The race to become Champion Juvenile took a big step towards its big decider in the Korean Breeders’ Cup in December as Yeongwanguilegend backed up his Areumdaun Jilju Stakes win by claiming the Gimhae Mayor’s Cup at Busan on Sunday afternoon. Half an hour later, Aspen Taeyang announced his arrival on the two-year-old scene with a hard-fought victory in Seoul’s NACF Chairman’s Trophy.
Yeonggwanguilegend was the only runner who participated in the Areumdaun on October 3rd to take his place in the Gimhae Mayor’s starting gate and therefore the only one to compete in all three of Busan’s prep races for the Breeder’s Cup, having also run in September’s Rookie Stakes. Several who ran in that race did return, but it was Yeonggwanguilegend who was sent off as the favourite.
Djordje Perovic, who rode Yeonggwanguilegend in the Areumdaun, got on to Man Of The Year, so Franco Da Silva climbed aboard the favourite and immediately had Yeonggwanguilegend sit handy to the lead being set by Juvenile Series newcomer Doctor Caesar and the filly Adele Rosario, 2nd in the Busan Rookie Stakes.
Having set a punishing early pace, Doctor Caesar led until the middle of the straight when, with Adele Roasrio already done, Yeonggwanguilegend took command and Da Silva’s mount had enough in reserve to see off the late challenge of Perovic and Man Of The Year, the margin of victory just under a length on the line.
Yeonggwanguilegend [Concord Point-Perfect Scip (Scipion)] moves on to three wins from five starts and will head to the Breeders’ Cup race among the top line of favourites. For Franco Da Silva, who is closing in on 250 Korean winners and won the Korean Derby in 2018 on Ecton Blade, it was a welcome return to the big race winner’s circle. With the Breeders’ Cup being run at 1400M though, Perovic, who won the Derby last year on Save The World, may be thinking his and Man Of The Year’s day is yet to come.
Seoul’s third prep race for the Breeders’ Cup race saw Aspen Taeyang, who participated in neither the capital track’s Rookie Stakes nor Munhwa Ilbo Cup but arrived a perfect two for two, maintain his unbeaten start to his career.
With Rookie Stakes and Munhwa Ilbo winner Complete Value absent, Aspen Taeyang was sent off as hot favourite in a small field of eight in the NACF Chairman’s Trophy. He was made to work hard though as Seungbusa, 3rd in the Rookie Stakes, got onto Aspen Taeyang’s shoulder and struck the front for a time from a furlong and a half out.
With just 100M to go, Moon Se Young roused another effort out of Aspen Taeyang, who retook the lead and then held off the late challenge of the fast-finishing Double Edge, the first three crossing the line with just half a length between them.
Aspen Taeyang [With Distinction – Aspen Light (Bernardini)] now has three wins from three starts, making him, along with Complete Value, who hasn’t been in work since his Munhwa Ilbo win one of only two of the leading juveniles to remain unbeaten.
The Korean Breeders’ Cup race to determine champion juvenile will take place over seven furlongs at Busan Racecourse on Sunday December 5th. Next weekend, attention shifts back to the three-year-old division with the Korean Derby, the second leg of the 2021 Korea Triple Crown, at Seoul on Sunday afternoon with Heat Yegam, the impressive KRA Cup Mile winner, set to be the favourite.