Korean Derby – First Preview

With less than two weeks until the big day, Korean racing is gearing up for the 2009 Korean Derby which will take place at Seoul Race Park on Sunday May 17.

A maximum of fourteen will line up for the race and at this stage, exactly fourteen remain entered. Sangseung Ilro will venture north from Busan in an attempt to keep her Triple Crown effort on course. The filly was the surprise winner of the first leg of the Triple Crown, the KRA Cup Mile at Busan in April. Stablemate Namdo Jeap, who she duelled with in the home straight of the Cup Mile, will join her in shipping up from Busan as will Yeonseung Daero, who started as favourite that day and finished third. However, following his disappointing run in the Cup Mile and a lacklustre performance in a handicap a week ago, the one time highly fancied Impeccable will not travel to Seoul.

Busan based horses swept all the Classics in 2008 and Seoul will be looking to regain some much needed pride. They have a good chance of doing so in the shape of the likely favourite, Nice Choice. Last year’s top juvenile didn’t travel down to Busan for the Cup Mile, his connections giving up the chance of going for the Triple Crown in order to focus solely on the Derby. His two races so far this year have both been at the Derby distance of nine furlongs and ended in a comfortable win and a narrow second against older horses.

A host of others will also fancy their chances and we will take a closer look at all of the contenders over the coming days. For now, here is the full list of entries with race records (Runs/1st/2nd/3rd), [B] = Busan, (F) = Filly:

Nice Choice [Lost Mountain – Betty’s Rhapsody (Don’t Hesitate)] – (6/4/2/0)
Triple Canon [Tahamkke – Tamna Jeilbong (Lost Mountain)] – (7/4/2/0)
Love Cat (F) [Creek Cat – Love Cue (Curia Regis)] – (9/5/0/2)
Red Ball [Lethal Instrument – Wildly Magic (Pieterhof)] – (8/4/0/1)
Seokcheong [Fiercely – Miss Geology (Jade Hunter)] – (6/4/1/1)
Baengnyeonbong [Al Naba – Sansovino Art (Mister C.)] – (9/4/1/1)
Khanui Jeguk [Sunday Well – Lucky Dip (Didyme)] – (7/3/1/1)
Khanui Huye [The Groom Is Red – Noble Michelle (Flow Technology)] – (7/2/2/0)
Money Teukgeup[Ft. Stockton – Headwork (Silveyville)] – (8/2/3/1)
Sangseung Ilro [B] (F) [Concept Win – Miss Whiskey (Whiskey Wisdom)] – (6/4/1/1)
Yeonseung Daero [B] [Creek Cat – Sensationalkris (Cryptoclearance)] – (8/5/1/2)
Namdo Jeap [B] [Ft. Stockton – Wandering Katie (Tejano)] – (6/3/2/1)
Sky Star [B] [Tahamkke – Blue Lark (Ravenwood)] – (10/5/1/0)
Pangpang [B] [Revere – Awishnotalark (Rio’s Lark)] – (11/3/0/1)

In 2008, the race was run following a downpour and 90/1 outsider Ebony Storm shocked the favourites to claim the victory. See race video here.


  1. According to Eiki Nishimura, he won’t be able to attend the Korean Derby.
    He wrote many Korean horsemen want a foreign jockey not to win the Derby, and they forced the trainer of Sangseung Ilro not to ask Eiki to ride Sangseung Ilro in the Derby…

  2. Do you have the link to that, even if it’s in Japanese?, it would be interesting to see.

    It is absolutely true that while the KRA is supposedly in charge of racing, it is the unions that wield the power and the jockeys’ union does not want foreign riders here.

    It is much worse in Seoul that it is in Busan. Sangseung Ilro’s trainer had the 1-2 in the KRA Cup Mile with Eiki and Martin Wepner up – it looks like neither of them will go to Seoul for the Derby and this is 100% due to the jockeys’ union. I’m sure you remember the International Jockey’s Challenge last year and how none of the contenders were able to pick up rides outside of the challenge races – again solely due to the union putting pressure on owners and trainers.

    I don’t think that Sangseung Ilro has much of a chance in the Derby but it is quite discgraceful that Eiki will not get a chance to go for the Triple Crown. Until the KRA can get control back from the unions, Korean racing will remain second rate.

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