Munhwa Ilbo Cup

Weekend Round-Up: Juvenile Series, Wonderful Fly Beaten, Foreign Successes

The 2019 Juvenile Series got underway on Sunday with Seoul and Busan both hosting their opening legs. The two tracks have separate 1st and 2nd legs before coming together for the finale at Busan on the first Sunday in December.

Both the Gold Circle Trophy at Busan and the Munhwa Ilbo Cup at Seoul had heavy pre-race favourites, but only one of those obliged with Save The World cruising to an easy victory on the South Coast. The Menifee colt moved onto three wins from three starts with an untroubled six-length score.

At Seoul, however, odds-on chance Choegang Team came up short as Roller Blade (Officer), who Choegang Team beat by six-lengths the last time they met, responding the better under pressure under jockey Kim Yong Geun, and running on to win by almost three lengths.

But never mind about next year’s three-year-olds, we still don’t have a clear picture about who’s the best of the current crop. Things were no clearer by the end of Sunday when Korean Derby winner Wonderful Fly and runner-up Myeongpum Chukje faced each other again over the Derby distance of 1800M at class 2 level in the concluding race 11.

At the top of the stretch, the pair of them were four-lengths clear of the rest and looked set to duel to the line. Could we finally get some idea as to who was the best locally bred three-year-old, at least in Seoul? No. Both capitulated in the stretch run leaving filly Clear Geom (Clear Attempt) to run through and claim the spoils.

Clear Geom was the surprise winner of the Gyeonggi Governor’s Cup, the final leg of the “Triple Tiara” to decide Champion filly back in June. In that race, she ran down the previously unbeaten Dia Road, who finally returned to the track for the first time since that day in a successful effort over 1400M on Saturday. In a division with no standout, Clear Geom perhaps now has as much claim as any to be considered the best of them.

As for the foreign contingent, Richard Oliver partnered Hwaranguichampion to victory in race 4 at Busan on Friday, while Bart Rice’s talented Adios Charlie colt Ssonsal registered his third victory from seven starts in race 10. The Rice Stable followed up on Sunday with another promising one, Good Dancer, who registered his fourth win from eight attempts, in race 2.

Ioannis Poullis was also among the winners on Sunday, keeping his partnership with top trainer Kim Young-kwan going for at least another week by winning race 3 on Power Touch. The Nokwon Farm bred colt is the first foal to make the track out of former Champion filly Useung Touch. One race later it wasn’t such a good result for Peter Wolsley’s Mr. Afleet, with the colt, stepped up to 1800M as he sought a fifth win on his sixth start, unable to run down B.K. Gambol – a filly he was giving 5kg to – coming up short by a head.

Possibly the biggest foreign success of the weekend though belonged to Richard Oliver, who closed out Sunday’s card riding Core Blade to a battling win over 1400M at class 1. The filly – who back in January was the British jockey’s first ride at Busan – held off a resurgent Hello Venus to take the line by a head. Core Blade’s dam Soseono is half-sister to Subsidy, who was one of the top horses in Seoul in the early 2000s.

Alan Munro and Antonio Da Silva both rode winners at Seoul over the weekend while new French trainer Tony Castenheira saw his first Korean runner, Choegang Singi, run a good 2nd in Sunday’s race 5. Castenheira opened his stable last month and currently has nine horses under his charge.

Finally, it’s well done to Lee Dong-jin, who is the latest jockey to shed his apprentice claim. Lee rode two winners on Saturday’s Seoul card to take his career tally to 40 and in the process lose his final kilogram allowance. Lee, who debuted in 2017 has a strike rate of approximately 7% from 560 mounts. He’s proven adept at positioning horses and is strong in the finish so a promising career could beckon.

Coming up this weekend, it’s a Korea Cup rematch as Moonhak Chief makes a quick return to the track to once again face Cheongdam Dokki and Dolkong in Sunday’s KRA Cup Classic.

We also expect to get confirmation of whether Korea Sprint winner Blue Chipper is going to ship to Santa Anita for a potential tilt at the Breeders’ Cup Mile – he’s already listed as a potential starter, along with Ambassadorial – the UK-trained runner who performed so well for 3rd in the Korea Cup. Right now, the odds are that he will.

Seoul & Busan Sunday: Race-By-Race Preview (September 29)

Two big juvenile races headline Seoul and Busan on Sunday. Both will have strong favourites with Choegang Team looking hard to beat in the Munhwa Ilbo Cup at Seoul while Save The World is set to start at a short price in the Gold Circle Trophy at Busan. We also get to see several of Seoul’s top three-year-olds take each other on as Derby Winner and Runner-up Wonderful Fly and Myeongpum Chukje are joined by Gyeonggi Governor’s Cup winner Clear Geom as well as Thunder Blade and Rapidocus over 1800M in race 11.

There are 11 races at Seoul from 10:45 to 18:00 plus 6 at Busan from 12:40 to 17:05. Here are the Seoul previews with Busan Selections below:

Wonderful Fly Derby KRA

Derby winner Wonderful Fly races on Sunday (Pic: Ross Holburt/KRA)

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

Filly-only maiden to kick things off and what it perhaps lacks in quality, it makes up for in competitiveness. Five of them race for the first time and among these first-timers, (2) CHOEGANGMA was a lively looking trial winner in August and from an inside draw could potentially get to the front and lead all the way. Accordingly, she’s the slight pick. (4) LUCKY SMILE ran a good 3rd on debut at the beginning of this month, coming from off the pace and running on well and she can match or better that today while (6) ELITE LADY has a 2nd and a 4th in two starts so far, the latter in a valuable juvenile race over 1200M which she led until the closing stages. She’ll join Choegangma on pace and looks a real danger. (3) PEACE OF RULES and another debut-maker, (9) NUNBUSIN HANSEN, look best of the rest.

Selections (2) Choegangma (6) Elite Lady (4) Lucky Smile (9) Nunbusin Hansen
Next Best 3, 12
Fast Start 2, 3, 6, 9

Race 2: Class 6 (1300M) Allowance / KRW 24 Million

(10) SYDNEY MONEY came from well off the pace to run a good 3rd in a slightly better race than this on August 10th. He’s shown progress in three starts since returning from a lengthy absence and he could make the breakthrough today. (1) RUFFIAN PARK ran promisingly enough for 4th on debut at the end of July and should have come on for the run and a nine-week layoff. He’ll be on pace early. (3) PUNCH POWER did nothing wrong on his first start four weeks ago and will be expected to improve on the 5th he scored that day. (7) DREAM CHAT debuted in 3rd place all the way back in March. She’s had her setbacks since but looked competent enough in a recent trial. (12) DONGSEO JEPAE was a much improved 2nd last time and is another with placing claims.

Selections (10) Sydney Money (1) Ruffian Park (3) Punch Power (7) Dream Chat
Next Best 12, 9
Fast Start 1, 4, 8, 9

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

(3) RAON BEST MAN is up in class following an eye-catching seven-length win over 1000M on August 31st. He made all that day and while he is up in distance for the first time as well, he has every chance of repeating. (10) KING OF RULES enters off the back of consecutive runner-up finishes and should be going close again while (11) HWARYONG has a 3rd and a 2nd from his latest two and the step up in trip today should suit well. (4) BISAYEON and (9) GEUMBIT YEOLJEONG, the latter just a neck behind King Of Rules last start and likely to challenging for the early lead here, are others in at least the placing hunt.

Selections (3) Raon Best Man (10) King Of Rules (11) Hwaryong (4) Bisayeon
Next Best 9, 5
Fast Start 3, 4, 9

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

(12) RAON TOUGH MAN was a good winner in a fast time on debut on August 11th He only won by a neck but he and the runner-up were a full eight-lengths clear of the rest of the field and while he steps up in both class and distance today – and is drawn in the car park – he can make it two out of two. (4) ROYAL GHOST remains a maiden but comes in having run a very good 2nd on her first try at this class last time out. That was at 1000M, but she’s run well at this distance as well and should go close. (11) DAEHAN CHAMP and (8) IL MARE were both a touch disappointing when well down the field in an admittedly stronger race then this last month. Both should go better today. (9) STAR LIST has been holding her own in useful company lately and can aim for some minor prize money.

Selections (12) Roan Tough Man (4) Royal Ghost (8) Il Mare (11) Daehan Champ
Next Best 9, 6
Fast Start 4, 8, 12

Race 5: Class 6 (1700M) Allowance / KRW 24 Million

(2) CITY SONGAM beat a couple of these on his way to 2nd place over 1300M on August 31st. His style across four starts so far has been to come from well off the pace so it’ tempting to suggest that the additional trip – his first time around two turns – should suit perfectly. (10) CHOEGANG SINGI provides French trainer Tony Castanheira with his first Korean runner and it could be a good one. He was just beaten half a length last start six weeks ago and is another who should appreciate a bit of distance. (6) FASTEST already has a 3rd place at this distance to his name and should be aiming to at least repeat. (1) CHEONNYEONUI GODO and (4) MACH SEUNGCHEON are others in the frame.

Selections (2) City Songam (10) Choegang Singi (6) Fastest (1) Cheonnyeonui Godo
Next Best 4, 8
Fast Start 1, 3, 6

Race 6: Class 4 (1300M) Handicap / KRW 60 Million

(1) DAEGUN POWER won back to back races in June and July to get rapidly promoted to this level and then ran a creditable 3rd on his first try at it on August 25th. From the inside gate, he should be on speed from the start and he can return to the winner’s circle here. (3) GAON FORCE ran in the first two legs of this year’s Korean Triple Crown, and while he finished well back both times, he has ability. His latest run saw him come rom off the pace to run 4th over 1200M last month and he should better that today. (2) SUN OF THUNDER was a class and distance winner last start and while he carries more weight today in what is a tougher race, he warrants respect. (11) P.K. JEONSA is up in class following back to back wins and should be competitive while (12) STRONG VULTURE is another who is very capable on his day.

Selections (1) Daegun Power (3) Gaon Force (11) P.K. Jeonsa (12) Strong Vulture
Next Best 2, 10
Fast Start 1, 2, 3, 11

Race 7: Class 3 (1200M) Handicap / KRW 75 Million

Another competitive race. (4) SKY DOLPUNG was a class and distance winner on August 11th, coming from off the pace to win by a neck. That was the culmination of a run of good form and he’ll be in the hunt again. He carries 3.5kg more today though and chances are that (6) DADDY GLORY, a couple of lengths back in 3rd that day, will overturn the form. She’s a winner of three from nine and looks to have potential for more. She can sit behind the early speed and be too strong late on. (9) MIREU STORM has beaten plenty of these on his way to back to back runner-up finishes at class and distance and should (more…)

Silver Wolf Maintains Outstanding 2017 Record in Munhwa Ilbo

Silver Wolf may only have run five times in 2017 but it’s been a golden year for the Aussie import. Last Sunday at Seoul, she took home yet another big prize, scoring in the Munhwa Ilbo Cup over six furlongs.

Having won the Ttukseom Cup over 1400M and the KNN Cup at a mile, Silver Wolf has essentially already won the “Queens’ Tour” series for fillies & mares even before the final leg – the 2000M Gyeongnam Governor’s Cup in November. She has spent the early autumn sprinting, running a very creditable 5th in the Korea Sprint in September and then picking up Sunday’s Munhwa.

The strong early pace suited Silver Wolf’s style and under a patient ride from Djordje Perovic, Silver Wolf turned on the accelerator just as the early leaders started to fade. She went away to win by just under two lengths from two other fast finishers, Daisyan and Parang Juuibo.

Munhwa Ilbo Cup – Seoul Racecourse – 1200M – October 15, 2017

1. Silver Wolf (AUS) [Oratorio – Ready For More (More Than Ready)] Djrodje Perovic – 1.5, 1.0
2. Daisyan (USA) [Rock Hard Ten – My Catriona (Tactical Cat)] – Shinji Hatanaka – 2.5
3. Parang Juuibo (USA) [With Distinction – Spicy Souffle (French Deputy)] – Lim Gi Won – 1.8
Distances: 1.75 lengths / 0.5 lengths
Also Ran: 4. Wonder Bolt (USA) 5. Choegangja USA) 6. Cheonjiga (USA) 7. Always Winner (KOR) 8. Zentenary (USA) 9. Clean Up Bingo (KOR) 10. Cheonma (USA)

Sunday Seoul & Busan: Race-By-Race Preview

Big race action returns to Seoul today (Sunday) with the running of the Munhwa Ilbo Cup. The Sprint is the feature of an 11-race program in the capital which runs from 10:45 to 18:00. At Busan, there are 6 races from 12:40 to 17:05.

Silver Wolf

Silver Wolf goes in the Munhwa Ilbo Cup (Pic: Ross Holburt)

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

(6) MASK is ready to win. He almost slipped over turning into the home straight on debut in July but still managed to finish 3rd before running 2nd on his return in August. He’ll be on the early speed here and really should be winning. (3) LUCKY BONGHWA was 3rd, two and a half lengths behind Mask in that August race, continuing the progression that he’s shown in each of his three outings so far and he looks to be the main danger although (5) ROYAL ACE has come close once or twice and could be in the hunt too. (2) M.J. CAPTAIN comes in off a 2nd place finish last start and will likely join Mask on the early speed while (10) DAECHEON ACE was a creditable enough 5th of 9 on debut a month ago and the jockey booking will attract some.

Selections (6) Mask (3) Lucky Bonghwa (2) M.J. Captain (5) Royal Ace
Next Best 10, 12
Fast Start 2, 6

Race 2: Class 6 (1200M) Allowance / KRW 60 Million

Enhanced prize money for this juvenile contest and it sees six first-timers taking on six others who have each started once before. And a number of those experienced ones did well on debut and are likely to be favoured over the newcomers here. (3) KING POSE is the pick, running on fluently for 3rd on debut over 1000M on September 10th and the extra furlong should suit just fine today. (5) EMERALD KING and (12) BAEKSAN GUNJU (more…)

Cheongdam Dokki, I’m Your Father Claim 2yo Prizes

Big prizes were on offer for imported two-year-olds at both Seoul and Busan on Sunday . 23/1 outsider Cheongdam Dokki took the honours in the Munhwa Ilbo Cup at Seoul while at Busan, jockey Francisco Da Silva continued his recent run of form, guiding  well-backed I’m Your Father to victory in the Gyeongnam Do Min Ilbo.

20161106_161622-1.jpg

Francisco Da Silva interviewed post-race

I’m Your Father (Tiznow) entered having won one of three starts so far with 2nd and 3rd places in the other two – all against older horses. Accordingly he was sent off as the slight favourite for the 1200M Gyeongnam Do Min Ilbo Cup, Busan’s most valuable race for imported juveniles. I’m Your Father, a $50,000 yearling purchase from the Fasig Tipton sale last autumn raced handy throughout, hitting the front early in the home straigth and running on to win by a dominant four lengths.

It was jockey Francisco Da Silva’s 11th Korean winner and he would quickly add another as he guided Main Stay to beat stablemate and Korean Oaks winner Ottug Ottugi and highly rated sprinter Perdido Pomeroy in the class 1 feature.

Seoul too hosted its most valuable race for juvenile imports on Sunday and if Busan’s was practically a procession for the winner, in the capital it was anything but. Spirit Of Hansen (Hansen) was sent off as a vulnerable favourite in the Munhwa Ilbo Cup but it was another 23/1 chance, Cheongdam Dokki (To Honor And Serve) who closed from 9th to 1st in the final furlong to snatch it on the line under Park Eul Woon.

Cheongdam Dokki cost just $20,000 at Keeneland’s yearling sale in 2015. The munhwa Ilbo was just his second lifetime start and he’s won both of them

Next week sees one of the biggest races of the season at Seoul in the shape of the President’s Cup. It’s Korea’s most valuable race of the season that’s restricted to domestic-bred horses.

Sunday Preview: Munhwa Ilbo, Gyeongnam Do Min Ilbo (November 6)

Busy day of racing at both Seoul and Busan on Sunday with big prizes at both tracks for imported 2-year olds. There are 11 races at Seoul from 10:40 to 18:00 and 6 at Busan from 12:50 to 17:00.

Ottug Ottugi

Oaks Winner Ottug Ottugi faces Perdido Pomeroy on Sunday (Pic: KRA)

At Seoul, It’s the Munhwa Ilbo Cup and Spirit Of Hansen looks set to be favourite for a race that has attracted a full field of fourteen runners. Fourteen go too in Busan’s equivalent, the Gyeongnam Do Min Ilbo Cup, a really open event in which the excellently named I’m Your Father, Sillaui Jeonseol, and Wonder Wall are likely to be among the favourites.

Also at Busan, there is an intriguing match-up in the finale as two of the track’s best sprinters, Oaks winner Ottug Ottugi and Korea/Japan Cup winner Perdido Pomeroy face off over six furlongs. Races 9-11 at Seoul will be shown in Australia on Sky Racing 2. English race cards are here. Notes on those three races below:

Race 9: Class Open – The Munhwa Ilbo Cup / 1200M / Allowance (2yo Only) / KRW 200 Million / 16:35

Following three 2nd place finishes, (5) SPIRIT OF HANSEN was perhaps a touch fortunate to get his maiden victory last time out when his main rival missed the break enabling him to comfortably make all. Nevertheless he has shown enough to suggest he should be favourite to take this valuable prize with champion jockey Moon Se Young on board for the first time. (14) NEW CITADEL made his own breakthrough last time with a visually impressive win over 1400M and while the draw is far from ideal, looks the main danger. There are plenty of unknowns in the race though. (7) CHEONGDAM DOKKI and (2) GRACE CITY have both won their only starts to date and will have backers while (8) DOLKONG may have only managed 2nd on debut behind one of his rivals at the end of August but clearly needed further and gets it today. (12) INGWANGDO has also shown promise in two outings so far and is to be considered.

Selections: (5) Spirit Of Hansen (14) New Citadel (7) Cheongdam Dokki (8) Dolkong
Next Best: 12, 2, 11
Rating: 5, 14, 4, 1=2
Fast Starters: 3, 4, 5, 12
Start-200M: 12, 4, 3, 14, 10
200M-Finish: 8, 11, 7, 13, 14

Race 10: Class 2 / 1400M / Handicap / KRW 90 Million / 17:30

Nice competitive race here and while (6) SMART TIME found herself overmatched in the Jeju Governor’s Cup last month, she should go much better here in more amenable company. She races best when she gets a forward position from the gate and can do that today. (2) GREY KAISER beat a couple of these when racing 3rd over 1200M a month ago and will also be on speed today while (3) BAEKSAN can improve on a 6th place in tough company last start. (4) CUPID POWER and (12) SUN SHOT look best of the rest.

Selections: (6) Smart Time (2) Grey Kaiser (3) Baeksan (4) Cupid Power
Next Best: 12, 5, 1, 8
Rating: 85=85, 83=83, 82
Fast Starters: 2, 5, 6, 12
Start-200M: 12, 5, 1, 10, 2
200M-Finish: 4, 8, 7, 12, 3

Race 11: Class 1 / 1400M / Handicap / KRW 110 Million / 18:00

It took (10) WINNER RED six starts to get his maiden win but he’s now won four of his last five and tackles class 1 opposition for the first time here with every indication being that he can be equal to the task. Also up in class is (11) SAMBONG. He was a, eight-length winner over 1900M last month but is a very solid sprinter too and must be considered. (7) DIPLOMATIC MISSION was 2nd at class and distance three weeks ago and can match that today while (1) WORLD JJANG and (6) CITY HUNTER have proven competitive at this level, the latter having returned from seven months out with a solid 3rd last month. (4) SUN STRONG and (12) GUMANSEOK are longer shots who also can’t be ruled out.

Selections: (10) Winner Red (7) Diplomatic Mission (11) Sambong (4) Sun Strong
Next Best: 12, 1, 6
Rating: 12, 8, 10, 2=7
Fast Starters: 2, 7, 8, 9
Start-200M: 8, 9, 10, 2, 7
200M-Finish: 6, 11, 1, 2, 10

Yeongsan Too Good In Munhwa Ilbo

Yeongsan made it five wins from five Korean starts, claiming the Munhwa Ilbo Cup in emphatic fashion at Seoul Racecourse on Sunday.

Yeongsan II

Yeongsan II

The gelding, who was sold to Malaysia as a 2-year-old, only to be re-imported at the end of last year, was sent off as the long odds-on favourite for the 7 furlong race.

Under champion jockey Moon Se Young for the first time, Yeongsan was taken to the lead early on and, with minimal promoting from his jockey, accelerated away from the field in the home straight to record one of the easiest Stakes race victories seen at Seoul for a long time. At least since Magic Dancer last month. Or Queen’s Blade the month before.

In the entirely separate race for second place, Sun Gear got the better of Clean Up Speed, a full 12-lengths behind the winner.

Yeongsan is yet to be tested in Korea. He didn’t especially impress on the turf in Malaysia where he scored one 2nd place from two total starts, but has taken to the Seoul sand exceptionally well and is, at least until this year’s 2-year-old crop start proving their worth, currently the most exciting horse on the peninsula.

Yeongsan II [Menifee – Foxxy Cleo (Peintre Celebre)] (he has to officially be named “II” due to a previous “Yeongsan”), has now won 5 races at distances between 1200 metres and 1700 metres all by wide margins and without facing any challenge. Still officially at class 2, at least for one more race, it may still be a while before we see what he is capable of.

It’s wise not to be carried away as we’ve been here before with the likes of Feel So Good and Fly Top Queen. While the latter has turn out to be a very good horse, she hasn’t been quite the international class race she looked early on.

Where Yeongsan goes next is the big question. In an ideal world, he would be taking on the visitors from Japan and Singapore in the SBS Asia Challenge Cup at the end of August over the same distance.

Munhwa Ilbo Stakes – Seoul Racecourse – 1400M – July 13, 2014

1. Yeongsan II (KOR) [Menifee – Foxxy Cleo (Peintre Celebre)] – Moon Se Young – 1.2, 1.2
2. Sun Gear (KOR) [Vicar – Arabian Jewel (Fraar)] – Lee Chan Ho – 1.8
3. Clean Up Speed (KOR) [Pico Central – Rich Emotions (Rizzi)] – Ikuyasu Kurakane – 2.8

Distances: 12 lengths/0.75 lengths – 13 ran