Ecton Blade and Mask came home 1st and 2nd in the Korean Derby in May and the pair of them are in class 1 action on Sunday afternoon in the respective feature races at Busan and Seoul. There are 12 races at Seoul from 10:45 to 18:00 and 5 at Busan from 12:40 to 16:15.
While the Derby was at 1800M, the pair look set to be pointed at shorter distances for the foreseeable future. After winning May’s Classic, Ecton Blade ran 3rd in the final leg of the Triple Crown, the Minister’s Cup over 2000M in June, but found older horses at that distance a completely different prospect when 9th of 16 in the President’s Cup last month. However, between those two races, he returned to Busan and dropped back to Sunday’s trip of 1400M to record a comfortable class 1 victory.
South African jockey Francois Herholdt will get the leg-up on Ecton Blade in Sunday’s race 5 and the colt will be favoured to prevail with the likes of Morning Daero and Daeho Sidae likely to provide the stiffest examinations.
As for Mask, he ran 4th in the Minister’s Cup before having a couple of near-misses around two turns in September and October. A month ago he dropped back to 1400M and returned to the winner’s circle, taking out a class 2 handicap by three-lengths.
Sunday will be Mask’s first try at class 1 and it won’t be easy as he meets Gangtoma, a winner of six from ten, and who, like Ecton Blade was an also-ran in the President’s Cup but should pose a much sterner test this time. Track record holder for the distance Sanggam Mama is also among a competitive field of twelve who will contest the concluding race 12 in the capital.
Earlier at Busan, New Legend will get the chance to show what he is made of. Though Korean bred, the Menifee colt began his racing career in the United States, winning a maiden special weight contest at Arlington Park in July. The three-year-old returned to Korea in the autumn and was an easy winner over 1300M three weeks ago. In Sunday’s race 3 at Busan, he steps up to 1800M and runs straight into the in-form Challanhan Miso for his first real local test. He will be expected to come through it.
Seoul Race 1: Class 6 (1300M) Allowance / KRA 24 Million
(6) K ZONE may be a fourteen-race maiden but recent forms reads well and having been knocking at the door for some time now, he could go through it today. (10) ROAD WOMAN also looks to be figuring things out and comes in after a career best 3rd. She should be on pace early and can go all the way. (3) AQUA STROM returned from five months off to run a good 4th a month ago and should be in the hunt. (1) MEGA CITY and (4) A ONE HAMMER others who should go close.
|Selections||(6) K Zone (10) Road Woman (3) Aqua Strom (4) A One Hammer|
|Next Best||1, 2|
|Fast Start||4, 8, 10|
Seoul Race 2: Class 6 (1000M) Allowance / KRW 60 Million
Juvenile maidens here and only four of the twelve have raced before. Three of those four look promising though including probable favourite (2) DIA PARK. She ran 3rd on debut at this distance a month ago, having led early. She’s well drawn to lead again and this time may not be caught. (12) MENI STAND overcame some heavy bumps at the start to run 4th on her first outing and can build on it today while (5) GEUMSEONGHWANGJE ran a solid 5th first-up in October before weakening over 1300M on reappearance three weeks ago. Back at the minimum trip today, he’ll go better. Of the first times, (4) SANGGAM CHEONGJA looks the pick having won a trial in good order although (8) DAECHEON VOW also showed some promise.
|Selections||(2) Dia Park (12) Meni Stand (4) Sanggam Cheongja (5) Geumseonghwangje|
|Next Best||8, 7|
|Fast Start||2, 3, 4 ,5|
Seoul Race 3: Class 4 (1000M) Allowance / KRW 75 Million
Juvenile imports chasing a substantial prize here and there’s a proven winner among them. (10) CATS MIRACLE led from gate to wire over this distance on debut on November 10th and is favoured for a repeat today. (9) DONGBANG JIJON and (5) PRO HAMSEONG came home 3rd and 5th respectively when they raced each other at 1300M on November 18th. It was the latter’s debut, and both should be contenders here. (2) TRIPLE KHAN has run 5th and 3rd in two outings to date and is well drawn to lead and continue his development. There are two first-time starters and of them, (8) MIGHTY M looks best having caught the eye in two trials to date.
|Selections||(10) Cats Miracle (5) Pro Hamseong (8) Mighty M (2) Triple Khan|
|Next Best||9, 3|
|Fast Start||2, 4, 5, 10|
Seoul Race 4: Class 6 (1000M) Allowance / KRW 24 Million
Maidens here and (7) STRIDE UP comes with a pair of 4ths and a 2nd from three starts to date. He steps back to the minimum trip here and looks to be the standout by some margin. (8) FIRENZE HILL has hinted at some ability across two efforts, both at this distance and looks to have potential to step up but the rest of them will need to show something they’ve so far kept concealed if they are to challenge. (6) MAX THUNDER does have a couple of 3rd place finishes to her name and while she put in a poor effort last time, she’s had a couple of months off and trialled up adequately since. (9) HAE WANG too may improve. There are two first-timer starters and of them, (1) ICHEON DOJAGI looked decent in his trial and may go well first-up in what is a good race to debut in.
|Selections||(7) Stride Up (8) Firenze Hill (1) Icheon Dojagi (6) Max Thunder|
|Next Best||9, 11, 5|
|Fast Start||1, 5, 6, 9|
Seoul Race 5: Class 5 (1300M) Handicap / KRW 40 Million
(1) ACE SOLONGO got a 3rd, a 2nd and then finally a win from her first three efforts and is accordingly up in class here. Her win came at her first try at this distance and she impressed, making all to score by five-lengths and the manner of that victory is enough to put her on top here. (7) TAP LUCK and (8) WINT SEVEN also find themselves up in class following maiden wins with Wint Seven the more likely of the pair to make an immediate impact at this level. (10) BACK TO BACK hasn’t yet kicked on after a very promising start to his career but he’s found some form lately with back to back 2nd places coming into this and he could well be the biggest threat to Ace Solongo here. (4) THE FINAL and (12) JACOB were no better than average last time but both have the ability to improve here.
|Selections||(1) Ace Solongo (10) Back To Back (8) Wint Seven (7) Tap Luck|
|Next Best||4, 12|
|Fast Start||1, 8|
Busan Race 2: Class 3 (1200M) Handicap / KRW 75 Million
(1) BLUE CHIPPER ran three times for two wins as a juvenile at the end of 2017 but hasn’t been seen since. He returns here a gelding and in Kim Young Kwan’s stable. He looked sharp in a trial last month and will attract plenty of attention here. If he’s anything like his old self, he’ll likely win. (7) USEUNG HWANHO enters after back-to-back 2nd places both at class and distance. He’s yet to finish any worse than 5th and is the biggest threat here. (6) RETURN OF THE KING is up in class following a good win over 1000M in November and can be competitive while (2) BRAVO MARINE and (8) CHROME MAGIC also look capable in this company.
|Selections||(1) Blue Chipper (7) Useung Hwanho (6) Return Of The King (8) Chrome Magic|
|Next Best||2, 5, 9|
|Fast Start||1, 5, 7, 11|
Seoul Race 6: Class 5 (1000M) Handicap / KRW 40 Million
(9) DAESEONG RUBY was just beaten a head into 2nd place at class and distance on November 17th. That was an uptick in form and one she can build on here. She’s not necessarily going to lead but if she can find a good spot heading into the straight, she can win. (1) SUN BOLT drops back in trip and it may be exactly what he needs having led and then weakened in in each of his latest starts. He’ll be a big threat if he gets on top early. (3) TRI THUNDER was a winner on debut but didn’t get the best of trips on his first tri at this class in October. He’s had nine weeks off since then and is worth another chance. (4) EIFFEL and (5) SMARTY ADELE are others whit at least placing chances.
|Selections||(9) Daeseong Ruby (1) Sun Bolt (4) Eiffel (3) Tri Thunder|
|Next Best||5, 6|
|Fast Start||1, 4, 5, 10|
Busan Race 3: Class 4 (1800M) Allowance / KRW 60 Million
(11) NEW LEGEND romped home on his first Korean start having begun his career (and picked up a win) in the United States. Today will be harder and he steps up in trip, but we’ll not oppose him yet and he can get the job done. (1) CHALLANHAN MISO may have something to say about that though. Thomas Gillespie’s colt has won his latest three in fine style, all of them at a mile and he too tackles the distance for the first time. Those two surely battle it out but don’t rule out solid showings from the likes of (4) ALPHA RUNNER and (6) TIME SPEC.
|Selections||(11) New Legend (1) Challanhan Miso (6) Time Spec (4) Alpha Runner|
|Next Best||5, 7|
|Fast Start||1, 6, 11|
Seoul Race 7: Class 4 (1300M) Handicap / KRW 60 Million
(11) BENEDICT and (12) SOL PARANG came home 1st ad 2nd when they raced each other at class and distance on November 18th. Both look very useful prospects and it would be no surprise if they filled out the quinella once more. We’ll marginally favour the consistent Sol Parang – whose manners let him down a bit that day – this time. (1) MAGICAL CHOICE and (6) WORLD STARK finished 2nd and 3rd in a similar race to this on November 11th. It was the former’s debut, and both should be in the frame for at least a place here. (2) BIG GARLAND was sent off as favourite over 1700M a month ago but only managed 6th. He’s yet to win but was 2nd on his last try at this distance and can aim to at least repeat here. (4) DAEGIL SANGJON is better than his latest effort suggests, and he gets another chance here.
|Selections||(12) Sol Parang (11) Benedict (2) Big Garland (6) World Stark|
|Next Best||1, 4, 5|
|Fast Start||1, 2, 12|
Busan Race 4: Class 4 (1600M) Handicap / KRW 60 Million
(5) GLITTER ran out a really good winner on his first try at this distance on November 25th. He is up in class today, but the manner of that win suggests there is plenty more to come and he’s set to be hot favourite here. (10) BOGOINNA ran a good class and distance 2nd just two weeks ago. He remains a maiden but should have the beating of plenty of these and could well be the main danger. (9) GAMUNUI YEONGGWANG is a couple of starts into a comeback following five months off and showed improvement last time. He’s up in trip today but in the frame. (1) WHIIK and (7) WORLD KOREAN are others with at least placing claims.
|Selections||(5) Glitter (10) Bogoinna (7) World Korean (9) Gamunui Yeonggwang|
|Next Best||1, 2, 4|
|Fast Start||1, 2, 5, 7|
Seoul Race 8: Class 4 (1300M) Handicap / KRW 60 Million
(2) CUPID DATE is slightly favoured in what looks an evenly matched contest. (He’s run well for 3rd and 4th in his latest two and while as a slow starter he will need some luck to avoid traffic problems, he can win this. So too can (3) CHO ORONG MA and (4) KING MESSENGER, both of whom come in with similar form, having registered 4th place finishes in their respective latest outings. They too will look to come through in the latter part of the race. (10) JEWANGUI BYEOL is up in class but is one of few horses in the race with some early speed and if he gets to the front, can be a factor in the finish. (9) SPEED CHEONGNYONG races for the first time since September but looked strong in a trial two weeks ago. (8) THE PRIMA is a winner of two from four but is up in class and this looks a much stiffer assignment.
|Selections||(2) Cupid Date (3) Cho Orong Ma (9) Speed Cheongnyong (10) Jewangui Byeol|
|Next Best||4, 8|
|Fast Start||1, 8, 10|
Busan Race 5: Class 1 (1400M) Handicap / KRW 110 Million
Derby winner (6) ECTON BLADE only managed 9th of 16 in the President’s Cup in Seoul last month but he was an impressive winner on his last try at this distance here in August and under a nice light weight today it the one to beat. (2) DAEHO SIDAE drops back in trip after a useful 4th over 1800M last start with a couple of these behind him. Last time he tackled this trip, he ran 2nd to King Of Ace and looks the main danger. A Korea Sprint also-ran, (3) MORNING DAERO enters off the back of a 2nd and 3rd at class 1, the latest at this distance and can continue his positive run of form today. (1) BLACK SAPPHIRE and (7) DYNAMIC STAR look best of the rest.
|Selections||(6) Ecton Blade (2) Daeho Sidae (3) Morning Daero (1) Black Sapphire|
|Next Best||7, 4, 10|
|Fast Start||4, 5, 6, 7|
Seoul Race 9: Class 5 (1700M) Allowance / KRW 40 Million
(2) FINE HEART just missed out by a nose having led almost the entire way around at class and distance on November 25th. It was a good run and he should get to the front quite easily again. He has a chance although he does carry an additional 2.5kg today. (9) TAEPUNG EYES is up to two-turns for the first time. He’s registered one win from five outings to date but looks to have been crying out for more distance and he can make the most of it here. (7) GOODCHOICE comes back up in trip having shown poor manners over 1300M three weeks ago. He’s worth another chance here as is (4) DONGSEO GADEUK who bled after a by no means 4th place finish on November 11th and who has since come through a trial without issue. (12) KAILASH DANCER has had a couple of months off since two less than impressive outings and may go better.
|Selections||(2) Fine Heart (9) Taepung Eyes (4) Dongseo Gadeuk (7) Goodchoice|
|Next Best||12, 10|
|Fast Start||2, 5|
Seoul Race 10: Class 4 (1700M) Handicap / KRW 60 Million
(4) THE KING has two wins and three runner-up finishes from five starts so far, His latest win was at class and distance and while he has an additional 3.5 kg imposed today, he is favoured to win again. (5) EAST KINGDOM enters in consistent form. He’s won at this distance and was 3rd on his first try at this class on November 18th. That day he went right back and came from off the pace having emerged from gate 12 but with a more favourable draw here, he’ll likely challenge The King for the early lead. (6) THUNDER GREAT is another who should be on pace. He’s up to this trip for the first time and it may well suit. (1) ELAN and (10) MACH SEUNGNI are proven competitive at class and distance and can go close.
|Selections||(4) The King (5) East Kingdom (6) Thunder Great (10) Mach Seungni|
|Next Best||1, 12, 9|
|Fast Start||4, 5, 6|
Seoul Race 11: Class 3 (1200M) Handicap / KRW 75 Million
(10) GLOBAL CAPTAIN enters two for two having won his first two starts by three and ten lengths respectively. He is up in class today and also for the first time up in distance. He should overcome both and is strongly favoured to maintain his 100% record. (7) LOVE IT is still a maiden, but she returned from four months off to run a strong 3rd at this distance in November and she can improve today. (9) GOLDEN BLACK and (1) SEUNGNI GIEOK ran 2nd and 5th respectively when they raced each other at 1400M on November 25th and both have placing claims here. (8) RAON PORTEOUS is the wildcard. He won two from five before suffering a setback that has seen him off the track since April. He trialled well though last month and has evident talent.
|Selections||(10) Global Captain (9) Golden Black (7) Love It (1) Seungni Gieok|
|Next Best||8, 5|
|Fast Start||6, 8, 9, 12|
Seoul Race 12: Class 1 (1400M) Handicap / KRW 110 Million
(6) MASK was runner-up in the Korean Derby but this looks to be his best distance and he finally returned to the winner’s circle when stepped back to it on November 17th when he ran out a three-length winner at class 2. He takes on class 1 opposition for the first time here but is nicely weighted and can win. The trouble is that he runs into (9) GANGTOMA. He may have only beaten two home in last month’s President’s Cup but that was always a stiff ask. Unbeaten at this trip he’s going to be very dangerous. (11) IGWANGSASEOK enters after three consecutive runner-up finishes, the latter two at this class and should go close again. (1) JANGSAN POWER comes in off a good 3rd place last time and can repeat. Finally, never rule out (8) SANGGAM MAMA. He’s the track record holder at this distance and while he stumbled and lost ground at the start last time out, if he gets away cleanly and into a lead, he’s never easy to catch.
|Selections||(9) Gangtoma (6) Mask (8) Sanggam Mama (1) Jangsan Power|
|Next Best||11, 4|
|Fast Start||1, 2, 7, 8|