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|
Seoul Race 5: Class 5 (1200M) Handicap / KRW 40 Million
(4) RAON THE ARIA was an emphatic all the winner over 1000M on her third start on December 12th. The Musket Man filly comes up in class and up in distance today but this half-sister to current phenom Raon The Fighter, should have far too much again. Plenty of other talent in this race though. (12) POWER K was also a big winner on debut, sitting handy and then running on to score comfortable at 1000M on December 11th. While he may not be able to beat the favourite, he should certainly be able to measure up at this class. So too (3) SILVER STAR, who took four attempts to break though but did so in fine style on December 18th, sitting midfield and then running on in a good time for the distance. She draws well and can go close. (7) BLACK MASK is up in class having run 2nd in two fast races at 1000M and should be competitive. (11) LAST PUNCH another up in class from a debut win with improvement possible.
|Selections||(4) Raon The Aria (12) Power K (3) Silver Star (7) Black Mask|
|Next Best||11, 2|
|Fast Start||4, 7, 9, 12|
Busan Race 3: Class 5 (1200M) Handicap / KRW 40 Million
Big competitive field here. (6) SANGSEUNG BOY was an all the way winner on debut over 1000M on Christmas Eve, winning by plenty. He comes up in both class and distance today but from a good draw looks to be the one to beat again. (12) SEOBU QUEEN is yet to win in fourteen starts but consistently goes close and has the fastest time among any of these for the distance. She tends to go back and run on so the draw shouldn’t be too much of a concern and while she may find one or two too quick again, she can be in the finish. (1) OCEAN STORM has run 2nd in both starts so far at class 6 level to come up in class today. The latest was at this distance in a good time when she led almost the entire way around and from the inside gate, she can measure up here. (4) SHY DRAGON beat Ocean Storm when winning two starts back over 1000M and while she failed to make an impact at class and distance last start, she draws much better today and can improve. (2) MORNING THUNDER is experienced at this level and should be in the finish too.
|Selections||(6) Sangseung Boy (12) Seobu Queen (1) Ocean Storm (4) Shy Dragon|
|Next Best||2, 13|
|Fast Start||1, 3, 6, 10|
Seoul Race 6: Class 4 (1200M) Handicap / KRW 60 Million
It’s hard to look past (7) CHOEGANG QUEEN here. A winner of two from seven, she has never finished outside the top four and has consistently run fast times. She has won at this distance before and can sit handy here and then prove too strong late on. (2) MOST SPEED was a fast winner at class and distance two starts back when coming from off the pace. She then had a hard time in the Jeju Governor’s Cup over 1400M, but this looks a more suitable assignment, and she can go close. (4) LUCKY JAESAN returns to action after seven months out. She had shown plenty of ability before the layoff and while she offered few clues in her trial and will probably need this, she may be worth an each-way chance. (12) POWER TOWER has the fastest time at the distance and likewise, could be one to go for at odds. (8) BEST TIME among plenty of these with placing chances.
|Selections||(7) Choegang Queen (2) Most Speed (4) Lucky Jaesan (12) Power Tower|
|Next Best||8, 6|
|Fast Start||2, 4, 9, 11|
Busan Race 4: Class 4 (1600M) Handicap / KRW 60 Million
Small but competitive field. (4) DOCTOR CAESAR ran a strong 3rd in the Gimhae Mayor’s Cup last October. True, he has been a beaten favourite in two subsequent starts, but he comes up steeply in trip today and looks an interesting prospect. Expect him on pace with every chance of going all the way. (8) UNJU EUTTEUM comes up in both class and trip following a good win over 1400M on December 19th when leading most of the way. He’ll be on pace or handy here and is another one who may be suited by the extended trip. (6) SUNLIGHT BOY has raced at this distance already, recording a strong 4th place two start back. He is another front-runner, and an apprentice claim here keeps his weight low. (9) CHEONGDAM DRIVE was a slightly surprising class and distance winner at his last start on Christmas Eve and while he comes up a full 4.5kg in the weights, can’t be ruled out of going close again. (5) RUN FIGHTER among others in the frame.
|Selections||(4) Doctor Caesar (8) Unju Eutteum (6) Sunlight Boy (9) Cheongdam Drive|
|Next Best||5, 2|
|Fast Start||1, 4, 6, 8|
Seoul Race 7: Class 4 (1800M) Allowance / KRW 60 Million
(10) SARYEONI QUEEN has eight top-three finishes from nine starts so far and comes in having won at this class over 1400M on December 18th when settling midfield and running on. She comes up in distance to two turns for the first time and up significantly in weight as well but has every chance of scoring again. (11) ON POINT also tackles 1800M for the first time but his last two efforts have been at 1700M when he has finished 2nd and 3rd, both times beating a couple of today’s rivals. He is tactically versatile so the draw shouldn’t be too disadvantageous, and he will be a big danger. (9) THUNDER WIND was slightly disappointing at his latest appearance but can be given another chance here while (3) COLJOY can mix his form but draws nicely here and can be in the placing frame. (2) WINNER TEMPLAR has the fastest time among those who have raced at the distance before and is another who can be competitive.
|Selections||(10) Saryeoni Queen (11) On Point (9) Thunder Wind (3) Coljoy|
|Next Best||2, 12|
|Fast Start||1, 3, 10, 11|
Busan Race 5: Class 3 (1800M) Allowance / KRW 75 Million
(8) COOL GUY beat three of today’s rivals on his way to a fine class and distance win on January 7th hen he sat midfield before taking up the running in the early part of the straight. He has never finished outside the top-three in ten races and while he comes up a full 3kg in the weights he may take some beating again. (3) HANEUL ULLIM too enters a class and distance winner having prevailed over plenty of today’s rivals when coming from off the pace to score on Christmas Eve. He comes up even more in the weights – 4kg – but from a much better draw can be in the hunt once more. (6) DUNCAN was 2nd in that Christmas Eve race but while he comes up in the weights too, he meets Haneul Ullim 1.5kg better off and can be a danger. (13) FREEDOM KNIGHT and (5) POKPUNG EONDEOK among plenty of others with at least placing claims.
|Selections||(8) Cool Guy (3) Haneul Ullim (6) Duncan (13) Freedom Knight|
|Next Best||5, 2|
|Fast Start||4, 6, 9, 13|
Seoul Race 8: Class 3 (1800M) Handicap / KRW 75 Million
(9) CHIEF INDY comes in having run in all three legs of the Triple Crown, finished 3rd in the KRA Cup Mile and a very close 2nd to Heat Yegam in the Minister’s Cup. He carries plenty of weight today, but he has plenty of class and he should win this. His main rival is last year’s Korean Oaks winner (7) CHOEGANG BLACK. She followed up that Classic win with 2nd place in Gyeonggi Governor’s Cup to prove herself the top three-year-old filly of last year and with a big weight advantage here, it is not impossible that she could challenge and even beat Chief Indy. The 2020 Oaks winner (4) UARYUNG returns to action after almost six months off. She trialed up well and while 1800M first-up is a big ask, might be worth some speculation at an each-way price. (8) HWANGGEUM HAE and (5) CHEONJI YEOGEOL are others with placing claims.
|Selections||(9) Chief Indy (7) Choegang Black (4) Uaryung (8) Hwanggeum Hae|
|Next Best||5, 11|
|Fast Start||4, 6, 7, 10|
Busan Race 6: Class 1 (1400M) Handicap / KRW 110 Million
(2) BARBARIAN will be hot favourite here. His recent work has been at staying trips and he comes in having beaten plenty of these over a mile on December 26th. He has won at this trip in the past, albeit at lower levels and from a great draw, he has every chance today. (1) SSONSAL will be available at an each-way or even better price. He has won some very good races at this trip, and we can disregard his last start over a mile. He comes up a full 7.5kg under handicap conditions but from the inside gate, don’t rule him out. (9) MACH TITAN benefits from the weights here. He was an excellent winner over this trip at class 2 level two starts back and while only 6th behind Barbarian at a mile last time out, should be closer today. (8) MIRACLE DREAMING has been very competitive of late and ran 4th to Barbarian last time out at a mile. He likes to lead, and the shorter journey today should suit. (3) ACE KOREA is always there or thereabouts, is nicely drawn today, and should be in contention.
|Selections||(2) Barbarian (1) Ssonsal (9) Mach Titan (8) Miracle Dreaming|
|Next Best||3, 6|
|Fast Start||2, 5, 8, 9|
Seoul Race 9: Class Open (1200M) “Segye Ilbo Cup” (KOR-L) Allowance / KRW 300 Million
The first Stakes race of the year. (2) RAON FIRST is a hugely talented mare who has won from 1200M to 1800Mwith her latest being a G# score in the Jeju Governor’s Cup over 1400M albeit against fellow filles and mares. She likes to race forward, is beautifully drawn here and is the likely favourite. (6) EAST JET can have his latest start disregarded when he matched pace with Raon The Fighter, who blitzed the G3 field. He is very consistent, loves the 1200M and is better suited here. The weight is no problem, he can run fast times. He will be on pace and is right in this. (8) MENI HERO is a highly versatile galloper who was a surprise winner of the Busan Owners’ Cup at G3 level over a mile at his last start in November. He is back in distance but won twice at this distance, albeit in more ordinary company than today. Don’t dismiss (1) ICE PUNCH, who is still eligible for class 2 racing but takes his chance, nonetheless. He is capable of fast times and very well drawn with Moon Se Young aboard. (3) TOUCH STAR MAN will be very well backed. He comes significantly back in trip, but punters won’t underestimate the Kim Young-kwan/Lim Sung-sil combination and it would be no surprise to see him in this from a great draw.
|Selections||(2) Raon First (6) East Jet (8) Meni Hero (1) Ice Punch|
|Next Best||3, 11|
|Fast Start||2, 3, 6, 7|
Seoul Race 10: Class 4 (1400M) Handicap / KRW 60 Million
(10) CHUNJI GWANGPUNG is a lightly raced three-year-old who was keen at his last start when he led over 1200M and battled on well for 2nd place. The extra distance should be ok and with an easier tempo, he has every chance of going all the way this time. (11) BENCAL PRINCESS is a filly who spent the latter half of 2021 running with the cream of the two-year-olds and may appreciate the drop back into shallower waters here. She is yet to run at further than 1200M but has plenty of potential and while this is her first race since the end of October, shouldn’t be dismissed. (1) UNICORN BRAVO has struck trouble in his last two starts so it may pay to disregard those and go on prior solid class and distance winning from. He is nicely drawn again and worth another chance. (5) TOUGH MAN has fair recent form and gets a good draw today which should enable him to get his favoured forward position. (3) GYORYONGDEUKSU another in the placing frame.
|Selections||(10) Chunji Gwangpung (11) Bencal Princess (1) Unicorn Bravo (5) Tough Man|
|Next Best||3, 14|
|Fast Start||3, 5, 6, 10|
Seoul Race 11: Class 3 (1200M) Handicap / KRW 75 Million
(2) MIGHTY GEE looks the one to beat here. He has good consistency and was a fair 3rd last start when favourite at class and distance when midfield and running on in the straight. He is nicely drawn and should be very competitive. (6) BYEOLNARA JILJU is an on-pace galloper who has run some very solid times in his short career. He draws well and has every chance. (4) MORNING HILL was a winner over this distance at class 4 level two starts back before running 4th alongside many of these on December 26th. Tactically versatile, he is also capable of running good times and can’t be discounted here. (14) DAEJIUI YEOIN is a winner of six from nine including at this class over 1400M two starts back. The draw is not in his favour today, but don’t rule out. (5) MUNHAK FIRE another in the frame.
|Selections||(2) Mighty Gee (6) Byeolnara Jilju (4) Morning Hill (14) Daejiui Yeoin|
|Next Best||5, 11|
|Fast Start||8, 10, 11, 12|