Sports Seoul Cup

Classic Trials: Mask Beats Gaon Champ To Win Sports Seoul / Divide Wind Cruises At Busan

With the KRA Cup Mile, the first leg of the Triple Crown just a month away, there were Classic trials at both Seoul and Busan. At Seoul, Mask handed Gaon Champ his first defeat while at Busan, it was a Kim Young Kwan-trained one-two as Divide Win led home Captain Force.

Having already stepped up to – and won at – 1700M, Mask was likely headed to the Triple Crown trail anyway but he was only sent off as third-best in the betting for the Sports Seoul Cup behind the hitherto undefeated Gaon Champ and Seoul’s top juvenile of 2017, Choinma. It was Gaon Champ who showed the way early and at the top of the stretch looked poised to go on keep his 100% record intact.

Mask was too strong. Under the urging of Shin Hyung Chul, he came alongside Gaon Champ, who was all-out under Park Tae Jong, and went past in the final half furlong to win by just under a length. Choinma was a long way back in 3rd.

Mask (Testa Matta) has now won three from seven in total but crucially, both of this year’s outings. He’ll not find it easy in Busan though.

Sports Seoul Cup – Seoul Racecourse – 1400M – March 4, 2018

1. Mask (KOR) [Testa Matta – Fire And Vice (Latent Heat)] – Shin Hyung Chul – 6.0, 1.4
2. Gaon Champ (KOR) [Ecton Park – Ruby Queen (Badge Of Silver)] – Park Tae Jong – 1.1
3. Choinma (KOR) [Menifee – Kkummaeul(Curia Regis)] – Choi Bum Hyun – 1.1
Distances: 0.75 lengths / 8 lengths
Also Ran: 4. Sharp Kaylan 5. Sinui Myeongryeong 6. Seourui Byeol 7. Eclair Beauty 8. Meni Bada

Down South, the Kim Young Kwan machine grinds on relentlessly and even without Champion juvenile Ecton Blade lining up, it seemed inevitable he was going to saddle the winner of the Gyeongnam Shinmun.

Divide Wind (Menifee) was favourite and he made short-work of the field, running away in the closing stages to win by three-lengths on the line. Stablemate Captain Force (Peace Rules), a half-brother to 2016 Oaks winner Ottug Ottugi came home 2nd.

Gyeongnam Shinmun Cup – Busan Racecourse – 1400M – March 4, 2018

1. Divide Wind (KOR) [Menifee – Grand Slam (Grand Pass)] – You Hyun Myung – 2.6, 1.2
2. Captain Force (KOR) [Peace Rules – Main Objective (Lion Heart)] – Lee Hyo Sik – 1.2
3. World Sun (KOR) [Officer – Dancing Desire (Mr. Greeley)] – Lim Sung Sil – 1.2
Distance: 3 lengths / 1 length
Also Ran: 5. Captain Guy 6. Baedu Jeonggi 7. May Star 8. Bugyeong Bolt

In other news at Busan, Drop The Beat bested Haeya in the feature class 1 handicap, a sprint over 1400M.


Seoul & Busan Sunday: Race-By-Race Preview (March 4)

Choinma vs Gaon Champ at Seoul / Divide Wind vs Captain Force & Haeya vs Captain Blade at Busan

Sunday’s Sports Seoul Cup at Seoul Racecourse may have only attracted a field of eight-runners but it features two of the hottest three-year-olds at the track right now as Choinma and Gaon Champ meet over 1400M. Meanwhile at Busan, Divide Win faces stablemate Captain Force as well as Gimhae Mayor’s Cup winner Major Sun in another big three-year-old contest, the Gyeongnam Sinmun Cup


Choinma was Seoul’s best juvenile in 2017 but he didn’t have to race Gaon Champ (Pic: KRA)

Choinma was Seoul’s top juvenile of 2017 winning both the Gyeonggi Governor’s and Gwacheon Mayor’s Cups before running 2nd to Busan prospect Ecton Blade in the Breeders’ Cup in December.

Gaon Champ wasn’t involved in any of those races, however, the Ecton Park colt only debuted at the start of December and picked up two modest races before blowing away a strong field in a valuable juvenile race in December, two weeks after the Breeders’ Cup. He’s won his three starts to date by a combined margin of thirty-lengths. There have been concerns throughout about his soundness and he does race at 1400M for the first time, but he is reportedly fit and ready to go and will surely be hard to beat.

Choinma has raced once as a three-year-old already, surprisingly beaten into 2nd in his first try around two turns at 1700M in January but he is still very much in the hunt. Neither he nor Gaon Champ are front-runners so the early pace will most likely be set by Mask and Sinui Myeongryeong, both good prospects themselves, while Sharp Kaylan too looks a better horse than he was when beaten by Gaon Champ in December – since then he’s won two in a row by six and four-lengths respectively.

The Sports Seoul Cup is the highlight of an eleven-race Sunday program at Seoul while at Busan, The Gyeongnam Sinmun Cup headlines five races. Only Seoul is available on overseas simulcast so only full comments for Seoul but Busan Selections are at the bottom:

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

This one looks to be (11) ROAN DOLPUNG’s to lose. The Victoire Pisa gelding didn’t show much in his first two starts but has since followed up with consecutive 3rd place finishes both at this distance and at 1000M and should take some beating today. Despite being drawn wide, he should get on the early speed and lead all the way. The others have plenty to find. (3) BLACK SPIRIT and (7) SPEED YEONGUNG have both hinted at some potential talent, the latter beating a couple of these on his latest outing. (8) EOMJI YEOWANG showed signs of improvement when 5th last start and could maintain that momentum here. (2) FIRST THUNDER the best of a limited rest.

Selections (11) Raon Dolpung (8) Eomji Yeowang (7) Speed Yeongung (3) Black Spirit
Next Best 2, 12
Fast Start 5, 6, 10, 11

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

(2) DAE CAIN was considered promising enough by connections to be given a run in Gwacheon Mayor’s Cup, one of Seoul’s top juvenile races, las October. He was overmatched, only beating two home. He has since bounced back and his latest two starts, both at this distance and ending in 4th and 2nd placed finishes suggest a maiden win isn’t too far away and he’s the pick to score. (10) ONLY BARAM enters off back to back 3rd places and should be competitive again, while one of those he beat a couple of starts ago, (6) MIGHTY COOL, hasn’t been too far away in his recent tries and can be close again. (7) RUN AWAY was an improved 4th last time and enters the placing frame as does (12) SKY DOLPUNG, who can be given another chance after a lacklustre effort behind Dae Cain a month ago.

Selections (2) Dae Cain (10) Only Baram (6) Mighty Cool (7) Run Away
Next Best 12, 11, 4
Fast Start 1, 7, 8, 9

Race 3: Class 5 (1000M) Handicap / KRW 40 Million

(2) GULCHARMNAMUSUP finished strongly to record a maiden win on debut on January 20th and while she is up in class today, she showed enough to suggest she is going to be very dangerous once more. (4) GANGCHONUI BYEOL used different tactics on her own debut two weeks later, leading from the gate, but the result was the same as she made all for a very comfortable win and she too steps up in class. At least one 100% record is going to be broken and it could go either way. We’ll come down marginally on the side of Gulcharmnamusup. Should both be beaten then it’s another up in class one, (7) SEONGBUL CHAMP, who could be best placed to take advantage. She has never been worse than 5th and was a really good winner last start at this distance. (1) HI EUREKA was a decent class and distance 4th last time while (8) SIMPLE RULES is better than the 8th place he registered on his first try at this class back in December and should be better dropped back in trip today.

Selections (2) Gulcharmnamusup (4) Gangchonui Byeol (7) Seongbul Champ (8) Simple Rules
Next Best 6, 9
Fast Start 2, 4, 6, 7

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

(2) JEONGSANG DOLPUNG steps up in class today following a commanding four-length win over 1000M at the end of January. On his only previous try at this distance he led early only to fade to 5th late on but he should be better now and can stay on this time. The big danger is (7) HYEONMU. He couldn’t get on the early pace from a wide draw when well-backed last time but looks better positioned to do so today and is a proven performer at this class. (9) DICE KING must be respected entering as he does a class and distance winner a month ago. It wasn’t an especially strong race, but Dice King won (more…)

Chang Se & Ottug Ottugi Land Oaks Trials, Doraon Hyeonpyo Wins Again

Chang Se and Ottug Ottugi ran out the dominant winners of the Sports Seoul and GC Trophies at Seoul and Busan respectively and to head into the Spring Classics as the top rated 3-year-old fillies.


Chang Se was restless in the Sports Seoul winner’s circle

At Seoul, Gwacheon Mayor’s Cup winner Waikiki was scratched from the Sports Seoul leading Daehan Cheonwang and Chang Se to be sent off almost as co-favourites. In the end though it was Chang Se all the way as she led from gate-to-wire under apprentice jockey Lee Hyeon Jong to win by four lengths on the line.

Sports Seoul Cup – Seoul Racecourse – 1400M – March 6, 201

1. Chang Se (KOR) [Forest Camp – Daecheonpung (Fiercely)] – Lee Hyeon Jong – 2.6, 1.6
2. Meni Music (KOR) [Menifee – Morning Music (Songandaprayer)] – Park Eul Woon – 2.8
3. Sidaeyeowang (KOR) [Vicar – Fier Time (Fiercely) – Djordje Perovic – 2.0
Distances: 4 lengths / 1.25 lengths – 7 ran

In the GC Trophy at Busan, Ottug Ottugi fully justified punters’ confidence in backing her into odds-on as she made all to romp home by six lengths under Oh Kyoung Hoan. Second favourite, the previously unbeaten Hoseungjibyeok, was a disappointment, beating only on home.

GC Trophy – Busan Racecourse – 1400M – March 6, 2016

1. Ottug Ottugi (KOR) [Forest Camp – Main Objective (Lion Heart)] – Oh Kyoung Hoan – 1.9, 1.3
2. Yuseong Tiger (KOR) [Discreet Cat – Comarille (Deputy Commander)] – Kim Dong Young – 4.1
3. Santa Gloria (KOR) [Menifee – Pupil (Unbridled)] – Pasquale Borelli – 6.3
Distances: 6 lengths / 1.5 lenghts – 6 ran

In other news, Doraon Hyeonpyo (Colors Flying) continued his impressive run of form, lugging top weight around 1800M in Busan’s feature and not only getting up in the final strifes to win by a nose, but breaing the track record for the distance at the same time. Champion Juvenile back in 2014, Doraon Hyeonpyo had a middling first half to his three-year-old season but really stepped up as the year drew to a close and has now won four in a row to become one of the top rated horses in the country.

Sunday Filly Classic trials: Full Preview

The current cream of the domestic bred three-year-old filly crop are in action at both Seoul and Busan on Sunday with the running of a pair of early season classic trials, the Sports Seoul Cup in the capital and the Gold Circle Trophy on the south coast.

Ottug Ottugi

Ottug Ottugi goes in Busan’s early Oaks trial

Unsurprisingly the fields are small but nevertheless interesting. Seoul on Sunday runs 11 races from 10:50 to 18:00 while Busan runs 6 from 13:00 to 17:05.

English Racecards can be found here. Entry to the racecourse is free for all punters on Sunday to compensate for the loss of four races due to the weather (among a number of issues) last Sunday.

Here’s a full rundown of the fields in both trials. All are three-year-old fillies and all will carry 55kg.

Name [Pedigree] (Starts/1st/2nd/3rd) Trainer – Jockey

GC Trophy (Special) – Busan Racecourse – 1400M – March 6, 2016 (16:10)

1. My Alice [Limitless Bid – Allie’s Premo (Alex’s Pal)] (3/2/1/0) JB Mun – Ikuyasu Kurakane
A possible front-runner here, she’s done little wrong so far although is tried at the distance for the first time. Four-length winner last start.

2. Yuseong Tiger [Discreet Cat – Comarillo (Deputy Commander)] (4/2/1/0) DS Bang – Kim Dong Young
The most likely to be happy to sit back and let others lead, she was an easy five-length winner last time over 1300M and can go close.

3. Steal The Show Why [Whywhywhy – Steal The Show (Cat Thief)] (8/2/2/1) KY Baik – You Hyun Myung
A four-length winner at class 5 over 1300M last time beating one who went on to win very smartly on Friday, she will sit just off any early pace.

4. Hoseungjibyeok [Didyme – Everything Nice (Elusive Quality)] (3/3/0/0) BE Kang – Song Keong Yun
Unbeaten and a class 4 winner at this distance beating the well-thought of Evangeline last time. She will want to settle in midfield and will be second favourite.

5. Ottug Ottugi [Forest Camp – Main Objective (Lion Heart)] (6/4/1/0) YK Kim – Oh Kyoung Hoan
This is the favourite, however her only previous try at 1400M – the Breeders’ Cup in Seoul, she did not stay on for this distance. We are three months on now and we will give her another chance. She sets the pace and she is the favourite.

6. Santa Gloria [Menifee – Pupil (Unbridled)] (4/1/0/1) KY Baik – Pasquale Borelli
The outsider of the field, she has been beaten by Yuseing Tiger and is yet to perform at anything higher than class 6. The only one for whom a win would be a big shock.

Sports Seoul Cup (Listed) – Seoul Racecourse – 1400M – March 6, 2016 (16:40)

1. Chang Se [Forest Camp – Daecheonpung (Fiercely)] (7/3/2/1) JW Park – Lee Hyeon Jong
She’s won three of seven and beat imported opposition at class 4 last time. Tries the distance for the first time but will stay. Could lead and in the absence of Waikiki is the likely favourite.

2. La Reine [Menifee – Souther Splendour (Southern Halo)] (2/1/0/0) YJ Choi – Jo Sung Gon
A winner on debut in an event where all were previously unraced, she showed nothing next up and is an outsider here.

3. Sidaeyeowang [Vicar – Fier Time (Fiercely)] (4/2/0/0) JW Park – Djordje Perovic
Two wins and two fourths and has been beaten by Meni Money, she will need to find something here. Likely to sit behind the early lead.

4. Ujuchoegang [Creek Cat – Sonoray (Gone West)] (3/0/0/0) HS Seo – Bang Choon Sik
An outsider, she;s one of two yet to win and it’s hard to see her doing so here.

5. Meni Music [Menifee – Morning Music (Songandaprayer)] (7/3/1/1) YG Park – Park Eul Woon
At one time believed to be the pick of the crop, she has stuttered as the competition has grown stronger. Goes at this distance for the first time, she will probably look to lead but others will be favoured.

6. Argo Queen [Creek Cat – Lunar Colony (A.P. Indy)] (6/0/1/1) BJ Choi – Kim Dong Soo
Along with Ujuchoegang, this one hasn’t wn and she probably won’t here either. Still at class 6 and not much to recommend.

7. Daehan Cheonwang [Forest Camp – Seonju Jangsu (Happy Jazz Band)] (5/3/1/0) HJ Bae – Lim Gi Won
Can be forgiven her most recent try in January, she is a winner at this distance at class 5. She will sit just behind any early pace and may be considered.

8. Waikiki [Pico Central – Wyvern (Didyme)] (6/2/2/0) JH Ha – Park Byeong Yun

Meni Money On The Money In Sports Seoul

Jibong Sarang Takes MJC / Beolmaui Kkum Too Good At Busan

It was billed as an Oaks trial but that was always going to be stretching things a bit. A 1400M race at Seoul on the first day of March isn’t much prep for an 1800M one at Busan in late June. Nevertheless, Meni Money showed that she could be a filly to be reckoned with later in the year as she ran off with the Sports Seoul Trophy at Seoul Racecourse on Sunday.

Meni Money and Seo Seung Un in a rather crowded Sports Seoul Winner's Circle

Meni Money and Seo Seung Un in a rather crowded Sports Seoul Winner’s Circle

Meni Money was sent off as the favourite for the trial, coming in off the back of four 2nd places and two wins in her career to date. She didn’t disappoint. Under Seo Seung Un, she overhauled Smart Time in the closing stages to secure a half-length win.

Meni Money is the first foal out of Pocketful Of Money, winner of the KRA Cup Classic in 2007 and who to this day still holds the Seoul Racecourse track record for 1800, a mark she set in 2008. Both her foals born in 2013 and 2014 died.

Sports Seoul Trophy – Seoul Racecourse – 1400M – March 1, 2015

1. Meni Money (KOR) [Menifee – Pocketful Of Money (Running Stag)] – Seo Seung Un – 3.1, 1.4
2. Smart Time (KOR) [Ft.Stockton – Charon (Jade Robbery)] – Park Eul Woon – 1.5
3. Lucky Music (KOR) [Creek Cat – Dangdae Jeil (Lucky Ruler)] – Choi Bum Hyun – 3.1
Distances: 0.5 lengths/2 lengths – 11 ran

The first Classic of the season, the KRA Cup Mile at Busan, is just a month away.
Meni Money may not even go but down on the south coast yesterday, a couple of three-year-olds were also improving their reputations.

Mac And Cheese (Menifee) ran out a three-length winner in a class 2 race over the mile course and must come into consideration for the Triple Crown races. One race later it was the turn of a filly, Jibong Sarang (Officer) to impress as she claimed victory by a full five-lengths in the Macau Jockey Club Trophy.

In Busan’s feature handicap Beolmaui Kkum (Put It Back) once again showed his class. Carrying 60kg he was a comfortable five-length winner over 1900M. Old-stager Viva Ace was a very good second while Gandai put in a solid performance in third ahead of the better-known pair of Magic Dancer and Gamdonguibada.

As impressive as Gyeongbudaero was two weeks ago, up to 2000M, Beolmaui Kkum remains the one to beat.

* On Friday, 2014 Minister’s Cup winner Never Seen Before (Ecton Park) made his first appearance since winning that Classic at Seoul in October. He put in a decent performance but could only manage third place behind rising star import Damyangui Jilju (Two Punch), who’s now won six of his nine starts.

What’s the surest sign the Spring is on the way? Punters not having to sprint from the gates to the grandstand to avoid the cold? Horses beginning to lose their winter coats? Perhaps, but K-Pop back at the racecourse is the clincher.

"G-Friend" braving the cold and wind at Seoul Racecourse yesterday

“G-Friend” braving the cold and wind at Seoul Racecourse yesterday

It was back yesterday. That didn’t stop it from being very cold.

Joy Lucky Wins Seoul Oaks Trial

Joy Lucky put herself among the leading contenders for the Korean Oaks with a commanding win in the Sports Seoul Cup at Seoul Race Park this afternoon.

The promising filly was sent off as second favourite for what is Seoul’s premier Oaks trial race and having taken an early lead. she was never troubled as she stretched away for a 9-length victory.

Favourite Dewma straggled home in 2nd place with Cheonnyeon Dongan in 3rd. However, the race was all about Joy Lucky whose only defeat to date was in the Korean Derby last month. Of course, the Derby winner, Speedy First is a filly and so long as she stays sound, is likely to be prohibitive favourite for the Oaks, which will be run at her home track of Busan in August. Joy Lucky will need to show even more improvement to overturn the Derby result.

It was a first Stakes win for young jockey Seo Seung Un. Seo, who debuted in 2011 has quickly established himself as among the top riders at Seoul with 84 winners plus a succesful stint in the United States to his name already. It won’t be the last time we see him in a big race winner’s circle

Sports Seoul Oaks Trial – Seoul Race Park – 1800M – June 23, 2013

1. Joy Lucky (KOR) [Vicar – Proper Gun (Prosper Fager)] – Seo Seung Un – 3.1, 1.3
2. Dewma (KOR) [Forest Camp – Wild Cat Strike (Wild Again)] – Moon Se Young – 1.2
3. Cheonnyeon Dongan (KOR) [Ecton Park – Honeycakes (Hennesey)] – Oh Kyoung Hoan – 2.4

Distances: 9 lengths/1.25
Also ran: 4. Jumbo Speed 5. Storm Music 6. All With Me 7. Hurricane Jump 8. Dashing Diva NR: Smarty Road

* Seo Seung Un is the man this year’s new jockeys will be looking to emulate and Lee Chan Ho today became the first of their number to ride a winner. Lee, who debuted last week, guided filly Last Love (Volponi) to victory in race 6.

It was another good day for the Japanese contingent. Ikuyasu Kurakane rode another double with victories in races 1 and 5 while Yukio Abe was also among the winners. Down at Busan, Joe Fujii also scored his now regulation winner.

Next week it is Seoul vs Busan in a new race on the calendar, the Jeju Governor’s Cup. A big prize is on offer as Seoul’s top horse Jigeum I Sungan (Ingrandire) faces a formidable foursome from Busan that at this stage comprises Stakes winners Useung Touch, Yeongdusong, Gyeongbudaero and prolific winner Road To Prince.