Month: June 2020

Do Kki Blade Downs Gaon Champ In Busan Sprint Duel

Gaon Champ gave everything but ultimately Do Kki Blade was just too strong as the sprinting pair turned the Busan Ilbo Cup (KOR G3) into a two-horse war on Sunday afternoon.

Do Kki Blade and Gaon Champ finished 2nd and 3rd behind Simjangui Godong in a blanket finish to January’s Segye Ilbo Cup at Seoul. While that day’s winner was also present on the south coast today, along with a vast amount of the nation’s sprinting talent, it quickly became clear that only two horses were going to dispute the finish.

Gaon Champ and Alan Munro briefly managed to get on  terms and almost touch the lead in the final furlong, but  Kim Yong-geun was able to extract another effort from Do Kki Blade and the four-year-old ultimately pulled clear to take the line half a length in front of his rival. King Of Glory came home 3rd a further three lengths in arrears, while Simjangui Godong could only manage 6th.

“I’m very proud of him” winning jockey Kim told KRBC after the race. “Coming in he was still a class 2 horse with the lowest rating in the race, but he was going up against all the established class 1 sprinters. Then to make it worse he got the really bad draw in gate 14.”

Kim, who was winning the race for the first time despite having ridden at Busan for most of his career before relocating to Seoul three years ago, knew the start would be important: “I felt there was a lot of speed in the race so I couldn’t afford to be chasing but then he jumped out so well and I saw we had a chance to get across so I decided to go for it. Once we hit the straight, I knew he had plenty left.”

Veteran trainer Park Dae-heung, who last year finally captured a Korean Derby with Wonderful Fly, was also winning the race for the first time and he was full of praise for his jockey: “I thought the race could be lost at the start so I was disappointed with the draw. I told Kim Yong-geun it was up to him to use his judgement and he did it perfectly.”

The Busan Ilbo Cup, like all racing in Korea at the moment, was held behind closed doors and with the absence of any legal remote betting in Korea, local fans were completely shut out and unable to even watch the race on TV. Both winning jockey and trainer addressed that situation.

“I value this win of course” said Kim Yong-geun. “It would have been far more exciting if we could have had our fans inside the racecourse though. I felt this was a very good race and I would have loved for them to have been able to watch it live. (Covid-19) has been hard on all of us but I keep the fans in my mind all the time.”

Trainer Park echoed those sentiments: “I have had a lot of time to think during the shutdown and I realise how important our racing fans are. Just to be racing is a start and we must do it, but it isn’t the same. I want all our fans to know we race for them and want to see them soon.”

Gaon Champ will get his chance for revenge on Do KKi Blade when the Sprint Series heads up to Seoul for the SBS Sports Sprint in July, a race which will be the final tune-up for September’s International Group 3 Korea Sprint.

* At Busan on Friday, the star of the show was Pro Consul. The Peter Wolsley trained colt has had an interrupted career but looked superb when dominating a class 1 field in the concluding Mile Handicap, winning by a full eight-lengths under Seo Seung-un. Pro Consul is a US import by Freedom Child, who was himself imported to Korea earlier this year. The four-year-old moves on to five wins from nine starts and into contention for big races later this year.



Busan Ilbo Sunday: Seoul & Busan Race-By-Race Preview (June 28)

The fifteenth running of the Busan Ilbo Cup is the feature race for the weekend with a capacity field of sixteen to face the starter at Busan Racecourse on Sunday afternoon. With the postponement of the Chairman’s Cup due to Covid-19, this will be the first leg of the 2020 Korean Sprint Series. There are 5 races at Busan from 12:15 to 15:30 while at Seoul there are 14 from 10:35 to 18:00. Both meetings are closed to spectators.

Segye Ilbo Cup 2020 Finish Simjangui Godong Do kki Blade Gaon Chamo

Simjangui Godong denied Do Kki Blade and Gaon Champ in the Segye Ilbo in January. The trio meet again in Busan on Sunday (Pic: KRA)

Eight of Seoul’s top sprinters will line up against eight of Busan’s best over the 1200m. The Group Three feature was taken out by Gaon Champ last year, who lines up in the event once again.

The winning trifecta of the Segye Ilbo Cup in January will reunite to face off once more. There was less than half a length covering the first three in the 1200m listed feature with Simjangui Godong (1st), Do Kki Blade (2nd) and Gaon Champ (3rd) completing the trifecta. Last year’s Champion Three-Year-Old Simjangui Godong showed a brilliant turn of foot over the sprint distance after dropping back from the 1800m the start prior. Do Kki Blade and Gaon Champ both settled on speed and were gallant up the Seoul straight.

Last start Class One winner Seobu Cat will face his toughest test to date, coming of four successive victories. The four-year-old comes off a dominant two length victory when carrying the featherweight of 51kg, defeating Doraonpogyeongson (2nd/58kg) and Ace Korea (4th/60kg).

Last year’s Korea Sprint runner-up Dia Socks will make the trip to Busan for the feature. The five-year-old comes off a last start fourth behind Global Captain, who is absent from the race. The five-year-old is never the fastest out of the gates, but he did fail to muster early on last start which cost him a closer finish after rattling home late. To make things more difficult, he has been dealt the outside gate but will have the services of Korea’s leading jockey in Moon Se-Young.

M J Power and Morning Daero both come off Class One victories. M J Power saluted over the 1200m in February with just 52kg on his back, he beat home Munhak Winner (3rd/52kg) who will line up in the event as well. Morning Daero comes off a 1400m victory carrying 56.5kg when defeating former KRA Cup Classic Winner Divide Wind (4th/52kg).

King Of Glory was beaten four lengths last start late December over 1200m in Class One grade carrying 56kg, with Hi Sexy finishing well back in the same race. Clean Up Board comes off a last start midfield performance behind Heuk Jeonsa whilst Seongpa and Seongsan Simon saluted in Class 1 events over 1200m and 1400m respectively.

In a wide open version of the Busan Ilbo Cup, Gaon Champ is the on top selection. The five-year-old entire has been so consistent throughout his career to date, winning nine of fourteen and placing on three other occasions. He is drawn to likely find the fence early on, and if not sit at worst one of the fence outside of Seongpa who is a speedy type. His trial in April was encouraging, Lim Gi-won looked statuesque aboard him as he worked home under his own steam to clock a good time. Epsom Derby-winning jockey Alan Munro is the beneficiary of an injured Lim Gi-won and will be legged aboard on Sunday.

Here are previews for all races:

Seoul Race 1: Class 6 (1200M) Allowance / KRW 40 Million

The maidens kick off proceedings on Sunday’s 14 event card. (7) GLOBAL WANGJA looks the one to get punters off to a good start coming off a last start second behind Ganghojeil back in February. The lightly race four-year-old has speedy types drawn either side of him suggesting he should get a trail forward and be able to camp on the leaders’ coattails. (6) PARAN WANGJA is one of those speedy types who will work forward. The Divine Park chestnut was prominent in his debut when placing behind Cheongdam Curling. He completed the 1200m in a slow time on debut but with some improvement he looks an each-way prospect. (3) COIN BLADE hasn’t raced since April last year when finishing third on debut. He trialed in April and the performance couldn’t give us an indication of how he is going. Keep him safe as is if he is sound he could give this a shake. (4) HOEBOK looks next best finishing just behind the placings at his past couple of starts.

Selections (7) Global Wangja (6) Paran Wangja (3) Coin Blade (4) Hoebok
Next Best 2, 8
Fast Start 5, 6, 8


Seoul Race 2: Class 6 (1300M) Allowance / KRW 40 Million

Maiden fillies go around here. (8) RAON BLOOD improved to 3rd place on what was her fourth outing in February. She’s not the quickest but she plugs away well and against this limited set of opposition, she has fair claims having almost made all in a trial earlier this month. (6) IMPERIAL SILK finished 4th behind Raon Blood last time out and looked similarly well when trialing with seemingly scope for more development. (12) HWA SSI BYEOK has finished no worse than 5th in three outings so far. She has been quite one-paced but just with Raon Blood, that may be enough to see her into some money here. Her recent trial was good enough. (5) WONDERFUL CAT has a runner-up finish at class and distance to her name and must be taken seriously while (9) BAEKDUWA HALLA did nothing wrong when 4th on debut in February, running on strongly over 1000M and looks in the hunt over the additional distance too.

Selections (8) Raon Blood (6) Imperial Silk (9) Baekduwa Halla (12) Hwa Ssi Byeok
Next Best 5, 2, 3
Fast Start 4, 6, 7, 8


Seoul Race 3: Class 6 (1400M) Allowance / KRW 40 Million

The maiden three-year-olds will go over the 1400m in the third with the most experienced gallopers having just the five starts against their name. (6) BLUE CHARM is considered an each-way chance based on his past couple of starts. He finished third behind Punch Power last time out when beaten less than a length. The Tiz Wonderful colt is a strong and leggy type who looks as if he will appreciate the 1400m first up. (9) WILD KINGDOM is a big chance after finishing third behind Dynamic Punch last time out. The Competitive Edge colt has placed twice from the three starts and is one of only a few who can show early speed. (2) ROCK NEWS has been hitting the line better at his past couple of starts. He won his trial in April and further improvement first up is possible. (1) YEONGJU STONE looks next best coming off a last start third when hitting the line strong in the final stages. The chestnut will be aided by an inside draw.

Selections (6) Blue Charm (9) Wild Kingdom (2) Rock News (1) Yeongju Stone
Next Best 3, 7
Fast Start 6, 9


Seoul Race 4: Class 5 (1200M) Handicap / KRW 60 Million

Fillies only here. (6) SIBERIA made all when odds-on on debut in February for a strong win. She is up in class today and didn’t exactly pull up trees in her trial so while she can win again, there are some question marks. (1) CHOEGANGMA similarly steps up to this distance for the first time. She got her maiden win at 1000M last November and then raced twice at this class finishing 3rd and 2nd beating a few of these in the process. She likes to come from just off the pace and today could be his day again. (4) PRETTY JOY too tries the distance for the first time having run 2nd on her first try at this class in December. Her trial was not as strong as others, however. (10) RAIN K had a hard time on her first start at this level in February when she never got into gear and finished well back but looked much better in a recent trial. If she gets a good start, she can be a factor. The up in class (2) ALL BAEK is another to look out for.

Selections (6) Siberia (1) Choegangma (4) Pretty Joy (10) Rain K
Next Best 2, 3, 4, 11
Fast Start 2, 4, 6, 9, 10


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

There looks to be a lack of speed engaged in the fifth suggesting the winner will need to be in touch with the leaders at the top of the straight. From an outside draw (12) SAMSEONG VIVA looks one that can work forward and camp on the leaders’ backs. The Tiz Wonderful colt saluted over this distance three starts back, then finished midfield before running second last start behind Jeongsang Dolpung. (3) EAST CHAMP broke through for his first win last start over this distance. He trialed in April and performed only fair but we will include him based on his consistency shown in his four career starts to date. (1) TANK SOCKS has drawn ideally to sit closer to the speed. She comes off a last start fourth when somewhat one-paced to the line. She did win on debut at big odds, suggesting the forced freshen-up may work in her favour. (7) CHEONNYEONUI BARAM is considered an each-way chance based on his last start when third behind Dia Key. The four-year-old has had the sixteen start yielding just the one win and three minor placings, whilst the record is not overly impressive, this isn’t the strongest race.

Selections (12) Samseong Viva (3) East Champ (1) Tank Socks (7) Cheonnyeonui Baram
Next Best 11, 4
Fast Start 6, 11


Busan Race 2: Class 4 (1400M) Allowance / KRW 60 Million

After getting his maiden win at odds in excess of 60/1 back in January, (3) MR. HANSEN promptly followed up with another victory, this time at 1400M in February. He steps up in class again but is beautifully drawn to be on pace from the start and has every chance of completing his hat-trick here. (11) BEYOND steps up in class and distance following a nice looking win over 1300M back in January. He usually comes from off the pace so if (more…)

Seoul Saturday: Race-By-Race Preview (June 27)

There are 15 races at Seoul on Saturday from 10.45 to 18.00. Most of the top jockeys including Moon Se Young, Park Tae Jong, Kim Yong Geun and Alan Munro are absent as they are in Busan for Sunday’s Busan Ilbo Cup, but there is still plenty to get stuck into. Here are the previews:

This weekend’s meetings are sadly behind closed doors again

Race 1: Class 6 (1000M) Allowance / KRW 25 Million

A field of twelve three-year-olds will kick Saturday’s monster card off with eleven of them on debut. (8) LEROY BLANC is the on top selection after some handy trial performances. The Forest Camp filly has been ridden by Ha Jung-hun in her trials, and will partner her on debut. She was ridden with minimal urging in her heat and clocked a good time for the debutants. (4) HAEK SOCKS produced a fair trial and is considered an each-way chance on debut. The Hansen colt was given a soft trial qualifying with ease. He should position near the speed with a good draw. (9) ROSEDAY MARINE was well beaten in her trial but managed to produce a reasonable time. (3) DEKABRIST is next best after finishing fourth in her trial when clocking a fair time on a wet surface.

Selections (8) Leroy Blanc (4) Haek Socks (9) Roseday Marine (3) Dekabrist
Next Best 11, 7
Fast Start 4, 8

Race 2: Class 6 (1000M) Allowance / KRW 75 Million

Twelve unraced two-year-olds go around here No eagerly awaited debuts here but we do at least have some trials to go on. (6) YEONGGWANGUI MISO looked the best of them with the Hansen filly finishing well ahead of a couple of her rivals here in a reasonably well run heat at the end of May. One of those was (9) SOARA BABA, who failed to qualify that day, but she made a quick return to have another go two weeks ago and this time did much better, running 3rd in her trial and looking altogether more ready to race. (5) BAEDARI CANDY ran prominently in her trial and while she weakened a little late on, should have come on for it and can go well first up. (3) DDAENGBEOL and (10) FIGHTING GIRL others who didn’t disgrace themselves.

Selections (6) Yeonggwangui Miso (9) Soara Baba (5) Baedari Candy (10) Fighting Girl
Next Best 3
Fast Start 6, 11

Race 3: Class 6 (1200M) Allowance / KRW 40 Million

The Korean-breds go over the 1200m in the third where nine of the twelve are on debut. We will watch with interest the performance of (5) PIEONADA. The three-year-old trialed in good fashion finishing close up behind the likes of Uri and Raon Tough Man. The Tiz Wonderful filly clocked one of the faster trial time when compared to her opposition. She sat on speed in her trial suggesting she will be gifted a good run from barrier five. (6) MASTER FUTURE has had two starts to date finishing fourth on both occasions. The three-year-old at his last start was somewhat one-paced in the run home when beaten seven lengths by Nunbit Eunyak who has since placed in stronger company. (8) SUPER LUCKY BOY improved at his second trial in May. The Gyongbudaero colt clocked 62.6 on a dry track for the 1000m, looking at his conformation he looks one that may appreciate a longer journey with time. (2) RAON FASHION is next best coming off a nice trial four weeks back. Expect the Old Fashioned gelding to position on speed after showing plenty of speed in his trial.

Selections (5) Pieonada (6) Master Future (8) Super Lucky Boy (2) Raon Fashion
Next Best 9, 3
Fast Start 2, 5

Race 4: Class 6 (1300M) Allowance / KRW 40 Million

(8) GLOBAL GOLD ran a front-running 3rd place over this distance on his most recent outing back in January, marking steady improvement on what was his third career appearance. He showed he’s still in form with a good trial in April and if he can get to the front here, he has every chance of winning. (5) HAECHAN ran far better than his 80/1 odds suggested he would on debut last September, leading most of the way before tiring late on. He trialed up well enough behind Global Captain back in February but hasn’t been seen since. Nevertheless, he can run well first-up. (7) DREAM FASHION put in a promising effort on his second start back in January, running 4th on a wet track at this distance. He wasn’t pushed when finishing back in the pack in an April trial and there’s no reason why he can’t pick up from where he left off here. (12) ALCHAN NURI was well back behind Dream Fashion in that January race but previously ran 2nd over 1000M and put in an encouraging trial. There are two first-time starters and of the pair, (2) JANGSAN PARK looks the more likely first-up.

Selections (8) Global Gold (7) Dream Fashion (5) Haechan (12) Alchan Nuri
Next Best 2, 4
Fast Start 5, 8

Race 5: Class 6 (1300M) Allowance / KRW 25 Million

The Korean-bred gallopers line up in the fifth all looking for their first victory. (7) EAST ONE is the on top selection in a wide open race. The colt has finished in the top four on three occasions from four starts including a last start third over this distance. His trial in April was rather average but we take him based on his efforts earlier this year and towards the end of 2019. (10) NEVER WALK ALONE is the omen bet of the weekend after Liverpool claimed the Premier League Championship on Thursday evening. The three-year-old placed last start in February behind Arirayo when coming from well back. Based on his closing sectional the step-up to the 1300m looks suitable. (1) YAHO GOLDEN CAT trialed in a fast time earlier this month clocking 61.7 seconds for the 1000m on a dry track. His most recent start was disappointing when well back but it was a tougher affair. He finished second two start back over this distance, a similar performance to that day will see him run into the money. The lightly raced (9) NAUI SINHWA trialed respectably in April. The Old Fashioned colt has had the two starts finishing fifth on both occasions. This looks a weaker assignment hence a forward showing would not surprise.

Selections (7) East One (10) Never Walk Alone (1) Yaho Golden Cat (9) Naui Sinhwa
Next Best 4, 11
Fast Start 3, 7, 11

Race 6: Class 6 (1400M) Allowance / KRW 25 Million

As weak a maiden race as you’ll find and we’ve had some weak ones already today. We’ll go with (10) RUFFIAN PARK, who has managed to finish no worse than 6th in any of his five appearances so far with his best being a 3rd. That came over 1300M and he stretches out to seven-furlongs today with as good a chance as any of breaking his duck. (6) BEST TAP has a 3rd and a 4th place to his name, and is another who may appreciate the additional half furlong. He ran well in an April trial and is a clear contender here. Also showing well in a trial was (8) THROUGH THE SKY. He’s never been in the first-five in an actual race but offered a little bit in his recent heat and should improve here. Likewise, (2) SEONGPAJANG and (11) HIT THE PACE also have the potential to improve off the back of the layoff.

Selections (10) Ruffian Park (6) Best Tap (8) Through The Sky (11) Hit The Pace
Next Best 2, 1
Fast Start 1, 7

Race 7: Class 6 (1400M) Allowance / KRW 25 Million

The seventh on the card is likely to leave punters with a cracking headache after doing the form. (3) DAEHYEONG HOJAE was the eventual on top selection. The chestnut comes off a last start fifth behind Our Simon over the 1000m. The Park Dae-heung trained three-year-old trialed fairly in April, expect him to sit just off the speed and be given every chance at the top of the straight. (5) GOLD FIELD is a thirteen start maiden who has managed a placing just once. In saying that the filly is never too far away and this is an extremely weak race. She gets the services of Yoo Seung-wan who is arguably the best jockey riding Seoul Saturday with other topliners making tracks to Busan for the Busan Ilbo Sunday. (2) MAD DIVA has placed twice from the seven starts. The One Cool Cat filly has shown the ability to sit on speed previously, if she can jump clean from barrier two she is capable of finishing in the money. (9) SPEED DANCER reeled off a good last 600m last start running into fifth behind Ganghojeil. The filly gets well back in her races and ideally connections would be hoping she can muster a bit quicker.

Selections (3) Daehyeong Hojae (5) Gold Field  Mad Diva (9) Speed Dancer
Next Best 7, 10
Fast Start 5, 8

Race 8: Class 5 (1200M) Handicap / KRW 40 Million

(5) SUNSHINE TEUKGEUP came from off the pace to run a decent 3rd over 1400M back in February. It’s been a long time since she ran at such a short distance as today’s but she looked sharp in a May trial and is a leading hope today. (6) BLESSING ROAD also drops back in trip although only slightly with all the mare’s recent appearances having been at 1300M. She made all to win a trial last month in a fast time and if she gets the lead here, she may well go all the way again. Also winning a recent trial was (9) GOLDEN JAY. He’s another front runner who has won on a wet track and can be considered today. (7) BLACK PUPIL has also won in the wet and performed very pleasingly in a trial at the beginning of this month. He’s drawn better than he did when performing abysmally at 1200M back in January. (12) CAMP TOUCH has the fastest time of any of these at the distance although it is fair to say that wasn’t an especially quick time itself. Nevertheless, she too looked in good touch in trials and has to be a chance here.

Selections (5) Sunshine Teukgeup (6) Blessing Road (9) Golden Jay (12) Camp Touch
Next Best 7, 4
Fast Start 4, 6, 9, 10

Race 9: Class 4 (1200M) Handicap / KRW 60 Million

Tactics will play such an important role in the ninth with an abundance of speed engaged to go over the six furlongs. (11) BLACK ZAPPER is the on top selection after a promising start to her career. The daughter of Tiz Wonderful has placed twice in this grade including a third last start behind the talented Dia Road, who went on to win the Donga Ilbo Cup beating Silver Wolf. She was given an easy time of it in her trials but her previous form is strong enough to suggest she can win. (6) TANGO TIME is another Korean-bred that has started his racing career in good fashion. The Hansen gelding is likely to catapult out of the gates and end up in the first couple in running. He ran a good second behind Choegang Team bacak in January and a similar performance will see him go close. (5) LUCKY SANGUN lines up in Class 4 company for the first time coming off a two length victory when clocking a solid time. He’s built with a sprinter’s stature, muscly through the hindquarters. (7) YEONHUI ILCHUL has finished close up in this grade at his past three starts. He clocked 60.6 on a dry track earlier this month suggesting he is forward at the moment and can figure.

Selections (11) Black Zapper (6) Tango Time (5) Lucky Sangun (7) Yeonhui Ilchul
Next Best 2, 4
Fast Start 1, 4, 5, 6

Race 10: Class 4 (1200M) Handicap / KRW 60 Million

A field of imported three-year-olds tackle the six-furlongs here. There’s only one previous race winner among them. That’s (5) SHARK JJANG, who scored in a tight finish at 1300M on a wet track back in December. His two starts since then haven’t been great but he was beaten by good horses both times and looked well in a trial last month. (4) ROCKUI JEWANG beat Shark Jjang on his way to 3rd place on debut in February. After a slow start he came from well back to run on well and can build on that today. (1) SOMETHING EXPECT was sent off at 120/1 on debut in December but he defied that by finishing 3rd behind Shark Jjang. He was accordingly sent off only slightly better than even-money on his reappearance in February when he finished 3rd again. He will be on pace from the start and should be there or thereabouts once more. Of the others with experience, (7) ACE CHAN is perhaps the most likely to figure. There are three debut-makers but bearing in mind their trial performances, we’ll take a watching brief with all three of them first-up.

Selections (5) Shark Jjang (1) Something Expect (4) Rockui Jewang (7) Ace Chan
Next Best 2
Fast Start 1, 11

Race 11: Class 5 (1400M) Handicap / KRW 40 Million

The Korean-bred gallopers line up in the eleventh over the 1400m. Going with the inexperienced (3) CHOEGANG TEUKGEUP who broke maiden status last time out over the 1400m. The time was reasonable for this grade, with the good draw the Tiz Wonderful colt is likely to lead and give them something to run down. Yoo Seung-wan is the beneficiary of Moon Se-young riding at Busan this weekend. (1) GLORY VERN has had plenty of racing but looks a chance of figuring in a weak race. The mare has placed on multiple occasions over similar distances and should be able to settle closer from the inside draw. Veteran galloper (2) HAETBINNA gets a good opportunity to collect another cheque at start seventy-three. He has been campaigned over the middle distances in his later years suggesting the 1400m should be suitable first-up. (5) GEUMBIT TANHWAN is next best coming off a fifth over the 1300m back in February. The chestnut is still looking for his first win after fourteen starts.

Selections (3) Choegang Teukgeup (1) Glory Vern (2) Haetbinna (5) Geumbit Tanhwan
Next Best 8, 9
Fast Start 3

Race 12: Class 4 (1700M) Allowance / KRW 60 Million

(1) BIG TRIPLE beat three of these on his way to 3rd place at class and distance on February 9th, coming from behind the pace and running on strongly. He trialed competently enough in April and while he does carry and additional 2.5kg today, he looks firmly in the hunt for the win today. (6) SUN START was among those beaten that day but he has a 2nd and a 3rd to his name at this distance and looks to be a major contender. He won an April trial. (7) CUTIE BARBIE won back to back races last autumn, both of them at this distance. She was slow to get involved on her only 2020 start so far but if she gets away a bit better, has every chance of going close once again. (11) COLORS KING has also won at this distance and drops back in trip having come close over 1800M in February. He is another who carries a little bit more weight today but shouldn’t be discounted. The wildcard is (2) GLOBAL LUCKY. She’s only raced four times for a best finish of 4th, all at shorter distances but she has run well through the line and could well appreciate her first try at two-turns today.

Selections (1) Big Triple (11) Colors King (7) Cutie Barbie (6) Sun Start
Next Best 2, 10
Fast Start 7, 10, 12

Race 13: Class 3 (1800M) Allowance / KRW 75 Million

A compact field of ten will go over the two turns in the thirteenth event. (3) ROYAL SMARTY has been a model of consistency over his thirteen start career to date. The Any Given Saturday colt was a last start winner over this distance when clocking a fast time. He is a unique type as he solely relies on his turn of foot, rarely settling near the speed. (4) RAON SERENA has had the five starts in Class 3 grade for three minor placings. She did go off the boil at her past couple of starts but with the freshen up she needs to be considered. She won her trial in April in good time. (10) SARYEONI HEALING is most experienced galloper in the race with forty starts under his belt. He rarely wins but in an even race he is capable of running into the money as he is never too far away. (9) FAST FASHION has won four from seventeen and needs to be kept safe. The lightly raced five-year-old resumed in February when running midfield before Covid-19 hit. There is a slight query with a poor trial in April but if sound he can figure.

Selections (3) Royal Smarty (4) Raon Serena (10) Saryeoni Healing (9) Fast Fashion
Next Best 7, 8
Fast Start 1, 4

Race 14: Class 3 (1800M) Handicap / KRW 75 Million

(6) BRIGADIER GENERAL and (2) GLOBAL ACE came home in 3rd and 4th places respectively when they raced one another over a mile on February 2nd. Global Ace had been the more favoured that day on the back of some very encouraging performances at the start of his career. It may have been a little too much too soon and the break may have done him good so he is favoured to overturn that form today. Brigadier General will still be a danger though. He too tackles two turns for the first time but his running style suggests it should suit. (1) MR. TURNER registered back to back 3rd place finishes at class and distance around the turn of the year and while his most recent effort in February wasn’t good, he clearly has ability at this level. So too does non-winner (3) DONGBANGUI GIEOK, a horse who always finds a way to get beat but who has nevertheless racked up plenty of money finishes. (12) K.N ACE looks best of the rest.

Selections (2) Global Ace (6) Brigadier General (3) Dongbangui Gieok (1) Mr. Turner
Next Best 12, 10
Fast Start 2, 12

Race 15: Class 2 (1400M) Handicap / KRW 90 Million

A handy bunch of gallopers will line up in the last to cap off the big day of racing. Last year’s Derby winner (7) WONDERFUL FLY is the on top selection as he looks set for a good preparation. The four-year-old was outclassed when lining up in the Segye Ilbo in January but now lines up in restricted company. He has won five races from eleven starts and is a Class 2 winner in this grade two starts back. (11) YEOKJEONUI USEUNG trialed well in April. The six-year-old comes off a last start third behind Seongpa, who lines up in the Busan Ilbo tomorrow. With the lightweight on his back he can figure fresh over the 1400m. (5) KILIUI JEWANG has had the nine top-three finishes from thirteen career starts. He finished third behind Munhak Ariari in February which reads well for this race. He is one of the likely pacemakers and has drawn well. (9) SUPER FLUID looks next best, being a class and distance winner previously. He is unlikely to match his opposition’s early speed so look for him rattling off a quick last sectional.

Selections (7) Wonderful Fly (11) Yeokjeonui Useung (5) Kiliui Jewang (9) Super Fluid
Next Best 12, 6
Fast Start 4, 5, 10

Busan Friday: Race-By-Race Preview (June 26)

The monsoon has arrived in Korea this week and while most of the weekend is forecast to be dry, a significant amount of rain has already fallen across the peninsula so look out for wet track conditions. Racing gets underway at Busan on Friday with 15 races from 11:30 to 18:00. Racing continues to be behind closed doors. Here are the previews:


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

A pretty hot maiden to kick things off with plenty of these having shown promise in trials. (1) SMART VALUE went through two heats, most recently in March, when he led all the way to come home first in a fast time on a dry track. Drawn in the inside gate he can work forward under Jo In-kwen and can go very close. The only other trial “winner” is (11) GREAT GOOD. Thomas Gillespie’s filly came from just behind the early speed in a May heat to cross the line 1st, pulling away and needs to be taken seriously today. (9) MAEUM DAERO improved across two heats and he trainer and jockey combination will ensure she gets plenty of support. (6) ROYALIST and (7) ACHIM BIT are others who showed ability in their trials and have every chance of performing well first up.

Selections (11) Great Good (1) Smart Value (6) Royalist (7) Achim Bit
Next Best 9, 5
Fast Start 1, 5, 7


Race 2: Class 6 (1000M) Allowance / KRW 75 Million

The second on the card will see the Korean-bred two-year-olds line up over the 1600m, all of which are on debut. There was a lot to like about the trial of (1) DOCTOR FASHION last month. The Old Fashioned colt bounced out in good style and led the field well into the straight. The older gallopers eventually gobbled up the chestnut but he was never fully asked for by his rider, he finished a couple of lengths behind handy three-year-old Save The World. Expect You Hyun-Myung to work forward from the inside draw and prove hard to catch. Archarcharch filly (9) NAMED showed a nice turn of foot in her trial. Francois Herholdt, who was aboard for the trial and will ride on Friday let her find her feet before improving just before the turn. She hit the line well and finished just behind the on top elect Doctor Fashion. (2) HEAT YEGAM clocked a fair time in his trial in wet conditions. The Take Charge Indy colt was given a couple of backhanders to keep him running through the line strong, which he did and a forward showing would not surprise. (5) HUIMANGUI SORY is next best after a fair trial performance where he lost touch early before running on well in the straight.

Selections (1) Doctor Fashion (9) Named (2) Heat Yegam (5) Huimangui Sory
Next Best 11, 4
Fast Start 1


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

Twelve maidens go around here with precisely half the field lining up in a race for the very first time. Of the experienced ones, only (12) TOP LUCKY has managed to hit the board so far, doing so on her second start back in January when she ran 3rd over 1000M. Her subsequent trial was competent enough and stepping up in trip today, she may be considered. (1) TAMNA HWANGHU showed very little in two starts at the start of the year but looked significantly more competent when trialing three weeks ago and the addition of Jo In-kwen aboard can only be a plus. (9) PILSEUNG IJI meanwhile has experience of racing at this distance and also looks set to improve. As for the first-timers, (8) WIND PARK won a trial at the end of May and accordingly brings herself straight into contention against modest opposition here, while (6) CRONOS offered few clues in his heat but the stable means he is sure to have supporters.

Selections (12) Top Lucky (1) Tamna Hwanghu (8) Wind Park (9) Pilseung Iji
Next Best 6, 10, 11
Fast Start 1, 5, 8


Race 4: Class 6 (1400M) Allowance / KRW 25 Million 

The Korean-bred maidens line up again over the 1400m in the fourth where they’ve all previously raced. (9) PAI BLADE is the on top selection here on the basis of his recent good trial. The lightly raced four-year-old had his first run mid last year and has not been seen on race day since. He trialed late April and did everything right, finishing third and clocking a good time under hands and heels from Franco Da Silva. (4) JEONSEOLUI FIGHT has had four previous starts where his best performance came at his most recent start finishing fourth over 1200m. He clocked a fast trial for this grade in May and looks one that is ready to fire early. (3) CHOEGANG CLEAR is the most experienced galloper engaged with fourteen starts under his belt. He only beat one home in his trial but he ran into some handy ones in his heat. This is not a strong race and he is capable of picking up a minor cheque. (8) A. ONCE looks a place chance based on her trial. She was under the stick for the last furlong and clocked a fair time.

Selections (9) Pai Blade (4) Jeonseolui Fight (3) Choegang Clear (8) A. Once
Next Best 12, 11
Fast Start 1, 3, 12


Race 5: Class 6 (1400M) Allowance / KRW 40 Million

(10) TRIPLE MAGIC ran through the line strongly for 2nd on what was his second appearance on the racecourse in February. He looked well when trialing in April and the step up in trip today should suit. He looks the one to beat. (11) BLUE SIGNAL ran competently enough in two January outings and while she didn’t show much in the way of speed, she ran on gamely enough to suggest that she can tough out 1400M as well. She’ll most likely be steadily away and pass a few late on. (7) BEAUTIFUL GALLOP managed a 3rd place behind Great Boss on her final start before the shutdown. She too hasn’t been quick but looked lively in a trial and is another who may appreciate the extra distance. (8) MARK STAR defied lengthy odds to run 2nd over 1200M back in January and is another who ran a touch quicker than expected in a trial. He can come from off the pace and cause problems late on. There is one solitary debut-maker. (4) PORRIMA was no better than average in her heats but average may well be good enough to hit the board in this limited company.

Selections (10) Triple Magic (11) Blue Signal (8) Mark Star (4) Porrima
Next Best 7, 12
Fast Start 1, 12


Race 6: Class 6 (1600M) Allowance / KRW 25 Million 

The maiden gallopers go over the mile in the sixth where their 1000m trial efforts aren’t all that helpful in gauging their condition. (3) BLUE EMBER lines up for her sixth start after showing some improvement at the start of the year. The chestnut trialed well after settling near last before going through her gears in the home straight, working through the line well. Franco Da Silva has a good draw to work with, she should be able to settle (more…)

Sensational Cheongdam Dokki Silences Sceptics In Herald Business Hat-Trick

Cheongdam Dokki rolled back the years, crushed all-comers and silenced the sceptics by completing a sensational hat-trick in the Herald Business Cup at Seoul Racecourse on Sunday.

The six-year-old’s most recent win prior to Sunday was the exact same race, run in April last year with the race being re-scheduled this term after the Covid-19 forced suspension of racing.

Cheongdam Dokki was transferred back to Park Jong-kon after his most recent run in December last year.

Trainer Park was Cheongdam Dokki’s original handler, preparing the chestnut for his first nineteen career starts, yielding thirteen wins.

Park Tae-jong was aboard the six-year-old Sunday, when the flashy type brought up his third win in the listed feature.

Cheongdam Dokki was asked to work forward early by jockey Park, eventually taking up the role of pacemaker.

The To Honor And Serve gelding maintained the lead in the back straight, travelling strongly before being asked to improve at the top of the Seoul home straight.

Heuk Jeonsa, World Today and Great King all sat on speed in the race whilst Tiz Plan’s rider Johan Victoire improved his position in the middle stages of the 2000m feature.

As the field balanced up for the run home the only danger to Cheongdam Dokki was Tiz Plan but Victoire and his mount were unable to bridge the gap, with Cheongdam Dokki winning by four lengths.

Triple Nine and World Today appear to be the disappointments to come out of the race, both finishing well beaten.

The ever reliable Shamrocker, partnered by Alan Munro, came home 3rd in the race for the third time in three years with Bart Rice’s Rock Hard Seven coming home in 4th under Francois Herholdt.

The next staying feature to take place will be the YTN Cup in July where last year’s Korea Cup winner Moonhak Chief is nominated to make a return.

Korea Cup and Grand Prix Stakes winner Moonhak Chief, nemesis of Cheongdam Dokki last year, is back in work having recovered from a fetlock injury that ruled him out of Sunday’s feature.



– Potentially on his way to the YTN Cup is Buhwarui Banseok. Bart Rice’s seven-year-old warhorse scored a superb all the way win over 2000M in Busan’s feature Class 1 handicap on February. Despite giving significant weight to most of his rivals, Buhwarui Banseok dominated throughout, shrugging off lighter weighted pretenders with ease to win by a remarkable five-lengths under jockey Seo Seung-un.

– Buhwarui Banseok’s victory meant that all three foreign trainers were on the board at Busan on Friday, with Peter Wolsley and Thomas Gillespie both training two winners apiece.

– The 2019 Korean Oaks winner Deep Mind has had an interrupted career since winning the fillies’ Classic. She offered little in two starts earlier this year but put that all behind her when romping away with Busan’s Sunday class 2 feature over 1800M.

– On Saturday at Seoul the star of the show was Morfhis, who like Buhwarui Banseok at Busan a day earlier, defied a high impost to see off an excellent class 1 field. Johan Victoire brought the five-year-old Stephen Got Even gelding through just in time to roll Gangtoma on the line in the seven-furlong Class 1 feature with Lil’ Patron and Spring Back a further two-lengths in arrears. Morfhis moves on to 7 wins from 22 starts, however, four of those successes have come at Class 1.

– Also, on Saturday, Ji Yong-cheol reached a career milestone when he became the fourth trainer in local racing history to saddle 900 winners. The landmark win came when three-year-old filly Milky Sherry took out the 1700M race 13. Only Kim Young-kwan and Park Dae-heung, along with the now retired Shin Woo-chul, have trained more winners in Korea.

– In breeding news, the Korean Mainland Breeders’ Association will hold its second Two-Year-Old sale of 2020 at the KRA Jangsu Stud Farm this coming Tuesday (June 23rd). A total of 72 lots are being offered with juveniles by Hansen and Take Charge Indy among those likely to be in demand. The

the sale will be streamed live on the KRBC YouTube channel from 10am (KST).

The catalogue can be found online at

Herald Business Seoul Sunday: Race-By-Race Preview (June 21)

Listed action returns to Seoul Racecourse on Sunday when the Herald Business Cup headlines the behind-closed-doors meeting. There are 15 races from 10:25-18:00 while Busan also hosts a 5-race spectator-less program. The Herald Business is the main lead up race to the YTN Cup (G3), which has been re-scheduled for mid-July and features two-time winner Cheongdam Dokki facing the venerable Triple Nine and a host of the biggest names in Korean racing over 2000M. Here are the previews:

Cheongdam Dokki Herald Business KRA

Cheongdam Dokki won his second Herald Business Cup last year (Pic: KRA)


Race 1: Class 6 (1000M) Allowance / KRW 75 Million

Twelve two-year-olds line up in the first on Sunday where they are all on debut. (4) OXFORD KING was impressive when he trialed in April winning his heat in good time. He showed an abundance of gate speed and flattened out nicely hitting the line in professional style. (9) JEONGMUN JJANG clocked a good time in his trial when going up against the more experienced gallopers. He ran on down the centre of the track taking ground of some of his counterparts. (10) QUEEN OF BEST won her trial when showing early speed. The Purge filly crossed from gate eight to sit outside the leader before being nursed to the line suggesting she has more to offer. (2) FORT SEUONE looks next best with a handy draw. The filly was beaten a big margin in her trial but the time was respectable for the two-year-olds.

Selections (4) Oxford King (9) Jeongmun Jjang (10) Queen Of Best (2) Fort Seuone
Next Best 12, 3
Fast Start 4


Race 2: Class 6 (1000M) Allowance / KRW 25 Million

More unraced maidens but this time it’s for the three-year-olds with ten fillies and two colts going over the 1000M. (2) WONDERFUL STORM is a half-brother to Dubai Carnival winner Main Stay and trialed the most convincing of this lot. He went through three heats in total, improving each time and he can make his debut a winning one against modest opposition. The only other one of these to even break 63 seconds in a trial is the other colt, (10) AROMA. He demonstrated decent gate speed and should be challenging from the start. So too should (4) BEST FAMILY, whose only trial saw her run 2nd having led for much of the way. (3) ROCK BEAT put in a credible time in the second of her two trials having weakened after leading in the first of them and she should have a good handle on what’s expected of her here. (6) HIT HEART another with a chance of going well first-up. Plenty of these will be looking to lead from the gate.

Selections (2) Wonderful Storm (3) Rock Beat (4) Best Family (10) Aroma
Next Best 6, 11
Fast Start 2, 3, 4, 6, 10, 11


Race 3: Class 6 (1400M) Allowance / KRW 40 Million 

A field of twelve are looking for their first win in the third event. (3) MAGIC PLAN lines up for her second start after finishing second on debut in February. The Plan filly ran through the line well and had the remainder of the field covered safely. She has trialed fairly of late and with some improvement can figure in a wide open race. (8) ULTRA ANNIE has placed on two occasions from four career starts to date. The filly has shown plenty of speed in her past couple of starts. She failed to impress in a recent trial but she has the runs on the board in this grade suggesting she can run into the money. (5) HYPER CAR is another that has collected some prizemoney to date. The colt has finished second at his past two starts. He has reeled off some reasonable sectionals previously suggesting the step up to the 1400m will be suitable. The last start performance of (11) HWARYEO cannot go unnoticed. The Hansen filly finished third behind Luisa who looks a nice type. Keep her safe in your wider selections.

Selections (3) Magic Plan (8) Ultra Annie (5) Hyper Car (11) Hwaryeo
Next Best 1, 12
Fast Start 3, 8, 11


Race 4: Class 6 (1400M) Allowance / KRW 40 Million

(8) ILBO DEUNGCHEON improved across the course of three outings last year, culminating in 2nd place over 1300M in November. He’s just been the through the one trial since, in March, looking well and stepping up to 1400M today, he has a chance of going one better this time. (12) LUCKY SMILE ran twice last year finishing in 3rd place on both occasions. The Menifee filly has kept the consistency going by finishing 2nd in two trials this year, most recently in May. She ran on well in both her actual races, both of which were at 1000M and she may well appreciate the additional distance today. (2) KOREAN PEARL and (4) BOGO TTO BOGO are the only two in the field who have raced at this distance previously. Neither was especially fast but both ran through the line well and improvement is possible here. The latter trialed pleasingly enough in April. (5) AMAZING QUEEN and (7) ALPHA DOK have both performed promisingly at 1300M and both can come into contention at the extended trip today.

Selections (8) Ilbo Deungcheon (12) Lucky Smile (2) Korean Pearl (7) Alpha Dok
Next Best 4, 5
Fast Start 4, 7, 8


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

We can approach the three-year-old fillies race on the card with some confidence as there looks a nice developing type engaged. (8) LION YEOJE showed a brilliant turn of foot at her most recent start when winning over the 1000m at her second start. She looks one that will appreciate the 1300m as she has already shown an ounce of versatility. (12) WONDERFUL HEART looks the likely pacemaker who will need to be run down. The Eurosilver filly was gobbled up in the final stages last time out to finish third over the 1200m in similar company. (4) LUISA broke maiden status last time out when chasing doggedly to the line. She appreciated the step up to the 1300m giving her time to wind up and gun the pacemakers down. She does need to improve a couple of lengths however as her time last start was comparatively slow. (6) LAST MAGIC is another that takes a while to wind up but flattened out in good style last start to break maiden status. Keep her safe in your wider selections.

Selections (8) Lion Yeoje (12) Wonderful Heart (4) Luisa (6) Last Magic
Next Best 2, 1
Fast Start 1, 5, 12


Race 6: Class 5 (1400M) Handicap / KRW 40 Million

(9) JANGSAN BADA was an 8/1 winner on debut at this distance in the final day before the shutdown in February, coming from just off the pace to win handily. He’s never actually finished behind another horse having a 100% record in trials too and while he is up in class today, he’s the only winner at this distance and he can repeat. It won’t be easy though. Having scored on debut in December, (1) WANG TAENG I was sent off an odds-on chance for his first try at this level in January. He ran 2nd, unable to get to a good winner, but is certainly worth another chance today. (3) CHEONGDAM CURLING and (5) CARVING CROSS are both up in class following last start maiden wins. The latter looked sensational when blitzing an April trial and both should be competitive at this level. They have contrasting styles with Carving Cross set to attempt to lead all the way while Cheongdam Curling will come from off the pace. Plenty of others with promise as well including (4) GAGANA, who perhaps trialed the best.

Selections (9) Jangsan Bada (1) Wang Taeng I (5) Carving Cross (3) Cheongdam Curling
Next Best 4, 11, 7
Fast Start 1, 5


Race 7: Class 4 (1400M) Handicap / KRW 60 Million 

A progressive bunch of Korean-bred gallopers will line up in the seventh with six of the runners last start winners. (7) JILJUUI KKUM is one of those last start winners who saluted in impressive style over the 1200m last time out. The Archarcharch filly ran (more…)

Seoul Saturday: Race-By-Race Preview (June 20)

Racing got underway at Busan on Friday and the behind-closed-doors action moves to Seoul on Saturday with a 15-race card from 10:45 to 18:00. The ponies on Jeju will also resume. Here are the previews:


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

A field of twelve three-year-olds all having their first start will kick off proceedings as we return to Seoul for the first time in over four months. (5) GRACE QUEEN clocked a reasonable trial mid last month when running second. The filly coasted through the line nicely and wasn’t fully extended suggesting if she can find a few more lengths she will take some running down. The trial of (7) TEUNTEUNA was better than it looked to the naked eye. The Rock Hard Ten colt was beaten by a big margin but did clock a competitive time for this grade. Expect further improvement on the trial. (8) CAREER HIGH is worth considering in your selections. The Any Given Saturday filly ran midfield in her heat but ran through the line fairly, she will get the services of leading rider Moon Se-young. (1) GEORGE QUEEN won her trial but they dawdled early in the heat. The filly also hung out badly down the straight. She should be better for the run both physically and mentally.

Selections (5) Grace Queen (7) Teunteuna (8) Career High (1) George Queen
Next Best 2, 4
Fast Start 1, 5


Race 2: Class 6 (1200M) Allowance / KRW 40 Million

Three-year-old maidens here with five of the twelve making their belated racecourse debuts. We’re going to go with one of those first-timers, (6) WINNER QUARDRILLE. The Gold Allure filly initially won a trial in January and then went through another in April where she gave champion Silver Wolf a good workout, running home 2nd in a useful time and if she brings that form to the races today, she can win. Also showing ability in trials was Luigi Riccardi’s (7) CHOEGO CAMP, a front-running winner of her heat in March and with every chance of going well first-up under Johan Victoire. As for those with experience, (2) FIGHTING NOW is a bit of an enigma. He ran well for 2nd on debut last October which led to him being sent off at odds-on for his reappearance in November. He got a bad trip and ended up in 7th which we will forgive, but he didn’t exactly impress in a March trial either so while he evidently has some talent, caution is required. (11) BURNING POINT and (12) SONGAM PLAYER both have 3rd places to their names and both performed a little better in their respective recent trials, although both have drawn closer to the car park than the rails.

Selections (6) Winner Quardrille (12) Songam Player (7) Choego Camp (2) Fighting Now
Next Best 11, 8
Fast Start 3, 7, 8


 Race 3: Class 6 (1200M) Allowance / KRW 25 Million

Twelve Korean-bred gallopers line up in the third event all looking for their first win. (10) THUNDER K looks one of the main chances. The chestnut finished fourth on debut in December last year in a handy two-year-old event. The colt trialled in April clocking a good time on a dry track suggesting he is ready to fire first up. (8) BANGJU showed some improvement at his second start in January. The Into Mischief gelding hit the line fairly to finish third behind Songam Tiz. Whilst not the strongest form line this race is of similar strength. (11) GANA PARK debuts after a solid trial effort to finish second. She was beaten five lengths in the trial but clocked 62.8 on a dry track which will see her competitive in this event. (3) BALBATU lines up for his third career start. The Hansen colt placed at his most recent run before the racing hiatus over 1000m. The chestnut passed a few in the straight hitting the line well suggesting he will appreciate the 1200m for the first time.

Selections (10) Thunder K (8) Bangju (11) Gana Park (3) Balbatu
Next Best 12, 6
Fast Start 10, 11, 12


Race 4: Class 6 (1300M) Allowance / KRW 40 Million

Three-year-old fillies only for this maiden. (6) GLORY FIGHTER was sent off the odds-on favourite for what was her second start in January. She took a bump at the start and then hung inwards late on ultimately finishing in 3rd place. She didn’t impress when trialing in April but didn’t do too much wrong either and can be given another chance today. A more impressive recent trailer was (10) BLUE K. She’s shown plenty of speed as well, especially when running 3rd on what was her most recent racecourse appearance last October. The engagement of Kim Yong Geun is a plus and she’ll surely be a big factor. (12) OLD BLADE is one of very few horses at Seoul not to have trialed during the shutdown. She put in two solid if unspectacular performances around the turn of the year registering a 4th and a 3rd and can aim to match or better that here. (5) CHEONGDAM YEOGEOL also did nothing wrong on her debut last December and can push on today.

Selections (10) Blue K (6) Glory Fighter (5) Cheongdam Yeogeol (12) Old Blade
Next Best 7, 9
Fast Start 1, 10


Race 5: Class 6 (1300M) Allowance / KRW 25 Million 

An even group of maiden Korean-bred gallopers will face the starter in the fifth. The race record of (11) CLEAN HEART does not read all that well to date but his trial suggests there may be improvement to come. The Artie Schiller colt clocked 62 seconds flat on a dry track and crossed the line with some handy types. The three-year-old was pushed out but ran it out strong and with fresh legs looks to be some value over the 1300m first up. (5) SANARAE is the most experience galloper in the race with eight starts under her belt. She has just the one minor placing from the eight starts but it did come over this distance towards the end of last year. She trialled in reasonable fashion in May where she finished third but appeared green when running up the straight. She gets one of her easiest assignments to date. Korean punters have sent (6) HANSEN CHOICE to the gates numerous times at a short quote and done their money every time. With no betting in Korea this weekend it would salt in the wound if the chestnut was to get up. She showed little in her trial but has previously showed ability over the short course and hence she is being included on a place line. (12) TYCHE FIRE looks the interesting galloper engaged from an improvement point of view. The Indie Band colt finished well back on debut in February but his trial in May was solid considering he was off the track throughout and still clocked 62.3 seconds on a dry track. The draw will do him no favours but he could be one that improves. This is a hard race and the likes of (3) THE BEAST, (7) GOLDEN SWITCH and (9) BIANCA could fill a place without surprising.

Selections (11) Clean Heart (5) Sanarae (6) Hansen Choice (12) Tyche Fire
Next Best 3, 9
Fast Start 3, 5, 6, 8


Race 6: Class 6 (1400M) Allowance / KRW 25 Million

Just the one first-timer starter amongst this field of maidens but he looks useful. (8) E STRIKE ran on well across two trials and 1400M should suit first up. Jockey booking a plus and he has claims to start his career in the best possible way. (11) TOP SEED has a 2nd place to his name at this distance already and he has looked well in two very solid trial performances during the hiatus. He’ll go back at the start so the wide draw is no issue and he’ll run through the line strongly. Also with experience of the distance and also untroubled by the wide draw is (12) THE DREAM. He finished 4th to Top Seed’s 3rd when they raced each other at this distance on early February and he can get close once again today. It looks an open race beyond those with perhaps (1) YAHO M J CAT and (2) HAPPY MONTH being best of the rest although there is a lack of speed engaged so if something like (4) SIN ROK, who has at least shown some ability from the gate, could get an easy lead, then he may go close.

Selections (11) Top Seed (8) E Strike (12) The Dream (2) Happy Month
Next Best 1, 3, 4
Fast Start 4, 11


Race 7: Class 5 (1200M) Handicap / KRW 40 Million 

Some progressive types line up in the seventh on the card where there is a host of winning chances. (3) ICE PUNCH was flying before the Covid hiatus scoring a dominant six length victory over the 1200m, which they line up over once again in this event. The dapple grey then did everything right in a barrier trial in April when overcoming a wide gate working to the front and winning under his own steam. The colt looks ready to fire first up and gets the services of Seoul’s leading rider in Moon Se-young. (2) GREAT KHAN is another who broke maiden status just before the racing hiatus. The Menifee colt clocked a good time when winning by a clear margin over the five furlongs. The query (more…)

Busan Friday: Race-By-Race Preview (June 19)

After an almost four-month hiatus racing returns to Korea on Friday with a 15-race card at Busan from 11:30 to 18:00. Sadly with online betting still outlawed and with the authorities still not allowing people to attend professional sports in person, there is no legal way for loyal local racing fans to watch and wager on the races. The races are, however, simulcast overseas as usual. Here are the previews:


Busan is back

Race 1: Class 6 (1000M) Allowance / KRW 25 Million

Twelve previously unraced three-year-olds get things underway and while we usually advise keeping a close eye on the local market for clues, with no local betting, none will be forthcoming. All have been through at least one trial though so we do have a few things to go on. (12) POWER GATE registered good times in both her trials although the filly was assisted on both occasions by wet tracks. It’s a top trainer/jockey combination and if they can overcome the wide draw, she surely figures. Speaking of jockey/trainer combinations, (11) SECOND WIND showed improvement across her pair of trials, also on similarly wet tracks and can go well first up today. From the inside gate, (1) ALPHA HEART should be on the early pace and can stick around at the business end. (3) CHEON SU HAENG and (7) CHEONMA HASEO also acquitted themselves well in heats while the pair of (2) INDY QUEEN and (9) SWEET BAND, both by President’s Cup and Grand Prix winner Indie Band are intriguing debutantes although their respective latest trials would suggest caution is needed first-up.

Selections (12) Power Gate (11) Second Wind (1) Alpha Heart (7) Cheonma Ha Seu
Next Best 3, 2, 9
Fast Start 1, 3, 9, 11

Race 2: Class 6 (1000M) Allowance / KRW 75 Million 

Nine two-year-olds will have their first start in the second event on the card. Trial times and perceived pressure have been reviewed in their qualifying trials and (9) WORLD CHEONSA looks one to follow on debut. The Hansen filly clocked a good time for a debutant when doing it under her own steam until ridden out by Kim Cheol-ho in the last half furlong. She qualified in 62.1 seconds on a dry track which should see her more than competitive in this event. (7) MAGIC DAERO managed to muster quickly in his trial after jumping away in average fashion. The Gyeongbudaero colt was somewhat green working up the Busan straight in his trial but he looks one that can improve with time. (3) TOP MATE clocked a good time for his trial but was ridden out hard by his rider. He should be able to position close-up from a handy drawn. (6) HAPPY WITCH was swamped late in her trial after tiring in the last furlong. If the is improvement with her she can run into the top four.

Selections (9) World Cheonsa (7) Magic Daero (3) Top Mate (6) Happy Witch
Next Best 2. 8
Fast Start 3, 7, 9


Race 3: Class 6 (1200M) Allowance / KRW 40 Million

Maiden fillies only here with just three of the twelve having prior racing experience. Of those, only (12) MISS ROCKET offered any ability, running 5th of 12 over this distance in February. She backed that up by going well in a May trial and warrants consideration here. (2) STEEL HEART did nothing on debut but did show signs of improvement when trialing again a month ago. We have some sharp looking debutantes though. (5) FINAL PARTY looked every inch a racehorse when cruising to a trial victory over some experienced animals on May 8th. Top jockey You Hyun-Myung is aboard and if she brings that form to the races, she has winning chances. (7) ILNYEOM TONGCHEON was slightly slower but still impressive when making all to win a heat of her own back in March. She’ll be on pace from the start and can be a threat. Joining her on speed will be (4) ANGEL WIND who was similarly composed when running 2nd in her heat in April. Another big chance is (10) QUEEN VRONSKY who has mixed it well with experienced runners in two trials to date, running on very nicely for 3rd in a fast time in her latest heat in April. She’ll come from just behind the speed and debuting at 1200M may well suit. (9) SUSO TANK also is not to be overlooked.

Selections (5) Final Party (10) Queen Vronsky (4) Angel Wind (7) Ilnyeom Tongcheon
Next Best 12, 9
Fast Start 1, 4, 5, 7


Race 4: Class 6 (1300M) Allowance / KRW 40 Million

The three-year-old maiden gallopers line up in the fourth event where six of the twelve runners are on debut. There is plenty of interest around (1) MY QUEEN who trialed in impressive fashion back in March. The Tamna Ace filly had speed to burn early on in the heat before hitting the line with minimum urging. The filly is perfectly drawn to bounce out of the gates, sit on speed and take some running down. (3) YEONGGWANGUI SPEED had the one start back in December before the hiatus where he finished midfield behind Golden Winner who has subsequently proven to be a handy type. The colt was given a trial last month where he was one-paced through the line. He has run over the 1300m in fair style and is considered an each-way chance. (5) ALPHA STAR was disappointing on debut back in January when failing to beat a runner home. He trialed during the hiatus with his performance much better. He jumped well in the trial and sustained a good cruising speed He was not shaken up down the straight and clocked a fair time for this grade. (12) ECHO GOOD looks one to not discount entirely on her trial performances. We will know more about her after this event but keep her safe in your wider selections.

Selections (1) My Queen (3) Yeonggwangui Speed (5) Alpha Star (12) Echo Good
Next Best 8, 6
Fast Start 1


Race 5: Class 6 (1400M) Allowance / KRW 40 Million

(10) GEUMA KAIROS has been well-backed in both his starts to date and while he struggled on debut in December, he was an improved 4th running on well on his February reappearance. He looked well in an April trial and the step up to 1400M may suit here. (3) JEMA TUJI has improved across three outings and ran a good 2nd on a wet track over 1300M in January. She wasn’t asked for much in his recent trial and she can go well first up today. So too can another filly, Thomas Gillespie’s (4) YEOWANGUI MISO. A solid 3rd at lengthy odds on debut, she ran well in a trial just two weeks ago and You Hyun Myung, who rode her in the heat, gets back aboard today. (6) HALEAKALA justified strong support when 2nd over a mile in January. She performed well enough in an April trial on a sloppy track and can be in the placing frame again. (5) JANGSAN MANGCHI is “full” brother to Derby Winner Ecton Blade and improvement is possible while (8) JEONSEOLUI BOSS is another firmly in the hunt in a competitive race.

Selections (10) Geuma Kairos (4) Yeowangui Miso (3) Jema Tuji (5) Jangsan Mangchi
Next Best 8, 6, 7
Fast Start 1, 4, 8, 10


Race 6: Class 5 (1200M) Handicap / KRW 40 Million

An even assembly of gallopers line up in the fifth where a case can be made for the majority of the field. The race looks difficult enough without the added complexity of the recent racing hiatus. (7) PERFECT JEWANG is the on top selection as he ticks two boxes, the first being he blew his rivals away in Class 6 company back in February winning by a substantial nine length margin. The second being he trialed in impressive time in April when clocking 60.9 seconds on a dry track and beat the second placed horse by five lengths. The time was one of the better figures for that particular set of trials. (11) GOOD THUNDER looks a winning hope in the open field. The Thunder Moccasin colt has proved himself beyond the 1000m multiple times, placing over 1200m last start and breaking maiden status over the 1300m two starts back. He handed in an average trial in April which was no gauge of his condition. He has been on speed at his past three race starts and it is likely that Lee Hyo-sik will look to cross shortly after the gates open. (3) HAEUNDAE THUNDER broke maiden status back in February at his third race start. The son of Strike Again has drawn ideally to allow Francisco Da Silva engage the same tactics as per when he won. The step up to the 1200m first up is the query. (5) BANJIUI MAGIC still looks for his first win but comes out of a strong three-year-old race where he was defeated by Barbarian, who looks to have some ability. With the lightweight on his back, the chestnut should be considered an each-way hope.

Selections (7) Perfect Jewang (11) Good Thunder (3) Haeundae Thunder (5) Banjiui Magic
Next Best 9, 8
Fast Start 2, 5, 7, 9, 11


Race 7: Class 5 (1300M) Handicap / KRW 40 Million

A really good looking race involving plenty of up and comers. (3) GREAT BOSS won on debut over 1200M in February and while it wasn’t an especially fast time on what admittedly was a slow-running track that day, he showed he’s got plenty of speed about him when recording a sub one-minute trial on May 30th. So long as he didn’t leave his race on the track that morning, he has strong claims today. So too does (7) NEW PROSPECT, a colt who appears well-named presently. He won at the second time of (more…)

The Long Road to Online Betting & The Prospects of Racing Returning in Korea

Over three months since racing in Korea was forcibly halted by the spread in the country of the Covid-19 epidemic and with racing around the world gradually getting back up and running, there is still no confirmed date for resumption. Two weeks ago, the Ministry of Agriculture (under whose jurisdiction the Korea Racing Authority falls) approved plans to begin operations on May 29 with an attendance cap of 10% of the average number of racegoers. Shortly afterwards, a rise in confirmed Covid-19 “clusters” in the greater Seoul area, first at a Coupang distribution centre in Bucheon and then a group of churches in Incheon, caused the Korean government to urge caution in the Capital area up to and including June 14th and the approval was rescinded. That now means an earliest restart of June 19th and that is only if the number of new cases falls – right now it is hovering bewteen 30-50 per day.


A trial takes place at Seoul Racecourse during the shutdown – note the dividers by the rail for when racegoers finally return

One thing that does occasionally need to be made clear is that in Korea there has been no “lockdown” of any kind. Shops, restaurants, bars, cinemas, hair salons etc have all remained open throughout, albeit with some of them (cinemas especially) seeing a dramatic decline in business. The only things forced shut were sports venues and churches (schools were already closed for holidays, however it is only in the past two weeks that some pupils have returned to their desks). Churches and sports facilities reopened at the beginning of May while the country’s professional baseball and football leagues began behind closed doors.

Racing has also continued its operations. Trackwork has carried on as have official trials with up to ten heats a day being run at Seoul Racecourse on recent Thursdays and Fridays.  Patience has generally been commendably high among participants, primarily due to a feeling of helplessness by all concerned. Everybody knows that racing can’t take place without punters on track because since 2009, there has been no facility for someone to have a legal bet from their home by telephone or on the internet, rendering racing behind closed doors for a sustained amount of time impossible.


Inside the grandstands, most seats have been blocked off

Racing in Korea operates under what is known as the “KRA Law” (a somewhat misleading title as the KRA itself often has little influence on its content) and this particular document contains plenty of ambiguities; the “maximum betting limit” being perhaps the best (or worst) example. Therefore, when it became clear there was a market – illegal services having sprung up in the early 2000s – the “KNetz” service was introduced to allow punters to place their bets without having to physically attend the racecourse or an OTB.

Just over a decade ago, a small number of  politicians with a keen eye for a favourable headline, noticed that KNetz was therefore never formally legalised and launched a high profile campaign to get it shut down. As with many campaigns launched by publicity hungry politicians against publicity shy and quiet-life seeking civil servants, it was successful and in August 2009, KNetz was discontinued and live racing disappeared from local tv screens. In the years since, online gambling in Korea has thrived, just not of the legal kind – although the lottery, for some reason not seen as gambling, is allowed to sell tickets online – and Korea has become, along with Malaysia, the only major racing jurisdiction to be unable to offer its customers a safe and legal way of wagering from home.


It’s the same in the parade ruing with only one in four seats left open

Moves have been afoot over the past few years to rectify this. The KRA has launched its “My Card” app for punters to download and place bets on but it comes with the major catch that currently it only works when connected to the KRA wifi at a racecourse or OTB. It does mean, however, that once the political will is there, the infrastructure is ready to go immediately. Currently “My Card”  accounts for approximately 30% of all turnover, a figure that is boosted by the fact that the popular Tierce (trifecta) bet type is available exclusively to punters on the app. Additionally the app features a league table for punters to find out how they match up against their peers as well as playing host to the annual Korea Handicapping Challenge, an event that prior to the shutdown, was this year set to be an official feeder contest for the Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge in the US.

Politically, numerous parliamentary hearings have been held with figures such as Hong Kong Jockey Club CEO Winfried Engelbrecht Bresges among those who have made the trip to Yeouido over the years to impress upon lawmakers why a safe and legal avenue for online wagering is vital. Subsequently last November, a group of nineteen lawmakers led by Jeju Assembly member Kang Chang-il introduced the necessary legislation. It reached committee stage in February of this year, however it there ran into an impasse – the lack of “social concensus” – which could not be resolved before the dissolution of the 20th National Assembly in advance of April’s elections. As with all pending legislation it was therefore automatically abandoned.

The 21st National Assembly has just opened and it is essentially back to square one. Kang Chang-il didn’t run for re-election so the hope is that one of those eighteen others who put their name to the proposed bill, or a new lawmaker from an area such as Jeju that is heavily dependent on racing for jobs and tax revenue, will step up and re-introduce it. It is likely to happen but it will take time and it’s too late for it to have any mitigating impact on the current crisis.


Lotteria has installed dividers at its tables

So right now the only way of getting racing up and running is if at least some spectators are allowed into the venues. This would have happened on May 29th with the KBO baseball league also having been poised to allow spectators in from the same weekend before the new infections in the capital area were discovered and paralysis set in again. Lots of work has been done at the racecourses to enforce the idea of “social distancing” with even the Lotteria outlet in the grandstand having erected dividers at its tables – something it has not been required to do at its downtown locations. Temporary structures have been built by the rails to keep punters apart and three out of every four seats in the grandstand have been blocked off. Anyone who does attend will need to scan a QR code from their phone in to enable swift contact tracing in the event of a positive test by a racegoer or participant.

As it stands, it does seem as though racing in some form will return on Friday June 19th. Attendance will be very limited and how enough turnover can be generated to keep the whole show on the road long-term will be the next challenge. For now, for the sake of the whole industry, the only focus is on finding a way to get back racing.