The Korean Derby 2015: The Final Preview

The 18th running of the Korean Derby takes place at Seoul Racecourse on Sunday afternoon. Eight horses from Busan, including the KRA Cup Mile winner Rafale take on five from Seoul in the second leg of the 2015 Korean Triple Crown.

Queen's Blade won last year's Derby. Who will succeed her in 2015? (Pic: Ross Holburt)

Queen’s Blade won last year’s Derby. Who will succeed her in 2015? (Pic: Ross Holburt)

If you’ve never been before, get down to Seoul Racecourse for this one. Although the Derby is the feature, it is one of ten races with the first at 10:50 and the last at 18:00. The Keeneland Cup is another big race on the day while K-Pop is provided by “Mamamoo”.

Here is a full run-down of the field (Name [Pedigree] (Starts/1st/2nd/3rd) – Jockey):

The Korean Derby (KOR G1) – Seoul Racecourse – 1800M – May 17, 2015 (16:55)

1. Yeonggwanguitaepung [Menifee – Grand Pass (Grand Slam)] (9/3/2/2) – Masakazu Tanaka
A really quick finisher, he flew home in the Cup Mile to just be edged into 4th. He is a winner over 1800M already and is likely to go to the back early and try to close. Trainer Kim Young Kwan won the Derby in 2009, 2013 and 2014 and there is a real chance here of Masa Tanaka becoming the second foreign jockey to win the race.

2. Daegunhwang [Menifee – Lusi Pond (Elusive Quality)] (6/5/1/0) – Seo Seung Un
Seoul’s great hope. After a second place on his debut, he’s won five in a row generally from the front and without coming under any real pressure. He should be close to the early pace and is going to finally be subjected to a stern examination here. So far there is nothing to suggest he isn’t up to it and failure to at least place will be very disappointing.

3. New White Socks [Secret Weapon – Wonder Queen (Canadian Silver)] (7/5/0/0) – Moon Se Young
Another highly promising one from Seoul. He was a winner over 1700M last time out in a decent time beating both Seonbong and Smart Time in the process. He has raced close to the front on most starts – although he has had little to stop him doing that, has plenty of potential and may sneak into the money. Jockey Moon Se Young won the Derby in 2012 on Jigeum I Sungan while trainer Lee Shin Young would become the first female Derby winner.

4. Doraon Hyeonpyo [Colors Flying – Kilcoe Castle (Gone West)] (7/5/2/0) – Kim Dong Young
He and Rafale exchanged Champion Juvenile races last year and he was then overhauled in the closing stages of the Cup Mile by the same horse 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. He will probably try to take the early initiative and with the home straight at Seoul generally being less taxing than at Busan, he may well hold on.

5. Triple Nine [Ecton Park – A Little Poke (Pleasant Tap)] (5/4/1/0) – Oh Kyoung Hoan
The second string from the Kim Young Kwan stable didn’t run in the Cup Mile but comes in here after four consecutive wins, the most recent two of which were over a mile. He also has a quick finish and will try to come from just off the pace. Jockey Oh Kyoung Hoan, now based at Busan, won the Derby on Gwangyajeil in 2011.

6. Yeongcheon Ace [Menifee – Dixie Avenger (Dixie Union)] (8/3/3/2) – Choi Si Dae
Along with Yeonggwanguitaepung, this is the other noted closer in the race. He came from off the pace to finish 3rd in the Cup Mile and has never been worse than 3rd in eight career starts. The distance won’t be a problem – he beat Rafale over 1900M in March and he must be strongly considered. Jockey Choi Si Dae won last year’s President’s Cup and Grand Prix at Seoul but is yet to win the Derby.

7. Sanggam Mama [Peace Rules – Miss Merit (Old Trieste)] (5/3/1/1) – Park Eul Woon
He has 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 although he did beat Seonbong over 1300M earlier this year. His only shot is perhaps to go out quickly and try to hold on so expect to see his jockey try to get to the front before the first turn. Park Eul Woon is yet to win a Graded race.

8. Yeongung Bolt [Colors Flying – Haneul Gisang (Duality)] (7/3/1/1) – Song Keong Yun
One of two fillies in the race, she didn’t run in the Cup mile and her saddle slipped on her only try at further than 1400M so far. She won at that distance last month and is likely to try to take up a position just behind the early leaders. She won’t be among the favourites as the others are far more proven but it is worth noting that fillies do have an excellent record in this race and have won the last two renewals.

9. Mac And Cheese [Menifee – Squared (Posse)] (8/5/0/1) – Kanichiro Fujii
Well-fancied for the Cup Mile, he was a real disappointment, never getting into the right position and never travelling well ending 8th of 11. He had been an impressive winner over the same distance the time before 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. If he can get to the front entering the home straight, he has a chance but he won’t be among the favourites this time. Joe Fujii won the 2013 Derby on Speedy First.

10. Rafale [Colors Flying – Dongbang Cheogo (Al Naba)] (8/5/2/0) – You Hyun Myung
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 although Doraon Hyeonpyo beat him on his only previous visit to Seoul and he also finished behind Yeongcheon Ace over 1900M in March. Others were finishing faster in the Cup Mile but he got the job done. He won’t want to lead but neither will he want to be too far away and if he finds a run in the home straight, he can win this. You Hyun Myung is yet to win the Derby but he has won the Grand Prix Stakes at Seoul.

11. Smart Time [Ft. Stockton – Charon (Jade Robbery)] (6/3/2/0) – Ham Wan Sik
The other filly in the race, she will one of the rank outsiders.A filly, she will be an outsider here. She was second to her talented stablemate Meni Money in the Sports Seoul Cup but was 4th on her only try around two turns so far with both New White Socks and Seonbong beating her and this will be a tough ask.

12. Yuseong Fighting [Didyme – Maggies Prayer (Songandaprayer)] (7/4/0/1) – Lee Hee Cheon
He led for much of the Cup Mile but didn’t stay on, fading to 6th. Going an extra furlong today, the distance will again be the primary negative against him as he gives every impression of being a sprinter. He will probably go forward again as he’s certainly not going to win by coming from the back, but he will be a long shot. Jockey Lee Hee Cheon’s biggest win came at Seoul last October on Never Seen Before in the Minister’s Cup

13. Seonbong [Duality – Megabuck Gal (Montbrook)] (7/3/2/1) – Lee Joon Chel
He was just beaten a neck by New White Socks last time out over 1700M having led at one stage. He will probably settle in the middle of the pack and should stay on. He will not be among the favourites but is certainly capable of putting in a good performance. Jockey Lee Joon Chel’s biggest win to date came in the Owners’ Cup in March this year.

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