The virus situation continues to worsen in Korea with country experiencing community transmission almost nationwide for the first time since the pandemic began. Although the numbers remain very small by global standards, regular readers will be aware that racing has been shut down for much less already this year and could well be again. It looks set to continue to cling on by a thread for at least this weekend, however, as Jeju Island, Daegu and Daejeon remain under “level 1.5” instead of “level 2” distancing measures. That means wagering facilities in those places can open at 20% capacity so at least some punters can play. Reservations must be made on the MyCard app the day before race day.
There have been some changes. If – and it is a big if the current schedule holds, on Jeju will race on Fridays while Seoul and Busan race on Saturdays and Sundays, one after the other. Races are contested behind closed doors and for reduced Stake money and horses are not penalised in the handicap for victories. On Saturday, Seoul will go first with 9 races from 10:45 to 15:00 followed by Busan with 6 races from 15:50 to 18:00. The races will be on overseas simulcast. Here are the previews:
Seoul Race 1: Class 6 (1200M) Allowance / KRW 22 Million
A maiden to begin with and all but one of the fourteen are juveniles with five racing for the very first time. We will side with experience though and (2) ALL HEART is the pick. He debuted promisingly enough in July before following up with a runner-up finish the next month. He is up to 1200M for the first time and from a good draw can lead early and should have too much. None of the other tried ones make for much appeal so we’ll turn to the first-timers to round out our tickets. (10) ZELOS was the fastest of those in trials and looks set to be second-favourite while (3) JAY EAGLE and (8) VIVA LADY also looked well in their heats and can go well first up. One that was less impressive in her trial but may be better suited by today’s 1200M is (14) NONSTOP CAT. The wide draw shouldn’t be a problem.
|Selections||(2) All Heart (14) Nonstop Cat (10) Zelos (8) Viva Lady|
|Next Best||3, 7|
|Fast Start||2, 10|
Seoul Race 2: Class 6 (1200M) Allowance / KRW 22 Million
Having won a trial, (11) DONG E BEONJJEOK ran a solid 2nd on debut over this distance on October 23rd. He was on the early speed in both of those appearances so while he will need to overcome a wide draw, he looks nicely in to win here. (6) GOLD SPIKE ran 2nd to Dong E Beonjjeok in the trial before finishing 4th on debut and she looks set to build on that here. (2) FASHIONED PASSION came from off the pace to run a strong 4th on her first start in October and she also looks to have the scope for further improvement today. The most experienced horses in the race are (4) GREEN POKJU and (13) THUNDER HORSE who have made three starts apiece. Both have places already and can contest the minor money again today.
|Selections||(11) Dong E Beonjjeok (6) Gold Spike (2) Fashioned Passion (13) Thunder Horse|
|Next Best||4, 3|
|Fast Start||3, 4, 10, 11|
Seoul Race 3: Class 6 (1200M) Allowance / KRW 22 Million
(3) GEUMA FLAWLESS has mixed his form across five starts so far but put in a promising run for 5th on his latest outing on October 23rd. From a good draw, Antonio Da Silva can sit behind the early pace and finish strongly. (7) JILPUNG BAEKGWANG has been a touch one-paced in both starts so far. She finally gets a draw that isn’t in the car park today tough so should be handier early and can improve. (9) RAON SPECIAL has the fastest time of any of these at the distance so far and looks likely to play a significant role. She is another who will be looking to finish off strongly. (1) COMLETE SHINE and (11) GOLDEN BADGE are others who should be in the hunt in this modest affair.
|Selections||(3) Geuma Flawless (9) Raon Special (7) Jilpung Baekgwang (11) Golden Badge|
|Next Best||1, 12|
|Fast Start||2, 6, 8, 13|
Seoul Race 4: Class 6 (1200M) Allowance / KRW 22 Million
Pretty useful class 6 race with three winners getting another crack in the level due to the current Covid-relief rules around racing. We’ll come to those in a moment though because we are putting a maiden on top in the shape of (14) K N MAGIC. The Kantharos filly was a good 2nd on debut beaten only by a good winner and while she has drawn the car park here, she has an extra furlong to play with and that could be key. (1) MOST SPEED was an all the way winner at this distance on October 16th and from the inside gate will be well placed to go forward and get close again. (4) ALCHAN NURI similarly significantly improved to win at this trip in October and can go well once more. (9) SPOTLIGHT was a somewhat anonymous 4th on debut after a dreadful start and can improve today. (7) MACH JIJON, a likely pacesetter, and (8) SOARA BABA, another last start winner, are others in the hunt.
|Selections||(14) K N Magic (1) Most Speed (9) Spotlight (4) Alchan Nuri|
|Next Best||8, 7|
|Fast Start||1, 7, 11|
Seoul Race 5: Class 5 (1400M) Allowance / KRW 25 Million
A competitive race but the consistent (7) UNOECHANGCHEON may have enough about her to win. She has finished no worse than 4th across four starts so far and her win at 1200M was emphatic. She has already posted two competitive times at this distance and could have too much today. (11) WINNER TEMPLAR has also been consistent even though she remains winless. She has acquitted herself well over this trip and can go close. (1) TOP SEED has already won over 1400M. He’s been a little slow to jump in his latest couple but has run on well and can be involved again. (3) POTENTIAL ENERGY is up in class following a good win over 1300M back in August and should be on pace from the start today.
|Selections||(7) Uneochangcheon (11) Winner Templar (1) Top Seed (3) Potential Energy|
|Next Best||9, 2|
|Fast Start||2, 3, 11|
Seoul Race 6: Class 4 (1400M) Allowance / KRW 28 Million
(12) THE DREAM comes in here looking to complete a hat-trick of wins and it would be a surprise if he didn’t get it. He gets no penalty for his very good victory at class and distance on October 23rd when he had four of these back down the track behind him and he can repeat today. (9) NUNBUSIN HANSEN and (8) SUPER ECTON came home 3rd and 5th in that race respectively and both can aim to match or improve that today but a stiffer challenge may come from (11) MANSEOK JIGI. The Paynter colt recorded the fastest time of any of these for the distance when winning on November 1st and if he can get to the early pace, can go close once more.
|Selections||(12) The Dream (11) Manseok Jigi (8) Super Ecton (9) Nunbusin Hansen|
|Next Best||2, 7|
|Fast Start||9, 11|
Seoul Race 7: Class 4 (1400M) Allowance / KRW 28 Million
(3) ACE CHAN beat three of these on his way to 2nd place at class and distance on October 23rd having led for almost the entire way around. He is yet to win in nine attempts but remains under a nice light weight here and today could be his day. (14) JANGSAN MISSILE has raced just the once but performed well, coming from well back for a fast finishing 3rd over 1200M. The wide draw may not be an issue and he may well benefit from an additional furlong today. Already a winner at class and distance is (4) AMIGO RARO. That win in August had been coming and while he is giving weight away today, a repeat isn’t impossible. (1) MUNHAK REWARD is inconsistent but can be eyeing up some prize money in this company while (11) GOOD SENSE has the fastest time of any of these at the distance and we can draw a line through his sub-par effort behind Ace Chan last start
|Selections||(4) Amigo Raro (3) Ace Chan (14) Jangsan Missile (11) Good Sense|
|Next Best||1, 6|
|Fast Start||1, 4, 9|
Seoul Race 8: Class 2 (1400M) Allowance / KRW 36 Million
(12) KING’S STEP beat three of these on his way to a good victory at this class over 1200M on October 16th. There’s no penalty for that win and while he has drawn wide, he’ll have the whole back straight to find his position and he could win again. The 1400M may though favour (7) DAEGUN CHEONHA. He has the fastest time of any of these at the distance and has also had the beating of plenty of them in recent starts. His 3rd place last time out was in decent company and he could well be the one to beat today. Don’t rule out (11) RAYMOND. While he hasn’t quite lived up to his early promise, he is a solid competitor at this level and surely won’t be far away again. (1) GOLD HAMMER and (10) BULMYEORUI JEWANG are among a host of others with placing chances.
|Selections||(7) Daegun Cheonha (12) King’s Step (11) Raymond (10) Bulmyeorui Jewang|
|Next Best||1, 13|
|Fast Start||5, 7, 12|
Seoul Race 9: Class 3 (1800M) Allowance / KRW 32 Million
The last at Seoul provides what is probably the track’s banker favourite of the day. (1) HAENGBOK WANGJA comes in looking for a hat-trick of victories and the manner of his score over class and distance on November 7th suggests he will be hard to beat. There was full prize-money that day so he does get a penalty but he can overcome it. (9) FLASH JET ran 2nd that day, a full five-lengths in arrears. He will have to go some to overturn that but should still have the beating of plenty of the rest. (2) GEUKGI SANGJIN made a promising return to racing in October after six months away. He steps up to two turns for the first time and it may well suit. (3) CHEON GOE SEONG won at this class over 1700M in July and while he could only manage 5th at 1400M three weeks ago, he can go better here.
|Selections||(1) Haengbok Wangja (9) Flash Jet (3) Cheon Goe Seong (2) Geukgi Sangjin|
|Next Best||10, 4|
|Fast Start||3, 5, 10|
Busan Race 1: Class 6 (1200M) Allowance / KRW 22 Million
At this stage in proceedings attention switches to Busan and the southern track kicks off with a hugely competitive maiden. The combination of Thomas Gillespie and You Hyun-myung is always one to take note of and they can score here in the Isidore Farm colours with (2) MIDNIGHT QUEEN. The Midnight Lute filly has shown promise across two starts so far with a 5th and a 2nd and from a better draw today can go one better. (3) WONDERFUL SECRET too has shown progression his two starts and a similarly fashionable jockey/trainer combination will tempt plenty. (7) BABY LINE has the fastest time at the distance and has finished no worse than 4th in three outings so far. He’ll be up there again as should the stablemate pair of (6) STEADY WINNER and (9) BAEK PUNG.
|Selections||(2) Midnight Queen (3) Wonderful Secret (9) Baek Pung (7) Baby Line|
|Next Best||6, 10|
|Fast Start||2, 3, 4, 7, 8, 11, 13|
Busan Race 2: Class 6 (1200M) Allowance / KRW 22 Million
(11) GEUMA GOOD POINT looks to be figuring things out and while he ran into one that was far too good on his latest outing in in November, he has a win in him and it could be here. That said, he runs into an unknown quantity in the shape of (9) JILJU MANYEO. The filly is the solitary debut-maker here and she looked extremely accomplished when sauntering through a trial in October. With next to no weight on her back, she is the slight pick first-up and she should be able to get to the front without too much trouble. (1) DAEHO ARA has been knocking on the door across his four starts and shouldn’t be far away while (8) HAPPY SONG has mixed her form a little but can be competitive in this company.
|Selections||(9) Jilju Manyeo (11) Geuma Good Point (1) Daeho Ara (8) Happy Song|
|Next Best||10, 14|
|Fast Start||9, 10, 11|
Busan Race 3: Class 5 (1200M) Allowance / KRW 25 Million
(10) TWO TWO WILD THING is set to be hot favourite here. He ran a good 2nd last time out and his superior early speed should see him overcome the wide draw to get to the front right away and it would be a surprise if anything came past him. (1) DOCTOR KHAN looks the most credible rival. He won over this distance in August and while he struggled at 1400M on his first try at this level a month ago, dropped back in trip today he should be much better. (8) PORRIMA too finally gets to drop back in trip having wilted late on in each of her outings. She doesn’t necessarily have a win in her but she is capable of sticking on for a place in this kind of race. (5) MASTER BELLA too weakened a little last start having led. He had to use up quite a bit of energy that day getting forward from a wide draw but should be more comfortable this time round.
|Selections||(10) Two Two Wild Thing (1) Doctor Khan (5) Master Bella (8) Porrima|
|Next Best||13, 4|
|Fast Start||4, 5, 7, 8, 10|
Busan Race 4: Class 4 (1200M) Allowance / KRW 28 Million
A winner at this distance in a time faster than any of the others here have achieved, (7) PERFECT JEWANG has back to back 3rd places in two efforts at this level over a mile and this distance respectively. Expect him to be on pace from the start here and he really should be leading gate to wire. He’s no superstar but the others are just a bit ordinary for the level and lack the consistency to make them confident picks. The two drawn widest, (13) FINAL FRONT and (14) FINE TRUMPET are both capable of running a time and have solid chances of competing for places while (6) ONE PICK struggled at a mile last start but should fine today a more appropriate task. (9) VEGA THUNDER has finished 2nd on no fewer than six occasions from just ten starts and while she doesn’t look a winning chance, she can pick up some more money here. (11) DIVINE MUSIC is a winner at the distance and cam also compete for some minor money.
|Selections||(7) Perfect Jewang (14) Fine Trumpet (9) Vega Thunder (6) One Pick|
|Next Best||11, 13|
|Fast Start||1, 2, 7, 11|
Busan Race 5: Class 3 (1400M) Allowance / KRW 32 Million
A couple of win streaks on the line here. (7) ARA ROSE has won her latest three in fine fashion with the latest two of them coming at this class over a mile and over 1200M and it’s not impossible she would be at class 2 had she been penalized for that latest win. Distance wise she splits the difference today and she has every chance of making it four in a row. (9) AKER’S DREAM comes in seeking a hat-trick of his own, having won his latest two impressively with gate to wire performances. He steps up in distance as well in class but really only has the favourite to fear. He will lead again and it won’t necessarily be easy for Ara Rose to get past. (11) WORLD TOP too steps up in class after a good win in an excellent time at this distance on November 13th. He can settle just outside the early speed and be strong late on. (10) GEUMA MSYTIC, who actually holds a win over Ara Rose, and (12) GOOD FOR YOU are others in the placing hunt.
|Selections||(7) Ara Rose (9) Aker’s Dream (11) World Top (12) Good For You|
|Next Best||10, 8|
|Fast Start||6, 9, 12|
Busan Race 6: Class 2 (1800M) Allowance / KRW 36 Million
(8) HUNCH keeps on doing everything he is asked to do. He won three races in a row to get to this level and then put in a fine performance when 2nd to Speed Fury on his first try at this class over a mile on November 13th. He has own at 1800M before and he can win today. Can he hold off Cup Mile and Minister’s Cup winner (12) TOUCH STAR MAN though? He finished 5th in that November 13th race but very much looked like he needed it. He is the quality three-year-old of the year and he really should go better today. It would be no surprise if he returned to the winner’s circle. (2) DAEHO JILJU came home 4th in the same race and warrants respect today. He doesn’t win out of turn but rarely runs a bad race. (9) B.K. GAMBOL and (11) WORLD NUMBER ONE are others who can place.
|Selections||(8) Hunch (12) Touch Star Man (2) Daeho Jilju (11) World Number One|
|Next Best||9, 3|
|Fast Start||4, 8|