Heat Yegam

Sunday Seoul & Busan: Race-By-Race Preview (February 27)

Sunday sees racing at Seoul (11 races from 10:45 to 18:00) and Busan (6 races from 12:00 to 16:40). Last year’s champion three-year-old Heat Yegam makes his season-debut in Busan while in the feature in Seoul, 2019 Korea Cup winner Moonhak Chief will be among the contenders. All betting locations across Korea are open, however, attendance must be pre-booked through the MyCard app and evidence of up to fate vaccination against Covid-19 is required:

Heat Yegam races for the first time in 2022 (Pic: KRA)

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

Three-year-old maiden fillies open proceedings. (6) CUPID WAY is set to be a warm favourite. That’s based on her debut when she ran on well to run 2nd in a decent time behind a good winner over 1000M with an eye-catching final furlong. She comes up in trip but that should suit, and she’ll be hard to beat. It’s hard to go past (9) SONGAM BEST for second choice She beat three of these on her way to 3rd place on debut at 1000M on January 30th and can be expected to be on pace here. (3) MENI ACE and (12) DOLBAE were two of those behind Songam Best in that January race, and both can aim to improve and get closer here. There are three first time starters and among them, (10) SINHAN TEUKSONG looks to have the best chance of making an immediate impression.

Selections(6) Cupid Way (9) Songam Best (3) Meni Ace (12) Dolbae
Next Best10, 13
Fast Start5, 9, 12, 13

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

(1) SUPERDIA is the one to beat here. After trailing fairly, she put in a very solid effort from gate twelve on debut to get handy to the lead and then run on for 3rd. She draws much better on the inside today and should get a softer run to the front and be hard to go past. (2) MARUMA will almost certainly jump as second-favourite. He won a (slow) trial in December and then ran on well from a long way back to make it up to 5th over 1000M on debut on January 9th. He too draws much better this time around, and the step up in trip should suit. (11) LONDON SKY has already had a couple of spins around this distance and hinted at progress last time. He can run on and into some money here. (4) GEOLJAK MAN can aim to match the 4th place he achieved at his latest start while (9) SMART BYEOL is another with money chances.

Selections(1) Superdia (2) Maruma (11) London Sky (4) Geoljak Man
Next Best9, 12
Fast Start1, 3, 11, 12

Seoul Race 3: Class 6 (1300M) Allowance / KRW 25 Million

Short-priced favourite here in the shape of (9) ASPENROS. Having run 3rd on debut at this distance, he stepped up to 1400M on January 29th and having settled midfield from gate twelve, ran on for 2nd place, ahead of a couple of today’s rivals. He’ll take some beating here. (1) SMART BLUE has shown improvement at his latest two with a 2nd and a 3rd, both at 1200M. He draws well here and can continue to make progress. (7) EURO GANGJA was 3rd behind Aspenros in that January 29th race. That was an improvement, but he has seven-lengths to make up on him here. (2) FLY STAR debuted adequately in the same race and should have come on for the experience. (10) NEW A ONE another who has placing chances.

Selections(9) Aspenros (1) Smart Blue (7) Euro Gangja (2) Fly Star
Next Best10, 4
Fast Start2, 8, 11, 13

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

(10) MAN OF THE STAR has put in three promising runs so far including a good 3rd place over 1200M last time out when he led for much of the way around. He comes up slightly in trip today and despite the wide draw should have enough early speed to get on the lead again. This time he may not be caught. (4) GREAT CAPTAIN came home in 5th place to Man Of The Star’s 3rd on January 14th. That was an improvement from his debut, and he seemed to appreciate the step up in trip. He gets a little further today, and more development is possible. (6) GRAND SUN too hasn’t done much wrong in two outings to date, registering a 3rd and a 4th, both at 1200M. He will be on pace or handy here and can go close. (7) QUALITY QUEEN and (1) RAON THE FIGHTING, are others to consider for at least a place.

Selections(10) Man Of The Star (4) Great Captain (6) Grand Sun (7) Quality Queen
Next Best1, 3
Fast Start1, 6, 7, 10

Seoul Race 4: Class 6 (1700M) Allowance / KRW 25 Million

Tricky one where only four of the twelve have tackled the 1700M before. (1) KING MOUNTAIN has never gone further than 1200M, but he has consistently run fair times and made a significant breakthrough when 2nd at his latest start on January 9th. When sitting handy and running on. He draws nicely on the inside again and may be worth taking a chance on here. (2) NAUI NARA comes in off back-to-back 3rd place finishes over 1400M and 1300M, the former time beating a few of today’s rivals. Expect him up on pace as well and he can go close. (8) DIVINE POWER has raced at this distance before and while he is yet to finished in the top-three in thirteen attempts, this is the kind of company in which he can pick up a cheque. (4) NAMSAN DREAM and (6) BLACK KING are others to enter the calculations.

Selections(1) King Mountain (2) Naui Nara (8) Divine Power (4) Namsan Dream
Next Best6, 7
Fast Start1, 2, 9, 12

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

Fillies and mares only here. Despite the wide draw, (14) RADAR is going to be the favourite here. Having trailed well, she was a front-running 2nd on debut at this distance on January 28th, only going down by a small margin in a good time. The same apprentice jockey keeps the weight very light, and she will be expected to win here. (13) SAVE US didn’t do an awful lot in two starts last summer but returned on Christmas Eve after a few months off and has longed a much better prospect in two outings since. She has registered a 2nd and a 3rd, both at this distance and both in decent times. She too has a wide draw to overcome but should be equal to it. Those two should fill out the quinella in either order. (4) STELLA QUEEN may appreciate the step up in trip and could be an each-way price. (6) HAVANA JANE is the most experienced in the race by some margin; obviously not a good thing at class 6 but she has shown flashes of ability and has run good times at the trip. First-timer (9) LIONESS, potentially another who can go well.

Selections(14) Radar (13) Save Us (4) Stella Queen (6) Havana Jane
Next Best9, 5
Fast Start3, 5, 12, 14

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

Competitive race. (5) HEUNGHAENG DAEBAK was a winner over 1300M at class 6 level two starts back before beating a couple of these on his way to an in now way disgraced 6th on his first try at this class having navigated his way across from gate fourteen. He does come up a little in the weights today but draws much better and has a chance. (8) POWER BOX will probably be favourite. It’s fair to say that he has mixed his form across five starts so far, including a disappointing showing last time out. He has run good times at this distance and if we catch him in-form, he may be too good. (11) SEUNGSEUNG POWER comes back in trip following good showings at 1300M and 1400M. He comes up in the weights and doesn’t draw well but can be considered. (4) DESK TAP was disappointing last time behind, among others, Seungseung Power, but is better than that and can be given another chance. (13) DONMA was a shock winner on debut and could be anything.


Winner’s Man Denies Heat Yegam By Nose In See-Saw Korean Derby

In the end it didn’t disappoint as what was billed in advance as potentially the greatest Korean Derby so far, went down to the very last stride at Seoul Racecourse on Sunday afternoon when Winner’s Man denied Heat Yegam a shot at completing the Triple Crown, by the narrowest of possible margins.

On a weekend when racing fans were allowed into Seoul Racecourse for the first time in over a year Heat Yegam, the runaway winner of the KRA Cup Mile at Busan a month ago, was sent off as a slightly better than even-money favourite for the second jewel in the Crown, the Korean Derby (KOR G1).

Winner’s Man began as second-favourite but was slowly out of the gate for the 1800M Classic as Heat Yegam bounded into an early lead with a perennially keen – and badly drawn – Heungbaragi bounding across to join him. So began a topsy-turvy race which saw Heat Yegam and jockey You Hyun-myung a constant on the front but there was a constant shifting of fortunes behind.

Winner’s Man was ridden up towards the pace before fading and then finding a second wind, while Heungbaragi similarly fell away on the turn for home only to reappear in contention once more. With a furlong to run there were still six in it with Heat Yegam finally collared by Heungbaragi, with Mr. Indie not far behind on the rail and Winner’s Man, Chief Indy and outsider Choegang Game in the centre.

Just as it looked like Heat Yegam was beaten, he rallied and even retook the lead with just 50M to go as Heungbaragi faltered. But all the time Winner’s Man was closing and in the very final strides, Choi Si Dae got one last burst out of his charge to sweep past. It went to a photo-finish but there was no doubt; Winner’s Man had got it on the line.

Heungbaragi, just as in the KRA Cup Mile, was the big loser from the barrier draw but put in a big run to finish 3rd. Choegang Game was a revelation in 4th while Mr. Indie did nothing wrong in 5th.

For Winner’s Man [Musket Man – Winner’s Marine (Volponi)] it was an eighth win on his twelfth career start. Jockey Choi Si-dae, who picked up a substantial fine for his use of the whip in the closing stages, won his second Derby having partnered Yeongcheon Ace to victory in 2015. Trainer Choi Ki-hong, who has been licensed since 2004, won his first Group race of any description.

The brave Heat Yegam lost little in defeat on a dry and heavy track and will surely be back to fight another day. Whether that is in the final leg of the Triple Crown, the Minister’s Cup over 2000M back at Seoul on December 12th, remains to be seen. One thing is for sure though is that this year’s Classic crop certainly measures up. Winner’s Man won today, but the quest for ultimate supremacy in the three-year-old ranks goes on.

KRA Cup Mile 2021 Review

A little late but: It was billed as the hottest opening leg to a Korean Triple Crown ever but in the end Heat Yegam turned it into a procession with a scorching gate to wire win in the KRA Cup Mile (KOR G2) at Busan last Sunday afternoon.

The first race of the three-year-old Classic series had been delayed from its usual April spot by six months due to the ongoing impact of the pandemic on the racing industry. That delay led to what is usually green and unexposed field in the Cup Mile, reaching the starting line this time with in-excess of sixty previous race wins between them.

Heat Yegam was sent off as the betting favourite and from gate nine he got a beautiful start while some of the expected speedsters on his inside faltered and was quickly into an early and surprisingly easy lead. Big rival Winner’s Man was quickly on his shoulder but having come out of gate twelve was being made to work hard. Meanwhile Seoul’s big hope, Heungbaragi, was content to sit handy and wide with jockey Choi Bum-hyun having quickly abandoned any hopes of leading from gate fifteen.

By the top of the stretch, Heat Yegam and Winner’s Man held a four-length advantage over the rest of the field, but it was clear the latter was feeling the effects of the early pace. Heat Yegam though was fresh and while he drifted a little in the final furlong and a half, he cruised home two-lengths to the good. Heungbaragi – who having been wide for most of the race, ended up on the inside fence – ran a strong race in 2nd, while another Seoul raider, Chief Indy closed ominously for 3rd. Mr. Indie was 4th and Winner’s Man a brave 5th.

The win itself may have been soft but the performance was anything but. Heat Yegam completed the first six furlongs just one-tenth of a second outside the track record for that distance – no wonder Winner’s Man couldn’t cope any longer – and then ran on to record an overall time only a second shy of the track record for a mile, held by Blue Chipper.  It was his eighth win in nine starts.

For jockey You Hyun-myung, post-race feelings were a mixture of elation and relief. “Going on my experience with this horse so far, I had to expect him to win,” You told the Korea Racing Broadcasting Channel (KRBC) after the race. “There was always going to be a lot of pressure at the start, so I just wanted to get out of the gate in a straight line with no trouble. As it happened, we got away very well and, in the end, everything was much smoother and easier than I expected.” 

Next up will be the Korean Derby in Seoul on November 7th, as Heat Yegam seeks to emulate J.S. Hold and Power Blade in winning a Triple Crown. You Hyun-myung thinks the horse will be ready. “

Heat Yegam was bred by the Yeonhak Agricultural Corporation at the Yeonhak Farm on Jeju Island and was sold privately to owner Kim Joon-hyun for 150 Million Korean Won as a yearling in September 2019. Sired by Take Charge Indy, during that stallion’s brief sojourn in Korea before his American farm bought him back due to the unexpected success of his Stateside progeny, he is out of Desert Heat, a mare from the final crop by the legendary sire, Mr. Prospector.

How they ran:

1st  Heat Yegam – started favourite today  showed great speed to sit a tad wide but a fast comfortable rhythm, on the corner he applied some pressure to get a good break on the field and while he drifted out in the early part of the straight came back towards the finish. This was a sensational run and the fastest ever KRA Cup Mile run to date.

2nd Heungbaragi – He had a challenge from barrier 15 but showed  good speed to get forward however he was very wide most of the journey lost ground on the corner and then fought on strongly in the straight making up much ground. A stellar performance

3rd  Chief Indy – Settled wide and midfield then on the corner the jockey elected to go inside near the fence where he was balanced up and urged forward. It was at the 150m when he came into the picture and kept taking ground off the leaders. A great run and further distance will also suit him.

4th Mr. Indie – He was ridden hard early to get a more forward position settling on the fence midfield then slotted forward just behind Mach Titan. He stayed on the rails saving much ground, into the straight and he was a clear 4th he kept fighting in the straight to maintain 4th in a strong run.

5th Winner’s Man – Ridden hard early to be on the shoulder of Heat Yegam and was wide from a less favourable gate. Couldn’t maintain that pace after such a fast opening but plenty of merit in the way he ran on for 5th. He may be a different prospect in Seoul at the Korean Derby.

Three-Year-Olds Suffer Reverses / Hunch Continues To Impress

Heat Yegam and Winner’s Man came home as winner and runner-up in Busan’s top juvenile race last autumn but the two up and comers both came unstuck – and yet still emerged with credit – over the weekend. In the older division there were no such problems for Hunch as the four-year-old continued his stately progress towards the elite level of Korean racing with an easy win.

With In-person attendance severely restricted and online betting remaining stubbornly illegal, it remains to be seen if there will even be a Triple Crown series this year but both Heat Yegam went into their Saturday preps at Busan as odds-on favourites. Heat Yegam, went first, sticking to the 1200M at which he had won all his juvenile starts. Despite having led for much of the way round, the Take Charge Indy colt was passed as he drifted wide in the home straight, ultimately coming home 2nd to the four-year-old Great Boss.

Later on in the card Winner’s Man, 2nd to Heat Yegam last November but considered more of a Classic contender having already won at a mile, tackled two turns for the first time in the 1800M race 9 at class 3 level. From gate 12, the Musket Man colt had to work hard early to get on the pace. He came together with Golden Winner in the straight and ended up being pushed out slightly wide, finishing just under a length in arrears to the Djordje Perovic ridden winner.

Neither lost very much in defeat. For Heat Yegam it was a positive return after a three-month spell while for Winner’s Man, a better barrier may well have seen him victorious. The defeats though may have piqued the interest of connections of another three-year-old at Busan on Saturday who did actually win his race. That was Alpha Again (by Strike Again), who led from gate to wire over 1400M at class 4 level to take his record to three wins from six starts. It is probably enough to get him into the starting gate if and when the KRA Cup Mile kicks off the Triple Crown.

The star of the show at Busan on Friday was Hunch. Peter Wolsley’s American import made three undistinguished starts as a juvenile back in 2019 but after nine months off, he reappeared following the first shutdown last summer looking a much better prospect and has gone on to register five wins from six subsequent starts. The latest of those was in Friday’s class 2 Busan feature when under Perovic, outclassed a very useful set of rivals by five-lengths in the kind of time that would see him close in Group races.

With rating increases still being limited in line with the current reduced prize money, Hunch will get at least one more crack at class 2 before he has to dip his toe into class 1. By To Honor And Serve, more than one observer pointed out that his winning time on Friday was faster than that recorded by a somewhat more established Korean runner by the same sire in his own latest two wins – Cheongdam Dokki.  On Friday’s performance, Hunch may end up facing Korea’s favourite chestnut at some point this year.

Seoul’s fifteen-race card on Sunday was a somewhat low-key affair with the feature class 2 handicap being won by Top Brain (Uncle Mo). There were, however, doubles for foreign jockeys Johan Victoire and Antonio Da Silva while trainer Luigi Riccardi also recorded a welcome victory.

Next weekend’s racing in Korea will follow the same pattern with ten races slated for Busan on Saturday and fifteen at Seoul on Sunday.

Heungbaragi, Heat Yegam Claim Juvenile Wins / Racing To Continue Under Raised Distancing Levels

This year’s juvenile crop got a rare opportunity to run for a big prize at both Seoul and Busan on Sunday with the Jeju Governor’s Cup prize split into two heats and run as what would have been the second leg of the Juvenile Series, both of them over 1200M.

At Busan there were only eight runners but still plenty of intrigue as Winner’s Man and Heat Yegam put their 100% records on the line. While Winner’s Man was favourite, it was Heat Yegam, under You Hyun-myung, who prevailed, leading gate-to-wire for a four-length victory. Winner’s Man was 2nd with Good Socks a further nine-lengths in arrears in 3rd.

Heat Yegam [Take Charge Indy – Desert Heat (Mr. Prospector)] is from the first of what will ultimately be three Korean crops by Take Charge Indy. He’s the third foal from his dam to race in Korea – the other two have both won races but Heat Yegam looks significantly better than either of them.

Up at Seoul the equivalent race attracted a full field of fourteen, including the first five home in August’s Rookie Stakes. Choegangyeongcheon, who only debuted the day before the Rookie, was sent off slight favourite but reared in the gates prior to the start and while passed fit to run, was never a factor.

Instead it was Rookie winner Heungbaragi who made light work of the widest draw to hit the front early and run on for an eye-catching two-and-a-half length win. Super Champion came home in 2nd place with the filly Jedi in 3rd.

Heungbaragi [Old Fashioned – Grand Marketing (After Market)] moves on to three wins from three starts. He is the first foal out of his dam, who did her racing in Korea. He could well be a career-defining horse for veteran jockey Lee Joon-chel.

With Busan having joined Seoul under “Level 2” social distancing rules, both tracks were devoid of spectators over the weekend. Only Jeju Racecourse and four provincial OTBs were able to accept a limited number of customers and accordingly, with the exception of the juvenile races, there was reduced stakes money all around (and horses will not be penalized by the handicapper for their successes or otherwise).

It was feared that the government may raise the level to 2 for the entire country on Sunday afternoon but instead they settled on maintaining the Seoul and Busan levels while raising the rest of the country to 1.5. This means that weekend racing can continue but there will be changes.

Only Jeju will race on Friday while Seoul and Busan will both race – with truncated cards – on Saturday and Sunday. On Saturday, Seoul will conduct its card first with Busan immediately following while this will be done in reverse on Sunday. Races will continue to be run for reduced Stake money. The only places which will be open for spectators and betting are the Jeju Racecourse and the Daegu and Daejeon Off-Course Betting centres. Attendance at all three will be limited to 20% of capacity.