Seoul Saturday: Race-By-Race Preview (June 9)

There are 10 Saturday races at Seoul from 10:45 to 18:00. Here are the previews:


It’s Saturday! It’s Seoul!

Race 1: Class 6 (1000M) Allowance / KRW 40 Million

Very ordinary looking maiden for fillies only and (7) SURFING POINT should have enough about her to get things right at what will be the fourth time of asking. She’s outperformed her odds in her latest three and can win for Manoel Nunes and Simon Foster. (3) RAON OPTIMUS has hinted at some ability with a pair of 2nd place finishes at 1700M and 1000M and she looks the main danger. (2) DAEMYEONG SOLAR and (5) NALSSAEN GIRL can improve while in such a race, it’s probably worth keeping an eye on the solitary debut-maker. That’s (6) ADEUKAN SEONGJA, and she trialled up in competent fashion in May.

Selections (7) Surfing Point (3) Raon Optimus (6) Adeukan Seongja (2) Daemyeong Solar
Next Best 5, 8
Fast Start 3, 6, 8

Race 2: Class 6 (1000M) Allowance / KRW 40 Million

(2) ROMAN BLADE has been getting closer across three starts to date, culminating in 2nd place on May 27th in a similar filly-only maiden to this. She should be on pace here and should make-all. Joining her on the early speed is likely to be (1) HALLA DAERO, an improved 3rd last time out a month ago and she can be a threat here. (3) JIGONG JILJU has never finished in the top two but is rarely too far away and can go close again for an in-form stable. (6) CLEAN FLOWER drops back in trip after a promising 4th over 100M last month while (4) IRYEO HAYEO has been a touch inconsistent over seven outings so far but has proven capable on her day.

Selections (2) Roman Blade (3) Jigong Jilju (6) Clean Flower (1) Halla Daero
Next Best 4
Fast Start 1, 2

Race 3: Class 6 (1000M) Allowance / KRW 40 Million

Three debut-makers join five with prior experience and it’s among the ones who have raced before where we find the most likely contenders. (6) SIMON FRUIT was 2nd on debut in April and while he has been a touch below expectations in two starts since, he’s not been far away on either occasion and can get it right today. He’ll be on pace early, most probably alongside (4) ROYAL PRINCE, who has been consistent across five starts so far and steps back to the minimum distance today. He hasn’t shown an awful lot in the way of speed but if he can lead, he may be difficult to overhaul. (7) SEUNGNI LIKE improved last time and couple be a factor as well. None of the first-timers caught the eye in trials but if we had to pick one to consider first-up, it would be (8) RAON BULPAE.

Selections (6) Simon Fruit (4) Royal Prince (7) Seungni Like (8) Raon Bulpae
Next Best 3, 1
Fast Start 2, 4, 6

Race 4: Class 6 (1000M) Allowance / KRW 40 Million

(2) DAESEUNG AGAIN was a solid 4th on debut in a reasonable race at this distance on May 12th. It was a very wet track that day, but he ran on nicely and is the pick to score here, likely seeking to lead from the start. Also making his first start in that race was (7) DAMON ANGEL. She had previously finished ahead of Daeseung Again in a trial and while in the actual race, she was a length and three-quarters back in 5th, she too showed that she has a bit about her and can also improve here. (3) ULTRA MISSILE didn’t perform especially well in that same race but does have a 3rd to his name at the distance and may go better. (1) ADELEUI KKUM tries the minimum distance for the first time but (more…)


Busan Friday: Race-By-Race Preview (June 8)

Last weekend in Korea saw big Stakes race action and next weekend it is the final leg of the Triple Crown. This sandwich week is a little more low-key but there is still plenty to keep punters occupied. Racing gets underway at Busan on Friday with 10 races from 11:30 to 18:00.


It’s Friday. It’s Busan

The strike by some stable staff that resulted in a number of trainers leading their own horses up the past two weeks is now over, although there is still a slight knock-on effect in terms of field size as not all horses have been able to work their intended schedules during the strike. Here are the previews:

Race 1: Class 6 (1300M) Allowance / KRW 24 Million

(7) JITTERBUG dead-heated for 2nd on debut at this distance on May 11th and will take some beating here. He should be on speed from the gate and lead all the way. (2) SEONBAL CAT was a useful 4th last start and should be looking to better that today. (8) APRIL STAR beat both (5) GEODAEHAN WONSEOK and (4) TESTA MAGIC as the three of them came home 4th, 5th and 6th at the distance on May 4th and all three can play their part here. Of them, the most likely looks Geodaehan Wonseok, who has actually run once since then – a solid 3rd two weeks ago. Fergus Sweeney takes the ride today and he can get even closer.

Selections (7) Jitterbug (5) Geodahan Wonseok (2) Seonbal Cat (4) Testa Magic
Next Best 8, 9
Fast Start 4, 7, 9

Race 2: Class 6 (1300M) Allowance / KRW 40 Million

A number of these improved on their latest starts but (2) COOL MINT is perhaps the most convincing. He only missed out by a nose at this distance on May 11th having led almost the entire way around. He’s the pick to go one better today. (4) HWANGJE BONSAEK and (5) MIRACLE ALICE similarly improved last time and both step up to 1300M for the first time. Both should be in the hunt with Hwangje Bonsaek the marginally more attractive here. (3) DARK TEMPLAR has shown ability too with a 5th and a 3rd from two outings so far and she’ll be expected to get close once more. (1) NEW JACK SWING and (8) NEW QUEEN are others who could be in contention in what is a nicely competitive race.

Selections (2) Cool Mint (4) Hwangje Bonsaek (5) Miracle Alice (3) Dark Templar
Next Best 1, 8, 5
Fast Start 4, 5, 9

Race 3: Class 6 (1200M) Allowance / KRW 24 Million

(2) ROYAL CLUB has shown progress across three starts so far and while she was resoundingly beaten into 2nd by the useful Evelyn on May 11th, today could well be her day. She can sit behind an early pace likely set by (10) CHEONNYEONUI ACHIM who led on debut three weeks ago, ultimately finishing 3rd. It was a promising start and one she can build on here.  (3) EXPRESSIVE is one start into a comeback following six months off and can improve. (5) INTERCEPTOR and (11) MR. COLORS are others who have hinted at some ability and can be involved.

Selections (2) Royal Club (10) Cheonnyeonui Achim (3) Expressive (5) Interceptor
Next Best 11, 4
Fast Start 4, 6, 10

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

Small field but tricky one to solve. Back up to a mile today, (2) SEORABEOL YEOJE should improve on recent starts. She’s never finished better than 3rd but can get on pace early here and stick on, possibly even to win. (7) JAESAENGMYEONGNI has a 2nd place to his (more…)

Doraonpogyeongseon Seals Second SBS Sports Sprint Win / Cheongsu Yeogeol Claims Ttukseom Cup

Doraonpogyeongseon produced a thundering late run to win the SBS Sports Sprint for the 2nd year running at Seoul Racecourse on Sunday. The five-year-old gelding saw off a field studded with some of the country’s top sprinters to win by a length.

Doraonpogyeongseon SBS

Trained at Busan by Min Jang Gi, Doraonpogyeongseon seems to love racing at Seoul. After his win in this race last year, he returned to the capital in September to run a huge 3rd in the Korea Sprint. A repeat attempt on that race, the final leg of the Sprint Series is surely inevitable.

Having finished 3rd in the 1st leg of the series, the Busan Ilbo Cup last month, Doraonpogyeongseon was duly sent off as third-favourite in the betting market behind champion mare and winner of that 1st leg Silver Wolf, second-favourite behind the Kim Young Kwan trained Today, a winner of 10 of his 12 prior starts and running in Stakes company for the first time.

Silver Wolf was never in contention. The wide draw wasn’t supposed to be a problem but under Kim Dong Soo, who had successfully navigated a way through traffic in the Busan Ilbo, she found herself at the back of the sixteen-strong field on the turn and had to go very wide to find a run in the straight. She could only make it up to 6th. Doraonpogyeongseon, on the other hand, coming out of gate 2 was able to settle in on the fence just behind the early speed of which Today was a big part.

Main pace-setters Indian Star and Perdido Pomeroy weakened early in the straight leaving Choegang Schiller in front with a furlong to go. It looked as though Today would be the track-record holder’s primary challenger until Doraonpogyeongseon’s late show. Final Boss came with a big run for 4th.

Doraonpogyeongseon [Kantharos – Smartybegone (Smarty Jones)] was a $50,000 purchase form the OBS two-year-old sales at Ocala in 2015. He’s won 9 of his 22 starts and is approaching $1Million in prize-money. Trainer Min Jang Gi was winning a Stakes race for the third time while for jockey Kim Cheol Ho, a revelation since transferring to Busan at the start of this year, it was his first success in a principle race.

The Ttukseom Cup, while more valuable than the SBS Sports Sprint, had been overshadowed by the other race in the build-up. That was partly because it was expected to end with a comfortable winner. It did, but not the one that was expected.

Haeya, runner-up last year was sent off as the prohibitive favourite but scarcely featured as Cheongsu Yeogeol, a three-year-old who had only raced six times previously, struck the front a furlong from home and ran on to win by three-lengths under a delighted Moon Se Young. Busan-trained pair Damyang Hwanho and Gold Blue were 2nd and 3rd with Haeya only managing 8th and the well-backed Hi Sexy even further back in 13th.

Cheongsu Yeogeol [Run Away And Hide – Fan Appeal (Lear Fan)] cost just $8500 as a yearling at Keeneland in September 2016.

SBS Sports Sprint/Ttukseom Cup Day: Full Race-By-Race Preview (June 3)

On this weekend last year, Silver Wolf was setting out on a clean-sweep of the Queens’ Tour Series with a narrow win over Haeya in the Ttukseom Cup. This Sunday at Seoul, it’s surely Haeya’s turn to win the Ttukseom while Silver Wolf turns her attention to the SBS Sports Sprint, the 2nd leg of the Sprint Series, having already won the Busan Ilbo Cup last month. The exciting Today, a winner of 10 of 12 starts is among a full field of fifteen rivals and the Aussie-bred superstar will be under huge pressure in the 1200M test, but she has the class to overcome it. There are 11 races at Seoul from 10:45 to 18:00 and 6 at Busan from 12:40 to 17:05.

Silver Wolf Power Blade Busan Ilbo 2018

Silver Wolf beat Power Blade in the 1st leg of the Sprint Series. Can she win again in the SBS Sports? (Pic: KRA)

A$40,000 yearling purchase, Silver Wolf was last year’s champion filly/mare in Korea. In between winning all three legs of the 2017 Queens’ Tour series, she also went sprinting, winning the Munhwa Ilbo Cup and running a strong 5th in the Korea Sprint. Silver Wolf has made an unbeaten start to 2018 with three consecutive victories including the Donga Ilbo Cup at 1800M in February and significantly, the 1st leg of the Sprint Series at Busan last month, when she downed Today’s stablemate Power Blade over this distance.

Six-years-old and arguably still getting better, the mare by Orotorio is the one to beat. Tactically versatile, she can win from anywhere but is usually ridden patiently and with lots of early speed in the race, it may well play to her advantage.

Drosselmeyer colt Today was imported in-utero and has set about winning ten of his twelve starts so far at distances of up to a mile. The Kim Young Kwan stable has such an embarrassment of riches that Today has gone somewhat under the radar and with any stable only permitted to run a maximum of two in any race, he is yet to get the opportunity to run in Stakes company. However, with Power Blade kept home, Today gets his chance here.  He enters on a four-race winning streak with his latest having been at this distance on March 25th. Jockey Franco Da Silva rode the winner of the Korean Derby three weeks ago and returns to Seoul with another big chance.

The three who contested last year’s finish all return. Doraonpogyeongseon got the decision that day by the narrowest of margins ahead of Parang Juuibo and Choegang Schiller. Doraonpogyeongseon has won just the once since but was an excellent 3rd in the Korea Sprint, beating Silver Wolf, and remains a danger at the top level.

Parang Juuibo isn’t quite of the elite but rarely finishes outside the top five – although making top five will take some doing this time. Choegang Schiller has only raced four times (and switched trainers twice) since the race a year ago. He’s won two of them, most recently in February at this distance and broke the track record in the other and is a live chance.

There are wildcards. Today’s stablemate Finest Warrior gets to step up. A winner of four from seven so far, he was unconvincing when sent up to class 1 for the first time last month but it’s unlikely trainer Kim Young Kwan has opted to bring him to Seoul simply for the experience. There is further Australian interest as Peter Wolsley brings Ace Korea up from Busan. The three-year-old Smiling Tiger colt has won his latest two in facile fashion, both at this distance and while this is a huge step up, he’s highly thought of. It’s a massively competitive contest bit Silver Wolf can win it from Today, Doraonpogyeongseon and Cheogang Schiller.

The Ttukseom Cup should be a little bit more straightforward in terms of finding the winner.

Haya at the Korea Sprint

Haeya (Pic: Ross Holburt)

Haeya is rated no fewer than 27 points higher than the next best and that fact alone tells its own story. She’s been plagued by soundness issues across her career which has restricted her to thirteen starts of which she has won six. The ones she has lost, however, have tended to be in top class company. She was 2nd to Silver Wolf in this race last year before running 3rd in the second leg, the KNN Cup at Busan.

With a mile considered her limit, she didn’t run in the concluding race of the series but did take a crack at the Korea Sprint in which she finished 11th. Haeya has begun 2018 in good form with a win and a 2nd place in two class 1 outings, both at this distance of 1400M. Her last start was in March, but she was kept ticking over with a trial win in late April. A front-runner, this could be her year.

Behind Haeya though, it is anyone’s race, with all fifteen other competitors having at least some claim on the places. Hi Sexy and Cheongsu Yeogeol look to have the best claims but Luigi Riccardi’s Rocket Queen might make for an interesting one at odds. Here is the race-by-race:

Race 1: Class 6 (1000M) Allowance / KRW 24 Million

Just one debut-maker among the eleven who kick us off but he’s probably going to start the favourite. (1) WINNER SPIRIT took part in an outrageously fast trial on May 18th, registering the kind of time that would win the vast majority of actual class 6 races at this distance. It was a wet track, but he certainly looked competent and while he will surely be slower today, can still win. (2) LIVINGSTONE comes in off back to back 4th place finishes and looks to be improving, despite disappointing when favourite last start. (5) I’M HAPPY and (6) MONKEY SOCKS have both shown glimpses of ability and should go close. (11) RAON SITIEOSEU beat (3) GOLD SEUTAK and (8) NAMJJOK NARA as the trio filled out 3rd to 5th at the distance on May 5th and he should beat plenty again.

Selections (1) Winner Spirit (2) Livingstone (5) I’m Happy (6) Monkey Socks
Next Best 11, 3
Fast Start 1, 2, 6, 10

Race 2: Class 6 (1300M) Allowance / KRW 24 Million

(4) BARAM KING beat a couple of these on his way to 4th place at this distance on April 29th. He’s not been too far away in five of his six starts so far and against this modest opposition, with Moon Se Young taking over in the saddle, looks the most likely to make the breakthrough. (8) SEUNGNI PLUS started favourite against Baram King last time but could only manage 6th place. Nevertheless, he is one of only two horses in the race who have managed a 2nd place finish and he can be given another chance. The other one with a 2nd is (6) KHENDUM POWER though he looks to have more to find on recent form. (5) ROAD WOMAN and (11) MACHO HIME can improve on recent starts while (10) DAEJIUI SAESSAK was so slow on debut last month, she was sent back to trial. She completed that trial well last week though and could do much better this time around.

Selections (4) Baram King (8) Seungri Plus (11) Macho Hime (5) Road Woman
Next Best 1, 9, 10
Fast Start 3, 6, 8

Race 3: Class 6 (1300M) Allowance / KRW 40 Million

(4) SPECIAL GOLD got her second 3rd place finish from four starts so far and she could well be the one getting it right in this maiden for three-year-olds. She’s finished well in all her starts so far and so long as she doesn’t leave herself with too much to do, she can win. She was chased home that day by (5) HANEUL ACE and (1) HYEONGMA PUBU, the (more…)

Seoul Saturday: Race-By-Race Preview (June 2)

There are ten races at Seoul on Saturday from 10:45 to 18:00. Here are the previews:


Race 1: Class 6 (1300M) Allowance / KRW 24 Million

(7) TAEYANG SINHWA beat (1) SPEED HWANGNYONG as the pair finished 2nd and 4th on a wet track at this distance on May 6th. Both should be involved again but Speed Hwangnyong, who has shown improvement across his three starts so far, may just be the more progressive at this stage and can overturn the form here. Plenty of others come in off encouraging efforts. (8) GAJA GAJA and (5) RAON GANGHO came home 3rd and 4th when they raced each other at the distance on April 28th. This is a stronger contest but once more both can be competitive. (9) SPECIAL DREAM was a close 3rd last time and comes in here following a couple of months off and with a top jockey on board. He should be on speed early and has every chance.

Selections (1) Speed Hwangnyong (8) Gaja Gaja (9) Special Dream (5) Raon Gangho
Next Best 7, 2
Fast Start 2, 8, 9

Race 2: Class 6 (1200M) Allowance / KRW 40 Million

(7) SONGAM GONGJU came home from off the pace for a much-improved 2nd over 1000M three weeks ago. The track was wet that day and she’s likely to be ridden much further forward and with the extra furlong in her favour, she should win this weak contest. (3) SUPER YEOWANG ran a good 4th on debut at 1000M in February and returns for the first time with good chances of improving. (6) TA MINA was less impressive on her first try but had previously trialled well so gets another chance. (4) FLYING HERA can beat a few in this company while the debut-maker, (1) ISCRA, by virtue of the being the only one who has done nothing wrong so far may also come under consideration – although the trial evidence is not especially positive.

Selections (7) Songam Gongju (3) Super Yeowang (6) Ta Mina (1) Iscra
Next Best 4
Fast Start 3, 7

Race 3: Class 5 (1000M) Handicap / KRW 40 Million

(7) SIMPLE RULES ran 2nd at the distance on May 5th, having led early. She’ll be on speed again and while this assignment is slightly stiffer in terms of depth, she can go one better here. That day (8) DAESEONG RUBY was four-lengths behind Simple Rules in 3rd and she too can challenge although a few others will be favoured more. The experienced pair of (1) PYEWOL SUHWA and (3) LITTLE LIGHT both enter off the back of decent showings at the distance. Pyewol Suhwa is likely to challenge Simple Rules for the early lead while Little Light just needs to take care that she doesn’t leave herself with too much to do. (2) MJ JILJU is up in class after grinding out an all the way win by a neck over the distance in April and should be competitive at this level.

Selections (7) Simple Rules (2) MJ Jilju (1) Pyewol Suhwa (8) Daeseong Ruby
Next Best 3, 5
Fast Start 1, 2, 7

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

(2) UNDEFEATED is exactly that. True, he’s only raced once but he won it comfortably enough by four-lengths at this distance. He’s up in class here but should be able to get on the early lead and if he does, he’ll not need a name change just yet. (6) JEJUI HEUKSEON remains a maiden but she’s had some near-misses including a good 3rd place last start on 1300M. She’ll look to join Undefeated on pace at the start and should be at least placing again. (3) SEOUL STORY may benefit from racing at further than the minimum for the (more…)

Busan Friday: Race-By-Race Preview (June 1)

June gets underway big week of racing in Korea with two huge Stakes races coming up on Sunday in the shape of the SBS Sports Sprint and the Ttukseom Cup. Before that, things kick off at Busan on Friday with 10 races from 11:30 to 18:00.


It’s Friday. It’s Busan

There are relatively small fields throughout as the grooms’ strike continues on the South Coast. Accordingly the race times are slightly different to regular Fridays:

Race 1: Class 6 (1000M) Allowance/ KRW 24 Million

(4) IHYEN led for much of her third start on May 4th, ultimately ending in 2nd place at this distance but Bart Rice’s filly can have come on for that run and can see off this small set of rivals today. (1) GIPPEUM SARANG ran a career-best 3rd last time out and looks to be the main danger although (2) BREAKING NEWS drops back in trip today after some up and down performances over 1300M and can get close as well. (6) OS HILL and (7) EUTTEUM CHAMP, who does have a 2nd to her name, the best of a limited rest.

Selections (4) Ihyen (1) Gippeum Sarang (2) Breaking News (7) Eutteum Champ
Next Best 6
Fast Start 1, 3, 4

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

(6) KING’S POWER has shown progression across four engagements to date culminating in a close 3rd place last time at this distance on April 20th. That was his first start since last October and with a bit more progression today, he can win this weak affair. (5) CHEONHAUI KKUM has shown some glimpses of ability across nine outings and can get close while (7) MUCHO hasn’t totally disgraced himself and may play a part too. (3) NICE HUMOR has only run once and can be given another chance. Neither of the two debut-makers showed anything in trials although given the standard of the opposition, they can’t be completely ruled out. (4) HALLA SKY looks the most likely.

Selections (6) King’s Power (5) Cheonhaui Kkum (7) Mucho (4) Halla Sky
Next Best 3
Fast Start 6, 7

Race 3: Class 6 (1200M) Allowance / KRW 24 Million

Thomas Gillespie’s (6) ROYAL BLUE has a 3rd and a 4th from three starts so far, the latter of them at this distance three weeks ago. He’ll likely get on the early pace today and should have too much. (5) STAR WOMAN has a couple of 3rd place finishes to her name and steps up in trip for the first time here. She’s run through the line well enough so far, so it just might suit. (7) TOP HERO weakened late on over a mile last start but may be better back in trip today. He’ll likely challenge Royal Blue for the early lead and can benefit from the services of Fergus Sweeney. (2) MIR KAN was an improved 3rd on his latest outing and can build on that today. (3) BEOLMA HAMSEONG returns for the first time since January and trialed well.

Selections (6) Royal Blue (5) Star Woman (7) Top Hero (2) Mir Kan
Next Best 3, 1
Fast Start 6, 7

Race 4: Class 6 (1200M) Allowance / KRW 40 Million

(2) CHEONGDAM BLADE was 4th of 11 on debut at 1000M just two weeks ago. He was a long way behind the winner, but it was encouraging enough, and the connections will tempt many. He’s up in trip today and could win. The main danger is (4) AGUILENA. She was 4th on debut at this trip in March before stepping up to a mile for her re-appearance in May. She led for much of that race before being passed in the closing stages and (more…)

Ha Jae Heung, Derby Winning Trainer Retires

Ha Jae Heung, who trained Saebyeock Dongja to win the Korean Derby in 2005 and sits in 2nd place in the all-time winner list among trainers at Seoul, has retired. He saddled his final runner in the last on Sunday.

Ha Jae Heung trainer

Among trainers at Seoul, Ha Jae Heung was, at the time of retirement, join 2nd-longest serving behind Jung Ji Eun. 63-year-old Ha gained his license on the same day as Kim Yang San, at the old Seoul Ttukseom Racecourse in 1983.  He finished with just shy of 1000 winners from 10500 starters across his career. It may not sound a lot but Ha is from a generation of trainers who navigated the transition from the time when all racehorses were owned by the Authority, no prize money and restrictions on the number of runners a trainer could have, to the modern age of private ownership and Stakes racing.

Ha’s best horse was probably Saebyeock Dongja, who in addition to the Derby also won the Herald Business Cup in 2005 and the Sports Chosun Cup in 2006. He would win the latter race again with Sotong Sidae in 2015. His last Stakes winner was Waikiki in the Gwacheon Mayor’s Cup in 2015.

Ha Hae Heung went out with a winner on his final weekend as his Two Kay won the last at Seoul on Saturday under Manoel Nunes. It was winner 936 of his career.