Racing Previews

Another Pinot Noir Spring Vintage

Pinot Noir just loves this time of year and she loves this race too. The 7-year-old mare was in fine form as she claimed victory in the Group 3 “Spring Stakes” (planned to be the Gyeonggi Governor’s Cup) at Seoul Racecourse on Sunday afternoon.

This race was intended to be the Gyeonggi Governor’s Cup but due to the impending Presidential election, that had to be dropped with the Governor himself still potentially a candidate and therefore conflict of interest rules coming into play. Pinot Noir won the race in 2014, was 2nd in 2015 and then won again in 2016. She went cold towards the tail-end of last year but came back into form by running 2nd to Meni Money in the Donga Ilbo Cup –  a prep for this race – a month ago.

This time around, with the race being over an extra furlong and at level weights, punters found it hard to split Meni Money and Pinot Noir, ultimately sending the former off as the very slight favourite. Outsider Gold Wave, one of just two in the race who didn’t take part in the Donga Ilbo, took the initiative while Moon Se Young opted for a steady start on the favourite. Meanwhile Park Hyun Woo on Pinot Noir used the same tactics as always on the mare; drop right to the back at the start before coming wide around the field in the back-straight.

The field was nicely bunched together in the home straight and once it became apparent Gold Wave wasn’t going anywhere, things started to get interesting. Meni Money just couldn’t hit top gear leaving it to Pinot Noir to tackle her inside the final furlong and run on to win by an ever increasing margin.

In total it was Pinot Noir’s 8th win on her 32nd start and the 5th to arrive in Stakes races. She may very well not win again this year but if she’s still racing this time next, it wouldn’t be hugely surprising to see her back here again.

Spring Stakes (KOR G3) – Seoul Racecourse – 2000M – March 26, 2017

1. Pinot Noir (KOR) [Capital Spending – Neungnyeokchungman (Pacificbounty)] – Park Hyun Woo – 2.4, 1.1
2. Gold Wave (KOR) [Volponi – Geumbit Yuhok (Exploit)] – Kim Yong Geun – 3.2
3. Meni Money (KOR) [Menifee – Pocketful Of Money (Running Stag)] Moon Se Young – 1.1
Distances: 1 length / 0.75 lengths
Also Ran: 4. The Queen Silver 5. Argo Champ 6. Namsan Chukje 7. Lakshmi 8. Simsin Jiryeo

At Busan, Sunday’s feature saw Perdido Pomeroy (Pomeroy) fall to defeat. The four-year-old who last year won the Korea v Japan race at Seoul, had returned to the winner’s circle in January but turned in a flat performance this time over 1400M as Doraonpogyeongseon (Kantharos), two starts into a comeback from a lengthy absence, took the honours.

This coming week it’s Triple Crown time!. The first jewel in the crown, the KRA Cup Mile (Korean Guineas) will be run at Busan on Sunday April 2nd.

Seoul Sunday: “Spring Stakes” – Full Preview

Meni Money and Pinot Noir came 1st and 2nd in the Donga Ilbo Cup last month and on Sunday at Seoul Racecourse, they take their rivalry to Group level in the newly named G3 Spring Stakes.

Meni Money Donga Ilbo

Meni Money (far side) beat Pinot Noir & Argo Champ in the Donga Ilbo Cup. They all go again on Sunday (Pic: KRA)

Sunday’s race was originally called the Gyeonggi Governor’s Cup but with said Governor considering a presidential run the race needed to have its name changed and so the Spring Stakes it is. Meni Money and Pinot Noir – the latter of whom won this race last year – will be favourites to fill out the quinella once more.

There’s plenty happening at Busan also on Sunday where Perdido Pomeroy will be favoured to get back into winning form in the feature seven-furlong sprint. In total there are 11 Sunday races at Seoul from 10:45 to 18:00 and 6 at Busan from 12:40 to 17:10.

English race cards can be found here. Three Seoul races, including the Spring Stakes will be available on Sky Racing in Australia. Form comments for those races are below:

Race 8: Class 4 (1700M) Handicap / KRW 60 Million

1. KING AHEAD – Improved 4th last time under this jockey, beaten 2.5 lengths by Compass so still some form to make up.

2. HAPPY SENSATION – Beaten a length behind Kyma when favourite last time but 7-length winner ahead of Star Bonny Bee and Compass the time before. Favourite here. (more…)

Busan Friday: Race-By-Race Preview (March 24)

There’s Group action at Seoul this weekend with the re-named “Welcome Spring” Stakes on Sunday. Before that though, the weekend’s racing gets underway at Busan on Friday with 10 races from 11:30 to 18:00. 

English Race Cards are here. Notes on races to be simulcast overseas are below:

Race 4: Class 6 (1300M) Allowance / KRW 40 Million 

1. RISING AGAIN – On the rise with 6th and 4th in two prior outings and ran on well last time. First try at 1300M and in the frame.

2. ADELE HERO – Best of 6th from three tries to date. Needs to find more here. (more…)

Busan Friday Race-By-Race Preview (March 17)

Ten races at Busan on Friday March 17 with the first at 11:30 and the last at 18:00. English racecards can be found here. Notes on races to be simulcast are below:

Race 4: Class 6 (1600M) Allowance / KRW 22 Million 

1. TIMELESS – Much improved 2nd in an all-filly race last time out. Well back behind a couple of these at a mile in February but looks better now.

2. MALIBU RULER – A year since his last start and showed little in trials.

3. PUREUN GANGJA – 4th of 8 at a mile last time but plenty to find here.

4. SEUNGNI JEONGSEONG – 6th of 12 behind Geumbit Hwanho latest. Similar expected here. (more…)

2017 Korea Triple Crown – First Preview

We’re less than three weeks away from the KRA Cup Mile – the Korean 2000 Guineas – which will be run at Busan on Sunday April 2. Last year, Power Blade swept all three jewels of the Triple Crown, the first horse to do so in its current incarnation. This year, we’re in the unusual position of a Seoul-trained horse, Final Boss, being the early favourite to emulate him.

power-blade-kra-cup-mile.jpg.jpeg

Power Blade won the KRA Cup Mile on his way to the Triple Crown last year (Pic: KRA)

Only four Seoul horses are among the 21 currently nominated for the race but three of those four are strong. The unbeaten Lion Rock is a full brother to Triple Nine (who will race in the Godolphin Mile at Meydan on World Cup night on March 25th) joins Final Boss and the promising Taeyangui Jeonseol as contenders. Here’s a run-down of the current nominations with race records and trainer:

Blue Time (filly) (8/3/1/0) Oh Mun-sik – Won three in a row at the back end of 2016 but hasn’t really pushed on. 9th behind Ice Marine in the Gyeongnam Sinmun.

Morning Park (7/1/3/0) Oh Mun-sik – Yet to go further than 1300M and 5th of 12 on first try at class 4.

American Power (4/3/1/0) Kim Young-kwan – Won his first three but unexpectedly defeated by a nose by a 6-year-old gelding (Yankee Dream) on his first try at a mile last start. A contender.

Wonder Wall (9/3/4/1) Kim Young-kwan – Owned by Shunsuke Yoshida he’s come back into form after being 4th to Final Boss in the Breeders’ Cup. A win at a mile and a 2nd at 1800M last start.

Happy Gongju (filly) (5/3/0/2) Jang Se-han – 3rd to Ice Marine in the Gyeongnam Sinmun. Oaks likely to be the bigger target.

Adeleui Bom (9/2/1/1) Baik Kwang-yeol – Holds a 2nd place over a mile at class 4. Not one of the top contenders but not impossible.

Daeho Sidae (6/4/2/0) Baik Kwang-yeol – 2nd in the Breeders’ Cup and a winner at both a mile and 1800 since. Already a class 2 horse and arguably Busan’s top hope.

Party Tonight (8/0/3/1) Baik Kwang-yeol – One of only two maidens still in. Three 2nd places, one at this distance. Likely to be the one from the trainer who drops.

Illyu Star (8/4/0/1) An Woo-sung – Back among the wins last start. Previous try at a mile didn’t go particularly well.

Muhan Yeoljeong (8/3/1/2) An Woo-sung – 3rd in the Breeders’ Cup and a class 4 winner at a mile last time. He’s in the frame.

Seongsan Jilju (6/2/0/1) Yang Kui-sun – Won a couple of five furlong races but hasn’t looked especially smart at any further.

Ice Marine (filly) (9/5/2/0) Choi Ki-hong – Dominant winner of the Gyeongnam Sinmun puting her in pole position for the Oaks. She’s been beaten by some of these colts before though.

Yongwangdam (5/2/0/1) Mun Je-bok – Class 5 winner at a mile but 5th to Ice Marine in the Gyeongnam Sinmun suggests there is plenty to find.

Indian King (8/2/2/2) Mun Je-bok – Two class 4 3rd places at a mile suggests there could be more to come from this one.

Royal Ruby (7/4/1/1) Peter Wolsley – This one has been under the radar a little bit but has won over 1800M and looks a serious player.

Bulkkot Nori (6/3/0/1) Peter Wolsley – Won three of his first four and was 3rd over a mile at class 4 last start. Others  look more advanced at this stage.

Yeonggwanguihunter (6/2/0/0) Lim Keum-man – Not shown an awful lot so far and was 5th on his only try at class 4 so far.

Final Boss (8/6/1/0) Ji Yong-cheol (Seoul) – The Breeders’ Cup winner has gone on to win twice around two-turns this year. A Seoul horse going to Busan aside, he is the favourite and a strong one at that.

Daeseung Bibob (6/0/2/1) Ji Yong-cheol (Seoul) – Stable-mate of Final Boss which is perhaps the only reason for his inclusion.

Lion Rock (3/3/0/0) Lee Shin-young (Seoul) – Full brother to Triple Nine, he’s the only one who enters unbeaten. It may be too much too soon with the Derby & Minister’s Cup the main targets, but don’t rule out.

Taeyangui Jeonseol (5/3/0/0) Yoo Jae-gil (Seoul) – Back to back wins at 1700M puts this still unexposed colt firmly in the hunt.

The maximum field size is 16 so at least five will miss out and it is possible for others to nominate this week as well – Nasca Prince, who won at Seoul on Sunday, being a potential one, given that as it stands the Capital as usual isn’t taking up as many spots as it has been assigned.  As in all races in Korea, no more than 2 horses can be from the same trainer. Seoul last won the race with Cheongnyong Bisang, now improbably a ranch horse in the USA, in 2014, but Final Boss currently looks the one to beat here. We’ll have plenty more build up to the start of a fascinating Triple Crown series over next couple of weeks.

Seoul Owners Association Trophy: Runner-By-Runner Preview

Thirteen horses will line up on Sunday afternoon for Korea’s first domestic Group race of 2017, the Seoul Owners’ Association Trophy. And there are plenty in with a shout in the Group 3 contest.

(Always Winner made all to beat a number of his rivals here in the Segye Ilbo Cup in January. Can he do the same on Sunday?)

The Owners Trophy is race 9 on an 11-race Sunday ard at Seoul which runs from 10:45 to 18:00. There are also 6 races at Busan from 12:35 to 17:05. Here’s a run down of the field:

1.  Cheonji Storm – 6th in last year’s President’s Cup and class 1 winner over 1800M on season debut a month ago. Steps back to 1200M for the first time since debut as a 2-year-old. Front runner and strong claims.

2 . Cheonnyeonuigippeum – Has suffered plenty of setbacks and last raced at the beginning of December, only beating two. Hard to see him having the required speed to be a danger here.

3 . Chang Se – Won a good race last summer but has gone cold in three starts since, most recently a one-paced effort over this distance on Feb 5th. Improvement not impossible but big upturn in form needed.

4 . Sambong – Consistent performer who, surprisingly, has never actually raced at 1200M before. Latest was 2nd behind Cheonji Storm at 1400M in February and he should be a danger again.

5 . Haemaru – Won this race last year and followed up with 2000M Stakes win a month later. Only returned to winner’s circle once since & was 5th in the Segye Ilbo Cup, despite suffering interference and laying out throughout. A closer, even in sprints, he’ll need some luck in running but it’s not impossible.

6.  Global Fusion –  3rd in the Segye Ilbo running on really well having been bumped at the start. Good winner at the distance the time before. Tactically versatile, Djordje Perovic take the mount for the first time and he has a chance.

7. Winner’s Glory – 4th in last year’s Korean Derby, he enters having won three in a row around two turns. Back to 1200M for the first time since he was a juvenile, he should be on pace early and has solid claims.

8. Theme Deunggeuk – Beaten by plenty of his rivals here in his last two races but both were over 1800M. He was a winner at class 2 over 1400M last November. Won’t be among the favourites but can give a decent account of himself.

9. Always Winner – Got the jump on the field to make all in the Segye Ilbo Cup ahead of five of these at odds of 20/1 in February. Tougher ask today but with a good start must be respected.

10. Best Guy – 2nd to Always Winner in the Segye Ilbo running on very nicely. He is a decent sprinter with class 1 wins to his name. Others will be favoured but another good run can’t be ruled out.

11. Jangsanjewang – Brian Dean’s gelding is a top-class sprinter who won his first class 1 outing at this distance last month. Trialled up very nicely last week, this is his toughest ask to date but he has every chance.

12. Gorgeous Dream – Looked a potential star winning 8 of his first 9 starts but has gone off the rails lately. Had excuses when beaten in November but fewer in his last two, including 7th in the Segye Ilbo Cup. Undoubetedly talented though and will be backed.

13. Gumanseok – Very solid competitor who won over 1800M in January beating a couple of these. Well back behind Cheonji Storm last time though. Steps back to this distance for the first time since this race last year, he always gives an honest account of himself.

 

Busan Friday: Race-By-Race Preview (March 10)

Korea’s first Group race of 2017 takes place on Sunday with the G3 Owners Association Trophy at Seoul. More on that over the next couple of days. In the meantime, racing gets underway at Busan on Friday with a 10-race card from 11:30 to 18:00.

English race cards can be found here. Notes on races to be simulcast overseas are below:

Race 4: Class 6 (1300M) Allowance / KRW 40 Million

1. MUNHWA DAERO – Beaten a few in four starts to date but much to find.

2. HWANGGEUMBITYEONGU – 5th of 12 his best in January but only beat one home last time.

3. SAMSEONG BLADE – Debut maker from top owner & trainer. Decent trial and will be backed. (more…)