A Triple Crown may on the cards in the United States but any hope we may have had of getting our own in Korea this year vanished in the Seoul sunshine this afternoon as filly Queen’s Blade crushed all-comers in the Korean Derby.
Most morning lines had KRA Cup Mile winner Cheongnyeong Bisang down as the likely winner so it was mildly surprising to see punters send Queens Blade, who had finished 5th in that race, off as the slight favourite for this, the 2nd leg of the Triple Crown.
They were very quickly vindicated. Raon Morris, 4th in that Cup Mile in Busan last month, set the pace but Queen’s Blade went right with him. Cheongnyong Bisang tried to close in the home straight but he had too much to do. Queen’s Blade was out of sight.
The distance on the line was 10 lengths. It may as well have been 20 such was her superiority today. Jeongsang Bima, a 40/1 outsider, was the only one who did close semi-successfully, coming home 2nd while Raon Morris stayed on for 3rd, one place ahead of Cheongnyong Bisang.
Peter Wolsley’s Jungle Jim managed an unlikely 5th but it was a generally depressing race for the foreign contingent; Darryll Holland the highest finisher among the 5 foreign jockeys in the race, coming 6th on Wild Rush.
Queen’s Blade is a half-sister to 2008 Korean Oaks winner Jeolho Chance and was today recording her 5th win from 9 career starts. She looks set to be heavy favourite to follow her big sister in the Oaks in Busan in August.
For jockey Kim Yong Geun, it was just a second Stakes race win and his first Classic. For the remarkable trainer Kim Young Kwan, however, it was a third Korean Derby win. All three of those have been with fillies with today’s win adding to those of Sangseung Ilro in 2009 and Speedy First a year ago.
It’s also another classic win for Busan means the southern track leads Seoul by 4 Derby victories to 3 since competition between the two began in 2008.
While Queen’s Blade and the other fillies today have the Oaks to attend to, the rest of the best of the 3-year-old crop won’t reassemble until the final leg of the Triple Crown, the Minister’s Cup at Seoul in October. How many of today’s field make it there is open to debate.
A number of high-profile names didn’t make it into the starting gate today. Gilbert, who placed 2nd in the Cup Mile and the promising Yeonggwanguichampion both suffered injuries after the Cup Mile. Meanwhile Peter Wolsley’s best 3-year-old Never Seen Before failed his barrier trial last week and wasn’t allowed to run.
So dominant was Queen’s Blade today though that it is unlikely any of those three would have come any closer to her than the fourteen she left strung across the track in her wake today. The Queen from Busan, Queen’s Blade is our 2014 Korean Derby Champion.
Korean Derby (KOR G1) – Seoul Race Park – 1800M – May 18, 2014
1. Queen’s Blade (KOR) [Menifee – Harboring (Boston Harbor)] – Kim Yong Geun
2. Jeongsang Bima (KOR) [Forest Camp – Smokegetenyoureyes (Smokester)] – Ham Wan Sik
3. Raon Morris (KOR) [Yankee Victor – Thunder By Night (Thunder Gulch)] – Moon Se Young
Distances: 10 lengths / 0.5 lengths
Also Ran: 4. Cheongnyong Bisang 5. Jungle Jim 6. Wild Rush 7. Royal Impact 8. Namdo Trio 9. Gumpo Sky 10. Gangchi 11. Cupid Girl 12. Clean Up Speed 13. Pureun Geotap 14. Jangsan Horangi 15. Super Rider