The 2022 Stakes race season gets underway at Seoul Racecourse on Sunday afternoon with the twentieth running of the Segye Ilbo Cup. A field of fourteen that includes several Group winners will contest the Listed event over the sprint distance of 1200M, which returns to the calendar after having to be pandemically postponed in 2021.
Raon First – the only filly or mare in the race – is the probable favourite, coming off her comfortable win over her distaff contemporaries in t Jeju Governor’s Cup at 1400M in December, but she has beaten the males at class 1 level too and with a weight allowance and a great draw she may prove hard to catch.
2020 Owners’ Association Trophy winner East Jet also lines up and will be a big danger while Busan’s challenge is led by Classic winner Touch Star Man and the speedy Doctor Carson. The Segye Ilbo Cup is race 9 on the 11-race program at Seoul Racecourse which runs from 10:45 to 18:00. There are also 6 races at Busan from 12:00 to 16:40. All betting locations are open but attendance must be pre-booked through the MyCard app. Evidence of up to date vaccination against Covid-19 is required. Here are the previews:
Seoul Race 1: Class 6 (1000M) Allowance / KRW 40 Million
Three-year-old maiden fillies in the opener with no fewer than ten of the twelve racing for the very first time. One of those first-timers goes on top in the shape of (5) HAMPYEONG NABI, who caught the eye in a heat, leading almost the entire way around before crossing the line in 2nd in a fast time. She draws nicely here and appears set for a bold showing first up. The two with experience both raced adequately enough on debut to suggest they should be in the frame here. (7) MENI SPEAR came home 4th on debut on Christmas Day at this distance having previously won a trial while (8) DOLBAE debuted a day later and ran 5th in a fair time. With natural improvement both can go closer this time around. Returning to the newcomers, (11) MENI ACE and (4) SONGAM NURI trialed up together and could be the best of the rest.
|Selections||(5) Hampyeong Nabi (7) Meni Spear (8) Dolbae (11) Meni Ace|
|Next Best||4, 11|
|Fast Start||4, 5, 7, 8|
Seoul Race 2: Class 6 (1300M) Allowance / KRW 40 Million
Small field as it’s restricted to sales graduates. Moon Se-young climbing aboard (6) FLYING ATHENA will prick some ears. He’s run adequately for 6th in both starts so far, last time running on over 1200M. Expect him to be up front early here and he could well break through. The primary danger is set to be (3) NAUI NARA. She’s improved across three outings so far, culminating with a 3rd place over 1400M on December 25th when she was prominent throughout. Expect her to be challenging for the early lead and to be in this a long way. Draw a line through the latest effort from (5) BIG ENERGY when he failed to settle from a wide draw. He had run consistently prior to that though and is worth another chance here. (1) MILLION QUEEN didn’t do much on debut but finished midfield and may improve from the inside gate. (9) GEOLJAK MAN has a 3rd place to his name and that’s enough to bring him into the calculations today.
|Selections||(6) Flying Athena (3) Maui Nara (5) Big Energy (1) Million Queen|
|Next Best||9, 7|
|Fast Start||3, 4, 6, 7|
Seoul Race 3: Class 6 (1700M) Allowance / KRW 25 Million
(1) GRAND STAR beat three of these on his way to 3rd place at this distance on December 19th when handy throughout. That was his best finish to date in nine attempts and from a good draw on the inside, he can sit handy again and this time break through. (3) DIVINE POWER has raced adequately in three attempts at this distance, posting fair times. He generally settles midfield or worse and then runs on and should get past plenty here. (4) GEUMSEONG MAN comes up in trip following a much-improved 2nd place when stepped up to 1400M on December 25th, beating a couple of today’s rivals in the process and the additional distance may suit even more. (11) APPLE MINT and (8) M J STORM among others to enter the calculations.
|Selections||(1) Grand Star (3) Divine Power (4) Geumseong Man (11) Apple Mint|
|Next Best||8, 2|
|Fast Start||1, 5, 7, 10|
Busan Race 1: Class 6 (1000M) Allowance / KRW 40 Million
Busan’s opener is a maiden for three-year-olds with four of the twelve making their racecourse debuts. We’ll tentatively side with experience as (7) JEONGDEUN-RO ran a solid 3rd on debut at this distance on January 10th, sitting handy all the way and completing the course in a fair time, albeit well back behind a good winner. She should have come on for that. Likely favourite is one of the first timers. (5) STAR ACE sat handy in his trial, finishing 2nd in a decent time. The Kim Young-kwan/You Hyun-myung combination is bound to make punters take note and from a good draw, there is no reason why he can’t win first-up. (12) INDIE MAGIC won a trial and while the draw does him no favours, in this company he can have claims first up. (1) GASOK DAY was 5th on debut in what was a monumentally slow race at the distance. He is surely capable of quicker and can improve from the inside gate. (9) SUNSHINE STAR maybe best of the rest.
|Selections||(7) Jeongdeun-Ro (5) Star Ace (12) Indie Magic (1) Gasok Day|
|Next Best||9, 11|
|Fast Start||1, 5, 7, 12|
Seoul Race 4: Class 5 (1700M) Allowance / KRW 40 Million
She’s yet to break through in thirteen starts to date but (6) GOLDEN BADGE has a strong of near-misses and has also run a fast time at this distance. She comes in having come from well back to run 2nd over 1400M on Boxing Day and has solid claims here. So too (7) SARYEONI FIRST, who won over 1200M at class 6 level last November before finishing 3rd at this class and distance on December 12th. He will probably settle midfield and run on and shouldn’t be far away. (11) ADELE NARAE took to this distance well when stepped up to it on January 9th and running 2nd, ahead of a couple of today’s rivals. He can build on that today. (9) BRAVO SOCKS and (3) RUFFIAN PARK are others who can have designs on the places.
|Selections||(6) Golden Badge (7) Saryeoni First (11) Adele Narae (9) Bravo Socks|
|Next Best||3, 12|
|Fast Start||2, 4, 7, 11|
Busan Race 2: Class 6 (1400M) Allowance / KRW 25 Million
(10) KING SATURDAY will be one of the hotter favourites of the weekend. He has finished 3rd and 2nd in his two starts so far at 1000M and 1200M and while he comes up in trip again here, he should be exiting class 6 with a win. (6) DROMOS ran fairly for 4th at her latest outing over 1200M and also has a 2nd at that distance to her name. She generally works home well, and the extended trip may be in her favour today. (12) NAMYANG CHEOLLI improved significantly when tried at this distance at start number three on December 24th when she led for much of the way, ultimately finishing in 2nd place in front of a couple of today’s rivals. The draw does her no favours here but with a touch of luck early, she can be in the finish. (1) QUEEN’S DAERO and (4) RUN AND GUN others to take into consideration.
|Selections||(10) King Saturday (6) Dromos (12) Namyang Cheolli (1) Queen’s Daero|
|Next Best||4, 13|
|Fast Start||6, 8, 11, 12|