Race Reviews

Raon The Fighter Lands Emphatic Knockout In Owners’ Cup

Raon The Fighter roared back into the winner’s circle at Busan Racecourse on Sunday afternoon, running his rivals off their feet for a statement victory in the Owners’ Cup (1600M KOR-G3).

Raon The Fighter was the easy winner of the Owners’ Cup (Pic: KRA)

On his thirteenth career start, Raon The Fighter was sent off at a price greater than even-money for just the third time ever. That came off the back of two shock defeats in the Sprint Series, as he finished 2nd in both the Busan Ilbo Cup and SROA Chairman’s Cup in April and May. He was luckless both times both times, but those setbacks were enough for punters to be wary and also for connections to replace regular jockey Lee Hyeok with Moon Se-young.

From a good draw and on a hot and humid afternoon in Busan, Raon The Fighter turned the race into a procession. This time there was no stumble at the start, as there was in the Busan Ilbo. Nor was there a bump with Black Musk and then a speed duel with Hit Yegam happened in the SROA.  Instead, Raon The Fighter got a clean break and an easy lead as You Hyun-myung opted to take a sit on Hit Yegam.

Hit Yegam and Simjangui Godong were still within a length at the top of the home straight, but once Moon Se-young let his mount off the bridle and asked for an acceleration, Raon The Fighter’s response was instant. Moon was able to stop riding fifty metres from the line and ease home for a four-length triumph, stopping the clock just eight-seconds outside Blue Chipper’s track record, set in this race in 2019.  

Behind Raon The Fighter, King Of The Match closed significantly faster than anything else, but he couldn’t get past the ever game Simjangui Godong, the pair dead-heating for 2nd place, a full seven-lengths clear of Daemangui Gil in 4th.

Disappointments of the race were SROA winner Black Musk, who was 7th and especially Success Macho, who having suffered his first ever defeat in this race last year, was never a factor and only beat home one.

Raon The Fighter could very easily be thirteen for thirteen and closing in on Mister Park’s all time. It remains true though that he has only been beaten by Eoma Eoma and Black Musk and in mitigating circumstances.

His next outing will surely be in either the Korea Cup (1800M G3) or the Korea Sprint (1200M G3), the two international races at Seoul Racecourse on Sunday September 4th and one of the most exciting things about Raon The Fighter is we still have no idea what his best distance is. Nominations have been received from several countries for both international races, including Asian powerhouses Japan and Hong Kong, as well as from Europe. Whichever race he opts for, Raon The Fighter could very well offer the visitors a stern examination. Both King Of The Match (Korea Cup), an intriguing talent who like Raon The Fighter, is still only four-years-old, and Simjangui Godong (either Korea Cup or Korea Sprint) are likely to be involved on international day too.

Raon The Fighter is by Bayern and out of the Empire Maker mare Clarinda. He was imported in-utero although Bayern himself is now in Korea too, standing at Great Hill Farm on Jeju Island.

The Owner’s Cup marks the final Stakes race of the first part of the season. The tracks (including the Jeju Pony Racecourse) now take it in turns to take a week off. Jeju goes on vacation first meaning next week Busan goes solo on Friday, Busan and Seoul race on Saturday, and Seoul has a standalone meeting next Sunday. The next Graded races in Korea are the International Korea Cup (1800M G3) and Korean Sprint (1200M G3) at Seoul on Sunday September 4th.

Winner’s Man Beats Haengbok Wangja To Claim YTN Cup

Winner’s Man’s stock continues to soar as last year’s Korean Derby winner defeated last year’s Grand Prix Stakes winner, Haengbok Wangja, in a home-straight joust in the YTN Cup (2000M KOR-G3) at Seoul Racecourse on Sunday afternoon.

Seo Seung-un salutes the crowd aboard Winner’s Man (Pic: KRA)

The YTN Cup was the second leg of the 2022 “Stayer Series” but while Winner’s Man ran out the easy winner of the first race, the Herald Business Trophy (2000M KOR-L) earlier this month, he was still only sent off as second favourite for Sunday’s race. That was because Haengbok Wangja, emphatic winner of the season-ending Grand Prix Stakes on Boxing Day, joined proceedings and was locked in as the odds-on favourite.

Drawn the widest in the field of eleven, Winner’s Man was ridden hard from the gate by jockey Seo Seung-un to get up on the pace but had to yield the lead Touch Star Man, a winner of two legs of the Triple Crown in 2020, on his inside as the field headed into the first corner. Touch Star Man’s stablemate King Of The Match joined them on pace while Haengbok Wangja was settled into 4th.

Touch Star Man was the first to give way turning for home and King Of The Match’s challenge promptly folded too, leaving Winner’s Man and Haengbok Wangja to battle it out over the final two furlongs. Always on top, Winner’s Man never let his rival get to within less than a length of him and ultimately crossed the line going away. The pair were a full seven-lengths clear of Geuma Mystic in 3rd while the nine-year-old Shamrocker ran an excellent 4th.

Winner’s Man is by Musket Man and is out of Winner’s Marine (by Volponi), who was a six-time winner in Korea. He was winning for the eleventh time in sixteen starts and for the second time at Group level, following his triumph in the delayed Korean Derby last November.

(Pic: KRA)

Just as it was a second Group win for the horse, so too it was for trainer Choi Ki-hong, for whom Winner’s Man is turning out to by far the best horse in an eighteen-year career. Jockey Seo Seung-un, was partnering his ninth Group race winner.

The win means that Winner’s Man now has an unassailable lead in the Stayer Series with one race still to come, the Busan Mayor’s Cup (KOR G2), the most valuable leg of the series in terms of prizemoney, which will be run over the slightly shorter distance of 1800M at Busan on June 26th.

Winner Star Lands Djordje Perovic Second Derby Win

Winner Star closed late to overhaul Seungbusa and win the 25th running of the Korean Derby (1800M KOR-G1) at Seoul Racecourse on Sunday afternoon, and in doing so, gave jockey Djordje Perovic his second win in the biggest of the three-year-old Classics.

Winner Star wins the Derby (Pic: Ross Holburt/KRA)

Just as in the KRA Cup Mile, Complete Value was sent off as favourite, ahead of the first jewel’s winner Captain Yankee. As expected, Seungbusa set the pace, and the Sports Seoul Trophy winner was in it for a long way as Complete Value stalked handy and looking as though he was ready to make a move.

It never happened. In the home straight, Seungbusa pressed on, and while Complete Value’s challenge waned, Winner Star ran on down the outside of the field, striking the front in the final furlong, and went on to win by two-lengths.

Captain Yankee’s late charge saw him come home in 3rd while Tiz Barows was an excellent 4th. Another Triple Crown series newcomer Wow Wow was 5th ahead of Complete Value in 6th.

Winner Star sees off Seungbusa (Pic: Ross Holburt/KRA)

Winner Star was the only horse in the starting gate to have already won over the distance and after the race, winning jockey Djordje Perovic stressed the importance of that to in-house broadcaster, KRBC.

“His (Winner Star’s) previous experience at nine-furlongs was the key. The Derby was the target and so we prepared really well. We focused on the tactics for the race and where we needed to be in the final stage. It worked out perfectly.”

On a day where there were more racegoers in Seoul Racecourse than at any other time since before the pandemic, Perovic had a message for his fans: “I am so grateful for the support from racing fans here and I am very happy I can repay them by winning this race.”

Perovic went on to acknowledge the bumper Sunday crowd, who had taken advantage of the traditional free entry on Derby Day with the total attendance as big as for a Korea Cup. Perovic previously won the Derby on Save The World in 2020 at a pandemic-enforced deserted Seoul Racecourse. “I actually don’t think I have ever raced in front of so many people as were here today. It was brilliant.”

For Perovic himself, it was yet another milestone. The Serbian jockey nicknamed the “Balkan Wolf” last month overtook Ikuyasu Kurakane to become the most successful foreign jockey in terms of winners in Korean racing history. Winner Star was his 350th race win in the country. He now joins Park Tae-jong, Moon Se-young and Kim Yong-geun as the only riders to have won the Korean Derby more than once.

(Pic: KRA)

As Perovic noted in his interview, Winner Star was the (joint) most experienced runner in the race and the only one to have previously won at the distance, having already raced against older horses on plenty of occasions. That’s why the Derby was only his third win on his eleventh career start. Winner Star is by Concord Point and is out of Jangguneui Huye, who did her racing in Korea and is herself by Korean bred stallion Gaeseon Janggun (by Duality). He was bred by his owner Kang Hoon-pyo and is trained by Baik Kwang-yeol, who previously won the Derby in 2015 with Yeongcheon Ace.

Winner Star’s damsire, Gaeseon Janggun, won the Minister’s Cup in 2008. Winner Star will get a chance to emulate that as the final leg of the Triple Crown is the 2022 Minister’s Cup (2000M KOR-G2) at Seoul Racecourse on Sunday June 12th.

Seungbusa & Man Of The Year End Long Training Droughts In Classic Trials

The last Triple Crown season may only just have entered the books less than three months ago but we’re already just over a month away from the 2022 renewal and on Sunday, Seungbusa and Man Of The Year staked their claims by winning the main Classic trials at Seoul and Busan.

Seungbusa & Jang Chu-youl return to scale after winning the Sports Seoul Cup (Pic: KRA)

At Seoul, the 2021 Champion Juvenile, Complete Value, unbeaten in five starts last term, including the Breeders’ Cup championship race, was favourite for the Sports Seoul Cup, the capital’s principal trial. Also lining up were Nonghyup Chairman’s Cup winner Aspen Taeyang and Nonghyup and Breeders’ Cup runner-up Double Edge, among a ten-strong field.

It would be 5/1 chance Seungbusa who got the jump on the pack though, bounding out of gate eight under jockey Jang Chu-youl and into an early lead in the 1400M Listed test and from that moment on, the rest never looked like getting to him. The margin on the line was just over a length from the fast-finishing Complete Value, who got a little far back and was then wide around the turn. Aspen Taeyang was a further half-length back in 3rd.

Complete Value, perhaps caught a bit far back early and then a little wide around the turn, finished well and while he suffered his first defeat, there was nothing about the run that suggested he won’t still be a leading contender for the first leg of the Triple Crown, the KRA Cup Mile, in April.

Seungbusa is a colt by Mischievously and out of the Flatter mare T P Mc G. Bred by Bae Eun-jeong, he is owned by Kim Gwang-myeong and trained by Jung Ho-ik. He has now won five of seven starts in total and never finished worse than 3rd.

Trainer Jung Ho-ik was winning his first Listed or Stakes race of any kind since 2009 and he was understandably delighted although the gameplan was simple: “We needed to get in front of Complete Value and make him come past us. When Complete Value was gaining in the last part of the race, I was nervous but confident in our horse. He didn’t quite manage to get a big race win as a two-year-old, but he had been training well and we will carefully prepare him for what’s next.”

For jockey Jang Chu-youl, it had also been a long time between Stakes winning drinks. “I won my first big race in 2012 (Cheoneun in the G3 Owners’ Association Trophy), when I had only been riding for two years, and I admit I really didn’t think then that it would take ten more years to get back here. I know now just how hard it is and how much work is required to get here again.”

At Busan, Rookie Stakes winner and Gimhae Mayor’s Cup runner-up Man Of Year was sent off as favourite for the south-coast track’s Classic trial, the Gyeongnam Shinmun Cup.

And Man Of The Year duly obliged, sitting handy early before asserting his authority as the field turned for home and running on to win by a full three-lengths from Captain Yankee, with Beomi Naeryeo Onda a further four-lengths away in 3rd.

Man Of The Year is a colt by Federalist and out of the Menifee mare Over Speed. He was bred by Ko Seok-hoon and is owned by Shin Yoon-gyeong and trained by Kim Byung-hak. It was his trainer’s first Listed or Stakes winner of any kind since taking out his license in 2004. 

Now a winner of two from seven, Man Of The Year was ridden by Franco Da Silva, who firmed up his status as one of Korea’s all-time leading visiting jockeys. He won the Korean Derby on Ecton Blade in 2018 and has ridden in excess of 250 winners since his 2016 debut.

The first leg of the 2022 Korean Triple Crown is the KRA Cup Mile and will be run at Busan on Sunday April 17.

Luigi Riccardi & Antonio Da Silva Win Korean Oaks With Choegang Black

Luigi Riccardi landed his biggest winner to date as a trainer in Korea as Choegang Black denied hot favourite Raon Pink to win the Korea Oaks at Busan Racecourse on Sunday afternoon.

Choegang Black was sent off as a 70/1 outsider for the filly Classic having skipped the Luna Stakes prep race and having only won up to class 5 level in Seoul. The Oaks has a habit of producing an unexpected winner though and when Raon Pink was a little awkwardly away after a start that had been delayed following the reluctance of Queens Tour to load, it was clear that the race was anyone’s.

Pureun Jangmi showed the way early with Luna runner-up Jedi for company along with Miss Indie and 2nd-favourite Doctor Fappiano. Antonio Da Silva meanwhile, kept Choegang Black just behind the leading group throughout the early and middle stages of the 1800M race.

At the top of the stretch Raon Pink, under Park Tae Jong, loomed large and one-by-one the challengers fell away. All except Choegang Black that is, who to the inside of the favourite struck the front with a furlong and a half remaining and ran on superbly to win by just over a length on the line.

Raon Pink was 2nd while Serve Ace and Alan Munro came from last to 3rd in the space of the home straight. Queens Tour was 4th and Eodigana 5th as Seoul fillies swept the top-five placings

For Luigi Riccardi, who has been licensed in Korea since the end of 2017, it was by far his biggest local win. For jockey Antonio Da Silva, it was a third Group winner in Korea following success on Dolkong in the 2019 KRA Cup Classic, and Munhak Chief in the Grand Prix the same year.

Choegang Black is by Purge and is out of Allwise (by Mr. Greeley). She was bred by Nokwon Farm and is owned by Lee Kang-woon.

Yeonggwanguilegend, Aspen Taeyang Land Juvenile Prizes On K-Breeders’ Cup Trail

The race to become Champion Juvenile took a big step towards its big decider in the Korean Breeders’ Cup in December as Yeongwanguilegend backed up his Areumdaun Jilju Stakes win by claiming the Gimhae Mayor’s Cup at Busan on Sunday afternoon. Half an hour later, Aspen Taeyang announced his arrival on the two-year-old scene with a hard-fought victory in Seoul’s NACF Chairman’s Trophy.

Yeonggwanguilegend was the only runner who participated in the Areumdaun on October 3rd to take his place in the Gimhae Mayor’s starting gate and therefore the only one to compete in all three of Busan’s prep races for the Breeder’s Cup, having also run in September’s Rookie Stakes. Several who ran in that race did return, but it was Yeonggwanguilegend who was sent off as the favourite.

Djordje Perovic, who rode Yeonggwanguilegend in the Areumdaun, got on to Man Of The Year, so Franco Da Silva climbed aboard the favourite and immediately had Yeonggwanguilegend sit handy to the lead being set by Juvenile Series newcomer Doctor Caesar and the filly Adele Rosario, 2nd in the Busan Rookie Stakes.

Having set a punishing early pace, Doctor Caesar led until the middle of the straight when, with Adele Roasrio already done, Yeonggwanguilegend took command and Da Silva’s mount had enough in reserve to see off the late challenge of Perovic and Man Of The Year, the margin of victory just under a length on the line.

Yeonggwanguilegend [Concord Point-Perfect Scip (Scipion)] moves on to three wins from five starts and will head to the Breeders’ Cup race among the top line of favourites. For Franco Da Silva, who is closing in on 250 Korean winners and won the Korean Derby in 2018 on Ecton Blade, it was a welcome return to the big race winner’s circle. With the Breeders’ Cup being run at 1400M though, Perovic, who won the Derby last year on Save The World, may be thinking his and Man Of The Year’s day is yet to come.

Seoul’s third prep race for the Breeders’ Cup race saw Aspen Taeyang, who participated in neither the capital track’s Rookie Stakes nor Munhwa Ilbo Cup but arrived a perfect two for two, maintain his unbeaten start to his career.

With Rookie Stakes and Munhwa Ilbo winner Complete Value absent, Aspen Taeyang was sent off as hot favourite in a small field of eight in the NACF Chairman’s Trophy. He was made to work hard though as Seungbusa, 3rd in the Rookie Stakes, got onto Aspen Taeyang’s shoulder and struck the front for a time from a furlong and a half out.

With just 100M to go, Moon Se Young roused another effort out of Aspen Taeyang, who retook the lead and then held off the late challenge of the fast-finishing Double Edge, the first three crossing the line with just half a length between them.

Aspen Taeyang [With Distinction – Aspen Light (Bernardini)] now has three wins from three starts, making him, along with Complete Value, who hasn’t been in work since his Munhwa Ilbo win one of only two of the leading juveniles to remain unbeaten.

The Korean Breeders’ Cup race to determine champion juvenile will take place over seven furlongs at Busan Racecourse on Sunday December 5th. Next weekend, attention shifts back to the three-year-old division with the Korean Derby, the second leg of the 2021 Korea Triple Crown, at Seoul on Sunday afternoon with Heat Yegam, the impressive KRA Cup Mile winner, set to be the favourite.

Raon Fillies First & Pink On Top At Seoul & Busan

It’s becoming an unwelcome habit that we are posting these things days late, but it was a pair of “full” sisters ( I dislike that term, for some reason), who took top honours at Seoul and Busan last Sunday. Four-year-old Raon First took out Seoul’s Class 1 feature while a year here junior, Raon Pink won the Luna Stakes, the first leg of the 2021 Filly Triple Crown. Both are by Musket Man and out of the Southern Image mare, Pink Candy.

Raon First (Pic: KRA)

Raon First was a champion as a juvenile and has since gone on to establish herself at class 1 level, running 2nd to Dia Road in a Graded race for fillies and mares last year and finishing 2rd in her latest two, including behind Eoma Eoma. In all those races she had led, only to be taken down close to the line every time.

On Sunday though, Raon First would be no sitting duck. acing up and comers Legend Day and Carving Cross, among others, Raon First was drawn wide but instead of being ridden up hard to the pace, after being slightly slow away, Choi Bum-hyun in the saddle took a sit behind the lead and waited patiently. Choi made his move on Raon First at the top of the straight, punching through a gap with ease and the filly ran on to score by a length and a half in a fast time for the 1400M.

Outsiders Cupid Guy and Myeongpum Chukje chased Raon First home in 2nd and 3rd with Legend Day and Carving Cross both enduring poor days at the office and in the case of the latter especially, seeing their chances of qualification for any of the late season Stakes races diminishing. For Raon First it was seventh win in fourteen starts as she stakes her claim to succeed Dia Road as the top filly or mare in training in Seoul.

At Busan, younger sister Raon Pink was imperious in the Luna Stakes. Sent off as favourite in a sixteen-strong field of three-year-old fillies, who had thirty-six race victories between them coming in, Raon Pink jumped well and slowly worked to the lead and was comfortable in the pace she set. On the corner she slipped away and on straightening went well clear and was strong to the finish under Park Tae-jong. Jedi was 2nd and Smart Officer, who missed the break an excellent 3rd as Seoul fillies swept the top five finishing positions.

Raon Pink now moves on as favourite for the Korean Oaks, back at Busan over 1800M on November 14.

KRA Cup Mile 2021 Review

A little late but: It was billed as the hottest opening leg to a Korean Triple Crown ever but in the end Heat Yegam turned it into a procession with a scorching gate to wire win in the KRA Cup Mile (KOR G2) at Busan last Sunday afternoon.

The first race of the three-year-old Classic series had been delayed from its usual April spot by six months due to the ongoing impact of the pandemic on the racing industry. That delay led to what is usually green and unexposed field in the Cup Mile, reaching the starting line this time with in-excess of sixty previous race wins between them.

Heat Yegam was sent off as the betting favourite and from gate nine he got a beautiful start while some of the expected speedsters on his inside faltered and was quickly into an early and surprisingly easy lead. Big rival Winner’s Man was quickly on his shoulder but having come out of gate twelve was being made to work hard. Meanwhile Seoul’s big hope, Heungbaragi, was content to sit handy and wide with jockey Choi Bum-hyun having quickly abandoned any hopes of leading from gate fifteen.

By the top of the stretch, Heat Yegam and Winner’s Man held a four-length advantage over the rest of the field, but it was clear the latter was feeling the effects of the early pace. Heat Yegam though was fresh and while he drifted a little in the final furlong and a half, he cruised home two-lengths to the good. Heungbaragi – who having been wide for most of the race, ended up on the inside fence – ran a strong race in 2nd, while another Seoul raider, Chief Indy closed ominously for 3rd. Mr. Indie was 4th and Winner’s Man a brave 5th.

The win itself may have been soft but the performance was anything but. Heat Yegam completed the first six furlongs just one-tenth of a second outside the track record for that distance – no wonder Winner’s Man couldn’t cope any longer – and then ran on to record an overall time only a second shy of the track record for a mile, held by Blue Chipper.  It was his eighth win in nine starts.

For jockey You Hyun-myung, post-race feelings were a mixture of elation and relief. “Going on my experience with this horse so far, I had to expect him to win,” You told the Korea Racing Broadcasting Channel (KRBC) after the race. “There was always going to be a lot of pressure at the start, so I just wanted to get out of the gate in a straight line with no trouble. As it happened, we got away very well and, in the end, everything was much smoother and easier than I expected.” 

Next up will be the Korean Derby in Seoul on November 7th, as Heat Yegam seeks to emulate J.S. Hold and Power Blade in winning a Triple Crown. You Hyun-myung thinks the horse will be ready. “

Heat Yegam was bred by the Yeonhak Agricultural Corporation at the Yeonhak Farm on Jeju Island and was sold privately to owner Kim Joon-hyun for 150 Million Korean Won as a yearling in September 2019. Sired by Take Charge Indy, during that stallion’s brief sojourn in Korea before his American farm bought him back due to the unexpected success of his Stateside progeny, he is out of Desert Heat, a mare from the final crop by the legendary sire, Mr. Prospector.

How they ran:

1st  Heat Yegam – started favourite today  showed great speed to sit a tad wide but a fast comfortable rhythm, on the corner he applied some pressure to get a good break on the field and while he drifted out in the early part of the straight came back towards the finish. This was a sensational run and the fastest ever KRA Cup Mile run to date.

2nd Heungbaragi – He had a challenge from barrier 15 but showed  good speed to get forward however he was very wide most of the journey lost ground on the corner and then fought on strongly in the straight making up much ground. A stellar performance

3rd  Chief Indy – Settled wide and midfield then on the corner the jockey elected to go inside near the fence where he was balanced up and urged forward. It was at the 150m when he came into the picture and kept taking ground off the leaders. A great run and further distance will also suit him.

4th Mr. Indie – He was ridden hard early to get a more forward position settling on the fence midfield then slotted forward just behind Mach Titan. He stayed on the rails saving much ground, into the straight and he was a clear 4th he kept fighting in the straight to maintain 4th in a strong run.

5th Winner’s Man – Ridden hard early to be on the shoulder of Heat Yegam and was wide from a less favourable gate. Couldn’t maintain that pace after such a fast opening but plenty of merit in the way he ran on for 5th. He may be a different prospect in Seoul at the Korean Derby.

Busan Sunday: Race-By-Race Preview (August 1)

Racing makes its way into August and with Seoul off this weekend there is a bumper 15-race card at Busan from 11:00 to 18:00. with some really good races along the way. Here are the previews:

King Of Glory – seen in better days all round – goes in Busan’s Sunday feature

Busan Race 1: Class 6 (1000M) Allowance / KRW 45 Million

Juveniles here racing for boosted prize-money and it’s wide open. (10) MAN OF THE YEAR was arguably the best in trials when sitting just off the pace and running on for 2nd in a fast time on a dry track. The wide draw may not be ideal but if Perovic can get a decent position, the Federalist colt may have too much. Both trainer Bart Rice and jockey Franco Da Silva had good Julys and they kick off August with a serious contender in the shape of (1) FLASHY CHARM. He led in his trial and finished off pleasingly enough for 5th in a decent time with some experienced horses among those ahead of him. He draws well here and has every chance. (4) WONDERFUL RAISE also trialed up alongside experienced ones and didn’t look out of place. Expect improvement from the trial and given the stable, he will have plenty of backing. There is only one runner with previous racecourse experience. (8) DONGBU STAR didn’t exactly set the world alight when 8th of 11 over 1300M a month ago but previously trialed well at today’s distance and can improve. (9) HANEUL GANGJA another to look out for.

Selections(10) Man Of The Year (1) Flashy Charm (4) Wonderful Raise (8) Dongbu Star
Next Best9, 7
Fast Start1, 4, 5, 12

Busan Race 2: Class 6 (1200M) Allowance / KRW 33 Million

(2) DONGTEUJA BOY was a beaten favourite on debut at today’s distance on July 11th, but ran pleasingly enough for 3rd having briefly struck the front at the top of the stretch. He should have come on for that run and You Hyun-myung climbing aboard certainly won’t damage his chances. He is therefore favoured to overturn the form on (5) DOCTOR TEXAS, who ran 2nd in that same race. That continued an upward trajectory for Doctor Texas, who has shown improvement at each start, and who looks like the main danger here. Both should be competing for the early lead. It’s a fresh start today for (4) GLORY KING, who made one solitary start back in January without troubling the scorers. He looked a completely different prospect when bolting up in a trial in late June, leading from gate to wire. He will be expected to improve significantly on that January effort today. (9) SORI OREUM and (10) TRIPLE JILJU are others in at least the placing frame while (7) WIND HIGH looks the most promising at this stage of the three first-time starters.

Selections(2) Dongteuja Boy (5) Doctor Texas (4) Glory King (9) Sori Oreum
Next Best10, 7
Fast Start2, 4, 5, 11

Busan Race 3: Class 6 (1300M) Allowance / KRW 22 Million

(8) DANCING DRAGON has mixed her form across her four starts so far but she has now run a couple of good times for this distance and today gets the assistance of Perovic in the saddle. She can sit behind the early speed here and could well prove too strong late on. The main danger and probable betting favourite is (4) UNJU EUTTEUM. He ran a very promising 3rd debut over 1200M on June 26th, when he was on pace throughout. He should have benefited from that experience and will surely be in the finish again today. (11) BAEK PUNG left himself far too much to do at his latest start on June 26th, crossing to the rail early but racing ungenerously and looking as though he resented the kickback. Once he found clear ground in the straight, he worked home well enough and while the draw is even worse today, if Seo Seung-un can keep him out of trouble, he has placing claims here. (2) QUEEN OF HEARTS has run well in her latest two starts for 5th and 3rd at 1200M and 1400M respectively and she can go well from a nice barrier here. (12) RAPIDO QUEEN is another who has been up and down but has recorded a fast time at this distance and may sneak some minor money.

Selections(8) Dancing Dragon (4) Unju Eutteum (11) Baek Pung (2) Queen Of Hearts
Next Best12, 10
Fast Start4, 7, 8, 11

Busan Race 4: Class 6 (1400M) Allowance / KRW 22 Million

(7) GALLANT WARRIOR is the pick here, coming in off a last start runner-up finish when he settled back before improving to midfield and then running on strong to record what is the fastest time of any of these who have attempted the distance. He has a good start on him too so from a central gate, You Hyun-myung should have plenty of options and the pair can go one better today. (2) ECHO LADY also comes in off a last start runner-up finish. In her case it was just her second appearance and it marked a big improvement. From the same gate as she draws today, she was quickly on the speed, only relinquishing it a furlong out and then battled on well. She has every chance here. (11) MAJOR FORCE has been consistent across his eight starts so far, finishing in 4th place on no fewer than three occasions. His times have been consistent at both today’s distance and at a mile and looks a decent shout for a place here. (9) CAL MARK has also shown consistency in terms of times and comes in off a career best 2nd on July 9th over 1300M. He tackles the 1400M for the first time and given the way he has been working home in his races, it may suit. (6) TAMNA HWANGHU is the only previous winner in the race, at this distance three starts back, and that alone must bring her into the calculations.

Selections(7) Gallant Warrior (2) Echo Lady (11) Major Force (9) Cal Mark
Next Best6, 12
Fast Start2, 7, 9, 10

Busan Race 5: Class 6 (1400M) Allowance / KRW 22 Million

(9) RAON THE CAPTAIN broke through at start number three on June 26th, overcoming an even wider draw than today to get close to the pace and then then prove too strong, beating a couple of these in the process as he recorded what was an easy win on the line. That was over a mile so he is back in trip today but he gets in at the same weight and may take some beating. (12) YEONGGWANGUI SPEED has the fastest time among these at this distance. His best finish so far has come when he has gone right back and run on so the gate may not be such an issue for him. He has finished in the top four on five of his seven starts and should be in the frame here. (5) LUCAS SUN came home in 3rd place behind Raon The Captain in that June 26th race. That was his third 3rd place finish from eight starts so far and while he has seven-lengths to find on Raon The Captain, he should be beating plenty of these. (1) TRIPLE STORM and (4) SIMON TOP GUN are others with placing claims.

Selections(9) Raon The Captain (12) Yeonggwangui Speed (5) Lucas Sun (1) Triple Storm
Next Best4, 6
Fast Start4, 6, 7, 10

Busan Race 6: Class 5 (1200M) Handicap / KRW 33 Million

Fillies and mares only here and (1) B J MISS is up in class on her solid last start win over 1200M in a good time when she led from gate to wire to score by four-lengths. The filly who ran 2nd to her that day (Choegang Ilse) came out last week and won herself. She draws the inside here and should measure up in this class. (2) SECOND WIND was a good winner over 1400M at class 6 level two starts back before last time on July 2nd taking a bump at the start before pulling hard and expending a lot of energy before working home well for 5th. A couple of today’s rivals finished ahead of her but with a clean getaway she can overturn that form today. (10) HAPPY YOJEONG was one of those who finished ahead of Second Wind on July 2nd. She settled midfield and then ran out well and the wide draw should fit her pattern of racing. (12) MASTER QUEEN also comes out of that July 2nd race when she was 3rd. She has now placed in all three starts at this class since getting her maiden win in April. She has led in all of those meaning the wide draw may not be helpful but she can’t be overlooked. (9) GREAT GO is another who comes out of that July 2nd race and another in the hunt.

Selections(1) B J Miss (2) Second Wind (10) Happy Yojeong (12) Master Queen
Next Best9, 5
Fast Start1, 3, 5, 12

Blue Chipper Back On Top At Busan

Blue Chipper returned to the winner’s circle at long last at Busan Racecourse on Sunday afternoon as Korea’s 2019 Breeders’ Cup hero registered an effortless class 1 win over seven-furlongs.

With the Covid-induced financial crisis still biting, Sunday’s Busan feature was contested for a 1st prize of just KRW 24 Million (US$21,400). Nevertheless, in addition to Blue Chipper the race also attracted the likes of Ssonsal, the up-and-coming sprinter who came in off the back of four consecutive wins, as well as multiple winner King Of Glory and Dubai World Cup Carnival alumnus Today among a full field of fourteen.

None stood a chance as under jockey Djordje Perovic and coming out of gate five, Blue Chipper quickly assumed command of the race, before motoring away from the field in the home straight. Ssonsal, who had to overcome the widest draw, got closest, finishing three-lengths in arrears.

It’s been a long way back for Blue Chipper, who last tasted victory in the Korea Sprint (KOR G1) at Seoul Racecourse in September of 2019. Knowing that he held a Breeders’ Cup nomination, connections then opted to take a chance on him in the Big Ass Fans Breeders’ Cup First Mile at Santa Anita where, under an enterprising Flavien Prat ride, Blue Chipper finished 3rd behind Spun To Run and Omaha Beach.

Blue Chipper was then pointed at the Dubai World Cup Carnival and a tilt at the Goldolphin Mile. Disaster struck, however, when on arrival he was found to have travel sickness, the complications of which ruled him out of competing at Meydan.  By the time he was passed fit to fly, he returned to a Korea where racing, with no legal remote betting, was amid the still ongoing Covid crisis.

Having returned to training in December – and moved to trainer Min Jang-ki’s stable – Blue Chipper was given a low-key return to racing in February in a race which had no legal betting markets either at home or overseas. Going over a mile he showed at the front early but visibly tired in the final furlong ultimately ending up in 5th. He came out of that race in good order though and the improvement was there for all to see on Sunday.  

Where to next is the million-dollar (hopefully not the 24 Million Won) question for Blue Chipper. Now six-years-old, the Tiznow gelding seems unlikely to travel again given the risks involved and with no confirmed Stakes schedule for Korea as the pandemic continues to squeeze prizemoney, it may be some time before he even gest to face the likes of Seoul-based rising-star Eoma Eoma in Korea.

Other News

Jockey Kim Hye-sun rode her first winner back since returning from maternity leave just a week ago. The thirty-two-year-old, who is married to fellow jockey Park Jae-I, partnered Haeundae Bada to victory in race 1 at Busan on Sunday.  It was career victory number 284 for Kim, who is the most successful female thoroughbred jockey in Korean history. She rode Jejui Haneul to victory in the Korean Oaks in 2017.

In the three-year-old ranks, Winner’s Man returned to winning ways at Busan on Saturday. The Musket Man colt was beaten by the very good Golden Winner on his first try around the Korean Derby distance of 1800M last month and while he suffered another scare this time around, he had enough about him to hold off long-shot Man Of Top by a head at class 3 level for his first success around two turns. Winner’s Man now has a record of five wins and two runner-up finishes from seven starts.