Korea’s biggest day of racing of the year takes place at Seoul Racecourse on Sunday with the 2nd running of the Keeneland Korea Cup & Sprint. Ten overseas-trained runners are in the Korean Capital for the two races which have a combined purse of approaching $1.5Million. 10 races at Seoul from 10:45 to 18:00 and 6 at Busan from 11:55 to 17:00. Here is a full preview of the two big races and below a race-by-race guide to all 16 contests taking place in Korea on Sunday.
Seoul Race 7: The Korea Sprint (KOR G1) 1200M / KRW 700 Million
With the withdrawal of France-trained City Money, there are just four overseas contenders. If the trophy is to be Hong Kong bound once more then it’s up to LUCKY YEAR. The Danny Shum-trained 6-year-old arrives in Korea having rounded out last season at home with a very good win in the Sha Tin vase over this distance in May. It was the kind of run, getting very close to the early pace, that would be ideal here and he’s got the perfect draw, coming out of gate 4, to do it. It won’t be easy for him to get to the lead though. Nash Rawiller rides.
Japanese-trained horses haven’t tended to have the best of luck in Korean Sprint races but GRACEFUL LEAP, a solid dirt-track horse in the JRA and with Yutaka Take making his Korean debut in the saddle, must be respected. Likewise THE TRUTH OR ELSE, who becomes the first US-trained horse to run in Korea, can’t be completely ruled out coming out of gate 1. Kenny McPeek’s 5-year-old won the Sir Shackleton Stakes at Gulfstream Park April and subsequently performed well at Churchill Downs in the early summer. While his closing style may not be in his favour here, he has adapted very well and it’s not impossible.
The final visitor is Singapore-trained WIMBLEDON, who represents the China Horse Club, and he won’t be without backers. He’s a consistent type with the only question mark being how he takes to the sand track – though usually a turf horse, he did run well on the Kranji polytrack over this distance earlier this year.
The leading Korea-trained contenders, POWER BLADE and PERDIDO POMEROY drew the two widest gates but that may not actually be the calamity it first seems. Power Blade wasn’t likely to lead anyway while Perdido Pomeroy, who led this race last year, is so quick out of the gate that he will probably still get to the front along with BEOLMAUI KKUM. Last year’s Triple Crown winner and place-getter at the Dubai World Cup Carnival meeting, Power Blade was 4th in the Korea Cup last year and drops back to this distance for the first time in a long time but he enters in top shape and looks to have every chance. He can defy the track and win from behind.
PERDIDO POMEROY himself is in much better form than when he was 5th behind DORAONPOGYEONGSEON in the SBS Sports Sprint here at the same distance in June. DORAONPOGYEONGSEON got up late to win that race in a three-way photo finish and is nicely drawn in gate 2. SILVER WOLF probably wants further but there’s no denying she’s in great form while GASOKBULPAE could be the wildcard. He briefly held the track record for this distance last month and if he gets the lead, anything can happen.
As for the rest, TOHAMSAN is in good form but this is stiff for him while the trio of DROP THE BEAT, HAEYA and OPEN THE SKY all remain relatively unexposed. Drop the Beat especially turned in two eye-catching performances recently and could make for an interesting outside prospect. ZENTENARY on the other hand, is overmatched.
|Selections||(14) Power Blade (4) Lucky Year (7) Graceful Leap (15) Perdido Pomeroy|
|Next Best||10, 13, 6, 2, 1|
|Fast Start||3, 5, 9, 11, 15|
Seoul Race 8: The Korea Cup (KOR G1) 1800M / KRW 1 Billion
Twelve months ago CHRYSOLITE absolutely romped home to win the first ever running of the Korea Cup by as many lengths as his jockey chose. He returns here as likely favourite to retain his crown.
Chrysolite has been lightly raced since then but comes in here with a win and two 2nd places from his three 2017 outings and he is the one to beat. There is a chance though, that he won’t get it all his own way. The race set up beautifully for him last time with a good draw and an early leader going too fast. The draw is not quite as ideal this time and the others will be very aware of him but nevertheless, if you beat Chrysolite, you are likely to be the winner. Yutaka Takes comes to Korea for the first time specifically to ride him.
The only one drawn wider than Chrysolite is LONDON TOWN. He was very impressive when breaking the 1700M track record at a sloppy Sapporo a month ago and could well be his compatriot’s biggest danger.
Any Hong Kong-trained horse warrants respect and that certainly includes CIRCUIT LAND. After recent near misses on firmer ground at Sha Tin it’s possible that he could be one of those horses who gets on well with the deep sand of Seoul. Under Nash Rawiller, he’s firmly in the hunt.
NIMR and SKIPERIA are both trained in France with the former looking to have the better claims although Skiperia has looked well in work. The US representative is the Linda Rice-trained PAPA SHOT, who spent the summer running creditably at Belmont Park and Saratoga and despite perhaps needing to find a bit to compete with the horses from Hong Kong and Japan, he can give a good account of himself.
As for the Koreans, last year’s 3rd place-getter TRIPLE NINE returns once more. Except for an always unlikely tilt at the Godolphin Mile, he ran well at the Dubai World Cup Carnival but has come up short on two starts back in Korea since. Both times he took just a little too long to get properly into gear. If jockey Lim Sung Sil can get him stoked up in time, a money finish is possible. CHAMP LINE saw a winning streak of five come to an end behind Triple Nine in July. He’s been off since and we’ll give the Thomas Gillespie-trained colt another chance today.
SHAMROCKER goes well too but does look overmatched against the visitors while since returning from a long spell out injured, BOLD KINGS hasn’t been quite the same horse he was when winning the Grand Prix Stakes, Korea’s most prestigious non-international race as a three-year old. Rounding out the field, DYNAMIC JILJU is a decent handicapper and could well opt to lead but is up against it here.
|Selections||(11) London Town (3) Circuit Land (10) Chrysolite (6) Triple Nine|
|Next Best||5, 1, 4|
|Fast Start||1, 7|
Seoul Race 1: Class 6 (1000M) Allowance / KRW 22 Million
Competitive opener but (6) BULHUUI SEUNGJA looks to be the standout. She generally starts well, has a 3rd and a 2nd to her name and the champion jockey on board. The main danger is (2) JUNGJEON MAMA, who has been a rather one-paced 4th on both her outings to date but has shown enough to suggest she can beat plenty of these. While (10) JAELONGI looks decent on paper, he returns from a six-month absence and going on his trial, will probably need this, (4) MI AMIGO and (5) DUSON EYE have placing claims.
|Selections||(6) Bulhuui Seungja (2) Jungjeon Mama (4) Mi Amigo (10) Jaelongi|
|Next Best||5, 3|
|Fast Start||2, 5, 6, 7|
Seoul Race 2: Class 6 (1000M) Allowance / KRW 60 Million
10 first-timers here and having won an uncharacteristically competitive trial in a quick time on August 11th, (10) THE QUEEN GRACE is set to be strong favourite. The draw may not be ideal but she’s hard to oppose. (7) BODEURAM is likely second-favourite given the trainer/jockey combination and a reasonable trial showing while (1) SPEED YEONGUNG, (3) KING POSE and (8) STRONG CAPTAIN are others whose trials and or work have made them bettable first-up.
|Selections||(10) The Queen Grace (7) Bodeuram (8) Strong Captain (1) Speed Yeongung|
|Next Best||3, 9|
|Fast Start||1, 9, 10|
Seoul Race 3: Class 5 (1300M) Handicap / KRW 40 Million
It’s been a while since (8) GEUMBIT ROAD’s solitary win to date but she’s been getting closer to a second recently and comes in following two solid 2nd place finishes. She’ll be on or close to the early pace here and this could be her day. (1) CHEONNYEONHAMSUNG comes in off a seven week break but was an improved 2nd on his last run and can be competitive again while (2) PERFECT LOVER and (6) PEARL QUEEN also have claims, the latter better than her latest suggests.
|Selections||(8) Geumbit Road (1) Cheonnyeonhamsung (6) Pearl Queen (2) Perfect Lover|
|Next Best||5, 7|
|Fast Start||1, 5, 8, 10|
Busan Race 1: Class 5 (1300M) Handicap / KRW 40 Million
(4) ACE DOLPUNG ran out an eleven-length winner over 1300M on August 18th. He is accordingly up in class today but has to be favourite to strike again. He should lead all the way. (2) BIJANGUI MUGI got the best of a tight four-way finish to get her second win on her third start on August 6th. It was at this level and he warrants respect. Those two look considerably ahead of the rest but (9) BLUE DANCER – who actually beat Bijangui Mugi when winning in July – and (10) ECTON BLADE, could also be considered.
|Selections||(4) Ace Dolpung (2) Bijangui Mugi (9) Blue Dancer (10) Ecton Blade|
|Next Best||5, 8|
|Fast Start||4, 10|
Seoul Race 4: Class 4 (1200M) Handicap / KRW 60 Million
(3) ARCH ARCH got his maiden win at the ninth time of asking a month ago and while up 4kg in weight today, has every chance of following up with another against this limited set of beasts. (10) YEOKJEONUI USEUNG showed a bit of improvement last time but hasn’t been seen for eight weeks and can’t really be supported with much confidence. That leaves one of the two debut-makers, the wonderfully named (2) OHTHE PAZIBILITIES to possibly be the main danger. He looked sharp in trials.
|Selections||(3) Arch Arch (2) Ohthe Pazibilities (10) Yeokjeonui Useung (4) New World|
|Next Best||6, 5|
|Fast Start||3, 4, 5, 10|
Busan Race 2: Class 5 (1600M) Handicap / KRW 40 Million
(6) RISING AGAIN beat both (10) SINBIHAN JILJU and (5) MADOBIYEON as the trio ran 2nd to 4th over 1300M in June. He was odds-on that day but came up short before running 5th in a much tougher contest last month. He has solid claims here. Also with solid claims is (4) KING STORM. She comes in following a solid 2nd place over 1300M and looks in the frame. (2) STYLISH and the always game (9) GARAK GONGWON are others who could figure.
|Selections||(6) Rising Again (4) King Storm (2) Stylish (5) Madobiyeon|
|Next Best||9, 10, 1|
|Fast Start||5, 6|
Seoul Race 5: Class 6 (1700M) Allowance / KRW 22 Million
Rare opportunity for the maidens to have a spin around two turns and it looks to be between two here. (3) ONE LEADER has shown promise in four starts so far with a best of 2nd and looks to benefit from the increase in trip while it’s a similar story for (4) JEGUKUI HUYE, 2md over 1300M last start and running on well. (5) LAST JACKPOT has already tried this distance and ran in a creditable 4th. They look to be the top three but (1) HUNTER HAWK may also have a say.
|Selections||(3) One Leader (4) Jegukui Huye (5) Last Jackpot (1) Hunter Hawk|
|Fast Start||1, 7|
Busan Race 3: Class 3 (1400M) Handicap / KRW 75 Million
Since a 4th place on her debut, (1) HELLO VENUS has never finished outside the top three. She’s up in class following a facile seven-length win over 1200M on August 13th and while this looks her toughest assignment to date, as well as being her first time at 1400M, she’s still the one they need to beat. (7) B.K. BOSS saw his three-way winning streak come to an end on August 5th but finds himself up in class nevertheless. He should be fine at this level too. Both the favourites like to do things from the front so there is always a danger they could over-race each other. If they do, (5) ACE GLORY and (6) ANY NINE are most likely to take advantage.
|Selections||(1) Hello Venus (7) B.K. Boss (5) Ace Glory (6) Any Nine|
|Next Best||3, 2|
|Fast Start||1, 3, 7|
Seoul Race 6: Class 5 (1700M) Handicap / KRW 40 Million
Small field but plenty in with a shout. (5) SPEED CORE carries a very light weight and has already proven competitive at this distance in his latest two. She’ll likely drop right back to the rear from the gate but can finish strongly. (3) SHARK PARTY never got going on his latest attempt but still looks to have plenty of promise and can be given another chance on his first try around two turns while the up in class pair of (4) FINE CHAMP and (8) GEUMA FORTE also have claims. Fine champ actually won at this distance to get promoted and there’s no reason why he can’t repeat.
|Selections||(4) Fine Champ (5) Speed Core (3) Shark Party (8) Geuma Forte|
|Next Best||7, 6|
|Fast Start||2, 4, 6, 7|
Busan Race 4: Class 4 (1200M) Handicap / KRW 55 Million
(6) BAEDARI HANI has won three from five so far including one at this class last time. She’s been 2nd in the other two but they have all been at 1000M. This is her first try at further and that really is the only question. She’ll be on the early speed and should be staying on. If she doesn’t, the up in class (11) ROYAL KELLY, a winner of her latest two, should match her for speed early on but faces exactly the same questions as to whether she can win at further than the minimum. (1) ACEUI SEONMUL is up in class having won two of her first three. No concerns about the distance for her as they were both at 1300M but if we’re looking for ones proven at both class and at distance then it’s (10) DARMA.
|Selections||(6) Baedari Hani (1) Aceui Seonmul (10) Darma (11) Royal Kelly|
|Next Best||4, 8, 5|
|Fast Start||6, 11|
Seoul Race 7 ->
Busan Race 5: Class 4 (1600M) Handicap / KRW 55 Million
(6) BOUND KOREA comes in off the back of consecutive wins at this distance, the latest one at this class too. He carries significantly more weight today but he has won under 56kg before and should be able to dispatch this field under a patient ride. (4) JUNGANG SINHWA and (1) LUCKY HANMA came home 2nd and 3rd over 1400M on August 8th and look to be in the placing frame here while (7) JIJANG and (11) FLAMENCO are not without a chance either.
|Selections||(6) Bound Korea (4) Jungang Sinhwa (1) Lucky Hanma (11) Flamenco|
|Next Best||7, 9|
|Fast Start||5, 7, 9, 11|
Seoul Race 8 ->
Busan Race 6: Class 1 (1400M) Handicap / KRW 110 Million
Competitive race to finish with for class 1 horses rated 105 or lower. It’s a good opportunity for (2) CHEONJI PARK to pick up a top level win having come 2nd in both his latest two in similar company. He’s not the quickest of starters but should sit behind the early speed and can come through late. Plenty of dangers though. (4) TWO TWO RAPTOR found himself overmatched behind the track’s best horses last time but should be much more comfortable today while (6) GOLD BLUE’s last outing was also in Graded company and she too can go better today. (3) USEUNG LINE, beaten by Cheonji Park last time and the retuning (9) EMETH, who looked sharp in an August trial, are others to consider.
|Selections||(2) Cheonji Park (9) Emeth (4) Two Two Raptor (6) Gold Blue|
|Next Best||3, 7|
|Fast Start||4, 5|
Seoul Race 9: Class 4 (1200M) Handicap / KRW 60 Million
(1) NEW PARTNER has won two of four so far and is up in class following a three-length score over this distance last start, making all. He’ll be on pace again and should win again. (3) KWAEHAN YEOJANGBU is also up in class after a pair of wins at 1000M but has a bit more to find at this distance so the main dangers are likely to be (2) SMART PARK and (9) ROCKET ROAD, both of whom are proven money winners at this level and can go close.
|Selections||(1) New Partner (2) Smart Park (9) Rocket Road (3) Kwaehan Yeojangbu|
|Next Best||3, 8|
|Fast Start||1, 3, 5|
Seoul Race 10: Class 3 (1400M) Handicap / KRW 75 Million
None of these finished any better than 5th in their last outing so something’s going to need an uptick in form. We’ll look to (10) BUNGMA DREAM to provide it. He’s yet to win in eighteen attempts but has gone close at class and distance and this could be his day. (3) MR. CHAMPION didn’t find things easy on his first try at this level last time but can be given another chance stepping up to 1400 today while (4) KOREA JEONGSANG exceeded expectations in a tough race at class and distance last start, beating a couple of these in the process and may be considered (7) TIZ RUN looks best of the rest.
|Selections||(10) Bungma Dream (3) Mr. Champion (4) Korea Jeongsang (7) Tiz Run|
|Next Best||1, 2|
|Fast Start||1, 2, 3|