Seoul Saturday: Race-By-Race Preview (November 7)

There is a big 12-race card at Seoul on Saturday running through from 10:45 to 18:00. Attendance is permitted but must be pre-booked through the My Card app. Here are the previews:

There will be punters- though not this many and not like this – in Seoul Racecourse this Saturday

Race 1: Class 6 (1000M) Allowance / KRW 25 Million

The Korean-bred maidens line up in the first over the short course where the main chances appear to have drawn wide. (10) CHEONGDAM WICKED was good on debut when finishing third behind White Queen over this distance. Connections then elected to place the filly in an open class race for the two-year-olds where she found the task far too hard. She looks a very good chance to notch her first win in this easier company today. (12) TOUGH MAN lines up for his first run after trialing up in good style. The Take Charge Indy colt trialed up in good style when clocking 62.2 seconds for the 1000m on a dry surface. (5) CHEONSANGUI YEOIN was disappointing last time out when well beaten but it was the filly’s first attempt over 1200m. She drops back to the 1000m where she has placed on both attempts over the short course. Debutant (4) LEAD VOCAL looks capable of a minor placing based on her trial performance. She will have her first career start and jump from a good draw.

Selections(10) Cheongdam Wicked (12) Tough Man (5) Cheonsangui Yeoin (4) Lead Vocal
Next Best7, 2
Fast Start5, 10

Race 2: Class 6 (1200M) Allowance / KRW 25 Million

Maidens tackle the 1200M here. (7) SUPER CHAMPION looks to be superior. He ran a good 2nd in a decent time on debut over 1000M and the additional furlong shouldn’t be too problematic. (4) BLACK CAR weakened a little on debut in August but previously posted a fast time in a trial. He could well have come on for having some racing experience and should improve today. (9) GREEN CHOEGANG and (10) FIGHTING GIRL have faced each other twice already with little between them on either occasion. The latter posted a fast time in an October trial and may be the one to improve a bit more here. First-timer (5) SMART PINK looked much better in the second of two October trials she undertook. She is well drawn to get forward early and can go close.

Selections(7) Super Champion (4) Black Car (10) Fighting Girl (5) Smart Pink
Next Best9, 8
Fast Start4, 5, 7

Race 3: Class 6 (1200M) Allowance / KRW 25 Million

The third on the card is a tough race for punters to digest with no standout selections. (7) SINUI ADEUL goes on top based on his effort last start when running home fairly over the 1000m. He was beaten a long way when finishing fourth on that day but this looks an easier assignment. (8) CHEONGSAN GANGHO looks an each-way play after settling well back last time out and hitting the line fairly. Rider Victoire will need to bustle his mount out of the gates to sit closer to the speed if he wants the two-year-old to be a winning chance. (3) JEONGMUN POKJU lines up for his second start after a midfield performance when debuting over this distance. His debut was back in August and it is fair to say you can expect some improvement at his second start. (1) DANANEUN SUCCESS did place at his last start when second over 1300m. The query is the time away from the track as his last start was back in October of last year. He showed us nothing in his recent barrier trial but we will include him on the effort of his last start albeit quite some time ago.

Selections(7) Sinui Adeul (8) Cheongsan Gangho (3) Jeongmun Pokju (1) Dananeun Success
Next Best9, 10
Fast Start1, 3

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

A really good looking race for the level with very few of the twelve being easy tosses. (1) CHOTOMA is perhaps the one to beat. A good winner on debut, he ran 3rd on his first try at this level on August 22nd, recording the fastest time among these at this distance by some margin. From the inside he can sit handy and could be too strong. (11) P.K. DOLPUNG got his maiden win at this class over 1300M on August 29th with a front-running performance. He’s drawn a bit wider today but he still has claims. (7) NEVER WALK ALONE ran well for 4th on his first try at this class and is already a winner at the distance while (9) ROYAL GHOST remains a maiden but already has two 3rd place finishes at this class and won’t be overawed here. (5) RAON DIA found herself overmatched against the track’s best juveniles last start but showed plenty of speed on debut and can be a factor here. Among those up in class, (2) SUN OF STORM, (4) WIND HILL and (12) BOBBY BLADE were all good winners last time out and none would be a surprise.

Selections(1) Chotoma (12) Bobby Blade (4) Wind Hill (7) Never Walk Alone
Next Best11, 5, 9
Fast Start3, 4, 5, 10, 11

Race 5: Class 6 (1300M) Allowance / KRW 25 Million

Another maiden for punters to dissect but this time the Korean-bred gallopers will go over 1300m. (5) SEONGSIL MONEY looks hardest to beat and will likely start favourite. The Dialed In filly has never finished worse than fourth including a last start second when clocking a quick time on a good track. Expect rider David Breux to settle in the first three and finish the race off strong. (11) GRACE QUEEN is another that has performed good enough to suggest she can run into the money. She has finished in the top four at all three starts. The downside is her wide draw but with the extra half furlong today she will have more time to wind up. (9) HEUNG DREAM looks to be the likely pacemaker and this looks his easiest assignment to date. The Testa Matta two-year-old is expected to cross early and may take some running down. (3) CHEONDUNG GISE comes off a last start placing in July over 1200m. The chestnut finished off strong on that occasion and another forward performance would not surprise.

Selections(5) Seongsil Money (11) Grace Queen (9) Heung Dream (3) Cheondung Gise
Next Best7, 6
Fast Start4, 8, 9

Race 6: Class 5 (1300M) Handicap / KRW 40 Million

No fewer than four of these are up in class having recorded their maiden wins on their respective latest starts. (10) UNPARALLELED was always prominent but took things up late and ran on pleasingly on debut over 1200M on August 29th. The gate is only one wider than last time and he has every chance of maintaining his 100% record. (5) SANTTEUTHANSEUCHIM excelled when finally given a bit of distance to play with and over the same trip today can be a danger again while (6) AMAZING WHIZ also won impressively at this trip las start and if Kim Jeong-jun can get him on or close to the speed again, he will be in the frame. As for those with experience at this level, (1) GOOD WONDER can perhaps be forgiven her latest effort. She is much better drawn today and is capable of good times. (8) CHALLENGE SOCKS another who should be in the hunt.

Selections(10) Unparalleled (6) Amazing Whiz (5) Santteuthanseuchim (1) Good Wonder
Next Best8, 4
Fast Start1, 6, 10

Race 7: Class 4 (1300M) Handicap / KRW 60 Million

The seventh will see some progressive types go over the 1300m at Class Four level. (8) RAON FASHION obliterated a Class Five field last time out when winning by a massive margin. He proved on that occasion that he can carry weight when he lumped 57kg to victory. He will have to carry 57.5kg in this event but based on the last start effort that should not be an issue. (6) DREAM PO RE is another progressive type who has won two from three with a minor placing as well. The Shackleford colt has sat on speed at all three starts to date and from barrier six he is likely to find the rail before Raon Fashion. (3) WONDERFUL STORM has won two from three and is proven over this distance. The Menifee colt was a last start winner on a sloppy rated track but also clocked a good time when debuting over 1000m on a dry track. With a good draw he needs to be treated as an each-way prospect. The US bred (10) OKRYONG looks next best after some reasonable performances in this grade in the mid-part of the year.

Selections(8) Raon Fashion (6) Dream Po Re (3) Wonderful Storm (10) Okryong
Next Best5, 1
Fast Start1, 6, 8

Race 8: Class 4 (1200M) Allowance / KRW 60 Million

(1) SUN BOOM made all to score his maiden win at class and distance last time out in August. He has a similarly tough impost today but if he can get away well from the inside, he has every chance of repeating. After doing very little on debut, (4) MUNHAK ZENYATTA came out to record a very good 2nd place on her reappearance. She was a long way behind an excellent winner but still managed to record a very fast time and if she brings that form to the races today, will go very close. The biggest threat, however, could well be the only first-time starter. (5) MEDICI STORY has been through two race trials and has won both of them with ease in competitive times. The Song Moon-gil/Kim Yong-geun combination will tempt many and the More Than Ready colt could well score first up today. (7) LEVEL TAP and (11) MAX RUN, the latter a very good 2nd on debut, although somewhat unfavorably drawn today, are others who should go close.

Selections(5) Medici Story (1) Sun Boom (4) Munhak Zenyatta (11) Max Run
Next Best7, 2
Fast Start1, 3, 5, 10, 11

Race 9: Class 4 (1200M) Handicap / KRW 60 Million

An extremely tough race to assess with many live chances in the ninth. (6) MENI CHAMP goes on top coming off a good performance in this grade back in August. The Menifee colt should be able to sit behind the leading division as per previous runs and let down with a solid burst in the straight. He looks for his third win at start number nine. (7) HAEK SOCKS is building a nice record winning two of his three starts to date. This is a step up in grade but he’s a bombproof horse who does everything right. He will give you a good run for your money if you like him. (2) JEONGMUN SUMMIT finished second last start in this grade over the same distance. There is a slight query with the extra 2kg he carries today putting him at the top of the weight scale with 57kg. He has drawn well and should be able to kick up early on and hold a prominent position. (3) YEONGHWA FLYING has won three from five but struggled at his most recent effort back in August when capitulating in the run home. She will appreciate the 4kg claim of Lim Da Bin.

Selections(6) Meni Champ (7) Haek Socks (2) Jeongmun Summit (3) Yeonghwas Flying
Next Best5, 4
Fast Start3, 7, 8

Race 10: Class 5 (1400M) Allowance / KRW 40 Million

Trainer Song Moon-gil and jockey Kim Yong-geun team up once more and they really should be winning here. (6) BLUE K was a good maiden win over 1300M two starts back before running a strong 2nd over this class and distance behind Jangsan Bada. She’s not been seen since July but the Testa Matta filly looks a cut above her rivals here. (7) GEUMSEONG ACE steps up in class and slightly in distance following a good maiden win at start number four over 1300M. She’ll need to improve significantly if she is not beat the favourite but has claims over all the rest. (8) DONGJJOK GLORY and (10) FEDERAL KING both come in off useful 2nd place finishes at this distance and can be aiming to hit the board once more. (1) MANSE has been knocking on the door of the places at this level and could sneak some money too.

Selections(6) Blue K (7) Geumseong Ace (10) Federal king (8) Dongjjok Glory
Next Best1, 2
Fast Start6, 7

Race 11: Class 2 (1400M) Handicap / KRW 90 Million

The eleventh on the card is a brilliant race for Korean racing fans to watch as there are plenty of up and coming types. The ever-impressive (12) LEGEND STORM is first up over 1400m after a dominant victory back in June. He is a versatile type and there is a lot to like about the Officer colt who is likely to work forward early from the outside gate. The three-year-old has won four from six and with just 52kg on his back he a looks a good bet in a market where there should be some value on offer. (10) MIGHTY GO is another building a good record winning four of his five race starts. The US import is another that likes to race on speed and Ham Wan-sik will get the plum steer with no Alan Munro available. He won over this distance last time out back in late August and must be considered a winning chance. (7) MUNHAK ARIARI should be considered in your selections on the basis of his last win albeit back in February. He is a class and distance winner which is in his favour compared to the aforementioned horses who line up in this grade for the first time. (6) WANG BEOTKKOT is another impressive last start winner in this grade who clocked a very good time. The Discreet Cat gelding will have to lump 58kg as a result and there is a slight query with the 1400m.

Selections(12) Legend Storm (10) Mighty Go (7) Munhak Ariari (6) Wang Beotkkot
Next Best2, 8
Fast Start7, 8, 12

Race 12: Class 3 (1800M) Allowance / KRW 75 Million

(2) HAENGBOK WANGJA registered his maiden win at the eighth time of asking on his latest start in August and it had been coming. The Daredevil colt had previously finished runner-up to a couple of very useful types and he looked very good in victory. He steps up to 1800M today but has run well at 1700M before and he is the one to beat. (9) SURISURIMA came from off the pace for a good win 1300M on her latest start. She was previously beaten by Haengbok Wangja over 1700M but the only filly in the race has solid placing chances here. (11) MOONHAK EMPIRE beat a couple of these last start over 1700M and looks nicely in again today. (3) FLASH JET and (1) MALIBU GINGER are others who can at least aim for the placings.

Selections(2) Haengbok Wangja (9) Surisurima (3) Flash Jet (11) Moonhak Empire
Next Best1, 12
Fast Start1, 5, 6

Busan Friday: Race-By-Race Preview (November 6)

Punters returned to the racecourses in limited numbers last weekend and this week, with prize money restored to normal levels, Busan begins the weekend’s proceedings on Friday with an 11-race card from 11:30 to 18:00. The races will be on overseas simulcast in the usual places:

It’s Friday. It’s Busan.

Race 1: Class 6 (1000M) Allowance / KRW 25 Million

A maiden to kick things off with two colts taking on nine fillies. Seven have raced before with (3) HAPPY SECRET having posted the fastest time among them at this distance. That was back in January but while she has neither raced nor trialed since August, the featherweight she carries on her back today should put her right into contention. (10) WORLD REMEMBER ran 6th of 14 over 1200M three weeks ago but led for much of the race. The drop back in trip plus the jockey booking means we can have some confidence of improvement here. (9) WONDERFUL SMARTY too has tired late on in her past two and should appreciate the shorter distance. Of the four first-timers, (7) YEONGGWANGUI ROAD looked sharp if a little green when positing a decent time in his trial while (1) MYEONGSEONG MAGIC also looks set to go well first-up.

Selections(7) Yeonggwangui Road (3) Happy Secret (10) World Remember (9) Wonderful Smarty
Next Best1, 6
Fast Start5, 7, 9, 10

Race 2: Class 6 (1000M) Allowance / KRW 25 Million

The second event on the card is an all-aged maiden over the short course. (9) MAGICAL SONG will line up for her debut run after an encouraging trial. The daughter of Purge showed early natural speed and coasted through the line in good style. The time for her trial was good and to the eye she looked as if she had more to give. (1) ICE DANCE is another debutant who trialed up in good style. The Thunder Moccasin filly jumped away only fairly in her trial before quickening and running through the line in good style. When comparing her trial time to her opposition here, she looks to be one of the main chances engaged. (6) SINBARAM GIL will line up for her third start after some reasonable performances back in the mid-part of the year. She hasn’t had the early speed to match the leaders in her races to date, expect her to finish off strong. (4) BAEDARI SUNSHINE is looking to break maiden status at start number six. He placed in similar company back in May but the two runs since then have only been fair. 

Selections(9) Magical Song (1) Ice Dance (6) Sinbaram Gil (4) Baedari Sunshine
Next Best11, 2
Fast Start4, 9

Race 3: Class 6 (1200M) Allowance / KRW 25 Million

(6) GOOD SOCKS ran 3rd on debut in a fast time over 1000M back in July. She’s not been seen since and today’s conditions will be very different. However, the Kim Young-kwan/Djordje Perovic combination is a difficult one to overlook and she is the pick here. (11) GALAXY ROAD debuted in the same race running 6th. The step up in trip may suit and the only colt in the race can improve here. (1) NEW LUX has shown improvement across three outings so far. She came from well off the pace to run 4th last start recording the best time at this distance of any of these and look for her to run on strong late once more. (2) LUCKY MAGIC backs up quickly having put in an indifferent run two weeks ago but can improve here. (10) MAGIC STEALTH too has been knocking on the door of the places for a while and is another who should finish strongly.

Selections(6) Good Socks (1) New Lux (2) Lucky Magic (10) Magic Stealth
Next Best11, 9
Fast Start3, 5, 6, 7

Race 4: Class 6 (1200M) Allowance / KRW 25 Million

The fourth event is a competitive maiden event where a case can be made for many runners. (5) PERDIDO FASHION has had four trials before lining up in his debut race. He has been prepared to debut twice this year but has been denied his chance due to the Covid hiatuses. His most recent trial was very good when clocking a fast time, coasting through the line with minimal urging. Two-year-old (3) BANJIUI GIJEOK finished off in good style at her debut run over the 1000m. It looks as if she will appreciate the step up to the six furlongs and should be considered a winning chance. (11) CATCH THE VICTORY debuted back in August in a two-year-old event where the Hansen colt finished third. He looks another that should appreciate the extra furlong today. Djordje Perovic will have to produce a gem of a ride to overcome barrier twelve. (2) BABY LINE has had the two starts for two minor placings. The Officer colt is likely to sit in the first couple or runners early in the race, he should have every chance as they turn for home.

Selections(5) Perdido Fashion (3) Banjiui Gijeok (11) Catch The Victory (2) Baby Line
Next Best1, 4
Fast Start1, 2

Race 5: Class 6 (1300M) Allowance / KRW 25 Million

Tricky race this with plenty looking ready to step up. There is just the solitary debut-maker here but it does catch the eye. (4) ENDLESS RUNNING ran 2nd in a trial in a good time just a couple of weeks ago and with Perovic aboard will warrant consideration. (1) WONDERFUL SECRET ran 4th on debut just two weeks ago leading in the early part of the race before running on adequately enough. He should have come on for the run and can go closer today, most likely leading again. (8) TRIPLE STORM has given himself too much to do on each of three appearances to date but has run on strongly each time. He has an additional half furlong to play with today and can get closer. (10) MOVIE BROTHER has a 2nd and a 3rd to his name already and should be at least aiming for another place here. (9) TOHAM STRONG is the most experienced in the race and while that’s not really a good thing in a maiden, should have enough about him to get close.

Selections(1) Wonderful Secret (4) Endless Running (8) Triple Storm (10) Movie Brother
Next Best9, 5, 3
Fast Start1, 3, 4, 7, 11

Race 6: Class 6 (1400M) Allowance / KRW 25 Million

A field of twelve maiden gallopers will line up over 1400m in the sixth event on the card. (6) CHEONGDAM DRIVE lines up for his first run since August when finishing third over the same distance. The Rock Hard ten colt looks as if he will be one of the pacemakers in the race, showing plenty of early speed last time out. Expect the three-year-old to cross in the early stages and take some running down. (2) INDIAN PARTY improved at his most recent effort back in August when settling in the leading division and eventually running third. From barrier two rider Jo In-Kwon may should be able to kick up and hold a prominent position. (4) STAR EYE lines up for his second start after rattling home on debut in a race over the six furlongs. The Violence colt will naturally appreciate the step up to the 1400m. Lee Hyo-sik needs to ensure the deficit at the top of the straight is not too great to reel in. (11) ADELE FIRST is yet to place after four career starts but looks capable of running into some minor money. The Bob And John filly will line up over the 1400m for the first time today.

Selections(6) Cheongdam Drive (2) Indian Party (4) Star Eye (11) Adele First
Next Best9, 3
Fast Start2, 6

Race 7: Class 5 (1400M) Handicap / KRW 40 Million

Another race with plenty of live chances. (2) TOP LUCKY was a front-running 2nd at class and distance three weeks ago and is nicely drawn to get on speed again. She has been a touch inconsistent over five starts so far but should be close. A wide draw doesn’t harm the prospects of (12) MAGIC PARTNER. The Tapizar gelding has the best time of any of these at this distance and should run on strong late on. (1) TOP MATE is up in class following back to back runner-up finishes from his first two runs. He takes a considerable step up in trip too but looks to have scope for more development and should be a factor. Also up in class is (10) DOCTOR KHAN. He was indifferent on debut at this trip in July but looks ready for another crack following a 3rd and then a maiden win back at 1200M. (9) BEAUTIFUL GALLOP is another serious contender having run on well for 2nd place at 1300M last start and is nicely in the weights today.

Selections(10) Doctor Khan (2) Top Lucky (12) Magic Partner (1) Top Mate
Next Best9, 8
Fast Start2, 7

Race 8: Class 5 (1600M) Allowance / KRW 40 Million

The eighth race will a very competitive Class Five event take place. (3) PAI BLADE is the on top selection after backing up his maiden victory with a good performance to finish second over the 1400m. The four-year-old is yet to finish worse than third from four starts and should handle the step-up to the mile with ease. (2) JEONSEOLUI FIGHT handed in a good performance last time out to finish runner-up to Sky Win over the mile. The galloper’s consistency sees him line up in Class5 company without a maiden win yet. He gets a great chance to sit just off speed and run over the top of his rivals in the final stages. (6) MISS ADELE is another yet to win but has shown glimpses of promise in her eleven start career to date. She lined up in the inaugural running of the Luna Stakes last start for the fillies, where she was severely outclassed. With fresh legs she is capable of running into the money. (4) PORRIMA has broken the heart of many punters in her six start career to date. The Old Fashioned filly has placed on four occasions and with just 51kg on her back she must be considered.

Selections(3) Pai Blade (2) Jeonseolui Fight (6) Miss Adele (4) Porrima
Next Best7, 8
Fast Start3, 4

Race 9: Class 4 (1200M) Handicap / KRW 60 Million

(9) NICE ONE steps rapidly up in class having won his latest two in fine style. Today sees a significantly stiffer assignment but the manner of his last start win at this distance suggests he needs to be taken seriously. Four of these raced each other at class and distance back on August 28th. (4) GOOD THUNDER came out the best of them that day with a good 2nd place. He has won over this distance and has never finished worse than 5th in seven outings. While he carries an additional 2kg today, he still has solid claims. (8) ACE BOOM ran 4th in that race and can aim to match or better that today. (11) VEGA THUNDER has just the one win from nine starts but has finished runner-up on no fewer than six occasions. The win might be beyond him again but don’t rule him out of going close once more. (1) DAEDONG GISANG and (3) FINE TRUMPET are others in the hunt while (6) QUEEN OF THE WORLD was overmatched in the Oaks but should find today’s company more amenable.

Selections(4) Good Thunder (9) Nice One (11) Vega Thunder (8) Ace Boom
Next Best3, 1, 6
Fast Start6, 3, 9

Race 10: Class 4 (1200M) Allowance / KRW 60 Million

A field of twelve will face the starter in the tenth where there appears to be a handful of chances. The win of (3) AKER’S DREAM back in August was very good. The Discreet Cat colt clocked a good time when taking up the lead and never being caught. He stays in the same grade but will carry an additional 4kg. He goes over the same distance once again and looks a great chance of back to back wins. (6) CHEAT KEY comes off a last start second in this grade behind Black Eagle Wind back in August. The import normally races in the first four or so runners and he should get the chance to do so once again with limited pace engaged. A maiden win does not look too far away. (10) HANBIT YEONGGWANG has finished second at her past three starts. The consistent type has shown a liking for the sprint distances. She gets in well in the weight scale with just the 54kg on her back. (9) ROCKY SKY will line up for his first run since January. The Sky Mesa gelding trialed up in September clocking a good time. Keep the three-year-old safe in your novelty bets.

Selections(3) Aker’s Dream (6) Cheat Key (10) Hanbit Yeonggwang (9) Rocky Sky
Next Best8, 2
Fast Start3, 6, 10

Race 11: Class 3 (1800M) Allowance / KRW 75 Million

(2) RETURN OF SUBSIDY ran a useful 5th on his first try at this distance in August. He doesn’t win out of turn but the booking of a promising apprentice jockey takes 4kg off his back this time around and he has claims here to go very close. The experienced pair of (6) GANGHAN JILJU and (4) GYEONGJUUI DUREBAK came home 3rd and 4th when they raced each other at class and distance at the end of August. Both are very capable and despite the weights they carry, they should both be competing here. (1) GWANGHWAMUN SIDAE was a touch disappointing on his latest appearance back in August but he has won at this distance in the past and is worth another chance here. (9) ORYONG has plenty of quality and while he hasn’t been at his best in his recent appearances, is a very capable type and can’t be discounted. (8) CURLIN TIME and (12) MALIBU BYEOL are among others in the frame.

Selections(2) Return Of Subsidy (4) Gyeongjuui Durebak (1) Gwanghwamun Sidae (6) Ganghan Jilju
Next Best8, 12, 3, 10
Fast Start1, 4

Take Two: Limited Number of Spectators To Be Admitted To Korean Racecourses From Friday

A second attempt at admitting a small number of racegoers to Korean racecourses and off-track betting centers will begin this weekend. Permission was previously granted in late July for a partial reopening but was rescinded one day before the scheduled start date.

Could closed-door racing finally be coming to an end?

While new COVID-19 cases in the country continue to hover between 50-120 per day, Korea nevertheless lowered its social distancing guidelines to the lowest level in mid-October as it seeks to manage the virus while enabling parts of the economy that have been shuttered, to reopen.

Fans were immediately admitted to football, baseball and basketball stadiums. Two weeks of attendance at those sports have now passed without incident and permission remains in place for a partial re-opening of the racecourses.

From Friday, up to 20% of the average attendance will be permitted to enter the Seoul, Busan and Jeju Racecourses while 10% of capacity will be allowed at Off-Track Betting Centers (OCBs). The exception is the OCBs at Bucheon and at the Walker Hill in Seoul, both of which will remain closed for the time being.

All seating will be allocated and punters must make a reservation one day in advance using the “My Card” betting application. No walk-up admission will be available at either the racecourses or OCBs. Masks will be mandatory.

It it goes ahead it will mean that Friday’s card at Jeju will mark the first legal betting on horse racing in Korea since February 22nd. Only horse owners were permitted to enter the track during the behind-closed-doors summer meeting. Permission was granted in late July for a partial reopening but was rescinded one day before the planned start.

This weekend, racing will be conducted at Jeju on Friday, Busan on Saturday and Seoul on Sunday for the same reduced prize money that has been raced for at the closed-doors Friday meetings over the past two weeks. Thoroughbred races will be run only over 1200M, 1400M and 1800M. It is hoped that a more normal schedule, as well as international simulcasting, will be permitted from one week later.

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.

Behind Closed Doors, Low Stakes, No Wagering Racing To Start Friday

Racing – of a kind – will resume in Korea on Friday with both the thoroughbred tracks at Seoul and Busan, as well as the pony racecourse on Jeju hosting race meetings. The meetings will take place behind closed doors for significantly reduced prize money. There will initially be no wagering either locally or internationally. Races will only be held on Fridays.

Following a four-month hiatus in the first half of the year, racing was abandoned again at the end of August. The purpose of these race meetings is to support connections and horsemen who have kept horses in work throughout the prolonged shutdowns. It was felt that offering prize-money – albeit at a significantly reduced level – was the best way to distribute the money while keeping the industry ticking over so it is in the best shape possible if and when a normal resumption becomes possible.

Class 1 thoroughbred races – the top level of racing – will have a total purse of 40 Million Won (compared to 110 Million normally) while Class 6 – the lowest level – will keep its usual purse of 22 Million Won. Across all levels there will be a more even distribution of prize-money among place-getters with each winner receiving 33% of the total purse compared to 58% in normal circumstances. Thoroughbred races will be run over three distances only; 1200M, 1400M and 1800M. All races will be run under allowance conditions with set weights according to ratings bands.

Races will begin at Seoul at 9am. Although closed to the public, race cards will be published on the KRA’s official website as will results and (hopefully) race videos.

Korea unexpectedly lowered its social distancing alert to “level 1” earlier this week. This has enabled spectators to return to baseball and football stadiums and means there is an outside chance of some spectators being admitted to the track from the first week of November (racing needs other sports to have successfully completed at least two weeks of fans in attendance). If this were to happen, then more normal weekend racing with wagering would be able to resume. We have been here before though.

Four-Time President’s Cup Winner Triple Nine Has Been Retired

Triple Nine, a record-breaking four-time President’s Cup winner and Korea’s all-time leading money earner, has been retired. The eight-year-old last ran in the Herald Business Cup in June and with racing in Korea on another indefinite hiatus, the decision was taken to retire him.

Triple Nine (Picture: Alex Cairns)

With fifteen wins from thirty-three starts in Korea and 4.7 Billion Won (US$4Million) in prize money, Triple Nine retires as one of the most successful and significant horses in local racing history. He won five Korean Group 1 races, including an unprecedented four consecutive Presidents Cups from 2015 to 2018 as well as the Grand Prix Stakes in 2018.

Bred by Isidore Farm on Jeju Island, and placed by owner Choi Byung-bu with trainer Kim Young-kwan at Busan, Triple Nine ran 2nd on debut as a juvenile in late November of 2014. He then won four in a row before being beaten by Yeongcheon Ace in the Korean Derby the following May. He would be runner-up again in the final leg of that year’s Triple Crown with stablemate Rock Band besting him in the Minister’s Cup.

Triple Nine in the President’s Cup winner’s circle for the 4th time (Pic: KRA)

There weren’t many more setbacks. In October of 2015, Triple Nine turned the tables on Rock Band to secure his first President’s Cup, a race he would go on to make his own. In the 2016 edition he defeated another stablemate, the Triple Crown winner Power Blade before equaling Dangdae Bulpae’s feat of three wins in the race in 2017 with Power Blade once more coming home in 2nd place. A year later he came from off the pace to score his historic fourth win in what is, Derby aside, the richest race restricted to Korean bred horse.

Triple Nine didn’t only run well against his fellow Korean-bred horses though. He finished in 3rd place behind the Japan-trained pair of Chrysolite and Kurino Star O in the inaugural Korea Cup in 2016 and was again the best of the locally-trained runners in the international race a the following year when 4th to London Town.

In early 2017, Triple Nine joined Power Blade in travelling to the Dubai World Cup Carnival. His 2nd place on his Meydan debut coupled with a 4th and a 5th in Group company earned him a spot in the Godolphin Mile and while that was a race too far, he had proved he could hold his own internationally, a precursor of what was to come from Korea-trained horses both in Dubai and at the Breeders’ Cup in subsequent years.

Across his career, Triple Nine also picked up victories in the Gyeongnam Ilbo and Busan Owners’ Cups but the one that appeared to be eluding him was the Grand Prix Stakes, the traditional season-ending finale in December. He finished 4th in 2015, 2nd in 2016 and 3rd in 2017. In 2018, he got it right, overhauling Cheongdam Dokki and Today in the closing stages to claim victory at the fourth time of asking. Future stars Dolkong and Moonhak Chief were 4th and 6th.

That would ultimately prove to be his final victory. Injury kept him out for the entire 2019 season and while he reappeared earlier this year to run a creditable 3rd in a tune-up race, racing’s enforced shutdown then intervened. His 8th place in the Herald Business behind Cheongdam Dokki in June and then the second shutdown meant that Triple Nine’s racing days were over.

“Triple Nine has had a huge influence on my life” said owner Choi Byung-bu. “He is like a child to me and I am sorry he can’t end his career in a flashy way. I would like to express my gratitude to all those who have supported Triple Nine”.

That “flashy way” would have been an official retirement ceremony on a Sunday afternoon during racing at Busan Racecourse that as a Group 1 winner, Triple Nine would have been entitled to. Instead he quietly exits the scene, initially to Challenger Farm, which is also home to imported stallion Cowboy Cal.

Touch Star Man Too Good In Minister’s Cup as Korean Racing Shuts Down for a Second time

Two and a half months of behind closed doors action was brought to an end of Sunday when Touch Star Man confirmed his status as Champion Three-Year-Old by adding to his KRA Cup Mile win with victory in the final leg of the Triple Crown, the Minister’s Cup at Seoul Racecourse. Following the conclusion of the meeting, Korean racing entered its most uncertain period since the Korean War with the sport going on indefinite hiatus from September after a rise in Coronavirus cases ended any prospect of any spectators – and therefore betting – being permitted for the foreseeable future.

A strong winner of the KRA Cup Mile in early July, Touch Star Man was never a factor in the Derby earlier in August though did rally late on to make it into 5th place. He was dominant in the 2000M Minister’s Cup, however, always racing prominently before leaving his rivals trailing in the home straight to record a four-length win.

It was an extremely turbulent race. After long-shot Miracle Icheon refused to leave the gates, Touch Star Man was involved in an incident himself when he crossed sharply causing a chain reaction that disadvantaged A To Z, Complete Kingdom and Top Day to all be impeded. Jockey Seo Seung-un picked up a five-day ban and was perhaps a touch fortunate that the incident was so early in the race and that his ultimate winning margin was so great.

More was to come on the second corner when at the back of the field, Derby runner-up Raon Tough Man took it upon himself to suddenly try to hurdle the inside rail. He achieved it and continued running on the empty inner-track but left jockey Choi Bum-hyun requiring hospital treatment for three fractured ribs after a heavy fall.

Thankfully the rest of the race passed off without incident and Touch Star Man [Testa Matta – Useung Touch (Menifee)] proved his superiority in the home straight. He moves on to five wins from nine starts. For jockey Seo Seung-un, it was a third win in a Classic race, having taken the KRA Cup Mile on Cheongnyeong Bisang in 2014 and the Korean Oaks on Deep Mind in 2019.

As for trainer Kim Young-kwan, Touch Star Man was his fifth Minister’s Cup winner. His previous ones were Namdo Jeap in 2009, Dongseo Jeongbeol in 2011, Rock Band in 2015 and Power Blade in 2016.

One of very few positives to come out of this wretched year is that the three-year-olds got to have their Triple Crown races (although the fillies have missed out on the Gyeonggi Governor’s Cup, the final leg of the “Tiara” which was scheduled for this coming Sunday).

This year’s juveniles look set to miss out on most, if not all the rest of the season but at Seoul, they gave us a glimpse of what to look out for in next year’s Triple Crown in the inaugural running of the “Rookie Stakes”.

Thirteen juveniles went around in the 1200M test and it was Heungbaragi [Old Fashioned – Grand Marketing (After Market)] who led from gate to wire, just as he had done on debut a month ago. Will he get further? Which of the ones he beat will emerge as threats as the distances get longer? And what about Busan which was due to run its first big juvenile race later? Those are questions about which we can only speculate on the answers.

So what now? The new shutdown will encompass at least all of September and will likely include the Chuseok holiday in the first week of October. After that things will be dependent upon whether there has been an improvement in the Coronavirus situation to the extent that there is a real prospect of spectators being allowed on course or if the legislation to legalise online wagering is making progress.

The majority of KRA staff have been placed on furlough three-days a week, however, trackwork is for now continuing as normal so that if things do go well, the horses are ready to race right away with just a week’s notice to be given for resumption.

Minister’s Cup Sunday Seoul & Busan: Race-By-Race Preview (August 30)

The 2020 Triple Crown concludes at Seoul on Sunday with the running of the Minister’s Cup. There are 12 races at Seoul along with 5 at Busan, both behind closed doors and with no betting. They are likely to be the final race meetings held in Korea for some time.

Seoul Race 1: Class 6 (1300M) Allowance / KRW 40 Million

The two and three-year-old Korean-bred gallopers line up in the first. Cue the Star Wars puns as (1) JEDI looks hardest to beat coming off a nice performance on debut. The Cowboy Cal filly missed the kick last start before reeling off a strong last sectional to finish third behind Cobra Ball. The step-up to the 1300m looks ideal for the filly, who should put them to the lightsaber late (sorry). (6) REMEMBER WHEN looks next best after finishing second in three-year-old company last start over this distance. The Rock Hard Ten filly finished two and a half lengths off the winner when clocking a reasonable time. (10) CHAMPION GAMUN comes out of the same race as Jedi when finishing fourth. The two-year-old was another that hit the line strong but will need to improve to be considered a winning chance. (3) SUNNY K looks next best after finishing fifth at start two. The Officer filly gets a reasonable draw for the first time in her short career.

Selections(1) Jedi (6) Remember When (10) Champion Gamun (3) Sunny K
Next Best4, 11
Fast Start9

Seoul Race 2: Class 6 (1400M) Allowance / KRW 25 Million

Tricky little maiden. (4) POWER MUSIC has the best time of any of these at the distance, achieved when running 3rd on a very wet track in July. She overcame a poor start to run on well for 5th at her latest start three weeks ago at 1300M and if she can just get herself into a decent position this time, she can win. (3) THROUGH THE SKY enters with the most convincing recent form in the race having registered a 2nd and a 3rd in his latest two. He’s well drawn to get on pace early and could go all the way. (11) TYCHE FIRE hasn’t shown much in the way of speed but did run an improved 3rd when stepped up to this trip a couple of weeks ago. Moon Se-young stays aboard and he should have more improvement in him. (8) RUFFIAN PARK and (9) THUNDER WIND are others who should go close.

Selections(3) Through The Sky (11) Tyche Fire (4) Power Music (9) Thunder Wind
Next Best8, 2
Fast Start3, 11

Seoul Race 3: Class 5 (1400M) Handicap / KRW 40 Million

The Class Five gallopers will line up in the third event over 1400m. In a race that lacks form, (9) BIG FACE looks the one to beat albeit the three-year-old still looking to break maiden status. The Simon Pure Colt has placed behind some handy types at his two starts back which puts him in good stead for his assignment. (11) GOSOK PEDAL will be second up after clocking a good time over the 1300m when first up. The Officer colt’s one win was when lining up over this distance. (7) GLOBAL WANGJA is another who is yet to break maiden status. The lightly raced four-year-old will drop back to the 1400m after finishing fifth over the 1700m last time out. His performances over the short course have been good. (4) SUNSHINE TEUKGEUP looks best of the rest but has been stuck in this class for quite some time.

Selections(9) Big Face (11) Gosok Pedal (7) Global Wangja (4) Sunshine Teukgeup
Next Best5, 8
Fast Start7, 9

Seoul Race 4: Class 4 (1300M) Handicap / KRW 60 Million

(9) JEONGMUN BOLT was an outstanding winner over this distance at class 5 level on a relatively dry track back on July 12th. He reappears today up in class but with every chance of scoring again. He will try to lead from the gate. It won’t be easy. (4) ICE PUNCH was a similarly impressive winner at 1200M a month ago. He’s won two of four starts to be rapidly promoted to this level and from a good draw can sit just off the speed. The slight step up in trip today should only be to his benefit. (3) LUISA perhaps has a bit more to find but nevertheless was a good winner at 1200M last start and can be competitive at this level. As for those with experience at this class, (2) LION YEOJE was a touch disappointing on his first crack at it three weeks ago following a good win in July. With Munro on today, he must be given another chance.

Selections(9) Jeongmun Bolt (4) Ice Punch (3) Luisa (2) Lion Yeoje
Next Best5, 10, 11
Fast Start4, 9, 11

Seoul Race 5: Class 4 (1400M) Handicap / KRW 60 Million

The fifth event will see a field of eleven line up over the 1400m. (4) GO UP is the on top selection coming off a good Class Five victory last time out. The Tiz Wonderful filly clocked a very impressive time (1:12.8) considering it was a dry track. She has accounted for herself well in all of her starts and with 53kg on her back she looks the one to beat. Apart from Go Up, you can throw almost the rest of the field into your selections. (10) LUCKY BONGHWA we will make second elect after a fair performance when resuming last time out. The five-year-old entire finished fifth behind Federal Cat when finishing off strong. The lightly weighted galloper should show some improvement second-up. (3) VICTORY KING has been consistent since resuming, finishing in the top five at all three starts. The Magician gelding comes off a fourth placed performance behind Haedeulmoe, not the strongest form but we will include him for his consistency. (5) BACK SPIN looks best of the rest second up after finishing fourth when first up.

Selections(4) Go Up (10) Lucky Bonghwa (3) Victory King (5) Back Spin
Next Best1, 7
Fast Start2, 4, 7

Busan Race 1: Class 6 (1200M) Allowance / KRW 40 Million

A maiden for three-year-olds and down with just four of the eleven having raced before. Of those four, (2) CHOEGANG DRAGON has appeared the most, racing three times already and in the latest of those recorded a 3rd place


Seoul Saturday: Race-By-Race Preview (August 29)

With racing widely expected to have to shut down again from next week onwards as coronavirus reappears in Korea, this time in Seoul, Saturday is likely the penultimate day of action indefinitely in the capital city. The 15-race card is behind closed doors and runs from 10:45 to 18:00.

Race 1: Class 4 (1000M) Allowance / KRW 75 Million

The first event on another mammoth fifteen-event card will see the imports line up over the short course. (1) SIRIUS A looks a big chance in the event after finishing third on debut behind a very impressive Balvenie. Moon Se-young sticks with the Malibu Moon colt who has drawn favourably for his second run. (7) MUNHAK MOON is another main chance that finished second on debut behind Spring King. The Gemologist colt clocked a good time given he was on debut, with some improvement he is an each way chance. (8) NAESAENGAE CHOEGO comes out of the Balvenie race where the two-year-old finished fifth. He yielded ground after sitting on speed early in the event. (10) DUSON JANGGUN looks best of the debutants after a fair trial. Place chances look best for the Broken Vow two-year-old on debut.

Selections(1) Sirius A (7) Munhak Moon (8) Naesaengae Choego (10) Duson Janggun
Next Best6, 3
Fast Start1, 7 ,8

Race 2: Class 6 (1200M) Allowance / KRW 75 Million

A field of eleven juveniles all making their racecourse debuts will line up in race 1. The eye-catcher in trials was one of the fillies, (7) REAL CONCORD. While her fast time was helped by a very wet track, the manner in which she ran away from the rest of the field was impressive and if she can bring that form to the actual races, then she looks good for the win. (2) M J STORM is the first foal out of Smart Time, a winner of five races here up to class 2 level. M J Storm won his trial in good order and shapes well to go well first-up today. (6) CHEONGSAN GANGHO and (11) CHOEGANGYEONGCHEON both ran 2nd in their respective heats and both should be competitive. So should (8) NUBIGO who looked as though she knows what’s required of her when 3rd in a trial all the way back in June.

Selections(7) Real Concord (2) M J Storm (6) Cheongsan Gangho (11) Choegangyeongcheon
Next Best8, 10
Fast Start1, 7

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

The two and three-year-old Korean-bred gallopers line up in the third where there are many chances. (3) JINTTOBAEGI finished of nicely in his debut run when second to Hwanggeum Power. The two-year-old is likely to camp on the leader’s backs for being presented by Lee Hyeok to finish off strongly. (1) HAPPY DAY is another two-year-old that showed plenty on debut. The filly comes out of the same race where she finished third. (2) HOEDURYEONG steps up to the 1200m after finishing second behind Raon Dia on debut. The margin was big between first and second but we suspect he will appreciate the step up to the 1200m. (6) HEALING GONGJU looks next best after finishing third on debut when clocking a good time on a dry track.

Selections(3) Jinttobaegi (1) Happy Day (2) Hoeduryeong (6) Healing Gongju
Next Best5, 11
Fast Start2, 11

Race 4: Class 6 (1400M) Allowance / KRW 40 Million

Only one of these has raced at the distance before. That’s (1) ABOUT SOMETHING and she took to it well, running 4th on her latest start just over a month ago. She’ll need to improve again but it bodes well. (9) BIROE KING beat three of these on his way to 3rd place over 1200M on August 1st. He ran on strong that day for what was his second 3rd in two starts and the additional trip may well be to his benefit today. (6) RIDE MAN and (8) A.P. PATEK were back down the track behind him that day but the latter especially looks like he wants furthers and having previously been a runner-up at 1300M, looks to have solid claims here. (10) GO WELL went ok when 4th over 1200M on August 2nd, coming from off the pace and is another for whom the step up in trip should suit.

Selections(8) A. P. Patek (9) Biroe King (1) About Something (10) Go Well
Next Best6, 7
Fast Start1, 4, 9

Race 5: Class 6 (1300M) Allowance / KRW 25 Million

The Class 6 Korean-bred gallopers line up in the fifth where there looks only a handful of winning chances. (7) GHOST VILLAGE goes on top with no great deal of confidence. The Quality Road colt finished midfield behind Old Blade on debut. Whilst beaten a big margin the quality of opposition is much less here, plus we are expecting some natural improvement at her second start. (11) MAX DAERO comes off a last start fifth