Ottug Ottugi will be hot favourite when nine fillies line up for the 2016 Korean Oaks at Busan Racecourse on Sunday afternoon. If the race goes as expected, she will give trainer Kim Young Kwan his fourth consecutive victory in the race.
Rather shamefully, Seoul has not managed to muster a single filly in this crop to take part in the Classic so the Oaks is a 100% Busan affair this year.
South African trainer Bart Rice saddles his first Korean runner and while Jangguneui Huye will be an outsider, beyond the favourite, the race is quite open. Paolo Aragoni is the only foreign jockey to secure a mount in the race and will partner Steal The Show Why.
While a succession of odds-on favourites went down at Busan on Friday (including some trained by Kim Young Kwan), were Ottug Ottugi – whose conqueror in the KRA Cup Mile Power Blade went on to romp home in the Derby at Seoul last month – to be defeated, it would be as big a shock as when Derby winning filly Sangseung Ilro lost the race in the final strides back in 2009.
Korean Oaks (KOR G2) – Busan Racecourse – 1800M – June 12, 2016 (16:30)
1. Steal The Show Why (KOR) [Whywhywhy – Steal The Show (Cat Thief)] (11/2/2/3) KY Baik – Paolo Aragoni
Fifth in the trail in March she has followed up with 3rd place finishes at a mile and at this distance of 1800M. One of a number of likely early front-runners, she will stay on and could challenge for a place.
2. Ottug Ottugi (KOR) [Forest Camp – Main Objective (Lion Heart)] (9/6/2/0) YK Kim – Choi Si Dae
The hot favourite, she will be odds-on. She won the Trial easily and was then 2nd to stablemate Power Blade in the first leg of the Triple Crown before comfortably winning her first try at 1800M last month. No reason to oppose her, she should lead from gate to wire.
3. Special Rookie (KOR) [Menifee – Swing City (Carson City)] (3/2/0/0) YK Kwan – Kim Yong Geun
Stablemate of Ottug Ottugi and still a slightly unknown quantity. She beat Santa Gloria when winning at a mile in April but hasn’t raced since. Won a trial just last week and Kim Young Kwan’s horses must never be underestimated. Goes forward with Ottug Ottugi.
4. Hoseungjibyeok (KOR) [Didyme – Everything Nice (Elusive Quality)] (6/4/1/0) BE Kang – Song Keong Yun
More advanced than the rest of the field with the exception of Ottug Ottugi, she has made it up to class 3, despite being beaten by three of these in March’s trial. She came 2nd on her first try at 1800M last month in a decent but not overly convincing performance. She deserves second-favourite status but still has things to prove. She will sit behind the early lead and if the others go too fast, she can take advantage.
5. Miracle Bolt (KOR) [Sharp Humor – C’Mon Maria (Maria’s Mon)] (7/3/3/0) KH Choi – Seol Dong Bok
All three of her wins have come at 1000M and she is yet to show anything that would suggest she is capable of getting 1800M at this stage, let alone competing at it. The outsider of the field, she may as well go out as quickly as possible and see what happens.
6. Jangguneui Huye (KOR) [Gaeseon Janggun – Mercy Matters (Cozzene)] (3/1/0/0) BN Rice – Chae Sang Hyun
Bart Rice’s first Korean Classic runner and a welcome entrant by Gaeseon Janggun, who won the final leg of the Triple Crown in 2008. Only three runs so far and only one this year which was a 5th place in a tough race over 1300M. She will therefore be one of the outsiders here
7. Byeolmuri (KOR) [Colors Flying – Sink Or Swim (Meadowlake)] (10/3/3/0) SB Han – Kim Dong Young
Yet to be tried at further than 1300M, she comes in following two convincing wins at that distance and looks to have solid potential. She has tended to be on the early speed but may let others go forward here and she can find the money.
8. Quick Force (KOR) [Vicar – Madam Winette (Danewin)] (6/0/4/2) SJ Kwon – Lim Sung Sil
The only one of these yet to get her maiden victory and it is unlikely to arrive here. She has done ok, never finishing any worse than 3rd but this is obviously a significant step up and a top five finish would be a good result.
9. Santa Gloria (KOR) [Menifee – Pupil (Unbridled)] (7/1/1/2) KY Baik – Seo Seung Un
Third in the March Oaks Trial, she was just beaten a neck by Special Rookie over a mile in April. That was her most recent start although she won a trial last month. Like to have no problems with the distance, she will be ridden patiently by Seo Seung Un, who is in great form at the moment. She could go very well.