There were a few nervous moments in the home straight but ultimately King Socks lived up to his odds-on favourite status in the Breeders’ Cup as the Kim Young Kwan trained colt prevailed to land the Korean season’s top Juvenile race at Busan on Sunday afternoon.
For much of the seven-furlong contest it looked as though it would be a formality for King Socks, leading early and threatening a repeat of his Gimhae Mayor’s Cup win at the end of October which he won by eight-lengths. With Seoul’s best in attendance too though, this was always going to be a tougher assignment and so it would prove in the home straight.
Gwacheon Mayor’s Cup winner Dae Wan Ma began as second-favourite and it was he who gave the favourite something to think about in the home straight, taking advantage of some wayward running by King Socks. Under jockey Lee Hyo Sik, however, the Officer colt found his compass once more and ran on strongly to hold off Dae Wan Ma by half a length on the line. 40/1 chance Myeongpum Chukje came home in 3rd place a full four-lengths back.
For the past three years the winner of the Breeders’ Cup has gone on to win the following season’s Korean Derby. With this year’s race being held at Busan for the first time, the KRA Cup Classic, the 1st leg of the Triple Crown, which takes place on the South Coast on the first Sunday in April, will be the more immediate test. Kim Young Kwan saddled two of those double-getters, Power Blade and Ecton Blade. King Socks is the latest to roll off the production line for Korea’s top trainer.
Next week at Seoul, it’s the big one. The Grand Prix Stakes of 2018!