Never write-off Kim Young-kwan. It’s the golden rule of Korean racing but some of us still fall prey to it from time-to-time. Just when it looked as though the nation’s dominant trainer could go through a season without winning one of the three-year-old Classic races, up pops Deep Mind to trounce fifteen rivals and win the Oaks by eight-lengths. At odds of 23/1.
While neither were expected to win, Deep Mind wasn’t even trainer Kim’s first-string. That was Amazon Yeogeol, but under Seo Seung-un, Deep Mind bounded out of gate 14 and got across to the lead. It was a simple plan – get in front on a very wet track and let the rest of them get in trouble in the mud and spray behind. It worked.
Dae Wan Ma, Sports Seoul Trophy winner and 2nd in the KRA Cup Mile, was sent off as the prohibitive favourite but having settled in the front half of the pack, jockey Antonio Da Silva had to get to work on her a full three-furlongs from home. The response was muted and she finished well down the field.
Instead, Deep Mind galloped away from the pack for a dominant triumph. Heung Buja got closest in 2nd place ahead of Miss Fact in 3rd making for a trifecta dividend in excess of 20,000/1. Peter Wolsley’s Top Of World was 4th and Luigi Riccardi’s Mamma Roma a creditable 5th.
For jockey Seo Seung-un it was a first win in the race but for trainer Kim it was a fifth with him previously having won four consecutive editions between 2013 and 2016. It’s also a first Classic win this season for Busan-trained horse after Seoul based gallopers Global Chukje and Wonderful Fly took out the KRA Cup Mile and Korean Derby respectively.
Deep Mind is by Menifee and is out of Urrikot (by Creek Cat), who was bred and raced in Korea. It was the seventh race of her career and her fourth win.
The 2019 Korean Oaks takes place at Busan Racecourse on Sunday afternoon and a full field of 16 runners are set to assemble for the fillies’ Classic. There are 6 races in total at Busan from 12:40 to 17:10 while at Seoul there are eleven races from 10:45 to 18:00.
Last year, Special Stone won the Korean Oaks for Seoul (Pic KRA)
Dae Wan Ma is set to be hot favourite for the Oaks. She ran 2nd in the KRA Cup Mile having won Seoul’s Classic trial a month earlier. She’s been to Busan before when 2nd in last December’s Breeders’ Cup and she is the one to beat.
Last Sunday we saw an odds-on chance go down in the Korea Derby, however, and Dae Wan Ma is no sure thing. The beaten jockey last week was Yoo Seung-wan and he arrives in Busan with the chance to put things right on Smile Girl, winner of Seoul’s Oaks trial in April.
Peter Wolsley’s Top Of World looks firmly in the hunt as well, while Mighty Power and Amazon Yeogeol are also in contention for two trainers, Baik Kwang-yeol and Kim Young-kwan, who are in danger of having an unusually fallow Classic series. Doctor Thunder, so disappoitning in the Cup Mile, is the wildcard. Here is horse by horse for the full cards at both Seoul & Busan:
Seoul Race 1: Class 5 (1200M) Handicap / KRW 40 Million
GEUMSEONG YEOWANG – Best of 5th from 10 starts so far. Drops back in trip having finished last on muddy track over 1300M three weeks ago. Hard to recommend here.
BEST MAID – 10th behind Tri Thunder at 1300M on April 20th but was 4th on most recent effort at this distance in March. Minor money at best.
ECO BROTHER – Winner on debut at this distance on wet track in December. 10th and 6th in two starts at this level since. Better draw today and outside place chance.
GOLD PERILLA – Up in class having registered his maiden win at the ninth time of asking making all over this trip on April 21st. More to find in this company but solid placing chances again under good apprentice jockey.
UNAK HABIO – Recent form very cold. Only possible angle is he drops back in trip and has a top jockey on board, but neither are enough to make him a recommend.
BLUE FIRE – Still a maiden after ten attempts but has been very close with four runner-up finishes including last time at class and distance. Generally sits just off the pace, top jockey stays on and a big chance here.
PARTY POWER – Makes her 51st start today, and occasionally picks up some minor prize money. Always runs on late but usually leaves a little too much to do and similar is likely today.
NAMJJOK NARA – Her best finishes at this level have been at 1700M and while she carries a light weight here, she wouldn’t seem to have the speed to make an impact.
TRI THUNDER – Winner on debut last September and has been no worse than 6th in six subsequent outings at this level. Back in trip today after a 3rd place over 1300M last time and solid claims.
STRONG CUPID – Yet to finish any better than 9th in six attempts during which she’s been dropped in class to little effect. Avoid.
(6) Blue Fire (9) Tri Thunder (4) Gold Perilla (7) Party Power
3, 4, 5, 9
Seoul Race 2: Class 6 (1000M) Allowance / KRW 24 Million
EDWIN – Never better than 5th in six starts so far. Back in trip today but slow starter and easy to toss here.
TOUR BROTHER – Looked ready to score at the end of last year and was sent off odds-on favourite in consecutive races finishing 3rd in the first of them but last in the second having hung-out throughout. Last seen running 8th over 1300M in March. Talented but unreliable.
RAON HAWK – Offered very little in three starts so far and will need some significant improvement here.
JEONGMUN SARANG – Ran 2nd in valuable juvenile race in September but struggled against the track’s best of his crop a month later. Disappointing 4th when hot favourite at the end of March but with a good start, can go close here.
JEONGDONG SARANG – Only two starts so far – sent off at nearly 400/1 last time and ran like it. Booking of Alan Munro the positive and while he might need to get off and push, that might be enough to find the minor money here.
SEOUL CITY – Getting closer across three outings and was a good and close 2nd at the distance last time having led until close to home. Can get on pace again and could go one better.
WONDERFUL BRAVO – No better than 7th in seven tries and comes in after a slow 7th of 12 over this distance last time. Much improvement required.
DALLINEUN ACE – Yet to offer much in the way of speed though recent some modest support two weeks ago after a promising trial. Promptly finished 9th of 12. This is weak though so improvement possible.
(4) Jeongmun Sarang (6) Seoul City (2) Tour Brother (5) Jeongdong Sarang
2, 4, 6
Seoul Race 3: Class 6 (1200M) Allowance / KRW 40 Million
NONGBON JARANG – Last all the way round on debut last October and not seen again until trialling underwhelmingly at the end of March. Watching brief here.
REGINA – Managed a 4th place two starts ago but struggled on latest a month ago at this trip. Has been slowly away on three of her four starts so far and is an outsider here.
JACKS KHAN – Hasn’t beaten many in four attempts so far and was sent back to trial after latest effort in March. Leave well alone.
JEONGMUN SAI – 3rd on debut at 1000M was followed by a 2nd place over 1300M when he led until the closing stages. Back in trip by half a furlong today and a big chance of leading all the way.
WIND SKY – Much improved 2nd over 1300M last start. Will need to find more here but can be considered for further progress.
BLUE BAND – “Full” brother to President’s Cup and Grand Prix Stakes winner Indie Band, he’s not quite lived up to that so far with 5th and 7th from two starts. Showed prominently over 1300M last start before weakening in closing stages. Could improve at 1200M today.
MEISEI DREAM – First-time state but she just scraped through a trial in the slowest possible qualifying time. Watching brief here.
COLORS DE LAGO – Some high hopes on debut after a positive trial and has offered glimpses. 5th of 9 at this distance last time and can improve.
SONGAM RAPUNZEL – Debut-maker. Nothing special in trials although it was run at a slow pace. Others are preferred.
HAWK ARIRANG – Has shown slight but noticeable improvement across three starts so far and was 6th of 12 last time, running on creditably. Can improve again.
GOLD LEVEL – Getting slightly better and comes in following back to back 5th place finishes. Top jockey on again and a chance in this company.
(4) Jeongmun Sai (5) Wind Sky (6) Blue Band (11) Gold Level
Seoul Race 4: Class 5 (1200M) Handicap / KRW 40 Million
UNJU YEONGUNG – Yet to finish any better than 7th in nine attempts and it would be no surprise if that record was maintained here.
RAISING ANGEL – A winner on debut last December, her worst in four subsequent starts was her only other try at further than 1000M. Nevertheless, she beat a couple of these last time and is well drawn to get on pace. A chance.
BLESSING ROAD – Six starts at this level since maiden win last September with a best of 3rd. 5th behind some useful ones last time and jockey booking a plus.
SPECIAL GOLD – First start since last August. She trialled adequately enough in April but others likely to be favoured first-up here.
SUJEBI – Recent form has been uninspiring. Did manage a 5th place at 1000M in February but has struggled when asked to go any further.
PRIVATE MAN – Still a maiden but no worse than 5th in six starts to date. Up in class after latest near miss but should be competitive.
HUNTER HAWK – Finished last on his return from five months out in April. Never any better than 3rd and up against it here.
P.K. JEONSA – Got promoted to this class with back to back runner-up finishes in February and March but was 8th on first try at the level on April 21st. Should be on pace and worth another chance today.
VICTORY KING – Up in class today after consecutive 2nd place finishes. No worse than 6th in five outings to date. Will need to improve but not impossible.
RICH RULES – Winner on debut and then 3rd in both subsequent starts at this class. Up in trip for the first time today, the draw isn’t ideal but is she gets away well, she has a real chance.
MAENGSAN HERO – Yet to finish in the top three, he’s an import who has been dropped from class 4 but hasn’t found things much more amenable.
Seoul Race 5: Class 3 (1400M) Handicap / KRW 75 Million
DAEGUN CHEONHA – Never worse than 3rd, he got his maiden win over 1300M last start. Up in class today, he looks well in again and can win again.
MALIBU GINGER – 3rd behind Crazy Wiki and M J Power over 1200M on April 20th. Previous effort at this distance didn’t go well but can be given a chance here.
NEUNGRYEOK SIDAE – Class and distance winner at the end of March and followed up with 5th of 10 on a wet track three weeks ago. Apprentice jockey gets the weight back down today and she’ll be in the hunt.
FLYING BOSS – Still a maiden after fourteen attempts but he’s had plenty of near-misses. However, he comes in having finished 11th behind several of these last time so has plenty of form to overturn.
CHEUNGDAM GENIE – Maiden winner in February but weakened on first try at class and distance in tough company on April 13th. Worth another chance here.
GOLDEN DIAL – Hung inwards throughout last start which was his first at this class. With better manner can improve today.
M J POWER – 2nd behind Crazy Wiki over 1200M on April 20th, coming from well off the pace. Attempts this trip for the first time and could make for an interesting outsider.
MUNHAK TIGER – First start since running 3rd behind M J Power in February and first at this distance. Can come from off the pace and finish strongly.
CRAZY WIKI – Beat four of these on his way to a four-length win at this class over 1200M on April 20th. First try at this distance today, he’ll be on speed again and a repeat isn’t impossible.
MATCH CAPTAIN – Struggled in the TJK Trophy last month, losing a shoe in the process. Going well before that though so don’t completely write-off.
MUNHAK TSUNAMI – 4th behind Crazy Wiki at 1200M on April 20th when sent off as favourite. Today’s distance should suit better, and he can overturn that form.
JEOKBYEOK SHINHWA – A winner at this class over 1400M on April 21st. He carries an additional 4kg today but could potentially repeat. Will look to come from well off the pace so draw not a problem.