Race Reviews

Dia Road Dethrones Silver Wolf in Ttukseom While Alan Munro Lands 1st Korean Stakes Win on East Jet in SROA Trophy

Dia Road firmly established herself at the top of the filly and mare division by taking out the Ttukseom Cup (KOR G2) at Seoul Racecourse on Sunday afternoon and in doing so, beat perennial champion Silver Wolf for the second consecutive time. One race later, British jockey Alan Munro recorded his first Korean Stakes race victory when guiding East Jet to a smart victory in the Seoul Racehorse Owners’ Association (KOR G3).

Coming into the Ttukseom Cup, the first leg of the Queens’ Tour, Dia Road [Captain Coltish – Gieongnal Geunal (Menifee)] had won seven of her eight prior races, including that meeting with stablemate Silver Wolf in the Donga Ilbo Cup prior to the shutdown earlier this year when she had a 5kg weight advantage.

At level weights this time, Dia Road was slowly out of the gates but by the end of the back straight, jockey Kim Yong-geun had threaded a way through the field and was up just behind the leaders. She struck the front at the top of the home straight and powered away from the rest to record a six-length win from early pacesetter Raon First and closer Ice Marine. Silver Wolf, who took a long time to find space for a run, came home 5th.

If all goes to plan – and that is a big “if” with Korean racing in an uncertain position due to the recent COVID-19 resurgence, the four-year-old Dia Road and the eight-year-old Silver Wolf will most likely meet again in the final two legs of the Queens’ Tour – of which Silver Wolf is already a two-time winner – in the autumn.

The SROA Trophy (KOR G3) brought back together some of the nation’s top sprinters including the first five home in last month’s SBS Sports Sprint. Most pre-race attention focused on the young up and comer Eoma Eoma who after three straight wins, had suffered her first career defeat when a gutsy 3rd in the SBS Sports Sprint a month ago.

Despite a much better draw, this time Eoma Eoma had to settle for 2nd place as East Jet [Strike Again – Lend (Coronado’s Quest)], the only other three-year-old in the race, made short work of a wide draw to get right on pace with the leaders and then proved too strong in the straight, holding off Eoma Eoma by just under a length. SBS Sports Sprint winner Morfhis produced his customary late charge but had to settle for 3rd.

First Korean Stakes winner for Alan Munro (Pic:KRA)

East Jet was ridden by Alan Munro, who was recording his first Koream Stakes race victory. Munro, who only returned earlier this month from a broken wrist suffered prior to the KRA Cup Mile has now ridden 67 winners from 570 rides in the country since debuting in February 2019.

Tiz Plan Denies Cheongdam Dokki In Busan Mayor’s Cup

Tiz Plan ground down Cheongdam Dokki in a seesaw stretch duel to win the Busan Mayor’s Cup on Sunday afternoon, sealing his first Group level victory and denying Cheongdam Dokki a second sweep of the Korean Stayers’ Series.

Whereas in the first two legs of the Series, the Herald Business and YTN Cups at Seoul, Cheongdam Dokki had simply run away from his rivals and put both races to bed before his , this time jockey Johan Victoire, with a furlong less to worry about, kept Tiz Plan much handier in the early stages and while Cheongdam Dokki did lead, at no time did the gap look insurmountable.

Leading by just over a length at the top of stretch, Cheongdam Dokki was reeled in by Tiz Plan and the two went nose to nose. Dokki briefly regained the upper hand before a final effort from Tiz Plan saw the younger horse draw level once more and finally pull away to win by a length and a half. As usual, Shamrocker came home in 3rd place.

Tiz Plan [Tiznow – Amusing Plan (Pleasantly Perfect)] was bred by Three Chimneys Farm and arrived in Korea as a two-year-old in 2017. His win was his tenth from twenty starts.

For trainer Park Jae-woo, who gained his license in 2011, it was a first Group race victory. Jockey Johan Victoire was winning this race for the second year in a row having been successful on Dolkong a year ago. Victoire also won the G3 SBS Sports Sprint last month.

With the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic preventing any wagering from taking place in Korea and with the Korea Cup accordingly not being run this year, the racing calendar remains somewhat up in the air. However, it is possible that Tiz Plan and Cheongdam Dokki could meet again in the KRA Cup Classic at 2000M in early October.

Touch Star Man Lands Triple Crown Opener At Busan

Touch Star Man struck the front in the final furlong and held off all-comers to win the KRA Cup Mile, the first leg of the 2020 Korean Triple Crown, at Busan this afternoon.

One major contender had already fallen by the wayside earlier in the week when it emerged that Breeders’ Cup winner Roller Blade didn’t have the correct paperwork in order to enter. Another had to drop out ten minutes before the race when Determination reared up when parading and dislodging Alan Munro who was taken to hospital for x-rays on a suspected broken wrist (unfortunately this was subsequently confirmed).

That left Save The World as the leading contender but just as he had done in the Breeders’ Cup last December, the Menifee colt was slow out of the gates and was playing catch-up from the start.

That left outsider Golden Winner showing the way early with Thunder King and K N Road for company while Touch Star Man settled at the front of midfield. The former two would quickly capitulate in the home straight, but K N Road stuck gamely to his task as Touch Star Man and Gyeongnam Do Min Ilbo Cup winner Doctor Carson emerged as the main challengers.

Ultimately jockey Jung Do-yun would find a little bit more from Touch Star Man who went on to win by a length from K N Road with Doctor Carson a further three-lengths in arrears. Despite his dreadful start, Save The World ran a big race coming home in 4th.

Touch Star Man is by Testa Matta and out of Useung Touch (by Menifee). Useung Touch herself runner-up in the Korean Derby in 2011.

For jockey Jung Do-yun, the victory was his first in a Group race. For trainer Kim Young-kwan it was his fourth in this race alone following successes with Sangseung Ilro in 2009, Power Blade in 2016 and Divide Wind in 2018. Power Blade would, of course, go on to sweep all three legs of the Triple Crown.

The next leg of the Triple Crown is the Korean Derby which is currently scheduled for Sunday August 2nd over 1800M at Seoul.

Roller Blade Takes Clean Sweep In Juvenile Series

Roller Blade kept out of trouble in a wet and wild Breeders’ Cup (KOR G2) at Busan Racecourse, emerging strongly up the rail to become Korea’s Champion Juvenile of 2019.

Roller Blade had previously won both of Seoul’s preliminary legs of the Juvenile Series and therefore completed a clean sweep with his Busan success. Drawn on the inside, the Officer colt kept out of trouble and stayed on the rail to win by two and a half lengths from K N Road on the line.

Save The World had won Busan’t first two legs of the Series and with home advantage was sent off as pre-race favourite. From a wide draw though, he missed the start and scarcely looked a factor. Run of the race though perhaps came from Determination, who overcame a heavy bump in the early stages and then a very wide stretch run, to finish strongly for 3rd.

So Roller Blade is Champion juvenile and the crop – with the addition of Doctor Carson and Raon First, who were very impressive in winning other valuable two-year-old races last week, looks in a good way heading towards the Triple Crown trail next year.

Full recap of the series to follow on the KRA International Facebook page

Silver Wolf Shows Her Superiority in KNN Cup

It always threatened to be a mismatch and that’s how it turned out as Silver Wolf once more asserted her dominance over the filly and mare ranks with a dismissively easy victory in the KNN Cup at Busan on Sunday afternoon.

The seven-year-old Aussie-bred mare kept her perfect record for 2019 intact by claiming the second leg of the Queens’ Tour, having already won the Ttukseom Cup and assuring herself of a second victory in the series with one race still to come.

In truth no other result was likely. With a local rating of 125, a full 32 higher than next best Sky Bay, if it had been a handicap, Silver Wolf would have put the rest of the field twelve points out of the scale.

Ultimately it was Sky Bay who put up the best fight, as last year’s Gyeongnam Governor’s Cup winner led from the gate and into the home straight.

But Sky Bay could do nothing as Yoo Seung-wan and Silver Wolf, who had sat comfortably in the middle of the pack throughout the early stages of the race, loomed up on the outside and cruised on by with a furlong to go for a four-length win on the line.

Silver Wolf has been conservatively campaigned for four wins from four  this year although she has only faced males on one occasion – when she comfortably dispatched them in the Seoul Owners Association Trophy at odds of 9/1.

Silver Wolf’s win moves her on to sixteen wins from thirty-two lifetime starts, ten of them in listed or graded company. She has now won well in excess of US$2.5Million and sits behind only Triple Nine and Power Blade in the list of all-time money winners in Korea.

Come October, we will most likely see Silver Wolf back at Busan to contest the final leg of the Queens’ Tour, the Gyeongnam Governor’s Cup over 2000M and provided she avoids any setbacks in the meantime, she will surely win that too.

Seoul Saturday: Race-By-Race Preview (July 6)

Saturday sees 10 races at Seoul with the first summer schedule of the year in the capital. The 1st race is at 14:30 and the last at 21:00:

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Twilight at Seoul

Race 1: Class 6 (1000M) Allowance / KRW 24 Million

A modest maiden to begin with. A couple have shown promise so far and (6) SINBU has as good a chance as any of making his breakthrough. He has disappointed punters before but if he can get to the lead, this could be his day. (4) NEOSEONG BYOKROK comes in off two 3rd places and a 4th from his latest three outings and he too should be there or thereabout. An apprentice jockey takes off some weight today and that could make the difference. (11) RAON JOY was a much improved 3rd last start and can build on that despite today’s draw not being ideal. (10) RED SUN is a half-brother to the very good Royal Ruby and didn’t do too much wrong on debut over 1200M a month ago. (8) STUNNING AGAIN looks best of the rest.

Selections (4) Neoseong Byokrok (6) Sinbu (10) Red Sun (11) Raon Joy
Next Best 8, 2
Fast Start 1, 5, 6, 10

Race 2: Class 6 (1000M) Allowance / KRW 24 Million

Another maiden with not a whole lot of depth. (4) VALLEY QUEEN was away well last time and while she ended up in 3rd place, showed enough to suggest she has a win in her. She’s well drawn to lead again and if she does, she can go all the way this time. (9) SILVER DRAGON reacted badly to a bump coming out of the gate on debut back at the end of April. Top jockey Kim Yong-geun stays aboard for her return and improvement looks possible today. (3) KOREA DAEJANGBU has been knocking on the door of the places across six attempts so far. He was slow away last start so if he fixes that he should be looking at a best finish to date today. (12) KINGLY struggled over 1200M last start but could be better back at the minimum today. (2) JEONGDONG SARANG looks best of the rest.

Selections (4) Valley Queen (9) Silver Dragon (3) Korea Daejangbu (12) Kingly
Next Best 2, 6
Fast Start 1, 4, 12

Race 3: Class 6 (1300M) Allowance / KRW 24 Million

A small field of maidens tackling the 1300M. It’s been a challenging couple of months for Simon Foster but a winner last week suggests some light at the end of the tunnel and (5) COILRO can make it a bit brighter with victory here. He got a heavy bump at the start last time when he finished 4th, but with a clean start today and with Alan Munro piloting, he has a big chance. The main danger is (2) COMPLETE MOTION. He was 3rd – albeit well beaten by a very good winner who’s already gone on to score at a higher level – last start at this distance and can build on that here. (8) TOUR DIA improved to a career-best 3rd last start and can continue to progress here under an in-form apprentice jockey. (6) DAEGIRI, up in trip for the first time, looks best of the rest.

Selections (5) Coilro (2) Complete Motion (8) Tour Dia (6) Daegiri
Next Best 1
Fast Start 3

Race 4: Class 5 (1300M) Handicap / KRW 40 Million

(2) FLYING BULLET made all to comfortably get her maiden win over this distance last start. She’s up in class today but well drawn to get to the front early once more and under a very light weight, has strong claims to repeat. (6) CRAZY Q was a more surprising maiden winner on her latest outing and perhaps has a bit more to find but can still be competitive. (1) BANJIUI HAMSEONG had a poor day at the office last start but was in decent form prior to that and is worth another go today. (7) NAEGA KKEUTPANWANG and (3) HUIMANG STAR came home 3rd and 4th respectively with just half a length between them when they raced each other at class and distance on June 8th and both should be aiming for the places here. (5) WINT SEVEN ran a promising 5th last time out at 1200M, with the margins narrow. He ran on strongly and the extra half furlong today can be in his favour.

Selections (2) Flying Bullet (3) Huimang Star (1) Banjiui Hamseong (5) Wint Seven
Next Best 7, 6
Fast Start 1, 3, 4

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

(8) ROLLER BLADE won the first juvenile race of the year three weeks ago in style. For his second assignment, he is up in class, distance and is taking on older horses already. But the manner of his victory suggest he will be able to take all three in his stride and win again against a less than intimidating set of rivals. (7) PRIME QUEEN only managed (more…)

Clear Geom Shocks Favourites In Gyeonggi Governor’s / Burui Gori Steps up To Take Sports Chosun

The upsets keep on coming in the three-year-old division this year. Just a week after Rock Choice ran out the 20/1 winner of the Minister’s Cup, the final leg of the Triple Crown, it was the turn of the fillies in the Gyeonggi Governor’s Cup. And while Oaks winner Deep Mind and previously unbeaten Dia Road dominated the market, it was 16/1 outsider Clear Geom, who took the spoils.

Deep Mind ran out an impressive eight-length winner in the Oaks last month and was sent out as a slighly better than even-money favourite for the 2000M Group 3 (Korean) test. As she did in the Oaks, she went straight to the lead but this time found herself beaten early, her race run by the top of the home straight. That left Dia Road, who had been stalking the leader since the start, in firm command.

Dia Road looked a surefire winner a furlong out, but that was to reckon without Clear Geom, who under Moon Se Young launched a late charge down the outside to steal the honours by half a length on the line. An even later arrival on the scene was Miss Fact, in 3rd.

Clear Geom [Clear Attempt – Kwaegeom (War Zone)] was racing for the seventh time, having won two of her previous six but was yet to score at higher than class 5. She was ridden for the first time by Moon Se Young, who registered his third Group success in just over a month, to add to the Korean Derby on Wonderful Fly and the YTN Cup on Moonhak Chief. For trainer Kim Soon-Keun it was a second Group winner – Moonhak Chief was his first in a seventeen-year career.

One race earlier, Burui Gori [Afleet Again – Union Belle (Dixie Union)] continued to burnish his credentials when taking out a competitive renewal of the Sports Chosun Cup. While restricted to horses with a rating of 80 or less, the Listed event attracted a solid field which made for an attractive betting contest and an even more attractive race.

Ultimately, Burui Gori’s stretch drive proved too strong as he swept by Choinma and held off the challenge of slight favourite Shark Daejanggeun, to win by a length and a half under jockey Yoo Seung-wan.

Burui Gori moves on to five wins from eleven starts and puts him into the frame for some of the bigger races later in the year – the victory means he enters Seoul’s President’s Cup qualification table in 10th place. He looks to be on an upward trajectory.

That points race is currently led by Global Chukje and Wonderful Fly, Cup Mile and Derby winners respectively. But with no standout emerging from the three-year-old crop, we could be in for a fascinaiting summer and autumn.

Deep Mind Five-Star In Oaks For Kim Young-kwan

Never write-off Kim Young-kwan. It’s the golden rule of Korean racing but some of us still fall prey to it from time-to-time. Just when it looked as though the nation’s dominant trainer could go through a season without winning one of the three-year-old Classic races, up pops Deep Mind to trounce fifteen rivals and win the Oaks by eight-lengths. At odds of 23/1.

While neither were expected to win, Deep Mind wasn’t even trainer Kim’s first-string. That was Amazon Yeogeol, but under Seo Seung-un, Deep Mind bounded out of gate 14 and got across to the lead. It was a simple plan – get in front on a very wet track and let the rest of them get in trouble in the mud and spray behind. It worked.

Dae Wan Ma, Sports Seoul Trophy winner and 2nd in the KRA Cup Mile, was sent off as the prohibitive favourite but having settled in the front half of the pack, jockey Antonio Da Silva had to get to work on her a full three-furlongs from home. The response was muted and she finished well down the field.

Instead, Deep Mind galloped away from the pack for a dominant triumph. Heung Buja got closest in 2nd place ahead of Miss Fact in 3rd making for a trifecta dividend in excess of 20,000/1. Peter Wolsley’s Top Of World was 4th and Luigi Riccardi’s Mamma Roma a creditable 5th.

For jockey Seo Seung-un it was a first win in the race but for trainer Kim it was a fifth with him previously having won four consecutive editions between 2013 and 2016. It’s also a first Classic win this season for Busan-trained horse after Seoul based gallopers Global Chukje and Wonderful Fly took out the KRA Cup Mile and Korean Derby respectively.

Deep Mind is by Menifee and is out of Urrikot (by Creek Cat), who was bred and raced in Korea. It was the seventh race of her career and her fourth win.

Sky Bay Lands Gyeongnam Governor’s Cup / Victoire Bags Seven / Gaon Champ Steps up

Sky Bay ran out the emphatic winner of the Gyeongnam Governor’s Cup, the final leg of the 2018 Queens’ Tour at Busan last Sunday. The three-year-old US-bred filly ran away from the field in the home straight to win by five-lengths and secure a first Group race victory for trainer Lee Shin Young.

Sky Bay - KRA

Sky Bay was sent off as favourite for the 2000M test and was prominent throughout. While other early pace-setters Blue Flag and Catch Nine gave way, the Adios Charlie filly was too strong and fast-finishers Seouri Byeol and Damyang Hwanho never looked like getting close. With Sky Bay not having competed in either of the first two legs of the Queens’ Tour, 4th place-getter Cheongsu Yeogeol, winner of the Ttukseom Cup and 2nd in the KNN Cup, was crowned the overall Series winner

Sky Bay [Adios Charlie – KK’s Kitty (Yes It’s True)] was a $95,000 purchase from the OBS 2017 Spring Sale of two-year-olds and has now won five of her nine races. It is the biggest win of trainer Lee Shin Young’s career as she becomes the first Korean female trainer to saddle a Group winner.

For jockey Lee Chan Ho, one of the most naturally gifted riders Korea has produced but who has seen his career weighed down somewhat by suspensions for off-track issues, it was a second Group winner following Choegang Schiller’s triumph in the 2015 Asia Challenge Cup.

Speaking of jockeys, up at Seoul it was a sensational weekend for Johan Victoire. The French rider rode three winners on Saturday and then managed to top that feat on Sunday, partnering four more for a total of seven across the weekend.

Victoire, who is seventeen months into his Korean sojourn, has now ridden 73 winners from 729 rides in the country.

While Sky Bay’s win was impressive, the performance of the weekend, however, may have been up in Seoul. In the very last race on Sunday, Gaon Champ stepped up to class 1 for the first time and completely dominated, running in the second fastest time of the year over 1400M for an untroubled length-and-a-half victory.

Gaon Champ (Ecton Park) is a three-year-old colt whose only defeats so far have come at the hands of Mask, in the Seoul Classic trial back in March, and then in the KRA Cup Mile at Busan when he played up in the gates beforehand. He moves on to six wins from eight total starts and will hopefully be one to look out for in the bg sprints next year. He’ll probably not get the opportunity to carry just 51kg again though.

Road Winner Motors To Another Victory / Buhwarui Banseok Back On Top At Busan

 Road Winner added to his burgeoning reputation at Seoul Racecourse on Sunday afternoon the Dicreet Cat colt, who won the JRA Trophy on international weekend last month, running out a comfortable winner in Seoul’s class 1 feature handicap.

Road Winner - Korea Racing Authority

The return of SHAMROCKER, still one of the highest-rated horses in the Korean capital, meant the rest of the field were carrying light weights and while Shamrocker himself ran creditably for 6th, he was nowhere near Road Winner. Once jockey Antonio Da Silva released the hand-brake, the even-money favourite easily saw off the challenge of WINNER GOLD and a game HAEMARU to win the 1800M test by two-and-a-half lengths.

A three-year-old colt, Road Winner was a $20,000 purchase at the OBS 2017 Spring Sale of Two-Year-Olds and with the win, moved onto five wins from seven starts with prize money of US$250,000.

At Busan, BUHWARUI BANSEOK returned to the winner’s circle in the south-coast track’s feature handicap. Bart Rice’s five-year-old ran a strong 5th in last season’s Grand Prix Stakes and had been solid throughout this year’s campaign which had yielded one win from five starts prior to today. He was sent off at odds in excess of 20/1 though as Kim Young Kwan’s CAPTAIN FORCE, a Minister’s Cup also-ran but a four-length winner over this class and distance in early September.

The three-year-old was never in the hunt though as, under apprentice jockey Jo Sang-beom, Buhwarui Banseok struck the front just over a furlong out and ran on to win by a comfortable three-lengths from 2nd placed-APPROACH, who was racing for the first time since his creditable 5th place in the KRA Trophy at Kranji in Singapore in July.

Next Sunday Stakes action returns to Seoul with the Group 3 Jeju Governor’s Cup for fillies and mares over seven furlongs.