After three weeks of something approaching normality, COVID-19 has once more cast its malign shadow over racing. With the Greater Seoul area having been placed under “tier 2” restrictions, punters will once more be unable to attend the races or off-track betting centres. And with no online betting in Korea it means that we are back to running for reduced stakes and with an amended schedule.
As of Friday, it was still hoped that a limited number of punters would be permitted to attend the Busan and Jeju Racecourses as well as the nine OTBs located outside the Greater Seoul area. It appears likely, however, that Busan will join Seoul in tier 2 imminently. As it stands racing will go ahead as follows:
Friday: Jeju (5 races from 13:00 to 15:00) & Busan (6 races from 15:30 to 18:00)
Saturday: Jeju (5 races from 13:00 to 14:50) & Seoul (7 races from 15:15 to 18:00)
Sunday: Busan (4 races from 13:00 to 14:40) & Seoul (8 races from 14:50 to 18:00).
Sunday will see juvenile series races being run at both Seoul and Busan. Both races keep their full Stakes prize-money. While it remains unclear if local punters will have any opportunity to bet on the races, overseas simulcast is scheduled at the usual destinations including, for the first time since August, in Europe. Here are the Friday previews for Busan:
Race 1: Class 6 (1200M) Allowance / KRW 22 Million
A big field of fourteen in the opener but it’s hard to look past (12) ACE DAY. He ran out an emphatic all the way winner on October 31st. That was the last weekend of Covid-relief racing so there was no penalty for the win and back in similar conditions today, he should win once more. He will need to overcome the wide draw but that shouldn’t be a problem. (4) HILL MORE is likely to be one of the main challengers, He ran a solid 2nd on debut a month ago and while it was a considerably slower time than that of Ace Day, it showed promise and he can build on it today. (14) KEY PLAYER is the most experienced runner in the race and while that’s not necessarily a good thing at this level, she has been getting closer across her six outings to date and can be considered a placing chance here. There are three debut-makers and among them, (6) ARTIE’S GAL looks most likely to make an immediate impact. She led from gate to wire in her trial and looks nicely in here.
|Selections||(12) Ace Day (6) Artie’s Gal (4) Hill More (14) Key Player|
|Next Best||2, 13|
|Fast Start||2, 6, 12|
Race 2: Class 6 (1200M) Allowance / KRW 22 Million
This looks a much trickier maiden to solve but while there is a bit of proven form, we’re going to side with a first-time starter. That’s (4) JEONGMUN POWER, who certainly caught the eye when making all for an easy trial win at the end of October. The Bart Rice/You Hyun Myung combination is a good one and he’s likely to attract plenty of attention in the market. (13) JEJUOLLE JIL was similarly good in her qualification heat and can go well first up too although she will have to negotiate a wide draw. As for those with experience, (9) DARI TTEU, (2) PARTY INDY and (7) HONEY STAR came home 4th, 5th and 6th respectively when they raced each other over this distance on October 23rd with all of them making their debuts. All three should be in the frame for improvement here with party Indy perhaps the most favoured to go close.
|Selections||(4) Jeongmun Power (2) Party Indy (9) Dari Tteu (13) Jejuolle Jil|
|Next Best||7, 6|
|Fast Start||2, 4, 10, 13|
Race 3: Class 5 (1200M) Allowance / KRW 25 Million
A gate to wire winner on debut in August, (12) CLEAN HIT returned to beat several of his rivals here on his way to a strong runner-up finish at class and distance on October 31st having once again led almost the entire way. The draw is not overly kind to him today, but he should be able to overcome that and looks to be very much the one to beat. (7) ACHIM BIT was 5th in that same race and has the potential to get closer here. Her one win came at this trip and while she isn’t especially fast, she generally runs on well and should beat plenty. The main danger though looks to be (1) KKUMEUL NEOMEO. She drops back in trip following two impressive showings at 1400M during the summer season and looks well in today to go close. From the inside gate, expect Seo Seung-un to have her on the early speed. (8) FIRST STAR mixes her form but shouldn’t be too far away in this company.
|Selections||(12) Clean Hit (1) Kkumeul Neomeo (8) First Star (7) Achim Bit|
|Next Best||5, 14|
|Fast Start||1, 5, 12|
Race 4: Class 4 (1200M) Allowance / KRW 28 Million
A winner of three form four so far, (1) GREAT BOSS really should be continuing the positive start to his career here. He doesn’t get punished for his mid-October victory when he comfortably saw off a field which contained some of his rivals here over class and distance. He came from well off the pace that day but from the inside gate, Choi Si-dae will most likely opt to have him much closer from the start. (11) MR. HANSEN won three races in a row between January and June. He hasn’t raced since but he looked well in a trial two weeks ago and the Kim Young-kwan/Seo Seung-un combination will tempt plenty. He will be challenging for the lead right from the gate. (3) OASIS GIRL and (5) JINJU SARANG were both beaten by Great Boss last time out and while they probably will be again, both can challenge for the minor placings.
|Selections||(1) Great Boss (11) Mr. Hansen (3) Oasis Girl (5) Jinju Sarang|
|Next Best||13, 14|
|Fast Start||1, 10, 11|
Race 5: Class 4 (1200M) Allowance / KRW 28 Million
(5) TOP FIRE raced just once during the summer season but he put in a good performance coming home 2nd at this class over a mile. He drops back to this distance for the first time since his debut all the way back in July of last year but he looked well in a trial earlier this month and is the one to beat today. Also going well in a trial was (6) GEUM A CLASSY. The Tiznow colt showed nothing in two prior starts but this is a fresh beginning for him and he can be considered. On the subject of trials, first-timer starter (4) CHEONNYEONUI QUEEN put in a fast time when qualifying on November 7th and this looks a nice race for her to debut in. (8) SKITTER and (11) HAPPY YEOGEOL are others who should be in the hunt.
|Selections||(5) Top Fire (6) Geum A Classy (4) Cheonnyeonui Queen (11) Happy Yeogeol|
|Next Best||8, 12|
|Fast Start||4, 5, 6, 14|
Race 6: Class 1 (1800M) Allowance / KRW 40 Million
(5) BAENGMUNBAEKDAP appears for the first time since running 4th in the Busan Mayor’s Cup in August. Well accustomed to carrying big weights, the 58kg he has on his back here shouldn’t be an issue and he has every chance of returning to winning ways. It’s not an easy race though. (11) MR. AFLEET races for the first time since January and for the first time at class 1. He looked very well when winning an October trial and has every chance of going close first-up today. Also trialing well was (12) SOCKS GO. He too takes his class 1 bow here and should be coming home fast late on. (13) BUHWARUI BANSEOK and (1) CHIEF ACE ran 1st and 2nd at class and distance back in June when the latter was getting an 8kg advantage. Neither particularly caught the eye in recent trials but both have plenty of ability and shouldn’t be discounted.
|Selections||(5) Baengmunbaekdap (11) Mr. Afleet (12) Socks Go (13) Buhwarui Banseok|
|Next Best||1, 8|
|Fast Start||1, 13|