Whether it is the milder winters, the sea air, the uphill back-straight at Busan – or even the stronger liquor in Gyeongnam Province, horses from Busan have won the last four Triple Crown races. Rainmaker, Ebony Storm and Gaeseon Janggun did the honours last year, while Sangseung Ilro claimed the KRA Cup Mile for the home team last month – a race for which only two Seoul horses bothered to ship down for.
Seoul’s most promising three year-old, Nice Choice, was among those whose connections opted not to venture south last month, preferring to concentrate entirely on the Derby. Six Busan horses will be coming to coming to him, however, and there is every chance that they could continue the dominance of Korea’s supposedly second track.
Leading the Southern charge will be the filly Sangseung Ilro. It looks like jockey Eiki Nishimura won’t be with her (more on that tomorrow), but the KRA Cup Mile winner will be joined by Namdo Jeap and Yeonseung Daero, who ran second and third in that race as well as Sky Star, the filly Pangpang and late entry, Impeccable. Here is the run down on the Busan entrants, with pedigree and race records:
Sangseung Ilro (F) [Concept Win – Miss Whiskey (Whiskey Wisdom)] – (6/4/1/1) – We know what she is capable of. She came into the KRA Cup Mile relatively unfancied but finished with a flourish to take the honours.
Yeonseung Daero [Creek Cat – Sensationalkris (Cryptoclearance)] – (8/5/1/2) – Favourite going into the KRA Cup Mile and should be well-fancied again.
Namdo Jeap [Ft. Stockton – Wandering Katie (Tejano)] – (6/3/2/1) – Half brother to last year’s Cup Mile winner Rainmaker and stablemate to Yeonseung Daero, the Cup Mile was his first test at anything over six furlongs. He passed it and while victory may be too much to ask, he must be considered for a place.
Sky Star [Tahamkke – Blue Lark (Ravenwood)] – (10/5/1/0) – Ran poorly in the Cup Mile but returned just two weeks later to win over the Derby distance. A contender.
Pangpang (F) [Revere – Awishnotalark (Rio’s Lark)] – (11/3/0/1) – The only one of the Busan horses that it is difficult to make a case for. Finished well down the field in the Cup Mile and although she bounced back with a win at the end of April, she dropped down in distance and class to do it.
Impeccable [Distilled – Bellebreezy (Foolish Pleasure)] – (6/4/0/0) – The enigma. A late entry in the Derby, he won his first four outings with ease but came unstuck in the Cup Mile. On May 1, he came back and at odds-on, finished fourth against the same calibre of opposition he’d easily defeated in the past. Punters will have to make the decision if those last two outings were the exception. Impeccable will be the choice of those wishing to see Peter Wolsley become the first foreign trainer to win the Korean Derby. Last year’s winner Ebony Storm is now in his barn, but was under different supervision when he caused the biggest shock in Derby history twelve months ago.