Korea Sprint

Korea Cup & Korea Sprint Sunday: Race-By-Race Preview (September 4)

The 5th Korea Cup and Korea Sprint are set to be run at Seoul Racecourse on Sunday afternoon and with Typhoon Hinnamnor getting ever closer, there is set to be heavy rain and probably thunderstorms all throughout the day. There are 10 races at Seoul from 10:45 to 18:00 and 6 at Busan from 12:00 to 17:05. The Korea Sprint is race 7 at 15:35 and the Korea Cup is race 8 at 16:35. Here are the previews of all races:

Moonhak Chief will finally have a successor as Korea Cup winner (Pic: KRA)

Seoul Race 1: Class 6 (1200M) Allowance / KRW 60 Million

Juvenile maidens in the opener although all but one have raced at least once before. The favourite will be (2) BAEDARI WANGJA. He ran a good 2nd on debut over 1000M on July 31st when he settled back and ran on, beating three of today’s rivals in the process. He should have come on for the run and the additional furlong should suit. Logical second pick is (7) RAON THE COBRA who also debuted in that July 31st race, coming off the pace and running 4th. He too should appreciate and extra furlong to get stuck into. (6) PERFECT GUN MAN has raced twice already, both over 1000M and improving in the latter. At the same rate of improvement, he can go close here. (4) KWAEHYANG, 6th behind Baedari Wangja and Raon The Cobra on what was his second start, and (3) WONDERFUL INDY others in the frame.

Selections(2) Baedari Wangja (7) RaonThe Cobra (6) Perfect Gun Man (4) Kwaehyang
Next Best3, 1
Fast Start1, 4, 6, 7

Seoul Race 2: Class 5 (1200M) Handicap / KRW 40 Million

(11) SUN DRAGON sat handy early on debut over 1000M, before taking things up entering the home straight and running on to win comfortably. He comes up in both class and distance here but is favoured to win once more, despite the wide draw. The main danger is (9) JISANGUN. He has consistently run good times and possesses the fastest one at this class and distance, recorded when a close runner-up at his latest start on July 24th, when handy throughout. He carries his fair share of weight but should be right in this. (1) RAON THE WILD could be an interesting one at probable big odds. He ran on pleasingly enough for 5th last time out, stays under a light weight and comes into a much better gate. (2) QUEEN OF RACING and (3) BLOOD MOON are others in the hunt.

Selections(11) Sun Draon (9) Jisangun (1) Raon The Wild (2) Queen Of Racing
Next Best3, 8
Fast Start5, 6, 11, 12

Seoul Race 3: Class 5 (1200M) Handicap / KRW 40 Million

Tricky race. (1) MORNING PEARL returned form six months out to run a good 4th over this distance on July 24th, on what was also her first try at this class following too many near-misses at class 6. She should have come on for the run and can be in the mix here. The probable favourite is (6) CHANGER. A winner at this distance two starts back at class 6 level, he was a front-running 4th at class and distance on July 30th. He’ll be on pace here and could go all the way. (9) DUSON DRIVE returned from six months out away to secure his maiden win over this distance on July 30th. He is up in class here but can measure up in this company. (7) RULES CLASS came from off the pace to run a strong 2nd at class and distance on July 9th in a fast time. He can settle back here and run into some money again. (2) DOLBAE another in the minor money hunt.

Selections(1) Morning Pearl (6) Changer (9) Duson Drive (7) Rules Class
Next Best2, 8
Fast Start2, 6, 8, 11

Busan Race 1: Class 6 (1000M) Allowance / KRW 60 Million

A small field of eight juveniles here with precisely half racing for the first time. There are two standouts, one with experience and one debuting. We’ll side with experience and (1) TWOTWO FLYING.  Following a couple of ordinary trials, he ran a useful enough 5th of nine on debut over 1000M on August 7th when handy throughout and finishing in a decent time. He should have come on for that run and nicely drawn on the inside, he can go even better here. (7) RAON THE TANGO is the promising debut-maker. He went through two trials, running faster in the second of them and crossing the line 3rd behind, but not far away from, two experienced racehorses, having settled back and run on. If he brings that form to the races, he has every chance. (5) FINAL SEVEN posted a good enough time in his heat to suggest he can go well first-up. (2) HAMPYEONG SHINE and (3) TAP DREAM others to consider.

Selections(1) Twotwo Flying (7) Raon The Tango (5) Final Seven (2) Hampyeong Shine
Next Best3, 7
Fast Start1, 2, 3, 7

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

This is a tricky one. (7) BLACK CHARM’s latest two including a class and distance runner-up finish in a fast time and then a 5th place in a strong race for the class is probably enough to earn him the pick. He got too far back last time behind running on well and if he can be ridden a bit further forward this time, he can win. He doesn’t win out of turn though, hence being still at this level. (12) SAENAE WIN was a winner at this class last time out in June when making all over 1300M. The draw is not good here and he comes up 3.5kg in the weights but he should be competitive. The draw is very kind to (1) BYEORAK and he can use it to get a potentially soft lead. He was behind Saenae Win in that June race, but he subsequently ran 4th over 1300M in July and meets him better at the weights here. He is a chance. (2) GLOBAL STORM is up in class following a win at start sixteen. He’ll be big odds here but is well drawn and he could sneak a place. (11) EUNHYE RECORD another in the hunt.

Selections(7) Black Charm (12) Saenae Win (1) Byeorak (2) Global Storm
Next Best11, 9
Fast Start1, 3, 4, 12

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

Maidens and it’s hard to look past (7) MIGHTY STORM here. He wasn’t ready when he debuted last November, but he was put away after that for seven months and since returning in June has raced three times and finished 4th in all three. His latest was his best, when he ran a good time in competitive company and any similar run will see him home on top here. (2) BURUI YEOSIN beat a couple of these on his way to 6th of eleven last time and that along with the good draw and the apprentice claim is enough to make him the second pick. Solitary debut-maker (8) YEONGUNG ROAD won a trial and although it wasn’t fast – he was the only one of the seven in his heat to be inside the qualifying time – he did it easily enough and he couldn’t pick a softer race to debut in. (5) NICE DAY and (11) TAKE ADELE others who could potentially get some minor money.

Selections(7) Mighty Storm (2) Burui Yeosin (8) Yeongung Road (5) Nice Day
Next Best11, 4
Fast Start4, 5, 8, 10

Seoul Race 5: Class 5 (1700M) Handicap / KRW 40 Million

(7) HATMURI is the pick here. After getting his maiden win at class 6 level two starts back, he then ran a strong 2nd behind a good winner at this class over 1300M on July 23rd. He steps up to two-turns for the first time but his running style to date gives every indication that it can suit, and he will be a warm favourite. It’s fair to say that (9) AMAZING WHIZ has mixed his form so far but he has a 2nd place to his name at class and distance and ran 4th on his latest outing on July 30th when settling right back and running on. He looks nicely in here and has solid claims for a place. So too (5) P N S GAMBOL, who has the fastest time among those who have tackled the 1700M before. That came on his latest outing on August 14th when he led for most of the way around, ultimately finishing runner-up and under today’s handicap rather than set-weight conditions, he even comes down a kilo. (1) FINAL CHARM and (12) CAMP SAVER others in the frame.

Selections(7) Hatmuri (9) Amazing Whiz (5) P N S Gambol (1) Final Charm
Next Best12, 11
Fast Start1, 2, 5, 12

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

There are two clear standouts in this maiden. (9) SPICE ECTON trialled promisingly and then ran 2nd on debut on August 7th. That day’s good looking winner Graphene King didn’t exactly pull up trees on re-appearance at class 5 this past Friday, but Spice Ecton showed enough running on from midfield to suggest that he may have some ability and with some natural improvement can win this. (8) SMILEY LARRY showed some of that natural improvement when following up his 3rd place on debut with a 2nd place over this distance in a fast time on August 7th. He was on pace that day although the race was devoid of early speed, and he will be challenging Spice Ecton for the early initiative here. (2) SPEED MAST is the clear third pick. He has been much better since a four-month layoff and comes in following a career-best runner-up finish over this distance last start when on pace. He is a place chance again. (1) ECTON POWER and (11) BRAVO HAMYANG are others who can compete for the minors.

Selections(9) Spice Ecton (8) Smiley Larry (2) Speed Mast (1) Ecton Power
Next Best11, 7
Fast Start2, 7, 9, 11

Joe Fujii on Korea Cup & Sprint: “Japanese horses have an Advantage”

When it comes to the Korea Cup and Korea Sprint, few know as much about winning than jockey Kanichiro “Joe” Fujii, the only person to have ridden the winners of both races, having guided Chrysolite to victory in the 2016 Cup and Moanin in the 2018 Sprint.

Moanin & Fujii won the Sprint in 2018 (Pic: Ross Holburt/KRA)

Fujii, who remains in hospital in Japan after a devastating race-fall earlier this year, rode full-time in Korea from 2012 to 2015. After returning home, he became the go-to man for Japanese connections bringing their horses to run in big races in Korea, following his success on Esmeraldina in the Ttukseom Cup in 2015.

“I was so happy to get the opportunity to ride Chrysolite in the Korea Cup” recalled Fujii this Cup week.  He was a horse who didn’t like to race among other horses, so the way the race panned out was ideal. Kurino Star O led, and (Chrysolite) was able to sit off the speed and at the end he was very strong.”

Fujii’s 2018 Sprint win on Moanin, can potentially serve as a template for those who have missed out on drawing an inside gate as he emerged from gate nine, while Hong Kong’s Fight Hero, who he duelled with in the home straight and ultimately beat by a Head, started from gate thirteen.

“I knew Moanin was a good horse because he won a Group level race in the JRA but (the Korea Sprint) was his first time running in a 1200M race and I knew Korean horses are very quick out of the gate and very fast in the early part of the race so I couldn’t really keep up with the speed in the early stages. He was off the bridle all the way but once he got out, he really showed a good turn of foot and he fought with the Hong Kong horse. I was never really confident until the last 100 metres because, you know, Hong Kong horses can fight pretty hard.”

Chrysolite & Fujii won the Cup in 2016 (Pic: Ross Holburt/KRA)

Fujii believes that the Japanese horses are in a strong situation compared to other horses coming to Korea, simply due to practical reasons. “I think Japanese horses have a good advantage because the surface of the racecourse is very similar. Transportation wise, Japan to Korea is pretty much next door so it is an easy trip.”

This time around there is one Japanese horse in the Korea Cup, three-year-old Sekifu, who is already a seasoned traveller, while six-year-old Raptus makes his first trip out of Japan to run in the Korea Sprint. Both are strong contenders.

“Sekifu is a horse that likes to get back in his races and can finish very strong. His jockey Fujioka (Kota) is a good jockey.” Similar to Moanin before his Sprint bid, Raptus has been mostly racing over 1400M and Fujii sees no reason that he can’t emulate his performance, especially with a not-so-secret weapon in the shape of his rider. “Raptus has been running in short races and I’m pretty sure he’ll be running in the first three or four. Raptus will be ridden by Miyuki (Hideaki) and he rode Kurino Star O (behind Chrysolite) so he knows the track well.”

As for the pair’s overall chances: “It’s hard to compare with the Korean horses and the other international horses, but (Sekifu and Raptus) have above average form in Japan, so if they do what they have been doing there, I’m sure they will be right up there.”

The Cup, Sprint and Ttukseom Cup weren’t the only big Korean races that Joe Fujii won. “I stayed in Busan and Kim Young-kwan was the champion trainer and he was giving me a lot of opportunities like Speedy First in the Derby and Gamdonguibada in the Grand Prix so that’s why the Japanese connections asked me to ride the Cup and the Sprint. At that time, I wasn’t a jockey in the JRA; I always wanted to be so these victories really opened up my road to becoming a jockey in the JRA.”

Fujii achieved his lifelong goal, but as has been well reported, he now has another, much bigger task ahead of him. “Four months ago, I had a spinal cord injury from the race fall. Ever since then I have been in the hospital. I have been doing a lot of rehab seven days a week, so it is a long long recovery road for me, I’m just trying to get the sensation back into my legs so it is a new challenge for me.”

“I stayed in South Korea for three years; I was so happy with all the people and all the connections giving me a great opportunity and without my South Korea experience I could never ever get into JRA so that was one of my dreams. I won all the big races, the Cup and the Sprint, the Derby and the Grand Prix so the South Korean fans are very important to me, and I hope one day that I can travel again and show my face at the racecourse.”   

Nominations Open For Overseas-Trained Horses for Korea Cup and Korea Sprint 2022 (Sunday September 4)

Preliminary nominations for overseas horses are open for the the Korea Cup and Korea Sprint, which return to the calendar for the first time since 2019 and will be run at Seoul Racecourse on Sunday September 4th.

Both the Cup (1800M) and the Sprint (1200M) have a prize fund of KRW 1 Billion (about US$800,000 at current exchange rates). As the race is invitational, all shipping fees are covered for invited horses as well as travel and accommodation for connections:

Fifth Korea Cup & Korea Sprint Set For Sunday September 13 in Seoul

The 2020 Korea Cup and Korea Sprint will be run at Seoul Racecourse on Sunday September 13. This year’s editions will be the fifth running of the races, both of which boast a purse of 1 Billion Korean Won.

Moonhak Chief

Moonhak Chief won the fourth running of the Korea Cup (Pic: KRA)

In the previous four runnings, the interntational invitational Korea Cup and Korea Sprint have featured horses trained in the USA, Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore, UAE, France, Great Britain and Ireland. The 2019 Cup was won by Korean Horse of the Year Moonhak Chief while the Sprint went to Blue Chipper, who went on to finish 3rd in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile at Santa Anita.

On the domestic front, the Triple Crown kicks off on April 5th with the KRA Cup Mile at Busan. The Korean Derby is at Seoul on May 10th with the Korean Oaks run one week later at Busan on May 17th. The final jewel in the Crown is the Minister’s Cup at Seoul on June 14th while the fillies who have gone the Triple Tiara route have the Gyeonggi Governor’s Cup, also in tha capital, on June 21st.

After the Oaks, Busan’s next most valuable race, the Mayor’s Cup, won in 2019 by Dolkong, is in its usual position on the last Sunday in June.

Big autumn features the KRA Cup Classic and President’s Cup are both in their traditional spots in early October and November respectively, while the season finale Grand Prix Stakes will have its thirty-ninth running take place on Sunday December 13. All three are at Seoul.

Two new Listed races are on the calender at Busan, both named after horses who were stars of the early years of Busan Racecourse. The Luna Stakes will be run over a mile on April 26th while on September 27th, the Areumdaun Jilju Stakes will take place at 1200M. They will be the first races in Korea to be named in honour of past racehorses.

The first Listed race of the season is the Segye Ilbo Cup at Seoul this coming Sunday January 19. The first Group race is the SROA Chairman’s Cup (KOR G3) on March 15.

The full 2020 calender will be posted on the official KRA website soon. In the meantime, racegoers should be aware that there is no racing at any of the tracks in Korea on the weekend of January 24/25/26 due to the Lunar New Year holiday.


2019 Keeneland Korea Cup & Sprint Day: Race-By-Race Preview (September 8)

Seoul Racecourse got off quite lightly from Typhoon Lingling which swept up the coast of Korea on Saturday. No races on the 13-race card were affected and everything is now set for the running of the 2019 Keeneland Korea Cup and Korea Sprint on Sunday. There are 10 races at Seoul on Sunday from 10:45 to 18:00 while there are also 6 at Busan from 12:35 to 17:30. Here is the race-by-race preview, including the Cup and Sprint:


Seoul Race 1: Class 5 (1000M) Handicap / KRW 40 Million

A really competitive handicap to open with. (12) BAEKSANG ran well for 4th last start over 1300M, leading for much of the way before weakening late on. He drops back to the minimum distance today and while he needs to overcome the widest gate, he has a chance. (5) FEDERAL CAT beat Baeksang when the pair came home 3rd and 4th over 1300M in July before Baeksang returned the favour a month later. Federal cat can come from just behind the early pace and finish strongly here. (8) HIGH BEAT and (3) DRAGON BOAT finished 4th and 6th when racing each other at this distance a month ago and both should be in the frame today. (9) CAMP BADA looks best of the rest.

Selections (5) Federal Cat (12) Baeksang (3) Dragon Boat (8) High Beat
Next Best 6, 9
Fast Start 3, 9, 11, 12

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

Juvenile maidens here with six of the twelve having raced before. The pick is (8) LION YEOJE, who ran a good 3rd on debut on August 18th having previously looked good in a trial. He’ll settle steadily and run on here. (11) WILD KINGDOM also managed 3rd on debut at the end of July and while it was at 1300M and he was a long way back, he can be a factor today. (2) DANGCHAN BARAM did nothing wrong when running 6th in a decent time on her first try and she can build on it here. Among the first timers, (4) RAON TAP MAN and (5) ROCK LINE looked best in trials.

Selections (8) Lion Yeoje (2) Dangchan Baram (11) Wild Kingdom (4) Raon Tap Man
Next Best 5, 3
Fast Start 2, 4, 6, 11, 12

Seoul Race 3: Class 5 (1300M) Handicap / KRW 40 Million

(8) ROYAL SMARTY has registered back to back 3rd place finishes since being promoted to this class following a maiden score in June. Both those have been over 1700M, so he drops back in trip but looks right in the mix here. (7) LOVE RACE has run well in two starts back after a four-month layoff and should be close by while (11) PRIME QUEEN was below par last start at 1000M but can be given another chance today. (1) HUIMANG STAR and (5) DAECHEON HERO are others in at least the placing frame.


Selections (8) Royal Smarty (7) Love Race (11) Prime Queen (1) Huimang Star
Next Best 5, 4
Fast Start 5, 6, 7, 11

Seoul Race 4: Class 6 (1700M) Allowance / KRW 24 Million

(12) GOLD LEVEL beat three of these on her way to 3rd place over 1300M three weeks ago. She steps up to racing around two turns for the first time today and it could well suit. (3) CHEONI AEGA too goes up in trip after a couple of promising displays at shorter. She’s run on well each time and the additional distance can be in her favour. (7) WIND SKY was one of those behind Gold Level last start and similarly may find the extra furlongs to his benefit. Among those who have raced at this distance already, (4) PUER SPES has a 3rd and a 4th at it and should be looking to match those today. (1) IRON HEART looks best of the rest.

Selections (12) Gold Level (3) Cheonji Aega (4) Puer Spes (7) Wind Sky
Next Best 1, 10
Fast Start 7, 8, 10, 11

Seoul Race 5: Class 4 (1700M) Allowance / KRW 60 Million

It’s been a while since (5) LIVINGSTONE’s solitary win but he’s had a string of near misses and comes in following a runner-up finish behind the promising Dokdo Ya at this distance on August 11th. He likes to lead, and this time may not be caught late on. (1) DAECHEON ACE ran 3rd behind Livingstone last start and while he has nine-lengths to make up on that performance, he is one of the main dangers here. A more credible threat though is (10) VICTORY KING, beaten by Livingstone two starts back but a very good class and distance 2nd on his latest outing. (6) MENI SMART and (9) RAON DOLPUNG are others in at least the placing frame.

Selections (5) Livingstone (10) Victory King (6) Meni Smart (1) Daecheon Ace
Next Best 9, 7
Fast Start 2, 3, 5,6

Busan Race 2: Class 4 (1000M) Handicap / KRW 60 Million 

Very competitive race. (9) EURO SHINHWA Is the very slight pick having beaten a couple of these on his was to a fast win over the distance at domestic class 4 at the beginning of August. He doesn’t need to lead from the start so the wide draw is not a concern and he can finish strongly. (7) YEONGGWANGUICHEON beat Euro Shinhwa when winning over this distance at class 5 in June and while he has been a touch below expectations in two starts since, can be a threat today. (8) YEONGSEONG STAR is another who has beaten Euro Shinhwa recently and should be better back at the minimum trip today. (3) HALLA HWANGHU and (5) RISING BOY are others to take into account.

Selections (9) Euro Shinhwa (8) Yeongseong Star (7) Yeonggwanguicheon (3) Halla Hwanghu
Next Best 5, 6
Fast Start 3, 4, 7, 8

Seoul Race 6: Class 4 (1200M) Handicap / KRW 60 Million

Another wildly competitive affair. (7) JEONGSANG STAR has won her latest two, the latter a dead-heat, to be rapidly promoted to this level. She’ll be competitive here, but this is significantly tougher, and others are favoured. (4) GEOM HYANG also found herself up at this class after back to back wins and ran a good 5th on her first crack at it on August 11th with the margins narrow. She can go very close today. So can (5) I.B.S.QUEEN. She has plenty of experience at this level and comes in following a solid 3rd place over 1000M three weeks ago. She’ll be on pace here. (9) SEMYEONG GISANG was a four-length winner over 1300M at this class on July 7th and while he carries significantly more weight today, he warrants respect. (2) GULCHARMNAMUSUP looks best of the rest.

Selections (5) I.B.S.Queen (4) Geom Hyang (7) Jeongsang Star (9) Semyeong Gisang
Next Best 2, 10
Fast Start 5, 9, 10, 11

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

(1) POWER AMAZING beat a couple of these on his way to 3rd place over 1800M on August 16th.  He’s back to a mile today, a distance he has won at before, he should be on speed from the inside gate, and he can win. (8) BOBAE DREAM ran 4th, just a length and a half behind Power Amazing in that race. She too goes well at a mile and is firmly in the hunt here. (9) SINBIHAN YEOIN tackles the distance for the first time following a good win over 1300M three weeks ago. (6) YEONGGWANGUI FIGHT was 3rd in that race and both look competitive in this company.

Selections (1) Power Amazing (8) Bobae Dream (9) Sinbihan Yeoin  (6) Yeonggwangui Fight
Next Best 6, 4
Fast Start 1, 3, 4

Seoul Race 7: Class Open (1200M) Weight for Age – The Korea Sprint / KRW 1 Billion

A full field of sixteen will line up in what is expected to be a very wet Seoul track to tackle the 1200M of the Sprint. Hong Kong’s SUPER JOCKEY won the inaugural race in 2016 while the Japanese pair of GRACEFUL LEAP and MOANIN took the honours in 2017 and 2018 respectively. There are no Japanese runners this time around and while Hong Kong does return, this looks the best chance yet for the locals to notch a win.

Six internationals are out to stop them. (5) HOLY LEGAL is the first overseas filly or mare to participate in the race. She’s spent most of her career racing in South America but has more than held her own since relocating to the USA. She has a blistering turn of foot and her experience on track surfaces similar to Seoul’s may help her here.

(3) FAST PASS has shipped in looking very well and is a prolific winner. Like Holy Legal, he can come from off the pace, he’s drawn well, and they will certainly be going quick up (more…)

Round-Up: Cup & Sprint International Runners / Juvenile Winners / Victoire Injury / Seoul Mile Races

It was an eventful weekend of racing in Korea both on and off the track. First up, the selected International Runners for September 8th’s Keeneland Korea Cup & Sprint were announced:


The ongoing trade dispute between Korea and Japan which has escalated into a full-blown diplomatic crisis over the past few weeks meant that Japan-trained horses were unable to be invited. This is somewhat of a blow to the event as Japanese horses bring high ratings to a race (organizers had spent some months pursuing one Japanese sprinter in particular who would have brought plenty of star power with him) which would have expected to have been IG3 this year but will now most likely have to wait at least another year before achieving that status.

On the other hand it leaves both races wide open and the USA is bringing a strong challenge for both races with Lone Sailor among those entered in the Cup and the mare Holy Legal in the Sprint. Hong Kong also have a horse in each race in the shape of Glorious Artist and Ugly Warrior.

Accepted Korean entries will be announced later this week with Dolkong expected to be among them in the Cup. However, he is set to be without new regular jockey Johan Victoire. Victoire, who was also expected to partner French raider Bakoel Koffie in the Sprint, suffered a heavy fall in Sunday’s race 7 at Seoul.

Johan Victoire

Johan Victoire

Victoire was riding Dolkong’s stablemate Jjang Kong when favourite Cheungdam Genie crossed in front of him on the corner leaving Jjang Kong with nowhere to go and Victoire unseated. He was taken to hospital for observation with a suspected broken shoulder and will undergo further tests on Monday.

It’s a big blow for the 32-year-old who has ridden 112 winners in just over two years riding in Korea. He gained his first local Group win on Dolkong in the Busan Mayor’s Cup. Cheungdam Genie, who finished 2nd in the race was disqualified and jockey Lee Hyeon Jong banned for three meetings for careless riding.

That incident overshadowed what was the first of two races over the new Mile distance at Seoul on Sunday. That race was won by last year’s Korean Oaks winner Special Stone while the second of them, another class 2 handicap, went to the returning Thunder Blade.

Feature races of the day at both Seoul and Busan were valuable juvenile events over 1200M. At Busan, Save The World (Menifee-Royal Scene) ran out a six-length winner while up in Seoul, Choegang Team (Old Fashioned-Sellsey) was similarly impressive. Both are unbeaten after two starts apiece with their next big tests likely to come in October.


Japan Doubles As London Town & Moanin Win Keeneland Korea Cup & Sprint

For the second year running, Japanese-trained horses emerged victorious in the Keeneland Korea Cup & Sprint. For London Town in the Cup, it was just as much of a procession as last year but in the Sprint, Moanin had to battle all the way to the line to see off a valiant challenge from Hong Kong’s Fight Hero.

London Town - KRA

Too good. London Town with Dolkong a distance 2nd (Pic: Ross Holburt/Korea Racing Authority

While his form coming into the race hadn’t been quite as imperious as last year, once he stepped onto the sand of Seoul, London Town stepped up. Local bettors remembered him too, sending the five-year-old by Kane Hekili off as the prohibitive favourite in a field that was reduced to fourteen, due to the scratching of Ennobled Friend.

Cup Presentation - KRA

Korea Cup Presentation (Ross Holburt/Korea Racing Authority)

London Town was drawn wide and this time he was taken on early by Korea’s big hope Cheongdam Dokki under Manoel Nunes. However, ridden by Yasunari Iwata, London Town asserted his dominance in the back straight going past Cheongdam Dokki and then stretching the field out as he galloped away around the home turn. The race was essentially over with the only questions being who would run 2nd and whether London Town would break his own track record.

The answer to the second question was “yes” with London Town shaving one-tenth of a second off the 1800M mark he set a year ago. The answer to the first was Dolkong as the Simon Foster trained four-year-old finished strongly up the rail, abeit a full fiteen-lengths in arrears. Clean Up Joy also finished well for 3rd place ahead of a tiring Cheongdam Dokki and the very game British challenger Forest Ranger.

Korea Sprint - KRA

Moanin (far side) sees off Fight Hero (Pic: Ross Holburt/KRA)

Moanin won the Sprint but had to work hard under Kanichiro Fujii as Fight Hero pushed him all the way to the line after the pair had come from well-back. Korea’s Doraonpogyeongseon was 3rd with US-trained Chublicious in 4th and up and coming local hope Ace Korea in 5th.

The official attendance on course at Seoul Racecourse was 39,228. Local betting turnover on the Sprint was KRW 4,062,473,800 and KRW 5,154,087,500 on the Cup.

Moanin Joe Fujii - Ross Holburt KRA

Joe Fujii and Moanin (Pic: Ross Holburt/KRA)

2018 Keeneland Korea Cup & Sprint Previews

It’s the big one. The 2018 Keeneland Korea Cup & Sprint takes place at Seoul Racecourse on Sunday September 9. Free entry to the racecourse for the 10 race-card which gets under way at 10:45am. The big races are at 3:45pm and 4:55pm respectively.


Korea Sprint Overseas Runners:


1 PERDIDO POMEROY (USA) He led this race last year until he was overcome with a furlong to run and ended up in 6th. He rebounded with a win a month later at Busan but has been indifferent across four starts since. Last raced three months ago in the SBS Sports Sprint when he finished 7th behind Doraonpogyeongseon and Today. Very fast in a trial at Busan only last week. He’ll aim for a fast start but looks up against it here.
2 TODAY (KOR) He won 10 of his first 12 races to be sent of as favourite for the SBS Sports Sprint in June where he ultimately ran a close 3rd to Doraonpogyeongseon. He then went to Singapore to run in the KRA Trophy at Kranji in July where he overcame a bit of bad luck to run a strong 3rd again behind Singapore’s Skywalk and Rafaello. From Korea’s top stable, he should be near to the pace here and should go close.
3 ZENTENARY (USA) Ran in this race last year, showing close to the front early on but was quickly bettered. Enters in good form with a win and 2nd place from his latest two starts but in much softer company than this. Will aim for a quick start and try to hold on for as long as possible. Outsider.
4 GEUMA RAPID (AUS) Started his career very promisingly but has been hampered by a succession of injuries. He’s one start into a comeback following nine months on the sidelines and offered few clues running 10th of 12. Hard to recommend.
5 ACE KOREA (USA) This up and coming sprinter is the only three-year-old in the race and accordingly gets a weight allowance. Two very smart wins in the Spring led him to take his chance in the SBS Sports Sprint in June but he had a hard time and finished well back behind three others who go here. Returned to Busan and was an eye-catching class 2 winner at the end of July. Trained by Australian Peter Wolsley, he could make for an interesting outsider.
6 MORNING DAERO (USA) It’s been over a year since his latest win, which was at 1400M last July. Best finish in 2018 so far was 2nd place at this distance in March. He only beat one home on his latest outing a month ago and he’ll be among the outsiders here.
7 DORAONPOGYEONGSEON (USA) Third in this race last year, he returned to Seoul in June to win his second consecutive SBS Sports Sprint at this distance beating Today and establishing himself as Korea’s top sprinter. Stretched out to a mile to win another big Stakes race at Busan last month. He’s versatile so the draw shouldn’t be an issue for him and is in top form. A big chance.
8 KING MALPIC (FR) King Malpic is a prolific winner in France, including three consecutive triumphs between April and June this year at La Teste De Buch and Chantilly at distances between six furlongs and a mile. His latest outing saw him run 2nd of 9 in the six-furlong Group 3 Prix de-Ris-Orangis at Maisons-Laffitte on July 15th. This is a tougher test but the form is good. As with all European runners, how he copes with the sand will be key to his chances.
9 MOANIN (USA) Winner of the Listed Coral Stakes at Hanshin over 1400M in March, that was his first win since the Group 1 February Stakes at Tokyo all the way back in 2016. He won six of his first seven starts and has been racing in top level company since. He’s never actually tackled a distance as short as 1200M but that’s unlikely to trouble him. JRA horses generally have little difficulty adapting to the track and a jockey who knows Seoul very well has been booked. A big chance and very possibly the one they’ll need to beat.
10 WONDER BOLT (USA) Very experienced eight-year-old who finished runner-up to Singapore’s El Padrino in the Asia Challenge Cup all the way back in 2014. It’s been more than two years since his last win but he’s still a regular place-getter in class 1 handicaps. Most recently ran 2nd over 1800M. Usually ridden patiently these days but this is a tough ask.
11 WILD DUDE (USA) Winner of the Grade 2 Kona Gold Stakes at Santa Anita in 2016, he ran in this race two years ago finishing 9th of 16. Since then he’s done his racing in Dubai where he hasn’t quite managed to re-capture the best of his American form although his latest efforts have been encouraging. He last ran on Dubai World Cup night, finishing 4th of 8 behind Mind Your Biscuits in the Golden Shaheen where he ran on well to finish within four-lengths of the winner. Not necessarily among the favourites but he surely improves on two years ago and could offer some value.
12 CHUBLICIOUS (USA) A Group 3 winner in the United States, he enters in very solid form having finished 1st or 2nd in six of his seven latest starts dating back over a year. They include the aforementioned Group 3 at Laurel Park, when he was the longest shot on the board – as well as a victory in a Listed race at Monmouth Park this June. He only beat one home on his latest outing at Delaware Park on July 14th but American-trained horses with similar records ran well here last year and Chublicious could be a factor.
13 FIGHT HERO (GB) Fight Hero will be looking to emulate Super Jockey, who won this race for Hong Kong in 2016. He arrives having finished up the season a winner over the all-weather at Sha Tin on June 24th at this distance, coming from off the pace. All his wins have been over 1200M and if he adapts to the sand, he like any Hong Kong sprinter, has every chance.

Five international runners take on eight local sprinters here and it’s anyone’s race. We’ll go with Japanese raider (9) MOANIN under the guidance of Kanichiro Fujii to get the win but it certainly won’t be easy. US raider (12) CHUBLICIOUS has looked very good since arriving and should take to the track well while Hong Kong’s (13) FIGHT HERO must be respected too. On the Korean side, (2) TODAY has been drawn well and could possibly overturn the form on (7) DORAONPOGYEONGSEON who beat him in the SBS Sports Sprint here in June. Doraonpogyeongseon is the kind of horse who generally steps up when challenged though so shouldn’t be discounted himself. An interesting outsider could be (1) PERDIDO POMEROY. While his Spring campaign this year didn’t go especially well, he was absolutely flying in a trial at Busan last Saturday and from gate 1 will surely lead early. They’ll have to come past him.

Selections (9) Moanin (7) Doraonpogyeongseon (12) Chublicious (2) Today
Next Best 13, 1, 5, 8
Fast Start 1, 2, 3, 8


Foreign contenders:

1 FOREST RANGER (IRE) Back to back wins in the Group 3 Earl of Sefton Stakes at Newmarket in April and then the Huxley Stakes at Chester in May, the latter race a Group 2 for the first time this year enabled him to take his chance in the Eclipse. He found himself overmatched that day before finishing 5th of 7 in the York Stakes at the end of July. He is a proven top class performer and has won on the all-weather surface at Newcastle.
2 DOLKONG (USA) A rival of Cheongdam Dokki when they were juveniles, his career has been hampered by injury since which has restricted him to just nine starts. He returned to action in August with an effortless victory over this distance in a class 1 handicap and so long as he’s trained on from it – and the word is that he has – there is no reason why he can’t prove he belongs here. Drawn in gate 3, he can take a sit behind the early speed and make his move late on.
3 GREAT KING (USA) Trained by Thomas Gillespie at Busan, Great King has won six of twenty-one in total and three of his latest six. He last ran in early July beating a decent field at 2000M, coming from just off the pace. He looks to still be getting better and while this is obviously a tough assignment, he can acquit himself well.
4 FINAL BOSS (KOR) Korean Derby winner in 2017, he’s been a touch frustrating since, offering hints of real talent but similarly flopping on occasion too. He began the year winning a listed race over 1200M and enters having last run 4th in the SBS Sports Sprint in July. Back up to two turns today, he is versatile – he won the Derby coming home wide and late but has also gone forward too. He’ll be an outsider here.
5 TOSCONOVA CAT (USA) By some margin the lowest rated among the local entrants, the three-year-old has only race nine times for three wins, two of them at this distance. A smart winner at local class 2 on his latest outing in August when he led all the way but this is almost certainly too much too soon for him.
6 RIVEN LIGHT (IRE) He began his career in France winning two of seven starts. He then missed over a year, reappearing with Willie Mullins in Ireland and after winning a Thurles handicap in December 2016, was gelded and sent hurdling. He returned to the flat in April 2017, winning three of five at distances up to ten furlongs before heading to Australia and trying his luck in the Ladbrokes Stakes at Caulfied. He finished 7th of 11 behind Gailo Chop that day and after injury and a lengthy spell, returned to action in style at the end of July, winning a seventeen-runner handicap at the Galway Festival for the second year running. Trainer Willie Mullins has put a Korean jockey on board who knows the track well.
7 DONGBANG DAERO (USA) The last time he came to Seoul he ran a huge race in the season-ending Grand Prix Stakes last December, closing to finish 2nd to Power Blade over 2300M. He’s not won since and his recent Busan form is uninspiring. If the early pace is very hot and the leaders tire, he may make up some ground late on.
8 DYNAMIC DASH (USA) The six-year-old has won ten of forty and was last in the winner’s circle at Busan in May when he scored over 2000M – it was his first win in two years although he picked up plenty of minor money in the meantime. He’s struggled in his latest two and he looks a touch overmatched here but he still may well beat a few.
9 MAXIMUS (USA) A Singapore-based polytrack specialist, his latest win was at a mile in April. He’s run three times since then including finishing 6th behind Southern Legend in the Group 1 Kranji Mile. He has never raced a further than a mile before but is trained by Alwin Tan, who knows what it takes to be successful on this track having saddled El Padrino to victory in the inaugural Asia Challenge Cup in 2014.
10 PLACES TO GO (USA) Found a rich vein of form when scoring in three consecutive class 1 handicaps between February and April this year but has tended to struggle when faced with really top class opposition. Comes in having run 7th of 10 last start over 2000M and has plenty to find.
11 ENNOBLED FRIEND (USA) Expected to be scratched.
12 CHEONJI STORM (KOR) Always talented but coming into his own this year. He won a local Group 3 at 1200M in March before scoring by ten-lengths in a class 1 handicap here at the end of April at today’s distance. He went to Busan for the Mayor’s Cup on July 1st, again at this distance and got to within three-lengths of Cheongdam Dokki. Still will potential to get better, he will try to sit just behind the early leaders.
13 CHEONGDAM DOKKI (USA) Korean racing’s latest great hope. Four for four in 2018, he has established himself as the top horse on the peninsula. His last defeat came in the Grand Prix Stakes here at the end of 2017 but even that was only after he had set some brutal fractions for the first part of the 2300M. He generally leads and dominates his domestic races although he can be patient if necessary. He can overcome the wide gate to get close to the action early and it should be a chance to see what he is made of. He is Korea’s best chance to get a maiden win in the Cup.
14 LONDON TOWN (JPN) He was a dominant winner of the race last year, making all and breaking the track record in the process. It hasn’t been straightforward since, however, as he’s yet to return to the winner’s circle in five subsequent starts, all of them at Group level. This contrasts with his lead up to the race last year when he broke the Sapporo track record at 1700M. Nevertheless, all those races were in very tough company and even if he is not quite as on song as a year ago, back on the sand at Seoul, he remains the one to beat. Wide draw but that was the case last year too.
15 CLEAN UP JOY (USA) Winner of the Grand Prix Stakes in 2016 he has since seen Cheongdam Dokki usurp him as Seoul’s top horse. Nevertheless, he returned to winning form in March before finishing runner-up to Cheongdam Dokki in two big Stakes races in April and May. He always has to start from the widest gate due to his starting manners and don’t be surprised to see him miss the break slightly. He will get stronger as the race goes on though and can challenge for the minor money.

It’s the moment of truth for (13) CHEONGDAM DOKKI. Korea’s superstar is drawn alongside last year’s winner (14) LONDON TOWN in Korea’s most valuable race and both will be looking to get on the early speed here and they are favourites to dispute the prize. London Town’s build up to the race may not have quite as impressive as it was a year ago but he may still have enough to successfully defend his crown. (2) DOLKONG made a hugely impressive return to racing a month ago. He’ll sit behind the early speed and will come through strongly late on. (1) FOREST RANGER and (6) RIVEN LIGHT have both impressed in work this week and both are established group race horses in Europe. They have drawn well and will be in the hunt. Longer shots who may go well include (12) CHEONJI STORM and Singapore’s (9) MAXIMUS as well, of course, as (15) CLEAN UP JOY.

Selections (14) London Town (13) Cheongdam Dokki (2) Dolkong (6) Riven Light
Next Best 1, 12, 9, 15
Fast Start 3, 5, 12, 13, 14

Ten Overseas Runners For Korea Cup & Sprint Work At Seoul (Pictures)

All ten overseas-trained horses for the 2018 Keeneland Korea Cup & Sprint have now arrived and all worked on the track at Seoul Racecourse on Tuesday morning.

Japanese pair London Town and Moanin schooled in the parade ring as did Hong Kong’s Fight Hero. They were later joined by Riven Light and King Malpic, while the remainder did light work on the track. All ten are expected to be out again at 4:30am on Wednesday. All pictures by Ross Holburt for Korea Racing Authority:


London Town.jpg

London Town

Riven Light

Riven Light

Forest Ranger.jpg

Forest Ranger



Ennobled Friend

Ennobled Friend




Wild Dude

Wild Dude



King Malpic

King Malpic

Fight Hero

Fight Hero

Keeneland Korea Cup & Korea Sprint 2017: Full Preview & Race-By-Race Guide To Seoul & Busan (Sunday September 10)

Korea’s biggest day of racing of the year takes place at Seoul Racecourse on Sunday with the 2nd runnings of the Keeneland Korea Cup & Sprint. Ten overseas-trained runners are in the Korean Capital for the two races which have a combined purse of approaching $1.5Million. 10 races at Seoul from 10:45 to 18:00 and 6 at Busan from 11:55 to 17:00. Here is a full preview of the two big races and below a race-by-race guide to all 16 contests taking place in Korea on Sunday.


Chrysolite won the Korea Cup in 2016 and seeks to defend his title today (Pic: Ross Holburt)


Seoul Race 7: The Korea Sprint (KOR G1) 1200M / KRW 700 Million

With the withdrawal of France-trained City Money, there are just four overseas contenders. If the trophy is to be Hong Kong bound once more then it’s up to LUCKY YEAR. The Danny Shum-trained 6-year-old arrives in Korea having rounded out last season at home with a very good win in the Sha Tin vase over this distance in May. It was the kind of run, getting very close to the early pace, that would be ideal here and he’s got the perfect draw, coming out of gate 4, to do it. It won’t be easy for him to get to the lead though. Nash Rawiller rides.

Japanese-trained horses haven’t tended to have the best of luck in Korean Sprint races but GRACEFUL LEAP, a solid dirt-track horse in the JRA and with Yutaka Take making his Korean debut in the saddle, must be respected. Likewise THE TRUTH OR ELSE, who becomes the first US-trained horse to run in Korea, can’t be completely ruled out coming out of gate 1. Kenny McPeek’s 5-year-old won the Sir Shackleton Stakes at Gulfstream Park April and subsequently performed well at Churchill Downs in the early summer. While his closing style may not be in his favour here, he has adapted very well and it’s not impossible.

The final visitor is Singapore-trained WIMBLEDON, who represents the China Horse Club, and he won’t be without backers. He’s a consistent type with the only question mark being how he takes to the sand track – though usually a turf horse, he did run well on the Kranji polytrack over this distance earlier this year.

The leading Korea-trained contenders, POWER BLADE and PERDIDO POMEROY drew the two widest gates but that may not actually be the calamity it first seems. Power Blade wasn’t likely to lead anyway while Perdido Pomeroy, who led this race last year, is so quick out of the gate that he will probably still get to the front along with BEOLMAUI KKUM. Last year’s Triple Crown winner and place-getter at the Dubai World Cup Carnival meeting, Power Blade was 4th in the Korea Cup last year and drops back to this distance for the first time in a long time but he enters in top shape and looks to have every chance. He can defy the track and win from behind.

PERDIDO POMEROY himself is in much better form than when he was 5th behind DORAONPOGYEONGSEON in the SBS Sports Sprint here at the same distance in June. DORAONPOGYEONGSEON got up late to win that race in a three-way photo finish and is nicely drawn in gate 2. SILVER WOLF probably wants further but there’s no denying she’s in great form while GASOKBULPAE could be the wildcard. He briefly held the track record for this distance last month and if he gets the lead, anything can happen.

As for the rest, TOHAMSAN is in good form but this is stiff for him while the trio of DROP THE BEAT, HAEYA and OPEN THE SKY all remain relatively unexposed. Drop the Beat especially turned in two eye-catching performances recently and could make for an interesting outside prospect. ZENTENARY on the other hand, is overmatched.

Selections (14) Power Blade (4) Lucky Year (7) Graceful Leap (15) Perdido Pomeroy
Next Best 10, 13, 6, 2, 1
Fast Start 3, 5, 9, 11, 15


Seoul Race 8: The Korea Cup (KOR G1) 1800M / KRW 1 Billion

Twelve months ago CHRYSOLITE absolutely romped home to win the first ever running of the Korea Cup by as many lengths as his jockey chose. He returns here as likely favourite to retain his crown.

Chrysolite has been lightly raced since then but comes in here with a win and two 2nd places from his three 2017 outings and he is the one to beat. There is a chance though, that he won’t get it all his own way. The race set up beautifully for him last time with a good draw and an early leader going too fast. The draw is not quite as ideal this time and the others will be very aware of him but nevertheless, if you beat Chrysolite, you are likely to be the winner. Yutaka Takes comes to Korea for the first time specifically to ride him.

The only one drawn wider than Chrysolite is LONDON TOWN. He was very impressive when breaking the 1700M track record at a sloppy Sapporo a month ago and could well be his compatriot’s biggest danger.

Any Hong Kong-trained horse warrants respect and that certainly includes CIRCUIT LAND. After recent near misses on firmer ground at Sha Tin it’s possible that he could be one of those horses who gets on well with the deep sand of Seoul. Under Nash Rawiller, he’s firmly in the hunt.

NIMR and SKIPERIA are both trained in France with the former looking to have the better claims although Skiperia has looked well in work. The US representative is the Linda Rice-trained PAPA SHOT, who spent the summer running creditably at Belmont Park and Saratoga and despite perhaps needing to find a bit to compete with the horses from Hong Kong and Japan, he can give a good account of himself.

As for the Koreans, last year’s 3rd place-getter TRIPLE NINE returns once more. Except for an always unlikely tilt at the Godolphin Mile, he ran well at the Dubai World Cup Carnival but has come up short on two starts back in Korea since. Both times he took just a little too long to get properly into gear. If jockey Lim Sung Sil can get him stoked up in time, a money finish is possible. CHAMP LINE saw a winning streak of five come to an end behind Triple Nine in July. He’s been off since and we’ll give the Thomas Gillespie-trained colt another chance today.

SHAMROCKER goes well too but does look overmatched against the visitors while since returning from a long spell out injured, BOLD KINGS hasn’t been quite the same horse he was when winning the Grand Prix Stakes, Korea’s most prestigious non-international race as a three-year old. Rounding out the field, DYNAMIC JILJU is a decent handicapper and could well opt to lead but is up against it here.

Selections (11) London Town (3) Circuit Land (10) Chrysolite (6) Triple Nine
Next Best 5, 1, 4
Fast Start 1, 7

Seoul Race 1: Class 6 (1000M) Allowance / KRW 22 Million

Competitive opener but (6) BULHUUI SEUNGJA looks to be the standout. She generally starts well, has a 3rd and a 2nd to her name and the champion jockey on board. The main danger is (2) JUNGJEON MAMA, who has been a rather one-paced 4th on both her outings to date but has shown enough to suggest she can beat plenty of these. While (10) (more…)