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Sunday Busan & Seoul: Kookje News Cup Day Race-By-Race Preview (November 18)

Doraonpogyeongseon faces off against Silver Wolf in a potentially electric renewal of the Kookje News Cup at Busan Racecourse on Sunday afternoon. The pair are joined by up and coming prospects Today, Ace Korea and King Of Ace in what could turn out to be one of the highlights of autumn. There are 6 Sunday races at Busan from 12:40 to 17:05 while at Seoul there are 11 from 10:45 from 18:00. Here are the previews with (unusually) Busan first. Horse by horse for the big race as well as for Seoul races 9-11:

SIlverWolfKNN1

Can Silver Wolf rise back to the top of the Sprint division on Sunday? (Pic: KRA)

Busan Race 1 Selections: 1, 3, 5, 7
Busan Race 2 Selections: 5, 12, 1, 3

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

(1) PARK MINISTER only managed 6th of 8 last time at class and distance and was beaten by (8) WHITE POINT, among others. Nevertheless, it was his first try at this class and he didn’t run badly. He’s worth another go today. (4) YEONGGWANGUI SIDAE is up in class following two smart wins over 1300M. She’s up to a mile for the first time as well but she should be able to overcome both of those things and can be dangerous. (6) BUGYEONG BOLT moves up in class too, in his case following a very good 2nd over 1300M last month. It’s his first try at a mile as well but it could well suit. It’s been a long time since (7) DONGBANG BULPAE’s solitary win but he comes in following back to back 2nd places at this class over 1200M and 1400M and he has previously gone well at this distance. He won’t be far away.

Selections (1) Park Minister (4) Yeonggwangui Sidae (7) Dongbang Bulpae (6) Bugyeong Bolt
Next Best 8, 10
Fast Start 6, 7, 9

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

(6) A PURE GOOD MAN ran out a three-length winner at class and distance on October 7th. He carries an additional 4.5kg today, and he has been a touch inconsistent, but he should have enough to see off this field. (4) MR. KOREA returned from four months off to pull off a somewhat unexpected win at the distance a month ago. His reward is to move up in class but he’s very nicely weighted and may challenge for the places. The favourite may face stiffer competition from (1) MYEONGSIN POWER and (3) GAMUNUI YEONGGWANG. The former ran well for 5th in a tougher race than this last time while the latter is second up after five months off and should improve. (8) CHIEF TIME was 6th behind A Pure Good Man last month but has since run a solid 3rd at 1000M and may get closer today.

Selections (6) A Pure Good Man (1) Myeongsin Power (3) Mr. Korea (3) Gamunui Yeonggwang
Next Best 8, 11
Fast Start 6, 7, 11

 Busan Race 5: Kookje Shinmun Cup (Listed) 1400M Weight for Age / KRW 350 Million

  1. WINNER RED – Recent form doesn’t read well although he should go better than he did when here for the Mayor’s Cup in July. Only start since 7th of 12 in class 1 handicap at Seoul and 7th would be an excellent result here.
  2. DROP THE BEAT – A winner at this distance in March before injuries kept him out for six months. Returned with 7th of 9 behind Ace Korea, Morning Daero and Perdido Pomeroy at 1200M on October 21st. Needed that run and distance should suit more here but more to find.
  3. SPEED MARK – Returned from six months off to run a good if unexpected 3rd behind King of Ace at this distance on September 16th. Top jockey gets on but plenty more is going to be needed here.
  4. TODAY – Looked set to become Korea’s top sprinter before being beaten by Doraonpogyeongseon in the SBS Sports Sprint in Seoul in June. Ran well for 3rd at Kranji a month later before struggling in the Korea Sprint in September. Don’t rule out a return to form and looked very fast in a trial last week.
  5. RICH YEOJANGGUN – Won five of her first six starts but has stalled since reaching class 2. Last ran here in August when 10th of 16 in the KNN Cup over a mile and it would be a surprise if she finished much higher than that today.
  6. DORAONPOGYEONGSEON – The top sprinter in Korea. A two-time winner of the SBS Sports Srpint and twice placed in the Korea Sprint. 2000M was an ask too much on last month’s KRA Cup Classic at Seoul but back at one turn today, if he runs to his best, he may be too good.
  7. ACE KOREA – 5th place-getter in the Korea Sprint and with the potential to usurp Doraonpogyeongseon at the top of the sprinting ranks. Didn’t get off to the best of starts on return to Busan last month but still overcame it to run a fast time in victory at 1200M. That looks to be his best trip with his only prior try at 1400M ending in 2nd place at class 3. He’s come on since then and he’ll be on pace here, that final furlong is going to be testing though.
  8. CITY STAR – Began the year with back to back runner-up finishes in Listed and Graded company but didn’t race again until last month when he completely blew the start and finished last over 1200M. Evident talent but hard to back.
  9. SILVER WOLF – Swept all before her last year but it’s been harder this term. Ran 3rd here to Doraonpogyeongseon at a mile in the Owners’ Cup before running a good 4th behind Cheongdam Dokki and Triple Nine in the KRA Cup Classic last month over 2000M. First run at 1400M in over a year, she gets a couple of kilos from most, is reasonably well drawn and with luck in running she can win.
  10. SINGIPARANG – Still at class 2 and yet to win at that level. This will be very challenging for him.
  11. KING OF ACE – Won at class 1 over this distance in September and then repeated the feat when pushed up to 1800M three weeks ago. Both times he was getting weight from rivals and he hasn’t got the ideal draw here. This is a big test for him but he looks to be getting better and better. If he gets to the front early, he has a chance.
  12. CHEONJEOK – Always takes his chance in listed or graded races but does tend to find himself overmatched. That will be the case here too.
  13. MORNING DAERO – Ran 2nd to Ace Korea at 1200M on October 21st which was a big uptick in form for him. Plenty more to find here though and he won’t be among the fancies.
  14. PERDIDO POMEROY – At one time set to become the top sprinter around, he just seems to have lost a little bit of pace recently. Always races in tough company and comes in having been 3rd to Ace Korea last month.
  15. BAEDARI BOBAE – Comes in off the longest losing streak of any of these at nineteen starts since his last win and that looks sure to be extended. Was dropped out of class 1 and despite one or two creditable recent performances, shows few signs of returning.

Verdict: 3rd in the Korea Sprint at 1200M and winner of the Owners’ Cup at a mile earlier this year, (6) DORAONPOGYEONGSEON has marked himself at as the Gold-Standard for horses in Korea over one-turn. A line can be drawn through the KRA Cup Classic last month as it can be for (9) SILVER WOLF too, although she ran rather well for 4th. Up until then, Doraonpogyeongseon had her number this year but she remains a fine sprinter and can’t be ruled out. The presence of those two makes this race a big litmus test for the up and comers. Peter Wolsley’s pair of (7) ACE KOREA and (11) KING OF ACE especially. If the race was at 1200M, Ace Korea could well be favourite but the extra furlong will be the big test here. The distance will suit King Of Ace very well and he could well pull off a surprise. The other main contender is (4) TODAY. Earlier this year he looked set to wrest the sprinting crown away from Doraonpogyeongseon but the older horse has since bested him twice at 1200M. Don’t rule him out here though.

Selections (6) Doraonpogyeongseon (7) Ace Korea (11) King Of Ace (9) Silver Wolf
Next Best 4, 2
Fast Start 2, 4, 11, 14

Race 6: Class 3 (1800M) Handicap / KRW 75 Million

It didn’t happen for (1) SUN DAY when sent to Seoul for the Jeju Governor’s Cup last month where she suffered her second defeat in six starts. Her previous one came on her only foray up to a mile and it’s interesting to see her sent up to 1800M for her Busan return. She has plenty of talent though and shouldn’t be ignored. It may be safer though to side with a couple who have already demonstrated ability at this class over at least a mile. (4) WONDERFUL MEMORY fits the bill having run a very good 2nd in a tough race on October 19th, beating a couple of decent ones along the way. It will be interesting to see how his front-running style works for him at 1800M, but he looks to have potential for more. (3) MORNING KOREA beat a couple of these on his way to 4th place at class and distance on October 14th. He’s only won one of nineteen but is rarely far from the money. (2) I’M YOUR MOTHER and (10) DAEHO MYEONGGA are others who could come into play.

Selections (4) Wonderful Memory (1) Sun Day (3) Morning Korea (10) Daeho Myeongga
Next Best 2, 7
Fast Start 1, 4, 5

Seoul Race 1: Class 6 (1300M) Allowance / KRW 24 Million

(2) CHONGAL GACHI returned from eight months off to run 5th over this distance on October 21st, running after a slow start to finish ahead of three of his rivals here. His manners were poor that day but he should have come on for that run and could well prevail here. (9) RAON BULPAE finished 6th in that race, less than a length behind Chongal Gachi and can challenge again today. (7) AQUA STROM makes a comeback of his own today following five months out. He was going well before the layoff and trialled (more…)

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.

 

 

 

Weekend Round-up: New Citadel, Today Begin 2018 With Wins

New Citadel and Today were the biggest names in action this past weekend in Korea, the pair beginning strong favourites for their respective assignments at Seoul and Busan.

Today was an easy winner of Busan’s Sunday feature, tracking early leader Gasok Engine under just over a furlong out before cruising past for a three-length victory. Today (Drosselmeyer) moved on to eight wins from ten starts and is looking a fine sprinter althugh he has won at a mile too.

At Seoul, New Citadel had to work much harder for victory on what was his first start sicne running 2nd to Cheongdam Dokki in the KRA Cup Classic last October. He was sent (more…)