Race Reviews

Weekend Round-Up: Haeya Strikes At Busan But Choinma Stumbles on Season Debut At Seoul

Haeya sprinted her way to success for the 6th time in 12 career starts as the lightly raced five-year-old mare took victory in Sunday’s feature at Busan.


Haeya, seen here at the Korea Sprint, was a fine winner on Sunday (Pic: Ross Holburt)

A good field assembled for the 1400M “Road To G1” contest on the South Coast with Haeya joined by big name sprinters such as Perdido Pomeroy and Drop The Beat. King Of Ace made his second start since returning from surgery while Macheon Bolt, 2nd in the Korea Sprint in 2016 also returned for the first time in almost a year. Diferent Dimension also made his first start since moving to the stable of Kang Byung Eun.

Not many of them went well. Neither King Of Ace nor Macheon Bolt looked fully ready while Diferent Dimension showed early but then faded. Perdido Pomeroy as ever set the pace but Haeya was always handy and under You Hyun Myung, she struck the front in the home straight, running on to win by a comfortable two and a half lengths. Outsider Stealth and Thomas Gillespie’s Party Again came home strongly late to take 2nd and 3rd.

Haeya [Flatter – Luxaholic (Macho Uno)] was 2nd in last year’s Ttukseom Cup and 3rd in the KNN Cup, both times behind Silver Wolf and looks set to be a contender in those and other big races up to a mile later in the year.

With victories in the Gyeonggi Governor;s and Gwacheon Mayor’s Cups followed by 2nd place to Ecton Blade in the Breeders’ Cup, Choinma was the biggest earning juvenile in Korea in 2017 and widely expected to play a big role in the Triple Crown series this year. He stepped up to 1700M for his first outing of 2018 at Seoul on Saturday and was sent off the prohibitive favourite in a class 3 handicap. It didn’t quite go to plan as not for the first time recently, a long-shot got on pace early and couldn’t be caught .

This time it was 45/1 Jeongan Kingdom who made all and while Choinam rallied late on, he was still a full two and a half lengths adrift in 2nd place on the line. It wasn’t the most auspicious beginning to his three-year-old career but it’s early days and conditions will likely be very different once we reach the KRA Cup Mile in April.


Weekend Round-up: New Citadel, Today Begin 2018 With Wins

New Citadel and Today were the biggest names in action this past weekend in Korea, the pair beginning strong favourites for their respective assignments at Seoul and Busan.

Today was an easy winner of Busan’s Sunday feature, tracking early leader Gasok Engine under just over a furlong out before cruising past for a three-length victory. Today (Drosselmeyer) moved on to eight wins from ten starts and is looking a fine sprinter althugh he has won at a mile too.

At Seoul, New Citadel had to work much harder for victory on what was his first start sicne running 2nd to Cheongdam Dokki in the KRA Cup Classic last October. He was sent (more…)

Ecton Blade Claims Top Juvenile Crown

Two years ago, Power Blade won the Breeders’ Cup to become champion juvenile of his crop. Seven months later he was a Korean Triple Crown winner. On Sunday at Seoul Racecourse, the same connections sent out Ecton Blade and he too returned as the top two-year-old of his generation.

Ecton Blade, the latest product of the Kim Young Kwan training machine, was sent off as third-favourite for the 1400M Breeders’ Cup. Market leaders were World Sun and Choinma who had each won both their big prep races at Busan and Seoul respectively, Ecton Blade finishing a cool four-lengths adrift of World Sun in the Gimhae Mayor’s Cup at the end of October.

World Sun behaved badly on the way to the gate and proved a tough ride in the race itself too. He found himself in a good position coming off the turn but never managed to make it into top gear ultimately coming home in 5th. Choinma ran better though and ultimately got the closest to Ecton Blade as a fast finishing 2nd place.

Having already won over a mile, the distance was never going to be an issue for Ecton Blade and jockey Ham Wan Sik was happy to sit 3rd in the early stages as Global Line and Sinui Myeongryeong set the pace. He took over at the top f the stretch and never looked like being caught. Choinma was solid in 2nd while Sinui Myeongryeong stuck on for a very good 3rd to finish the best of the three fillies in the contest.

Breeders’ Cup (KOR G2) – Seoul Racecourse – 1400M – December 3, 2017

1. Ecton Blade (KOR) [Ecton Park – Vying Ty Grr (Regal Intention)] – Ham Wan Sik – 8.5, 2.0
2. Choinma (KOR) [Menifee – Kkummaeul (Curia Regis)] – Choi Bum Hyun – 1.4
3. Sinui Myeongryeong  (KOR) (Hansen – Strawberry Rose (Dr Fong)] – 3.9
Distances: 1.5 lengths / 1.25 lengths
Also Ran: 4. King Jjang 5. World Sun 6. Gyeongjuui Durebak 7. Divide Wind 8. Global Line 9. Wonderful Jackpot 10. Icheon Ssal 11. Sin Stealth 12. Okay Queen

Ecton Blade has now won three out of five starts. Owned by Power Blade owner Kim Hyung Ran, he’s trained by Kim Young Kwan. It’s early days but this two-year-old crop certainly looks stronger and deeper than the one a year ago so we will hopefully be set for an exciting Triple Crown season in 2018.

In other races, Tohamsan (Kwaedo Nanma) returned to winning ways in Busan’s feature. The Korea Sprint also-ran was giving his rivals plenty of weight in the 1200M handicap but cruised to an easy victory, his first since May.

World Sun Lands Busan Juvenile Crown

Yesterday at Seoul, Choinma completed a Juvenile double, adding the Gwacheon Mayor’s Cup to his earlier triumph in the Gyeonggi Governor’s. Today at Busan, World Sun matched his feat, scoring an emphatic win in the Gimhae Mayor’s Cup having a month previously scored in the Gold Circle Trophy. They’ll clash in early December at the Breeders’ Cup in the Capital.

He has an exciting style, World Sun. Just as in the GC Trophy, his late burst of speed overwhelmed his rivals and he ran on to win by an easy 4-lengths.  Kim Young Kwan’s Ecton Blade trailed home 2nd while the Thomas Gillespie pair of Yeonghui Sidae and Gyeongjuui Durebak came in 3rd and 4th.

Gimhae Mayor’s Cup – Busan Racecourse – 1200M – October 29, 2017

1. World Sun (KOR) [Officer – Dancing Desire (Mr. Greeley)] – Lim Sung Sil – 2.7, 1.2
2. Ecton Blade (KOR) [Ecton Park – Vying Ty Grr (Regal Intention)] – Ham Wan Sik – 1.4
3. Yeonghui Sidae (KOR) [Hansen – Pebble In The Sand (Malibu Moon)] – Jin Kyum – 3.4
Distances: 4 lengths / 2 lengths
Also Ran: 4. Gyeongjuui Durebak 5. Yeonggwanguiwinner 6. Christiano 7. Captain Force 8. Sin Stealth

Choinma Makes It A Gyeonggi/Gwacheon Juvenile Double

Choinma confirmed his place at the top of the Juvenile rankings by adding the Gwacheon Mayor’s Cup to his resume at Seoul Racecourse on Saturday afternoon.

The Menifee colt was a convincing winner of last month’s Gyeonggi Governor’s Cup but with several new exciting youngsters entering the fray for the Mayor’s – the last big test before the nationwide Juvenile title is settled in the Breeders’ Cup on December 3rd, many felt Choinma would need to up his game to stay on track.

Up his game he did as he came through late to beat Hansen colt Sinui Myeongryeong by almost two lengths on the line. The previously unbeaten and well-fancied trio of Global Line, Hae Hu and The Queen Grace all faltered and ended up as also-rans but Wonderful Jackpot, 3rd in the Gyeonggi repeated the trick as that form held up very well. There was also a big run from Icheon Ssal who closed strongly for 4th and should be a very interesting prospect once the distances get longer in the new year.

Inly tme will tell how strong this crop turns out to be but the signs are good so far. Busan holds its own Juvenile Championship race on Sunday afternoon. Whoever comes out on top will have to go some to beat Choinma back here in December.

Gwacheon Governor’s Cup – Seoul Racecourse – 1200M – October 28, 2017

1. Choinma (KOR) [Menifee – Kkumaeul (Curia Regis)] – Choi Bum Hyun – 4.3, 1.3
2. Sinui Myeongryeong (KOR) [Hansen – Strawberry Rose (Dr Fong)] – Lim Gi Won – 2.2
3. Wonderful Jackpot (KOR) [Ingrandire – Endless Heroine (Oath)] – Kim Yong Geun – 7.0
Distances: 1.75 lengths / 0.75 lengths
Also Ran: 4. Icheon Ssal 5. Fire Wind 6. Okay Queen 7. Hoeng Un Gol 8. Global Line 9. Hae Hu 10. Raon Alice 11. Eagle Sky 12. Dae Cain 13. The Queen Grace 14. Meni Bada

Cheongdam Dokki Downs Clean Up Joy To Cruise To Seoul’s Summit

There is a new force in Korean racing. His name is Cheongdam Dokki.

Even though he was going up against Clean Up Joy, last year’s winner and top-rated at Seoul, and New Citadel, who had already beaten him, nobody really thought he would lose. And he didn’t. However, the ease with which Cheongdam Dokki won the KRA Cup Classic served notice that this really is a potential star.

KRA Cup Classic (KOR G2) – Seoul Racecourse – 2000M – October 22, 2017

1. Cheongdam Dokki (USA) [To Honor And Serve – Elusive Gold (Strike The Gold)] – Moon Se Young – 1.6, 1.1
2. New Citadel (USA) [With Distinction – Ree Ensign (Proud And True)] – Jo Jae Ro – 1.1
3. Clean Up Joy (USA) [Purge – Greta’s Joy (Joyeux Danseur)] – Djordje Perovic – 1.2
Distances: 4 lengths / 9 lengths
Also Ran: 4. Clean Up Cheonha (USA) 5. Shamrocker (USA) 6. Suseong Captain (KOR) 7. Muhudaeje (USA) 8. Cheonjeok (USA)

It was over by the first corner, champion jockey Moon Se Young taking Cheongdam Dokki into an early lead from the gate and while Clean Up Joy and New Citadel closed the gap and then went with him rounding the far turn, it was clear they were under pressure a long way out.

In the straight there was only ever going to be one winner. The margin on the line was 4-lengths from New Citadel (who may provide some interest over the 2300M of the Grand Prix Stakes) with Clean Up Joy a further 9 lengths back in 3rd. To give some context to it, Clean Up Joy today ran his quickest ever time at 2000M – and he had tackled the distance on no fewer than eight prior occasions, winning on seven of them. Yet he was over two seconds slower than Cheongdam Dokki today.

Cheongdam Dokki, a gelding, was a $20,000 purchase from the 2015 Keeneland September Yearling Sale. Despite the obvious talent, he hasn’t always been the easiest to handle but has now won four races in a row by margins of his choosing. There are still others he needs to beat; Dolkong at Seoul and of course Triple Nine and Power Blade, but on today’s performance, few would bet against him against any of those. Hopefully, they will meet. While a trip to the Dubai World Cup Carnival unfortunately doesn’t appear to be on his agenda, the next few months could be very interesting.

Silver Wolf Maintains Outstanding 2017 Record in Munhwa Ilbo

Silver Wolf may only have run five times in 2017 but it’s been a golden year for the Aussie import. Last Sunday at Seoul, she took home yet another big prize, scoring in the Munhwa Ilbo Cup over six furlongs.

Having won the Ttukseom Cup over 1400M and the KNN Cup at a mile, Silver Wolf has essentially already won the “Queens’ Tour” series for fillies & mares even before the final leg – the 2000M Gyeongnam Governor’s Cup in November. She has spent the early autumn sprinting, running a very creditable 5th in the Korea Sprint in September and then picking up Sunday’s Munhwa.

The strong early pace suited Silver Wolf’s style and under a patient ride from Djordje Perovic, Silver Wolf turned on the accelerator just as the early leaders started to fade. She went away to win by just under two lengths from two other fast finishers, Daisyan and Parang Juuibo.

Munhwa Ilbo Cup – Seoul Racecourse – 1200M – October 15, 2017

1. Silver Wolf (AUS) [Oratorio – Ready For More (More Than Ready)] Djrodje Perovic – 1.5, 1.0
2. Daisyan (USA) [Rock Hard Ten – My Catriona (Tactical Cat)] – Shinji Hatanaka – 2.5
3. Parang Juuibo (USA) [With Distinction – Spicy Souffle (French Deputy)] – Lim Gi Won – 1.8
Distances: 1.75 lengths / 0.5 lengths
Also Ran: 4. Wonder Bolt (USA) 5. Choegangja USA) 6. Cheonjiga (USA) 7. Always Winner (KOR) 8. Zentenary (USA) 9. Clean Up Bingo (KOR) 10. Cheonma (USA)