Racing Reviews

Triple Nine & Clean Up Joy Are Winners Again at Busan & Seoul

Two of Korea’s most popular horses returned to the winner’s circles at Busan and Seoul yesterday with Triple Nine and Clean Up Joy prevailing in valuable Sunday handicaps.

Three-time President’s Cup winner Triple Nine had put in a strong effort in December’s Grand Prix Stakes, trying to counter early leader Cheongdam Dokki but ultimately finished 3rd behind stablemate and rival Power Blade. Following three months off, he returned to action on Sunday in the 2000M “Road To Group 1” feature on the south coast.

The race attracted a strong line-up and Triple Nine had to work for his win, with You Hyun Myung sitting towards the back of the field as the early pace was set, inevitably, by Success Story. Although he had plenty of traffic to negotiate in the home straight, the gap did open up and Triple Nine, carrying 60kg, ran on nicely to win by two lengths. Buhwarui Banseok, who also ran so well in the Grand Prix, came home in 2nd place ahead of Good Casting who, a disappointing effort over 2200M last month aside, has been a revelation in recent months.

It’s a good start to the season for the now 6-year-old Triple Nine which will likely have a bid an unprecedented fourth President’s Cup and another tilt at the so-far elusive Grand Prix as its ultimate targets.

Clean Up Joy has already won a Grand Prix, having been victorious in 2016’s season finale when he beat Triple Nine by just over a length. Although his 2017 started strongly with three consecutive wins, including in the YTN Cup, he lose his way a little in the second half of the year.

A chastening experience when not looking 100% in the Busan Mayor’s Cup in the summer was followed by 3rd place for Clean Up Joy in the KRA Cup Classic, a race he’d won in each of the two previous seasons as three-year-olds Cheongdam Dokki and New Citadel announced their arrival on the elite scene. He could then only run 7th in the Grand Prix before beginning 2018 with another defeat at the hands of Cheongdam Dokki.

Clean Up joy had a significantly simpler task then Triple Nine, facing only six rivals in Seoul’s “Road To G1” event. Such was his rating superiority that all of them were out of the handicap and accordingly carried 52kg to Clean Up Joy’s 60kg. Under Park Tae Jong, he hit top gear at the two furlong pole and cruised away for a visually impressive seven-length score.

There will be tougher tests to come.

Advertisements

Cheonji Storm Blows Away Final Boss-Less Field In SROA Chairman’s Trophy

Cheonji Storm romped home to win the first Group race of the year in Korea, comfortably scoring in the Seoul Racehorse Owners’ Association Chairman’s Trophy at Seoul Racecourse on Sunday afternoon.

The race was billed as a re-run of January’s Segye Ilbo Trophy with all five top place-getters in that race due to take their chance. However, Segye Ilbo winner and early favourite for this race Final Boss came down lame with quarter cracks in a front hoof and had to be scratched. There is no guarantee he would have won.

Cheonji Storm was sent off favourite ahead of City Star, who just headed him for 2nd in the Segye Ilbo and it was those two left standing in the home straight after early leaders Raon Magic and Always Winner faded. Cheonji Storm was able to stretch away from his rival to win by a full two-and-a-half lengths on the line. Dongchonui Achim was a full three lengths further back in 3rd.

Cheonji Storm is a five-year-old horse and was winning for the eighth time in his career. Previous highlights include victory in the Horse Racing Ireland Trophy in 2016 and 2nd place in this race last year. For the horse – as well as for both trainer Kim Dong Kyun and jockey Jo Jae Ro – it was a first Group win.

SROA Chairman’s Trophy (KOR G3) – Seoul Racecourse – 1200M – March 11, 2018

1. Cheonji Storm (KOR) [Admire Don – Great Thought (Empire Maker)] – Jo Jae Ro – 2.5, 1.3
2. City Star (KOR) [Menifee – City Styling (Carson City)] – Jang Chu Youl – 1.4
3. Dongchonui Achim (KOR) [Officer – Abbey (Redoubte’s Choice)] – Kim Dong Soo – 1.5
Distances: 2.5 lengths / 3 lengths
Also Ran: 4. Yaho Sky Cat 5. Gold Music 6. Raon Magic 7. Lead Money 8. Global Fusion 9. Always Winner 10. Wild Thunder 11. Huri Baram
Non-Runner: Final Boss

Classic Trials: Mask Beats Gaon Champ To Win Sports Seoul / Divide Wind Cruises At Busan

With the KRA Cup Mile, the first leg of the Triple Crown just a month away, there were Classic trials at both Seoul and Busan. At Seoul, Mask handed Gaon Champ his first defeat while at Busan, it was a Kim Young Kwan-trained one-two as Divide Win led home Captain Force.

Having already stepped up to – and won at – 1700M, Mask was likely headed to the Triple Crown trail anyway but he was only sent off as third-best in the betting for the Sports Seoul Cup behind the hitherto undefeated Gaon Champ and Seoul’s top juvenile of 2017, Choinma. It was Gaon Champ who showed the way early and at the top of the stretch looked poised to go on keep his 100% record intact.

Mask was too strong. Under the urging of Shin Hyung Chul, he came alongside Gaon Champ, who was all-out under Park Tae Jong, and went past in the final half furlong to win by just under a length. Choinma was a long way back in 3rd.

Mask (Testa Matta) has now won three from seven in total but crucially, both of this year’s outings. He’ll not find it easy in Busan though.

Sports Seoul Cup – Seoul Racecourse – 1400M – March 4, 2018

1. Mask (KOR) [Testa Matta – Fire And Vice (Latent Heat)] – Shin Hyung Chul – 6.0, 1.4
2. Gaon Champ (KOR) [Ecton Park – Ruby Queen (Badge Of Silver)] – Park Tae Jong – 1.1
3. Choinma (KOR) [Menifee – Kkummaeul(Curia Regis)] – Choi Bum Hyun – 1.1
Distances: 0.75 lengths / 8 lengths
Also Ran: 4. Sharp Kaylan 5. Sinui Myeongryeong 6. Seourui Byeol 7. Eclair Beauty 8. Meni Bada

Down South, the Kim Young Kwan machine grinds on relentlessly and even without Champion juvenile Ecton Blade lining up, it seemed inevitable he was going to saddle the winner of the Gyeongnam Shinmun.

Divide Wind (Menifee) was favourite and he made short-work of the field, running away in the closing stages to win by three-lengths on the line. Stablemate Captain Force (Peace Rules), a half-brother to 2016 Oaks winner Ottug Ottugi came home 2nd.

Gyeongnam Shinmun Cup – Busan Racecourse – 1400M – March 4, 2018

1. Divide Wind (KOR) [Menifee – Grand Slam (Grand Pass)] – You Hyun Myung – 2.6, 1.2
2. Captain Force (KOR) [Peace Rules – Main Objective (Lion Heart)] – Lee Hyo Sik – 1.2
3. World Sun (KOR) [Officer – Dancing Desire (Mr. Greeley)] – Lim Sung Sil – 1.2
Distance: 3 lengths / 1 length
Also Ran: 5. Captain Guy 6. Baedu Jeonggi 7. May Star 8. Bugyeong Bolt

In other news at Busan, Drop The Beat bested Haeya in the feature class 1 handicap, a sprint over 1400M.

Silver Wolf Strolls To Donga Ilbo Cup Win

Silver Wolf was the dominant filly or mare of 2017, sweeping all three legs of the Queens’ Tour and she got her six-year-old win underway in the best possible fashion with a dominant win in the Donga Ilbo Cup. In doing so, it gave Djordje Perovic a Listed winner on the Serbian jockey’s last day at Seoul before leaving on an extended sabbatical to recover from a back injury. 

It was always going to be a mismatch.  Just eight fillies and mares opted to take her on over the 1800M, a mix of slightly faded talents and not quite up there prospects. Perovic brought Silver Wolf to the lead at the top of the stretch and the pair eased away from the field for an easy nine-length victory.  43/1 outsider Lead Money came home 2nd with 38/1 Chang Se in 3rd.

Australian-bred SIlver Wolf (Orotorio) has now won 10 of her 21 career starts, three of them Graded Stakes races (the Queens’ Tour last year) and now two Listed (adding to the Munhwa Ilbo Cup last autumn). It was only as a five-year-old last year that she really showed her ability and while she is now too old to run in the Queens’ Tour races, she will surely be a danger in other big races, especially at sprint distances.

As for the other “wolf”, Djordje Perovic; known as “The Balkan Wolf” has been suffering from a back injury for some time and the constant grind that goes with being a top freelance jockey in Korea makes recovery very difficult. While it’s true there are only two race days each week, a freelancer is expected to ride an awful lot of track-work six days a week if he wishes to ride in the races – din’t ride the work and you don’t ride the race. It’s the same for the top local jockeys with Moon Se Young speaking last year about how it is increasingly hard to do.

PeroMoon

Moon Se Young (left) & Djordje Perovic embrace after the last at Seoul on Sunday 

Perovic would go on to ride the final two winners on the card too, finishing off with Choegang Schiller (Artie Schiller) beating Another Smart One (Smarty Jones) in the class 1 finale. Moon Se Young was on the runner-up and the pair shook hands after the line. Their rivalry over the past three years has brought another aspect to racing at Seoul and with any luck, it will be renewed when Perovic returns which, if all goes well, could be around Korea Cup time.

Weekend Round-Up: Ecton Blade & Triple Crown Trail, Rainha, Moonhak Chief

Three-year-olds were the standout performers in Korea last weekend with some of the best of the crop turning in eye-catching performances at both Seoul & Busan.

Ecton Blade won the Breeders’ Cup race at Seoul in December and so headed into the New Year as the leading Triple Crown contender. 2nd placegetter in that race and Seoul’s top juvenile of last year Choinma could only manage another 2nd place on his own seasonal debut two weeks ago but Ecton Blade made no mistake at Busan on Sunday.  He’s already won over 1600M before and went into Sunday’s race 3, at the KRA Cup Mile distance as the prohibitive favourite, fully justifying it by sauntering to an eight-length win. Stiffer tests await.

Ecton Blade’s win leaves the top sixteen three-year-olds (sixteen being the maximum field-size) with Triple Crown eligibility currently looking like this:

1. Ecton Blade [Ecton Park]
2= Sinui Myeongryeong (filly) [Hansen]
2= Choinma [Menifee]
4. Yeonghui Sidae (filly) [Hansen]
5. Captain Force [Peace Rules]
6. Divide Wind [Menifee]
7. Magic Ten (filly) [Rock Hard Ten]
8. Hoeng Un Gol [Forest Camp]
9. Meni Bada [Menifee]
10. World Sun [Officer]
11. King Jjang [Simon Pure]
12= Green K (filly) [Chapel Royal]
12= Global Line [Rock Hard Ten]
12= Hae Hu [Peace Rules]
12= Bugyeong Daebak (filly) [Forest Camp]
12= Blue Flag (filly) [Menifee]

Ecton Blade’s trainer Kim Young Kwan has an embarassment of riches that has seen 20 of his 40 runners so far in 2018 win. Even my elementary maths can calculate that’s a scarcely believable 50% strike rate and 70% of his runners have finished in the Quinella. Perhaps the richest of all the talents could be Rainha.

The exiting filly stepped up to a mile for what was her third career start and Rainha maintained her 100% record in a dismissively easy manner, cruising around on the bridle for a four-length win. Having been imported in-utero, she’s not on the Classic trail but nevertheless looks a very promising talent.

Rainha is owned by Shunsuke Yoshida and her dam is Allwise (Mr. Greeley) who had three foals in Japan before being relocated to Nokwon Farm on Jeju Island in late 2014 while in foal to Gold Allure. That resulting foal was Rainha. In the meantime, her filly by Heart’s Cry, born a year earlier and called Historia, last November won the TVK Sho at Tokyo Racecourse and now boasts a record of three wins from nine starts in the JRA.

Also in the non-eligible three-year-old ranks is Moonhak Chief. The US import by Pioneerof The Nile stepped up to class 2 and also to 1800M for the first time at Seoul on Sunday. And mightilu impressive he was too,  being ridden patiently by Lim Gi Won early on beofre stikign the front with just over a furlong to go and running on to win by a comfortable two lengths. He’s now won five of his seven outings.

In other news, Doraonpogyeongseon (Kantharos) went down by a nose in Busan’s Sunday sprint feature. Under an apprentice jockey so as he wouldn’t have to carry 60kg, the third-placegetter in the Korea Sprint couldn’t quite get up over 1200M, beaten a nose by Ever In Ever (Sharp Humor)/

(Belated) Weekend Round-Up: Final Boss Wins Segye Ilbo, Cheongdam Dokki Easy

Last year’s Korean Derby winner Final Boss kicked off his four-year-old campaign in style this past weekend, winning the first Listed race of the season, the Segye Ilbo Cup at Seoul Racecourse.

A good renewal it was too, with Final Boss sent off as second favourite behind Cheonji Storm. However, it was last year’s winner, Always Winner, who jumped out of the gate the quickest and into an early lead. It looked for a time he might just repeat his trick from twelve months ago and go all the way.

The big guns closed though. Cheonji Storm down the outside and City Star on the inside. And between the two of them came Final Boss, ears back and looking like he meant business. He struck the front just metres from the line and won by a neck from City Star with Cheonji Storm only another neck back in 3rd.

As they crossed the line, jockey Moon Se Young called across to Jang Chuyoul on City Star to inquire as to which of them won. After the race he said he wasn’t convinced that Final Boss could win such a race at a sprint distance (1200M) but the horse just took off in the closing stages and seemed desperate to get to the front.

Final Boss (Menifee-Sinseok Dolpa) moves on to nine wins from sixteen starts.

Cheongdam Dokki brutalized the Grand Prix field in December before ultimately running out of steam. He too began his four-year-old season at the weekend, appearing in Seoul’s feature handicap on Saturday.

He ws up against Shamrocker and and Clean Up Joy, both trained by Song Moon Gil and both of whom Cheongdam Dokki had seen off before.

He monstered them. Shamrocker came to challenge early but had little to offer in the closing straight leaving Clean Up Joy, who had complicated things for himself early on with his habitual leap as the gates opened, closing strongly. Cheongdam Dokki was almost pulled up by this stage though as he eased to his eighth win from thirteen outings. He should perhaps really be in Dubai right now as this is too easy and it looks like we may have to wait until the summer to see him actually be required to finish off a race properly.

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

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.