Racing Reviews

Do Kki Blade Downs Gaon Champ In Busan Sprint Duel

Gaon Champ gave everything but ultimately Do Kki Blade was just too strong as the sprinting pair turned the Busan Ilbo Cup (KOR G3) into a two-horse war on Sunday afternoon.

Do Kki Blade and Gaon Champ finished 2nd and 3rd behind Simjangui Godong in a blanket finish to January’s Segye Ilbo Cup at Seoul. While that day’s winner was also present on the south coast today, along with a vast amount of the nation’s sprinting talent, it quickly became clear that only two horses were going to dispute the finish.

Gaon Champ and Alan Munro briefly managed to get on  terms and almost touch the lead in the final furlong, but  Kim Yong-geun was able to extract another effort from Do Kki Blade and the four-year-old ultimately pulled clear to take the line half a length in front of his rival. King Of Glory came home 3rd a further three lengths in arrears, while Simjangui Godong could only manage 6th.

“I’m very proud of him” winning jockey Kim told KRBC after the race. “Coming in he was still a class 2 horse with the lowest rating in the race, but he was going up against all the established class 1 sprinters. Then to make it worse he got the really bad draw in gate 14.”

Kim, who was winning the race for the first time despite having ridden at Busan for most of his career before relocating to Seoul three years ago, knew the start would be important: “I felt there was a lot of speed in the race so I couldn’t afford to be chasing but then he jumped out so well and I saw we had a chance to get across so I decided to go for it. Once we hit the straight, I knew he had plenty left.”

Veteran trainer Park Dae-heung, who last year finally captured a Korean Derby with Wonderful Fly, was also winning the race for the first time and he was full of praise for his jockey: “I thought the race could be lost at the start so I was disappointed with the draw. I told Kim Yong-geun it was up to him to use his judgement and he did it perfectly.”

The Busan Ilbo Cup, like all racing in Korea at the moment, was held behind closed doors and with the absence of any legal remote betting in Korea, local fans were completely shut out and unable to even watch the race on TV. Both winning jockey and trainer addressed that situation.

“I value this win of course” said Kim Yong-geun. “It would have been far more exciting if we could have had our fans inside the racecourse though. I felt this was a very good race and I would have loved for them to have been able to watch it live. (Covid-19) has been hard on all of us but I keep the fans in my mind all the time.”

Trainer Park echoed those sentiments: “I have had a lot of time to think during the shutdown and I realise how important our racing fans are. Just to be racing is a start and we must do it, but it isn’t the same. I want all our fans to know we race for them and want to see them soon.”

Gaon Champ will get his chance for revenge on Do KKi Blade when the Sprint Series heads up to Seoul for the SBS Sports Sprint in July, a race which will be the final tune-up for September’s International Group 3 Korea Sprint.

* At Busan on Friday, the star of the show was Pro Consul. The Peter Wolsley trained colt has had an interrupted career but looked superb when dominating a class 1 field in the concluding Mile Handicap, winning by a full eight-lengths under Seo Seung-un. Pro Consul is a US import by Freedom Child, who was himself imported to Korea earlier this year. The four-year-old moves on to five wins from nine starts and into contention for big races later this year.

 

 

Sensational Cheongdam Dokki Silences Sceptics In Herald Business Hat-Trick

Cheongdam Dokki rolled back the years, crushed all-comers and silenced the sceptics by completing a sensational hat-trick in the Herald Business Cup at Seoul Racecourse on Sunday.

The six-year-old’s most recent win prior to Sunday was the exact same race, run in April last year with the race being re-scheduled this term after the Covid-19 forced suspension of racing.

Cheongdam Dokki was transferred back to Park Jong-kon after his most recent run in December last year.

Trainer Park was Cheongdam Dokki’s original handler, preparing the chestnut for his first nineteen career starts, yielding thirteen wins.

Park Tae-jong was aboard the six-year-old Sunday, when the flashy type brought up his third win in the listed feature.

Cheongdam Dokki was asked to work forward early by jockey Park, eventually taking up the role of pacemaker.

The To Honor And Serve gelding maintained the lead in the back straight, travelling strongly before being asked to improve at the top of the Seoul home straight.

Heuk Jeonsa, World Today and Great King all sat on speed in the race whilst Tiz Plan’s rider Johan Victoire improved his position in the middle stages of the 2000m feature.

As the field balanced up for the run home the only danger to Cheongdam Dokki was Tiz Plan but Victoire and his mount were unable to bridge the gap, with Cheongdam Dokki winning by four lengths.

Triple Nine and World Today appear to be the disappointments to come out of the race, both finishing well beaten.

The ever reliable Shamrocker, partnered by Alan Munro, came home 3rd in the race for the third time in three years with Bart Rice’s Rock Hard Seven coming home in 4th under Francois Herholdt.

The next staying feature to take place will be the YTN Cup in July where last year’s Korea Cup winner Moonhak Chief is nominated to make a return.

Korea Cup and Grand Prix Stakes winner Moonhak Chief, nemesis of Cheongdam Dokki last year, is back in work having recovered from a fetlock injury that ruled him out of Sunday’s feature.

 

Round-Up

– Potentially on his way to the YTN Cup is Buhwarui Banseok. Bart Rice’s seven-year-old warhorse scored a superb all the way win over 2000M in Busan’s feature Class 1 handicap on February. Despite giving significant weight to most of his rivals, Buhwarui Banseok dominated throughout, shrugging off lighter weighted pretenders with ease to win by a remarkable five-lengths under jockey Seo Seung-un.

– Buhwarui Banseok’s victory meant that all three foreign trainers were on the board at Busan on Friday, with Peter Wolsley and Thomas Gillespie both training two winners apiece.

– The 2019 Korean Oaks winner Deep Mind has had an interrupted career since winning the fillies’ Classic. She offered little in two starts earlier this year but put that all behind her when romping away with Busan’s Sunday class 2 feature over 1800M.

– On Saturday at Seoul the star of the show was Morfhis, who like Buhwarui Banseok at Busan a day earlier, defied a high impost to see off an excellent class 1 field. Johan Victoire brought the five-year-old Stephen Got Even gelding through just in time to roll Gangtoma on the line in the seven-furlong Class 1 feature with Lil’ Patron and Spring Back a further two-lengths in arrears. Morfhis moves on to 7 wins from 22 starts, however, four of those successes have come at Class 1.

– Also, on Saturday, Ji Yong-cheol reached a career milestone when he became the fourth trainer in local racing history to saddle 900 winners. The landmark win came when three-year-old filly Milky Sherry took out the 1700M race 13. Only Kim Young-kwan and Park Dae-heung, along with the now retired Shin Woo-chul, have trained more winners in Korea.

– In breeding news, the Korean Mainland Breeders’ Association will hold its second Two-Year-Old sale of 2020 at the KRA Jangsu Stud Farm this coming Tuesday (June 23rd). A total of 72 lots are being offered with juveniles by Hansen and Take Charge Indy among those likely to be in demand. The

the sale will be streamed live on the KRBC YouTube channel from 10am (KST).

The catalogue can be found online at

http://studbook.kra.co.kr/neweng/html/eng_auction_list.jsp

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.

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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.

Korean Oaks Day 2019: Race-By-Race Preview For Busan & Seoul (May 19)

The 2019 Korean Oaks takes place at Busan Racecourse on Sunday afternoon and a full field of 16 runners are set to assemble for the fillies’ Classic. There are 6 races in total at Busan from 12:40 to 17:10 while at Seoul there are eleven races from 10:45 to 18:00.

Special Stone Korea Racing Authority

Last year, Special Stone won the Korean Oaks for Seoul (Pic KRA)

Dae Wan Ma is set to be hot favourite for the Oaks. She ran 2nd in the KRA Cup Mile having won Seoul’s Classic trial a month earlier. She’s been to Busan before when 2nd in last December’s Breeders’ Cup and she is the one to beat.

Last Sunday we saw an odds-on chance go down in the Korea Derby, however, and Dae Wan Ma is no sure thing. The beaten jockey last week was Yoo Seung-wan and he arrives in Busan with the chance to put things right on Smile Girl, winner of Seoul’s Oaks trial in April.

Peter Wolsley’s Top Of World looks firmly in the hunt as well, while Mighty Power and Amazon Yeogeol are also in contention for two trainers, Baik Kwang-yeol and Kim Young-kwan, who are in danger of having an unusually fallow Classic series. Doctor Thunder, so disappoitning in the Cup Mile, is the wildcard. Here is horse by horse for the full cards at both Seoul & Busan:

Seoul Race 1: Class 5 (1200M) Handicap / KRW 40 Million

  1. GEUMSEONG YEOWANG – Best of 5th from 10 starts so far. Drops back in trip having finished last on muddy track over 1300M three weeks ago. Hard to recommend here.
  2. BEST MAID – 10th behind Tri Thunder at 1300M on April 20th but was 4th on most recent effort at this distance in March. Minor money at best.
  3. ECO BROTHER – Winner on debut at this distance on wet track in December. 10th and 6th in two starts at this level since. Better draw today and outside place chance.
  4. GOLD PERILLA – Up in class having registered his maiden win at the ninth time of asking making all over this trip on April 21st. More to find in this company but solid placing chances again under good apprentice jockey.
  5. UNAK HABIO – Recent form very cold. Only possible angle is he drops back in trip and has a top jockey on board, but neither are enough to make him a recommend.
  6. BLUE FIRE – Still a maiden after ten attempts but has been very close with four runner-up finishes including last time at class and distance. Generally sits just off the pace, top jockey stays on and a big chance here.
  7. PARTY POWER – Makes her 51st start today, and occasionally picks up some minor prize money. Always runs on late but usually leaves a little too much to do and similar is likely today.
  8. NAMJJOK NARA – Her best finishes at this level have been at 1700M and while she carries a light weight here, she wouldn’t seem to have the speed to make an impact.
  9. TRI THUNDER – Winner on debut last September and has been no worse than 6th in six subsequent outings at this level. Back in trip today after a 3rd place over 1300M last time and solid claims.
  10. STRONG CUPID – Yet to finish any better than 9th in six attempts during which she’s been dropped in class to little effect. Avoid.
Selections (6) Blue Fire (9) Tri Thunder (4) Gold Perilla (7) Party Power
Next Best 3, 5
Fast Start 3, 4, 5, 9

 

Seoul Race 2:  Class 6 (1000M) Allowance / KRW 24 Million

  1. EDWIN – Never better than 5th in six starts so far. Back in trip today but slow starter and easy to toss here.
  2. TOUR BROTHER – Looked ready to score at the end of last year and was sent off odds-on favourite in consecutive races finishing 3rd in the first of them but last in the second having hung-out throughout. Last seen running 8th over 1300M in March. Talented but unreliable.
  3. RAON HAWK – Offered very little in three starts so far and will need some significant improvement here.
  4. JEONGMUN SARANG – Ran 2nd in valuable juvenile race in September but struggled against the track’s best of his crop a month later. Disappointing 4th when hot favourite at the end of March but with a good start, can go close here.
  5. JEONGDONG SARANG – Only two starts so far – sent off at nearly 400/1 last time and ran like it. Booking of Alan Munro the positive and while he might need to get off and push, that might be enough to find the minor money here.
  6. SEOUL CITY – Getting closer across three outings and was a good and close 2nd at the distance last time having led until close to home. Can get on pace again and could go one better.
  7. WONDERFUL BRAVO – No better than 7th in seven tries and comes in after a slow 7th of 12 over this distance last time. Much improvement required.
  8. DALLINEUN ACE – Yet to offer much in the way of speed though recent some modest support two weeks ago after a promising trial. Promptly finished 9th of 12. This is weak though so improvement possible.
Selections (4) Jeongmun Sarang (6) Seoul City (2) Tour Brother (5) Jeongdong Sarang
Next Best 1, 8
Fast Start 2, 4, 6

 

Seoul Race 3: Class 6 (1200M) Allowance / KRW 40 Million

  1. NONGBON JARANG – Last all the way round on debut last October and not seen again until trialling underwhelmingly at the end of March. Watching brief here.
  2. REGINA – Managed a 4th place two starts ago but struggled on latest a month ago at this trip. Has been slowly away on three of her four starts so far and is an outsider here.
  3. JACKS KHAN – Hasn’t beaten many in four attempts so far and was sent back to trial after latest effort in March. Leave well alone.
  4. JEONGMUN SAI – 3rd on debut at 1000M was followed by a 2nd place over 1300M when he led until the closing stages. Back in trip by half a furlong today and a big chance of leading all the way.
  5. WIND SKY – Much improved 2nd over 1300M last start. Will need to find more here but can be considered for further progress.
  6. BLUE BAND – “Full” brother to President’s Cup and Grand Prix Stakes winner Indie Band, he’s not quite lived up to that so far with 5th and 7th from two starts. Showed prominently over 1300M last start before weakening in closing stages. Could improve at 1200M today.
  7. MEISEI DREAM – First-time state but she just scraped through a trial in the slowest possible qualifying time. Watching brief here.
  8. COLORS DE LAGO – Some high hopes on debut after a positive trial and has offered glimpses. 5th of 9 at this distance last time and can improve.
  9. SONGAM RAPUNZEL – Debut-maker. Nothing special in trials although it was run at a slow pace. Others are preferred.
  10. HAWK ARIRANG – Has shown slight but noticeable improvement across three starts so far and was 6th of 12 last time, running on creditably. Can improve again.
  11. GOLD LEVEL – Getting slightly better and comes in following back to back 5th place finishes. Top jockey on again and a chance in this company.
Selections (4) Jeongmun Sai (5) Wind Sky (6) Blue Band (11) Gold Level
Next Best 8, 10
Fast Start 4, 6

 

Seoul Race 4: Class 5 (1200M) Handicap / KRW 40 Million

  1. UNJU YEONGUNG – Yet to finish any better than 7th in nine attempts and it would be no surprise if that record was maintained here.
  2. RAISING ANGEL – A winner on debut last December, her worst in four subsequent starts was her only other try at further than 1000M. Nevertheless, she beat a couple of these last time and is well drawn to get on pace. A chance.
  3. BLESSING ROAD – Six starts at this level since maiden win last September with a best of 3rd. 5th behind some useful ones last time and jockey booking a plus.
  4. SPECIAL GOLD – First start since last August. She trialled adequately enough in April but others likely to be favoured first-up here.
  5. SUJEBI – Recent form has been uninspiring. Did manage a 5th place at 1000M in February but has struggled when asked to go any further.
  6. PRIVATE MAN – Still a maiden but no worse than 5th in six starts to date. Up in class after latest near miss but should be competitive.
  7. HUNTER HAWK – Finished last on his return from five months out in April. Never any better than 3rd and up against it here.
  8. P.K. JEONSA – Got promoted to this class with back to back runner-up finishes in February and March but was 8th on first try at the level on April 21st. Should be on pace and worth another chance today.
  9. VICTORY KING – Up in class today after consecutive 2nd place finishes. No worse than 6th in five outings to date. Will need to improve but not impossible.
  10. RICH RULES – Winner on debut and then 3rd in both subsequent starts at this class. Up in trip for the first time today, the draw isn’t ideal but is she gets away well, she has a real chance.
  11. MAENGSAN HERO – Yet to finish in the top three, he’s an import who has been dropped from class 4 but hasn’t found things much more amenable.
Selections (10) Rich Rules (2) Raising Angel (9) Victory King (8) P.K. Jeonsa
Next Best 6, 4
Fast Start 2, 3, 8, 10

 

Seoul Race 5: Class 3 (1400M) Handicap / KRW 75 Million

  1. DAEGUN CHEONHA – Never worse than 3rd, he got his maiden win over 1300M last start. Up in class today, he looks well in again and can win again.
  2. MALIBU GINGER – 3rd behind Crazy Wiki and M J Power over 1200M on April 20th. Previous effort at this distance didn’t go well but can be given a chance here.
  3. NEUNGRYEOK SIDAE – Class and distance winner at the end of March and followed up with 5th of 10 on a wet track three weeks ago. Apprentice jockey gets the weight back down today and she’ll be in the hunt.
  4. FLYING BOSS – Still a maiden after fourteen attempts but he’s had plenty of near-misses. However, he comes in having finished 11th behind several of these last time so has plenty of form to overturn.
  5. CHEUNGDAM GENIE – Maiden winner in February but weakened on first try at class and distance in tough company on April 13th. Worth another chance here.
  6. GOLDEN DIAL – Hung inwards throughout last start which was his first at this class. With better manner can improve today.
  7. M J POWER – 2nd behind Crazy Wiki over 1200M on April 20th, coming from well off the pace. Attempts this trip for the first time and could make for an interesting outsider.
  8. MUNHAK TIGER – First start since running 3rd behind M J Power in February and first at this distance. Can come from off the pace and finish strongly.
  9. CRAZY WIKI – Beat four of these on his way to a four-length win at this class over 1200M on April 20th. First try at this distance today, he’ll be on speed again and a repeat isn’t impossible.
  10. MATCH CAPTAIN – Struggled in the TJK Trophy last month, losing a shoe in the process. Going well before that though so don’t completely write-off.
  11. MUNHAK TSUNAMI – 4th behind Crazy Wiki at 1200M on April 20th when sent off as favourite. Today’s distance should suit better, and he can overturn that form.
  12. JEOKBYEOK SHINHWA – A winner at this class over 1400M on April 21st. He carries an additional 4kg today but could potentially repeat. Will look to come from well off the pace so draw not a problem.

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