The Triple Crown is upon us. We’ve a long slog ahead with 6 months between the first leg and final legs. We begin at Busan Race Park this coming Sunday with the KRA Cup Mile – the Korean 2000 Guineas.
A full field of 16 will line up for the big race – 7 of them fillies. It looks extremely open and hard to call. Here’s a run-down of the runners and riders:
KRA Cup Mile (KOR G2) – Busan Race Park – 1600M – Sunday April 6, 2014
1. Classic Cat [One Cool Cat – Deoksugung (Cherokee Run)] (6/3/1/0) – Park Hyun Woo (Seoul)
Faded badly in the final furlong of his last start which was his first try at 7 furlongs. Prior to that he’d recorded some very dominant wins and with plenty of speed, if he runs back to that form he could do feature at the buiness end of the race. Doing it at Busan is a big ask though.
2. Yeonggwanguichampion [Menifee – Manwang (Road Of War)] (7/4/1/1) – Lim Sung Sil (Busan)
Lim Sung Sil has been to be on in Stakes races recently although he’s not riding for trainer Kim Young Kwan this time. Finished 2nd on his only start over the distance to date. He’s a front-runner and will need to have come on since then if he is to hold on here. A chance.
3. Cheongnyong Bisang [Volponi – Miss Alwuhush (Alwuhush)] (7/4/0/0) – Seo Seung Un (Seoul)
Last year’s Champion Juvenile found himself exposed last time out against class 2 opposition. That was over 1800M and he already has a win at 1700M to his name. With the exception of his Breeders’ Cup, his wins have come from the front and he is going to face a lot of competition up there. If he can stay on in the long and tough Busan home straight, he’ll be among the contenders.
4. Pureun Geotap [Menifee – Charmin Strike (Smart Strike)] Filly (9/2/2/3) Lee Chan Ho (Seoul)
The filly was 3rd in the Breeders’ Cup and has gone on to show she can handle an extended trip, with a class 4 win over 1800M. She was hanging on a bit in a slowly run race but should appreciate the drop down to 1600M.
5. Gangchi [Volponi – Regal Heir (Regal Intention)] (9/3/1/1) – Darryll Holland (Busan)
Bart Rice saddles his first Korean Classic runner. Gangchi was a sharp-looking winner over 1300M last time out. Expect to see him just off the lead and if anyone can coax the best out of him, it’s Darryll Holland.
6. Nubi Queen [Menifee – Dream Runner (Our Poetic Prince)] Filly (9/3/1/2) – Oh Kyoung Hoan (Seoul)
Another who has won over 1800M at Seoul, Nubi Queen could only manage 6th when facing a lot of these rivals in the Breeders’ Cup last December and although she’s clearly gone on since, whether she has the pace to match them at the business end of the race is open to question.
7. Winner’s Marine [Volponi – Graceful Ballerina (Posse)] Filly (5/5/0/0) – You Hyun Myung (Busan)
The only unbeaten runner coming into the race, she’s going to have to work very hard to still be unbeaten come the end of Sunday afternoon though. She’s never tried further than 1300M and hasn’t beaten anything special but she is undeniably quick and jockey You Hyun Myung has been in sensational form of late.
8. Raon Morris [Yankee Victor – Thunder By Night (Thunder Gulch)] (6/3/1/1) – Moon Se Young (Seoul)
Seoul’s champion 2-year-old of last year has only made one competitive start in 2014, finishing 3rd over 1700M in January. He has race-trialed twice since though and Seoul’s top jockey Moon Se Young has seen fit to make the journey South – a tip in itself. On his day, he has the fastest sprint and must be respected.
9. Jungang Gongju [Menifee – Command And Hope (Commands)] Filly (7/2/2/0) – Choi Si Dae (Busan)
Winner of Busan’s biggest 2-year-old race last year, she’s been deeply unimpressive in her three starts since. Likes to come from off the pace with a very fast final three furlongs, if she runs to her best, she can win especially if the front-runners burn themselves out. However, she’s not been doing that lately, disappointing punters who’ve backed her into short odds each time. They won’t this time.
10. Queen’s Blade [Menifee – Harboring (Boston Harbor)] Filly (7/4/3/0) – Kim Yong Geun (Busan)
A Kim Young Kwan trained horse must always be in contention in a big race and his filly cones into this race with the most impressive recent form, winning a class 2 race over this distance. She’ll need to go quicker than she did that day to win this but she has the pace and the pedigree to excel here – she’s half-sister to 2008 Oaks winner Jeolho Chance – and could be hard to beat.
11. Gilbert [Yankee Victor – Wonderful Wanda (Fusaichi Pegasus)] (5/3/1/0) – Kim Dong Young (Busan)
One of the bigger colts in the race, Gilbert looks like a sprinter and so far has only run once over 6 furlongs – he finished 8th. Kim Dong Young, who won this race last year on Sting Ray, will be his 5th jockey in 6 races. He’s quick but others are quicker.
12. Namdo Trio [Didyme – Tapas (Sky Classic)] (9/2/4/0) – Kanichiro Fujii (Busan)
A very encouraging run over the distance in March and Joe Fujii on his back are two things that Namdo Trio has in his favour. Likes to close from just off the pace, he should find one or two quicker here but the Fujii-factor will mean he has his backers.
13. Power Champion [Perfect Champion – Perfect Vision (Psychobabble)] (8/4/1/0) – Jo In Kwen (Seoul)
Enters the race in great form, having won his past 4 starts and with Jo In Kwen on board, he’ll have plenty of support from punters. It’s his first try at this distance which could be a concern but he will be among the favourites.
14. Cupid Girl [Vicar – Sheza Hot Dish (Rubiano)] Filly (8/4/0/1) – Park Byung Yun (Seoul)
Another who comes into the race on a winning streak, her’s currently stands at 3, her most recent coming over 1800M. The distance therefore isn’t a concern and she has won both from the front and from off the pace. Should be a good price with an unfashionable jockey on board but likely to find a few too quick here though.
15. Hwanggeumbitjijung [Menifee – Firstclasscat (Catienus)] Filly (6/4/0/1) – Masakazu Tanaka (Busan)
Got squeezed out in a very tight four-way finish over 1500M last time out and the fact that she was passed by 3 class 3 horses in the final few strides of that race is a worry. If she can stay the distance, she should have plenty of speed in store.
16. Royal Impact [Cielo Gold – Skeemo (Meadowlake)] (7/2/0/3) – Song Keong Yun (Busan)
A closer who could well appreciate stepping up a further half-furlong than he’s run before. Although he comes in looking in good form, he hasn’t beaten very much and only has one start at class 3 to his name so he’ll be one of the outsiders. Bet him if you think the pace-setters will sprint each other out the race.
The KRA Cup Mile is race 5 of a 6-race program at Busan on Sunday. The race will also be broadcast live to Seoul Racecourse for simulcast betting.