Racing Reviews

Eoma Eoma Defeats East Jet In Sprint Showdown

Eoma Eoma turned the tables on East Jet as the pair produced the sprint of the year so far on a soaking wet track at Seoul Racecourse last Sunday.

Punters couldn’t split the pair with both the locally bred East Jet (by Strike Again) and the American import Eoma Eoma (by Algorithms) being sent off as co-favourites. Eoma Eoma perhaps the more brilliant of the pair but from a better draw on a wet track and over 1200M, the ultra-consistent East Jet had plenty of cards to play too.

Ultimately, breaking from gate 13, Moon Se Young on Eoma Eoma didn’t try to cross the field to lead. The pair that did opt to take on East Jet for that early advantage, Yaho Smart Cat and Complete Sweep, quickly capitulated and ended up finishing last and second-last.

East Jet had to use up plenty to go with them and when Eoma Eoma finally looked up on his outside with a furlong to go, he could give no more, finishing a length in arrears but still well clear of 3rd placed M J Power. The winning time – on a day when the wet track was resulting in some ultra-fast races – was among the top five fastest times ever recorded at the distance in Seoul

Eoma Eoma moves on to seven wins from nine starts while East Jet, who like Moonhak Chief a week earlier lost little in defeat, is now on eight from eleven. Oh what we would give for there to be a Korea Sprint this summer.

Tiz Plan Overturns Form On Moonhak Chief To Square Rivalry at 1-1

Last year it took Tiz Plan three attempts to get the better of Cheongdam Dokki. It’s taken him just two to record a victory over the other member of the Seoul Staying Big Three as the six-year-old avenged January’s defeat to Moonhak Chief with a comprehensive win at Seoul Racecourse on Sunday.

The 2019 Korea Cup and Grand Prix Stakes winner Moonhak Chief only raced once in 2020, just before racing’s first prolonged shutdown in February. He returned in January this year and defeated Tiz Plan by six-lengths at level weights over 2000M.

With Sunday’s race under handicap conditions, Tiz Plan was able to get 3kg from Moonhak Chief but punters still sent the Moon Se-young ridden champion off as the odds-on favourite.

It looked to be business as usual as Moonhak Chief sat behind early pacesetter Platinum Euro before taking over at the head of proceedings in the back straight. He soon opened up a lead but under Johan Victoire, Tiz Plan was stalking, never less than four-lengths behind.

By the top of the stretch the pair were on level terms and it was Tiz Plan who proved the strongest running on to win by two-lengths on the line. Moonhak Chief rallied well and held off the fast finishing Brigadier General to claim 2nd place and keep the quinella punters happy.

Both Tiz Plan and Moonhak Chief are owned by Kwon Kyung-ja but are under the care of different trainers. Tiz Plan was winning for the eleventh time in twenty-one starts.

No Stakes schedule has yet been published as with Covid restrictions remaining in place and the government continuing to stall the legalization of online betting what with important regional elections just around the corner, racing’s income remains at 10% pre-pandemic levels. Regardless, a third chapter in their rivalry is inevitable regardless of the conditions or prize money of the race.

In other news at Seoul on Sunday, Dolkong’s half-sister Jangsan Gold got her maiden win at start number six. The four-year-old Goldencents filly was a dominant winner of race 12 at under Moon Se-young.

Heungbaragi Beaten / Medici Glory, A Pure Good Man Claim Class 1 Wins / Dolkong Trials

A week after Busan’s leading three-year-olds both suffered reverses, at Seoul on Sunday it was the turn of the capital city’s champion juvenile of last year to taste defeat for the first time. Yet just like Winner’s Man and Heat Yegam on the south coast a few days earlier, Heungbaragi produced an extremely encouraging performance and remains on course for whatever Triple Crown season ultimately ends up being offered.

There was certainly no disgrace in Heungbaragi being beaten by Raon Tough Man. The four-year-old ran 2nd to Save The World in last year’s delayed Korean Derby and was well-fancied in the Minister’s Cup before parting company with jockey Choi Bum-hyun on the second corner.

After a couple of mediocre showings, Raon Tough Man returned to something close to his best on Sunday, racing prominently throughout the class 3 1800M handicap before passing a tired Heungbaragi close to the line and go on to win by over two-lengths.

Heungbaragi was tackling two-turns for the first time and having never seen the back of a horse at any time in his previous four outings, it was no surprise when jockey Lee Joon-che took him straight to the front from gate 12. He would maintain his lead until just over half a furlong to go when Roan Tough Man proved too strong, but still had enough left to hold off a fast-closing pack and secure 2nd place.

A stablemate of Cheongdam Dokki, the Park Jong-kon trained Heungbaragi is by Old Fashioned and is the first foal out of Grand Marketing (by Marketing) who did her racing in Korea.

Both Seoul and Busan held Class 1 races at one-turn distances over the weekend. At Busan on Saturday, A Pure Good Man (by Simon Pure) saw off a tough field that included the likes of Ace Korea and Baengmunbaekdap to register his first every class 1 victory over 1200M. At Seoul a day later US-import Medici Glory (by Gemologist) was victorious at the same level over 1400M to pick up his fifth win in eleven career starts.  Medici Glory was one of four winners on the day for jockey Yoo Seung-wan.

In other Korean racing news, Dolkong, who won the Curlin Handicap at the 2019 Dubai World Cup Carnival, successfully trialed at Seoul Racecourse on Friday. Now seven-years-old, Dolkong had returned to Korea and won the Busan Mayor’s Cup and KRA Cup Classic before suffering a fractured sesamoid a week before the Grand Prix Stakes in late 2019.

Having been successfully treated, Dolkong returned to light training at the end of last year and made sufficient progress to take part in his first official trial. Under Antonio Da Silva, he was given an easy time in the 1000M heat, going back before running on well for 7th place in a fast time. Dolkong is officially now re-qualified for racing but isn’t expected to make his competitive return just yet.

Racing will return to Busan this coming Saturday and Seoul once more on Sunday. Mark Story, a US import by Currency Swap and winner of three from four before setbacks struck, is set to make his long anticipated comeback in Seoul’s Sunday class 2 feature race.

Three-Year-Olds Suffer Reverses / Hunch Continues To Impress

Heat Yegam and Winner’s Man came home as winner and runner-up in Busan’s top juvenile race last autumn but the two up and comers both came unstuck – and yet still emerged with credit – over the weekend. In the older division there were no such problems for Hunch as the four-year-old continued his stately progress towards the elite level of Korean racing with an easy win.

With In-person attendance severely restricted and online betting remaining stubbornly illegal, it remains to be seen if there will even be a Triple Crown series this year but both Heat Yegam went into their Saturday preps at Busan as odds-on favourites. Heat Yegam, went first, sticking to the 1200M at which he had won all his juvenile starts. Despite having led for much of the way round, the Take Charge Indy colt was passed as he drifted wide in the home straight, ultimately coming home 2nd to the four-year-old Great Boss.

Later on in the card Winner’s Man, 2nd to Heat Yegam last November but considered more of a Classic contender having already won at a mile, tackled two turns for the first time in the 1800M race 9 at class 3 level. From gate 12, the Musket Man colt had to work hard early to get on the pace. He came together with Golden Winner in the straight and ended up being pushed out slightly wide, finishing just under a length in arrears to the Djordje Perovic ridden winner.

Neither lost very much in defeat. For Heat Yegam it was a positive return after a three-month spell while for Winner’s Man, a better barrier may well have seen him victorious. The defeats though may have piqued the interest of connections of another three-year-old at Busan on Saturday who did actually win his race. That was Alpha Again (by Strike Again), who led from gate to wire over 1400M at class 4 level to take his record to three wins from six starts. It is probably enough to get him into the starting gate if and when the KRA Cup Mile kicks off the Triple Crown.

The star of the show at Busan on Friday was Hunch. Peter Wolsley’s American import made three undistinguished starts as a juvenile back in 2019 but after nine months off, he reappeared following the first shutdown last summer looking a much better prospect and has gone on to register five wins from six subsequent starts. The latest of those was in Friday’s class 2 Busan feature when under Perovic, outclassed a very useful set of rivals by five-lengths in the kind of time that would see him close in Group races.

With rating increases still being limited in line with the current reduced prize money, Hunch will get at least one more crack at class 2 before he has to dip his toe into class 1. By To Honor And Serve, more than one observer pointed out that his winning time on Friday was faster than that recorded by a somewhat more established Korean runner by the same sire in his own latest two wins – Cheongdam Dokki.  On Friday’s performance, Hunch may end up facing Korea’s favourite chestnut at some point this year.

Seoul’s fifteen-race card on Sunday was a somewhat low-key affair with the feature class 2 handicap being won by Top Brain (Uncle Mo). There were, however, doubles for foreign jockeys Johan Victoire and Antonio Da Silva while trainer Luigi Riccardi also recorded a welcome victory.

Next weekend’s racing in Korea will follow the same pattern with ten races slated for Busan on Saturday and fifteen at Seoul on Sunday.

Cheongdam Dokki Makes Winning Return / Munro Lands Four-Timer

Local legal betting resumed on a limited scale in Korea this past weekend and those lucky few admitted into a small number of betting branches in the south of the country were treated on Sunday to two masterclasses beamed live from Seoul Racecourse – one from Cheongdam Dokki and another from jockey Alan Munro.

Making his first appearance as a seven-year-old, Cheongdam Dokki was sent off as a heavy faovurite for Sunday’s feature class 1 handicap over 1800M. With the race run under handicap conditions, Korea’s favourite chestnut was not only giving away 8kg to his thirteen rivals but also had to contend with the widest draw.

Neither mattered a jot. David Breux opted to jump out fast on Sun Lighting giving Park Tae-jong on Cheongdam Dokki a perfect lead across to the head of the field. With five-furlongs remaining, Park allowed Cheongdam Dokki to pass Sun Lighting as the field became ever more stretched out and from then on it was a formality with the son of To Honor And Serve going away to win by five-lengths on the line.

David Breux’s tactics on Sun Lighting were thoroughly vindicated with his mount staying on for an excellent 2nd while there was a pleasing 3rd from the locally bred Mask.

For Cheongdam Dokki it was a seventeenth win on his thirty-second career start and a reassuring statement after he had stuttered a little – but still won – on his final appearance of 2020. He had spent the summer dueling with Tiz Plan, defeating him in the Herald Business and YTN Cups in June and July, before suffering a reverse in the Busan Mayor’s Cup in August.

The 2019 Korea Cup and Grand Prix Stakes winner Moonhak Chief missed the short 2020 summer season through injury but returned to action at the end of January to thump Tiz Plan by six-lengths. While this year’s Stakes schedule is still to be confirmed due to COVID-19’s continuing interference, the trio of Cheongdam Dokki, Moonhak Chief and Tiz Plan are sure to square off sooner or later. At this stage, Moonhak Chief remains favourite but few will be writing off Cheongdam Dokki.

While Cheongdam Dokki completed a double on the day for veteran jockey Park Tae-jong, another fifty-something put on a riding clinic for those paying attention. Alan Munro began his day with victory on Spot Flatter in race 4 and then came out later in the card to win on both East Ban in race 11 and Lord Ban in race 13, both for owner Lim Jong-geun and trainer Seo Bum-seok.

Munro then completed a four-timer by guiding the very promising Jangsan Missile, an American import by Will Take Charge, to an easy win in race 14. It might have been five as when trainer Tony Castenheira was seeking a late replacement for the indisposed Antonio Da Silva in race 2, Munro was his first port of call. However, the English jockey, not due to begin until race 4, could not be roused from his nap and Kim Dong-soo duly did the business on The King Blade.

In other Seoul news from Sunday, trainer Hong Dae-you, saddled his 300th career winner when filly Grace Queen scored in race 5. Hong gained a license in 2006 with his solitary Group success to date coming a year later with Bally Brae in the 2007 Grand Prix Stakes, a horse he had previously ridden as a jockey.

Next weekend’s racing in Korea is scheduled for Busan on Saturday 27th with ten races and Seoul on Sunday 28th with fifteen races.

Moonhak Chief Downs Tiz Plan On Return

Moonhak Chief, 2019 Korea Cup and Grand Prix Stakes winner returned to racing for the first time in just shy of a year at Seoul Racecourse on Friday afternoon. And it was a winning return too as the former Horse of the Year downed a hot class 1 field including the star of last summer Tiz Plan, by a full six-lengths.

Moonhak Chief dominated the Korea Cup in September 2019 before a disappointing showing behind Dolkong in the KRA Cup Classic a month later. He would return to form in the Grand Prix Stakes in December before opening what promised to be a glorious 2020 season by beating Cheongdam Dokki in early February just as the pandemic was taking hold.

Moonhak Chief was on the sidelines with a tendon injury while Cheongdam Dokki and the emerging Tiz Plan dueled for big purses over the abbreviated summer racing season but showed he hadn’t lost a step on his Friday return.

A field containing Moonhak Chief, Tiz Plan and the great – if fading – mare Silver Wolf, probably deserves better than to race at 5pm on a Friday afternoon in a deserted racecourse with no betting or live broadcast for a 1st prize of 28 Million Won (US$25,000). Such is Korean racing’s lot these days with customers no nearer being allowed back on track and the Government no nearer budging on allowing online betting.

Coming out of adjoining gates for the 2000M test, Moonhak Chief and Tiz Plan came together at the start and under Johan Victoire, Tiz Plan seized the early initiative tracking leader The Gumpu. Once in the back straight though, Moon Se Young moved up a gear on Moonhak Chief and once the Pioneerof The Nile entire took command of the race, the result was scarcely in doubt.

Tiz Plan ran on well but could only get within six-lengths of Moonhak Chief while Tony Castanheira’s The Gumpu ran on for an excellent 3rd. Silver Wolf ran a creditable 5th of twelve but was a full thirteen-lengths behind the winner.

For Moonhak Chief it’s a thirteenth win from twenty-three starts. There will be other days for Tiz Plan and Cheongdam Dokki will surely have a say at some point as well. Then there is Blue Chipper, who may well make his return in a similarly underfunded race at Busan next Friday. Will they get to face each other with a suitable purse on the line with a suitable crowd watching and punting on them at any point? With a legislative lifeline looking ever more unlikely, just as it was a year ago, that will be up to the virus.

  • During January, with all three tracks racing simultaneously on Fridays, the Busan races have been available for international simulcast. With the Seoul coronavirus situation stabilizing a little as well as hopefully the temperature being a little warmer making race times less susceptible to changes, it will be the Seoul races (where there are 15 across the day, rather than the 10 at Busan) which will be broadcast overseas in February). Somewhat amusingly, it means that we have missed Moonhak Chief and Tiz Plan this week and could well mean we miss Blue Chipper next week!

Eoma Eoma Returns To Winner’s Circle With Track Record Setting Effort

Eoma Eoma was the star of Friday’s behind-closed-doors meeting at Seoul Racecourse, taking out the class 1 feature and in the process breaking the track record for 1400M,

They might only be racing for small stakes but for the second week running, the form mostly held up. Aside from Eoma Eoma, the shock Korean Oaks winner Uaryung (Testa Matta) showed that her win in Busan in August was no fluke by handily defeating a batch of class 4 gallopers while down at Busan, exciting juvenile Winner’s Man (Musket Man) moved on to three wins from three starts with an easy score over older horses, also at 1400M.

Eoma Eoma (Algorithms) didn’t debut until December of his juvenile season but won his first three races – either side of the first shutdown – in such style that he was allowed to take his chance in both the SBS Sports Sprint and Owners; Cups. He performed valiantly in both finishing 3rd and 2nd to Morfhis and East Jet respectively. Given his lack of experience those were a tough ask but he ran well both times and the manner of his win today, with Moon Se Young needing to do very little in the way of encouragement, suggests he will be the one they need to beat next season.

As it stands, there is a possibility that some spectators can be admitted to the racecourses next weekend, which would mean that racing would return to a more normal Friday to Sunday schedule. However, this morning’s Covid-19 figures showed 138 new local transmissions nationwide with 98 of them in Gyeonggi Province – in which Seoul Racecourse is located. If the numbers remain at that level or higher over the next few days, there is a chance the government may reinstate “Level 2” social distancing, which would in effect put everything back to square 1 and would mean these Friday “zombie meetings”, with no crowds and no betting and low Stakes, would have to continue.

Masashi Ueda Rides First Korean Winner & Ioannis Poullis Claims Four As Racing Makes Tentative Return

After a second prolonged shutdown, Korean racing took its first steps back toward resumption on Friday with behind-closed-doors/no wagering cards at both Seoul and Busan. They may have been racing for significantly reduced prize money but there was no shortage of competitiveness as Ioannis Poullis rode four winners at Busan while Japanese jockey Msasahi Ueda landed his first Korean winner at Seoul.

The very good Ssonsal (Adios Charlie) was the pick of Ioannis Poullis’s four winners on the ten-race card at Busan. The four-year-old Bart Rice trainee moved on to seven wins from thirteen starts as he outlasted two-time SBS Sprint winner Doraonpogyeongseon and regular rival Seobu Cat in the 1400M class 1 feature.

At Seoul there were 15 races and while Tiz Plan was scratched from the feature, there was still plenty of interest in the 1800M Class 1 affair. Ultimately it would be won by Cheongdam Jewang (Shackleford) ahead of the progressive Australian import Brigadier General (Tapit).

While it was a relief for everybody involved to be out and racing, albeit in somewhat surreal circumstances and for vastly reduced prizes, for Masashi Ueda it was no doubt especially so.

Japanese jockey Ueda was licensed early this year but his arrival was delayed first by the initial Covd-19 shutdown and then by Japan and Korea’s tit-for-tat entry bans. He finally arrived in mid-August and completed his mandatory quarantine only for racing to then immediately shut down again before he had managed a single ride.

Ueda kept busy riding work and trials throughout September and early October and his reward came in race 5 as he made all on Most Speed (Federalist) to secure his first Korean victory.

Another set of these low-stakes/no broadcast meetings will take place next Friday. If Covid-19 restrictions remain at their current “level 1” grade, then there is a chance of more normal racing resuming in November.

Morfhis Downs Dokki Blade, Eoma Eoma To Upturn Sprint Ranks In Shock SBS Win

Morfhis  swooped late to score a stunning victory in the SBS Sports Sprint at Seoul, diving home to deny Do Kki Blade and Eoma Eoma under a fine steer from jockey Johan Victoire.

SBS Sports Sprint 2020

Morshis gets up to debu Do Kki Blade and Eoma Eoma in the SBS Sports Sprint

Busan Ilbo Cup top two Do Kki Blade and Gaon Champ renewed hostilities disputing the lead in the early stages of the six-furlong G3 race, the second leg in the 2020 Korea Sprint Series.

Gaon Champ would quickly capitulate at the top of the stretch and it seemed upstart Eoma Eoma would pose the only threat to Do Kki Blade. That was to reckon without Morfhis whose stunning late show saw him duck inside to snatch victory at the death by a head.

Morfhis is a five-year-old American bred gelding by Stephen Got Even and and out of the Rubiano mare Chinchilla. He was a $150,000 purchase from the OBS 2017 Spring Sale of Two-Year-Olds. The win was his eighth in twenty-three runs and takes him on to career winnings of KRW 739 Million. For jockey Victoire it was his second Korean Group win following his success on Dolkong in last year’s Busan Mayor’s Cup while it was a first for trainer Lee Gwan-ho.

The win was notable on a number of fronts. Morfhis, who up until now was seen as a solid dependable class 1 campaigner with a strong finish who specialises at seven-furlongs, now finds himself in the top echelon of Korean sprinters and a serious contender for September’s Korea Sprint (should that race take place).

It also provided the rare sight of a top level Korean sprint race by a horse coming from well off the pace. While Doraonpogyeongseon, who won this race in both 2017 and 2018, was by no means a front-runner, he would usually emerge from a relatively handy position. Two furlongs out on Sunday, Morfhis was still in 11th place.

While beaten, Do Kki Blade confirmed his place among the elite and still has every chance of going on to claim the overall Sprint Series win but another big story coming out of the race was the emergence of Eoma Eoma. The three-year-old entered the race having not had to face a serious challenge in three prior outings yet despite drawing an unfavourable gate, only went down by less than half a length on the line after an excellent ride by Song Jae-chul.

Gaon Champ and Simjangui Godong both had off-days but will be expected to bounce back while the ever awkward Global Captain missed the start before running on well. At their best, all three can be winning chances in future feature races.

The calendar may now be up in the air for all these horses. The Seoul Racehorse Owners’ Association Trophy was originally supposed to be the first leg of the Sprint Series in March. It is now tentatively scheduled for August 23rd. Then there is the Korea Sprint itself, still scheduled for September 13th.

Whatever happens in terms of the schedule, there is plenty to look forward to with these sprinters.

Cheongdam Dokki Monsters YTN Cup Rivals In Record Busting Romp

For the second time in a month, Cheongdam Dokki savaged his rivals over 2000M at Seoul Racecourse on Sunday, claiming an easy win in the G3 YTN Cup and in the process broke Dongbanui Gangja’s eleven-year-old track record for the distance.

Just four weeks after his dominant victory in the Herald Business Cup and facing a largely similar set of opponents, Cheongdam Dokki was always set to be a prohibitive favourite in a race which served as the second leg of the “Stayer Series”. And just as he did in the Herald, he stamped his authority on the race right from the start, crossing from gate eight under jockey Park Tae Jong and straight into the lead.

At his best, Cheongdam Dokki’s cruising speed is so superior to his local rivals at least in the absence of Moonhak Chief – that there was never a danger of him doing too much too soon and being caught. Instead he continued to run away from them, recording a nine-length winning margin on the line and taking six tenths of a second off the mark set by Dongbanui Gangja in the Owners’ Association Trophy in June 2009.

Behind Cheongdam Dokki, Tiz Plan and Shamrocker came home 2nd and 3rd in a repeat of the Herald Business trifecta. Buhwarui Banseok ran 4th.

The final leg of the Stayer Series is the G2 Busan Mayor’s Cup which is currently scheduled for August 16th at the slightly shorter distance of 1800M. All being well, Cheongdam Dokki would then likely be pointed to the Korea Cup on September 13th, the KRA Cup Classic on October 11th and then conclude his year taking another crack at a race that so far eludes him, the Grand Prix Stakes.

A six-year-old American-bred gelding by To Honor And Serve and out of Elusive Gold (by Strike The Gold), Cheongdam Dokki has now won 15 of 29 career starts for prize money of just over KRW 2.8 Billion.