The 2019 Korean Triple Crown gets underway at Busan on Sunday when sixteen three-year-olds go to post for the KRA Cup Mile. Since the race gained its status as the opening leg of the Classic series in 2008, favourites have won five of the eleven running but this year, identifying who the favourite will be could be as taxing as finding the winner in what looks like a hugely competitive contest.
Champion juvenile, the unbeaten King Socks, doesn’t race. In fact, he hasn’t stepped on to the racetrack since winning the Breeders’ Cup last December. He has two stablemates going though in the shape of Precede and Glitter and both will be among the top line of favourites. Busan’s Classic trial winner Yeonggwangui Secret is absent too, having pulled up lame after that race. However, Seoul’s trial winner Dae Wan Ma is present along with a host of very promising up and comers.
There is foreign interest too. Bart Rice saddles Good Dancer while Franco Da Silva rides leading contender Doctor Thunder. Francois Herholdt gets the leg-up on Gabo Day while Antonio Da Silva, who rode Dae Wan Ma to victory in the Sports Seoul, retains the mount. Also coming down from Seoul is Alan Munro, who on Friday added Busan to the list of tracks he’s ridden a winner at. He’ll ride Gaon Force, who was 3rd in the Sports Seoul.
Here’s the horse-by-horse guide:
- HANEULEUL DALRIDA – Won well in a good time over 1700M last start in February. It was at class 5 though so this is a considerable step up and he carries more weight. Has run best from the front and will try and lead.
- YEONGSEONGFIGHTING – Beaten by promising filly Nakita on debut and has won both starts since at 1300M and 1600M. Made all last time at this distance, has a top jockey on and while not among the favourites, not totally without a chance.
- GABO DAY – Won three in a row at 1300M but only managed 7th when well supported in Gyeongnam Sinmun having been difficult to load. Distance a question at this stage but trialled well last week.
- GAON FORCE – Class 5 winner at 1700M in February though we can probably draw a line through his superfast 4th over the same distance in March on a soaking wet track. Close at hand 3rd in the Sports Seoul and jockey a plus. Front-runner. Not impossible.
- JOY OF LUCK – Unexposed in terms of distance and weight. 2nd over 1200M at class 4 last time. Front runner so will be looking for a fast start. Won’t be among favourites although Jockey has won this race twice.
- LION SUN – 3rd in the Gimhae Mayor’s Cup in October and beat the promising Seobu Cat last start at 1000M. Distance a real question at this stage though. Likely to be on pace.
- PRECEDE – A very good class 4 winner at this distance on March 1st, his second score at a mile. Big race jockey on and has proven versatile in winning both from the front and from behind though likely to let others go forward here. Big chance and possible favourite.
- GLITTER – Avoided both Breeders’ Cup and Gyeongnam Shinmun but is one of the furthest along with a class 4 win at a mile and 3rd place over 1800M at class 3. From the top stable and has to be taken seriously. Stablemate of Precede. Will settle just off the pace
- GOOD DANCER – Strong run for 3rd in the Gyeongnam Sinmun where he showed some resilience to fight back after being headed. Well back behind Doctor Thunder at this distance in February but looks to have progressed since. Interesting outsider.
- GLOBAL CHUKJE – A winner of four from five and 3rd in the other, he’s the only class 3 winner in the field having struck at that level over 1700M on March 2nd. Big chance to take this race for Seoul. Settles midfield.
- YEONGGWANGUI FIGHT – Well back in the Breeders’ Cup and 5th in the Gyeongnam Shinmun but style may suit this extended trip. Nevertheless, plenty to find if he is to overturn the form.
- MYEONGPUM CHUKJE – Finished 4th in the Sports Seoul, three-lengths behind the winner but previously won very well over 1700M at class 4. Distance today should suit and although he may need even further, he is a contender.
- DAE WAN MA – Runner-up in the Breeders’ Cup, she had a hard time at 1700M in January but won a hard-fought Sports Seoul last month at 1400M. Distance and draw are questions marks, but she has a real chance.
- DOCTOR THUNDER – Since finishing 3rd on debut, he’s won four in a row including last start at a mile. Drawn wide but doesn’t need to lead. In form jockey and if he gets a nice spot after the break, could well be the one to beat.
- YEONGSEONG ACE – Class 4 winner over 1300M last start but will have to find plenty here. Came from well off the pace that day so likely to go back here and try and mop up the pieces late on.
- WONDERFUL FLY – Just beaten a head in the Sports Seoul Cup in what was his first race since last July and his first defeat. Unexposed and a wildcard. Widest draw not ideal but he ran on well last time and could be a player.
VERDICT: It’s a great looking race with a full field and any number of winners. The Kim Young Kwan pair of (7) PRECEDE and (8) GLITTER look formidable but there are enough doubts about both to make it possible to elsewhere. We’ll go with (14) DOCTOR THUNDER to come through with a late run to score under Franco Da Silva though. Expect very solid runs too from the Seoul challengers (10) GLOBAL CHUKJE, (12) MYEONGPUM CHUKJE and (4) GAON FORCE. Sports Seoul winner (13) DAE WAN MA surely comes into play as well.
Selections: (14) Doctor Thunder (7) Precede (10) GLobal Chukje (12) Myeongpum Chukje
Next Best: 4, 8, 13, 16, 9
Fast Start: 1, 4, 5, 6
Closers: 11, 14, 15