Toshio Uchida rides Meisei Opera colt to First Leg Of Triple Crown
Soseuldaemun was unstoppable as he outclassed his peers to win the KRA Cup Mile, the first leg of the 2011 Triple Crown, at Busan Race Park this afternoon.
Under the Japanese maestro, “Mr Pink” Toshio Uchida, Soseuldaemun was always kept handy and once Uchida shifted him off the rail to find a gap as they rounded the home turn, the pair hit their stride and never looked like being caught.
After the starter kept the field waiting a long time in the gate, it was filly Useung Touch who made the early running. She stayed in front until three furlongs from home when Moon Se Young on pre-race favourite Sun Hero made his move. The Breeders’ Cup winner couldn’t cope with the long, punishing Busan straight, however, and he fell away as Uchida came through on the winner.
Other well-fancied runners, Ophelia and Singgeureounachim never played a significant part in the race, Ophelia running too wide on the final turn to stay in contention. It was left therefore to outsiders Double Light and Mupaeseungni to chase home Soseuldaemun, just a nose separating the Seoul pair in second and third.
Uchida wasn’t the only Japanese connection to the winner. Soseuldaemun is by Japanese-bred sire Meisei Opera (Grand Opera), who was imported to Korea in 2006. Soseuldaemun heads his first crop of sires to reach three years of age. Another sire whose first crop were making their Triple Crown bow was Menifee and despite being represented by five of the fourteen starters today, none could pull off the win. However, Double Light’s second place keeps him on course for a tilt at Champion Sire honours.
Soseuldaemun provides yet another triumph for Busan over Seoul; the Gyeongnam track now leads 11-2 in three-year old Classic encounters. The winner will lead Busan’s contingent to the capital for the Korean Derby next month as the only contender to pull off a clean sweep of the Triple Crown.
Hopefully he’ll be partnered by the remarkable Toshio Uchida. It would be no exaggeration to say that Mr Pink is the most popular Japanese man in Korea (at least among those Koreans who’ve heard of him) and the victory today took him to 99 Korean winners from just over 500 rides. History does war us though that two years ago, Eiki Nishimura rode Sangseung Ilro to KRA Cup Mile glory but was denied the opportunity to partner her in the Derby. Surely the same won’t happen to Uchida.
Today is not for politics though. Today is to celebrate Soseuldaemun who through his performance becomes – at least for the next month – the standard-bearer for his generation.
KRA Cup Mile (KOR G.II) – Busan Race Park – 1600M – Apr 3, 2011
1. Soseuldaemun (KOR) [Meisei Opera – This Ole Way (Vigors)] – Toshio Uchida – 7.2, 2.3
2. Double Light (KOR) [Menifee – Iruda (Glorify)] – Cho Kyoung Ho – 4.0
3. Mupaeseungni (KOR) [Ingrandire – Dangdae Eutteum (Pro For Sure)] – Jung Ki Yong – 8.3
Distances: 2 lengths/Nose
Also Ran: 4. Cheonji Horyeong 5. Usueng Touch 6. Haengunui Mannam 7. Singgeureounachim 8. Sun Hero (3.3 Favourite) 9. Ophelia 10. Sun Blaze 11. 12. Daesang Yegam 13. Flower 14. Reigns Cat
Winning Owner: Kim Won Ku
Winning Trainer: Kang Hyoung Gon
Winning Breeder: Kim Chong Sik