TRIPLE CROWN 1st LEG: KRA CUP MILE – RUNNER-BY-RUNNER PREVIEW

It’s just four months since the delayed 2021 series was completed, but the Triple Crown season is back in Korea this weekend with the KRA Cup Mile – the Korean 2000 Guineas – being run at Busan on Sunday.

Complete Value was Champion Juvenile of 2021 and will be favourite for the KRA Cup Mile (Pic: KRA)

And it’s a thrilling race in prospect with arguably ten of the thirteen runners having legitimate winning claims, and the other three hardly being no-hopers themselves.

Six of the entrants have traveled down from Seoul, including probable favourite Complete Value, last year’s Champion Juvenile. However, it was a Busan filly who won the Luna Stakes (Korean 1000 Guineas) last weekend, and the home side fields a strong line up too.

All races in the Korean Triple Crown Series, which comprises the Cup Mile, the Derby and the Minister’s Cup are restricted to Korean-bred horses. There were two main trial races for the series, the Sports Seoul Trophy, at Seoul, and the Gyeongnam Shinmun Cup at Busan, both run over 1400M.

Sports Seoul Trophy video:

Gyeongnam Shinmun Trophy video:

Here’s a full run down of the field:

1. BEOLMAUI STAR [To Honor And Serve – Gaya Gongju (War Zone)] – The wildcard of the field. He won his first two starts with dismissive ease before running 3rd on his third appearance at 1400M, leading most of the way but weakening. That was in January, and he hasn’t raced since although he did win a fast trial in February. He has a great draw to challenge for the lead and a jockey who knows how to win these races, but the mile is a big question.

2. MAN OF THE YEAR [Federalist – Over Speed (Menifee)] – 5th in the Breeders’ Cup but an impressive winner of the Gyeongnam Shinmun Trophy when he settled on the pace but was wide most of the trip before running away for a big win. He also has a 3rd place at 1800M at class 4 level so the trip should not be an issue. He draws well to be on pace or handy and will be one of the favourites.

3. DOUBLE EDGE [Cowboy Cal – Blade’s Edge (Corinthian)] – A winner of just one of six starts but was runner-up to both Aspen Taeyang in the Nonghyup Trophy and Complete Value in the Breeders’ Cup. Also has a 3rd place over 1700M at class 4 level and ran 5th in the Sports Seoul Trophy. He goes back and runs on and has the fastest final furlong average time in the field. He has to overturn form on a lot of these though and a place line is realistic.

4. ASPEN TAEYANG [With Distinction – Aspen Light (Bernardini)] – A high class galloper with three wins from six including the Nonghyup Trophy. Blew the start of the Breeders’ Cup before running on for 4th and was then 3rd in the Sports Seoul Cup when handy all the way and running on late. First time further than 1400M but that should not be a problem. Moon Se-young aboard will tempt plenty and he will probably start second or third favourite. On pace and in this a long way.

5. COMPLETE VALUE [Girolamo – Ft. Sduction (Ft. Stockton)] – The winner of the Breeders’ Cup to be crowned champion juvenile of last year and unbeaten until his latest start when 2nd in the Sports Seoul Trophy to Seungbusa. He was first-up that day off an eight-week break and raced keenly and a little wide, making up plenty of ground late. Expect progress from that, the mile should suit, and he is hard to hold out here if at his best.

6. CAPTAIN YANKEE [Old Fashioned – Can’t Rezist (Action This Day)] – Won two of his first three but came to light with a solid 2nd in the Gyeongnam Shinmun when after taking a bump at the start, he settled on the pace and was strong in the straight. That was his first run at further than 1300M and he should have derived much benefit. Expect similar tactics here and he could provide some each-way interest at probable big odds.

7. BYEOLUI SUNGAN [Menifee – Free Release (Dixie Union)] – A winner up to 1400M at class 5 level, he ran a solid 4th in the Sports Seoul when from a wide draw, he settled back and then ran on well.  That is perhaps the strategy that will be employed here as well as he does have some speed on his inside, and he can run on well. Not among the top line of favourites but could run into the minor money.

8. WINNER STAR [Concord Point – Jangguneui Huye (Gaeseon Janggun)] – He ran 3rd behind Complete Value and Double Edge in the Breeders’ Cup when coming from well off the pace before stepping up to take two spins around 1800M at class 4 level, finishing 2nd in the first of them and winning the latest when settling handy and running on. He may be more a Derby horse, but he has run a good time when 3rd at this distance too and is a serious contender.

9. BEOMI NARYEO ONDA [Take Charge Indy – To Live Fore (Pass Rush)] – Of the four horses here who have tackled a mile before, he has the fastest time among them, recorded when 2nd to Old Cheonha at class 5 level in January. He does have plenty of form to overturn here though having only beaten one home in the Breeders’ Cup and then 3rd in the Gyeongnam Shinmun when he sat midfield and ran on. Jockey has won this race three times, but a place line seems most realistic.

10. SEUNGBUSA [Mischieviously – T P Mc G (Flatter)] – The form horse of the race, he didn’t run in the Breeders’ Cup but has won his latest three in fine style, including the Sports Seoul when he made all and never looked like being caught. He is a front-runner and while he draws wide, he should have enough speed to get to the front. The mile is going to be the big question though. Will be among the favourites.

11. P N S HAENGBOK [Colors Flying – Haengbok Cheonsa (Menifee)] – Just the one win from five starts so far and that was over 1200M at class 6 level when he sat handy and ran on. He has enterprising owners, and with a spot available, takes his chance. This is going to be a big ask though and he is likely to be the longest shot on the board. He’ll settle midfield or back and see what happens.

12. MONGTTANG [To Honor And Serve – Miss Stravinsky (Stravinsky)] – The sole representative of trainer Kim Young-kwan, who has won the race four times, he blundered in the Breeders’ Cup and finished well back, but was a solid 4th in the Gyeongnam Shinmun. He does have a 3rd place at class 4 level over a mile and a good run is possible, but the jockey/trainer connection may make his local odds shorter than they should be and it is a hard ask from gate twelve.

13. UNJU HERO [Cowboy Cal – Black Ruby (War Zone)] – The only horse in the race to have won at this distance, he did that at his latest start at class 5 level on March 27th when he settled midfield and steadily improved, taking a narrow victory. He is in much better company today though and accordingly will find it much harder. From the wide draw, his best hope is perhaps to drop back and look to run on, but he will need improvement.

Selections: (5) Complete Value (8) Winner Star (2) Man Of The Year (6) Captain Yankee