Major King led from gate-to-wire to land the Minister’s Cup as the 2013 Korean Triple Crown wrapped up at Seoul Race Park this afternoon.
Korean Derby and Oaks winning filly Speedy First was sent off as the short-priced favourite but she was never in the race and faded in the home straight to finish a tailed-off last.
Third in the Derby on this track in May, the grey Major King was a 9/1 chance at the start and was immediately sent into the lead by jockey Jo Sung Gon. When the expected challenges from Speedy First and Derby-second Unhae failed to materialise, it was left to outsider High Five and Gyeongnam DoMin Ilbo winner Indie Band to apply the pressure.
They didn’t come close. Instead, Major King kicked on for victory, leading his fellow Busan visitors home by 2-lengths on the line.
Major King is by the late Brazilian sire Pico Central, who died earlier this year. The victory is his 6th from 10 career starts to date. For trainer Kim Sang Seok, it was a 3rd Classic winner, having won both the Korean Derby and Oaks in 2008 with Ebony Storm and Jeolho Chance respectively. For jockey Jo Sung Gon, Busan’s current champion, it was a 4th Classic and his 2nd in this race, having previously won it in on Sangseung Ilro in 2009.
As for the favourite, Speedy First returned with no obvious sign of injury, although fellow disappointment Unhae was found to be lame.
So, after Jigeum I Sungan upset the order of things by winning two Classics for Seoul last year, normal service has been resumed this with Busan horses winning all 4 Classics. When the two tracks collide again in the Gyeongnam Governor’s and President’s Cups over the next few weeks, it seems unlikely that this will change.
Minister’s Cup (KOR G2) – Seoul Race Park – 2000M – October 6, 2013
1. Major King (KOR) [Pico Central – Still Golden (Gold Fever)] – Jo Sung Gon – 9.1. 2.4
2. High Five (KOR) [Creek Cat – Nam’s Gulch (Gulch)] – Choi Si Dae – 5.5
3. Indie Band (KOR) [Ecton Park – Plie (Dixieland Band)] – Lim Sung Sil – 1.5
Distances: 2 lengths/0.5 lengths
Also Ran: 4. K Tap 5. Brig 6. Geumbin Mannam 7. Sting Ray 8. Last Mudae 9. Best Captain 10. Unhae 11. Rising Joy 12. Speedy First
* There was no fairy-tale return to the track today for Smarty Moonhak (Smarty Jones). The 4-year-old, returning to racing for the first time since successful treatment for tendinitis which had kept him sidelined for 15 months, could only manage 6th in the class 1 race 13.
The event was won by the improving Watts Village (Forestry), who was 2nd in the Korea vs Japan race last month and who will travel to Tokyo for the return leg next month. The old Smarty Moonhak would have made short work of the likes of Watts Village but, while he was 5-lengths behind the winner, he was just 2 lengths adrift of 2nd and the run showed some promise.
* Down at Busan, Darryll Holland was the star of the show for the 2nd time this week. The British jockey notched up 4 winners on Thursday and added another 2 during the short 4-race card this afternoon. His haul included the feature race, where he partnered Peter Wolsley’s Perfect Jilju (Paradise Creek) to a very comfortable victory.