If there is to be a Korean Triple Crown winner this year then his name is Indian King. The 74/1 outsider took the initiative under jockey Darryll Holland in the early part of the race and clung on to defeat Royal Ruby and American Power and claim the first Jewel in the Crown, the KRA Cup Mile at Busan on Sunday afternoon.
Punters couldn’t split Breeders’ Cup winner and runner-up Final Boss and Daeho Sidae sending them off as almost co-favourites but it was Illyu Star and longest shot on the board Taeyangui Jeonseol who were out of the gates the quickest. By the end of the straight, however, Holland had brought Indian King up alongside the leader and as they rounded the corner he kicked on in front and had stolen three lengths on the field as they straightened up.
The challenges would arrive too late. Daeho Sidae, expected to lead, offered little while Final Boss had far too much to do. Instead, while Holland coaxed his mount home, the one who would get the closest would be Royal Ruby. He had been the back-marker for much of the race but flew home to get within half a length of the winner on the line. The Peter Wolsley trainee, who also started as an outsider, must surely be very much in the Derby mix now. American Power was just a further head back in 3rd while there was a 5-length gap back to Daeho Sidae who led home the rest.
KRA Cup Mile (KOR G2) – Busan Racecourse – 1600M – April 2 2017
1. Indian King (KOR) [Biwa Shinseiki – Indian Diamond (Indian Charlie)] – Darryll Holland – 75.0, 17.5
2. Royal Ruby (KOR) [Chapel Royal – Red Ruby (Yehudi)] – Jo Sung Gon – 4.6
3. American Power (KOR) [Ecton Park – White Angelica (Quiet American)] – 1.7
Distances: 0.5 lengths / Head
Also Ran: 4. Daeho Sidae (KOR) 5. Final Boss (KOR) 6. Ice Marine (KOR) 7. Muhan Yeoljeong (KOR) 8. Illyu Star (KOR) 9. Wonder Wall (KOR) 10. Lion Rock (KOR) 11. Taeyangui Jeonseol (KOR)
Indian King [Biwa Shinseiki – Indian Diamond (Indian Charlie)] is a half-brother to Indian Star, winner of last year’s Jeju Governor’s Cup and one of the top sprinters at the track – she came out one race later on Sunday afternoon and ran 2nd over 1200M to Triple Five in a class 1 handicap.
Indian Diamond herself was an $18,000 purchase at the Keeneland September Sale in 2002. She ran 36 times at Seoul between 2003 and 2006 winning on 3 occasions and in addition to Indian Star has had three others make the track so far, although only one of them was a winner.
For trainer Mun Je Bok, it was his biggest win to date; his first Group 2 having previously won Group 3 events with Hangangui Gijeok, Perdido Pomeroy and of course, Indian Star.
As for Darryll Holland, it was his first Listed or Group winner in Korea. After the race, Holland noted that he isn’t able to ride as many as he would like due to a minimum riding weight of 54kg. He paid tribute to the preparation done by the trainer and thanked him for putting him on. There’ll be no trouble making weight for the Korean Derby next month.
Can Indian King get 1800M at Seoul? It makes for a fascinating Derby on the second Sunday in May.