Month: September 2018

Sunday Seoul & Busan: Race-By-Race Preview (September 30)

Juveniles take centre-stage at both Seoul and Busan as the “Juvenile Series” gets underway. Busan hosts the Gold Circle Trophy while it’s the Munhwa Ilbo Cup at Seoul. There are also Grand Prix trials being hosted at both tracks. Seoul has 11 races from 10:45 to 18:00 while Busan has 6 from 12:40 to 17:05.

Ecton Blade

Ecton Blade was Champion Juvenile last year – the 2018 Series gets underway at Seoul & Busan today

Seoul Race 1: Class 6 (1000M) Allowance / KRW 40 Million

The opening maiden is for fillies only and (9) YEOGEOL VISION ran 2nd on debut at this distance on August 26th. She was a long way behind a good winner but beat two of these and looks the one to beat here. (7) QUEEN FORCE ONE was 4th in that race. She has a 2nd to her name already and will be a danger as will (4) NAMJJOK NARA, wh0 drops back in trip having scored a 2nd of her own at 1300M last time out and is likely to set the early pace. However, a bigger threat could be first time starter (1) CAMPING MANIA. She was a good trial winner at the end of August and should go well first up here. (5) JEONGSANG YEOSIN, who did little wrong when 6th on debut, another who can be involved.

Selections (9) Yeogeol Vision (1) Camping Mania (4) Namjjok Nara (7) Queen Force One
Next Best 5
Fast Start 1, 4, 7, 10, 11

Seoul Race 2: Class 5 (1000M) Handicap / KRW 40 Million

(9) DANGDAE SONYEO got her maiden win on what was her second start at this distance on August 26th (beating Yeogeol Vision from race 1). She’s up in class today but could well have enough to win again. (1) BEST BULLET beat two of these on his way to 2nd place in a quick race at this class and distance last time out and is set to be the main danger. The pair who were beaten that day, (7) RAON PRO SENSE and (7) THUNDER MONEY can both be given another chance too. As can (4) YOLO who offered little when bumped up to 1300M last start but can be better back at the minimum today.

Selections (9) Dangdae Sonyeo (1) Best Bullet (5) Raon Pro Sense (4) Yolo
Next Best 3, 10, 6
Fast Start 4, 8, 9, 11, 12

Seoul Race 3: Class 5 (1300M) Handicap / KRW 40 Million

Having been 2nd on debut, (8) WINNING BLADE got his maiden victory with a hard-fought triumph over 1000M on September 2nd. He’s up in both class and distance today but should have too much once more. (5) SMARTY BLUE had a poor day at the office when favourite at class and distance on his last start back in June. He comes in after three months off with an apprentice giving him a big weight allowance and can be given another look here. Similarly, (2) GANGHWA CHONGGAK and (7) JACOB are potentially better than their respective latest starts suggest and should be in at least the placing hunt here. (9) MORAN DONGBEAK is inconsistent but could aim to match the 3rd place she managed last start.

Selections (8) Winning Blade (5) Smarty Blue (7) Jacob (2) Ganghwa Chonggak
Next Best 9, 6
Fast Start 2, 3, 6, 8

Seoul Race 4: Class 5 (1300M) Handicap / KRW 40 Million

Since getting his maiden win in June, (4) JUMBO CAPTAIN has managed a 4th and 2nd at this class, both over 1200M. He steps slightly up in trip today to a distance at which he has finished 2nd in the past, and he can return to the winner’s circle here. (10) JEWANGUI BYEOL ran well in three starts up to March this year including a 2nd place at this class and distance. He returns here for the first time in over six months having trialled up pleasingly and goes straight into the frame. (9) GONG SAN beat a couple of these on her way to 4th place at 1200M a month ago. Although she remains a maiden after seven attempts she’s never too far away and should be close once more. (6) RULE OF SUM and (7) DAE BYEONHWA look best of a useful rest.

Selections (4) Jumbo Captain (10) Jewangui Byeol (9) Gong San (6) Rule Of Sum
Next Best 7, 8
Fast Start 7, 10, 11, 12

Seoul Race 5: Class 4 (1700M) Allowance / KRW 60 Million

(1) DREAM INDY beat three of these on the way to 2nd place over 1300M on August 26th. He’s a winner at this distance already and is one of a number with solid claims here. (3) A winner of three of his last five, (11) CLEAN UP SECRET enters having run a slightly disappointing 4th at class and distance on a wet track a month ago. He can get closer today. Also disappointing in that same race was (3) CHOIN DAEBO. It was his first try at two turns and he’s worth another shot here. He’s likely to join Dream Indy on the early pace. By contrast, (8) CREMOA POWER is set to go back at the start and look to close strongly. He’s run well in two tries at this level so far and can hold his own here too. (9) SOMETHING MYSTERY, well back behind Dream Indy last start, is another potential improver.

Selections (3) Choin Daebo (11) Clean Up Secret (1) Dream Indy (8) Cremoa Power
Next Best 9, 12
Fast Start 1, 3, 9

Busan Race 2: Class 4 (1300M) Handicap / KRW 60 Million

Since finishing 3rd on debut in June, (12) FASHION OF MARINE has been flawless since with three straight victories most recently an eye-catching twelve-length score over 1200M on August 24th. Accordingly, he’s up in class here, as well as slightly in distance but neither should be a concern and he can make it four in a row. (10) YEONGGWANGUI SECRET enters with a 100% record to defend having won both starts so far, the latest a four-length triumph at this distance four weeks ago. That means he too is rapidly up in class but has plenty of potential for more plus a 4kg weight advantage over Fashion Of (more…)

Seoul Saturday: Race-By-Race Preview (September 29)

Seoul is back! There is a bumper 13-race card in the capital on Saturday with the 1st at 10:45 and the last at 18:00. Here are the previews:


Race 1: Class 6 (1000M) Allowance / KRW 24 Million

A maiden to begin with that is perhaps best described as “weak”, even for this this level. Jockey Bang Choon-sik has had something of a renaissance recently and he can pick up from where he left off before the break by winning here on (6) BLESSING ROAD. The filly has seemingly started to figure things out in her latest two and has as much chance as any of making the breakthrough here. She’ll be off to a fast start along with (7) LEADER’S CAMP who weakened last start at 1300M but should be better back at the minimum today. (1) BEST LEVEL ha put in some encouraging performances over 1200M and is another who should have a say in things. (10) GREEN TEA and (11) LUCKY RACE others who can be considered.

Selections (6) Blessing Road (7) Leader’s Camp (1) Best Level (10) Green Tea
Next Best 11, 9
Fast Start 4, 6, 7, 9

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

Another modest affair and (4) BEST HUNTER, 4th last time out at the distance and with a 3rd place to his name as well, may just about have enough to come home on top here. The five-year-old has only raced four times is never going to a star but is well drawn to lead here and can win. (12) SAEROUN CAPTAIN has raced creditably in two outings since returning from eight months off and while he must overcome the widest gate, looks a threat. (1) YONGUI JUDO and (6) GWANGPOK JUHAENG have hinted at ability and both should be in at least the placing frame while (3) BLACK GINGA is another with potential to improve.

Selections (4) Best Hunter (12) Saeroun Captain (3) Black Ginga (1) Yongui Judo
Next Best 6, 5
Fast Start 4, 11, 12

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

A third maiden but it looks slightly stronger than the previous two. (1) TAEWANG SINHWA enters with a 3rd and a 4th from his latest two starts, both at this distance and he’ll be among favourites to get the win here. From the inside gate he can sit just off the early lead and finish strongly. (2) RAON GANGHO actually beat Taewang Sinhwa when the two of them finished 3rd and 4th at the distance back in June. He’s followed that up with three solid if unspectacular efforts since and is one of the primary dangers. (10) WONDERFUL EVIL beaten five-lengths by a good winner at 1000M three weeks ago. He races at further than the minimum trip for the first time and can be a factor. (7) WHITE FLOWER and (8) RAON STELLA are others who should be in the hunt.

Selections (1) Taewang Sinhwa (2) Raon Gangho (10) Wonderful Evil (7) White Flower
Next Best 8, 5
Fast Start 7, 9, 10, 11

Race 4: Class 5 (1300M) Handicap / KRW 40 Million

Fillies only here. (5) LOVELY NUTE has a 3rd and a 2nd in two tries at this class since landing her maiden win in July. Last time out was her first try at this distance and while she was a beaten favourite, she can go one better today. (4) HEUNG OREUM was a good winner at this distance on August 19th on what was her third career start. She’s up in class today but can be a threat. She made all that day and will look to do the same here. (10) FLYING HERA was 2nd in that race, three-lengths back and comes up in class too While she obviously has a bit to find on the one that beat her, she should be competitive. (9) CLEAN FLOWER steps back up in trip after good recent work at 1000M including her maiden win in early July. (1) GREEN DARC was a surprisingly comfortable winner on debut on August 25th and while she’s up in both class and trip today, can be respected.

Selections (5) Lovely Nute (4) Heung Oreum (9) Clean Flower (1) Green Darc
Next Best 10, 7
Fast Start 1, 4, 7, 9

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

(5) MIREU STORM got his maiden win on his second start on August 19th, leading all the way at this distance. He’s up in class today but is nicely drawn to get on pace early again and can repeat. (1) ROYAL PRINCE was scarcely involved over 1300M on his latest outing at the end of August but dropped back in trip today should be much more dangerous. Simon Foster’s tiny filly (4) SKY JUMP has held her own in two efforts at this class so far and with a good start today has claims too. (3) NAEGA KKEUTPANWANG and (10) LUCKY (more…)

Busan Friday: Race-By-Race Preview (September 28)

After the one week break racing returns to Korea this weekend. Things get underway at Busan on Friday with an eleven-race card from 11:30 to 18:00. Here are the previews:

Race 1: Class 6 (1000M) Allowance / KRW 24 Million

(8) WONDERFUL LION has shown promise across two starts today and while he was beaten into 2nd when favourite three weeks ago, I well worth another chance here. He’ll be on pace from the start and can lead all the way.  (4) FASHION WANG and (1) DAY STAR came home 4th and 5th respectively over this distance on the last day of August. Both should be competitive here with Fashion Wang, who also has a 2nd place to her name, likely to be the main threat. (2) BAENGNICHONG has hinted at ability and drops back in trip and into contention here while (5) B.K. THUNDER is another who can improve.

Selections (8) Wonderful Lion (4) Fashion Wang (1) Day Star (2) Baengnichong
Next Best 5, 10
Fast Start 4, 8, 10

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

(2) TIARA WINNER went well in 2nd on debut back in July and while she only managed 6th on her return in August, the margins weren’t big and with a much better draw today, she could be the one they need to beat. (8) TRUE KING ran a solid 4th on debut six weeks ago and returns here with every chance of building on it. He was a long way behind a very good winner that day but should be much closer this time. (5) ULSAN JANGGUN was an improved 5th in that same race and he too can continue his development here. (9) LUCKY ADELE raced twice as a three-year-old and registered a 3rd place. He returns here fifty-seven weeks after his last start having trailed up well in August and he is the wildcard here. (1) MUJEOK BEAT best of the rest.

Selections (2) Tiara Winner (8) True King (9) Lucky Adele (5) Ulsan Janggun
Next Best 1, 4
Fast Start 2, 3, 9

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

This is a competitive race and both (3) TROPHY COLLECTOR and (4) HOPEFUL SIMON enter having run 3rd on their respective latest starts on what for both was their third career appearance. Both have performed at this distance before and look to have more to offer with Hopeful Simon, who was returning from five months off, looking the more likely to progress at this stage. (9) MARU JJANG was just beaten a neck by Trophy Collector at this distance on August 31st. That was an improvement on her first two efforts and she can continue her development today. Hopeful Simon’s stablemate (1) KEEP GOING has now managed two 4th place finishes from four outings to date and can at least match here. (10) ADELEUI SIN has only raced once and that was a full nine months ago but he finished ahead of Hopeful Simon in an August trial and can go well first-up today.

Selections (4) Hopeful Simon (3) Trophy Collector (9) Maru Jjang (1) Keep Going
Next Best 10, 6
Fast Start 3, 4, 10, 11

Race 4: Class 6 (1600M) Allowance / KRW 24 Million

(1) SILENT PARK came within three-quarters of a length on getting his maiden win on his fifth outing three weeks ago. He came from well off the pace that day and may benefit from stretching out to a mile for the first time here. The main danger is (10) CHALLANHAN MISO. He’s shown progress across three starts so far and also tries the distance for the first time. (4) JISAN OREUM beat three of these on his way to 3rd place at long odds over 1300M on August 24th and can back up that from here. (6) PEACE RIDER was 5th that day and went on to run 6th behind Silent Park earlier this month and should be a factor too. (8) TEXAS GONGJU looks best of the rest.

Selections (1) Silent Park (10) Challanhan Miso (6) Peace Rider (4) Jisan Oreum
Next Best 8, 7
Fast Start 1, 4

Race 5: Class 6 (1000M) Allowance / KRW 60 Million

This maiden in restricted to juveniles and eight of them make their racecourse debuts today. (4) AMAZON YEOGEOL, one of those first-timers, is the likely favourite. She (more…)

Seouri Byeol Stuns Special Stone In Gyeonggi Governor’s Cup

Just when it seemed as though Special Stone was set fair to claim the title of Champion three-year-old filly of 2018 by backing up her Korean Oaks win in the Gyeonggi Governor’s Cup at Seoul Racecourse on Sunday afternoon, up popped 10/1 chance Seouri Byeol from the rear of the field to deny her in emphatic fashion.

Seouri Byeol - Korea Racing Authority

Seouri Byeol beats Special Stone in the Gyeonggi Governor’s Cup (Pic: KRA)

Seouri Byeol had finished similarly quickly in the filly Classic at Busan in July but that day found two too many to pass and had to settle for 2nd as Special Stone dominated. At the top of the stretch this time, Special Stone cruised into the lead as pace-setter and betting favourite Blue Flag started to weaken and under jockey Kim Jeong-jun, seemingly had the race at her mercy.

That was reckoning without Seouri Byeol, however. Last with two furlongs to run, Park Eul-woon found a gap and his filly found top gear. Though still trailing with half a furlong to run it was clear she had the momentum and shortly after, she had the race, winning by no fewer than 4 lengths on the line from Special Stone. Nike Street, last in the Oaks, came home 3rd with a tiring Blue Flag 4th.

A filly by the Japanese-bred sire, Limitless Bid, Seouri Byeol was wining for just the fourth time on what was her twelfth start. Her colours, those of owner Kim Sun-sik, were last seen in the Stakes race winner’s circle on Final Boss after the 2017 Derby. It was a first big race win for her trainer Kim Dong-chul, a former jockey who gained his license in 2016. For jockey Park, it was his fourth success on a Group race.

At Busan, King Of Ace returned to the winner’s circle for the first time in over a year. The American import by Malibu Moon won four of his first five starts in the first half of 2017 before suffering a bad injury. Although he returned at the beginning of this year he hadn’t quit been able to recapture his old form but he looked good when leading gate-to-wire to win the south-coast track’s feature handicap over 1400M.

Sunday Seoul & Busan: Race-By-Race Preview (September 16)

It’s the final day of racing in Korea before the one week break for the “Chuseok” holiday and there is plenty of action with 11 races at Seoul from 10:45 to 18:00 and 6 races at Busan from 12:40 to 17:10. The feature race is at Seoul, The Group 3 Gyeonggi Governor’s Cup for three-year-old fillies with Korean Oaks winner Special Stone set to be favourite.

Special Stone Korea Racing Authority

Oaks winner Special Stone returns to action at Seoul on Sunday (Pic: KRA)

Seoul Race 1: Class 6 (1000M) Allowance / KRW 24 Million

(6) STRONG VULTURE was an improved 2nd on August 19th in a similar strength race to this and it shouldn’t take much improvement for him to come out on top here. He led until close to home that day and this time will be expected to lead all the way. (1) HUNTER HAWK and (12) SOKBO ONGJU are by some margin the two most experienced horses in this field and while that’s generally not a good thing at class 6, both should have enough about them to challenge for at least places here. (3) HEY DREAMER showed some signs of figuring things out last time and can get closer today. There are four first-time starters and of them, (7) EIFFEL looks the most forward at the moment.

Selections (6) Strong Vulture (7) Eiffel (1) Hunter Hawk (12) Sokbo Ongju
Next Best 3, 5
Fast Start 4, 6, 7, 11

Seoul Race 2: Class 5 (1000M) Handicap / KRW 40 Million

(3) TAMNANEUN YEOIN leaps out from the page having won his her debut but up in class here, she looks up against it. Instead, (1) AREUMDAUN CHEONSA may be a better prospect. She was promoted to this level with back to back 2nd place finishes and then got her maiden win last start getting the best of a tight finish over this distance on August 11th. She looks to be improving each run and could do so again. Seeking to emulate her with a maiden victory after being promoted off the back of consecutive runner-up finishes is (4) BEYOND OVER. She’s run on well both times and should be competitive at this level. (7) BACK TO BACK drops back in trip and may come into consideration while (9) LIVINGSTONE had a hard time on his first try at the distance last start but is worth another go. Similarly (11) DAMON ANGEL, who beat Beyond Over on the latter’s debut, can improve on his latest run.

Selections (1) Areumdaun Cheonsa (11) Damon Angel (4) Beyond Over (3) Tamnaneun Yeoin
Next Best 9, 7
Fast Start 1, 6, 9, 11, 12

Seoul Race 3: Class 6 (1300M) Allowance / KRW 40 Million

(5) QUEEN FORCE ONE returned from eight months off to run a solid 4th in a similar all-filly race to this over 1000M on  August 26th. She steps up in trip for the first time here and looks to have every chance, most probably from on the early speed. (3) GREEN TEA wasn’t far away from 2nd last start and looks a good placing prospect once more while (8) I AM WINNER is yet to actually be a winner but, last start apart, enters with recent form reading in an encouraging manner and could get close. (4) CHEONNYEON HAPPY, (6) INDY LADY and (9) QUEEN OF CAMP all made promising debuts and can build on them here.

Selections (5) Queen Force One (8) I Am Winner (4) Cheonnyeon Happy (3) Green Tea
Next Best 6, 9, 10
Fast Start 5, 6, 11

Seoul Race 4: Class 6 (1300M) Allowance / KRW 60 Million

Juvenile maidens only and there are two stand-outs. (11) DO KKI BLADE was always going to grab some local attention due to his name and he ran well on debut, overcoming a slow start to run on well for 2nd. The step up in trip should suit and he can win. The big threat though is (9) BI PYEONG He’s been 2nd and 3rd in his two outings so far, the latter of which was at this distance and a win is surely not too far away. It would be a surprise if these two didn’t fill out the top two places – and if they do they will both be racing at class 5 next start – but there are a few others who could be involved. (1) BLUE FIRE ran well in 3rd on debut four weeks ago and can build on it today while (2) RULE BREAKER was a much-improved 2nd on his second start on August 26th. (8) UP LIGHT was 4th behind Bi Pyeong last time out and while he has four-lengths to make up on that one, can beat plenty.

Selections (11) Do Kki Blade (9) Bi Pyeong (2) Rule Breaker (1) Blue Fire
Next Best 8, 3
Fast Start 5, 6, 10

Seoul Race 5: Class 5 (1300M) Handicap / KRW 40 Million

(4) GUREUM WANGJA was a good all-the-way winner over this distance on August 11th on what was just his second start. H e’s up in class here but is a firm favourite to back up with another win. It took (8) MYEONGJIN MAN four goes to get his maiden win but the Drosselmeyer colt did it in style on July 1st. He too steps up in class and while he has a bit to find if he is to push the favourite, he can go well as well. (12) YEOWOORI was a touch disappointing at 1000M last time but can be better back up in distance today while (7) NEUNGRYEOK SIDAE and (9) DUAL CHOEGANG are others who are most likely to compete for places.

Selections (4) Gureum Wangja (12) Yeowoori (7) Neungryeok Sidae (8) Myeongjin Man
Next Best 9, 3
Fast Start 1, 4, 7

Busan Race 2: Class 5 (1300M) Handicap / KRW 40 Million

(8) VICAR BLADE just missed out by a nose over a mile three weeks ago and drops back to the distance at which he earned his previous win today. He’ll be on pace early and is the one to beat. Five of these raced each other at class and distance on August 17th with (6) SIMON MAGIC coming out on top among them, finishing in 2nd place. He can go well again although it could be that a couple of the ones he beat can overturn the form. They’re the confusingly named pair of (3) GANGHAN JILJU and (10) JANGHAN JILJU are both proven performers at the distance with the latter – Janghan – favoured here. (2) SUPER SUPREME was a class and distance winner in June and while he didn’t go especially at a mile on his only start since, should be in the frame today.

Selections (8) Vicar Blade (10) Janghan Jilju (3) Ganghan Jilju (2) Super Supreme
Next Best 6, 4
Fast Start 8, 9

 Seoul Race 6: Class 5 (1700M) Allowance / KRW 60 Million

(1) STRONG RUNNER ran 4th at this distance at class 6 back in May. After that, he dropped back in distance to get his maiden win in June and followed up with back to back 3rd place finishes at 1400M and 1200M, both at this level. He looks ready to move (more…)

Seoul Saturday: Race-By-Race Preview (September 15)

There are 12 races at Seoul on Saturday from 10:45 to 18:00:


Race 1: Class 6 (1000M) Allowance / KRW 24 Million

(1) RAON JAMES has improved across three starts so far and ran a strong 2nd over this distance on August 19th. From gate 1, he can get off to a quick start and should have too much for this field. (8) MERRY WHITE comes in having recorded her first 2nd place finish four weeks ago and can aim to at least match that today. (4) GEUP HAENG MA was 6th behind Raon James on debut in that August 19th race and can build on it here. (6) SEOKGWA BULSIK struggled on debut over 1200M last month but the minimum distance today could suit more. The wildcard is (11) TONGHAP SIDAE. She hasn’t been seen since her debut last Christmas Eve when she beat Merry White on her way to 3rd place at this distance. She trialed encouragingly last month.

Selections (1) Raon James (8) Merry White (11) Tonghap Sidae (4) Geup Haeng Ma
Next Best 6, 5
Fast Start 1, 6, 9, 11

Race 2: Class 5 (1000M) Handicap / KRW 40 Million

Fillies only here (along with one mare) and (7) RAON WILLIAMS ran out a six-length winner over this distance on August 12th to get promoted to this level. She made all that day and while the competition is undoubtedly stiffer today, she can get on pace again and win again. She’s joined up in class by (2) LUCAS and (11) BARAMUI SORI, both of whom got their maiden victories last start, the latter on debut and both can be competitive even if they have a little more to find than Raon Williams at this stage. (10) FANTASTIC QUEEN was a shock class and distance winner on August 18th, beating (6) STRONG LIGHT by a head. A repeat isn’t impossible although Strong Light will be favoured to overturn that form.

Selections (7) Raon Williams (6) Strong Light (2) Lucas (10) Fantastic Queen
Next Best 11, 4
Fast Start 1,6, 7, 8, 11

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

There are twelve juvenile fillies here, all of whom are racing for the very first time. Two of them come in having won their trials with (3) NAREUDUSI having been slightly more impressive than (11) HEUNG BUJA. The presence of Manoel Nunes aboard the former is probably enough to ensure she begins as favourite. (1) HEUNG KKAEBI also went well in her trial. She’s a half-sister to the very good Sotong Sidae (as well as a few average ones) and should join Naareudusi on the early speed. (5) BAKCHAOREOM and (12) YAHO M J CAT are others who caught the eye in their respective heats and can go well first-up. As ever in races such as this, do watch the market for any clues.

Selections (3) Nareudusi (1) Heung Kkaebi (12) Yaho M J Cat (11) Heung Buja
Next Best 5, 9
Fast Start 1, 3, 8, 12

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

(1) DAE UNHA has been close in recent starts and emerging from the inside gate today, the Hansen colt has a good chance of getting away well and potentially getting his maiden win. (2) ISCRA, who starts beside him, looks to be the main danger. He ran a good 2nd over 1200M on August 18th, with four of his rivals here back down the track. He too will be on pace and can go close. (6) K ZONE comes in with recent form reading well and should be in the placing hunt while (10) MEGA CITY and (11) MIDAS CHIEF have both proven competitive and can also aim for career-best finishes today.

Selections (1) Dae Unha (2) Iscra (6) K Zone (11) Midas Chief
Next Best 10, 3
Fast Start 1, 2, 9, 10

Race 5: Class 5 (1300M) Handicap / KRW 40 Million

Wide open race with most having at least some claim. (4) UNDEFEATED won on debut and hasn’t been too far away from adding to his tally in each of his four subsequent tries. He’s come up short but not by much and looks worthy of another chance here. (6) RAON SIRIUS returned from almost five months off to run 3rd over 1000M three weeks ago. His solitary win came at this distance and he looks a big danger. (5) MONEY ZIF was unexpectedly beaten by (8) J BAEK last time as the pair came home 2nd and 3rd over 1200M. He should at least overturn the form on that one today and can be in the hunt. (1) SPEED HWANGNYONG steps up in class following a maiden win and while he will need to improve, he’s not without a chance. (3) SKY MARINE and (12) EAST KINGDOM both come on having placed in their latest outings and may also be considered.

Selections (4) Undefeated (6) Raon Sirius (3) Sky Marine (5) Money Zif
Next Best 12, 1, 2
Fast Start 2, 4, 6, 10

Race 6: Class 4 (1300M) Handicap / KRW 60 Million

(7) WINNER SPIRIT was an eye-catching eight-length winner over 1300M on August 19th. He’s up in class today but the manner of his win – his second in four starts so far – suggests there is plenty more to come. (1) CHEON MONG too is up in class having got his own second career win by a similarly wide margin a month ago. He too will challenge for the early speed and has claims. (5) WINNING WIN is already a proven winner at this class having prevailed over 1200M in July. He comes in having run 3rd in a very competitive contest four weeks ago and is another to be strongly considered. (8) PALDO DAEJANG has won two of her last three to be rapidly promoted to this level and is (more…)

Busan Friday: Race-By-Race Preview (September 14)

Next weekend will be dark in racing terms due to the Chuseok – or Korean Thanksgiving – holidays so this weekend’s cards are the last for a fortnight in Korea. The feature race if the weekend is the Gyeonggi Governor’s Cup at Seoul on Sunday which will see Special Stone looking to repeat her Korean Oaks victory against a number of the filles she beat in the Classic at Busan in July. First up though is a Friday card at Busan with 11 races from 11:30 to 18:00.


It’s Friday. It’s Busan.

Race 1: Class 6 (1300M) Allowance / KRW 24 Million

(8) NAEGA DAESE was a much improved 2nd over 1200M on what was her fourth start in July 27th and with only a bit more progress today, she can win this. (1) TOJONG CHAMP too comes in having run 2nd, her best so far, over this distance three weeks ago. She doesn’t have a fast start on her but can grind plenty down late on in the race. (5) INTERCEPTOR was a touch disappointing when well-backed on his latest start in July. That followed a couple of promising runs and after nine weeks off he is worth another chance today. (2) CHOEGANG SEONBONG and (4) SMART BANK look best of the rest.

Selections (8) Naega Daese (5) Interceptor (1) Tojong Champ (4) Smart Bank
Next Best 2, 7
Fast Start 4, 8

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

He missed out by a length last time four weeks ago when running 2nd on what was his third career start and (1) BUGYEONG STORY should come out of gate 1 on the lead and with every chance of going all the way this time. (2) URANUS J was 6th behind Bugyeong Story in that race on what was his debut. He was sent off as favourite having trialed well and while the result wasn’t great, he can get another chance today. (3) TONGIL HANGUK has shown some promise in running 3rd and 5th in his two outings so far. Both of them have been at 1200M and he’s been on the early pace only to weaken so he looks an interesting prospect dropped back to the minimum distance here. (5) ROYAL RIVER and (8) WANBONG are the others who look most likely to improve.

Selections (1) Bugyeong Story (3) Tongil Hanguk (2) Uranus J (8) Wanbong
Next Best 5, 7
Fast Start 1, 3

 Race 3: Class 6 (1000M) Allowance / KRW 40 Million

This race is restricted to maiden fillies and among the nine starters, five have raced before. Among those with prior experience, only (7) ARCADIA has done anything of note when finishing not far away at all in 4th over this distance a month ago. She should be close to the pace here and has a chance. A couple of first-time starters look like being the main dangers. (3) GEUMA GHOST ran 3rd in her trial last month and looked competent in the process. She led for much of it and will be expected to try to lead here. (8) TONGIL GIPPEUM held her own in a very quick heat, and if she runs in a similar fashion today, she shouldn’t be far away at all. (2) B.K. GAMBOL and (5) PHOENIX QUEEN are next best.

Selections (7) Arcadia (3) Geuma Ghost (8) Tongil Gippeum (5)Phoenix Queen
Next Best 2, 1
Fast Start 3, 7

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

 (8) FLASHY MISS was sent off favourite for her latest start over 1200M on July 27th. She ran poorly, looking unsettled around the turn and then offering nothing in the straight. Her form going into that race was strong, however, and dropped back to 1000M today, she looks again the one they’ll need to beat. (6) B.K. MARINE was a class and distance winner by a nose on August 17th and while she carries an additional 3.5kg here, a repeat is not impossible. (2) THUNDER STRUCK is capable at this class and shouldn’t be too far away while (7) FELICE too comes in with recent form reading positively and is in with at least a placing chance. (3) ISIDAE YEONGGWANG isn’t as bad as his latest couple of outings suggests and he too can improve here. 

Selections (8) Flashy Miss (6) B.K. Marine (2) Thunder Struck (7) Felice
Next Best 3, 10
Fast Start 10, 1

 Race 5: Class 6 (1300M) Allowance / KRW 60 Million

This race is restricted to juvenile maidens. Four of the eight have race before and two of them raced together when (2) TOUGH GREEN beat (6) GLITTER by a length as the pair finished 2nd and 3rd over 1000M on what for both of them was a second career start on August 5th. They’re the picks to fight it out for top honours this time and with the slight step up in trip in mind, Glitter is favoured to prevail. Of the other two who have raced before, (3) DAEJI CHAMP looks the most likely to improve while among the debut-makers, (1) DOCTOR CHIC, a good trial winner back in July, looks most promising at this stage. (4) MUJEOK SPEED trialed at the beginning of this month and looked sharp too.

Selections (6) Glitter (2) Tough Green (1) Doctor Chic (4) Mujeok Speed
Next Best 3, 8
Fast Start 2, 8

 Race 6: Class 6 (1300M) Allowance / KRW 60 Million

Another set of juvenile maidens although this time all but two have raced before. Plenty of them have shown promise as well with both (3) MIGHTY POWER and (5) GIDAEHAE recording runner-up finishes on their respective debuts, both of them on August 17th. (1) GOLD TICKET and (4) K PLUS WON came home 3rd and 4th with less than a length between them when they debuted a month ago at this distance and both can be in the hunt to improve here, however, the one they need to beat may just be (7) (more…)

2018 Korea Cup & Sprint – Review

The 3rd Korean Autumn Racing Carnival featuring the Keeneland Korea Cup and Keeneland Korea Sprint has been and gone and once more, the highlight of the local racing season made for an interesting and exciting week.

Korea Sprint 2018

Moanin (purple cap) gets the better of Fight Hero in the Korea Sprint (Pic: KRA)

The Sprint was a well-run race that saw a tight finish contested by two good horses. Moanin – the highest rated horse in the race – ran out the narrow winner under a vigourous ride by Joe Fujii who added the Sprint to the Cup he won two years ago on Chrysolite.

While the decision to enforce the widest gate on Hong Kong entrant Fight Hero attracted some scorn, it allowed the habitually difficult starter a trouble-free trip and possibly crucially, not a bit of sand in his face the whole way around. Under a very good ride by Derek Leung, Fight Hero made the most of that with a great late run that saw him duel with Moanin in the final 300 metres and almost beat him.

Sprint Presentation

Sprint Presentation (Pic: KRA)

Chublicious navigated a trickier route through but also finished off very strongly for 4th. The US-trained gelding had won plenty of admirers throughout the week for his kind and friendly demeanour in the barn but once out on the track, proved he is a proper racehorse too. over the two years that American horses have been coming, they have a 3rd (in last year’s Cup) and back to back 4ths in the Sprint with all three adjusting the surface very well. The Sprint looks a winnable race for a top level American Sprinter.

Wild Dude ran better than he did two years ago, gettng out to a fast start and while he faded, still managed to come home in sixth place. It wasn’t to be for France’s King Malpic, however, who was scarcely involved and came home last.

Doraonpogyeongseon ran 3rd for the second year in succession, consolidating his position as the host nation’s top sprinter even if that means he’s just a little bit below the standard necessary to win a race such as this. Could that standard be achieved next year by Ace Korea? The only three-year-old in the contest was on pace until the final furlong and while the extra power of the older horses then kicked in, he looks a huge prospect for further improvement.

London Town

London Town (Pic: KRA)

As to the Cup, it is perhaps best to simply look on it as simply a sensational performance by London Town. Yes, his form coming into the race wasn’t as imperious as it had been last year but from the moment he set foot on the Seoul sand last week, he looked a winner. Drawn wide again, he was hustled to the front by Yasunari Iwata (who picked up a two-day ban for his troubles) although it was Cheongdam Dokki who got to lead into the corner.

London Town went past Cheongdam Dokki with five furlongs still to run and for a moment it looked like Iwata may have gone to soon. A very very brief moment. From then on, he was relentless and strung the in now way weak field out in the manner of a three-mile steeplchase. Dokki was done, coming home 4th with Dolkong getting the closest on the line. Although “close” is perhaps not the best way to describe a 15-length deficit. London Town had so destroyed the field that Clean Up Joy was able to run on late for 3rd ahead of the tiring Dokki and the game Forest Ranger, who ran a good 5th for Richard Fahey.

Cup Presentation

Cup Presentation (Pic: KRA)

While successful at Group 2  level on more than one occasion, London Town is yet to win a Group 1 race in Japan. Hopefully he can go on and achieve such a feat in the forthcoming months. Dolkong’s 2nd place was the best finish by a Korean horse in the race to date and if his injury problems are behind him, could go on to be a big player in the months to come. Him against Cheongdam Dokki in the KRA Cup Classic next month, if it comes to pass, could be something to savour.

Singapore’s Maximus ran well but was one of those broken by London Town’s surge and ultimately finished 8th. Riven Light ran in midfield in the early exchanges but ended up eased. That was disappointing given the amount of goodwill the horse had generated in the lead up to the race and the star-power he attracted with Rich Ricci, Willie Mullins and Ruby Walsh all in the parade ring.

Foster Antonio

Jockey Antonio Da Silva and trainer Simon Foster after Dolkong’s 2nd place (Pic: KRA)

The races were simulcast for betting in numerous countries. The Sprint was shown during the Sunday program at Sha Tin – and Hong Kong turnover on the race was actually bigger than the Korean turnover (Fight Hero started as 3rd favourite in his home country, compared to 2nd in Korea – both markets had Moanin on top). In the USA, TVG showed both races while At The Races’ coverage of the Cup was the first time a Korean race had been shown live on a British racing channel. Domestically, like last year, KBS N Sports recorded the races and produced a 75 minute highlight show (pro-baseball taking priority in the live slot).

In terms of attendance, it was free-entry to Seoul Racecourse on the day although in the end the on-track attendance was almost the exact same as last year at just over 39,000. Betting turnover on the Sprint was  4.06 Billion Won and 5.15 Billion Won on the Cup; the Sprint being slightly down on last year and the Cup a tiny bit up.

The official events were slightly more low-key this time around although that’s not necessarily a bad thing and the barrier draw taking place in the parade ring on the Thursday before the race instead of at a hotel seemed to work. Naturally, however, there was still a K-Pop group performing before the Cup presentation. On track, with horses representing nine different nations (including Korea), it was the most diverse event yet. The presence of the Melbourne Cup Trophy touring the racecourse also added a pleasingly cosmopolitan touch.


Customary annual picture of Keeneland’s Chip McGaughey, this year assisted by Seungho Ryu and Andrew Hawkins,  along with K-Pop group WJSN (Pic: KRA)

There will be murmurings of disquiet locally about both races being won by Japanese horses and that visitors from across the East Sea have now won five of the six carnival races across the three editions (Hong Kong’s Super Jockey in the inaugural Cup being the odd one out). However, the Sprint was an exciting race while the Cup saw a genuinely world-class performance. The event continues to slowly but surely make its mark in the racing calendar and its development in years to come can play an important role in the integration of Korean racing on the international stage, which in turn can strengthen its standing at home.


Japan Doubles As London Town & Moanin Win Keeneland Korea Cup & Sprint

For the second year running, Japanese-trained horses emerged victorious in the Keeneland Korea Cup & Sprint. For London Town in the Cup, it was just as much of a procession as last year but in the Sprint, Moanin had to battle all the way to the line to see off a valiant challenge from Hong Kong’s Fight Hero.

London Town - KRA

Too good. London Town with Dolkong a distance 2nd (Pic: Ross Holburt/Korea Racing Authority

While his form coming into the race hadn’t been quite as imperious as last year, once he stepped onto the sand of Seoul, London Town stepped up. Local bettors remembered him too, sending the five-year-old by Kane Hekili off as the prohibitive favourite in a field that was reduced to fourteen, due to the scratching of Ennobled Friend.

Cup Presentation - KRA

Korea Cup Presentation (Ross Holburt/Korea Racing Authority)

London Town was drawn wide and this time he was taken on early by Korea’s big hope Cheongdam Dokki under Manoel Nunes. However, ridden by Yasunari Iwata, London Town asserted his dominance in the back straight going past Cheongdam Dokki and then stretching the field out as he galloped away around the home turn. The race was essentially over with the only questions being who would run 2nd and whether London Town would break his own track record.

The answer to the second question was “yes” with London Town shaving one-tenth of a second off the 1800M mark he set a year ago. The answer to the first was Dolkong as the Simon Foster trained four-year-old finished strongly up the rail, abeit a full fiteen-lengths in arrears. Clean Up Joy also finished well for 3rd place ahead of a tiring Cheongdam Dokki and the very game British challenger Forest Ranger.

Korea Sprint - KRA

Moanin (far side) sees off Fight Hero (Pic: Ross Holburt/KRA)

Moanin won the Sprint but had to work hard under Kanichiro Fujii as Fight Hero pushed him all the way to the line after the pair had come from well-back. Korea’s Doraonpogyeongseon was 3rd with US-trained Chublicious in 4th and up and coming local hope Ace Korea in 5th.

The official attendance on course at Seoul Racecourse was 39,228. Local betting turnover on the Sprint was KRW 4,062,473,800 and KRW 5,154,087,500 on the Cup.

Moanin Joe Fujii - Ross Holburt KRA

Joe Fujii and Moanin (Pic: Ross Holburt/KRA)


It’s Keeneland Korea Cup Day! Full previews of both races can be found here. There is plenty going on with 10 races from 10:45 to 18:00 while Busan also runs a card from 12:40 to 17:25. Here is the race-by-race:

Korea Cup Barrier Draw


Race 1: Class 6 (1300M) Allowance / KRW 40 Million

A maiden to begin with and (8) HANEUL ACE comes in having scored her best finish to date last time when running 3rd over 1200M. While she was a long way behind the winner, she ran on quite well and could make the breakthrough here. (2) DAEMYEONG SOLAR has been getting closer across her latest three. She should be on pace early and could well stay on while similarly (9) WANY K comes in after an improved 3rd last start. It looks to be between those three with (2) GREEN PARK and (5) GOLDEN SPARK, perhaps the most likely among the rest to challenge for a place.

Selections (8) Haneul Ace (9) Wany K (3) Daemyeong Solar (5) Golden Spark
Next Best 2
Fast Start 3, 5, 7

Race 2: Class 6 (1300M) Allowance / KRW 24 Million

Another maiden and the wonderfully-named (3) CARROT SEEKER showed signs of improvement as after three very indifferent efforts, he ran 3rd over 1200M on August 11th, handily beating a couple of others who go here. It was a slow race and he’ll need to improve again but if he does, he can win. (6) SO ARA DAEWANG was 4th behind Carrot Seeker in that race, her first at further than the minimum distance and he too can build on it here. (7) GRAND DOLPUNG is the only one of this field who has a 2nd place to his name, achieved over 1000M in June. He’s been 3rd at this distance too and is likely to join Carrot Seeker on the early lead with solid claims to make a breakthrough of his own here. (2) COUNTRY SONG and first-timer starter (1) DAEHAN ILPUM look the best of a limited rest.

Selections (3) Carrot Seeker (6) So Ara Daewang (7) Grand Dolpung (1) Daehan Ilpum
Next Best 2
Fast Start 1, 5, 7

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

It’s juvenile maidens only here with precisely half the field having raced at least once before and the other half making their debuts. (2) CHOEGANG STAR, 5th on debut in a competitive time on July 21st returns for a second go after seven weeks off and looks to be the one to beat. With Manoel Nunes in the saddle, he’ll look to lead from the gate and should go all the way. Among the others who have raced already, (3) WONDERFUL EVIL looks the best. He was 4th on debut before beating a couple of the others who go here on his way to 6th on his re-appearance. That leaves the debut-makers and (12) JANGSAN FLY won his trial in a quick time and should go well first up with (6) WHITE VELVET and (8) BUCKETFUL GOLD both looked competent when trialing up together in August.

Selections (2) Choegang Star (12) Jangsan Fly (6) White Velvet (3) Wonderful Evil
Next Best 8, 10
Fast Start 1, 2, 7, 8, 12

Race 4: Class 4 (1700M) Allowance / KRW 60 Million

(2) RAON ZEUS comes in having won two in a row, the latest of which was a seven-length romp over 1400M at the end of July. He’s up in both class and distance here but has every chance of continuing the excellent start to his career. It won’t be easy though. (3) KING POSE is up in class too following victory at 1300M four weeks ago. He came very close to winning at this distance in June and should be a real threat. The one they both need to (more…)