Racing Reviews

Dia Road Downs Silver Wolf In Donga Ilbo Cup

It’s happened – she’s been beaten by a filly. Super mare Silver Wolf saw her hopes of a third consecutive victory in the Donga Ilbo Cup dashed in the Seoul snow by her own stablemate as Dia Road swept home to claim glory in the Listed event.

Dia Road Donga Ilbo

Dia Road in the Donga Ilbo Winner’s Circle

Having brushed aside the distaff division in all three legs of the Queens’ Tour for the second time in 2019, Silver Wolf did conclude last year with an uncharacteristically lacklustre performance against the boys in the Grand Prix Stakes in December.

While back in restricted company on Sunday, Silver Wolf wasn’t quite the overwhelming favorite she has been in these kinds of events in recent times. She was sent off as market leader but only narrowly ahead of Dia Road and last year’s Gyeonggi Governor’s Cup winner Clear Geom.

For a moment in the home straight it looked as though any concerns were unwarranted as Silver Wolf loomed up on the shoulder of Dia Road, who had led from the start, and briefly went past.

It didn’t last. Under jockey Kim Yong Geun, Dia Road fought back immediately and, with a 5kg weight advantage, pulled away to win by a full three-lengths on the line. Long shot Hwa Gi came in 3rd a further five-lengths adrift of Silver Wolf.

Dia Road, a four-year-old filly by Captain Coltish and out of the Menifee mare Gieongnal Geunal, moves on to six wins from seven starts with her only defeat coming at the hands of Clear Geom in the Gyeonggi Governor’s Cup. Like Silver Wolf, she is trained by Song Moon-Gil and has been similarly sensibly campaigned.

As for Silver Wolf, she didn’t lose much in defeat, putting in a game effort while giving away considerable weight in blizzard-like conditions. She may still pose a formidable test for the younger fillies later in the year.

Dia Road and Silver Wolf could well clash again this summer when the Queens’ Tour gets underway with the Ttukseom Cup at Seoul on July 5th.

Gaon Champ & Triple Nine Both Beaten But Bigger Challenges Await

Listed action returned to Korean racing this past weekend with the Segye Ilbo Cup kicking off the 2020 feature race schedule at Seoul on Sunday afternoon. And it was last year’s champion three-year-old Simjangui Godong who prevailed, defeating Do Kki Blade and favourite Gaon Champ in a tight three-way finish. Meanwhile down at Busan, four-time President’s Cup winner Triple Nine returned following a thirteen-month absence but was unable to overcome a 60kg impost in the class 1 Handicap.

Simjangui Godong Segye Ilbo

Simjangui Godong (number 12) gets up to deby Do Kki Blade and Gaon Champ (Pic: KRA)

Racing for the first time since running an excellent 3rd in last year’s Korea Sprint over the same 1200M distance, Gaon Champ was sent off as favourite for the Segye Ilbo Cup. For a first-up effort, he ran very well, recovering from a slightly sluggish start to put in a strong effort, briefly heading the field a furlong out.

He would be reeled in though as first Do Kki Blade and then ultimately Simjangui Godong swept past at the death with Simjangui Godong getting up to win by a head. It was a fine performance from Simjangui Godong, who was dropped back to six-furlongs for the first time having ended last season in big Stakes races around two turns, including a 3rd place in the President’s Cup that along with his runner-up finish in the Derby, secured him Champion Three-Year-Old honours.

It is likely that all three place-getters will next be targeted towards the SROA Chairman’s Cup, at the same distance on March 15, which is the first Group race of the year. It’s also the first leg of the Sprint Serie and it would be no surprise if  Gaon Champ overturns the form that day.

Returning from an even longer absence was Triple Nine. He didn’t race at all as a seven-year-old with his most recent appearance before Sunday coming in his victorious effort in the Grand Prix Stakes in 2018.

Such is his rating though that Triple Nine was assigned 60kg to carry in the 2000M handicap – 8kg more than any other in the race. With his customary late speed, Triple Nine almost defied the handicapper but it wasn’t to be as Jumbo Blade and New York Mangchi clung on to dispute a photo-finish – Jumbo Blade taking it by a neck.

Given the ansence and the weight, it was an excellent performance by Triple Nine and – his notoriously problematic fetlock issue permitting – one he can build on. At set weights there are still not many in Korea you would back against him.

Further down the ranks, things are looking quite promising. A couple of weeks ago, US import Mark Story (Dreamlicious) took his record to three wins from three starts, all of which had been achieved in fast times and in a facile manner. Last Saturday it was the turn of fellow American-bred Eoma Eoma (Algorithms) to burnish his credentials. The $60K purchase made his second start in Saturday’s race 8 and stepping up to 1300M, won by as many as he pleased, finishing just half a second outside the track record despite being eased down in the final furlong. Both look potentially the real deal and their inevitable meeting will be eagerly awaited.

 

 

Weekend Round-Up: Juvenile Series, Wonderful Fly Beaten, Foreign Successes

The 2019 Juvenile Series got underway on Sunday with Seoul and Busan both hosting their opening legs. The two tracks have separate 1st and 2nd legs before coming together for the finale at Busan on the first Sunday in December.

Both the Gold Circle Trophy at Busan and the Munhwa Ilbo Cup at Seoul had heavy pre-race favourites, but only one of those obliged with Save The World cruising to an easy victory on the South Coast. The Menifee colt moved onto three wins from three starts with an untroubled six-length score.

At Seoul, however, odds-on chance Choegang Team came up short as Roller Blade (Officer), who Choegang Team beat by six-lengths the last time they met, responding the better under pressure under jockey Kim Yong Geun, and running on to win by almost three lengths.

But never mind about next year’s three-year-olds, we still don’t have a clear picture about who’s the best of the current crop. Things were no clearer by the end of Sunday when Korean Derby winner Wonderful Fly and runner-up Myeongpum Chukje faced each other again over the Derby distance of 1800M at class 2 level in the concluding race 11.

At the top of the stretch, the pair of them were four-lengths clear of the rest and looked set to duel to the line. Could we finally get some idea as to who was the best locally bred three-year-old, at least in Seoul? No. Both capitulated in the stretch run leaving filly Clear Geom (Clear Attempt) to run through and claim the spoils.

Clear Geom was the surprise winner of the Gyeonggi Governor’s Cup, the final leg of the “Triple Tiara” to decide Champion filly back in June. In that race, she ran down the previously unbeaten Dia Road, who finally returned to the track for the first time since that day in a successful effort over 1400M on Saturday. In a division with no standout, Clear Geom perhaps now has as much claim as any to be considered the best of them.

As for the foreign contingent, Richard Oliver partnered Hwaranguichampion to victory in race 4 at Busan on Friday, while Bart Rice’s talented Adios Charlie colt Ssonsal registered his third victory from seven starts in race 10. The Rice Stable followed up on Sunday with another promising one, Good Dancer, who registered his fourth win from eight attempts, in race 2.

Ioannis Poullis was also among the winners on Sunday, keeping his partnership with top trainer Kim Young-kwan going for at least another week by winning race 3 on Power Touch. The Nokwon Farm bred colt is the first foal to make the track out of former Champion filly Useung Touch. One race later it wasn’t such a good result for Peter Wolsley’s Mr. Afleet, with the colt, stepped up to 1800M as he sought a fifth win on his sixth start, unable to run down B.K. Gambol – a filly he was giving 5kg to – coming up short by a head.

Possibly the biggest foreign success of the weekend though belonged to Richard Oliver, who closed out Sunday’s card riding Core Blade to a battling win over 1400M at class 1. The filly – who back in January was the British jockey’s first ride at Busan – held off a resurgent Hello Venus to take the line by a head. Core Blade’s dam Soseono is half-sister to Subsidy, who was one of the top horses in Seoul in the early 2000s.

Alan Munro and Antonio Da Silva both rode winners at Seoul over the weekend while new French trainer Tony Castenheira saw his first Korean runner, Choegang Singi, run a good 2nd in Sunday’s race 5. Castenheira opened his stable last month and currently has nine horses under his charge.

Finally, it’s well done to Lee Dong-jin, who is the latest jockey to shed his apprentice claim. Lee rode two winners on Saturday’s Seoul card to take his career tally to 40 and in the process lose his final kilogram allowance. Lee, who debuted in 2017 has a strike rate of approximately 7% from 560 mounts. He’s proven adept at positioning horses and is strong in the finish so a promising career could beckon.

Coming up this weekend, it’s a Korea Cup rematch as Moonhak Chief makes a quick return to the track to once again face Cheongdam Dokki and Dolkong in Sunday’s KRA Cup Classic.

We also expect to get confirmation of whether Korea Sprint winner Blue Chipper is going to ship to Santa Anita for a potential tilt at the Breeders’ Cup Mile – he’s already listed as a potential starter, along with Ambassadorial – the UK-trained runner who performed so well for 3rd in the Korea Cup. Right now, the odds are that he will.

Sensational Blue Chipper Smashes Mile Record On Way To Owners’ Cup Romp

Blue Chipper announced his arrival in the elite tier of Korean and then some as he left a Group 3 field trailing in the distance in the Owners’ Cup at Busan Racecourse this afternoon, demolishing the previous track record for the mile by over a full second for good measure.

Blue Chipper debuted back in September of 2017 but would only race twice more over the next fifteen months as a succession of injuries kept him off the track. However, since returning in April this year, he’s managed to stay fit and reeled three dominant wins, moving up to class 1 along the way.

Those victories led him to be sent off as favourite for the Owners’ Cup, ahead of defending champion Doraonpogyeongseon and Ace Korea. Ultimately it was no contest.

Away well, Blue Chipper showed immediately at the front of the field and while he didn’t start to extend until they came off the turn, once he did, the others were unable to match and the final margin of ten-lengths on the line could have been significantly further had jockey You Hyun-Myung so desired.

Blue Chipper’s stablemate Baengmunbaekdap pipped King Of Glory for a distance 2nd.

Blue Chipper now moves on to 6 wins from 7 starts. Today was his first crack at a mile and so long as he stays sound, he now must surely be a big prospect for either the Korea Cup or Korea Sprint at Seoul in early September.

Busan Friday: Race-By-Race Preview (July 19)

Friday racing is at Busan with 9 races from 14:30 to 21:00. Monsoon season has begun so heavy rain is a possibility:

RH7_2448

Race 1: Class 6 (1000M) Allowance / KRW 60 Million

The first on the card has eleven maidens engaged to go over the short course. (2) USEUNGUI PARANGSAE looks the one to beat coming off a second-placed performance on debut. The filly was beaten just over a length when trying to lead throughout. The time was reasonable for this grade so expect her to lead and to win. (7) FORVER RUNNER is another filly having her second start. She showed early speed last time before shortening stride in the straight. She will be better for the run so expect some improvement. (10) ROYAL SOLDIER drops back to the 1000M after finishing midfield over 1300M last time out. His debut over the short course was encouraging when running a good time. (11) KKEUTPAN CLOSER looks best of the rest after finishing 5th last time out. Ioanis Poullis will be legged aboard the chestnut for his third start.

Selections (2) Useungui Parangsae (7) Forever Runner (10) Royal Soldier (11) Kkeutpan Closer
Next Best 6, 8
Fast Start 2, 3, 7, 10

Race 2: Class 6 (1000M) Allowance / KRW 60 Million

Nine two-year-olds will go over the minimum distance in the second event of the card. (6) MISS ADELE is the only horse with some racing experience. She was extremely green on debut when running down the home straight where she only went down by a neck. She sat three-wide throughout and based on her gutsy effort she should be hard to beat. (2) SAVE THE WORLD looks the main threat. The Menifee colt ran a handy 1.01.7 when finishing 2nd in his trial over 1000M. Top rider You Hyun-Myung rode him then and will be legged aboard for his debut run. (1) DONGTEUJA DAY was impressive in his trial. The Strike Again colt sat on speed and responded well when asked in the straight after being headed. They ran 1.03.5 on a dry track and there appeared to be no more left in the tank. (3) BLUE EMBER ran a similar time of 1.03.5 in her qualifying trial. She looks a place chance in a speedy affair.

Selections (6) Miss Adele (2) Save The World (1) Dongteuja Day (3) Blue Ember
Next Best 5, 6
Fast Start 1, 2, 6

Race 3: Class 6 (1300M) Allowance / KRW 24 Million

The three-year-olds will battle it out over 1300M. (2) BANJIUI JILJU was sent out favourite last time out and was gunned down by Turbo Speed to finish 2nd. She was drawn wide on that occasion and will appreciate and easier run from gate two today. (4) SUNDAY GLORY ran an impressive time when 2nd behind Ever Champion last start. He has speed to burn so look for him to lead from a good draw. He will have the polished services of You Hyun-Myung. (10) TITLE CODE finished 2nd last time out over this distance. He was well beaten but his consistency has been good, and he can figure with the right run. (8) RAON FLYING looks a place chance as he lines up for his fourth start.

Selections (2) Banjiui Jilju (4) Sunday Glory (10) Title Code (8) Raon Flying
Next Best 11, 7
Fast Start 2, 4, 6, 8, 9, 10

Race 4: Class 6 (1600M) Allowance / KRW 24 Million

The fourth event has a filed of eleven three-year-olds going over the middle distance. One runner that looks like he will appreciate the step up in distance is (2) SAMSEONG DOKKI. He debuted over 1300M in mid-June and ran on well from the tail posting a fast sectional to finish 4th. Francois Herholdt will ride him again and don’t be surprised if he settles midfield or worse. (11) MORNING TAEYANG has each-way claims in the race. The Colors Flying three-year-old wasn’t beaten far last time out when 4th over 1300M (8) LISTEN TO ME was much improved last time out. The Peace Rules gelding sat behind the speed before finishing 3rd behind Daeheung Sidae. (7) TWO TWO CAPTAIN is looking to break maiden status at his tenth start. He placed for the first time over this distance last time out. Tough race for punters.

Selections (2) Samseong Dokki (11) Morning Taeyang (8) Listen To Me (7) Two Two Captain
Next Best 6, 10
Fast Start 8

Race 5: Class 5 (1600M) Handicap / KRW 40 Million

Punters have several chances to decipher through in the fifth on the card. (10) EL DRAGON had a torrid run last time out and can bounce back with the right run in this (more…)

Dolkong Back In Korea And Back On Top In Mayor’s Cup

Dolkong returned in sensational style last Sunday, storming home late to win the Busan Mayor’s Cup (KOR G2), his first race back in Korea since his Dubai World Cup Carnival heroics earlier this year.

The five-year-old only returned to full training earlier this month but having looked well when winning a trial in Seoul last week, Dolkong was able to travel to Busan to take his chance in the race that’s often referred to as the “Summer Grand Prix”

And take his chance he did, as Dolkong, sent off as second-favourite, produced a final furlong burst to deny YTN Cup winner Moonhak Chief another big race win.

Pre-race favourite was Cheongdam Dokki, so disappointing in the YTN last month, blew his chances at the start, stumbling and almost falling as he exited the gate – he would recover but was never a factor.

It was left to World Day to set the early pace and the four-year-old led the field into the home straight.

Once World Day was headed by stablemate New Legend, with Moonhak Chief in close attendance before Dolkong showed the acceleration that saw him win the Listed Curlin Handicap at Meydan and passed them all to win with just under a length in hand.

It was Dolkong’s first start for trainer Bae Dae-Sun and he was partnered for the first time by Johan Victoire, the French jockey scoring his biggest success in Korean racing to date.

Next assignment for Dolkong is expected to be the International G3 Korea Cup at Seoul on Sunday September 8.

 

Moonhak Chief Bosses YTN Cup As Cheongdam Dokki & New Legend Falter

All year the YTN Cup has had a red ring around it as the day when Cheongdam Dokki and New Legend would meet. Not on the agenda was that both would be beaten. However, that’s what happened at Seoul Racecourse on Sunday as Moonhak Chief thoroughly trounced all rivals to win they 2nd leg of the Stayers’ Series by 12-lengths.

The doubts had started to creep in about New Legend, a Korean-bred horse who began his career in the USA, picking up a win at Arlington Park before returning to Korea in early autumn last year. He won his early domestic contests with ease before coming up short when tried at 1200M in April’s Busan Ilbo Cup. Nevertheless, he was sent off as the 4/1 second-favourite in the thirteen strong field.

Cheongdam Dokki had also struggled when asked to sprint in March but the phenom had returned to form with a facile victory in the Herald Business Cup, the first leg of the Stayers’, a month ago and that led him to begin as the long odds-on favourite to claim his second YTN.

Moonhak Chief finished as runner-up in the Herald Business, a full six-lengths behind Cheongdam Dokki, but on Sunday he looked a winner all the way.

20190526_165113.jpg

It wasn’t close…

“I actually had no intention to lead” said jockey Moon Se Young, after partnering Moonhak Chief to a gate-to-wire win in strikingly similar fashion to how the rider won the Korean Derby on Wonderful Fly two weeks ago. “But Cheongdam Dokki didn’t go like I expected him to, so I found myself in front and took it from there”.

That was somewhat modest from Moon when talking about what was a very good ride. Once in front, he shut the race down in the back straight conserving plenty of energy before asking for an effort after turning for home that put his mount out of sight. The winning time was just half a second outside the track record for the 2000M and it is debatable as to whether an even in top-form Cheongdam Dokki could have caught him.

As for Cheongdam Dokki, he didn’t have his usual zip from the gate and to his outside  Argo Brain made a nuisance of himself for the first hundred metres or so. Subsequently though, always at least three wide and non-responsive to his jockey’s urgings rounding the final turn, he never looked a winner, ultimately trailing home in 5th.

Cheongdam Dokki passed the immediate veterinary examination and unless something shows up later, it seems likely that Antonio Da Silva will end up the unlucky fall guy. He didn’t do anything wrong at all – Cheongdam Dokki was simply not in the mood for racing on Sunday – but this is Korean racing and Dokki’s owner is not renowned for being shy about changing things up on a regular basis.

New Legend ran a solid, if one-paced race in 4th. He was in 3rd or 2nd most of the way around but failed to kick on at the business end of the race. A month ago, he was Korea’s biggest hope for the International races in September, there are now plenty of question marks hanging over him. He will hopefully get a chance to show recent form has been a blip, in the Busan Mayor’s Cup at the end of June.  That will likely be Cheongdam Dokki’s shot at redemption too.

Old campaigner Shamrocker did what he does and mopped up the pieces late on to snatch 2nd place. It was the six-year-old’s tenth runner-up finish on his 34th start. He spent his three and four-year-old season chasing Clean Up Joy and then his five-year-old season in futile pursuit of Cheongdam Dokki. In Moonhak Chief, there is perhaps another whose posterior he can watch vanishing into the distance. Not many others will beat him though.

Revelation of the race was Jumbo Blade. The four-year-old was, along with the winner and Shamrocker, the only one truly going well in the closing stages and the four-year-old Mineshaft colt got up for 3rd under Franco Da Silva on what was just his thirteenth career start. He has the same owner as Cheongdam Dokki.

Moonhak Chief is four-year-old American-bred colt by Pioneerof The Nile and out of Tallullah Lula (by Old Trieste).

Next weekend there is a double-helping of Graded Stakes action at Seoul with both the SBS Sports Sprint and Ttukseom Cup taking place on Sunday.