The first leg of the 2015 Korean Triple Crown is just over a week away. The KRA Cup Mile at Busan on April 5 is the first jewel in a series which this year will be complete by July.
And while Cheongnyong Bisang took the honours for Seoul last year, Busan looks set to continue its ongoing domination of the big races with only two currently set to make the trip down South from the capital.
That’s an embarrassingly poor showing for Seoul and while there is respect for the connections who are actually going to have a go, those two do not exactly look like potential world-beaters.
And a crucial factor in Seoul staying away could be the strength of the line-up from the home track. There are nine in total with last year’s champion juvenile Doraon Hyeonpyo heading them. Class 2 winners Rafale and Mac And Cheese will be there too along with six other very strong contenders.
The KRA Cup Mile has been run at Busan every year since the track opened in 2005. For its first three seasons, it was a race open to older horses but in 2008, prize money was doubled and the race moved to its present spot on the calendar as the first leg of a new Triple Crown series that would incorporate horses from Busan and Seoul competing with each other for the first time.
Since then, Busan based horses have won five times while the prize been taken back to the capital on two occasions. Since the change, no horse has won all three legs of the Triple Crown. Sangseung Ilro came the closest when taking the Cup Mile and the Derby in 2009 before falling short much later in the season in the Minister’s Cup.
When J.S. Hold made a clean sweep in 2007, all three races were at Seoul.
Here are the current nominations for the race, which is restricted to Korean bred three-year-old colts and fillies. Final declarations are next Wednesday, April 1. No fools, hopefully. (Name [Sire] Sex (Runs/1st/2nd/3rd) Trainer):
KRA Cup Mile (KOR G3) – Busan Racecourse – 1600M – April 5, 2015
Doraon Hyeonpyo [Colors Flying] C (6/5/1/0) Kwan Seung Joo
Rafale [Colors Flying] C (7/4/2/0) Kim Jae Sub
Mac And Cheese [Menifee] C (7/5/0/1) Kim Jae Sub
Yeongcheon Ace [Menifee] C (7/3/3/1) Baik Kwang Yeol
Summit Myeongun [Menifee] C (8/4/1/2) Kim Young Kwan
Yuseong Fighting [Didyme] C (6/4/0/1) Choi Ki Hong
Namhae Sinhwa [Vicar] C (7/3/3/0) Lim Keum Man
Yeonggwanguitaepung [Menifee] C (8/3/2/2) Kim Young Kwan
Special Line [Ecton Park] C (9/2/2/1) Baik Kwang Yeol
So Menifee again dominates in terms of numbers although Colors Flying’s first crop to reach three-years-old looks formidable. Doraon Hyeonpyo won the Breeders’ Cup race at Seoul last autumn to be crowned Champion Juvenile while Rafale beat him to win the Gyeongnam Shinmun Cup a month earlier.
We’ll have more on the build-up as the race gets closer.