Cheongdam Dokki

Cheongdam Dokki Marches On In Mayor’s Cup

Cheongdam Dokki ventured outside of Seoul for the first time but the four-year-old made himself right at home on the South-Coast, beating a strong set of rivals to win the Group 3 Busan Mayor’s Cup on Sunday afternoon confirming his status as the top-rated horse in Korea.

Cheongdam Dokki Mayor's Cup Lets Run Park Busan

Cheongdam Dokki & Lim Gi Won winning the Busan Mayor’s Cup (Pic: KRA)

Sent off as the odds-on favourite for the 1800M race, often called the “Summer Grand Prix” such is its usual strength, Cheongdam Dokki broke from the widest gate was unable to get to his favoured position on the lead. That was because King Of Ace got out much the quickest and under Franco Da Silva went on to set the pace. Aboard Cheongdam Dokki, jockey Lim Gi Won was happy enough to let the leader get on with it and settled at the front of the chasing pack with Cheonji Storm and 2nd favourite Triple Nine just behind him.

As the field entered the home straight, King Of Ace began to weaken and Cheongdam Dokki assumed command and while fellow Seoul-raider Cheonji Storm threatened to mount a challenge, Cheongdam Dokki comfortably saw him off in the final furlong to win by three-lengths on the line. Triple Nine, a three-time President’s Cup winner and former Horse of the Year, hit top gear late in the race but could only come home in 3rd place one ahead of last year’s winner I’m Your Father.

It was a breakout performance from Cheonji Storm, who was 6th in the 2016 Korean Derby behind eventual Triple Crown winner Power Blade, and who has matured greatly since missing seven months of last season. Triple Nine, making just his second start of 2018 ran well but was always likely to be too late reaching top speed to challenge Cheongdam Dokki over 1800M.

The win took Cheongdam Dokki, an American import by To Honor And Serve, to 11 wins from 16 career starts and was his second Korean Group race triumph following his victory in last autumn’s Group 2 KRA Cup Classic. He is unbeaten in 2018 with his last defeat coming in December’s Grand Prix Stakes over 2300M. It also gave him a new domestic rating of 130, the highest of any horse since the rating system in its current form began and Cheongdam Dokki is now surely on a path to face the ultimate test in Korean racing – taking on the international visitors in September’s Keeneland Korea Cup.

Busan Mayor’s Cup (KOR G3) – Busan Racecourse – 1800M – July 1, 2018

1. Cheongdam Dokki (USA) [To Honor And Serve – Elusive Gold (Strike The Gold)] –  Lim Gi Won – 1.4, 1.0
2. Cheonji Storm (KOR) [Admire Don – Great Thought (Empire Maker)] – Johan Victoire – 2.9
3. Triple Nine (KOR) [Ecton Park – A Little Poke (Pleasant Tap)] – Lim Sung Sil – 1.5
Distances: 3 lengths / 3 lengths
Also Ran: 4. I’m Your Father (USA) 5. Buhwarui Banseok (USA) 6. Saengil Gippeum (USA) 7. King Of Ace (USA) 8. Dongbang Daero (USA) 9. Champ Line (KOR) 10. Iron Train (USA) 11. World Number One (USA) 12. Cheonjeok (USA) 13. Winner Red (USA)

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Busan Mayor’s Cup: Cheongdam Dokki vs Triple Nine – Busan & Seoul All-Race Preview (July 1)

One of the highlights of the summer racing season takes place at Busan on Sunday when thirteen of the best horses on the peninsula go to post in the Busan Mayor’s Cup (Korean Group 3) over 1800M. They include last year’s winner I’m Your Father, but all eyes will be on the clash between three-time President’s Cup winner Triple Nine and the new star on the stable-block, Cheongdam Dokki.

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Cheongdam Dokki

Cheongdam Dokki and Triple Nine have met once before, in the Grand Prix Stakes at Seoul in December last year. In a remarkable race, Cheongdam Dokki set a blistering early pace but wasn’t quite able to keep it up over the punishing 2300M – the longest distance currently used in Korean racing – and he ultimately finished 4th with Triple Nine running a big race in 3rd. Dongbang Daero, who closed late on and beat both running 2nd to winner Power Blade, is among those who join them on Sunday.

Since that Grand Prix, Cheongdam Dokki has looked invulnerable. He’s raced three times for three facile victories and has been steadily relieving Clean Up Joy, formerly the top-rated horse at Seoul, of the silverware he had amassed in recent years. Having beaten him in the KRA Cup Classic last autumn, Cheongdam Dokki beat Clean Up Joy in both the Herald Business and YTN Cups this Spring, the older horse having won all three of those races the year before. Now in advance of a likely tilt at the Korea Cup in September, he faces a true test, going to Busan to face Triple Nine on his home track. It is a test he will be expected to pass.

(I didn’t have the multi-million dollar studio at my disposal for this one so here’s a 10 minutes on Moviemaker Special!)

Triple Nine remains the benchmark against which all other horses are judged in Korea. He held his own at the Dubai World Cup Carnival at the start of 2017 and returned to beat stablemate Power Blade on his way to a record-equalling third straight win in the President’s Cup. Power Blade would gain revenge in the Grand Prix but Triple Nine lost nothing in defeat that day. He has only raced once in 2018, making a rare foray into the handicap ranks in March and coming away, inevitably, with another victory. He did trial in public last week although offered few clues. The torch may be passed at Busan on Sunday.

Here are Busan’s Race-By-Race Comments including all-horses in the big race. Scroll down for the race-by-race from Seoul:

Race 1: Class 4 (1000M) Handicap / KRW 60 Million

(7) SMART DANCER has won her latest two, both at this distance, in front-running fashion and while it means she is rapidly up in class, there is little for her to fear here and she has an excellent chance of making it three in a row. (9) MAY STAR beat (3) BAENGNYEON SONNIM as the pair came home 2nd and 3rd at class and distance on May 27th. Both can go well again with Baengnyeon Sonnim favoured to overturn that form. (1) WONDERFUL SHOW races for the first time in almost a year but has looked competent across a series of trials in the last couple of months and can go well first up. (6) RETURN OF THE KING comes in off a useful 2nd place ahead of three of these on June 10th and can go close again. (8) CHERRY VANQUISH was one of the vanquished that day, but it was just her second outing and she can improve here.

Selections (7) Smart Dancer (3) Baengnyeon Sonnim (8) Cherry Vanquish (6) Return Of The King
Next Best 9, 1
Fast Start 1, 2, 6, 9, 12

Race 2: Class 5 (1300M) Handicap / KRW 40 Million

Franco Da Silva was on (1) WONDERFUL MEMORY for his only previous win and he should be guiding the Lookin At Lucky colt to another here. He was a decent 3rd last time on his first try at this class and should have too much. (7) JANGHAN JILJU and (11) SAKISAKI came home 2nd and 3rd at class and distance on June 1st and look among the most likely to challenge the favourite although (2) JAEDOYAKUI BANSEOK was an improved 2nd last time out and is well drawn to get to the front from the gate once more. (10) WHITE POINT was disappointing behind Janghan Jilju and Sakisaki but came back out just two weeks ago to run a much better 4th and can look to at least match that today.

Selections (1) Wonderful Memory (2) Jaedoyakui Banseok (7) Janghan Jilju (11) Sakisaki
Next Best 4, 10
Fast Start 3, 4, 8

Race 3: Class 4 (1600M) Allowance / KRW 60 Million

(8) WORLD DAY is two for two and the Kim Young Kwan trainee steps up in class and also in distance with solid claims of maintaining his 100% record. This is a significantly stiffer test than what he has faced so far but he should be close to the front from the start and can overcome it. (6) MABEOPUI JILJU and (4) VIVA VICTORY come in having run 2nd and 3rd behind World Day’s stablemate Sun Day at class and distance on May 27th. Both are proven performers at the distance and cause World Day problems. So too can (5) CHOEGANG THUNDER, a winner at the distance in April and 2nd when dropped back to 1300M for his first try at this class three weeks ago. (10) YONGGU is up in class after a surprise win at a mile six weeks ago and while he will need to improve, could be an interesting outsider.

Selections (8) World Day (5) Choegang Thunder (6) Mabeopui Jilju (4) Viva Victory
Next Best 10, 7
Fast Start 1, 2, 4, 8

Race 4: Class 3 (1600M) Handicap / KRW 75 Million

Eight of the twelve raced each other at class and distance on May 27th (race 4) so we have plenty to go on. The surprise winner that day was (7) YEONGGWANG SEUNGNI, who struck the front late and ran on to win by half a length. She warrants more respect today, but we’ll still fancy her to get beaten. (2) JUSTINE MAGIC led for most of that race, ultimately finishing 2nd in what was his first try at a mile. He should have learned from that and can overturn the form here. (1) DYNAMIC ROOKIE was favourite that day and while he finished well back, is worth another chance today but the other likely ones didn’t run that day. (4) BAENGMUNBAEKDAP is up in class following a convincing win at the distance at the end of April and can be considered while (11) TUFELLO ran a solid 3rd on his first try at this class three weeks ago and should be in the frame as well.

Selections (2) Justine Magic (4) Baengmunbaekdap (7) Yeonggwang Seungni (11) Tufello
Next Best 1, 12
Fast Start 1, 2, 3, 12

Race 5: Class Open “The Busan Mayor’s Cup” (KOR G3) 1800M / Weight for Age / KRW 500 Million

  1. IRON TRAIN – Class 2 winner over this distance in May but only beat one home on his first class 1 try three weeks ago. Generally goes right to the back and closes. May pick off a few in the home straight.

 

  1. CHAMP LINE – Thomas Gillespie’s six-year-old is a very consistent type and he beat Buhwarui Banseok and Saengil Gippeum on his way to 2nd at 2000M last time. Usually runs at further than this but he can certainly make the minor money.

 

  1. DONGBANG DAERO – Ran a huge 2nd in the Grand Prix Stakes last December but has been a little indifferent in five starts since. Another who perhaps wants a little further to be at his most effective, but he could make a value bet for the places.

 

  1. I’M YOUR FATHER – Last year’s winner returned from seven months out to land a narrow win over King Of Ace over a mile at the beginning of June, finishing very strongly. Fergus Sweeney keeps the mount today and he has a chance of an upset.

 

  1. BUHWARUI BANSEOK – Ran 2nd to Triple Nine at 2000M in March and beat Dongbang Daero and Champ Line at the same distance in April. Champ Line returned the favour last time, but this is a very solid, consistent horse. Another who probably prefers further.

 

  1. CHEONJI STORM – Won the Seoul Owners’ Cup over 1200M in March before crushing a class 1 field by ten-lengths in the capital at the end of April. Lots of talent he is a front-runner who is likely to take on Cheongdam Dokki early. That’s risky but anything could happen.

 

  1. WINNER RED – Only two starts in 2018 so far and was a long way behind Cheongdam Dokki in the YTN Cup last time out. An outsider today.

 

  1. CHEONJEOK – Last home in the YTN Cup at the end of May continuing a run of indifferent form. Little to no chance here.

 

  1. WORLD NUMBER ONE – A stablemate of Iron Train, he was a class 2 winner at this distance in March but has been a touch disappointing in two efforts since. Likely to go right to the back from the gate and may improve late but is an outsider.

 

  1. KING OF ACE – Has suffered from a number of injury setbacks and is two starts into his latest comeback. He ran very well for 2nd to I’m Your Father in a tight finish on June 3rd and makes for an interesting outsider here.

 

  1. TRIPLE NINE – The gold standard in Korean racing. He beat four of these when winning his only start of 2018 to date in March, giving them plenty of weight too. He offered few clues when trialling up half-heartedly last weekend. Superior to all of these except Cheongdam Dokki and were he to win, it would be arguably his greatest achievement yet. He won’t challenge the Seoul horse for the lead but at this distance, neither will he let them get too far away. He often takes some time to hit top gear and that may be his undoing at 1800M.

 

  1. SAENGIL GIPPEUM – Has been beaten by plenty of these in recent starts at varying distances. Plenty of talent and has Busan’s champion jockey on board but will be an outsider here.

 

  1. CHEONGDAM DOKKI – His three outings this year have simply confirmed what we already knew – he is now better than Clean Up Joy. Here he has a chance to stamp his authority on all of Korean racing by beating Triple Nine at his home track. He is stepping back in trip for the first time since last September but even that should be in his favour. The widest gate is perhaps not ideal, but he has the speed to get to the front anyway and it would be a surprise were he not to hold off all-comers – including Triple Nine.

 

VERDICT: (13) CHEONGDAM DOKKI should take a big step towards asserting his hegemony by defeating (11) TRIPLE NINE. He’ll be on pace early and while there is a risk of an early speed battle with (6) CHEONJI STORM, he should have too much to able to cope with this and to see off everything else over 1800M. Cheonji Storm can go well as well as can last year’s winner (4) I’M YOUR FATHER. (2) CHAMP LINE and (10) KING OF ACE make for some potential value.

 

Selections (13) Cheongdam Dokki (11) Triple Nine (4) I’m Your Father (6) Cheonji Storm
Next Best 2, 10, 3
Fast Start 6, 13

Race 6: Class 3 (1400M) Handicap / KRW 75 Million

Small field to finish with and there are two up and comers here. After a few near misses, (1) UNSEOK has now won three in a row by handy margins and while he’s up in class and slightly in distance today, has every chance of making it four.  (3) GEUMSURYEONG has the best chance of beating him. He’s won three from five and was runner-up in the other two and there could well be more to come. He will lead early and Unseok will have to (more…)

Cheongdam Dokki Strolls Home In YTN Cup

It was easy for Cheongdam Dokki. He confirmed his position as Seoul’s best horse by beating Clean Up Joy by five-lengths to win the YTN Cup at Seoul Racecourse on Sunday afternoon.

There was general agreement before the race that only a mistake by Cheongdam Dokki, a restrictive favourite, could see him lose and that if that happened, Clean Up Joy would be the only one equipped to take advantage. In the end, it was Clean Up Joy who made the mistake. Never a fluent starter, the 7-year-old made his customary leap as the gates opened and was even slower into stride than usual, making a tall order next to impossible. Cheongdam Dokki meanwhile, who had as usual been a handful in the parade ring, glided regally out of the barrier and into a lead he was never in danger of giving up.

Dokki YTN

So easy for Cheongdam Dokki in the YTN Cup (Pic: KRA)

Under Park Tae Jong, Clean Up Joy ran his usual race, looping the field in the back-straight to move into 2nd place in the home turn. That he had enough in him to comfortably see off stablemate Shamrocker, speaks volumes about what a good horse Clean Up Joy is. But he’s not as good as Cheongdam Dokki. Right now in Seoul, nothing is.

For Cheongdam Dokki, it was a 10th career win on his 15th start. The time was slower than his win at the same distance in the Herald Business last month but he looked utterly within himself. Next stop is scheduled to be the concluding leg of the “Stayers’ Series”, the Busan Mayor’s Cup, on the south coast, on July 1st. Three Busan horses beat Cheongdam Dokki in the Grand Prix last December – Power Blade (who has the same owner), Triple Nine and Dongbang Daero. That was at 2300M. It would be a brave punter who takes on Cheongdam Dokki at 1800M. If he overcomes that, a serious attempt at the Korea Cup has to be on agenda.

YTN Cup – Seoul Racecourse – 2000M – May 27, 2018

1. Cheongdam Dokki (USA) [To Honor And Serve – Elusive Gold (Strike The Gold)] – Lim Gi Won – 1.1, 1.0
2. Clean Up Joy (USA) [Purge – Greta’s Joy (Joyeax Danseur)] – Park Tae Jong – 1.2
3. Shamrocker (USA) [Dublin – Portera (Lemon Drop Kid)] – Jang Chu Youl – 1.5
Distances: 5 lengths / 4 lengths
Also Ran: 4. Wonder Bolt (USA) 5. Wild Thunder (KOR) 6. Moonhak Chief (USA) 7. Places To Go (USA) 8. Miso Wangja (USA) 9. Winner Red (USA) 10. Areumdaundonghaeng (USA) 11. Chanma (KOR) 12. Cheonjeok (USA)

Round-up:

BUSAN SUNDAY

At Busan, Sun Day (Ingrandire) made it three wins from four starts in race 3. She’s half-sister to stablemate Today (Drosselmeyer) through their dam Gone Goodbye. Today has won ten of his twelve outings to date and is due to travel to Seoul to run in the SBS Sprint next Sunday. In Busan’s Sunday feature, Dynamic Dash (Pleasantly Perfect) returned to the winner’s circle for the first time in just over two years, outstaying a strong class 1 field over 2000M.

SEOUL SATURDAY

Manoel Nunes rode his first winner since taking up a full-time license in Korea. The Brazilian rider, three times champion in Singapore guided Two Kay (Biwa Shinseiki) to an all the way victory in race 11. Two Kay, an older half-brother of Korean Derby 3rd place-getter Choinma, was winning for the fifth time in eighteen starts. Two Kay would turn out to be the final winner saddled by trainer Ha Jae Heung, who retired after a 35-year career on Sunday.

BUSAN FRIDAY 

It was left to the track’s foreign grooms and in some cases trainers themselves to saddle and lead up their horses as local stable staff went on strike. Open The Sky (Sky Mesa), 7th in last year’s Korea Sprint returned for the first time since that September day in Seoul. Though favourite, the three-year-old, with five wins from nine prior starts, would have to settle for 2nd as fellow Kim Young Kwan trainee Uju Star (Officer), took the win. Both Peter Wolsley and Bart Rice played their part in keeping the show on the road, carrying out parade ring duty with their horses and both were rewarded with winners; Rice combining with jockey Fergus Sweeney as the promising Geumsuryeong (Vicar) moved on to three wins from five in race 9.

COMING UP NEXT WEEKEND

It’s mini International Week in Seoul with a string of Exchange races, but the big action comes in the form of a pair of big group races on Sunday afternoon:

SBS Sports Sprint: The 2nd leg of the Sprint Series and having beaten Power Blade in the 1st leg at Busan last month, Silver Wolf will look to follow up with a win on her home track. Power Blade won’t travel but a strong Busan continegent will with Today, Perdido Pomeroy and last year’s winner Doraonpogyeongseon expected to make the trip.

Ttukseom Cup: The 1st leg of the Queens’ Tour for fillies and mares aged 5-year-old or younger. Silver Wolf won this series last year but is now too old so Haeya, who spent most of 2017 chasing her, will have a real chance to get some big wins on the board.

YTN Cup Full Preview: Cheongdam Dokki Takes On Clean Up Joy Again

Cheongdam Dokki has spent the past few months systematically replacing Clean Up Joy as Seoul’s top horse. Cheongdam Dokki beat the older horse in both the KRA Cup Classic last October and the Herald Business Cup last month with Clean Up Joy the defending champion in both and found time in between to finish ahead of him in the Grand Prix Stakes and beat him in a handicap for good measure. A year ago, Clean Up Joy won the YTN Cup and on Seoul on Sunday, Cheongdam Dokki will be odds-on to take it off him. 

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Cheongdam Dokki & Lim Gi Won winning the Herald Business (Pic: Ross Holburt)

A field of twelve will assemble for the YTN Cup, which the 2nd leg in the “Stayer’s Series” – the Herald Business was the 1st and the Busan Mayor’s Cup is the final leg on July 1st on the South Coast.

Cheongdam Dokki was very much a handful last year with mounting yard and post parade antics making him a difficult watch for those who had backed him at short odds. Since his 4th place in the Grand Prix Stakes when he set blistering fractions only to run out of steam in the closing stages of the 2300M, he appears to have calmed down and looks to be maturing as a racehorse too. Under Lim Gi Won, who keeps the mount despite both previous riders Moon Se Young and Kim Yong Geun being back from injury, he will be expected to dictate from gate to wire.

It’s still a ten-furlong horse-race though and anything can happen. Clean Up Joy, got within two and a half lengths of him in the Herald Business Cup and clearly isn’t a spent force yet. He will run his usual race, being badly away from the outside gate, which connections always request due to his awkward way of starting, and then improving in the back straight before finishing strongly. If he can be close enough at the top of the straight so Cheongdam Dokki feels he has some competition, then we may have a race.

Clean Up Joy’s stablemate Shamrocker will be there too as will Places To Go, who provides a final Stakes runner for trainer Ha Jae Heung, who retires this weekend. Places To Go enters off three consecutive class 1 wins and may have a say. Pioneerof The Nile colt Moonhak Chief, with five wins from his eight starts so far also takes his chance. It is probably a little too much too soon, but he looks to have plenty of promise for the future.

  1. AREUMDAUNDONGHAENG – Formerly top mare who has gone very cold of late David Breux tasked with bringing some spark to her.
  2. SHAMROCKER – Took on Cheongdam Dokki for speed in January which was predictably futile. Ran his own race in the Herald Business and did better, finishing a good 3rd. Should place again.
  3. WINNER RED – 4th behind Places To Go at 1400M on only start this year. Outsider but may challenge for the lead which could be interesting.
  4. WONDER BOLT – 2nd to Silver Wolf in the Sports Donga in March but well back behind Cheongdam Dokki, Clean Up Joy and Shamrocker in the Herald Business.
  5. PLACES TO GO – A revelation this year going 3 for 3 at Class 1. Tougher opposition today but placing chances.
  6. CHEONGDAM DOKKI – If he runs anything approaching his best, he wins leading from gate to wire.
  7. CHEONJEOK – Well back in the Herald Business and a big outsider today.
  8. MISO WANGJA – Not much in recent form stands out. Another who may well opt to take on Cheongdam Dokki early.
  9. CHANMA – Decent enough at class 1 finishing 4th behind Places To Go last start. Big ask here but outside chance of the minor money.
  10. WILD THUNDER – Class 2 winner at this distance on April 21st which allows him to take his chance here. Big step up in competition though.
  11. MOONHAK CHIEF – Plenty of promise and the only three-year-old in the race. First time at the distance and perhaps a little too much too soon.
  12. CLEAN UP JOY – Still very dangerous, if Cheongdam Dokki does anything wrong, he’s the one to take advantage.

Selections: (6) Cheongdam Dokki (12) Clean Up Joy (2) Shamrocker (5) Places To Go

Cheongdam Dokki Takes Care Of Business

Cheongdam Dokki eased to victory in the Herald Business Cup on Sunday, dismissing seven rivals, including Clean Up Joy, in the most facile of manners.

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Cheongdam Dokki and Lim Gi Won in the clear (Pic: Ross Holburt)

It was only Cheongdam Dokki’s second outing of 2018, having beaten Clean Up Joy and Shamrocker over the same distance in January. That time there had been something of interest in that Shamrocker had taken the favourite on for speed early. Futile, but momentarily interesting. He didn’t do it again and in a race utterly devoid of any tension, Cheongdam Dokki eased to his ninth win on his fourteenth career start. Clean Up Joy and Shamrocker chased him home with Sinjo Daehyeop in 4th.

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Lim Gi Won partnered Cheongdam Dokki for the first time (Pic: Ross Holburt)

Bigger tests surely await although it is hard to imagine anything at Seoul challenging him, certainly up to 2000M. Having taken both the KRA Cup Classic and now Herald Business off Clean Up Joy, he could well add the YTN Cup to his name in late May – Clean Up Joy won that last year too. The Busan Metropolitan Mayor’s Cup could be interesting, as he would likely run into Power Blade – also owned by Kim Byeong Jin. The big target though, must be September’s Korea Cup.

Herald Business Cup – Seoul Racecourse – 2000M – April 22, 2018

1. Cheongdam Dokki (USA) [To Honor And Serve – Elusive Gold (Strike The Gold)] – Lim Gi Won – 1.4, 1.1
2. Clean Up Joy (USA) [Purge – Greta’s Joy (Joyeux Danseur)] – Park Tae Jong – 1.1
3. Shamrocker (USA) [Dublin – Portera (Lemon Drop Kid)] – Jang Chu Youl – 2.2
Distances: 2.5 lengths / 1.5 lengths
Also Ran: 4. Sinjo Daehyeop (USA) 5. Wonder Bolt (USA) 6. Cheonjeok (USA) 7. Storng Road (KOR) 8. Space Port (USA)

Seoul & Busan Sunday: Cheongdam Dokki / Race-By-Race Preview (April 22)

He’s currently the most exciting horse in Korea and on Sunday, Cheongdam Dokki (To Honor And Serve) will line up against seven rivals – six of whom he’s beaten before – in the Herald Business Cup over 2000M at Seoul Racecourse. He faces Clean Up Joy, who won the race last year, as well as Sinjo Daehyeop and Shamrocker. The Herald Business is race 9 on an eleven-race card at Seoul which runs from 10:45 to 18:00. At Busan, there are six races from 12:40 to 17:05.

Cheongdam Dokki

See below for Busan Selections:

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

Competitive opener and (5) SONGAM JEUNE beat a couple of these on her way to a solid 2nd place on what was just her second start on March 24th and has every chance of matching or even bettering today. She’ll be on pace early alongside (7) BAEKDUI TAEYANG, himself a good 2nd at the distance last time and likely to be well supported. The one to beat though might well be (1) HAENGBOK STAR. He’s come 4th and 3rd in his two prior outings and the extra half furlong today may be what he needs to get home in front. (9) GANADORA and first-time starter, the modestly named (3) THE KING, are others who can go close.

Selections (5) Songam Jeune (1) Haengbok Star (3) The King (7) Baekdui Taeyang
Next Best 9, 4
Fast Start 5, 7, 9

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

Three-year-old fillies only here and almost any of them could win. Simon Foster’s (3) SURFING POINT ran poorly on debut but improved last time. David Breux returns to the mount today and she has as much of a claim as any of them. (7) BETTINA and (2) MORAN DONGBEAK came home 2nd and 4th respectively when they raced each other at this distance back in January. Bettina races for the first time since then here while Moran Dongbeak has gone on to put in another couple of promising performances and both may be considered here. (6) STAR LIST did little on debut but could improve today while (8) ENJOY MY SHOW has a 2nd place to her name and could repeat in what is a very modest contest.

Selections (3) Surfing Point (7) Bettina (2) Moran Dongbeak (6) Star List
Next Best 8, 4, 12
Fast Start 4, 5, 8

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

Three-year-olds only and it’s another rather weak maiden. There is, however, an interesting debut-maker in the shape of (3) PRINCE OF SUN. He’s a half-brother to US based Dubai Golden Shaheen winner Mind Your Biscuits and has trialled up impressively. His Korea-based half-brother Baeksan Yeowang hasn’t exactly pulled up trees so far but Prince Of Sun could well have enough to win this. (6) GANGSANUI ACHIM and (11) STRONG LIGHT both come in off 3rd place finishes last time in very similar strength races to this, so both should be looking to at least repeat. (10) RAON OPTIMUS races for the first time since running reasonably well over 1700M in January and can be considered for improvement. (12) RUSSEL showed his first signs of potential ability when running 5th of 12 in an admittedly slow race at this distance a month ago and is another one to take into consideration.

Selections (3) Prince Of Sun (6) Gangsanui Achim (10) Raon Optimus (11) Strong Light
Next Best 12, 5
Fast Start 5, 7, 8, 11

Race 4: Class 5 (1300M) Handicap / KRW 40 Million

Decent race with plenty entering having shown very solid recent form. The pick of them though is (3) WOOSEORA ICHEON who just came up short when favourite at class and distance on March 24th, his second consecutive runner-up finish. He is well drawn once more to get on pace early and can complete the job this time. (4) JEONGSANG DOLPUNG and (11) BOLD SHINING also come in having performed strongly at this class in their latest efforts and they should be close. Jeongsang Dolpung’s most recent was 2nd at 1000M and he looks ready to take on a longer trip today. Three of the field are up in class following maiden wins last time although for (5) RULE OF SUM, that was a full fourteen months ago. The pick of the up and comers is (10) FRENCH STAR, who also tries further than the minimum distance for the first time.

Selections (3) Wooseora Icheon (4) Jeongsang Dolpung (11) Bold Shining (10) French Star
Next Best 6, 12, 5
Fast Start 2, 4, 10

Race 5: Class 4 (1200M) Handicap / KRW 60 Million

A couple of standouts here although both will need to bounce back from slightly below-par showings last start. (6) YAHO SMART CAT won his first two races but could only manage 4th on his first try at both this class and at further than the minimum distance on March 24th. Hopefully he can have come on for that and can return to top form today. (more…)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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