Minister’s Cup Sunday: 2018 Korean Triple Crown Final Leg – Race-By-Race Preview (June 17)

Sunday sees the final leg of the 2018 Korean Triple Crown and while there is no clean-sweep on the line in the Minister’s Cup at Seoul Racecourse, there is still plenty of anticipation for what should be a very good race. Derby winner Ecton Blade heads the field for what is the feature on an 11 race card at Seoul from 10:45 to 18:00. At Busan, there are 6 races from 12:40 to 17:10.


Ecton Blade & Franco Da Silva won the Derby and go again in the Minister’s Cup (Pic: Ross Holburt)

Derby 2nd and 3rd place-getters Mask and Choinma return for another crack with the extra distance possibly to Mask’s advantage. World Sun, who got shut out in the home straight in the Derby will also take his chance again. Cup Mile winner Divide Wind suffered a setback after his 4th place in the Derby and stays at home so another stablemate of Ecton Blade’s, Captain Force, gets an opportunity. If he were to win, it would mean trainer Kim Young Kwan had won all three legs of the Triple Crown with three different horses.

Franco Da Silva keeps the ride on Ecton Blade and there is further foreign interest with Australian trainer Peter Wolsley saddling Cheonnyeonui Gang while Irish jockey Fergus Sweeney gets his first taste of racing at Seoul aboard Hiddden Champ.

Previews of all Seoul races are below (with horse by horse for the Minister’s Cup). Selections for Busan at the bottom:

Race 1: Class 6 (1000M) Allowance / KRW 40 Million

Three-year-old maiden fillies to begin with and while it’s a small field, plenty have hopes. (3) STRONG LIGHT was 4th at the distance in a marginally stiffer contest than this a month ago and should get on pace early. Another good starter is (4) HUIMANG STAR, who drops back in trip after recent good efforts at 1300M and should be competitive. (5) BODEURAM has a 2nd place to her name at this distance and returns following ten weeks off. She trialled nicely enough a couple of weeks ago and should be in the hunt. (2) STEEL RUN and (6) ALEXANDROS not without hope either.

Selections (4) Huimang Star (3) Strong Light (5) Bodeuram (6) Alexandros
Next Best 2
Fast Start 2, 3, 4

Race 2: Class 5 (1200M) Handicap / KRW 40 Million

(8) GLOBAL KINGDOM returned from six months out on May 12th looking much better than the horse who ran twice without distinction last autumn. He won his comeback by three lengths and steps up in both class and distance today. Neither should be a problem for him. (3) CAMP TOUCH was an improved 5th last time and can compete here while the slight drop back in trip may benefit (1) DURGA. The recent form of (4) SKY MARINE and (5) CONKER may not exactly impress but they find themselves in slightly weaker company today and both could improve.

Selections (8) Global Kingdom (3) Camp Touch (5) Conker (1) Durga
Next Best 4, 6
Fast Start 3, 5, 8

Race 3: Class 5 (1400M) Handicap / KRW 40 Million

(4) JANGSAN JEGUK may have finished a cool seventeen lengths behind winner Simcheong Sadal when 2nd to the surprisingly convincing winner at class and distance four weeks ago but that performance, in what was his first race since Christmas Eve, was a good one and he can go one better today. (2) SKY DOLPUNG enters off back to back 3rd place finishes in two races since being promoted to this class and a repeat should be a minimum target here. (8) CHEONHA HYEONGGUK comes in having been beaten half a length into 2nd on May 19th. He should be on pace early along with (10) SPEED YEONGUNG and both have a chance of staying on. (3) CHEONWANG BYEOL looks best of the rest.

Selections (4) Jangsan Jeguk (2) Sky Dolpung (8) Cheonha Hyeongguk (10) Speed Yeongung
Next Best 3, 1
Fast Start 8, 10

Race 4: Class 5 (1300M) Handicap / KRW 40 Million

There was a full seven months between (3) PALDO DAEJANG’s 3rd place on debut last October and her maiden win three weeks ago. She made all to score by four-lengths over 1000M and while she’s up in class and distance today, she may well get an uncontested lead here and can win again. Best chance of stopping her lies with (6) HANYANG GONGJU, who didn’t run well when favourite on her first try at this level at the end of April but has shown ability and can be given another chance today. (2) NILUI BADA and (4) RAON MIRACLE came home 3rd and 6th at class and distance on May 20th. The latter will be expected to overturn that form today. (7) MIGHTY COOL is another whose latest effort was a touch disappointing but who can be better here.

Selections (3) Paldo Daejang (6) Hanyang Gongju (7) Mighty Cool (4) Raon Miracle
Next Best 2, 1
Fast Start 3

Race 5: Class 4 (1200M) Handicap / KRW 60 Million 

Banker favourite of the day time and it would be a big surprise were (1) BIG EAR to meet too much resistance here. True, he’s fallen sort three times when favourite, but he’s shown more talent than any of these and should lead from gate to wire. If one is tempted to try and take him on, (7) BOLD SHINING is the logical candidate. He’s up in class after a decent win at 1300M a month ago and while he’ll have to improve to challenge the favourite, should have the beating of the rest. (2) OUR CAT and (5) SEVEN’S LUCKY came home 4th and 5th at class and distance on May 19th and along with (8) SMARTY ZIF, have claims on the minor money finishes.

Selections (1) Big Ear (7) Bold Shining (8) Smarty Zif (5) Seven’s Lucky
Next Best 2, 6
Fast Start 1, 8

Race 6: Class 4 (1200M) Handicap / KRW 60 Million

(4) MIRACLE HANSEN won her first two races by a combined seventeen lengths and was favourite when she stepped up to this class on April 7th. She stumbled when coming out of the barriers and while she recovered to show prominently, never looked convincing. She’s had ten weeks off since then and steps back marginally in trip today with every chance od returning to winning ways. (6) DALLYEORA LEO was among those in front of Miracle Hansen that day and she is one of those who can challenge again. (1) ANYANG CHEETAH is inconsistent but goes well on his day while (2) RUN WITH GOLD finished a good 4th at 1300M last start and can be considered.

Selections (4) Miracle Hansen (1) Anyang Cheetah (2) Run With Gold (6) Dallyeora Leo
Next Best 3
Fast Start 1, 3, 4

Race 7: Class 4 (1700M) Handicap / KRW 60 Million 

(4) ROAD KING has two runner-up finishes and two 3rd place finishes from his last four outings, all of them at this distance. They’ve been in similar strength company to this and today he can get it right. (2) SUPER TRICK similarly hasn’t been too far away in his latest tries at class and distance. Like Road King, hell likely be ridden patiently and can finish strongly. (7) BRAVE UP didn’t go particularly well on a previous attempt at this distance but after dropping back in trip has seen her form pick up and she may be ready for another try here. (3) BAEKSAN GUNJU and (6) SAUVIGNON are both up in class and distance following useful wins over 1300M and can be considered for the places.

Selections (4) Road King (2) Super Trick (6) Sauvignon (7) Brave Up
Next Best 3, 10
Fast Start 3, 6, 7, 9

Race 8: Class 3 (1700M) Handicap / KRW 75 Million

(7) OKAY QUEEN beat two of these on her way to 2nd place on what was her first attempt at both class and distance on April 22nd. She returns after eight weeks off here likely to be looking to lead from the gate and has every chance. The one she’ll need to beat is (4) KING PLUCKY. Although his wins have come at shorter, he was a creditable enough 6th in a strong class and distance affair just over a month ago and should be a danger. (1) NEW WHY FI struggled a little last time but had shown some talent in two starts back after a lengthy absence and is worth another chance here. (3) YEONDARA and (10) YESANGBAEK SEUNG are among a number of others with claims on at least a place.

Selections (7) Okay Queen (4) King Plucky (1) New Why Fi (10) Yesangbaek Seung
Next Best 3, 2, 11
Fast Start 1, 4, 6, 7

 Race 9: Class Open (2000M) The Minister’s Cup (KOR G2) Special Weight / KRW 600 Million

  1. MASK – 4th in the Cup Mile and 2nd in the Derby. Additional furlong should suit and not impossible.
  2. CHEONNYEONUI GANG – Trained by Australian Peter Wolsley, he was a good class 4 winner over a mile last month. Big test here though.
  3. KING JJANG – Three wins as a juvenile, but yet to score this year. Takes his chance following 2nd place at 1800M last month. Likely to be in pace but tough ask.
  4. ECTON BLADE – Champion juvenile last year, runner-up in the Cup Mile and dominant winner of the Derby. Extra furlong should be no problem and he’s the favourite. Every chance he will go to the front from the gate and look to dictate.
  5. WORLD SUN – Close 3rd in the Cup Mile and 5th in the Derby but with some bad luck in running. Distance should suit, and he can get closer. Likely to be ridden patiently and maybe taken right to the back from the gate.
  6. CHOINMA – Best juvenile in Seoul last year, defeat to Mask in the capital’s Classic trial meant he didn’t go to the Cup Mile. Ran well in the Derby for 3rd but plenty to make up on Ecton Blade and Mask.
  7. HIDDDEN CHAMP – Stablemate of World Sun. Led the Derby until the final furlong before weakening to 6th. Likely to be similarly on pace here. Only one of these to have run at 1900M. Top jockey booking and interesting outsider.
  8. CAPTAIN FORCE – Took five starts to get his maiden win but has since won four more. Very good winner over a mile a month ago. Stablemate of Ecton Blade, he’ll most likely join the favourite up front and he can’t be ruled out
  9. YEONGGWANGUIWINNER – Did nothing in the Cup Mile but was an eye-catching ten-length winner over that same distance on May 11th. Interesting wildcard.
  10. SHARP KAYLAN – Beaten by Mask and Choinma in Seoul’s Classic trial in March but was a very good winner over 1700M, in a time just outside the track record, last month. Big ask but could acquit himself well.

Verdict: (4) ECTON BLADE looks the class horse of his crop and last year’s Champion Juvenile can confirm his status by adding the Minister’s Cup to the Korean Derby that he dominated last month. He will be close to the front throughout and while the distance is a step into the unknown for all of them, his class should see him through. Stablemate (8) CAPTAIN FORCE gets his first crack at a Classic and looks to be one with a big future ahead of him. A very impressive winner over a mile last month, it’s not impossible he could prevail today. (1) MASK has run very well in both legs so far and the extra distance really should suit. He was 2nd to Ecton Blade in the Derby and can push him close today. (5) WORLD SUN had absolutely no luck in either Cup Mile or Derby, but he is another for whom the additional furlong should be an advantage. (6) CHOINMA and (7) HIDDDEN CHAMP the others most likely to compete for the places.

Selections (4) Ecton Blade (1) Mask (8) Captain Force (5) World Sun
Next Best 6, 7, 9
Fast Start 3, 4, 7, 8

Race 10: Class 1 (1900M) Handicap / KRW 110 Million

Class 1 but restricted to those who have a rating of 105 or less. (9) SAMSEONG BULPAE comes in following back to back runner-up finishes over 1800M. He was ten lengths behind the very good Cheonji Storm last time but beat the rest of them, including a couple who go here, handily enough and he can get his first top level win today. (12) GAEULI JEONSEOL actually beat Samseong Bulpae by six-lengths when winning in March. He followed up with a creditable enough 3rd place again at 1800M on May 13th, beating three of these in the process and he’ll be a contender again. (4) SOTONG SIDAE also went in that race and showed signs of coming back into form. The extra half furlong here should suit. (6) MIGHTY SSING is up in class following three consecutive wins. He also takes on the distance for the first time but the Congrats colt has handled everything asked of him so far and he should be a strong contender. (2) THEME DEUNGGEUK and (11) YAHO SUNSHINE others in the hunt in a nicely competitive race.

Selections (9) Samseong Bulpae (6) Mighty Ssing (12) Gaeuli Jeonseol (4) Sotong Sidae
Next Best 2, 11, 7
Fast Start 2, 6, 7, 12

Race 11: Class 3 (1400M) Handicap / KRW 75 Million

(7) PARK SOCKS has won two in a row including getting the best of a narrow four-way finish at class and distance last time on May 20th. He carries more weight today but could well overcome it. Finishing 3rd in that tight finish was (4) GOLDEN BLACK. An up and comer he looks to have more in him and could well overturn that form today. (3) SPEED JOY is up in class having finished as runner-up in all three of his starts to date. He may well make it four in a row. (9) LEGEND KING beat (5) MORFHIS by just under a length as the pair came home 1st and 2nd at class and distance on May 13th and both should be firmly in the hunt here.

Selections (4) Golden Black (7) Park Socks (3) Speed Joy (5) Morfhis
Next Best 9, 2
Fast Start 1, 2, 3, 6

Busan Selections

Race 1: 9, 10, 5, 4
Race 2: 4, 6, 8, 2
Race 3: 5, 6, 4, 3
Race 4: 1, 7, 2, 6
Race 5: 7, 11, 5, 9
Race 6: 8, 1, 6, 5

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