Month: October 2013

Major King Crowned Minister’s Cup Champion

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.

He might have fluffy ears, but Major King is now a Classic winner

He might have fluffy ears, but Major King is now a Classic winner

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.

The Minister’s Cup – Runners & Riders

The final leg of the 2013 Korean Triple Crown, the Minister’s Cup is at Seoul Race Park this coming Sunday.

Speedy First and Joe Fujii will bid for a third Korean Classic on Sunday

Speedy First and Joe Fujii will bid for a third Korean Classic on Sunday

Korean Derby and Oaks winner Speedy First heads the field in what should be a fascinating race. Here’s a run down of the full field of runners and riders:

Horse Name (KOR) [Pedigree] )Starts/1/2/3) – Jockey (Home Track)

Minister’s Cup (KOR G2) – Seoul Race Park – 2000M – October 6, 2013

1. High Five (KOR) [Creek Cat – Nam’s Gulch (Gulch)] (13/4/2/2) – Choi Si Dae (Busan)
Second in the Gold Circle Trophy race last month and 3rd in the Gyeongnam Do Min Ilbo before that, it would be a surprise if he went any better here. Will get the distance but will struggle in the sprint.

2. Geumbin Mannam (KOR)
[Revere – Hwaryeohan Kkum (Sharp Appeal)] – (10/4/2/0) – Park Si Cheon (Seoul)
Comes into the race off the back of three straight victories. He will face far tougher competition here but cannot be discounted from at least a place if he makes further improvement.

3. K Tap (KOR) [Menifee – Summit Party (Ecton Park)] (9/4/2/2) – Jang Chu Youl (Seoul)
A very fragile horse, he’s only run on 3 occasions this year and hasn’t won on any of them. He won’t win this either, but could be within a shout of a place.

4. Major King (KOR) [Pico Central – Still Golden (Gold Fever)] (9/5/2/2) – Jo Sung Gon (Busan)
He was 3rd in the Korean Derby and won last time out. He must be afforded some respect here. Jo Sung Gon does not travel up from Busan unless he thinks he is going to win so Major King is worth at least a place bet.

5. Last Mudae (KOR) [The Groom Is Red – White Aloa (White Muzzle)] (18/2/5/2) – Ikuyasu Kurakane (Seoul)
Beaten into 2nd place by Geumbin Mannam last time out, there is little to suggest he will overturn it this time. Talented but not a winning prospect here.

6. Brig (KOR) [Menifee – Delicias (Deputy Minister)] (11/6/2/0) – Moon Se Young (Seoul)
No horse that Moon Se Yong rides can ever be ruled out and this is no exception. He’ll not be favourite but if the big names don’t perform as they should, Brig could pick up the pieces.

7. Speedy First (KOR) [Menifee – Speedy Deedy (Victory Gallop)] – 8/6/0/1) – Kanichiro Fujii (Busan)
The only filly in the race and the overwhelming favourite. Korean Derby and Korean Oaks winner Speedy First is a class above her rivals here and should be winning this.

8. Unhae (KOR) [Inrandire – Silver Meteor (Creator)] (11/6/2/2) – Lee Sang Hyeok (Seoul)
Seoul’s big hope. Unhae is so far unexposed, missing both the KRA Cup Mile but 2nd in the Derby. The distance is perfect and on form, only Speedy First has the beating of him.

9. Sting Ray (KOR) [Forest Camp – Straight Cash (Straight Man)] (12/4/4/1) – Masakazu Tanaka (Busan)
Since winning the KRA Cup Mile in April, Sting Ray has struggled to live up to his reputation. He can’t be ruled out here but neither will he be among the favourites.

10. Indie Band (KOR) [Ecton Park – Plie (Dixieland Band)] (9/6/1/0) – Lim Sung Sil (Busan)
A really good horse. Indie Band won the Gyeongnam DoMin Ilbo Stakes and is poised to do much more. A Quinella with Speedy First looks a good bet.

11. Rising Joy (KOR) [Forest Camp – Joy Ride (Future Quest)] (15/5/3/2) – Chae Gyu Jun (Busan)
Was 3rd over the distance last time out and will be in the mix here. He probably doesn’t have the speed to force things home though and a place is the most that can be expected.

12. Best Captain (KOR) [Revere – Onethindime (Tactical Advantage)] (6/5/1/0) – Ham Wan Sik (Seoul)
The joker in the pack, Best Captain tasted defeat for the first time in his last race. That’s enough to take him out of the top-tier here, but he could surprise.