at Seoul the most valuable race of the day is a six-furlongs test exclusively for juvenile graduates of the Jeju Breeze-up Sales. A field of eight will go to post and there is set to be a hot favourite in the shape of first-time starter Gyoryong Unu. The Limitless Bid colt trialed up impressively and is expected to have too much for a field which contains just two horses with prior racing experience.
Here is the fill race-by-race preview, beginning with Seoul, scroll down for Busan:
Race 1: Class 6 (1200M) Allowance / KRW 24 Million
(1) MAPAEBONG beat two of these on his way to 2nd place at this distance on July 29th and he looks the most likely to make the breakthrough here. (5) HARD PRINCESS also beat some of her rivals here when recording a much-improved 3rd place four weeks ago. That was her thirteenth career start and he best-finish to date and shoe can maintain that momentum here. (7) RAON STELLA ran a creditable race on debut the same day and should improve for the experience. Similarly (4) JJANGDAE made his racecourse debut running 4th behind Mapaebong and can also have come on for it. (9) DALLYEORA RAON has raced four times so far with two 3rd places to his name and shouldn’t be too far away again.
|Selections||(1) Mapaebong (5) Hard Princess (9) Dallyeora Raon (7) Raon Stella|
|Next Best||4, 12|
|Fast Start||3, 4, 8|
Race 2: Class 6 (1000M) Allowance / KRW 40 Million
This race is restricted to maiden fillies and (4) ATHENA V, 2nd on debut at this distance on July 21st is favoured to prevail. She was well-back behind a good winner that day but should have too much here. (12) SOKBO ONGJU and (1) DANGDAE SONYEO came home 2nd and 4th respectively when they raced at the distance on July 22nd. That was the latter’s debut and she may well improve. (6) HALLA DAERO and (10) SUN QUEEN both have 2nd place finishes to their names and can be competitive while among the four first-time starters, (5) SONGAM BARBIE catches the eye. She qualified when winning a trial back in March but didn’t make it to a race. She then re-qualified in good fashion at the end of July and can be considered first-up.
|Selections||(4) Athena V (1) Dangdae Sonyeo (12) Sokbo Ongju (5) Songam Barbie|
|Next Best||6, 10, 3|
|Fast Start||1, 5, 6, 8|
Race 3: Class 5 (1000M) Handicap / KRW 40 Million
A very competitive race which sees three horses up in class after recording their maiden wins last time out. In the case of (4) RAON SIRIUS, that win was all the way back in April. However, he looked very good when winning a trial two weeks ago and looks to have a very good chance first-up. He’ll be on pace early alongside (1) DAESEUNG AGAIN, and all-the-way winner at this distance on his third career start on July 14th and who also should go close. The final one up in class, (11) THUNDER MONEY, looks to have a bit more to find but shouldn’t be completely ruled out. Of those with experience at this level, (2) HI EUREKA looks the pick. He’s finished 3rd in three out of his last four starts and with Antonio Da Silva up today, could get it right, while (5) NEUNGRYEOK SIDAE too has gone close. (6) ROAN PRO SENSE didn’t go especially well at 1300M on what was his first try at this class last month but may go better dropped back to the minimum today.
|Selections||(4) Raon Sirius (2) Hi Eureka (1) Daeseung Again (5) Neungryeok Sidae|
|Next Best||6, 8, 11|
|Fast Start||1, 4, 6, 8|
Race 4: Class 5 (1300M) Handicap / KRW 40 Million
(3) TRIPLE HAPPY has run 3rd on both his latest starts and last time was slightly unlucky in a desperately close three-way finish over 1200M. He steps up marginally in trip today and can come from just off the early pace to make a strong challenge. (6) HAENGBOK STAR disappointed when favourite last time beaten by (8) REBECCA, among others. He should at least overturn that form today and can be given another chance. (10) ROYAL PRINCE enters having been 2nd at class and distance on July 22nd and can look to at least match that today. (2) TAURUS is up in class after getting his maiden win on his second start four weeks ago and should be competitive. (1) JI SEONI is better than her latest form suggests and is a potential improver.
|Selections||(3) Triple Happy (10) Royal Prince (6) Haengbok Star (2) Taurus|
|Next Best||1, 4|
|Fast Start||6, 7, 8|
Race 5: Class 4 (1300M) Handicap / KRW 60 Million
(11) JANGSAN WILD returned to winning ways at class and distance on July 7th, scoring in a decent race by half a length. He carries a bit more weight today but should be prominent throughout and is favoured to win again. (10) SOMETHING MYSTERY ran a close 2nd on his first try at this level four weeks ago. He’s never run worse than 5th in seven outings to date and should be very much in the frame here. (1) CUPID DATE similarly finished 3rd on his own first attempt at this level on the same day at 1400M and looks nicely in here. (5) BLACK MUSIC is already a class and distance winner and he only managed 5th last start under the same weight he carries today, he can aim for a place as can (8) DREAM INDY, who drops back in trip after recent assignments over 1700M.
|Selections||(11) Jangsan Wild (10) Something Mystery (1) Cupid Date (5) Black Music|
|Fast Start||5, 7, 8, 11, 12|
Race 6: Class 4 (1300M) Handicap / KRW 60 Million
(8) BEST YEJI has finished 3rd in each of her last three races, two of them at 1700M and then most recently at 1300M, beating a couple of others who go here in the process. 3rd should be a minimum target today and the Friesian Fire filly can come from just behind the early lead to put in a challenge late on. (4) CRAZY FACTOR has been 3rd on both his starts so far and steps up in trip for the first time. He’ll be on pace early and could be (more…)