Kranji

Seoul & Busan Sunday: Race-By-Race Preview (July 22)

There are 11 Sunday races at Seoul from 10:45 to 18:00 and 6 at Busan from 12:40 to 17:05. The feature race is the Ilgan Sports Trophy at Seoul where Sharp Kaylan, 2nd in the final leg of the Triple Crown last month, has the chance to pick up a piece of silverware. Immediately after the last race at Seoul, the KRA Trophy at Kranji in Singapore will be shown . Three Korean horses, Today, Gakbyeolhan and Approach, have made the trip over. Here are race-by-race comments for the Seoul meeting. Busan selections (and one for Kranji) are below:

Ministers3

Sharp Kaylan came close in the Minister’s Cup but had to settle for 2nd place. He can win Sunday’s Ilgan Sports (Pic: KRA)

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

(3) GYEONGGUKJIMA ran a strong 3rd in a good time on debut on June 16th, racing on pace throughout. She’s well drawn to lead early and should make all the running in this all-filly maiden. (5) HEUNG OREUM debuted in the same race, ending in a creditable 5th and she can build on that here although she has plenty to find on the favourite. (7) LUCAS was also 3rd on her debut last month and while she was slightly less impressive than Gyeonggukjima, she can at least match that here. First-time starter (4) DANGDAE SONYEO looks an interesting proposition under Manoel Nunes while (9) STAR LIST beat a couple of these on her way to an improved 3rd on her fourth career start four weeks ago.

Selections (3) Gyeonggukjima (7) Lucas (5) Heung Oreum (4) Dangdae Sonyeo
Next Best 9, 10
Fast Start 1, 3, 4, 7

Race 2: Class 6 (1200M) Allowance / KRW 24 Million

(7) HANIL DALBIT has shown promise across four prior starts. His best finish came when he was just beaten a neck over the distance at the end of April having led almost until the line. Last time out he was favourite and while he could only manage 4th, is worth another chance here. (2) SOKBO WANGWI was 6th that day on her first try at this distance and she can continue to progress. (6) SANTOS has been inconsistent but has shown some talent and can be a danger most likely challenging Hanil Dalbit for the early speed. (3) DAEGIL SANGJON offered few clues in two outings last year but returns here after ten months off having trialled up very promisingly a couple of weeks ago and can go well first-up. (9) BEST LEVEL was a much-improved 2nd, albeit a full thirteen lengths behind the winner, at this distance on a soaking wet track three weeks ago and could maintain that momentum.

Selections (7) Hanil Dalbit (6) Santos (3) Daegil Sangjon (2) Sokbo Wangwi
Next Best 9, 11
Fast Start 6, 7

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

A convincing winner over 1000M in May, (4) PALDO DAEJANG stepped up to this class and distance on June 17th and ran a good 2nd place. He was favourite that day but can be given another chance here. He’ll try to get the lead straight from the gate and can go all the way. (7) HAMBAK MISO won on debut back in March and has been close in all three outings since, culminating in 2nd place behind Penetro at the end of May. He comes in here reasonably fresh and should be close again. (2) RAON PRO SENSE is up in class after his maiden win at 1000M on June 23rd and while he has struggled on both previous tries at this distance, could go better today. (3) DUAL CHOEGANG remains a maiden after sixteen attempts but looks to be getting to grips with this level and could make a place.

Selections (4) Paldo Daejang (7) Hambak Miso (2) Raon Pro Sense (3) Dual Choegang
Next Best 6, 5
Fast Start 2, 4

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

(5) UNDEFEATED won on debut in May but hasn’t quite lived up to his name in two starts since although he has run well, finishing 2nd and 3rd at 1200M and 1000M respectively. He’s with a new trainer today and tries this distance for the first time and can return to winning ways. (1) ROYAL PRINCE scored his maiden win at 1000M and steps up in class here. He’s raced reasonably well at this distance before and can be competitive. (7) DAECHEONUI SARANG ran a good, if slightly unexpected 3rd at class and distance last start four weeks ago and can be given more respect today while (8) CHUKBOGUI (more…)

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Some Thoughts on the KRA Trophy at Kranji in Singapore This Coming Sunday

The Korea Racing Authority Trophy will be run at Kranji Racecourse in Singapore on Sunday and for the fourth year in a row, Korean horses will be taking part. The record of those who have made the trip in previous years is somewhat less than stellar so can Today, Gakbyeolhan and Approach do differently this time around?

The trio hve been at Kranji for almost a week now and the Singapore Turf Club has an excellent write up of their progress as well as an interview with Franco Da Silva, who will be partnering Today in the 1200M race, which is worth S$250,000.

First the history, and it’s not good from a Korean perspective. 2015 saw the inaugural running of the race with Gamdonguibada, Cheon Gu and Nobody Catch Me making the trip. Cheon Gu led  into the home-straight before tiring and being passed. Gamdonguibada, perhaps predictably for a miler dropping down to six furlongs, took a while to get going and never really fired, beating just one. Nobody Catch Me, however, ran on well for 6th place, just over four lengths behind the winner.

In 2016, it was the turn of Always Winner, Triple Five and Parang Juuibo with the latter of them being the best finisher, matching Nobody Catch Me’s 6th. Last year neither Choegangja, who was highly thought-of going into the race, nor Zentenary – who was less so – were able to make much impact, with Choegangja coming back with heat-stroke.

While the surface is evidently very different, that alone is insufficient in explaining away the hitherto poor performances; Korean horses have run well on dirt in Dubai, albeit with a longer acclimatization period. The tempo of the races is also something that tends to test Korean-trained horses when going overseas with a higher “cruising speed” required rather than the “go as fast as you can from the gate” tempo that tends to be prevalent here. They’re capable of doing it but it isn’t easy – Power Blade, for example, ran very well in Dubai but he was an exhausting watch with his rider having to contantly battle simply to keep him in contention.

So can this year’s trio make an impression? On paper, we should be very excited about Today (Drosselmeyer) and if the race was on the Korean sand, he would be the favourite. And if he takes to the polytrack even slightly, then he should be right in it. Paper isn’t polytrack though. A winner of 10 from 13, the one concern is that when Today finally met top class opposition in the SBS Sports Sprint at Seoul in early June, he came up slightly short running 3rd behind Doraonpogyeongseon and Choegang Schiller – both very accomplished sprinters. It was also his first time racing away from his home track of Busan. Da Silva rode him for the first time that day and explained that he didn’t feel the horse was as balanced as he could have been but still ran well.

In Today’s favour, he is still relatively young at four and with just those thirteen starts behind him, is perhaps not so set in his ways as to find it impossible to adapt to a different tempo of race running. He is very nicely drawn in gate 7 but he doesn’t need to lead from the start. This is a horse who has run 1:11.1 for the 1200M on the sand of Busan and 1:12.5 when carrying 58kg, a half kilo above Sunday’s assignment. He can post a competitive time on the polytrack.

A stablemate of Today, Gakbyeolhan (Big Brown) was a standout juvenile who won four of his first five races. He then missed more than a year through injury, returning in the middle of his four-year-old season in June 2017. He’s won twice since coming back but both of them have been in the last four months over 1800M and 2000M respectively. Dropping back to a sprint distance today makes for a bit of an unknown but he will be expertly piloted by Fergus Sweeney, who rides in Singapore for the first time. Gakbyeolhan can give a good account of himself although expectations will not be high.

Approach (Pico Central) beat Gakbyeolhan on the way to his latest victory on what was his most recent start back at the beginning of May. That was over 1800M and he hasn’t raced at Sunday’s distance since his second ever start all the way back in October of 2014. That doesn’t mean he can’t sprint, but once a horse gets up to class 1 in Korea, there are more oportunities around two-turns. As with Gakbyeolhan, a creditable showing is a realistic target. Lee Hyo Sik, who has ridden Approach in his latest two starts (and has won on Today as well), rides.

Both Da Silva and Sweeney have picked up outside mounts and so will be familair with race riding on the track before the Trophy race. As for the Singapore horses, they look as competitive as ever in the race which will jump at 17:05 local time. Based on previous experience with Korean horses in Singapore, where even the ones with expectations upon them have come unstuck, it would be easy to toss out the chances of any of them. However, taking this set of three in isolation, we can be cautiously optimistic about Today at least, holding his own.

 

 

 

Choegangja & Zentenary Set for Kranji KRA Trophy

Two Korea-trained horses, Choegangja and Zentenary, are in Singapore for the annual running of the Korea Racing Authority Trophy which will be held over 1200M at Kranji this coming Sunday. As in previous years, the race will be broadcast live – without betting – at Seoul & Busan Racecourses during the local Sunday afternoon cards.

Choegangja

Choegangja, on his way to victory last year, is in Kranji (Pic: Ross Holburt)

The Korean contingent has generally not found this race to be easy and this year looks set to be no exception as they face a strong local challenge attracted by the S$250,000 purse. Zentenary has drawn gate 1 while Choegangja will break from gate 8. Here’s the field (full card at the Singapore Turf Club website here):

trophycard

This year there’s no excuse for lack of local knowledge as both horses are in the care of Brian Dean, the former Singapore based trainer who has just finished up training in Seoul. Additionally, unlike previous runnings of this race, it was decided this time to put local Kranji-based jockeys on board the two horses and accordingly Oscar Chavez, who partnered El Padrino in his second Asia Challenge Cup at Seoul Racecourse in 2015, will ride Choegangja while Malaysian Kasim A’Isisuhairi gets the leg-up on Zentenary.

Choegangja (USA) [Silver Train – Sweet Sizzle (Distorted Humor)]

The pick of the two, he blossomed after moving to Brian Dean at the tail-end of his three-year-old season, winning five races in a row and moving from class 3 to class 1 in the process. He finally came unstuck when missing the break in the SBS Sports Trophy at the start of June, resenting the kick-back and ultimately finishing last but can be forgiven for that. A US bred, Choegangja was a $40,000 purchase from Fasig Tipton 2-year-olds in training sale in May 2015.

Zentenary (USA) [First Defence – Celestic (Sky Classic)]

A $30,000 buy from OBS 2-year-olds in training sale in 2013, the now 6-year-old has won 6 of his 31 starts with one of them coming at class 1, an all-the-way effort last Christmas Eve. He’s been up and down in six outings in 2017 with two 3rd places being the best including last time out on June 18th, over this distance of 1200M.

 

Korea Festival & KRA Trophy Set For Singapore Kranji This Sunday

Three Korea-trained horses are in Singapore where they will race this coming Sunday in the KRA Trophy at Kranji Racecourse, the highlight of a “Korean Festival” day at the Singapore Turf Club.

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KRA promoting its free Exacta event for the KRA Trophy

The three horses, Always Winner, Parang Juuibo and Triple Five arrived in Singapore last Friday. Michael Lee has written a comprehensive account with pictures for STC here. The three do look up against it in the 1200M race with Bart Rice’s up and coming Triple Five perhaps the most intriguing. For any of them, however, a top-five finish would be viewed as a success.

On Sunday at Kranji, in addition to the race, the Korea festival will include Korean food and a performance by “rookie” K-Pop girl group “HADY” (most likely doing covers of more well-known songs). The day’s races from Seoul & Busan will also be simulcast live.

Just like last year, the KRA Trophy itself will be beamed back live to Seoul, Busan and Korean OTB’s. Betting on inbound simulcast remains illegal in Korea, however, a free contest will be available for the race on the mobile betting platform. Punters will be asked to pick the top five horses to finish with a prize of 5 Million Won to be split between those who get them correct.

This is the second year that Korea-based horses have trvelled to Kranji for the race. Singapore-trained horses have run in Seoul the past two editions of the Asia Challenge Cup with El Padrino winning the race in 2014. They are expected back for this year’s edition, which will be run as the “Korea Sprint” on September 11th and also for the new Korea Cup on the same day. Former Singapore-based trainer Brian Dean is now training i

Coming Up In July: Evening Racing / Busan Mayor’s Cup / Triple Crown Finale / KRA Trophy At Kranji

Evening racing begins this weekend and will run throughout July and August on Fridays and Saturdays. A busy July also sees the Busan Mayor’s Cup – the biggest race of summer – as well as Power Blade potentially looking to complete the Triple Crown in the Minister’s Cup and three Korean horses heading to Singapore for the KRA Trophy at Kranji.

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Evening racing begins this weekend

The first “evening” meeting will be at Busan this Friday. On Fridays, the first race at Busan will be at 2.30pm and the last at 9pm. Saturdays at Seoul will get underway at 2pm with the final race at 9pm. Sundays this year will remain at their usual time with the first race at Seoul at 10:50am and the last at 6pm. While the initial evening season runs until the end of August it may well be extended this year into September and October.

On the track, the month starts with the big one, the Busan Metropolitan City Mayor’s Cup, generally billed as the “Summer Grand Prix”. This year’s edition is at Busan this coming Sunday, July 3rd and a high quality field look set to take part including some strong candidates from Seoul. We will have the full line-up here this afternoon and a full preview of the race on Saturday. Last year’s winner Gamdonguibada, Triple Nine, Bold Kings, Clean Up Joy, Clean Up Cheonha and Success Story are all currently entered.

On Sunday 17th, attention will turn to Seoul and the final leg of the Triple Crown in the shape of the Minister’s Cup. Power Blade was the facile winner of the KRA Cup Mile and Korean Derby and should he make the starting gate, he will be strong favourite to become the first horse to sweep all three legs of the Crown in its current form. Stablemate and Korean Oaks winner Ottug Ottugi is also among ten entrants at this stage.

The final Group race of the month will be the KNN Cup at Busan on July 24th. It’s the 2nd leg of the Queens’ Tour which decides the champion filly or mare of the year. The first leg, the Ttukseom Cup, was won by Bichui Jeongsang at Seoul at the beginning of June.

In other news, the KRA Trophy will be run at Kranji Racecourse in Singapore on July 24th and for the second year running, Korea-trained horses will be taking part in the 1200M sprint. The three horses looking likely to travel are Parang Juuibo (With Distinction) and Always Winner (Creek Cat) from Seoul and Triple Five (Girolamo) from Busan. The optimistically named Always Winner won the JRA Trophy at Seoul earlier in June while the Bart Rice trained Triple Five is an up and comer who has won three of six outings to date. Baksuchyeo and Jingyeogui Geojang are others entered.

The KRA Trophy is part of the “Korea Festival” that takes place at Kranji that weekend.

Gamdonguibada, Nobody Catch Me and Cheon Gu Set To Represent Korea In Singapore

Three Korean-trained horses have been nominated to run in the Korea Racing Authority Cup at Kranji Racecourse in Singapore on Sunday July 26.

Gamdonguibada

Gamdonguibada

In what is set to be a quite historic occasion, the race will mark not only the first time Korean horses have run in Singapore but also the first time that an overseas race will be beamed back live to racecourses in Korea.

The KRA Trophy will be run over 1200M on the Kranji Polytrack with a prize fund of S$250,000. Crucially, only Singapore horses with an MRA rating no higher than 90 are eligible and this could make for an interesting race.

Busan’s top trainer Kim Young Kwan will send two horses. The best known is his 2013 Grand Prix Stakes winner and 2014 Queens’ Tour champion mare Gamdonguibada. The other is the 2014 Busan Metropolitan City Mayor’s Cup winner Nobody Catch Me. From Seoul, trainer Seo In Seok sends his up and coming colt Cheon Gu.

Gamdonguibada (USA) [Werblin – Radyla (Country Pine)] 6yo mare (28/13/4/6/1/1) – She won the Grand Prix Stakes in 2013 and has gone on to become one of the most successful fillies or mares ever to race in Korea. In addition to the Grand Prix, she has won the the Gyeongnam Governor’s Cup twice, the KNN Cup and the Ttukseom Cup on the way to earning more than KRW 2 Billion in prize money. After completing a clean sweep of the Queens’ Tour races in 2014, she was expected to retire but returned as a 6-year-old and won her most recent race on May 17. She hasn’t run at such short a distance as 1200M since she was a 2-year-old in 2011. Lim Sung Sil is expected to ride her at Kranji.

Nobody Catch Me (USA) [With Distinction – Nana’s Babe (Allen’s Prospect)] 5yo gelding (20/6/4/2/0/0) – The wildcard. He was the winner of the Busan Mayor’s Cup last year at odds of over 50/1 and added one win after that but was a disappointment – and eventual disqualification – from the Grand Prix Stakes last year. He’s only run twice in 2015 and has struggled. However, he may well appreciate running at a sprint distance once more.

Nobody Catch Me won the 2014 Busan Metropolitan (Newsis)

Nobody Catch Me won the 2014 Busan Metropolitan (Newsis)

Cheon Gu (USA) [Old Fashioned – So Much Fun (Speightstown)] 3yo colt (6/4/1/1/0/0) – The only one of the three to be based at Seoul Racecourse and the only one who still looks yet to reach his full potential, Cheon Gu has won four of his six starts to date. He was beaten in his only Stakes race when second in the Herald Business Cup over 1400M in May but returned to the winner’s circle in a class 2 race at the same distance last week and is considered one of the brightest imported prospects at Seoul. Yoo Seung Wan is expected to ride him in Singapore.

Cheon Gu will carry 54.5kg, Nobody Catch Me 57.5kg and Gamdonguibada 56kg. While the Korean horses had to be nominated by Monday this week, Singapore based horses have until July 15 to enter the race.

The KRA Trophy will come under orders at 17:15 Singapore time and will be shown live at Seoul and Busan Racecourses during the normal raceday broadcast. No betting markets will be offered in Korea – the law needs to change before that can happen – nevertheless, having permission granted for it is a big step in the right direction. The Singapore Turf Club has been a great friend of Korean racing in recent years and it is fitting that Kranji hosts the first race to be beamed back.

The Singapore Turf Club has been a big supporter of the internationalization of Korean racing

The Singapore Turf Club has been a big supporter of the internationalization of Korean racing

The history of Korean-trained horses racing abroad is extremely brief. Watts Village pulled off a remarkable victory in the Interaction Cup in Japan in 2013 but the following year, the three Korean horses who went fared less well. Meanwhile, Singapore trained El Padrino came to Seoul last August and broke the track record for 1400M in the process of winning the Asia Challenge Cup.

While it remains to be seen what kind of line-up Singapore puts out, the horses nominated from Korea have every chance of acquitting themselves well. Whatever happens, it will be an important milestone in the internationalization of Korean racing.