Donga Ilbo Trophy Sunday: Seoul & Busan Race-by-Race Preview (March 27)

Sunday is Donga Ilbo Trophy day at Seoul where there are 11 races from 10:45 to 18:00. Busan also runs a card with 6 races from 12:00 to 16:40. The Donga Ilbo is for fillies and mares and it could be something of a family affair with Raon First set to be hot favourite with her younger “full” sister Raon Pink one of her leading rivals. Also at Seoul Haengbok Wangja makes his first appearance since winning the Grand Prix Stakes in December, while at Busan there is a very tasty feature in prospect as the up and coming Barbarian takes on KRA Cup Classic winner Mr. Afleet, as well as Yeongung Louis and Doctor Carson in a cracking class 1 sprint over 1400M. All betting locations across Korea are open, however, attendance must be pre-booked through the MyCard app. Here are the previews:

Raon First is in action at Seoul on Sunday (Pic: KRA)

Seoul Race 1: Class 6 (1200M) Allowance / KRW 40 Million

Three-year-old maidens open the card with four of the twelve racing for the very first time. We’re set for a hot favourite in the shape of (5) QUEENUI JILJU. Having finished 3rd on debut over 1000M on Boxing Day, she stepped up to this trip on February 12th and ran 2nd having been handy throughout. The time was only fair although faster than anything else here has achieved so far and a similar run here will see her hard to beat. (3) MARUMA ran 5th from a wide gate on debut over 1000M before only managing 8th second-up at this trip. He should have come on for those experiences and in this company can be given another chance. (2) OKCHEON CHOEGANG debuts following two positive trials, crossing the line 2nd and 3rd in fair times. That’s enough to see him firmly in the hunt first up. (8) BURUI JILJU and (1) NAOL SESANG perhaps have the potential to improve.

Selections(5) Queenui Jilju (3) Maruma (2) Okcheon Choegang (8) Burui Jilju
Next Best1, 11
Fast Start3, 5, 9, 11

Seoul Race 2: Class 6 (1200M) Allowance / KRW 25 Million

Maiden fillies here and it’s competitive. We’ll go with (5) BARO QUEEN who seems to be figuring things out with five starts underneath her best. She comes in following back-to-back 3rd places at this distance, last time away slowly from a wide draw and then working home well. The draw is in her favour this time and she may well lead. If she does, she has every chance of staying there. (10) GOLDEN SCOOP will probably be the favourite. She beat Baro Queen when 2nd on January 22nd and followed it up with a 3rd place, again at this distance, a month ago.  She’s trialed well since then and looks to have big chance. (9) NAMSAN KKOT has raced just the once, when 3rd at this distance last October in a good time. She didn’t offer too many clues when trialing earlier this month, but she should be kept safe. (6) HWIPARAM and (3) WONDERFUL HAWAII among others in the placing frame.

Selections(5) Baro Queen (10) Golden Scoop (9) Namsan Kkot (6) Hwiparam
Next Best3, 12
Fast Start5, 6, 8, 10

Seoul Race 3: Class 6 (1200M) Allowance / KRW 25 Million

It’s hard to look too far past (11) FLY STAR here. Having run 5th on debut at 1400M, he dopped back to 1300M for his second start on February 27th and led almost the entire way around, ultimately ending in 2nd, beaten by a very good winner. He comes back in trip again and while the gate is not the best, he is very much the one to beat. (5) MIDAS CAMP had a hard time from a wide draw on his latest outing over 1300M on February 20th. Disregard that and instead go on is 3rd place in a good time in January. He can sit on speed or handy here and should be a different prospect today. (4) NAOL ACE improved at start number two on January 22nd when handy throughout and finishing 4th. He comes up in trip for the first time today and there is no reason why it can’t suit. (1) MUNHAK FOREST and (12) MABAWI are among others who can enter the calculations.

Selections(11) Fly Star (5) Midas Camp (4) Naol Ace (1) Munhak Forest
Next Best12, 7
Fast Start1, 4, 5, 11

Busan Race 1: Class 6 (1300M) Allowance / KRW 25 Million

Three-year-old maidens in the opener on the South-Coast. There is plenty of winning potential among them but (9) JOSEPHINE QUEEN should have a little too much. She was a good 2nd in a super time over this distance on February 13th when she sat handy then briefly led before being beaten by a good winner. She can sit handy again and a similar run will see her home on top here. (7) FLOWING RIVER has run 3rd in both starts so far at 1000M and 1200M. The little extra trip may well suit and he should have some more to offer. Park Jae-I rode Flowing River in both his races so far but today he stays aboard (3) GREAT CAPTAIN. He comes in having beaten three of these on his way to 3rd place at class and distance on February 27th. He draws a similarly good gate, carries the same weight, and can be a danger again. (5) DOCTOR PERSIA came home 5th in the same race on what was his first start, and he can build on that here. (8) INDY CHOICE another in the hunt.

Selections(9) Josephine Queen (7) Flowing River (3) Great Captain (5) Doctor Persia
Next Best8, 1
Fast Start1, 7, 8, 9

Seoul Race 4: Class 6 (1300M) Allowance / KRW 25 Million

Tricky race. (3) KING MOUNTAIN weakened late on having led for much of the way around over 1700M on February 27th, ultimately finishing 6th of twelve. Two starts back, he ran a very good 2nd over 1300M behind Titan Socks, who has since won again at a higher level. He can be on pace again today and the drop back in trip should suit. (4) K N PARK showed significant improvement at his latest outing over this distance on February 20th, when going back and improving late on. The same apprentice jockey keeps the weight nice and light today and he should be working home well again here. (5) HONEY PUNCH too showed improvement at her most recent appearance on February 26th. She has gone back in all her races so far, but this time made up really good ground late on and a similar run will put her right in this. (7) TIFFANY BLUE and (2) FLYING BARBIE are others who can enter the calculations.

Selections(3) King Mountain (4) K N Park (5) Honey Punch (7) Tiffany Blue
Next Best2, 5
Fast Start1, 3, 8, 10

Busan Race 2: Class 6 (1200M) Allowance / KRW 40 Million

(1) RADAR has been a beaten favourite on both starts to date, most recently at odds-on when 3rd having been a close 2nd on debut. She had the excuse of gate fourteen that day but should get a much easier run to the lead from the inside this time around and it really should be third-time lucky. (2) HWARANG ACE showed some ability as he gradually got closer across three starts last autumn, with a best of 4th at this distance in November. He hasn’t raced since but looks to have held his form if his trial two weeks ago is anything to go by when he led, crossing the line 2nd in a fast time. Expect him on speed and in this a long way. (3) EUNBIT JILJU wet right back on debut but made-up good ground for 5th. She should have come on for that run and can get closer today. (8) BOOMY STAR and (5) BABEL PHOENIX are others capable of putting in good runs.

Selections(1) Radar (2) Hwarang Ace (3) Eunbit Jilju (8) Boomy Star
Next Best5, 7
Fast Start1, 2, 3, 4

Seoul Race 5: Class 5 (1200M) Handicap / KRW 40 Million

(6) AROMA got his solitary win to date over this distance at class 6 level last October. Since then, he has raced three times at this level and has been working back towards success. With a 4th and a 3rd from his latest two, both over today’s distance. Moon Se-young climbs aboard, he should be on pace from the start, and he can win. (7) ROAD ACE comes up in class following his maiden win at start number seven when he made all at this distance. The time was nothing special and he will need to improve but he comes down slightly in the weights, draws better, and can measure up in this company. The same goes for (11) MAY BLADE, who won a class 6 all-filly affair on February 26th leading all the way around and who shouldn’t be out of place here. (3) SHADOW QUEEN and (9) GLOBAL MAGIC are others to look out for with both having had excuses last time.

Selections(6) Aroma (7) Road Ace (11) May Blade (3) Shadow Queen
Next Best9, 2
Fast Start6, 7, 11, 12

Busan Race 3: Class 5 (1600M) Allowance / KRW 40 Million

Good race with none of the twelve entering having finished any worse than 6th on their respective latest starts. (2) YEONSEUNG BRAVO has a solid record at this distance, winning at it at class 6 level on Boxing Day and subsequently registering a 3rd and a 4th. Two of today’s rivals beat him last time but he draws better here and can overturn the form. (12) UNJU HERO will have to negotiate the widest gate and finds himself up to a mile for the first time. That said, he has plenty of speed about him and should have more improvement and a bold showing can be expected. (4) SINBIHAN GANGJA beat Yeonseung Bravo last time and while he comes up significantly in the weights under today’s conditions, he can be considered to go close again. (5) GOOD STAR came home 3rd in that same race and also looks to working himself back into contention. Now nine, (11) ACE JILJU has been quietly coming back into some form. He comes back in trip following some decent work over 1800M and while unlikely to win, this is the kind of race he can pick up a minor check in.

Selections(2) Yeonseung Bravo (12) Unju Hero (4) Sinbihan Gangja (5) Good Star
Next Best11, 6
Fast Start2, 3, 9, 12

Seoul Race 6: Class 5 (1400M) Allowance / KRW 40 Million

(5) RAON THE TIGER has only won the once, over 1300M at class 6 level last summer but enters here in good form with a 3rd and a 2nd from his latest two, most recently at this distance on February 20th when handy throughout from gate twelve. The draw is better here, he can be on pace, and he can win. (4) ALCHAN NURI has consistently run good times at this distance. He can mix his form and he is up 1kg on his latest when 4thover 1300M, but he can go well here. So too (3) MONEY GARAK. It took him a while to figure things out which he finally did when winning at start number nine over this distance on Christmas Day. His two starts at this level have been over 1700M, running 4th in both, and in both having gone back from wide gates. His should suit even more and he has a chance. (10) ADELE MUSTANG and (2) NUBIGO others who shouldn’t be dismissed.

Selections(5) Raon The Tiger (4) Alchan Nuri (3) Money Garak (10) Adele Mustang
Next Best2, 7
Fast Start5, 6, 7, 9

Busan Race 4: Class 4 (1600M) Handicap / KRW 60 Million

A good race, this. (3) CATCH THE SKY got his breakthrough at the tenth time of asking, over 1800M on February 20th when he went right back early and ran on. He had though come close at this distance in the past, and while he comes up in class, he is very nicely weighted and can produce a bold showing here. The main danger is (9) SONHADOR. She got rapidly promoted to this level after back-to-back wins in November and December and has run 4th in both her starts at this class, both over 1400M. She tackles a mile for the first time and while she goes best on or close to the pace, there is no reason why it can’t suit. (4) HONEY DRAGON is yet to win in seven starts but has hinted at ability at this distance. Disregard his latest effort over 1800M and he could be worth a try at a probably each-way price. (1) CHEONGDAM DRIVE and (6) HAPPY WOMAN among others to consider for the places.

Selections(3) Catch The Sky (9) Sonhador (4) Honey Dragon (1) Cheongdam Drive
Next Best6, 5
Fast Start2, 8, 7, 9

Seoul Race 7: Class 4 (1400M) Handicap / KRW 60 Million

Fillies and mares only here. (5) K N MAGIC has finished in the top-four in on eight of ten engagements so far and enters having seen plenty of these off on her way to 2nd place over 1400M on February 27th, only narrowly beaten. She only comes up 1kg in the weights as a result, draws better, and looks ready to win again. She will be a warm favourite but there are others with ability here. (4) HWA SSI BYEOK has a tendency to get a bit far back, something she did in that February race. She comes down 3.5kg in the weights from that day and was a smart winner at 1200M at class 5 level the start before. She has a chance here and today really should be closer to the speed. Also down in the weights from that race is (6) GRACE QUEEN. She is another one who should be further forward a little bit earlier this time and has solid lacing chances. (1) GOLDEN BADGE is a persistent non-winner but comes back in trip and this is the kind of race she can find the money in. (8) VICTORICA also comes back in trip and into the placing frame.

Selections(5) K N Magic (4) Hwa Ssi Byeok (6) Grace Queen (1) Golden Badge
Next Best8, 4
Fast Start4, 7, 8, 10

Busan Race 5: Class 4 (1800M) Handicap / KRW 60 Million

We’ll take a big chance here. (5) MAN OF THE WORLD remains defiantly winless, despite having fourteen top-five finishes from twenty-five starts. He beat three of these on his way to 3rd place at class and distance on February 25th, when he was on pace throughout. He carries even less weight today, draws beautifully and it could be his day. If none from a quarter of a century of starts doesn’t tempt, then it’s hard to look past the favourite. (1) TRIUMPH KING overcame gate fourteen to beat three of these at class and distance on February 18th, coming from well off the pace and winning well. He may well have the measure of this lot too. (2) TAPIT WONDERFUL has seemingly lost his way a little since coming back from a lengthy layoff. There is ability there though and You Hyun-myung climbing aboard does catch the eye. (8) SEUNGNI TOUT and (4) ACE JACKPOT are others who could pull off a surprise.

Selections(5) Man Of The World (1) Triumph King (2) Tapit Wonderful (8) Seungni Tout
Next Best4, 7
Fast Start3, 5, 8, 9

Seoul Race 8: Class Open (1800M) Donga Ilbo Trophy (Listed) Allowance / KRW 300 Million

Fillies and mares get to run for a big prize here. (12) RAON FIRST is all class and is going to be very hard to beat. She generally cleans up in restricted filly and mare company and has also beaten the males at Class 1. She is more known as a sprinter, but she has won at 1800M. The barrier isn’t great, but she should have too much. (8) RAON PINK is “full” sister to Raon First, a year her junior. She won the Listed Luna Stakes over a mile at Busan last year before running 2nd in the Korean Oaks. She only managed 6th in the final leg of the filly Triple Crown but ran well for 2nd at class 2 level at this distance at her latest start in January. She will be on pace here and can place. (4) CHEONJI YEOGEOL has shown her liking for the distance, having close runner-up finishes in her latest two at class 3 levels. She does tend to get back a little and given there will be speed here, that might be in her favour. (6) CHOEGANG BLACK beat Raon Pink to win the 2021 Korean Oaks and then ran 2nd in the Gyeonggi Governor’s Cup. At her most recent outing, she was 3rd at this distance at class 3 level and on her best for can be involved here. (13) CLEAR GEOM is established at class 1 and while it is tough for her to win there, she always manages to mix it well in filly and mare company and was 2nd to Raon First in the Jeju Governor’s Cup. Don’t rule out a big run.

Selections(12) Raon First (8) Raon Pink (4) Cheonji Yeogeol (6) Choegang Black
Next Best13, 10
Fast Start6, 8, 11, 12

Busan Race 6: Class 1 (1400M) Handicap / KRW 110 Million

This is a very good race. (8) BARBARIAN enters in great form, having won his latest two, both at class 1 and at a mile and at 1400M. The handicap conditions here keep his weight very light here and he should have too much. There’s a change for (5) MR. AFLEET, who hasn’t run at this distance since April 2019. He won the KRA Cup Classic at 2000M in Seoul last October, and while he had a hard time in the Grand Prix Stakes, he comes in here fresh and has every chance of going close. An apprentice keeps his carried weight down. (1) YEONGUNG LOUIS is up in class following a super win at the distance on February 25th when sitting handy and running on. He comes down in the weights and having already placed in Group company in Seoul last autumn, should have no trouble measuring up in this company. (2) SSONSAL is another who comes down significantly in weight, draws a great gate and goes at a distance he usually does well at. He will probably be a big price and could be worth a chance.  (7) DORAONPOGYEONGSEON is another who can never be completely ruled out.

Selections(8) Barbarian (5) Mr. Afleet (1) Yeongung Louis (2) Ssonsal
Next Best7, 6
Fast Start5, 8, 11, 12

Seoul Race 9: Class 3 (1200M) Allowance / KRW 75 Million

(4) MIGHTY GEE is the favourite and the pick here following is last start win at this class and distance when he settled midfield and ran on. He’s drawn much better today, is happy racing forward, and is the one to beat. (6) VICTOR MOON is resuming here having last raced at the end of October. She went into the spell with a win and a 2nd place finish, both at this class and distance and has only finished outside of the top two on one occasion from six total starts. She won a trial in very fine fashion last week and comes in well suited under the set weights with a big chance. (12) MY MEMBER has found her peak form with two back-to-back wins, the latest being at class and distance. She is no stranger to a wide gate, and she will get to the front and can be in this a long way. She does come up 3kg on her latest win though. (2) MONEY CHAMP can have his latest start disregarded (although worth noting he is going to face the same type of wet track here too) but his previous form was good winning well in class 4 and then a close 3rd at this class. He can go well if on the pace and from barrier two should have chances. (7) MONSTER K another with at least placing claims.

Selections(4) Mighty Gee (6) Victor Moon (12) My Member (2) Money Champ
Next Best7, 3
Fast Start5, 6, 7, 12

Seoul Race 10: Class 4 (1800M) Allowance / KRW 60 Million

(1) ELITE LINE ran a close 3rd at this class under handicap conditions on January 29th before at his latest, fly-jumping a little at the start from a wide gate before settling midfield and finishing a fair 7th. Nicely drawn to get to the lead, he has a big chance. (4) LIONETTE may not have put a lot on the board just yet, but she showed good improvement at her latest start on February 26th at this class and distance, running 4th alongside a few of today’s rivals. She too draws much better today and can be worthy of thought for more progress. (5) MOONHAK EMPIRE ran 3rd in that same race, an improvement on recent efforts. He does tend to get a bit far back in his races so can need some luck, but he shouldn’t be ruled out. It’s been a while since (3) QUIET ADELE ran 2nd in the 2020 Korean Oaks but she has been running well enough in recent starts to be competitive here and is well treated under the set weights. (12) UNICORN BRAVO doesn’t get the best of the draw but is another with claims.

Selections(1) Elite Line (4) Lionette (5) Moonhak Empire (3) Quiet Adele
Next Best12, 2
Fast Start1, 7, 9, 12

Seoul Race 11: Class 1 (2000M) Handicap / KRW 110 Million

(9) HAENGBOK WANGJA races for the first time since his win in the Grand Prix Stakes in December, having prior to that run a close 2nd in the KRA Cup Classic and picked up back-to-back wins at this distance. He is up in weight today and not favoured by the barrier, but he is an extremely good racehorse and has to go on top. He is first-up though. On the other hand (2) JEONGMUN SAI had a pipe opener over 1200M at the end of January which we can disregard in all but fitness terms. He was 4th in the President’s Cup and 3rd in the Grand Prix Stakes when he was at level weights with Haengbok Wangja whereas today he gets a 7kg advantage over him. It could make all the difference. (8) SIMJANGUI GODONG is in the best form of his career, having won the President’s Cup and then been 5thin the Grand Prix. He was a winner at this class over 2000M on February 27th and he can test them here. (6) WINNER GOLD is a grand galloper who is competitive at class and distance and along with (4) DARK PLAYER, shapes as a place chance.

Selections(9) Haengbok Wangja (2) Jeongmun Sai (8) Simjangui Godong (6) Winner Gold
Next Best4, 10
Fast Start2, 3, 8, 10