September’s Keeneland Korea Cup and Sprint resulted in home wins for the very first time. While Sprint winner Blue Chipper seems set to make his next start in the USA, this Sunday at Seoul Racecourse, Cup winner Moonhak Chief headlines what is in effect, a re-match of the big race against domestic rivals Cheongdam Dokki and Dolkong, over 2000M in the KRA Cup Classic (KOR G2). There are 11 races at Seoul on Sunday from 10:45 to 18:00 and 6 at Busan from 12:40 to 17:10. Race-by-race is below with horse by horse for the Cup Classic. Busan selections at the bottom:
Race 1: Class 6 (1000M) Allowance / KRW 60 Million
Juvenile filly maiden to kick things off with precisely half the field having raced before. Three of those did rather well. Both (6) DOKBO CHEONHA and (10) GEOSEN JILJU ran 2nd on their respective debuts last month, both in good times with the latter only beaten a nose. Both are likely to be on the early speed here and have serious claims. (3) QUIET ADELE ran 3rd on her debut back in August, coming from just behind the pace and running through the line well. She should have come on for the eight weeks off and should go close. Among the first-time starters, (8) STUNNING HANSEN was a trial winner at the end of August while (5) SHINY QUEEN also caught the eye in her heat. As ever with the newcomers, watch the market for additional clues.
|Selections||(10) Geoseon Jilju (3) Quiet Adele (6) Dokbo Cheonha (8) Stunning Hansen|
|Next Best||5, 2|
|Fast Start||6, 10|
Race 2: Class 4 (1000M) Allowance / KRW 75 Million
More juvenile maidens here, this time with five of the twelve having raced before. Both (10) DYNAMIC COMING and (12) BRAVE QUEEN ran 2nd on their respective debuts, the former over 1300M and the latter over today’s distance. Despite their wide draws, both will be expected to head to the front here and both should be in the mix. (7) HWANGGEUM LUCKY was anything but lucky on his debut back in August. He had previously trialled well though so gets a chance today. It’s one of the debut-makers that they’ll need to beat tough. (2) UNCLE BELL looked extremely competent when winning a trial in a fast time – ahead of a couple of the other first-timers here – two weeks ago. He came from just behind the early pace and if he brings that kind of form to the races, he’ll be tough to beat. (4) MUNHAK TAP too won his trial and should go well first up.
|Selections||(2) Uncle Bell (10) Dynamic Coming (12) Brave Queen (4) Munhak Tap|
|Next Best||7, 8|
|Fast Start||10, 12|
Race 3: Class 6 (1300M) Allowance / KRW 40 Million
More maidens and (10) MEOTJIN GEUMSEONG looks set to be hot favourite. He’s run 4th in both his starts so far, both times being defeated by very useful looking types, most recently at this distance. He hasn’t led in his races yet but expect him to be ridden forward here and he should win. (5) THE BEAST also enters with two 4ths from two starts. He steps up in trip for the first time here and is the main danger to the favourite. (8) CHOGANGGUK didn’t nothing much wrong when 5th on debut at this distance at the end of August and can build on it here. Similarly (9) J M FIGHTER has hinted ability across his two efforts so far. The more experienced (3) BAEKDU GEOPO looks best of the rest.
|Selections||(10) Meotjin Geumseong (5) The Beast (8) Chogangguk (9) J M Fighter|
|Next Best||3, 11|
|Fast Start||1, 6, 10|
Race 4: Class 5 (1300M) Handicap / KRW 60 Million
Fillies (and one mare) only. (2) CHEONDUNG YEOUL led gate to wire for a five-length win over 1000M on debut on September 1st. She steps up in both class and distance today but the manner of that score suggests there is more to come. She looks to be the only real early speed here and she can win again. (8) QUEEN OF CAMP remains a maiden but has finished in the top four on no fewer than nine of her eleven starts and while she may have to settle for another near miss, she shouldn’t be far away. (3) PRIME QUEEN and (6) RAON MIRACLE should both improve on their respective last starts given the slightly softer company today. (7) MASYA is another capable of going close.
|Selections||(2) Cheondung Yeoul (8) Queen Of Camp (3) Prime Queen (6) Raon Miracle|
|Next Best||7, 4|
Race 5: Class 4 (1000M) Handicap / KRW 60 Million
(2) SAGWARANG returned from almost a year out to pick up right where she left off and won over this distance on August 10th. That was at this class and while there are perhaps a few more dangers this time around, there’s no reason why she can’t win again. (7) JEONGSANG STAR was rapidly promoted to this class following back to back wins, one a dead-heat, in July and August. She ran a useful enough 5th on her first try at this level over 1200M last month but should be better dropped back to the minimum trip today. (4) ULTRA CHAMPION returns after eight months off and looked sharp in a trial a couple of weeks ago, (11) FIRENZE HILL and the up in class (12) GEUMSEONGHWANGJE are others to take into account.
|Selections||(2) Sagwarang (7) Jeongsang Star (4) Ultra Champion (12) Geumseonghwangje|
|Next Best||11, 9|
|Fast Start||2, 8, 12|
Race 6: Class 5 (1700M) Allowance / KRW 40 Million
(5) CHUNGDAM HORANGI never really recovered from an early bump when well backed last start and ended up beating only two home. He’s better than that though and well worth another chance today. (10) RED SUN too had a hard time last start but steps up to this distance for the first time and can go better here. (1) ACE DONQUI and (12) GOLD LEVEL are both up in class having won at this distance on their respective latest starts. Both will need to improve significantly if they are to have a chance here though with (4) AMARONE and (11) COLORS KING perhaps more likely candidates.
|Selections||(5) Chungdam Horangi (10) Red Sun (11) Colors King (12) Gold Level|
|Next Best||4, 9|
|Fast Start||4, 8|
Race 7: Class 4 (1200M) Handicap / KRW 60 Million
(2) GEUMSEONG YEOWANG ran out a five-length winner at class and distance on August 18th and while he carries an additional 3.5kg today, still looks very much the one they’ll need to beat here. He led gate to wire that day and is well drawn to do the same. (3) GEUMA ANNUITY remains a maiden following twelve attempts but has been consistently close and should be a danger here while (7) MUNHAKUI JEONSA is a class and distance winner already and still looks to have scope for further development. (4) GREAT LEE is inconsistent but ran on very nicely for 3rd over 1000M last start while (11) JEMA TEUKGEUP should be on pace early despite the wide draw and can be involved in the finish.
|Selections||(2) Geumseong Yeowang (3) Geuma Annuity (7) Munhakui Jeonsa (11) Jema Teukgeup|
|Next Best||4, 1|
|Fast Start||2, 7, 11|
Race 8: Class 2 (1600M) Handicap / KRW 90 Million
(3) SIMJANGUI GODONG was 2nd in the Korean Derby and went on to win the Ilgan Sports and HRI Trophies in July and September. He can keep his good run of form going here as he tackles a mile for the first time and is nicely drawn, bearing in mind the short run to the turn, to lead all the way. (4) BURUI GORI and (9) PALPAL VICTORY finished 2nd and 3rd respectively in the Ilgan Sports and while that means they have a full five-lengths to make up on Simjangui Godong both are capable types with scope for improvement. They account for the biggest threats to the favourite, along with (6) CLEAN UP SECRET, a winner of two from his last three.
|Selections||(3) Simjangui Godong (4) Burui Gori (6) Clean Up Secret (9) Palpal Victory|
|Next Best||8, 1|
Race 9: Class Open “KRA Cup Classic” (KOR G2) 2000M Weight for Age / KRW 500 Million
- CHEONGDAM DOKKI – Struggled in the first half this year with a strong of niggling problems but made a welcome return to form with 2nd place in the Korea Cup. He never looked like getting to Moonhak Chief though and while he has won this race two years in a row, he will be hard pushed to secure a third here. At his best, he would win this, but is he anywhere near his best?
- WINNER RED – The lowest rated in the field by some margin, his form has gone off a cliff somewhat in recent times. Last in the Busan Mayor’s Cup in June, his attest outing saw him run 6th of 11 over 1200M in August. He did beat Wonder Bolt that day and both are big outsiders here.
- WONDER BOLT – The nine-year-old has been a staple of big races at Seoul for half a decade now and while his best days are behind him, he still goes ok, most recently doing nothing wrong when 9th of 16 in the Korea Sprint. It’s been a long time since he made the places though. Still very fit and sound but not fast enough for this.
- SHAMROCKER – A horse who has spent his career chasing first Clean Up Joy, then Cheongdam Dokki and now, to some extent, Moonhak Chief. A very solid campaigner, it’s been over two years since his latest win although that’s because he only tends to race in top class company. Last ran 5th of 14 behind Dolkong in the Busan Mayor’s Cup. Minor money is always a possibility with him.
- DOLKONG – Korea’s Dubai hero won over 1800M in the Mayor’s Cup at Busan in June but only managed 5th in the Korea Cup when he simply couldn’t run down the leaders, finishing ten-lengths in arrears. The extra furlong today should suit him, and he should surely be closer but whether he can catch a front running Moonhak Chief is another matter.
- P.K. PARTY – Beat Moonhak Chief to top juvenile honours two years ago as part of a six-race winning streak to begin her career. She suffered a setback after finishing down the field in the Ttukseom Cup in June 2018 and didn’t race again until April of this year. She’s not made an impression in any of her three starts since returning and will be an outsider here.
- MOONHAK CHIEF – Has rocketed to become the top-rated horse in Korea with his win in the Korea Cup three weeks ago. Took charge of that race in the back straight before jokcey Moon Se Yung slowed it right down allowing him to run away to a two-and-a-half length win over Cheongdam Dokki. He won the YTN Cup at this distance in May by twelve lengths in a fast time with a similarly front-running performance. Looks to have all the attributes and he’s the favourite to win again.
- TODAY – Well back in the Korea Sprint in what was his first start since January, that was perhaps a little too much too soon, but he is accomplished at all distances. He may well go forward hear and take on the leaders, as he did with Cheongdam Dokki in the 2017 Grand Prix. To the surprise of many he stayed on that time for 3rd. It wold be a surprise were he to win today, but he may well find some minor money.
- BAENGMUNBAEKDAP – Ran a huge race for 2nd behind Blue Chipper in the Busan Owners’ Cup over a mile in July before running 7th in the Korea Cup. Versatile horse who can perform at any distance, he is perhaps slightly below the elite level, but he will run on well and could pass plenty late on.
- YAHO SKY CAT – Now seven-years-old, he returns to action for the first time since March. His form prior to the layoff wasn’t good but he did look sharp when winning a pair of September trials. Run best when on or close to the speed but this is surely too difficult first-up.
- TIZ PLAN – A winner of seven from thirteen, his only previous Stakes experience is 6th place in the YTN Cup this May. That means he has form that he needs to overturn on a number of these. Last start a close 3rd when giving away weight in a class 1 handicap over 1800M, this looks a hard ask for him.
Verdict: Essentially a re-run of the Korea-trained competitors in last month’s Korea Cup but will it be the same result? (7) MOONHAK CHIEF was a dominant winner that day and has every right to begin as favourite here. The extra furlong isn’t a concern as he won the YTN Cup by a full twelve-lengths over it earlier this year and if at any stage he gets to the front, hell be hard to beat. (5) DOLKONG was absent from the YTN Cup, however, and while from a wide run he didn’t get into top gear in the Korea Cup, he has an additional furlong to play with here and could well get much closer. Then there is (1) CHEONGDAM DOKKI. While it’s not certain that he is anywhere near back to his best, his run in the Korea Cup was encouraging and he won’t need to improve much more in order to pose some sterner questions of the favourite. It would be a surprise if those three don’t fill out top placings with (8) TODAY and the evergreen (4) SHAMROCKER the next best.
|Selections||(7) Moonhak Chief (5) Dolkong (1) Cheongdam Dokki (8) Today|
|Next Best||4, 9|
|Fast Start||1, 2, 6, 8|
Race 10: Class 3 (1700M) Allowance / KRW 75 Million
(5) DAEGUN CHEONHA comes in following a series of near-misses, most recently running 2nd over 1800M when favourite. He drops back slightly in distance today and this time can get it right, likely coming from just off the pace. (6) JOUNIGA was a good winner at this class over 1900M last start. She was beaten by Daegun Cheonha the time before but should run him close here. (4) EVER THE CHAMP is up in class after a solid win over this distance on September 1st and can be competitive at this level. (7) KING MESSENGER and (10) DAE BYEONHWA are others to keep an eye on.
|Selections||(5) Daegun Cheona (6) Jouniga (4) Ever The Champ (10) Dae Byeonhwa|
|Next Best||7, 2, 9|
|Fast Start||3, 9, 10|
Race 11: Class 3 (1200M) Handicap / KRW 75 Million
(5) TIAGO TOUCH ran out a two-length winner at this class over 1400M on August 31st. He steps back in trip today but looks nicely in for another victory. (10) RAISING ANGEL steps up in class following a fast victory over 1300M at the beginning of September and goes straight into the mix here. (11) WINNER BROWN returns to racing for the first time since March. He won his last two starts before the layoff and looked sharp when trialling last week so it’s not impossible that he could pick up from where he left off. (1) GEOSEON MAPUNG and (4) BIG EAR look best of a useful rest.
|Selections||(5) Tiago Touch (10) Raising Angel (11) Winner Brown (1) Geoseon Mapung|
|Next Best||4, 12|
|Fast Start||9, 10, 12|
Race 1: 4, 9, 1, 5
Race 2: 1, 5, 10, 8
Race 3: 3, 4, 1, 7
Race 4: 8, 2, 10, 1
Race 5: 2, 7, 4, 5
Race 6: 6, 5, 3, 2