The behind closed-doors Covid-Relief racing continues in Korea with Seoul, Busan and Jeju all hosting simultaneous cards on Friday. We’ll focus on the Busan card which is available on international simulcast with 10 races from 10:40 to 15:30. The feature is a heavyweight clash over 1400M as Today races for the first time since running 2nd in the Curlin Handicap at last year’s Dubai Carnival. He’s not going to find it easy either as he faces the up and coming Ssonsal.
Race 1: Class 6 (1000M) Allowance / KRW 22 Million
Tricky little filly maiden to begin with where just four of the twelve have raced before. (2) ARTIE’S GAL was well supported in November having won a trial in a fast time. She led for much of the way around over 1200M before running out of petrol and finishing 3rd. She can be given another chance today. (12) B.K. POWER similarly led in his latest two races only to end up 2nd and 3rd over 1000M and 1200M respectively. The draw is not ideal here but if he can overcome it, then he has a fair chance of finishing on top this time. (1) BARAM GONGJU didn’t really catch the eye in three appearances, the most recent of which was in February of last year. She did though look well when leading all the way in a December trial and we can expect improvement today. Among the first-timers there aren’t really any standouts. (3) DOCTOR FAPPIANO and (6) STARLIGHT registered the best trial times and can be expected to go well first-up here.
|Selections||(2) Artie’s Gal (12) B.K. Power (1) Baram Gongju (3) Doctor Fappiano|
|Next Best||6, 10|
|Fast Start||1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 12|
Race 2: Class 6 (1200M) Allowance / KRW 22 Million
(7) MIRACLE SON won at start number three on December 6th, coming from just off the pace to prevail by four-lengths at this distance. He gets another crack at the same level today and while he is carrying an extra 1.5kg, he can win again. There are a couple of credible challengers though. (12) ECHO RUSH may not have win to his name but he recorded a faster time over this distance in similar conditions when 2nd on December 5th having briefly led in the home straight. He has the wide draw to contend with but if he can get up close relatively early then he has claims. So too does (8) LUCAS SUN. He was a little bit slow off the mark last start on his first try at today’s distance but rallied well for 3rd place and today’s jockey booking catches the eye. (5) DAMYANG JEWANG is another in contention having returned from five months out to run 2nd at this distance in December. He’s drawn well to get on the early speed and should be a factor at the business end too.
|Selections||(7) Miracle Son (12) Echo Rush (8) Lucas Sun (5) Damyang Jewang|
|Next Best||2, 10|
|Fast Start||1, 5, 12|
Race 3: Class 6 (1400M) Allowance / KRW 22 Million
This is a tricky one. The only previous winner is (10) BABY LINE who broke through at start number four on December 5th. That was over 1200M and he was ridden a touch more patiently than he had been in his opening three efforts. The additional trip may suit. (8) GOLDEN KAISER was a long way behind a good winner when 3rd on debut at the end of November. He should have come on for thee run and has claims to go closer today. (11) DIVINE QUEEN and (2) KING OF JOY came home 3rd and 5th when they raced each other over 1200M on December 5th. They are the only pair to have previous experience over this trip and both have at least placing chances today. (4) MIDNIGHT QUEEN ran 5th to Baby Line last start but in all three of her outings to date, she has run on well late and may appreciate the opportunity of more distance today. (1) THE FIRST FACTOR too has shown some ability and can’t be ruled out.
|Selections||(10) Baby Line (8) Golden Kaiser (1) The First Factor (11) Divine Queen|
|Next Best||2, 4, 5|
|Fast Start||5, 10|
Race 4: Class 6 (1400M) Allowance / KRW 22 Million
(2) TOP OF KOREA is a winner of two from three so far including his latest which came at this class and distance on December 12th. He’s drawn well to get close to the early speed and with less weight on his back than last time, he is favoured to score again. He faces a few useful ones though. (9) QUEEN UP was 6th behind Top Of Korea in that race but she was racing for the first time since January and evidently needed it. She can improve today. (7) BARAMEUI KKUM beat three of these on his way to class and distance 3rd on December 5th, running on strong and he too can have designs on at least a place again. (10) GOBLIN was well back in that race but he was first-up and today carries 4.5kg less and can improve. (1) WONDERFUL KING and (11) DOCTOR KHAN are also better than their respective latest appearances suggest.
|Selections||(2) Top Of Korea (7) Barameui Kkum (10) Goblin (9) Queen Up|
|Next Best||1, 11, 6|
|Fast Start||1, 2, 12|
Race 5: Class 4 (1200M) Handicap / KRW 42 Million
Fillies and mares only here. Both (1) ILNYEOM TONGCHEON and (4) MY QUEEN have done their best work – and scored their victories – at 1400M. They both step back in trip today and find themselves amongst a competitive field. That said it would be no surprise were they to end up battling for top honours. Both are front runners and of the pair, My Queen is marginally favoured to prevail. (3) YEONGGWANGUI TIME has the speed to beat them both as she showed when winning at class and distance last October. She was slowly away from a dreadful gate in her only start since but still rallied for 5th. Much better drawn today, she should be a big factor. (2) QUEEN MARVEL IJI is also capable of running a competitive time and can be aiming for a place while (6) MY TIZ GEM and (12) HANBIT YEONGGWANG are among others in the frame for a money finish.
|Selections||(4) My Queen (1) Ilnyeom Tongcheon (3) Yeonggwangui Time (2) Queen Marvel Iji|
|Next Best||6, 12|
|Fast Start||1, 3, 4|
Race 6: Class 5 (1400M) Handicap / KRW 32 Million
(9) PINEUI KKUM has won his latest two, both of them at this class with the latter being at this distance on December 6th. That day he beat four of these on his way to an impressive seven-length win and the manner of it suggests there could be more to come today. (1) TOP LUCKY was 2nd in that race and she can be a danger again – she actually has the fastest time of any of these at this distance and should be on pace early from the inside gate. The one they’ll both need to beat is (10) CRONUS. He had a very useful debut campaign of four runs last summer which culminated in an all the way victory over this distance in August. His most recent trial was in October but the jockey/trainer combination mean he is sure to have plenty of backers. (6) FLYING KINGS and (4) B.K. HONEY look competitive at this level and should be in the placing frame.
|Selections||(9) Pineui Kkum (1) Top Lucky (10) Cronus (6) Flying Kings|
|Next Best||4, 8|
|Fast Start||1, 10|
Race 7: Class 4 (1600M) Allowance / KRW 42 Million
(5) YEONGUNG LOUIS was a strong winner on debut over 1400M on December 6th. There’s not much in the way of a penalty for that and the way the Violence colt ran on suggests that there is more to come. The additional furlong shouldn’t be a problem and he is favoured to strike again today. In a race with little in the way of early speed, he may take it on from the start. There was a full ten months between (7) NEWS MAKER’s first and second starts. He did well in both though and look to have solid potential. He finished nicely for 3rd over 1400M on his return having run 2nd at today’s distance in that debut almost a year ago and he should be in the hunt here. (1) SEONGSAN POWER was disappointingly well back behind Yeongung Louis in December but is usually a model of consistency, especially over the mile. He doesn’t win out of turn and probably won’t here either but he is worth a place line. (4) HONEY DRAGON showed enough on debut to suggest improvement is possible here, while (12) FINAL FRONT is perhaps a little better than his latest two outings suggest.
|Selections||(5) Yeongung Louis (7) News Maker (1) Seongsan Power (4) Honey Dragon|
|Next Best||12, 11|
|Fast Start||1, 2, 5|
Race 8: Class 4 (1400M) Handicap / KRW 42 Million
Cracking little race this involving no fewer than four last start winners. (11) COPY THAT has won three from six so far and led from gate to wire to score at class and distance on December 12th. He carries 2kg less today and while the draw isn’t ideal, he could well repeat here. To do so, he’ll have to again defeat (8) AFLEET YOUNG, who ran a close 2nd to him that day before coming out on January 8th to win himself at class and distance. He’s struck three times from his latest five and has plenty of quality although he is giving Copy That a full 5kg in weight today. (9) FINE TRUMPET warrants respect having beaten three of these on his way to victory at this class over 1200M on December 5th. That was his first win in quite some time but he should be in the mix again here. (4) VEGA THUNDER was 3rd in that race and is usually good for being in the placing mix. The other last start winner is (5) VERRA DAY. The Verrazano colt is a bit of a wild card though as that win was all the way back in August and it was at class 5. He didn’t offer too many clues when trialing up in November. (10) BURNING STAR was dismal first-up on December 19th but should have come on for the run and improve today.
|Selections||(11) Copy That (8) Afleet Young (9) Fine Trumpet (4) Vega Thunder|
|Next Best||5, 10, 2, 3|
Race 9: Class 1 (1400M) Handicap / KRW 70 Million
(3) TODAY races in Korea for the first time since the Grand Prix Stakes in December 2019. His most recent start anywhere was 2nd place to Parsimony in the Curlin Handicap over 2000M at the Dubai Carnival last February. He looked well when winning a December trial and he is obviously the class horse of the race. Having said that, there will surely be bigger targets than this and he is giving away at least 8kg to everything else. Even if he wasn’t, (4) SSONSAL would still be a threat. He beat four of these with a front running performance over 1200M on December 6th but also holds the fastest time of any of these over this distance. (10) SPEED FURY is a lightly raced six-year-old who tackles class 1 for the first time today. He’s a winner of seven of his ten starts and should be in the mix here. Today’s stablemate (12) RAPIDO MAN struggled on his first attempt at this level behind Ssonsal last month but that was his first start since August and the 1400M today should suit better. Another up in class for the first time is (5) WONDERFUL LION. He was a front-running winner over this distance on his last start in November and should be able to mix it with most of the class 1 veterans here.
|Selections||(4) Ssonsal (3) Today (10) Speed Fury (5) Wonderful Lion|
|Next Best||12, 9, 2|
|Fast Start||3, 4, 5, 10, 11|
Race 10: Class 3 (1800M0 Allowance / KRW 50 Million
No fewer than five of these raced each other at class and distance on December 20th and it was (2) CURLIN FANTASY, breaking his maiden at start twenty-five, who came out on top. He came from well off the pace and there is no real reason why he can’t repeat although we might favour a couple to overturn that form. (8) RETURN OF SUBSIDY was 2nd in that race. Similar to Curlin Fantasy, he’s not exactly a prolific winner but has an excellent placing record and should go close again. (1) WORLD TOP was 4th in that race. He looks to be still on the improve and should have come on for his first try around two turns. (9) GEUMA KAIROS was the main disappointment in that race, fading to finish in 11th place on what was his first try at this class. He has won at this distance in a competitive time, however, and can be a different prospect today. Of those who didn’t run in the December 20th race, (12) TRUE VALOR has plenty of consistency. While a couple of others may have a bit more speed about them, he can still be competing for a money finish.
|Selections||(1) World Top (9) Geuma Kairos (8) Return of Subsidy (2) Curlin Fantasy|
|Next Best||12, 11|
|Fast Start||1, 9|