If there is to be a Korean Triple Crown winner this year, his name will be Global Chukje, the colt running out a dominant winner of the 1st leg, the KRA Cup Mile at Busan on Sunday afternoon.
The Rock Hard Ten Colt, trained at Seoul by Choi Sang-sik, entered the race having won four of his previous five starts and was sent off as the 5/1 co-favourite. Drawn in gate 10, Global Chukje was able to avoid a coming together at the start that disadvantaged a number of those on his inside and, under jockey Yoo Seung-wan, was able to take up a position just off the lead.
When early leader Lion Sun started to weaken on the turn, Global Chukje assumed command and never looked like being caught, running on to win by a full eight lengths on the line. Filly Dae Wan Ma came home in 2nd under Antonio Da Silva and now looks a strong favourite for the Korean Oaks, while betting favourite Precede came home 4th, one place ahead of stablemate Glitter.
Disappointment of the race was Doctor Thunder, who started the race as co second-favourite but after showing towards the front early on, weakened to finish last.
The race time of 1:40.5 was exactly the same as Power Blade’s in 2016 and ranks exactly in the middle of average times for this race. The margin of victory was the biggest since Money Car’s eleven-length romp in 2011. Global Chukje is the first Seoul-trained horse to win the race, since Cheongnyeong Bisang in 2014.
For trainer Choi Sang Sik, it was a second Group win, his first coming in the Seoul Owners’ Cup all the way back in 1995, although he did win the Listed Segye Ilbo Cup for the same owner, Jang Jae-hyeung, with Global Fusion in 2016. For jockey Yoo Seung-wan, it was his first Classic victory, however, as regular rider of the great mare Silver Wolf, he is no stranger to the Graded Stakes winner’s circle.
Global Chukje is by Rock Hard Ten and out of the Forest Camp mare Spin Up. Spin Up did her racing in Korea, winning three of eighteen career starts between 2011 and 2013. She began prodigiously, winning two of her first three but failed to win after the January of her three-year-old season. Her only previous foal, only raced twice.
Of the eleven previous winners since the Cup Mile became the first leg of the Triple Crown in 2008, two of them have gone on to win the Derby, Sangseung Ilro in 2009 and Power Blade on his way to sweeping the Triple Crown in 2016. This year’s Derby is at Seoul Racecourse on May 12th.