The top five placegetters from the first jewel in the Crown, the KRA Cup Mile at Busan a month ago, all return including Heat Yegam, the all the way winner of what was by some margin, the fastest Cup Mile on record.
Heat Yegam has drawn barrier five and will be hot favourite to score again but Heungbaragi, Chief Indy, Mr. Indie and Winner’s Man all return in a bid to prevent the Take Charge Indy colt from going one step closer to emulating Power Blade and sweeping the Triple Crown. Local racing media in Korea is confident they won’t, with twelve out of fifteen racing publications placing Heat Yegam on top.
Moon Hyung-chul, representing trainer Bang Dong-suk, said after the barrier draw on Thursday that Heat Yegam is ready. “It’s his first time traveling to another track to race but he’s adapted well, he works well, and we don’t need to do very much with him. (The Derby) is an extra furlong but that shouldn’t be a problem for him.”
Heungbaragi put in a huge race in the Cup Mile, overcoming barrier fifteen to run on strongly. Trainer Lee Joon-chel, who actually rode him in his first few races before taking up his trainer’s license this summer, laughed wryly when he drew the widest gate. “My foreman says he is in as good a shape as he has seen him. When he won at 1800M he led all the way and that won’t be easy to do but there are many ways to win a race and we will just have to see what happens on Sunday. I’m looking forward to it.”
Lee certainly knows about winning. In just forty-two starts since getting his license, he has already sent out eight winners.
Winner’s Man was sent off as second-favourite in the Cup Mile and tried matching Heat Yegam for speed early on, only to end up weakening for 5th. The Musket Man colt has though raced and won twice at the Derby distance of 1800M, whereas Heat Yegam goes further for a mile for the first time.
Kim Ji-min, representing trainer Choi Ki-hong, reckoned punters didn’t see the best of Winner’s Man at the KRA Cup Mile. “He has done well at 1800M before and while Heat Yegam was very good in the Cup Mile, I think Winner’s Man is going well now and we are looking forward to it. As for rivals: “Obviously Heat Yegam and Heungbaragi are very strong, but I was very impressed with Chief Indy at the Cup Mile, especially as he was first-up after a layoff; 3rd place was a really strong performance.”
The Korean Derby will be run over 1800M and is race 8 on Seoul’s Sunday card with a post time of 17:05 KST. Here is a full run-down of the field.
1. MR. INDIE [Indie Band – Candace Gold (Seeking The Gold)] – A winner of three from six including over this distance at class 4 level. In the KRA Cup Mile, he was ridden hard early to get a position settling on the fence in midfield. He stayed on the rails saving ground, into the straight and kept fighting in the straight to maintain a clear 4th in a strong run. The Wolsley stable is in fine form, Seo Seung-un stays aboard, and he can go close.
It’s Korean Derby day at last! The latest Derby in history goes to post at Seoul Racecourse on Sunday afternoon with race fans in attendance (attendance must be pre-booked using the My Card app – there is no walk-up admission). Heat Yegam won the KRA Cup Mile, the first leg of the Triple Crown, at Busan last month, and will be favourite again. A full horse-by-horse preview of the Derby will be up soon but in the meantime, here is the full race by race preview of the 10-race card at Seoul (10:45 to 18:00) and at Busan (7 races from 11:10 to 16:40):
Seoul Race 1: Class 6 (1000M) Allowance / KRW 60 Million
The juvenile maidens get us underway with five of the eleven racing for the first time. And it’s one of those debut-makers who is set to be favourite. (1) PINE FARM first trialed up in May in good style but didn’t make it to the track that time around. He requalified in mid-October, running fast time behind Moonhak Chief and from a good gate should be on pace from the start and can lead all the way. The big danger has some experience. That’s (7) RAON THE ARIA, who was anonymous in her trial but debuted well with a strong 4th p lace at this distance on October 2nd when she sat handy all the way. She won’t need to improve much to be right in this. (10) NO SMALL SUN was a decent 4th on what was her second start on October 10th and if she can continue to make progress here can go close. Returning to the debut-makers, (4) NAMSAN HORANGI impressed when winning an October trial in a fair time and has every chance of going well first-up. (2) P N S LIN didn’t do much wrong in his heat and has an outside chance of sneaking into the money.
(1) Pine Farm (7) Raon The Aria (10) No Small Sun (4) Namsan Horangi
1, 7, 8, 10
Busan Race 1: Class 6 (1000M) Allowance / KRW 60 Million
Maiden juveniles start the card at Busan with seven of the twelve racing for the very first time. There is some ability among the experienced ones though, so we will side with (5) MAHAMERU, who after an encouraging trial, ran 6th on debut in September in a fast time on an admittedly wet track. He should have come on for that run and Perovic climbing aboard is a plus. (6) GREAT CHEONGHO was a good 4th on debut just two weeks ago when prominent throughout. It was a fair time on a dry track, and he can go closer today. (7) KING SATURDAY is perhaps the standout of the first timers. While indifferent in his mandatory trial in September, he was sent through a voluntary one just last week and significantly improved, posting a fast time and leading for much of the way. So long as he didn’t leave his race there, he can go well. (3) PLAY THE INDY didn’t do much wrong in what was a slow trial and could also play a part. The wildcard is (12) ANASTASIA, who raced twice uncompetitively in summer but recently went through two trials, winning the latter.
(5) Mahameru (6) Great Cheongho (7) King Saturday (3) Play The Indy
1, 5, 7, 12
Seoul Race 2: Class 6 (1200M) Allowance / KRW 25 Million
A big field of maiden fillies and plenty look to have the potential to make the breakthrough. (14) GOLD KAISER is going to need to navigate her way from the widest gate, but if she can do that then she looks to have solid claims. Having won a September trial, she ran 3rd on debut over this distance in a fair time, having been handy early. If the draw is a concern, then (5) RUBY CAT is the one to be on. She has improved across three starts so far, culminating in 4th place last time out over 1300M. She can sit just off the pace here and it could be her day. (12) V QUEEN came home 5th in the same race in what was an uptick in form. She has a good finish on her so the draw shouldn’t be a problem and she can get even closer today. (3) SMART HIGH and (1) FLYING BARBIE are among others with placing potential.
(14) Gold Kaiser (5) Ruby Cat (12) V Queen (3) Smart High
2, 3, 8, 14
Busan Race 2: Class 6 (1400M) Allowance / KRW 25 Million
Fillies (and one mare) only here. (7) ANNIKA GIRL stepped up to this distance at her latest start and ran a fair 5th place in a reasonable time in what was a tougher race than this. She sat handy that day and ran on and in this company, has every chance of breaking through. (1) DARI TTEUNI is the only one to have won a race and then alone brings her into contention. The victory was in May, and she hasn’t looked like repeating, however, she did beat a couple of these on her way to 6th place over 1300M two starts back. (12) WORLD FLOWER stepped up to this distance on October 8th and came from off the pace to run a useful 6th place in a fair time and a repeat of that run would be competitive here. (14) BAEK SEOL QUEEN was disappointing at her latest start in August but had previously registered some decent efforts. She trialed up a couple of weeks ago looking well and may have benefitted from the twelve weeks off. (8) USEUNG GANGJA is another in the placing frame.
(7) Annika Girl (1) Dari Tteuni (12) World Flower (14) Baek Seol Queen
1, 2, 4, 7
Seoul Race 3: Class 6 (1300M) Allowance / KRW 25 Million
Another big field and a competitive race. (9) ROAD ACE has been working towards a win with steady improvement over his three starts so far, all of them at 1000M and culminating in a 2nd place last time out in a good time. He steps up in trip for the first time but should be on pace and can win. The presence of Moon Se Young aboard (5) KOREA GIJEOK may make the Hansen gelding favourite. He’s scoreless following fifteen attempts but enters in good form with a 2nd and a 4th from his latest two appearances, both at today’s distance and coming from off the pace. He can go close again. (6) DOUBLE TAKE too comes in with recent form reading positively. She comes in off a last start 4th when settling midfield at this trip and Munro stays aboard today. (3) GEOSEN DOLPUNG steps up to this trip for the first time. He was an on-pace 3rd in a fair time over 1200M on his last outing in September and will be expected to show the way again here. (11) POSA POSA perhaps the best of the rest.
(9) Road Ace (5) Korea Gijeok (6) Double Take (3) Geosen Dolpung
3, 8, 9, 13
Busan Race 3: Class 6 (1200M) Allowance / KRW 25 Million
(7) VICTOR BASIUM is an intriguing entry here. He has only raced once, back in May, but he raced well, finishing in 4th place in a respectable time over the five furlongs. He trialed up smartly two weeks ago and in shallow waters here, has good claims first-up. (9) WONDERFUL REALTY comes out on top in plenty of indicators in this race. He the fastest finish on him as well as the fastest time at this distance. He comes in off a good class and distance 3rd place on October 1st and while the draw isn’t the best, he should be going close. (6) RAPIDO QUEEN has led both her latest starts at 1300M and 1400M before finishing back in the pack. The slight drop back in trip may be in her favour here and she should enter the calculations. (5) HAEUNDAE BLUE and (12) MYEONGSEONG CHARGE among others in the placing hunt.
(7) Victor Basium (9) Wonderful Realty (6) Rapido Queen (5) Haeundae Blue
1, 5, 7, 12
Seoul Race 4: Class 5 (1400M) Handicap / KRW 40 Million
(2) JANGSAN LASER returned to make his second start a full nine months after his first and it proved successful as he came from midfield to score over 1200M on October 3rd. As a result, he comes up in class but neither that, nor the step up in trip should be a problem and he can make it two in a row here. The main danger is (5) BEOLMAL DAEJANG. He comes in having posted two excellent times at this distance in his latest two outings, which ended in 4th and a very close 2nd. He comes up slightly in the weights today but has very solid claims. (3) COOL PRINCESS comes up in class following a win at this distance on October 2nd. She will need to improve on that performance but has drawn very nicely to lead and can measure up. (4) FIGHTING NOW has plenty of class and distance experience and along with (11) GRAY CAT is another with at least placing chances.
Busan Race 4: Class 5 (1600M) Handicap / KRW 40 Million
Small field of fillies here and after a string of near-misses, (7) NEW LUX should be winning. Two starts back she ran 3rd at class and distance in a super time on an admittedly wet track, continuing her consistent run of form. At her latest she was 5th over 1800M. She likes to sit handy or midfield and should have too much for these at the business end of the race. (1) GOLD LUCK comes up to the mile for the first time. She has got caught a bit far back in a couple of her latest starts but from a good draw on the inside this time, coupled with the additional distance to play with, she may push the favourite close. (8) TAMNA HWANGHU came from well off the place for a slashing 4th at class and distance on October 15th. She mixes her form but if she gets up a head of steam in the straight, she can run a few of these down. (4) QUEEN OF HEARTS and (6) GREAT GO are others with money chances.