Sunday is Classic Trials day in Korea with the Sports Seoul Trophy in the Capital and the Gyeongnam Shinmun Trophy on the south coast offering the three-year-old crop a big prize on their way to the Triple Crown, the first leg of which is just six weeks away. There are 11 races at Seoul from 10:35 to 18:00 and 6 at Busan from 11:00 to 15:40. Here are the previews:
Seoul Race 1: Class 6 (1200M) Special Weight A / KRW 40 Million
Three-year-old maidens in the opener. (5) BANFF went through plenty of trials before debuting on February 19th and he gave a good account for himself over this distance, coming out of the widest gate to sit midfield and then run on for 3rd. He should have come on for that run, he draws well here, and he can win. (10) FLY DAY has a 5th and a 3rd from two appearances so far, both times settling midfield and finishing off well. The wide draw shouldn’t be a problem, an apprentice keeps his weight light, and he should be challenging late again here. (8) MIR POINT has a 2nd place to her name over 1000M and comes in off a solid 4th place at this distance on February 12th when he led for much of the way. He should be on pace again, and in this a long way. (6) CLAIR QUEEN and (7) JEOLDAE GACHI among others in at least the placing frame.
|Selections||(5) Banff (10) Fly Day (8) Mir Point (6) Clair Queen|
|Next Best||7, 12|
|Fast Start||4, 8, 7, 12|
Busan Race 1: Class 6 (1200M) Special Weight A / KRW 40 Million
Three-year-old maidens. (1) CHEERFUL LIFE looks to be the one to beat. After running 5th on debut in December, he has since run 2nd and 3rd in two tries at this distance, beating a couple of today’s rivals in the process. He has raced on pace in both those and is beautifully drawn so to do again, and he can win. (5) BLACK VOLT came from a wide draw and from off the pace to run 3rd over 1300M on February 10th. He also has a 2nd to his name at 1000M and should be a threat today doing his best work late. (9) HONOR LORD returns for the first time since last September. He trialled up three times between December and February, winning two of them and posting good times, and must be taken seriously first-up here. (4) SANGSANGGEUISANG has steadily improved across three starts so far, with a 4th place at 1300M on February 19th his most recent. He can sit behind the speed here and run on with every chance of a money finish. Debut-maker (2) UNJU BONNEUNG stopped the clock in a good time in his trial and a bold first-time showing is possible.
|Selections||(1) Cheerful Life (5) Black Volt (9) Honor Lord (4) Sangsanggeuisang|
|Next Best||2, 7|
|Fast Start||1, 3, 8, 9|
Seoul Race 2: Class 6 (1200M) Special Weight A / KRW 40 Million
A maiden restricted to three-year-old fillies. The form doesn’t exactly leap off the page, so we’ll go with (4) BARAMUI HYANGGI, who has shown promise when running 5th and 4th in her first two starts, most recently at this distance on February 4th. She drew wide in both those races but gets a much better gate this time, her carried weight remains nice and light, and she has as good a chance as any here. (8) SEMYEONG LADY has run fairly in five starts so far with her best being a runner-up finish over 1200M in December. She also has the fastest time among any of these for the distance and she should be on pace and in the frame here. (1) HERO GANGJA has been 5th in both starts so far, racing on pace both times. She draws well here and should be aiming for improvement. (11) TUHON TEUKGEUP and (7) DAMJAENGI ARGO among others in at least the placing hunt.
|Selections||(4) Baramui Hyanggi (8) Semyeong Lady (1) Hero Gangja (11) Tuhon Teukgeup|
|Next Best||7, 9|
|Fast Start||1, 4, 8, 10|
Busan Race 2: Class 6 (1300M) Special Weight A / KRW 25 Million
Fillies (and one mare) only in this age open maiden and it’s a tricky race where the form is unconvincing, but plenty are plausibly in with a chance. Without much conviction, we’ll go with (6) AQUA MAGIC. She has two 4th places on her record including last time out when she was on pace and beat a couple of today’s rivals. She has the fastest start and may get an easy run to the lead here. If she, does, she may prove hard to pass. (7) PHANTOM QUEEN is two starts into a comeback following almost six months out. She weakened over 1400M last time out but should be better back at a trip at which she has the fastest time of any of these. (5) GREEN LEGEND hasn’t shown an awful lot in two starts so far but draws a good gate this time and can be competitive. (8) RICH COWBOY returned from almost two years out in December and ran an adequate 5th place. She can improve on that here. (1) PURPLE STAR returns after almost a year off and trialled up well enough to suggest that in this limited company, she can be competitive.
|Selections||(6) Aqua Magic (7) Phantom Queen (5) Green Legend (8) Rich Cowboy|
|Next Best||1, 4|
|Fast Start||3, 5, 6, 11|
Seoul Race 3: Class 6 (1200M) Special Weight A / KRW 40 Million
(2) ARGO MUJEOK was a beaten favourite over 1200M on February 25th when he was a touch slower away than normal. He does have a 3rd place on his record at this distance and from a good gate and with Antonio climbing aboard, he can be given another chance (5) BADAUI KKUM had a hard time from a wide draw over 1400M at his latest start on February 19th. He was going well prior to that tough and looked to be knocking on the door of his first win, consistently going close. He comes back in trip today, gets a 2kg apprentice claim and draws well. It could be fifteenth time lucky. (6) SPEAR GOLD and (7) SEOUL SPURT both come in following improved 3rd place showings in their latest and can build on their respective momentum here. (1) CANDY GLOW another in the placing frame.
|Selections||(2) Argo Mujeok (5) Badaui Kkum (6) Spear Gold (7) Seoul Spurt|
|Next Best||1, 11|
|Fast Start||1, 2, 6, 9|
Busan Race 3: Class 5 (1400M) Handicap / KRW 40 Million
Fillies and mares only here. (2) SPECIAL ROAD looks the one to beat. She got her maiden win at start number two over 1200M back in December and has since finished 3rd and 5th in two attempts at this class, both over six-furlongs. She comes up in distance and in the weights today, but that’s balanced by Franco climbing aboard and from a good gate she should be on pace and can lead all the way. (6) CUQUENAN registered her maiden win at this distance in December. She drew wide for her first crack at this class on January 13th and ran on fairly for 5th. She has had nine weeks off so comes in fresh and can get closer here. (4) WONDERFUL OCEAN enters off a 3rd place in a curious race over 1300M on February 10th (won at big odds by Statice, who also goes here). That marked a return to form after a couple of indifferent runs and she can build on it here. (10) QUALITY QUEEN and (7) DALEHOLRINGWANGDAE among others in the minor money hunt.
|Selections||(2) Special Road (6) Cuquenan (4) Wonderful Ocean (10) Quality Queen|
|Next Best||7, 12|
|Fast Start||2, 7, 9, 10|
Seoul Race 4: Class 5 (1300M) Handicap / KRW 40 Million
Fillies and mares only and (5) RAON EMPIRE will be hot favourite. After a 3rd and a 2nd from her opening two starts, she got her maiden win at the third time of asking over 1200M on February 11th when handy throughout. She comes up in class and slightly in trip here but this half-sister to Raon The Fighter should have far too much for her rivals. (7) WIDAEHAN HANMA got her maiden win two starts back and then ran a good 2nd on her first try at this class over 1400M on February 4th with a couple of today’s rivals behind her. She only comes up 1kg in the weights and can be close again. (9) JANGBI MUJIGAE is yet to finish any worse than 5th from five starts so far and has a 4th and a 3rd from her two attempts at this level, both times going back and running on. She has a strong finish on her and can be running on again late here. (11) DAUL QUEEN and (1) MAPARAM among others to keep safe.
|Selections||(5) Raon Empire (7) Widaehan Hanma (9) Jangbi Mujigae (11) Daul Queen|
|Next Best||1, 3|
|Fast Start||1, 2, 3, 5|
Busan Race 4: Class 4 (1200M) Handicap / KRW 60 Million
Good race. (5) SANGIM YEOWANG comes in having run 2nd in a fast race over this class and distance on a wet track on February 10th, settling back and running on strongly. That was her second start following a seven-month layoff and third-up today, she may be peaking fitness wise. (2) BEOLGYOUI KKUM comes rapidly up in class following a 4th and then a 2nd at class 5 level. He only went down very narrowly on February 10th in a quick race over this distance and under a very light weight and from a good draw, he has every chance here. (7) BLUE ICON is ultra-consistent and after an inauspicious debut has been in the top-three in all six subsequent starts. She ran 3rd on her first try at this class and this distance on February 26rh having raced handy throughout and she can maintain her record here. (6) TWO TWO COIN is up in class after a good win over this trip last time and can measure up. (10) COLORFUL WIND another who can enter the calculations.
|Selections||(5) Samgim Yeowang (2) Beolgyoui Kkum (7) Blue Icon (6) Two Two Coin|
|Next Best||10, 8|
|Fast Start||2, 4, 8, 12|
Seoul Race 5: Class 5 (1200M) Handicap / KRW 40 Million
Competitive race with two standouts. (6) LEGEND SOCKS returned from five months out on February 12th to run a good 3rd ay class and distance racing close to the pace throughout. He had previously shown promise, should strip fitter for the run, and can have a big say here. The main danger and possibly even the betting favourite is (5) MAESTRA. She got her maiden win at start number four on February 12th, coming from off the pace over this distance. She comes up in class, but down in the weights and Moon Se-young stays aboard. She had a wide draw that day but in this company and from this gate, she may well be much closer to the speed and has solid chances. (4) RAON THE CHARLIE is yet to win in six attempts but comes up in class here following two 3rds and a last start 2nd at class 6. He’s been beaten by useful types and with a big weight drop here, he can be competitive. (12) TIZ INDY and (2) ROAD ACE are among others to keep safe.
|Selections||(6) Legend Socks (5) Maestra (4) Raon The Charlie (12) Tiz Indy|
|Next Best||2, 10|
|Fast Start||3, 5, 6, 8|
Busan Race 5: Class 4 (1800M) Special Weight B / KRW 60 Million
(9) PISTOL STAR comes in having won over this distance in front-running fashion at class 5 level in a super quick time on an admittedly fast track on February 12th. While he is up in class here and doesn’t get much help from the set weight scale, the manner of that performance suggests there is more to come, and he can win again today. (12) NEW CROWN beat Pistol Star when the pair of them raced each other over this distance on January 8th, New Crown sweeping home from off the pace. He ran 4th on his first try at this class on February 17th and while he once again must contend with a wide draw, Seo Seung-un remains on and he can be competitive. (5) QUEEN HARLEY came home in 3rd place in that February 17th race, ahead of New Crown and a couple more of today’s rivals. Her style is to go right back and finish strongly and while she can leave herself a bit much to do, she has place claims again here. (10) CHANGCHANG DAERO is up in class following a win over a mile last time out and can measure up at this level. (8) WIND WINNER another who can enter the calculations.
|Selections||(9) Pistol Star (12) New Crown (5) Queen Harley (10) Changchang Daero|
|Next Best||8, 2|
|Fast Start||1, 7, 9, 10|
Seoul Race 6: Class 2 (1600M) Handicap / KRW 90 Million
(4) CHAMJOEUN CHINGU had near-misses in all three legs of last season’s Triple Tiara before a setback ended her three-year-old season early. After precisely eight months out, she returned to action in fine style, winning over 1400M at class 3 level on February 4th. She comes up in class here but down in the weights and the distance is not unfamiliar to her. She draws well to lead, and she can go all the way. (7) RAON BEAT comes back in trip following a 3rd place over 2000M in January. He has had a couple of months to recover from that and comes back to a trip at which he has both won over at a lower level and posted a fast time over when 3rd at this level. An apprentice claim takes the edge off the weight, and he rates as a chance. (8) BEST LUCKY comes up in class following back-to-back wins, most recently over this distance on February 19th. This is a stiffer test, but he comes down a full 5kg in the weights and can be competitive. (5) PARK WIN and (3) NIMUI HYANGGI others in the frame.
|Selections||(4) Chamjoeun Chingu (7) Raon Beat (8) Best Lucky (5) Park Win|
|Next Best||3, 9|
|Fast Start||1, 4, 9, 10|
Busan Race 6: Class Open (1400M) Gyeongnam Shinmun Trophy (3yo Listed) / Special Weight A / KRW 200 Million
Busan’s official Classic Trial. It’s hard to go past (6) BETELGEUSE. The striking grey skipped the conventional big juvenile races last autumn in favour of going straight up to two turns and he has already won at the Derby distance of 1800M on three occasions. He has already punched his ticket to the Triple Crown starting gate, but it looks as though the big prize was too good to ignore here, so he comes back in trip, and if he runs to his best, he’ll be very hard to beat. Having only raced three times, (8) GLOBAL HIT is still relatively unexposed. He was a fast winner coming from off the pace from a wide gate over 1200M on his latest start in January and the distance can suit here. (4) FINAL SEVEN has the fastest time among any of these who have tackled the distance before. Form a good draw, he can be on pace and in this a long way. (3) WORLD LEGEND and (7) BACKTOTHELEGEND among others in the placing frame.
|Selections||(6) Betelgeuse (8) Global Hit (4) Final Seven (3) World Legend|
|Next Best||7, 1|
|Fast Start||3, 4, 5, 9|
Seoul Race 7: Class 5 (1400M) Handicap / KRW 40 Million
(10) DAEWANG SOCKS will be the one to beat here. He got his maiden win at start number three over 1300M when making all on February 11th and while he comes up in class here and draws a touch wide, all the other early speed here has drawn similarly, and he can win again. (5) NAMSAN MUJEOK is probably the main danger. A winner over 1300M at class 6 level three starts back, he has a close 3rd and a 4th in two attempts at this class, both at 1300M and both times running on. He should be close today. (1) BAEDARI WANGJA remains a maiden after six attempts but like the favourite he too comes up in class after a good 2nd place over 1200M on February 19th. He comes down in the weights, he draws very nicely, and the additional furlong could well suit. (9) G MOTION and (4) ROCK IMPACT others who can enter the calculations.
|Selections||(10) Daewang Socks (5) Namsan Mujeok (1) Baedari Wangja (9) G Motion|
|Next Best||4, 12|
|Fast Start||9, 10, 11, 12|
Seoul Race 8: Class Open (1400M) Sports Seoul Trophy (Juvenile Listed) / Special Weight A / KRW 200 Million
Seoul’s principal Classic Trial. (10) NAOL SNIPER will be a warm favourite. A winner of four from seven, he ran 4th in the Breeders’ Cup race at Busan in December before winning his only start of 2023 so far when stepped up to the Derby distance of 1800M on February 11th, making all. He has won at this trip too in a fast time and performing to his best, will take some beating. (9) RAON THE QUALITY has won her latest three in fine style, up to 1600M and class 4 level. As a filly she gets a 2kg allowance on all her rivals here and she should be on the front and a big danger here. (1) NUT PLAY has come from well off the pace in both his latest two over a mile. He has seemed to be looking for a bit of distance so the drop back in trip may not be ideal but there is likely to be plenty of pace up front for him to target so the race could suit. (6) DRAGON STAR and the unbeaten (5) SOMETHING LOST among plenty of other talent in a good race.
|Selections||(10) Naol Sniper (9) Raon The Quality (1) Nut Play (6) Dragon Star|
|Next Best||5, 3|
|Fast Start||2, 4, 5, 9|
Seoul Race 9: Class 4 (1400M) Handicap / KRW 60 Million
(5) FURIOSA was 2nd to Raon Giant in the Gwacheon Mayor’s Trophy, a listed race for juvenile fillies, last November and was then a beaten favourite on Christmas Day at class 4 level over 1400M when always handy but only managing 4th. She’d had a hectic juvenile campaign so she may well benefit from the twelve-week layoff and in this company she can be on or handy to the speed again and she has every chance. The main danger is (8) TAPDOWN. He was a winner at this class over 1200M two starts back before running 3rd over that same trip on February 12th when settling right back. He carries his fair share of weight here, but he has run well at this distance before and if he can keep himself in striking distance as they enter the home straight, he has a real chance. (11) GANA FASHION was a class and distance winner as recently as December and must be taken seriously. (1) TOUCH NINE and (2) HAPPY SOCKS among others with placing claims.
|Selections||(5) Furiosa (8) Tapdown (11) Gana Fashion (1) Touch Nine|
|Next Best||2, 3|
|Fast Start||1, 2, 5, 11|
Seoul Race 10: Class 4 (1800M) Special Weight B / KRW 60 Million
Good race. After an anonymous debut, (3) YOUNGYOUNG SOCKS has proceeded to string together four top-two finishes including two wins. Her latest saw her runner-up over 1400M at this class on February 19th when racing midfield and running on. She has proven herself tactically versatile and while she comes up significantly in trip, she may well win again. The primary danger is (2) CHEONGSAN YEONGUNG. He has just the one win from fourteen starts but his recent form reads very well and in his latest, he ran 2nd to Naol Sniper at this class and distance when racing handy. He comes up 3.5kg for that effort but he draws well and he should be going close again. (10) SURE WIN beat three of today’s rivals on her way to 2nd place at this class over a mile on February 18th and while he too comes up in weight and up to two-turns for the first time, he should be kept safe. (4) E-DANAEUN and (11) BLUE CHARM others in the minor money hunt.
|Selections||(3) Youngyoung Socks (2) Cheongsan Yeongung (10) Sure Win (4) E-Danaeun|
|Next Best||11, 9|
|Fast Start||3, 4, 7, 10|
Seoul Race 11: Class 3 (1800M) Special Weight B / KRW 75 Million
(1) DOKKI BULPAE is a winner of three from four so far with his latest being a facile gate to wire romp over 1400M at class 4 level on February 11th. He comes up in class and in trip here but he carries a light weight, is nicely drawn, and he should be winning again. The main danger is (10) CHOEGO BLACK. He enters having won his last two starts to move onto four from eight in total. His most recent was at class and distance on February 4th when overcame a similarly wide gate and steadily improved. He comes up 2kg in the weights as a result, but he can be a big threat again. (3) NAMSAN HORANGI has a very solid record at this distance and while he is up in class here after a win and two runner-up finishes from his last three races, he comes down significantly in the weights and should be right in this. The enigmatic (8) ONE PUTT as well as (6) STRIDE UP, are others in the frame.
|Selections||(1) Dokki Bulpae (10) Choego Black (3) Namsan Horangi (8) One Putt|
|Next Best||6, 7|
|Fast Start||1, 2, 6, 12|