The current social distancing guidelines throughout Korea have been extended to the end of the month. That means that the Seoul Capital area including Gyeonggi Province and Incheon, the city of Daegu and Jeju Island will remain at level 3 and unable to accept customers. Busan (Racecourse and OTBs), Changwon, Gwangju and Cheonan can accept pre-booked customers (through the MyCard app). So long as new infections remain below 1,000 per day (currently the average is between 400 and 750) and the target of 14 Million first-dose vaccinations is reached by the end of June, then July is set to see a restructuring of the guidelines which should allow at least some customers to enter Seoul Racecourse. At this point, thoroughbred racing is expected to revert to its former three-days-a-week schedule. We cross our fingers. For now though, there is racing on Saturday at Seoul (8 races from 11:00 to 18:00) and at Busan (6 races from 11:30 to 16:50). Here are the previews:
Seoul Race 1: Class 6 (1000M) Allowance / KRW 22 Million
Small field of fillies get us underway. The favourite will probably be (8) NEW HOPE based on the consistent start she has made to her career with two 3rd place finishes and a 4th among her latest three. She drops back to five-furlongs for the first time today and while she hasn’t been the quickest of starters, it could be what she needs to make the breakthrough. We’re going to side though with (3) SOEWAKKOT. Having posted a fast trial, she ran 6th on debut at this distance from a wide draw. She gets a better barrier today and should have benefited from the experience. Expect her to lead and she can win. (9) NAMSAN CHOCOLATE comes in off an improved showing at this trip last time when from a wide gate she showed prominently before ending up in 6th it was a good time on a dry track and a similar showing puts her in the finish today. (7) QUEEN LION has the fastest time of any of these at the distance and while that was all the way back on debut, she’s not had another chance at this distance since. Solitary debut-maker (1) FIRST ROAD went well in a May trial and is worth keeping an eye on.
|Selections||(3) Soewakkot (8) New Hope (9) Namsan Chocolate (1) First Road|
|Fast Start||1, 2, 3, 8|
Busan Race 1: Class 6 (1000M) Allowance / KRW 22 Million
(10) GLORY SONG ran 2nd on debut, well behind a very good winner but showed enough in an on-pace run to suggest there is more to come. She doesn’t draw especially well here but can overcome that and with Perovic climbing aboard, she can make her breakthrough today. (The other standout is (2) ECOPIA. She came from off the pace to run 3rd on her own debut, also at this distance on May 8th. She posted a fast time and beat three of these in the process and from a better gate will surely be mixing it in the finish again. Draw a line through the latest outing of (8) AMAZING FOOT when he was only fairly away and never featured. If he can get a good start and get on or close to the pace, then he has at least a placing chance. (3) LUCKY RUN and (5) MACH ROAD are others worth considering.
|Selections||(10) Glory Song (2) Ecopia (8) Amazing Foot (5) Mach Road|
|Next Best||4, 11|
|Fast Start||1, 6, 10, 12|
Seoul Race 2: Class 6 (1000M) Allowance / KRW 22 Million
The second division of the filly maiden and this time we’ll have a clear favourite and top pick. (4) LONDON POWER was a good trial winner over the winter before debuting at the end of February, running a solid 3rd over this trip. She’s drawn very nicely here and while it has been over three months since that run, she should have too much for this set of opponents. (2) GEUMGUKHWA has the second fastest time at this distance and also has the fastest first furlong average of any on the field. Her recent form reads very cold but it has all been at 1200M so she may appreciate the step back to the short-course today. (3) MISS CAMP and (7) JUMALUI SIJAK have hinted at ability across their respective prior starts and both should be looking to improve here. There are two debut-makers and of the pair (6) JEONGSEONG DAERO is perhaps the more likely to make an immediate impact.
|Selections||(4) London Power (2) Geumgukhwa (7) Jumalui Sijak (3) Miss Camp|
|Fast Start||2, 3, 4, 9|
Busan Race 2: Class 6 (1300M) Allowance / KRW 22 Million
(14) CHEONGMA HWANGHU overcame a similarly wide draw at her latest start to get on pace and ultimately run 3rd behind a couple of useful types. She’s going to need to repeat that trick today but this looks a slightly easier race and if Seo Seung-un can find a handy position., she should be too good. (10) FANTASTIC LEADER comes in off two solid 3rd place finishes, both of them over 1200M. The draw is less of an issue for him as he likes to run on and he should be in the finish again today. (5) DOCTOR TEXAS is likely to be on pace. He ran well enough for 5th place over 1200M on his debut on May 1st and this is a nice race to follow up in. The rest will need to come past him at some stage. (13) SKY MORE hasn’t done too much wrong in three starts to date with his best being a 2nd place on debut. He has been slightly one-paced but with a sensible ride that should be enough to see him in the mix today. (6) A ONE PLUS perhaps the best of the rest.
|Selections||(14) Cheongma Hwanghu (10) Fantastic Leader (5) Doctor Texas (13) Sky More|
|Next Best||6, 3|
|Fast Start||2, 5, 12, 14|
Seoul Race 3: Class 6 (1200M) Allowance / KRW 22 Million
(4) LUMINOUS QUEEN ran on strong for 2nd in a fast time on debut over 1000M in April. She should have come on for that run and stepping up in trip today with a good draw once more, has every chance of breaking through. (2) GREAT THUNDER led for much of his debut at this distance on May 8th. He ultimately got passed by a couple but stuck to his task well for 3rd. He should have come on for the run and will be expected to lead again. (6) ILGYEOK PILSAL has the fastest time of any of these at the distance recorded when coming from off the pace to run 2nd at his latest start. He drew wide that day but has run well when leading too so from a better gate today, expect him to be on pace and in with a serious chance. (10) M J STORM goes best when he gets a good start and gets on pace so expect Lim Gi-won to try to get across from gate ten. If he does, then he should be in the finish. (14) SMARTY TREM looks the best of the rest and is another in the placing frame.
|Selections||(4) Luminous Queen (2) Great Thunder (6) Ilgyeok Pilsal (10) M J Storm|
|Next Best||14, 7|
|Fast Start||2, 4, 10, 13|
Busan Race 3: Class 6 (1400M) Allowance / KRW 22 Million
Tricky race this. We’re going to give (8) CHEONGDAM DRIVE another chance. He didn’t run on when a beaten favourite over a mile last start on May 9th. He is yet to win but has some decent performances in his record, including at this distance. If he can get on or close to the early speed then back at 1400M, he has every chance. (4) YEONGDO GALMAEGI has every chance too. He has the fastest time of these at the distance, albeit recorded on a muddy track, and he ran well last start when finishing strongly from a midfield positon for 2nd. He’ll sit handy again here and can run on strong to challenge for the win this time. (6) SWEET BAND has been figuring things out across her latest few starts. She ran a good 2nd at this distance last time after coming from off the pace. She has had a tendency to get a bit too far back in her races and if she doesn’t leave herself too much to do, she can challenge with a couple of kilos in hand on the other fancies. (2) DOCTOR CORNS weakened badly after using up a lot of energy to get to the front from a wide draw at a mile last time. With today’s gate, he is worth another chance. (9) AFLEET TAPIT another in the hunt.
|Selections||(8) Cheongdam Drive (4) Yeongdo Galmaegi (6) Sweet Band (2) Doctor Corns|
|Next Best||9, 10|
|Fast Start||2, 4, 5, 7|
Seoul Race 4: Class 5 (1400M) Handicap / KRW 28 Million
Moon Se-young has a 100% record on (7) FASHIONED PASSION, riding her on both her wins so far including last time when she was midfield and wide before running on very well to score at this class over 1200M. She’s won at 1300M as well and her running style suggests that this distance should be totally fine too. She carries slightly more weight today but can make it three in a row. She’s going to need to be good though to beat (9) VYING BLADE. The colt is a half-brother to a Korean Derby winner and got his maiden win at start number seven when making all over this distance in an excellent time on April 11th. He comes up in the weights here and draws slightly wider but must be taken seriously. Disregard the latest start of (1) THANK YOU DAECHEON when he was hampered at the start although he still ran on strong for 6th place. He’s won at the distance and with a clean getaway can be in the finish. (3) ULTRA KING and (13) ON POINT are among plenty of others with placing hopes in what is a good looking race for the level.
|Selections||(7) Fashioned Passion (9) Vying Blade (1) Thank You Daecheon (3) Ultra King|
|Next Best||13, 10|
|Fast Start||3, 4, 8, 9|
Busan Race 4: Class 6 (1200M) Allowance / KRW 22 Million
(2) WONDERFUL JAZZ is set to be one of the hottest favourites of the day at either track. He ran 4th on debut in January and then 3rd in March, the latter at today’s trip. From the track’s top stable, he will be expected to improve off twelve weeks out and running fresh here, he should lead gate to wire against what is in truth, very modest opposition. (1) INTO MARINE was beaten by Wonderful Jazz in March and was then a solid enough 5th at the start of May over 1300M. That should be enough to put him into the placing picture here. (3) CHOEGANG BEONJJEOK ran a creditable time when finishing in midfield last start and a similar run today can see him beat enough of these to challenge for some money. (5) AGAIN HELEN debuted in that race behind Choegang Beonjjeok and showed a good bit of late speed. If he can hit top gear – or even find it – a bit earlier this time, then he too can place. In such a weak race, it is worth looking at the first-time starters and (7) LUCYUI GIJEOK did nothing wrong in trials and can go well first-up.
|Selections||(2) Wonderful Jazz (7) Lucyui Gijeok (1) Into Marine (3) Choegang Beonjjeok|
|Fast Start||2, 3, 8, 9|
Seoul Race 5: Class 5 (1200M) Handicap / KRW 28 Million
(12) EAST IMPACT won his first two races making all at this distance before finding an on-form Samantha Cheetah a little too hot to handle in the closing stages over 1300M on his first try at this level on May 2nd. He draws the same wide gate today but this time can lead all the way at a distance at which he has already run a super time. The main danger is (7) ROCK FIGHTER. He steps up in class today following back to back wins, the latest of which was an all the way score over 1300M. Well drawn to challenge for the lead again, he has solid claims. (3) YULONG STAR was handy all the way when 4th last time out in an all-filly race over 1400M. Both the drop in trip and a better gate should help her at least match that today. (9) GIVEN RUNNER was on pace and wide throughout last time when 2nd at this distance. His times haven’t been spectacular but he can be competitive here. (14) ONE AND ONLY is another knocking at the door and once more gets in under a very light weight with an apprentice on board.
|Selections||(12) East Impact (7) Rock Fighter (3) Yulong Star (14) One And Only|
|Next Best||9, 10|
|Fast Start||1, 7, 10, 12|
Busan Race 5: Class 4 (1200M) Handicap / KRW 35 Million
A really competitive race with any number of possible winners. We’ll take a chance on (11) B.K. LOOKS, who ran on fairly for 2nd behind a good winner over 1400M on May 22nd. He has run fast times at this trip as well and his running style means the draw shouldn’t inhibit him too much while the light weight brings him right into the picture. The likely favourite is (4) FUTURE KING. He was a super winner at this distance two starts back and beat a couple of these on his way to 4th place last time when he was a touch wide throughout. He is a real chance here. (2) BURNING FLY was a good winner, running on strong from a handy position at this class and distance on May 1st. She draws very nicely today and should be in the finish again. (3) HAPPY WITCH races for the first time since December and while she may need this, looked in superb touch when winning a trial in a fast time at the end of April. (13) DIVINE MUSIC, 2nd to Burning Sky two starts back and since weakening over 1400M, looks best of the rest although the draw does her no favours as she will want to be on the early speed.
|Selections||(11) B.K. Looks (4) Future King (2) Burning Fly (3) Happy Witch|
|Next Best||13, 1|
|Fast Start||2, 3, 5, 13|
Seoul Race 6: Class 4 (1400M) Handicap / KRW 35 Million
(3) TIZ CITY went right back last start before running on well for 2nd in a fast time over 1200M. He steps back up to a trip today at which he holds the fastest time among the field and while the weight is concern, because his main rivals are carrying much less, he may well have the quality to get the job done this time. One of those main rivals is (13) FIRE ROAD. He is up in class but carries 3.5kg less than Tiz City. He’s won three in a row and has done them in varied ways as well, going right back and also racing handy. He is a winner at this distance and he is a big danger. Carrying even less is (1) RAON PINK. She too is up in class, in her case following an all the way win over 1300M on April 11th. This is her first try at the distance but the draw suggests the Musket Man filly can be on pace again and can challenge. (4) GRACE QUEEN comes up in class having won three of her last four. This is undoubtedly tougher but she has won at this distance and can be competitive. (11) SUPER ECTON is among plenty of others capable of challenging for places.
|Selections||(3) Tiz City (13) Fire Road (1) Raon Pink (4) Grace Queen|
|Next Best||11, 2|
|Fast Start||1, 4, 9, 10|
Busan Race 6: Class 3 (1400M) Handicap / KRW 42 Million
A winner of five from eight so far (8) CHOEGANG SSONSAL has beaten plenty of these along the way including when prevailing over 1200M at this class last time out on May 15th. He has also run a very fast time when winning at this distance. The weight is a mild concern but other than that he looks a good chance to win again. (10) ADELE SPIKE and (14) WONDERFUL PEACE came home 2nd and 3rd respectively in that May 15th race with Adele Spike having led for much of it. Both stay at the same weight today and both can go well at the extended distance. (11) NICE ONE race for the first time since finishing 4th behind Choegang Ssonsal back in March. He tackles 1400M for the first time today and should be in the hunt for at least a place. The experienced (6) ROYAL TICKET enters in good form. He likes to get back and then run on which he did to good effect when 2nd at this distance on April 25th. He does come up in class here but is significantly down in the weights and he should be in the mix at the business end of the race.
|Selections||(8) Choegang Ssonsal (11) Nice One (14) Wonderful Peace (6) Royal Ticket|
|Next Best||10, 1|
|Fast Start||1, 8, 10, 11|
Seoul Race 7: Class 4 (1700M) Allowance / KRW 35 Million
(1) LUCKY HOON took to this distance like a duck to the proverbial when tried over it for the first time on May 8th, coming from midfield to run on wide and strong to score his maiden win. He gets another crack at class 4 here and while he is up in weight, he is the one to beat again. (4) MUNHAK ENCORE ran 2nd in that race, an uptick in form on his first try at the distance. He remains a maiden but looks good for another place here. (3) HEUNGWA GIPPEUM was 4th in the same race in what for him too was his first go around two turns, having beaten the very promising Black Musk, as well as Lucky Hoon, at 1400M the time before. He will race handy and can finish off well. (9) MILKY SHERRY generally tends to get underestimated and while she again doesn’t look a winning chance, we know that she goes well at this distance and with such a light weight to carry, can’t be ignored. (11) WINNER TEMPLAR never got going around 1200M last start but can be given another chance here.
|Selections||(1) Lucky Hoon (4) Munhak Encore (3) Heungwa Gippeum (9) Milky Sherry|
|Next Best||11, 2|
|Fast Start||3, 4, 8, 11|
Seoul Race 8: Class 3 (1800M) Handicap / KRW 42 Million
(7) BALVENIE comes up in class after a really good all the way win on a muddy track on May 15th. That was his second class 4 victory and he has never finished worse than 5th in his six outings to date He has consistently run good times and while he is up in distance to two-turns for the first time, he comes down in the weights and should be in the finish again here. The most credible danger appears to be (3) BIG TRIPLE The only one of these to have won at this distance already, something he achieved two starts back, he was a touch disappointing last start when he was 6th but it was in a race from which the form has been holding up well over the past couple of weeks so perhaps it wasn’t that bad. He tends to run best when deep closing. (6) EMORY SOCKS Ran on strong for 4th at the distance last time out and is a placing hope again. (8) ROCKUI JEWANG was further back in the same race but should have come on for that experience and can be given another chance here.
|Selections||(7) Balvenie (3) Big Triple (6) Emory Socks (8) Rockui Jewang|
|Fast Start||2, 5, 7, 8|