Jigeum I Sungan ended Gyeongbudaero’s Triple Crown bid with a cool one-length win in the 15th Korean Derby at Seoul Race Park this afternoon.
Sent off fourth in the betting, and ridden by Moon Se Young, Jigeum I Sungan made his move as the field entered the home straight and, while KRA Cup Mile winner and favourite Gyeongbudaero looked menacing on the outside and briefly hit the front with a furlong to go, Jigeum I Sungan was always travelling the better and was superior in the sprint.
Gyeongbudaero was even pipped for second as Nobel Pokpung, seemingly tailed off in the back straight suddenly appeared from nowhere under Japanese jockey Narazaki Kosuke to end up as the winner’s nearest challenger.
It was a first Derby victory for jockey Moon Se Young and also for trainer Ji Young Cheol. Thirty-one year old Moon is the runaway leader of this year’s jockey championship and previously won the 2007 Grand Prix Stakes on Bally Brae. He’s married to KRA TV Announcer Kim Ryeo Jin and the couple celebrated with their baby daughter in the winner’s circle. As for Ji, a former jockey and now twenty-five year veteran trainer, although he has saddled Stakes winners before, this was by far the biggest.
Jigeum I Sungan (Ingrandire) finished 5th in the first leg of the Triple Crown, the KRA Cup Mile, last month. Up until then, however, he had been showing consistent improvement with every start. Translated into English, his name means “This Is The Moment” and is taken from the musical “Jekyll & Hyde” (in Korean the “I” in the middle of his name is pronounced as “ee”).
So J.S.Hold remains the sole winner of the Korean Triple Crown for at least another year. Gyeongbudaero gave it a go, but it wasn’t to be today. The surprise of the race was Nobel Pokpung and, while Narazaki Kosuke put in a good ride, it is tempting to speculate on just how close he might have got to the winner had he not been left with so much to do.
Good Time ran to form in fourth but the five fillies were disappointing, Powerful Miss G, the first one home in seventh while Cheoneun, so impressive three weeks ago, was last.
For the second consecutive year, a Seoul horse has won the Derby. However, Busan horses filled out the next three places and when this generation reconvenes for the final leg of the Triple Crown, the Minister’s Cup at Seoul in September, they will surely be back to challenge once more.
For now though, the stage belongs to Jigeum I Sungan. This is his moment. This is his day.
The Korean Derby (KOR.G1) – Seoul Race Park – 1800M – May 20, 2012
1. Jigeum I Sungan (KOR) [Ingrandire – Solmaru (Mujaazif)] – Moon Se Young – 7.6, 1.9
2. Nobel Pokpung (KOR) [Didyme – Shar Baby (Talinum)} – Narazaki Kosuke – 6.1
3. Gyeongbudaero (KOR) [Menifee – Princess Lanique (Cherokee Run)] – Choi Si Dae – 1.3
Winning Owner: Choi Sun Ryoung, Trainer: Ji Young Cheol, Breeder: Kim Sun Sik
Distances: 1 length / Neck
Also Ran: 4. Good Time 5. VIva Cat 6. Mega Tsunami 7. Power Miss G 8. Pillip 9. Grand Teukgeup 10. Dream Tower 11. Jjak Kkung 12. Dolpung Jilju 13. Pico Bout It 14. Cheoneun