Sangseung Ilro, the filly who won the first two legs of the 2009 Triple Crown has been retired. She ran – and won – her last race in December last year and was retired in January ahead of what would have been her five-year old season. She was officially registered as a broodmare yesterday.
Although she won three of her first five races, Sangseung Ilro [Concept Win – Ms. Whiskey (Whiskey Wisdom)] was a 17/1 outsider going into the first leg of the Triple Crown, the KRA Cup Mile at her home track of Busan in April 2009.
She wasn’t even the most fancied of four fillies taking part in the race, with Seoul’s Love Cat arriving down South with a big reputation and odds of 8/1 However, under Japanese jockey Eiki Nishimura she scored by a length and a half over stablemate Namdo Jeap and pre-race favourite Yeonseung Daero. It would not be the final time she’d beat these two who would both go on to become stars themselves.
There was intrigue surrounding her trip to Seoul the following month for the Korean Derby. Nishimura, who had been expecting to accompany her to the capital was jocked off in favour of local jockey Jo Sung Gon amid whispers of displeasure in the Jockeys’ Union that a foreigner had won a Classic race. It made no difference to Sangseung Ilro and while local Seoul hope Nice Choice was sent off as favourite, she repeated her feat from the KRA Cup Mile, this time winning by a comfortable five lengths, Namdo Jeap chasing her home once again.
By this time, she was not only talked about as being on course to complete the Triple Crown but, being a filly, possibly securing the Oaks aswell in what wa being termed the “Grand Slam”. However, tt was shortly after the Derby that the first signs of an injury problem – Sangseung Ilro had consistent problems with her shins – started to surface and she didn’t reappear until the Korean Oaks on a hot August evening at Busan. This time, with Eiki back in the saddle, she was sent off odds-on favourite.
All was going well as she entered the home straight clear of the field and seemingly heading to a simple victory. Then, out of nowhere, second favourite Pangpang emerged and as Sangseung Ilro weakened, slowly reeled her in, hitting the front just before the line to score a shock victory and give her jockey, the late Han Sang Kyu, his first and only Classic success.
The “Grand Slam” was off the table and it was a race against time for her to be fit for the final leg of the Triple Crown, the Minister’s Cup, at Seoul in October. That day, after being runner-up in the first two legs, Namdo Jeap finally took the honours with Martin Wepner in the saddle. Sangseung Ilro ran a brave and battling third. She hadn’t quite managed to pull off the Triple Crown, but had made her mark as one of the best fillies in modern Korean racing.
It seemed that an appearance two days after Christmas when she ran fourth in a handicap at Busan would be her farewell but, in a surprising and welcome decision, connections decided that she was fit enough to keep in training as a four year old. Their decision was quickly rewarded when in January she won a valuable handicap. Durung 2010 she would run seven times, winning on four occasions including back-to-back Stakes victories in the KNN Cup and the Gyeongnam Do-Min Ilbo. Her final race, on December 17, ended in a commanding four length victory.
Sangseung Ilro was retired with career figures of 17 races, 9 wins, 3 seconds and 2 thirds for prize money of just over 1 Billion Korean Won (approximately $1 Million). She has been retired by her owner to “Good Day Farm” and is expected to begin her broodmare career this year.