The first Listed race of the 2019 Korean season takes place at Seoul Racecourse on Sunday afternoon when twelve go to post for the Segye Ilbo Cup over 1200M. A year ago, it was 2017 Korean Derby winner Final Boss, who came home on top. This time around it is the 2nd place-getter in the 2018 Derby, Mask, who heads the field.
Mask, picture Korea Racing Authority
Mask closed out last season in good form and while it’s true that he has never actually won over Sunday’s distance – and hasn’t even attempted it since he was a juvenile – he looks the one to beat from a favourable draw and with champion jockey Antonio Da Silva in the saddle.
There are plenty of possible rivals though. Gasokbulpae surprised many when he ran 3rd in the President’s Cup behind only Triple Nine and Cheongdam Dokki. Up until then, the odd spin and midfield finish in a two-turn handicap aside, he’s always been considered a confirmed sprinter. Indeed, he showed his credentials at the shorter distances remain intact by rounding out year with 2nd place in the Trainer’s Cup to Gaon Champ (who is injured again and misses out).
Gasokbulpae likes to set the pace but if he is to do so this time, he will have to overcome the widest draw. Sinui Myeongryeong, on the other hand, has the inside gate and will surely be looking to lead as well. The Hansen colt ran 2nd in the G3 Jeju Governor’s Cup last autumn and has chances here. As does Cheonji Storm.
He was 3rd in this race last year and went on to win the Owners’ Cup two months later. Since then, he’s been plying his trade around two turns, even managing a 6th place in the international Korea Cup in September and he’ll surely welcome the opportunity to drop back to sprinting. Also going is City Star, who a year ago finished 2nd in both this race and in the Owners’ Cup before missing the next seven months through injury. He’s only raced twice since returning but can’t be ruled out at his best.
The Segye Ilbo Cup is race 9 of an 11-race Sunday card at Seoul. There are also 6 races on Sunday at Busan.