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 interesting. (7) CHICAGO ART defied lengthy odds to run a good 4th in a slightly stronger race than this last time and can be given a bit more respect today. (6) KILIUI PYOBEOM registered his best finish to date when 2nd over 1200M last time and can go well again. There are two debut-makers and (2) JANGSAN SEVEN looks to have the best chance of making an impact first-up.
|Selections||(8) Best Yeji (4) Crazy Factor (7) Chicago Art (2) Jangsan Seven|
|Next Best||6, 1|
|Fast Start||2, 4, 6|
Race 7: Class 4 (1700M) Allowance / KRW 60 Million
(1) GEUMSOWHA somewhat surprisingly finished ahead of (4) CREMOA POWER as the pair ran 4th and 5th at class and distance on July 28th. That came off the back of Cremoa Power winning a class 5 contest at this trip by a full eight-lengths earlier in the month and the Hansen gelding will be expected to overturn that form today. (5) SPEED IS KHAN was a battling class and distance winner on July 22nd, racing prominently throughout and getting up to win by a neck. He carries an additional 4.5kg today but should be on pace early and could well go all the way. The latest two offerings from (3) HAWK EYES have been dismal but he is better than that and can be given another chance. The evergreen (8) SPASTAR is also more than capable of pulling off a good result in company like this.
|Selections||(4) Cremoa Power (5) Speed Is Khan (8) Spastar (3) Hawk Eyes|
|Fast Start||1, 5|
Race 8: Class 4 (1700M) Allowance / KRW 60 Million
(6) CLEAN UP SECRET beat four of these on his way to a half-length win on July 21st at this distance. It continued his exceptional run of recent form and while he is joint top-weight today, he has every chance of winning again. He’ll be ridden patiently and could be too strong. (1) SEUNGJAUI MISO was 3rd in that race, three-and-a-half lengths behind Clean Up Secret and he could get closer today while (2) GEOM NOA was further back but likewise could improve here. (8) JUNGDONG JIJON ran out a good class and distance winner at the end of July and he too can have designs on a repeat. (9) CHOIN DAEBO is a winner of two from four so far. He’s rapidly up in class and tackles two turns for the first time today. He has plenty of potential and could be up for the challenge.
|Selections||(6) Clean Up Secret (8) Jungdong Jijon (9) Choin Daebo (1) Seungjaui Miso|
|Next Best||2, 3|
|Fast Start||1, 3, 9|
Race 9: Class Open (1200M) Allowance / KRW 150 Million
A big prize on offer here for juvenile graduates of the Jeju Breeze-up sale earlier this year. Only two have raced before and in all honesty, they didn’t show very much so the majority of interest is going to be centered around the debut-makers. One of them, (8) GYORYONG UNU is set to be hot favourite. While his half-siblings have been nothing special, he looked very capable when easily winning a trial just last week having previously impressed in one back in July. Simply based on those appearances, he should have far too much at this stage for the rest. (5) SENTOSA looked decent in trials too while (1) BAL ROE JA did nothing wrong either. Both are favoured above the two who have previously raced although both (4) BANGTANMA and (6) PINEAPPLE MARK can of course, improve here.
|Selections||(8) Gyoryong Unu (5) Sentosa (1) Bal Roe Ja (6) Pineapple Mark|
|Next Best||4, 7|
|Fast Start||3, 8|
Race 10: Class 3 (1700M) Handicap / KRW 75 Million
This is a really strong race for the level and accordingly, any number could come out on top. (5) GEOM HAENG beat (2) MALIBU BULPAE as the pair came home 1st and 2nd over 1800M on July 2nd. There was just a neck between them that day and Malibu Bulpae, who was favourite, can overturn that form here. (10) MORFHIS tries two turns for the first time. He’s been a close runner-up in each of his latest three and the step up in trip may help. (8) SUN LIGHTING returned to some kind of form with a good 2nd place over the distance four weeks ago. He has a habit of leaving himself too much to do and may well be ridden forward today. (9) NASCAUI TAEYANG is also likely to be on the early speed. A winner at this distance at class 4 in May, he was 5th behind Morfhis over 1400M on his latest start and can get closer today.
|Selections||(8) Sun Lighting (2) Malibu Bulpae (10) Morfhis (9) Nascaui Taeyang|
|Next Best||5, 1|
|Fast Start||1, 8, 9|
Race 11: Class 2 (1200M) Handicap / KRW 90 Million
Four of the eight raced each other over class and distance on July 29th with (4) PRIMA QUEEN somewhat surprisingly finishing the best of them in 2nd place. Overmatched in the Ttukseom Cup aside, she has been in very good form in recent months and must be respected here. (1) SINUI MYEONGRYEONG only managed to finish 5th in that race despite starting 2nd-favourite. He’ll be expected to go much better here, getting a good start from the inside and this time running on better in the straight. (5) CUPID LADY beat Sinui Myeongryeong in April but also had an off day in that July 29th race but she too can go better today. Of the ones who didn’t go in that race, (3) GRACE CITY and (6) JJARIT look the best.
|Selections||(1) Sinui Myeongryeong (4) Prima Queen (5) Cupid Lady (3) Grace City|
|Fast Start||1, 3, 5|
Race 1 is the only race of the day not simulcasted overseas. Selections are: 3, 1, 8, 6
Race 2: Class 4 (1200M) Handicap / KRW 60 Million
After finishing 4th on debut, (4) MISS PERFECT has won two in a row in facile fashion to be rapidly promoted to class 4. She’s up in distance for the first time here as well but is still favoured to get on speed early and lead all the way. Her most credible challenger looks to be (1) SARANG MISO, who ran a decent 4th last time out over 1300M on what was her first start this year and she can come on a bit more for that. (10) RISING AGAIN is already a winner at this level and while he disappointed last start at 1400M, he can be given another chance today. (2) STAR LINE and (5) HOTHAE, the latter up in class, are others who can be competitive.
|Selections||(4) Miss Perfect (1) Sarang Miso (2) Star Line (5) Hothae|
|Next Best||10, 6, 7|
|Fast Start||4, 5, 8, 10|
Race 3: Class 3 (1600M) Handicap / KRW 75 Million
(7) FINAL ENERGY is up in class having comfortably won his latest two and three from five in total. Already a winner at this distance, he’ll be on or close to the speed and under a nice light weight, can make it three in a row. (11) KING JJANG, a Minister’s Cup also-ran, returned to Busan last month to run 2nd over 1800M at this level and drops back in trip slightly here. He will be a threat and is likely to challenge Final Energy for the early lead. Thomas Gillespie’s (10) BAEKDU JEONGGI comes in having won at this class over 1400M last start. That made it five wins from nine outings and while he tackles a mile for the first time today, is very much in the hunt. (2) RED YOUNG MYEONGUN beat a couple of these on his way to 2nd place at 1800M on July 27th and should beat plenty again while (4) PARK MAN goes consistently close and can aim for the minor money once more.
|Selections||(7) Final Energy (11) King Jjang (10) Baekdu Jeonggi (2) Red Young Myeongun|
|Next Best||4, 8|
|Fast Start||1, 7, 8, 11|
Race 4: Class 3 (1400M) Handicap / KRW 75 Million
(1) CALL UP THE GUARD has impressed across four starts so far and ran a close 2nd at this class over 1200M last time out on July 8th. He’s up in trip to 1400M for the first time but looks to be the one they need to beat. (8) GOLD MOON enters off the back of three consecutive runner-up finishes and while it’s eminently possible that he’ll need to settle for 2nd again, he shouldn’t be too far away. (11) YEONGGWANGUIFACTOR is up in class having scored his maiden win at the tenth time of asking at 1200M a month ago. He has a bit to find but can be a factor again today. (2) YEGEURINA and (7) DARMA are others expected to be in the hunt for at least the places.
|Selections||(1) Call Up The Guard (8) Gold Moon (2) Yegeurina (11) Yeonggwanguifactor|
|Next Best||7, 10|
|Fast Start||2, 3, 8, 9|
Race 5: Class 3 (1400M) Handicap / KRW 75 Million
(9) CATCH NINE was 7th of 16 in the Korean Oaks in mid-July, a race that was sandwiched between her two wins to date which both came at a mile. She steps back slightly in trip today but if she can overcome the wide draw to get in speed early, she can win again. Also stepping back in trip is (10) WHINNY WING. He won three races in a row between March and June before running 3rd over a mile on her first try at this level on July 6th. He too will look to get close to the early speed and should be firmly in the hunt. (2) AWESOME KING IJI remains a maiden after nine attempts but beat a couple of these on his way to 3rd place at class and distance just over a month ago, a finish he could easily match – or even better – today. (1) ROYAL HEART and (5) MALIBU MILLION look best of the rest.
|Selections||(9) Catch Nine (10) Whinny Wing (2) Awesome King Iji (5) Malibu Million|
|Next Best||1, 4|
|Fast Start||2, 3, 4, 9|
Race 6: Class 1 (1400M) Handicap / KRW 110 Million
Korean Derby winner (1) ECTON BLADE returns to his home track for the first time since landing that big win in Seoul in May. He was beaten into 3rd in the Minister’s Cup – the final leg of the Triple Crown over 2000M in June – and while a tilt at the Korea Cup was a possibility, he drops back to racing at one turn for his first try at a regular class 1. He’s hard to oppose. Dropping back in trip may also benefit (2) DAEHO SIDAE while (10) MUPAE also is a good sprinter who offered a hint of a return to form with 3rd place over 1200M last start in June. (8) BANJIUI JEWANG and (11) MIRACLE LINE, the latter running a strong 2nd over 1200M on his return from almost eight months off three weeks ago, are others to watch out for.
|Selections||(1) Ecton Blade (11) Miracle Line (2) Daeho Sidae (10) Mupae|
|Next Best||8, 5|
|Fast Start||1, 3, 9|