Month: January 2021

Busan Friday: Race-By-Race Preview (January 15)

After last weekend’s sub-zero and then some unpleasantness, the temperature has warmed up significantly in Korea where once more, all three tracks will run Friday cards at the same time. There is no local attendance or betting. East Jet and Alan Munro renew their successful partnership in Seoul’s feature but once again we will focus on Busan (10 races from 10:35 to 15:15) which is available on international simulcast in the usual places.

East Jet goes at Seoul but we’ll focus on Busan (Pic: KRA)

Race 1: Class 6 (1000M) Allowance / KRW 22 Million

A maiden to kick things off with eight of the twelve racing for the very first time. Of the ones with experience, (5) FIRST EDITION is set to be favourite. Having impressed in his trial, he was well fancied first-up on November 20th but having led for much of the way, ultimately finished a rather well-beaten 2nd. Nevertheless, he’ll be favourite again today and should get things right this time. None of the others with experience caught the eye so we’ll turn to the first-timers. (7) FIRST CHOICE first trialed up all the way back in May of 2019 and after a string of setbacks finally makes it to the track. She registered the quickest trial time and goes straight into contention. (6) WONDERFUL JAZZ didn’t offer too many clues in his heat but did nothing wrong and given the stable, he will be backed first-up. (2) S.L. KING and (9) GEUMBIT SKY similarly looked well in their respective heats.

Selections(5) First Edition (7) First Choice (9) Geumbit Sky (6) Wonderful Jazz
Next Best2, 12
Fast Start5, 9

Race 2: Class 6 (1200M) Allowance / KRW 22 Million

(2) JEONGMUN POWER led from gate to wire on debut to record a very smart looking win over this distance. He gets another crack at class 6 here and has every chance of repeating from a good draw. It looks to be between Jeongmun Power and another previous winner, (11) MACH TITAN. He made his breakthrough at start number two and it was a similar all the way performance in a decent time in October. That encouraged connections to take a chance in Busan’s top juvenile race at the end of November and while he couldn’t get close to Heat Yegam or Winner’s Man, he did finish 4th in a reasonable time and back in shallower waters today is a real threat. (10) MONEY BAG improved on his second start in November and the booking of Seo Seung-un catches the eye. (12) TOP ADELE did nothing on debut last July but looked better when trialing up on Chirstmas Eve and gets a fresh start here.

Selections(2) Jeongmun Power (11) Mach Titan (10) Money Bag (12) Top Adele
Next Best3, 8
Fast Start2, 10

Race 3: Class 6 (1400M) Allowance / KRW 22 Million

Fillies (and one mare) only for this maiden. (7) LOOKING CAT improved on what was her second career start on December 6th. She ran on well for 5th and may appreciate the chance to get a bit of extra distance today. (10) LADY LOVE has been a touch one-paced across her two starts so far but she did improve in the latest of them and shapes to be a factor here. Also improving second up was (2) BAEDARI ICON, who came from off the pace to run a few down for 3rd place over 1200M and is another who may find the extra furlong suits. (1) NEW GLORY DAY led on her debut a month ago before weakening to 5th and may be fitter for that run today. (3) KKOTMURI is another who hasn’t shown much in the way of speed but also hasn’t done too much wrong in two starts so far and can improve here. There is just one debut-maker and in such company (6) FLAT BABE merits consideration after an adequate enough trial.

Selections(7) Looking Cat (10) Lady Love (2) Baedari Icon (1) New Glory Day
Next Best6, 9
Fast Start1

Race 4: Class 6 (1600M) Allowance / KRW 22 Million

Uncharted territory here with all twelve tackling a mile for the first time. (2) ACE DAY is a half-brother to Today, a winner of eleven races in Korea who has also placed in visits to Singapore and Dubai. For his part, Ace Day was an all the way winner on debut over 1200M before making a very slow start on his return to action at the end of November, giving himself far too much to do and ultimately finishing 2nd. The step up in trip should be fine and he can win here. (7) TRIUMPH KING ran a solid 2md on debut on December 12th. He ran on well and should also be able to cope well with the mile. Those two look the clear standouts with everything else needing to show improvement. (1) ROCK HARD DANCER hinted at some ability when running on well behind Ace Day last start while (6) DAEHO PYEONGJEONG showed a bit of promise in his first two starts before losing his way a little. The change in distance may be good for him too.

Selections(2) Ace Day (7) Triumph King (1) Rock Hard Dancer (6) Daeho Pyeongjeong
Next Best5, 11
Fast Start2, 7

Race 5: Class 5 (1200M) Handicap / KRW 32 Million

Fillies and mares only here. (5) GREY ANGEL has won both her two starts so far, running on well both times to score by handsome margins at this distance. Today she has to step up in class for the first time but the task should be well within her ability and she has solid claims again. (9) MAJOR PUNCH beat four of these on her way to a solid 2nd place at class and distance on November 27th. That came following a poor performance two starts back but she is a class and distance winner and can be in the hunt again today. (7) GEUMA BONNY was a good winner on debut back in August and while she could only manage 4th on her November return, this looks a bit easier and she has claims. It’s a similar story with (8) NAMDO QUEEN who ran on well for 4th on her second start having won on debut. (4) BODE BLADE and (12) ACHIM BIT are others in at least the placing hunt.

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Busan Friday: Race-By-Race Preview (January 8)

The 2021 racing season gets underway in much reduced form on Friday with cards planned at all three racecourses. It is possible the weather may intervene in the Seoul meeting with Friday’s morning temperatures set to dip as low as -16C. We’ll focus on the Busan meeting anyway which has 10 races from 10:35 to 15:15. There is no local admission or betting but the races will be on international simulcast. Here are the previews:

The snow has been cleared off the track at Seoul but it remains bitterly cold

Race 1: Class 6 (1000M) Allowance / KRW 22 Million

Twelve three-year-olds here all of them going round for the very first time. So it’s to the trial videos we head to try and make head or tail of it. (10) APRIL QUEEN beat three of her rivals here when trialing on December 12th. She led early in the heat that day before ending up in 3rd place. The draw isn’t ideal here but she looks to have solid claims. (5) BAEDARI CHOEGANG and (1) FANTASTIC LEADER came home 4th and 5th respectively in the same heat, both running through the line well and should be able to make an impact first up here too. The fastest time any of these recorded in trials was by (4) SECRET MAGIC. She went around tidily enough and while she didn’t really quicken, she stuck to her task well and looked to have plenty of running in her. Among the others, (2) BLACK ROMANCE also looked well enough in his heat beating a couple of the others who go here while (7) JILPUNG KOREA did nothing wrong either.

Selections(10) April Queen (4) Secret Magic (5) Baedari Choegang (2) Black Romance
Next Best1, 7
Fast Start3, 7, 10

Race 2: Class 6 (1200M) Allowance / KRW 22 Million

Fillies (and one mare) only here. (4) MARK ACE is already a winner but gets another crack at what is ostensibly a maiden race because it fell during the reduced stakes racing period. She returned in November to run 3rd, admittedly well back behind a good winner but showed enough again to suggest that in this company she is going to be very dangerous. He will sit on or close to the early speed. (12) PEACE BAEK has the fastest time of these at this distance albeit recorded in very different conditions last August. She maintained her form well on two outings in October and November and despite the gate, looks a big danger here. (3) COLOR WIND and (5) SEUNGNI QUEEN both come in following 3rd place finishes in their respective latest starts and should be in the hunt for places as well. (7) QUEEN VRONSKY was a touch disappointing over 1400M last start but should be better dropped back in trip here.

Selections(4) Mark Ace (12) Peace Baek (7) Queen Vronsky (3) Color Wind
Next Best5, 6
Fast Start4, 8, 9, 11

Race 3: Class 6 (1400M) Allowance / KRW 22 Million

A pretty ordinary maiden here. (2) ENDLESS RUNNING has only raced the once and did quite well, leading for much of the way around before ultimately coming home 4th over 1300M. From gate 2, he’ll be on pace again and can go all the way. (12) CHEONMA HASEO has been knocking on the door for a while with three 4th place finishes including his latest which was at today’s distance in November. The widest gate shouldn’t be an issue and he should be up there. (11) YEONGGWANGUI TEUKGEUP’s name is too long to fit fully into the English race card. He did though beat a couple of these on his latest outing and has previously registered a semi-competitive time at this distance so should be in the hunt today. (8) RAPTOR MAN has the fastest time of these at this distance and is also the only one to have a runner-up finish to his name and he shapes to be competitive here. The wildcard is (7) CHEONMA BRAVO who last time out looked like he needed a bit further and can improve under Ioannis Poullis today.

Selections(2) Endless Running (12) Cheonma Haseo (8) Raptor Man (7) Cheonma Bravo
Next Best11, 6
Fast Start2, 6, 8

Race 4: Class 5 (1200M) Handicap / KRW 32 Million

After finishing 4th on debut, (1) ONNURI JILJU made all to score second-up over this distance on November 11th. He won by a full sixteen-lengths in a fast time and while he is up in class here, he has to be favoured to prevail once more. (5) ALPHA AGAIN actually beat Onnuri Jilju on what was the latter’s debut as they came home 3rd and 4th in October. Alpha Again then dropped back to 1000M to blitz the field for his maiden win. Up in class, he’s never been worse than 4th and will challenge Onnuri Jilju for the early lead. If he gets in front it may get interesting. (10) HAPPY WIND is also up in class following a maiden win at this distance. In her case it came at start number seven but it had been coming after a couple of near-misses. She probably has a bit too much to find on the other two fancies but should have the beating of most of the rest. (4) EAGLE STAR is already a class and distance winner. He was only ordinary when stepped up to 1400M last start but should be better today and carries next to no weight at all. (6) NORTHERN DREAM and (11) QUEEN OF ADELE are among others with placing claims in what is a tasty looking race.

Selections(1) Onnuri Jilju (5) Alpha Again (10) Happy Wind (4) Eagle Star
Next Best6, 11
Fast Start1, 5, 12

Race 5: Class 4 (1200M) Allowance / KRW 42 Million

Intriguing little race this with a couple of promising first-timers mixing it with some established winners. One of only three Korean bred runners in the race, (9) QUEEN OF THE WORLD is a winner of three from eight so far. She found herself unsuited and overmatched in the Korean Oaks over 1800M last August but in her only run since, she dropped back to this distance to record an all the way win in November in a good time for the level. Based on that performance, she is the one they need to beat with a good apprentice taking some weight off. (8) SONIC KING IJI is also a class and distance winner having scored last November before running 2nd three weeks ago. You Hyun-myung returns to the mount today and he has every chance. Of the others with experience, (2) CHEONNYEONUI QUEEN, with only one start so far, looks to have potential to improve but there are a couple of live looking debut-makers. (6) MY BABY GIRL won her trial in good fashion a month ago. The Python filly ran through the line strong and this should suit first up. (12) SNYDER has been through three trials dating back to last July. The Paddy O’Prado colt led for much of his latest heat in December recording a fast time in 2nd place and with the services of Franco Da Silva can overcome the wide draw to go close.

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Tentative Return To Racing Eyed For Friday

Following a three-week shutdown, declarations have been taken for the first Korean race cards of 2021. All three tracks at Seoul, Busan and Jeju are set to race behind closed-doors on Fridays only, beginning this Friday, January 8.

There will be no local betting and prize money will be at a reduced level although greater than that of the previous behind closed-doors racing in mid-December. There will be fifteen races on each card at Seoul beginning at 9am while there will be ten at Busan with a 10:35am start. The Busan cards will be available for international simulcasting.

New Coronavirus cases have hovered around the 1,000 mark daily for the past three weeks although there have been some signs of the situation stabilizing. The government opted not to adopt the so called “toughest curbs” which would have closed “non-essential” shops and would have also precluded any kind of racing, even behind closed doors. Instead it restricted social gatherings of greater than four people. With the racecourse being a workplace, racing as well as other professional sports, can take place with no spectators.

Adding woes to the industry’s plight, there has been little progress on lawmakers’ efforts to pass the online gambling bill with it continually being delayed at committee level meaning many in racing are becoming increasingly resigned to there being no betting – and therefore no income to the industry – for months to come.

With betting continuing to be shut down, three off-track betting centres which have their leases coming up for renewal will close permanently. These are the ones in Bucheon, Daejeon and the “foreigner-only” facility at the Walker Hill in Seoul.

In a further measure, horses purchased overseas after November of 2020 will not be able to be registered to race in Korea in 2021. With owners not buying at domestic sales to any extent during last year’s shut down, there is currently an oversupply of young horses with uncertain futures. It is hoped that the temporary registration restriction, while undoubtedly narrowing Korean racing’s horizons, will encourage owners to take these horses and help mitigate significant potential welfare issues.

As if all this wasn’t enough, the forecast morning low temperature in Seoul this Friday morning is -19C with a high of -11C. The Busan card should be ok with the temperature predicted to be a comparatively tropical -2C at the time of the scheduled first race.

Previews of the Busan races will appear on the site tomorrow.