It’s been a rocky road to the first three-year-old Classic of the season but against the backdrop of an existential threat to Korean racing with seemingly little prospect of either online or offline betting arriving any time soon, the KRA Cup Classic will finally be run at Busan this afternoon. There is a 5 race card at Busan with the big race at 3.30pm while at Seoul there are 14 races from 10.25 to 18.00.
Fourteen horses will enter the gate but champion juvenile and one time Triple Crown favourite Roller Blade won’t be among them, after a 10,000/1 type administrative oversight meant he hadn’t fulfilled the qualification criteria.
It hasn’t been the smoothest of build-ups for another leading candidate Save The World either, with his trainer having sadly passed away in March.
Save The World does run and is set to be among the favourites as is Choegang Team who has only been beaten by Roller Blade in his five starts to date and looks to be the pick of the raiders from Seoul along with so far unbeaten Roan Tough Man. Gyeongnam Do Min Cup winner Doctor Carson is another in a race made all the more fascinating for the lengthy absence of racing at a time when the three-year-olds would have been coming into their own. Here are all the previews – scroll down for the KRA Cup Mile (Busan race 5):
Seoul Race 1: Class 6 (1000M) Allowance / KRW 25 Million
A tough race to kick proceedings off on Sunday with a lack of exposed form for punters to assess. (8) SHINY FIRE is the top elect based on a reasonable trial performance in April combined with what she showed at her first couple of starts. The Midshipman filly has shown early speed in her racing and should work forward early on. Expect it to be a slog up the home straight but we think she will be one of them left in the finish. (2) KKAEUCHIM can run into the money based on some reasonable performances before the hiatus. The four-year-old is yet to place from nine starts but this race has a severe lack of form. (1) SHADOW QUEEN has been included on the basis of a nice trial in recent times. She has had the one start where she showed very little but the trial was good and if she collects a cheque it would not surprise. (3) WOL YEONG I is another that trialed well but needs to bring it to race day.
|Selections||(8) Shiny Fire (2) Kkaeuchim (1) Shadow Queen (3) Wol Yeong I|
|Next Best||4, 5|
|Fast Start||2, 8|
Seoul Race 2: Class 6 (1000M) Allowance / KRW 25 Million
Not the strongest of maidens here. (1) HAMYANG SANGRIM sports two 3rd place finishes among seven starts so far and is at least capable of consistently running a competitive time. She didn’t catch the eye in an April trial but if Ha Jung-hun can work her to the front from the inside gate then she has a good chance of scoring here. (4) GEUMA MAJESTY is the only one of the field who has recorded a runner-up finish, something she achieved at this distance. She returned in February after nine months out to run a decent 4th, again over this distance and can go well first up once more. Neither (3) GAJA PLAN nor (9) OKAY JJANG offered much in their limited experience so far but both showed a bit more promise, the former especially, in recent trials and can improve today. That’s true too for (10) MAY BLUE, who does at least have a 4th place to her name and will be expected to work forward to the front from the outside gate.
|Selections||(3) Gaja Plan (1) Hamyang Sanrim (10) May Blue (4) Geuma Majesty|
|Fast Start||1, 10|
Seoul Race 3: Class 6 (1200M) Allowance / KRW 40 Million
The Korean-bred three-year-old fillies line up in the third over 1200m. (3) RAPIDO ARES looks the one to beat based on a very solid debut performance. The Lion Metal filly finished third behind Lucky Myeongho on that occasion when hitting the line strongly. The step out to the 1200m looks ideal for her and she comes off a reasonable trial. (2) SAENAE CHOICE must be considered as a winning chance. She is a speedy type who has stuck on in her races honestly to date and with fresh legs she is one to keep safe in your selections. (5) HANIL MOA has been settling further back at her past couple of starts. She will be hitting the line strong late and looks a place chance at best. (7) GLOBAL SUN is on the two week back up after feeling the pinch late in her recent run. She should strip fitter for the run and looks capable of collecting a cheque.
|Selections||(3) Rapido Ares (2) Saenae Choice (5) Hanil Moa (7) Global Sun|
|Next Best||4, 1|
Seoul Race 4: Class 6 (1200M) Allowance / KRW 40 Million
Maiden fillies only tackling the 1200M. (1) DREAM GIRLS showed progress over three starts prior to the shutdown culminating in a 2nd place on February 22nd. All of them were at 1000M and all were in decent times. She confirmed her ability when trialing well behind Blessing Road in May and stepping up to 1200M for the first time, she can win and in a race with no early speed, can probably lead gate to wire. The form for the rest is patchy, to put it mildly. (7) ANYANG HORANGI has never finished any better than 4th but has posted some good times, albeit in rain-assisted tracks. She trialed up well – also in the wet – three weeks ago and can be competitive here. (6) WONDER PLACE too has been consistent if unspectacular and she too performed competently in her trial. (9) HARUON got sent out only slightly better than even-money when she raced at this distance in February. Punters must have seen something in her prior run when she clocked a useful time over the 1000M. She ended up finishing 5th but that form is enough to bring her firmly into placing contention today.
|Selections||(1) Dream Girls (9) Haruon (7) Anyang Horangi (6) Wonder Place|
Seoul Race 5: Class 5 (1400M) Handicap / KRW 40 Million
A compact field of eight will go over the 1400m in the fifth event. (4) YEOLRIN MUN was a good last start winner over the 1200m back in February. The Any Given Saturday colt has had just the five runs for the win and two minors. The trial in April was average but he lined up against some handy types. (2) STREET GANGJA was a last start winner on debut. The Hongji gelding won by a clear margin but clocked a very slow time for the 1200m. The recent trial was good and with some improvement has to be considered a winning chance. (6) MISSILE CANDY is consistently around the mark and finds an assignment where the entire can collect some prizemoney. He comes off a last start fifth behind Gold Blue Magic when shortening stride in the final stages over 1400m. The drop back to the six furlongs suits and his trial was good. (1) RESKA looks next best after lining up in a tougher assignment last start when finishing fifth. Expect the Big Brown filly to sit behind the speed and motor late.
|Selections||(4) Yeolrin Mun (2) Street Gangja (6) Missile Candy (1) Reska|
|Next Best||5, 3|
|Fast Start||3, 4 ,6|
Busan Race 2: Class 3 (1200M) Handicap / KRW 75 Million
(2) CHROME MAGIC had started to lose his way somewhat in his last three outings prior to the shutdown so it may be that the enforced time off has done him some good. It certainly looked that way when he trialed up at the beginning of June, running 2nd in a fast heat to the class 1 Baengmunbaekdap. Moon Se-young is an intriguing booking aboard and he can win. (1) WONDERFUL COUNTRY and (8) DAEHO JILJU both returned to action two weeks ago, both were relatively well-fancied and both finished well beaten. Both have already proven themselves to be competitive at this level though and improvement can be expected today. (5) WORLD LOVE and (6) JET DIA others in at least the placing hunt.
|Selections||(2) Chrome Magic (1) Wonderful Country (6) Jet Dia (8) Daeho Jilju|
|Next Best||5, 7|
|Fast Start||1, 4|
Seoul Race 6: Class 6 (1700M) Allowance / KRW 25 Million
Another modest maiden but plenty go who have form at the distance. (3) GYEONGBU DORYEONG ran 2nd at 1700M on February 22nd, coming from off the pace well and while he couldn’t get close to a good winner, showed promise. He returned to racing action with a 4th place finish at 1400M two weeks ago, again finishing strongly, and stepping back up to two turns today, could be the one to beat. (4) GOLD BRIDGE has the fastest time of these at the distance – although that’s not really a huge boast – something he achieved when 3rd in January. He looked well in a June trial and will be a danger here. (8) WONDERFUL ORANGE beat a couple of these on her way to 3rd place at this distance in February. It wasn’t a fast time, but she was prominent throughout and is likely to be one of those showing the way again with potential to stay on. One of few tackling the distance for the first time is (9) POWER PRIDE. He’s never finished in the top two in a race but has finished between 3rd and 5th on no fewer than nine occasions. His running style may well suit this distance and this race.
|Selections||(3) Gyeongbu Doryeong (9) Power Pride (8) Wonderful Orange (4) Gold Bridge|
Busan Race 3: Class 4 (1400M) Allowance / KRW 60 Million
A mixture of Korean-bred and imported gallopers line up against each other in the third. (7) ROSE BULLET finds a race which looks suitable after a dominant win in Class 5 company back in February. The Exploit gelding went straight to the lead last start extending nicely to win by six lengths over the mile. Dropping back to the 1400m with fresh legs looks ideal and given there is a lack of form engaged, successive wins is a possibility. (3) BUGYEONG STORY has sat in the Class 4 ratings bandwidth for quite some time but has placed on multiple occasions. The Sharp Humor mare comes off a last start third behind Raon Caesers which reads well for this event. (4) HUNCH is the interesting engagement. The import is lightly raced and got too far back at his last start before switching to the fence and hitting the line strong. It is obvious the 1000m was far too short for him, but he would need to improve a few lengths as he was beaten by a big margin. (2) ECHO SUN has finished midfield at his past couple of starts in races considered stronger than this, keep the three-year-old safe in your selections especially with the good draw.
|Selections||(7) Rose Bullet (3) Bugyeong Story (4) Hunch (2) Echo Sun|
|Next Best||10, 8|
|Fast Start||5, 7 ,8|
Seoul Race 7: Class 4 (1300M) Handicap / KRW 60 Million
It will be the charge of the light brigade in the seventh with plenty of the runners engaged preferring to be on speed in their races. (4) DAEGUN POWER looks a nice type to follow this preparation. The four-year-old handed in a nice performance to finish second behind Meni Queen back in February when he was lining up for a fresh preparation before Covid-19 hit. He trialed fairly in April and should get a good run from the draw. (3) NALARA HILL has improved with each run since progressing into Class 4 grade. The filly comes off a last start third behind Complete Kingdom after settling on speed. A similar performance will see her run into the money. (9) HORSE QUEEN is the interesting engagement. She has not raced in over fourteen months after being plagued with injuries through the mid to latter part of last year. What she did show early on in her career was good and her trials suggest she should perform well. (7) STRIDE UP went of the boil towards the end of his last preparation and the break would have done him good. He is normally consistent in this grade.
|Selections||(4) Daegun Power (3) Nalara Hill (9) Horse Queen (7) Stride Up|
|Next Best||5, 8|
|Fast Start||1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 9|
Busan Race 4: Class 4 (1600M) Allowance / KRW 60 Million
(8) WORLD TODAY ran 2nd to Yeongcheon Jilju om his return to racing on June 19th over 1800M. He’s only finished outside the top four on one occasion and looks set to continue that form here. Dropped back to the mile, he is likely to be close to the speed from the start and while he does carry plenty of weight again, he could be too strong. (5) TOP FIRE is a winner at this distance and although his last start before the layoff wasn’t his best, he trialed very nicely and can go close here, most likely coming from just off the pace. (2) ARAM NARAE is a proven place-getter at this class. She likes to come from well back and so long as she doesn’t leave herself too much to do, she can be a factor here. (1) JEONGSU SIDAE hasn’t been seen for over a year but ran well in a May trial and is the wildcard. (3) ROYAL GOLD another one in the placing frame.
|Selections||(8) World Today (5) Top Fire (2) Aram Narae (3) Royal Gold|
|Next Best||1, 4|
|Fast Start||5, 8|
Seoul Race 8: Class 4 (1300M) Handicap / KRW 60 Million
(3) MUNHAK REWARD is yet to win from five outings but she has come close a couple of times and the extended break may have done her some good. The Alternation filly ran well in a trial in May and looks nicely in here to be competitive. (4) DAEGUNUI GEOM has similarly proven himself at this distance and made all in an April trial. He’s drawn well to lead and should go close. (7) PANORAMA SUN won a May trial and should have come on for running 4th over 1400M just two weeks ago. He was close to the pace throughout just losing position slightly in the closing stages and the small drop back in trip may benefit. (10) GEUMSEONG YEOWANG and (11) SEUNGNI GIEOK are the only two previous winners in the field. Both looked lively in trials and have placing chances.
|Selections||(3) Munhak Reward (10) Geumseong Yeowang (11) Seungni Gieok (4) Daegunui Geom|
|Next Best||7, 9|
|Fast Start||2, 4, 10|
Busan Race 5: Class Open – The KRA Cup Mile (1600M) Allowance / KRW 600 Million
The first leg of the Korea Triple Crown has delivered a brilliant field full of depth. The race looks to have some potential superstars of the future Korean racing scene. A field of fourteen will face the starter in the sixteenth running of the KRA Cup Mile, with eight of them last start winners. Five runners from December’s Breeders’ Cup will line up in the field with the unfortunate omission being Roller Blade, who was injured in the lead up to the race.
(5) SAVE THE WORLD looks the hardest to beat in the year’s edition. The Menifee colt bounced back in brilliant fashion from his Breeder’s Cup defeat to win a Class Three mile event in January by an impressive nine lengths. His dominant display as he lined up over the mile for the first time was extremely good. He has won five of his six career starts, with his Breeders’ Cup defeat coming at the hands of a torrid run when missing the start. He has drawn favourably in barrier five and is likely to sit on speed as per previous starts.
(14) CHOEGANG TEAM has been extremely consistent in his five starts to date, winning three of them and finishing second at the remaining two. His two defeats have come at the hands of the Breeders’ Cup winner Roller Blade, which reads extremely well. The Old Fashioned colt won a Class 4 event in January where the margin was four lengths. The barrier is the main concern, with so much speed engaged it will need a pearl of a ride for him to win, but he will have the services of the best in Moon Se-Young.
(10) DOCTOR CARSON adds interest to the race after connections elected to bypass the Breeders’ Cup last December, instead heading to the Gyeongnam Domin Ilbo Cup over the six furlongs where he took on the imports and won by an impressive four lengths. As with the many of the field’s engagements, the query revolves around how he will handle the step up to the 1600m for the first time.
(8) K N ROAD finished third behind Raon Tough Man last start but his consistency demands respect in this race. The Old Fashioned colt finished a gallant second behind Roller Blade in the Breeders’ Cup and completed trifectas behind Roller Blade and Choegang Team in the Breeder’s Cup lead up races.
(1) RAON TOUGH MAN is yet to be beaten and with the inside draw must be worth considering. Last time out the Musket Man colt sat on speed before proving too strong over the 1300m. He is another that steps up substantially to the 1600m for the first time.
(13) DETERMINATION has won three of his six starts and is yet to finish worse than third. His third in the Breeders’ Cup was sensational rattling off a quick sectional. The issue with the Colors Flying colt is the deficit at the top of the straight. He comes off a third in a mediocre Class 3 event where he could not justify the $1.20 quote. Look for him flying down the outside under Alan Munro late in the race.
|Selections||(5) Save The World (14) Choegang Team (10) Doctor Carson (8) K N Road|
|Next Best||1, 13|
|Fast Start||1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 9, 11, 14|
Seoul Race 9: Class 4 (1400M) Handicap / KRW 60 Million
Nine imports will face the starter in the ninth where there appears to be a lack of depth. (9) BYEOLNARA SINSA looks one of the better bets on the card after an impressive second behind Munhak King last time out back in February. The lightly raced chestnut trialed in April when clocking a good time suggesting he should put his best foot forward. (6) FANTASTIC COMBI is the only runner engaged in the race that has previously saluted. He drops back in class which he will appreciate but he now carries 57kg. His runs in Class 3 company were fair so a forward showing would not surprise. (7) JANGSAN FOREVER is the sole debutant and based on his trials cannot be excluded. He comes off a reasonable trial in May where clocking 62.3 on a good track. (4) CANNON SHOOTER looks one that can fill a place. The filly has run some fair races in this grade and is drawn to get a good run.
|Selections||(9) Byeolnara Sinsa (6) Fantastic Combi (7) Jangsan Forever (4) Cannon Shooter|
|Next Best||9, 2|
|Fast Start||3, 5, 6, 8|
Seoul Race 10: Class 4 (1400M) Allowance / KRW 60 Million
(1) VICTORY KING returned to action two weeks ago and came from well back to run on for 5th over 1300M. He is a consistent type who rarely misses the money and while he doesn’t win out of turn, should be going very close today from off the pace once again. The break has perhaps benefitted (6) RAON PATRICK who just seemed to be losing his way a little around the turn of the year after a very good start to his career. He trialed nicely and could be ready for another go. (3) BAEKSAN FORCE was at one time quite a bright prospect but has had quite a stop/start career due to a number of setbacks. He did though look well in an April trial and could perform today, most likely leading from the start. (8) GANGHWA CHONGGAK is inconsistent but is capable of putting in a good run and looks best of a competitive rest.
|Selections||(1) Victory King (6) Raon Patrick (3) Baeksan Force (8) Ganghwa Chonggak|
|Next Best||2, 7|
Seoul Race 11: Class 5 (1700M) Allowance / KRW 40 Million
A compact field of nine Korean-bred gallopers will go over the two turns in the eleventh on the card. (1) CHOEGANG SINGI has previously run some good races over the 1700m and looks a chance to break maiden status. The Chapel Royal gelding trialed only fairly leading up to this but he comes off a last start third behind Meotjin Geumsong which reads well for this assignment. (3) PUNCH POWER was a Class Six winner over this distance last time out. He was always well thought of in the market in his early starts and finally broke through with a good performance. He can perform well here once again. (6) REIGN lined up in last year’s Fillies features but was well beaten. She had a few starts after the fillies’ series and placed over this type of distance. We haven’t seen her on the track for quite some time, but she is capable of running on strong. (7) CHEONNYEONUI GODO is next best with his next best effort a fifth behind Milky Sherry two weeks ago.
|Selections||(1) Choegang Singi (3) Punch Power (6) Reign (7) Cheonnyeonui Godo|
|Next Best||4, 2|
|Fast Start||7, 9|
Seoul Race 12: Class 3 (1400M) Allowance / KRW 75 Million
Most of these were in excellent form prior to the layoff and a few of those who weren’t have looked very good in recent trials, so we’re set for a fascinating affair here. (2) DYNAMIC PUNCH strung three victories together from his first four starts to rapidly rise up through the grades. He beat a couple of these on his way to 2nd place in a good race behind the excellent Raon First at class and distance on February 9th and while others have subsequently trialed better and he carries a little more weight this time, he still looks a real chance here. (5) FIGHTING HERO was 3rd in that Raon First race but the time before had quite handily dispatched Dynamic Punch, among others, on his way to a fast win over 1300M. He trialed well and is a serious contender. So too is (6) DIXIE AGAIN. The shutdown was unfortunate timing for him as he had just returned from six months off and looked good when 4th his February return behind East Jet. He trialed well and is likely to be on pace early here. (8) AMENDA is a class and distance winner and while beaten by Dynamic Punch and Fighting Hero last start, can’t be ruled out of a place. (9) MIGHTY LUCK is up in class and distance after a really good December win over 1300M and looks nicely in here. (1) NIMUI HYANGGI looked sensational in winning two recent trials and shouldn’t be far away. Great race.
|Selections||(5) Fighting Hero (2) Dynamic Punch (6) Dixie Again (9) Mighty Luck|
|Next Best||1, 8, 7|
|Fast Start||6, 9|
Seoul Race 13: Class 2 (1400M) Handicap / KRW 90 Million
Fair to say not the strongest Class 2 event with plenty of gallopers not holding much form. (10) DAEGUN CHEONHA is a last start winner in this class and distance. The colt won by just over a length at big odds. The query lies with the substantial rise in the weights being penalized 4.5kg for his last win. Based on his consistency we will take him on faith that he will handle the weight. (11) GOLDEN GATE has always been consistent throughout his career. He has won six from twenty-seven starts and comes of a last start fifth when finishing behind last year’s KRA Cup Mile winner in Global Chukje. The wide draw is not too much of a concern as he settles midfield or worse in his runs. (7) LUCKY ROOKIE is a lightly raced five-year-old with five wins from seventeen starts. He hit the line well in a similar event back in February when fourth behind Munhak Ariari. With the light weight a forward showing would not surprise. (4) TOHAMSAN POWER looks next best with a good place strike rate.
|Selections||(10) Daegun Cheonha (11) Golden Gate (7) Lucky Rookie (4) Tohamsan Power|
|Next Best||2, 5|
|Fast Start||2, 3, 7|
Seoul Race 14: Class 1 (1200M) Handicap / KRW 110 Million
Super sprint to conclude the weekend’s action with loads of them having spent the shutdown posting very fast times in trials. (10) ULTRA PUNCH has been consistent in class 1 and while he probably didn’t need to run at 1800M last start, he still performed well, and the unexpected break will have countered any negative side-effects from it. He looked excellent when winning an April trial. He will cross to be on the pace as soon as possible. So will (11) HAVANA CHARLIE who looked sensational when blitzing a high class trial in early June, just seven-tenths of a second outside the track record for an actual 1000M race. He has run fast times at this distance before and while his form just prior to the shutdown wasn’t great, at anything near his best he can win. (4) COMPLETE SWEEP and (5) YAHO SMART CAT too were both nowhere near their best when they last raced but looked better in trials and both are capable of fast times at this trip. (1) MUNHAK TSUNAMI and (3) LEONNING STROM are among others who are both fast and nicely in at the weights.
|Selections||(11) Havana Charlie (10) Ultra Punch (1) Munhak Tsunami (4) Complete Sweep|
|Next Best||5, 3, 2, 12|
|Fast Start||1, 4, 8, 9, 10, 11|