One of the biggest days of the year is almost upon us. The 2015 Korean Derby will be run at Seoul Racecourse on Sunday May 17. The Grand Prix has the prestige while the new Asia Challenge Cup has the international visitors but the Derby is still the Derby.
Eight are scheduled to make the trip up from Busan headed of course by Rafale. He won the first leg of the Triple Crown, the KRA Cup Mile (Korean 2000 Guineas) at his home track last month.
The horses who finished 2nd to 4th in the Cup Mile will also be there. Connections of Doraon Hyeonpyo, Yeongcheon Ace and Yeonggwanguitaepung will be hoping that the additional furlong of the Derby will make all the difference.
Unlike for the Cup Mile last month, Seoul looks set to at least provide a challenge for the visitors with the exciting Daegunhwang perhaps best placed to keep the silverware in the capital. Two fillies are entered; Smart Time from Seoul and Yeongung Bolt (she of saddle-slipping fame) from Busan.
Here is a full run down of the 13 in at this stage, listed in order of prize money won over the past six months (Runs/1st/2nd/3rd):
The Korean Derby (KOR G1) – Seoul Racecourse – 1800M – Sunday May 17, 2015
Rafale [Colors Flying – Dongbang Cheogo (Al Naba)] (8/5/2/0)
The KRA Cup Mile winner will no doubt have plenty of support in the Derby too. He won a class 2 race at this distance in January. Others were finishing faster in the Cup Mile but he got the job done. He won’t necessarily want to lead but he will want to be close.
Doraon Hyeonpyo [Colors Flying – Kilcoe Castle (Gone West)] (7/5/2/0)
Last year’s champion juvenile was overhauled in the closing stages of the Cup Mile by Rafale having hit the front three furlongs out. He won a slow mile race the time before that but hasn’t been tried at this distance.
Daegunhwang [Menifee – Lusi Pond (Elusive Quality)] (6/5/1/0)
Seoul’s great hope. After a second on his debut, he’s won five in a row generally from the front and without coming under any real pressure. It is going to be very interesting to see what he can do when subjected to a proper examination.
Yeongcheon Ace [Menifee – Dixie Avenger (Dixie Union)] (8/3/3/2)
This one likes to come from off the pace which he did to run third in the Cup Mile. Has never been worse than 3rd in eight career starts and will have no trouble with the distance.
New White Socks [Secret Weapon – Wonder Queen (Canadian Silver)] (7/5/0/0)
Another highly promising one from Seoul. He was a winner over 1700M last time out in a decent time and has plenty of potential.
Mac And Cheese [Menifee – Squared (Posse)] (8/5/0/1)
A disappointment in the Cup Mile, running 8th of 11 when well-fancied, he had been an impressive winner over the same distance the time before. He’ll get another chance here.
Triple Nine [Ecton Park – A Little Poke (Pleasant Tap)] (5/4/1/0)
He didn’t go in the Cjup Mile but comes in here after four consecutive wins, the most recent two of which were over a mile. A very quick finisher, he is from the Kim Young Kwan stable.
Yeonggwanguitaepung [Menifee – Grand Pass (Grand Slam)] (9/3/2/2)
This is another quick finisher, he flew home in the Cup Mile to just be edged into 4th, he was a winner over 1800M the time before and has a real chance here.
Smart Time [Ft. Stockton – Charon (Jade Robbery)] (6/3/2/0)
A filly, she will be an outsider here. Second in the Sports Seoul Cup but 4th on her only try around two turns so far, this will be a tough ask.
Yeongung Bolt [Colors Flying – Haneul Gisang (Duality)] (7/3/1/1)
The other filly, her saddle slipped on her only try at a mile so far. She returned to win over 1400M. Likely to be showing towards the front early but she probably won’t be among the favourites. Fillies do have an excellent record in this race recently though.
Seonbong [Duality – Megabuck Gal (Montbrook)] (7/3/2/1)
Just beaten a neck by New White Socks last time out over 1700M, he was leading at one stage and is certainly capable of putting in a good performance.
Yuseong Fighting [Didyme – Maggies Prayer (Songandaprayer)] (7/4/0/1)
He showed the way for much of the Cup Mile but didn’t stay on, fading to 6th. The distance will again be the big question mark here.
Sanggam Mama [Peace Rules – Miss Merit (Old Trieste)] (5/3/1/1)
Plenty of speed, putting in some really quick times but is yet to be tried at further than 1400M. As such, others will be favoured.
We will have another detailed preview once final declarations have been made, jockey bookings have been confirmed and all horses have arrived in Seoul. This has the makings of a very interesting Derby.