Sports Seoul Trophy

Classic Trials Sunday at Seoul & Busan: Race-By-Race Preview (March 19)

Sunday is Classic Trials day in Korea with the Sports Seoul Trophy in the Capital and the Gyeongnam Shinmun Trophy on the south coast offering the three-year-old crop a big prize on their way to the Triple Crown, the first leg of which is just six weeks away. There are 11 races at Seoul from 10:35 to 18:00 and 6 at Busan from 11:00 to 15:40. Here are the previews:

Seungbusa won last year’s Sports Seoul Trophy before going on to place in two legs of the Triple Crown (Pic: KRA)

Seoul Race 1: Class 6 (1200M) Special Weight A / KRW 40 Million

Three-year-old maidens in the opener. (5) BANFF went through plenty of trials before debuting on February 19th and he gave a good account for himself over this distance, coming out of the widest gate to sit midfield and then run on for 3rd. He should have come on for that run, he draws well here, and he can win. (10) FLY DAY has a 5th and a 3rd from two appearances so far, both times settling midfield and finishing off well. The wide draw shouldn’t be a problem, an apprentice keeps his weight light, and he should be challenging late again here. (8) MIR POINT has a 2nd place to her name over 1000M and comes in off a solid 4th place at this distance on February 12th when he led for much of the way. He should be on pace again, and in this a long way. (6) CLAIR QUEEN and (7) JEOLDAE GACHI among others in at least the placing frame.

Selections(5) Banff (10) Fly Day (8) Mir Point (6) Clair Queen
Next Best7, 12
Fast Start4, 8, 7, 12

Busan Race 1: Class 6 (1200M) Special Weight A / KRW 40 Million

Three-year-old maidens. (1) CHEERFUL LIFE looks to be the one to beat. After running 5th on debut in December, he has since run 2nd and 3rd in two tries at this distance, beating a couple of today’s rivals in the process. He has raced on pace in both those and is beautifully drawn so to do again, and he can win. (5) BLACK VOLT came from a wide draw and from off the pace to run 3rd over 1300M on February 10th. He also has a 2nd to his name at 1000M and should be a threat today doing his best work late. (9) HONOR LORD returns for the first time since last September. He trialled up three times between December and February, winning two of them and posting good times, and must be taken seriously first-up here.  (4) SANGSANGGEUISANG has steadily improved across three starts so far, with a 4th place at 1300M on February 19th his most recent. He can sit behind the speed here and run on with every chance of a money finish. Debut-maker (2) UNJU BONNEUNG stopped the clock in a good time in his trial and a bold first-time showing is possible.

Selections(1) Cheerful Life (5) Black Volt (9) Honor Lord (4) Sangsanggeuisang
Next Best2, 7
Fast Start1, 3, 8, 9

Seoul Race 2: Class 6 (1200M) Special Weight A / KRW 40 Million

A maiden restricted to three-year-old fillies. The form doesn’t exactly leap off the page, so we’ll go with (4) BARAMUI HYANGGI, who has shown promise when running 5th and 4th in her first two starts, most recently at this distance on February 4th. She drew wide in both those races but gets a much better gate this time, her carried weight remains nice and light, and she has as good a chance as any here. (8) SEMYEONG LADY has run fairly in five starts so far with her best being a runner-up finish over 1200M in December. She also has the fastest time among any of these for the distance and she should be on pace and in the frame here. (1) HERO GANGJA has been 5th in both starts so far, racing on pace both times. She draws well here and should be aiming for improvement. (11) TUHON TEUKGEUP and (7) DAMJAENGI ARGO among others in at least the placing hunt.

Selections(4) Baramui Hyanggi (8) Semyeong Lady (1) Hero Gangja (11) Tuhon Teukgeup
Next Best7, 9
Fast Start1, 4, 8, 10

Busan Race 2: Class 6 (1300M) Special Weight A / KRW 25 Million

Fillies (and one mare) only in this age open maiden and it’s a tricky race where the form is unconvincing, but plenty are plausibly in with a chance. Without much conviction, we’ll go with (6) AQUA MAGIC. She has two 4th places on her record including last time out when she was on pace and beat a couple of today’s rivals. She has the fastest start and may get an easy run to the lead here. If she, does, she may prove hard to pass. (7) PHANTOM QUEEN is two starts into a comeback following almost six months out. She weakened over 1400M last time out but should be better back at a trip at which she has the fastest time of any of these. (5) GREEN LEGEND hasn’t shown an awful lot in two starts so far but draws a good gate this time and can be competitive. (8) RICH COWBOY returned from almost two years out in December and ran an adequate 5th place. She can improve on that here. (1) PURPLE STAR returns after almost a year off and trialled up well enough to suggest that in this limited company, she can be competitive.

Selections(6) Aqua Magic (7) Phantom Queen (5) Green Legend (8) Rich Cowboy
Next Best1, 4
Fast Start3, 5, 6, 11

Seoul Race 3: Class 6 (1200M) Special Weight A / KRW 40 Million

(2) ARGO MUJEOK was a beaten favourite over 1200M on February 25th when he was a touch slower away than normal. He does have a 3rd place on his record at this distance and from a good gate and with Antonio climbing aboard, he can be given another chance (5) BADAUI KKUM had a hard time from a wide draw over 1400M at his latest start on February 19th. He was going well prior to that tough and looked to be knocking on the door of his first win, consistently going close. He comes back in trip today, gets a 2kg apprentice claim and draws well. It could be fifteenth time lucky. (6) SPEAR GOLD and (7) SEOUL SPURT both come in following improved 3rd place showings in their latest and can build on their respective momentum here. (1) CANDY GLOW another in the placing frame.

Selections(2) Argo Mujeok (5) Badaui Kkum (6) Spear Gold (7) Seoul Spurt
Next Best1, 11
Fast Start1, 2, 6, 9

Busan Race 3: Class 5 (1400M) Handicap / KRW 40 Million

Fillies and mares only here. (2) SPECIAL ROAD looks the one to beat. She got her maiden win at start number two over 1200M back in December and has since finished 3rd and 5th in two attempts at this class, both over six-furlongs. She comes up in distance and in the weights today, but that’s balanced by Franco climbing aboard and from a good gate she should be on pace and can lead all the way. (6) CUQUENAN registered her maiden win at this distance in December. She drew wide for her first crack at this class on January 13th and ran on fairly for 5th. She has had nine weeks off so comes in fresh and can get closer here. (4) WONDERFUL OCEAN enters off a 3rd place in a curious race over 1300M on February 10th (won at big odds by Statice, who also goes here). That marked a return to form after a couple of indifferent runs and she can build on it here. (10) QUALITY QUEEN and (7) DALEHOLRINGWANGDAE among others in the minor money hunt.

Selections(2) Special Road (6) Cuquenan (4) Wonderful Ocean (10) Quality Queen
Next Best7, 12
Fast Start2, 7, 9, 10

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

Fillies and mares only and (5) RAON EMPIRE will be hot favourite. After a 3rd and a 2nd from her opening two starts, she got her maiden win at the third time of asking over 1200M on February 11th when handy throughout. She comes up in class and slightly in trip here but this half-sister to Raon The Fighter should have far too much for her rivals. (7) WIDAEHAN HANMA got her maiden win two starts back and then ran a good 2nd on her first try at this class over 1400M on February 4th with a couple of today’s rivals behind her. She only comes up 1kg in the weights and can be close again. (9) JANGBI MUJIGAE is yet to finish any worse than 5th from five starts so far and has a 4th and a 3rd from her two attempts at this level, both times going back and running on. She has a strong finish on her and can be running on again late here. (11) DAUL QUEEN and (1) MAPARAM among others to keep safe.


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…)

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.