Race Reviews

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…)

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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.

Power Blade Heads For Surgery as Doraonpogyeongseon Wins Owners’ Cup

Power Blade will this week undergo surgery on the fractured sesamoid that ended his storied career one day before he was due to defend the Busan Owners’ Cup that he won last year. In his absence, Doraonpogyeongseon, the two-time SBS Sports Sprint winner, took top honours in the Group 3 contest at Busan Racecourse last Sunday.

The diagnosis on Power Blade was made public early Sunday morning , together with the announcement that once he recovers from surgery he will be retired to Stud.

In addition to sweeping all three legs of the 2016 Triple Crown, Power Blade (by Menifee) managed to place in Group company at the Dubai World Cup Carnival early in 2017, ran 2nd to Japan’s Graceful Leap in the Korea Sprint in September and rounded out the year by winning the Grand Prix Stakes, the traditional finale to the Korean racing year. While he was beaten on his only previous start of 2018, running 2nd to Silver Wolf in the Busan Ilbo Cup over 1200M in April, he was expected to get back in the winner’s circle last Sunday.

As it turned out, the up and coming US import Mighty Ssing (Congrats) was sent off as favourite ahead of fellow Seoul raider and last year’s champion filly/mare Silver Wolf (Oratorio). Doraonpogyeongseon (Kantharos), thought to be more a sprinter than a miler, was sent off only fourth-best among ten in the eyes of punters. Jockey Choi Si Dae rode the 5-year-old patiently, keeping him towards the back and on the rail and they steadily made progress rounding the turn, while Mighty Ssing went off in pursuit of early pacesetter King Of Ace.

Doraonpogyeongseon struck the front around a furlong and a half out and the rest had no answer as he strode away to a three-length win, the $50K purchase crashing through the Billion-Won prize-money barrier at the same time. Mighty Ssing was 2nd and Silver Wolf 3rd.

Doraonpogyeongseon Owners Cup Korea Racing Authority

Doraonpogyeongseon won the Owners’ Cup (Pic: KRA)

In other news, Seoul headed into its short summer break – there is no racing in the capital this coming weekend – with two bumper cards last Saturday and Sunday and it was the most successful weekend yet for trainer Simon Foster.

The Australian handler sent out his biggest number of runners since arriving at Seoul at the end of last year and was rewarded with three winners across the two days. Filly Lovely Nute (Menifee) was a seven-length maiden winner on Saturday while on Sunday, another Foster-trained filly Sky Jump (Thunder Mocassin) also got her maiden win. She may have weighed in at just 397kg but the manner of her six-length win suggests she has a bright future. The more experienced Pro Matheus rounded off a good weekend for Foster later on Sunday.

Seoul’s break means attention will switch to Busan which this coming weekend runs a rare Saturday card as well as an expanded Sunday one, in order to make up for the capital’s absence

Special Stone Wins The 2018 Korea Oaks

Special Stone has won the 2018 Korean Oaks. The Limitless Bid filly, sent off as a 22/1 chance among the sixteen-strong field, raced away to win the fillies’ Classic by a clear seven-lengths, ridden by trainer Kim Jeong-jun for Seoul trainer Kang Hwan-min at Busan Racecourse on Sunday afternoon.

Special Stone Korea Racing Authority

Special Stone wins the 2018 Korean Oaks under Kim Jeong-jun (Pic: Korea Racing Authority)

In a race that always looked fiendishly difficult to predict, Yeonghui Sidae was ultimately sent off as a very slight favourite, ahead of Blue Flag, Gyohaksangjang and Yeongcheon Derby. None of them would get close though with Blue Flag the best of the in 4th. By the time she crossed the line, jockey Kim Jeong-jun was celebrating his biggest career win to date.

Special Stone began steadily as an overly keen Star Cat set the early pace. Jockey Kim kept his mount to the rail and the pair steadily gained ground in the back straight, improving to 2nd on the turn for home. Once they hit the straight and others swung wide, Special Stone found the front and then found another gear, leaving the rest trailing far down the track.

Seoul horses completed an unlikely 1, 2, 3 with Firewind coming home in 2nd and Seouri Byeol beating out Blue Flag in the photo-finish for 3rd, the Tierce paying out on that combination at 25850/1.

Trainer Kang Hwan-min only took out his license a year ago and has now won a Classic having had only slightly over 100 starters.

Special Stone is by Limitless Bid, a Korea-based Japanese-bred stallion by Sunday Silence. He is out of Grey Stone, Korean-bred mare who did her racing at Seoul, winning 2 of 28 starts between 2010 and 2013. Special Stone was her first foal. Grey Stone was by Walkslikeaduck (Blushing John), who was imported to Korea in 2002.

Korea Oaks (KOR G2) – Busan Racecourse – 1800M – July 15, 2018

1. Special Stone (KOR) [Limitless Bid – Grey Stone (Walkslikeaduck)] – Kim Jeong-jun – 22.9, 7.6
2. Fire Wind (KOR) [Colors Flying – Chukje (Bellamy Road)] – Jeong Jeong-hee – 5.7
3. Seouri Byeol (KOR) [Limitless Bid – Busanui Byeol (Generous)] – Parl Eul-woon – 16.3
Distances: 7 lengths / 0.75 lengths
Also Ran: 4. Blue Flag 5. Gyohaksangjang 6. Yeongcheon Derby 7. Catch Nine 8. Mone Flying 9. Yeonghui Sidae 10. Peace Tour 11. Queen Of Captain 12. Magic Ten 13. Yuhwi 14. Star Cat 15. Uju Daewang 16. Nike Street