The Stakes race program for 2023 finally gets underway at Seoul on Sunday when Raon First and Raon The Spurt head the field for the Listed Segye Ilbo Trophy over 1200M. There are 11 races at Seoul from 10:40 to 18:00 and 6 at Busan from 11:05 to 16:05. Here are the previews:
Seoul Race 1: Class 6 (1300M) Allowance / KRW 40 Million
Three-year-old maidens in the opener with all at least one start behind them and (10) TOUCH CHARM will be the warm favourite. She ran 3rd on debut over 1000M on November 26th before improving to 2nd on her next start on December 18th when stepped up to 1200M in filly only company. She comes up in trip again, and slightly in weight, but she should have too much. (8) NEULGAEUL is the only one in the field to have prior experience of this distance having finished a close 3rd on December 17th. That experience should stand him in good stead for this and he can be the main danger. (2) KARIZMA ran fairly enough for a midfield finish on debut over 1000M a month ago. He should have derived benefit from that and can improve today. (6) BEST CLONE returns after almost five months out and looked well in a trial earlier this month and along with (9) INDIANUI BYEOL, who began his career with a 2nd and a 3rd, can be considered for a place.
|Selections||(10) Touch Charm (8) Neulgaeul (2) Karizma (6) Best Clone|
|Next Best||9, 11|
|Fast Start||1, 3, 9, 10|
Busan Race 1: Class 6 (1300M) Allowance / KRW 40 Million
(10) HWANGOO MONEY has come from well off the pace to run 3rd in both starts to date, both over 1200M and both from gate eleven. The wide draw certainly won’t be an issue and the additional half furlong should give him plenty of time to get the job done this time. (4) FAST GUN was anything but fast out of the gates on debut over 1000M on December 16th, but he finished off swiftly enough, passing plenty to finish 3rd. He should have come on for the run and he is another for who the extra distance can suit. (2) BRAVE CAPTAIN was much closer to the pace on her debut, scampering across from gate nine and ultimately running 4th over 1000M. With some natural improvement and from a better draw, she can match or better that today. (7) K GOLD BAR and others (9) SKY PUNCH are others who are in the placing hunt.
|Selections||(10) Hwangoo Money (4) Fast Gun (2) Brave Captain (7) K Gold Bar|
|Next Best||9, 5|
|Fast Start||2, 5, 6, 7|
Seoul Race 2: Class 6 (1200M) Allowance / KRW 40 Million
Three-year-old maidens with all but one racing for the very first time. That experienced one didn’t do anything on debut to warrant recommendation so it’s to the trial videos we turn and the one who caught the eye the most was (5) TAMRA CHOEGANGJA. He sat handy in his heat before finishing well to cross the line in front, stopping the clock in a fair time. If he brings that form to the races, he won’t need to improve much to win this. (3) FANCY PLAY recorded the second fastest time in trials when leading in a heat in early December, ultimately finishing 2nd. He draws well to be on pace here and should be in it a long way. (12) CHECK POINT went through the same trial as Tamra Choegangja and while he does have five-lengths to make up, he ran on well and neither the wide draw nor the trip should be a hindrance first-up. Speaking of the trip, that sole one with experience, (7) THIS WEEKEND was slowly away and with a better start and in the absence of too many standout first-timers, can improve. (9) COMPLETE LEADER another debut-maker to keep an eye on.
|Selections||(5) Tamra Choegangja (3) Fancy Play (12) Check Point (7) This Weekend|
|Next Best||9, 1|
|Fast Start||1, 3, 5, 8|
Busan Race 2: Class 6 (1200M) Allowance / KRW 25 Million
(6) HANEUL JEWANG enters off an improved 2nd place at this distance on December 16th when settling handy and finishing well to record a time faster than any of the others here have managed for the distance. He should be on or close to the speed again and in this company, will be warm favourite to go one better. The main danger is (8) META QUEEN. She was 5th behind Haneul Jewang in that December race but at the start before registered a runner-up finish of her own when on pace over 1000M. This is just her fourth career start and there could be some more improvement. (9) WONDERFUL CHACHA ran an improved 4th on his latest outing over 1300M on December 2nd. An apprentice keeps the weight light and he be in the mix here too. (10) SKY SHOT and (4) UNJU MACH among other minor money contenders.
|Selections||(6) Haneul Jewang (8) Meta Queen (9) Wonderful Chacha (10) Sky Shot|
|Next Best||10, 4|
|Fast Start||6, 8, 10, 11|
Seoul Race 3: Class 6 (1200M) Allowance / KRW 40 Million
More three-year-old maidens with all but one of the twelve having raced at least once before. The debut-maker is notable though as he is set to be favourite. (3) JANGSAN SPO blitzed a trial in November, stopping the clock in a fast time some fourteen lengths clear of the next across the line. That showing, coupled with the modest opposition he faces here, makes him a heavy favourite, despite the big gap between trial and race. Only two of the experienced ones have positive form. (5) BEAT RUNNER is the clear second pick with a 6th and a 4th in two starts at 1000M and 1200M, the latter at this distance and both in fair times. A similar showing will see him place again. Draw a line through (4) MENI POCKET’s second appearance and instead go on her debut last summer and she is clear third choice although the length of time between starts isn’t reassuring. (8) CLAIR QUEEN and (11) GREEN SPECTER potential improvers.
|Selections||(3) Jangsan Spo (5) Beat Runner (4) Meni Pocket (8) Clair Queen|
|Next Best||11, 12|
|Fast Start||2, 3, 7, 11|
Busan Race 3: Class 5 (1400M) Handicap / KRW 40 Million
Tricky race. We’ll take a chance on (9) WITH SUN, who was a strong winner on debut over 1200M in November when coming from off the pace before running 4th in a slow race over this distance on his first try at this level. The wide draw shouldn’t be an issue and today there should be a bit more early speed to chase down. The probable favourite is (2) BACKTOTHELEGEND. He overcame the widest gate to get on pace over 1200M on Christmas Day and ultimately went on to win well. He is up in class and in distance here but draws much better and has solid claims. (3) BYEOLGYOUI KKUM was an all the way winner at start number two over 1200M on Christmas Day. He too comes up in class and distance but draws well to get on the speed again and should be in this a long way. (11) ALL OR NOTHING ran out an eye-catching winner on debut in December. It was at 1000M, but he can measure up here. (1) FASHION FORCE ONE another in the frame.
|Selections||(9) With Sun (2) Backtothelegend (3) Beolgyoui Kkum (11) All Or Nothing|
|Next Best||1, 5|
|Fast Start||3, 5, 6, 11|
Seoul Race 4: Class 5 (1300M) Handicap / KRW 40 Million
Fillies (and two mares) here. There is very little to choose between the top two, both up in class following maiden wins. The coin toss comes down on the side of (3) WONDERFUL SLEW, who came from off the pace on debut over 1200M on December 18th to just get up to for the win. She comes up in trip here, but it can suit, and she can win. That’s true too for (5) JEOMSUNI GO. She was slowly away on debut over 1000M before rattling home late for a desperately near miss. She then took a very tight victory second-up at 1200M on Christmas Eve. She too comes up in class and distance and there is very little between them. If you fancy them both to get beat, then (11) GREENBACK maybe the place to turn. She has plenty of experience of this level and enters in consistent form. The draw isn’t ideal but with a touch of luck at the start, she can run on. (7) TOUR QUEEN and (6) DUSON CLASSIC, who was slowly away last time but should be on pace here, are others to consider.
|Selections||(3) Wonderful Slew (5) Jeomsuni Go (11) Greenback (7) Tour Queen|
|Next Best||6, 1|
|Fast Start||1, 6, 11, 12|
Busan Race 4: Class 4 (1800M) Allowance / KRW 60 Million
(10) EUNSEONG WINNER ran out a strong winner at class and distance on December 23rd, settling just behind the early speed before taking things up at the top of the stretch and winning well. A word of caution in that she was found to have bled for the first time but she came through the mandatory trial earlier this month without issue. (8) ARCTURUS was 4th in that same race having led for much of the way in what was his first try at two turns. He has won well at a mile and can be a danger today. (6) HORAENGI is yet to win in fifteen attempts but has no fewer than twelve top five finishes including on her last start on Christmas Day when she came from well off the pace to run a close 2nd over a mile. She comes up in class here but is nicely weighted and has placed more than once at this distance already. (2) I WILL BE FREE and the rapidly up in class having won his latest two (1) MACH WONDER, are among plenty of others to consider.
|Selections||(10) Eunseong Winner (8) Arcturus (6) Horaengi (2) I Will Be Free|
|Next Best||1, 5|
|Fast Start||1, 8, 10, 12|
Seoul Race 5: Class 5 (1700M) Allowance / KRW 40 Million
(1) WONDERFUL JOY was a class and distance winner two starts back when handy throughout and running on well. He couldn’t repeat the trick when he struggled to find a position from the widest gate on his return on December 18th but gets much better luck with the draw today and he is the one to beat. (3) BLACK CHARM beat Wonderful Joy on his way to his second consecutive 4th place finish in that December 18th race. The step back up to 1700M seemed to suit and he can build on that today. (2) FEDERAL KING was a disappointing 9th in that same race but the start before was runner up to Wonderful Joy at class and distance. He draws well and so long as he doesn’t get too far back can be competitive here. (5) GEUMA FIERY and (4) REAL PACK, who beat plenty of these when 2nd at class and distance last time out, are among others in at least the placing frame.
|Selections||(1) Wonderful Joy (3) Black Charm (2) Federal King (5) Geuma Fiery|
|Next Best||4, 11|
|Fast Start||1, 3, 5, 9|
Busan Race 5: Class 3 (1400M) Handicap / KRW 75 Million
As a juvenile last term, (12) JEULGEOUNYEOJEONG ran 2nd in the Listed Gimhae Mayor’s Trophy before finishing midfield in the G2 Breeders’ Cup. That was her only finish to date outside the top two and she has won well at this distance at class 4 level. The draw is not ideal, but she carries a light weight, and she can win. The primary danger is (7) YEONGGWANGUILEGEND is another ultra-consistent type, only missing the top three in one of nine outings. He comes in off back-to-back 3rd places at class and distance but draws better than both of those today and he will be vying for favourite status here. (3) ONE PICK beat Yeonggwanguilegend on his way to 2nd place at class and distance on December 16th. He comes up a couple kilograms in the weights but can go close again. (6) KF ONE and the up in class (8) HWARANG BEST, a winner over a mile last time out, are others in the hunt.
|Selections||(12) Jeulgeounyeojeong (7) Yeonggwanguilegend (3) One Pick (6) KF One|
|Next Best||8, 5|
|Fast Start||1, 5, 7, 12|
Seoul Race 6: Class 4 (1600M) Allowance / KRW 60 Million
Competitive race. (6) FARCIARZ has been ultra-impressive in his latest two outings, racking up wins of eleven-lengths over 1200M at class 6 level and by six-lengths over 1300M at class 5 level, the latter when settling back and running on from a wide draw. He comes up in class and in trip, but a hat-trick of wins is a distinct possibility. The big danger – and possible betting favourite – is (8) NUT PLAY. He ran out a super winner when stepped up to this distance in a valuable race on December 18th, going right back and then romping through the field in the home straight. He drew gate one that day but plenty of those inside him will be looking to get on the speed so another easy ground saving run is possible, and he can win again. (1) TOHO SKY came from well off the pace to win at class 5 level on December 18th over 1300M. He has been a bit all of nothing across five starts so far but can be taken seriously here. (9) GREEN SPARK, who is seeking a hat-trick of wins, and (5) ICE STAR among other contenders in which all will feel they have a shot at a place.
|Selections||(6) Farciarz (8) Nut Play (1) Toho Sky (9) Green Spark|
|Next Best||5, 2|
|Fast Start||2, 4, 6, 9|
Busan Race 6: Class 1 (2200M) Allowance / KRW 110 Million
A rare use of Busan’s current longest distance with all but one trying the distance for the first time. The hot favourite has gone further though as (2) TUHONUI BANSEOK was a super 3rd in the Grand Prix Stakes over 2300M at Seoul on December 11th rapidly gaining ground on the two best horses in Korea, Winner’s Man and Raon The Fighter at level weights. Previously he was 3rd in the KRA Cup Classic and he can get what could be a big year for him off to a successful start here. (1) FLAT BABE ran 2nd to Raon The Spurt in the Gyeongnam Governor’s Cup over 2000M in November before winning over that same distance at class 2 level three weeks later. This is her first try at class 1 but she is very nicely weighted and the distance seems ideal for her. (4) MACH TITAN was last across the line in the Grand Prix but got it out of his system by making a quick return and running 2nd at class 1 over 2000M on Christmas Day in a race featuring a lot of today’s rivals. He should go close gain. (7) BLUE POWER, the winner of that Christmas Day race, and Tuhonui Banseok’s stablemate (8) JESSIEUI KKUM, are others to consider.
|Selections||(2) Tuhonui Banseok (1) Flat Babe (4) Mach Titan (7) Blue Power|
|Next Best||8, 9|
|Fast Start||2, 3, 4, 6|
Seoul Race 7: Class 5 (1200M) Handicap / KRW 40 Million
Competitive race. (9) BEST TORCH returned from eight months out on Christmas Eve to run midfield at this class and distance, behind a couple of today’s rivals. Before her layoff she had run a super time at the distance and got a start in the Luna Stakes, the first leg of the Triple Tiara. She should strip fitter for her return last month and can be in the mix here. (8) ICE CREAM was n all the way winner at start number two over 1000M on December 11th. She comes up in class and in distance here but can measure up. (7) LONDON SKY was 2nd, ahead of Best Torch, in that race on Christmas Eve, coming from well off the pace. He can mix his form but with a similar run will be right in with a winning chance here. (10) STILL PLAY and (11) GLOBAL POWER are among others with serious chances.
|Selections||(9) Best Torch (8) Ice Cream (7) London Sky (10) Still Play|
|Next Best||11, 1|
|Fast Start||5, 8, 9, 12|
Seoul Race 8: Class Open (1200M) Segye Ilbo Trophy (KOR-Listed) Allowance / KRW 300 Million
(4) RAON THE SPURT is an up and comer who while bested in the Triple Tiara, finished her three-year-old season strongly with a win in the Gyeongnam Governor’s Cup over 2000M. Of perhaps more relevance here is her performances over shorter distances including runner-up in the Jeju Governor’s Cup at 1400M and victory in the Singapore Turf Club Trophy at this distance in a very fast time. Still seemingly on an upward trajectory, she draws well and can win. To do that, she will need to beat her stablemate and Korea’s current best mare (1) RAON FIRST. She is the defending champion and sensationally ran 3rd in the international Korea Sprint at this distance in September and then went up to 2000M to win the President’s Cup in November. She had a hard race when a creditable 6th on the Grand Prix Stakes in December at 2300M but she generally copes with whatever task is assigned here and a repeat win is possible. Another mare, Jeju Governor’s Cup winner (2) WISH ME is next best. She won the Jeju Governor’s Cup over 1400M in a track record time and was 2nd to Raon The Spurt in the Singapore Turf Club Trophy at this distance. She usually has bad luck with the barrier draw but gets a great gate today and she could win. The filly and the two mares will be at the top of the market but don’t rule out good runs from (12) DAEHAN JILJU, 4th in the Korea Sprint, as well as the venerable (8) EAST JET.
|Selections||(4) Raon The Spurt (1) Raon First (2) Wish Me (12) Daehan Jilju|
|Next Best||8, 10|
|Fast Start||1, 2, 4, 5, 8|
Seoul Race 9: Class 4 (1800M) Allowance / KRW 60 Million
A very open race with plenty of winning chances. We’ll go with (10) NAMSAN HORANGI, who beat three of these on his way to 2nd place behind Tiz Barows on December 18th when settling back and then running on. He comes up a couple of kilograms in the weight but won under the same impost two starts back at class 5 level. (5) NANOMETA is yet to win in four starts but as a juvenile last November, ran 3rd in the Listed NACF Chairman’s Trophy before following up with 2nd in the G2 Breeders’ Cup at Busan when he came from right off the pace. He steps up to two turns for the first time and can announce himself as a Classic contender here. He will probably be favourite. (3) NONSTOP GISANG overcame gate fourteen to run 3rd behind Namsan Horangi in that December 18th race. He draws much better today and can be a threat again. (8) GUKDAE CLASS, up in trip and up in the weights as seeks a furth consecutive win, and (1) WORLD RACER are among others in contention in a really good race.
|Selections||(10) Namsan Horangi (5) Nanometa (3) Nonstop Gisang (8) Gukdae Class|
|Next Best||1, 12|
|Fast Start||3, 5, 9, 11|
Seoul Race 10: Class 2 (1800M) Handicap / KRW 90 Million
(11) MIGHTY POP was a good winner over this distance at class 3 level two starts back before running 2nd, ahead of three of today’s rivals, on his first try at class 2 on December 17th. The draw isn’t as kind this time but under today’s handicap conditions, he is nicely in and can win. (7) ASPEN TAEYANG has had setbacks but is a winner of four from eight and comes up in class to tackle two turns for the first tie. He comes down significantly in the weights, draws well and can be a danger. (9) SPRING KING was the narrow winner of a valuable race over this distance on December 18th when on pace throughout. This is harder but he comes down 4kg in weight and can measure up. (3) LOVELY K was a somewhat unexpected class and distance winner at the end of November when leading all the way. She has a great draw again and can be in this a long way. (2) NORTHERN TIME another who can enter the calculations.
|Selections||(11) Mighty Pop (7) Aspen Taeyang (9) Spring King (3) Lovely K|
|Next Best||2, 1|
|Fast Start||3, 4, 7, 9|
Seoul Race 11: Class 3 (1200M) Handicap / KRW 75 Million
Another really open race to conclude with. (7) RAON THE ARIA comes in having been upset by longshot Geumjayu at class and distance in November, but she remains nicely weighted and is a three-time winner at the distance. She has every chance here. So too does (10) COSMO, who comes in looking for a third straight win. His latest was at this class and distance on December 10th when he led throughout and while the draw isn’t quite as good today, the engagement of an apprentice jockey keeps hi carried weight nice and low and he is a big danger. (5) JILJU BORN comes up in class following a smart win at this distance when making all on Christmas Eve. He has the fastest time of any of these for the distance and is down in weight and nicely drawn. (9) SINUI ADEUL and (3) MAGIC JUNIOR are among others to consider in a race of many chances.
|Selections||(7) Raon The Aria (10) Cosmo (5) Jilju Born (9) Sinui Adeul|
|Next Best||3, 12|
|Fast Start||2, 4, 5, 10|