Juvenile honours were handed out at both Busan and Seoul on Sunday afternoon before one of the grand old gallopers of the track took to Seoul Racecourse to produce a timely reminder that he may not be done just yet.
The inaugural Areumdaun Jilju Stakes at Busan resulted in a procession for Yeonggwanguilegend [Concord Point – Perfect Scip (Scipion)], the only runner in the race who had participated in the track’s Rookie Stakes a month earlier. Exciting from the widest gate. Djordje Perovic guided the Concord Point colt to an early lead and from then on it was a one-act affair with much of the field behind him racing greenly and immaturely, including pre-race favourite Clifton King.
On the line the winning margin was five-lengths, jockey Perovic – notching his third winner on the card – able to spend the last 20 metres posing for the still Covid-enforced sparse crowd. Besides Yeonggwanguilegend, the only two to emerge with much credit were Hwarang Best and Daeji Choice, who both closed strongly to finish 2nd and 3rd respectively.
That’s to take nothing away from Yeonggwanguilegend, as he booked his place in the Korea Breeders’ Cup on December 5th with a fine performance in a fast time. Moreover, he ran as thugh he will be able to take on far more lengthier assignments than today’s 1200M and even beyond the 1400M of the Breeders’ Cup.
At Seoul thirty minutes later, Complete Value [Girolamo – Ft. Sduction (Ft. Stockton)] made it a perfect four from four to start his career as added to his success last month in the capital’s division of the Rookie Stakes by taking out the Munhwa Ilbo Cup. While he had begun the Rookie Stakes awkwardly and then almost got caught up in traffic in the Rookie, this time jockey Lim Gi-won made sure luck – or lack of it – would not be an issue as he took Complete Value straight to the shoulder of early leader Wonpyeong Gasok.
While Wonpyeong Gasok battled on gamely, Complete Value got his nose in front at the furlong pole and ran away to a three-length win on the line. Bencal Princess, 2nd in the Rookie Stakes, came home in 3rd place. The time for the 1200M was slower than that of Yeonggwanguilegend at Busan, but faster than that of the preceding 1200M race in the capital.
If all goes to plan, they will meet at 1400M in Busan on December 5, a distance that looks like it will suit both and they will be joined most likely by plenty who skipped today’s races. For now, Yeonggwanguilegend and Complete Value lead the race to become Korea’s overall Champion Juvenile.
It wasn’t just horses at the beginning of their careers who starred on Sunday. Now seven-years-old, Cheongdam Dokki began the latest chapter of his storied career as he made his first start for his new trainer, Tony Castenheira, in Seoul’s class 1 finale over 1800M.
Cheongdam Dokki has never been straightforward. A brilliant talent but with an equally brilliant temper, even back in his juvenile days dueling with the likes of Dolkong, he was not the easiest to handle or to ride. Lining up today for the first time since June, when he finished 4th behind Jjang Kong, much of the local racing media didn’t fancy his chances, while local win-pool punters stayed loyal.
The chestnut sweated profusely on his way to the gate but once the race was underway and jockey Antonio Da Silva had taken him straight to the front, Cheongdam Dokki was strictly business as the pair controlled the race down the back and into the home straight. Looming up though was Jjang Kong and while he was only getting 5kg from Cheongdam Dokki this time compared with the 8kg when he beat him four months ago, it was clear he posed a serious threat.
Under Alan Munro, Jjang Kong chipped away at Cheongdam Dokki’s advantage through out the final two furlongs. At one point it looked inevitable that he would go past but Cheongdam Dokki and Da Silva dug deep and found enough to repel him, crossing the line a neck to the good. It was his by no means the finest of his eighteen wins, but the time was good and the manner of it encouraging.
The Grand Prix Stakes still eludes Cheongdam Dokki with him having recorded a 4th, a 2nd and a 3rd in his three attempts so far. It still remains unlikely given the amount of talent he will have to contend with, but for Castenheira and Cheongdam Dokki, a Boxing Day miracle no longer looks completely impossible.
Three months of Stakes action gets underway on Sunday with both Seoul and Busan hosted Listed races for the top juveniles from this year’s crop, the Munhwa Ilbo Cup at Seoul and the Areumdaun Jilju Stakes at Busan. There are 9 Sunday races at Seoul – with the great Cheongdam Dokki also putting in an appearance – from 10:45 to 18:00 and 6 at Busan from 12:10 to 17:30. The Seoul meeting will be run behind-closed-doors but Busan will be open for customers with a reservation made on the MyCard app. Here are the Previews:
Seoul Race 1: Class 6 (1000M) Allowance / KRW 60 Million
Juvenile maidens go around here with eight of the twelve racing for the first time. We’ll side with experience and (4) SARYEONI FIRST who ran 2nd to – and well beaten by – Aspen Taeyang on debut on August 21st. He settled back and then ran on, finishing in a fast time on a wet track and with some natural improvement for that experience, he can be the one to beat today. (3) MENI WONDERFUL is a colt for whom there are high hopes. He’s the first foal to make the track from his dam Meni Money, a winner of eight races and herself out of a one-time track record holder here over the 1800M. He ran pleasingly enough for 4th on debut at this distance on August 15th and it would be no surprise if he improved sufficiently to win this. It would be a surprise if the quinella featured anything other than these two but there are one or two first-timers to keep an eye on. (6) COSMO will be third-favourite in the market having won her trial on a wet track on September 10th. She was always prominent and while her time was no better than fair, she can acquit herself well. (1) RAON THE JET and (10) YONGAM BOSS others who went reasonably well in their heats.
(4) Saryeoni First (3) Meni Wonderful (6) Cosmo (1) Raon The Jet
3, 4, 69
Seoul Race 2: Class 6 (1200M) Allowance / KRW 25 Million
It’s hard to go far past (5) BYEOLUI SUNGAN here. He’s run 3rd and 2nd in two starts so far, both times only beaten by similarly promising animals and both times running on strong over 1000M. The additional furlong should suit and he’s the one to beat. If anything is to beat them, then the prime candidate is the sole previous winner in the race, (9) GREEN FEELSTAR. Her victory came two starts back over this distance when she settled towards the front of midfield and then ran on well in a fair time. She returned on August 28th to beat a couple of these on her wat to a decent enough 5th place. (11) JANGSAN LASER ran 6th on his only start to date which was all the way back in January. He finally returns here having looked well in a September trial alongside some good horses and has placing claims. So too (12) NEW STAR YEONGCHEON, who improved significantly at his second start on August 29th when he was always prominent before ultimately finishing 3rd. The draw may not be kind here, but he can go close. There are two first time starters and (10) NEW SMART perhaps has the best chance of making an immediate impact. He showed at the front in his trial, finishing 5th in a decent enough time.
(5) Byeolui Sungan (9) Green Feelstar (11) Jangsan Laser (12) New Star Yeongcheon
4, 9, 10, 12
Seoul Race 3: Class 6 (1300M) Allowance / KRW 25 Million
A race of many chances. We’ll take a chance on (6) BORI BORI overturning a bit of form from her latest start when she got the worst of a tight three-way finish over this distance. She has run some consistent times and draws nicely here. The one she needs to upend the form on is (9) KOREA GIJEOK. The Hansen gelding ran 2nd in that race to Bori Bori’s 4th, his best finish to date in a fourteen-race career. He can sit handy here and run on with a maiden win not out of the question. (1) SEOUL DAY gets in nicely with an apprentice jockey keeping the weight low. From the same gate last start he led until the closing stages over 1400M, ultimately finishing 2nd and he should be in this one for a long time too. (2) MIGHTY SUNSHINE may be an interesting outsider. He improved at start number two when 3rd over 1000M and his first time up in trip today may suit. (4) K N UNDERKING ran a useful enough 5th on debut on September 9th and can build on that today.
(6) Bori Bori (9) Korea Gijeok (1) Seoul Day (2) Mighty Sunshine
1, 3, 5, 10
Busan Race 1: Class 6 (1400M) Allowance / KRW 25 Million
(12) MAN OF THE YEAR has run 4th on both his starts so far, most recently on September 5th when after jumping well, he went right to the back before running on strong over 1200M. He comes up in distance today, Perovic knows him well having ridden him both times, and the wide draw shouldn’t matter. He has a real chance. (11) CHEONGHO LEADER comes in off a strong 2nd at class and distance when he led into the straight. That was his best performance to date and a similar run today will put him in the finish. In that race, Cheongho Leader overturned the form on (5) CATCH THE SUN, who finished 3rd and had previously beaten him in July when they came home 4th and 6th respectively at today’s distance. Catch The Sun has been consistent across her four outings to date and with the draw in her favour this time, can go close. (2) SAEMANGUIVISION ran 5th, splitting Catch The Sun and Cheongho Leader in that July race and returns for the first time since then today. She too draws nicely and has placing claims. (4) ANNIKA GIRL, an improved 2nd at her latest start is another in the hunt.
(12) Man Of The Year (11) Cheongho Leader (5) Catch The Sun (2) Saemanguivision
4, 9, 10, 12
Seoul Race 4: Class 5 (1300M) Handicap / KRW 40 Million
(2) SEUNGBUSA is a two-year-old colt with a solid class 6 win before a 3rd place in the Rookie Stakes over 1200M on September 5th when he dwelt slightly at the start before racing keenly to be up and on the pace and running on resolutely. He is up in trip slightly today but that shouldn’t be an issue and the fact that he skips today’s Munhwa Ilbo in favour of this, may be telling. (11) RAON CHAMPSELY returns to action for the first time since May. Still a maiden, she has registered three runner-up finishes from five starts and posted some very good times along the way. She prefers to be a front-runner – although one of her 2nd places did come from the back – so the draw may not be ideal and there is the obvious question about race sharpness as well, but she looked well when recording a fast time in a September trial. (4) REMEMBER WHEN is a mare who must be considered on her consistency. At her last start, when advancing to class 5, she was wide and on the pace most of the race and ran on well for 3rd. She is a placing chance here. So too (8) EUNHYE PADO, who is finding her feet in class 5. She ran 2nd on her latest start over 1400M, making up good ground in the straight. She hasn’t got a lot of early speed but will be closing. (3) SOARA BABA similarly settles back and often needs luck in running but can offer some each-way value.
Busan Race 2: Class 6 (1600M) Allowance / KRW 25 Million
No fewer than eight of the twelve raced against each other at class and distance on September 10th so there’s the race of reference. None of them won – that was Honey Star by a full three lengths – and there wasn’t much between quite a few of them. (5) SEONGSAN BULKKOT was 4th that day, having reached 2nd in the straight but ultimately being edged out. That came off the back of a career best 2nd over 1400 the time before. He can be close to the pace here and has much chance as any of coming out on top. (12) SINBIHAN GANGA came him in 6th place in that race having been one paced throughout. The time before though he beat several of these when 2nd at this class and distance and with Seo Seung-un climbing aboard today, he is worth another chance. (9) SINJIN GANGHO was the best of these on September 10th. Coming from well off the pace to make up a lot of ground in the straight. That was a significant improvement on anything he had done in his previous twelve starts but he warrants more respect today. If you don’t rate that September 10th race at all then (6) DONGBU STAR or (2) YEONSEUNG BRAVO are probably the one to go for.
Seoul Race 5: Class 5 (1200M) Handicap / KRW 45 Million
(5) VICEROY was a big winner in class 6 and is now adapting to class 5. He put in a good effort last start when a little awkwardly away before settling on the pace and battling on for a close 3rd in a good time. A repeat of that performance puts him right in it. (2) GEOSEON POWER is up in class on his last start win at this distance. He was wide all the way, so the win was perhaps a bit better than the narrow margin suggested. He draws well for an easy run here and should enter the calculations. (1) CHOIN SPARK remains a maiden but comes up in class based on his 2nd place to Geoseon Power on September 4th. With this race being run under handicap conditions, he meets him at slightly better weights, and he could cause an upset. (6) HWA SSI BYEOK could be an interesting outsider. On the face of it there’s not much to go on but she has been running times that are competitive in a field such as this and she could run into a place. (11) RULES CLASS another in the placing frame.