Korean Derby and Oaks winner Speedy First and Minister’s Cup winner Major King are in the United States where they will be trained and raced for at least the first part of the year.
The pair, who between them won 3 of the 4 Korean Classic races in 2013, arrived at JFK Airport last week and are currently in quarantine. They are then expected to transfer to Laurel Park in Maryland to enter training.
Speedy First [Menifee – Speedy Deedy (Victory Gallop)] is a 4-year-old filly who has won 6 of her 10 starts to date. In May last year, she became the 5th filly to win the Korean Derby and added another classic in August with a comfortable win in the Oaks at Busan.
Major King [Pico Central – Still Golden (Gold Fever)] was third in the Derby, but had his revenge in the Minister’s Cup, the final leg of the Triple Crown when he scored a 2-length win. An out of sorts Speedy First finishing last that day.
Neither finished the 2013 season especially strongly, Speedy First slumping to another defeat in the Gyeongnam Governor’s Cup while Major King was an also ran in the President’s Cup, the effects of a long season being blamed for both.
They are by no means the first Korea bred horses to run Stateside. In 2008, a horse called Pick Me Up went to the US and ran – extremely unsuccessfully – at Charles Town, Laurel and Delaware Park. A year later, 2007 Korean Oaks winner Baekpa also went across and ran similarly poorly.
That prompted the Korea Racing Authority to change their approach a little and to send a small group of yearlings and 2-year-olds to Florida each year in the hope of proving their belief that it wasn’t necessarily that Korean-bred horses could compete if trained the same way as their American counterparts.
They got their reward when Feel So Good won a race at Calder in September 2012. Now they’ve decided to try again with established horses.
If all goes to plan, Speedy First and Major King will make their American debuts in April. We’ll be following their progress.
Speedy First winning the 2013 Korean Derby
Major King winning the 2013 Minister’s Cup