Sangseung Ilro’s Triple Crown dream ends / Wepner victorious
Sangseung Ilro battled all the way to the line in a brave bid to become the first filly in history to land the Korean Triple Crown at Seoul Race Park this afternoon. But it was stablemate and runner-up in both the first two legs, Namdo Jeap, who finally had his day in front of a crowd of 60,000 assembled for the Minister’s Cup.
Given a terrific ride by Martin Wepner, Namdo Jeap was always in control of the ten furlong race – the final Classic of the season. After taking an early lead from Ilgan Sports winner Khanui Jeguk, Namdo Jeap had favourite Nice Choice on his tail on the rail as they turned for home while Jo Sung Gon took Sangseung Ilro wide to launch her challenge.
The challenge was both thrilling and valiant. With a furlong to go, it looked as though Sangseung Ilro could write her name into history as the gap closed. However, with Nice Choice also gunning into top gear, Wepner coaxed Namdo Jeap into a final effort and the colt responded magnificently to hold off his rivals by a neck on the line.
For South African jockey Wepner, it was not only the biggest win of his Korean career, but also repayment for trainer Kim Young Kwan who brought him back from the brink of quitting Korea after the Derby in May and for the owner who put him back on Namdo Jeap.
In second place, Nice Choice showed his class re-affirmed his status as Seoul’s top three year old. That an eigth successive Classic has gone the way of a Busan based horse, however, must set alarm bells ringing on the capital’s backstretch. The other two Seoul horses, Khanui Jeguk and Love Cat came home fifth and sixth respectively. Nice Choice will most likely be nominated for the season ending Grand Prix and hopefully his connections will accept.
Sangseung Ilro went off third favourite and finished third. Despite bandaging on her legs, she appeared in fine form and were the race a little shorter, she may have got there. Winning two of the three legs of the Triple Crown and coming third in the final one is still a fine achievement. What comes next for her is questionable. Punters will hope her immediate future is on the track.
Yeonseung Daero finished half a length behind Sangseung Ilro in fourth but Oaks winner Pangpang found herself stuck in ninth. Overall Busan horses made up three of the first four but the top six contained three from each track.
Today was Namdo Jeap’s day. In Ft. Stockton, he shares a sire with J.S. Hold. Today he ensured that his half brother remains the sole holder of the Korean Triple Crown.
Minister of FAFF Cup (G.II) – Seoul Race Park – 2000M – Oct. 11, 2009
1. Namdo Jeap (KOR) [Ft. Stockton – Wandering Katie (Tejano)] – Martin Wepner – 16.0, 2.9
2. Nice Choice (KOR) [Lost Mountain – Betty’s Rhapsody (Don’t Hesitate)] – Cho Kyoung Ho – 1.3
3. Sangseung Ilro (KOR) [Concept Win – Ms. Whiskey (Whiskey Wisdom)] – Jo Sung Gon – 1.7
Distances: Neck/0.75 lengths
Also Ran: 4. Yeonseung Daero; 5. Khanui Jeguk; 6. Love Cat; 7. Sky Star; 8. Isidae Gangja; 9. Pangpang; 10. Conqueror; 11. Tamna Hero