Korean Triple Crown 2011

In The Pink Soseuldaemun Wins Cup Mile

Toshio Uchida rides Meisei Opera colt to First Leg Of Triple Crown

Soseuldaemun was unstoppable as he outclassed his peers to win the KRA Cup Mile, the first leg of the 2011 Triple Crown, at Busan Race Park this afternoon.

Soseuldaemun and Toshio Uchida win the Cup Mile (Picture: KRA)

Under the Japanese maestro, “Mr Pink” Toshio Uchida, Soseuldaemun was always kept handy and once Uchida shifted him off the rail to find a gap as they rounded the home turn, the pair hit their stride and never looked like being caught.

After the starter kept the field waiting a long time in the gate, it was filly Useung Touch who made the early running. She stayed in front until three furlongs from home when Moon Se Young on pre-race favourite Sun Hero made his move. The Breeders’ Cup winner couldn’t cope with the long, punishing Busan straight, however, and he fell away as Uchida came through on the winner.

Other well-fancied runners, Ophelia and Singgeureounachim never played a significant part in the race, Ophelia running too wide on the final turn to stay in contention. It was left therefore to outsiders Double Light and Mupaeseungni to chase home Soseuldaemun, just a nose separating the Seoul pair in second and third.

Uchida wasn’t the only Japanese connection to the winner. Soseuldaemun is by Japanese-bred sire Meisei Opera (Grand Opera), who was imported to Korea in 2006. Soseuldaemun heads his first crop of sires to reach three years of age. Another sire whose first crop were making their Triple Crown bow was Menifee and despite being represented by five of the fourteen starters today, none could pull off the win. However, Double Light’s second place keeps him on course for a tilt at Champion Sire honours.

Soseuldaemun provides yet another triumph for Busan over Seoul; the Gyeongnam track now leads 11-2 in three-year old Classic encounters. The winner will lead Busan’s contingent to the capital for the Korean Derby next month as the only contender to pull off a clean sweep of the Triple Crown.

Hopefully he’ll be partnered by the remarkable Toshio Uchida. It would be no exaggeration to say that Mr Pink is the most popular Japanese man in Korea (at least among those Koreans who’ve heard of him) and the victory today took him to 99 Korean winners from just over 500 rides. History does war us though that two years ago, Eiki Nishimura rode Sangseung Ilro to KRA Cup Mile glory but was denied the opportunity to partner her in the Derby. Surely the same won’t happen to Uchida.

Today is not for politics though. Today is to celebrate Soseuldaemun who through his performance becomes – at least for the next month – the standard-bearer for his generation.

KRA Cup Mile (KOR G.II) – Busan Race Park – 1600M – Apr 3, 2011

1. Soseuldaemun (KOR) [Meisei Opera – This Ole Way (Vigors)] – Toshio Uchida – 7.2, 2.3
2. Double Light (KOR) [Menifee – Iruda (Glorify)] – Cho Kyoung Ho – 4.0
3. Mupaeseungni (KOR) [Ingrandire – Dangdae Eutteum (Pro For Sure)] – Jung Ki Yong – 8.3

Distances: 2 lengths/Nose
Also Ran: 4. Cheonji Horyeong 5. Usueng Touch 6. Haengunui Mannam 7. Singgeureounachim 8. Sun Hero (3.3 Favourite) 9. Ophelia 10. Sun Blaze 11. 12. Daesang Yegam 13. Flower 14. Reigns Cat

Winning Owner: Kim Won Ku
Winning Trainer: Kang Hyoung Gon
Winning Breeder: Kim Chong Sik

From the infield: The real action was elsewhere - Seoul Racecourse April 3, 2011

Sun Hero Heads Open KRA Cup Mile

Any one of fourteen can claim first leg of 2011 Triple Crown Series

It’s here. The first leg of the 2011 Korean Triple Crown Challenge Series is at Busan Race Park this Sunday afternoonas fourteen of the nation’s best three year olds go to post for the Korean 2000 Guineas – the KRA Cup Mile.

And it’s a very open contest. Seoul supplies eight of the entrants including Breeders’ Cup winner and Champion Juvenile of 2010 Sun Hero and the colt is one of five by the sire Menifee among the field. He has a great chance, as does filly Useung Touch, a shock third in the Breeders’ Cup last November but unbeaten since, albeit it at distances less than the mile she’ll have to travel tomorrow.

That distance won’t be a problem for Singgerounachim. A relatively latecomer to the Triple Crown trail, the colt stunned the much-hyped Ophelia in a race at Seoul in late February to put himself right in contention for big honours. Meanwhile the grey Ophelia will be looking to restore his reputation by taking victory in what seems the hardest to call Classic race in Korea for quite some time.

There will be support for the Toshio Uchida ridden Soseuldaemun while Vicar colt Beongaegangho can’t be overlooked. The big race is underway at Busan at 16:15, the highlight of a six race card, and will be beamed back live to Seoul Race Park where there are eleven live races. It’s going to be a beautiful day and whatever happens, drama is assured on one of the biggest days on the Korean racing calendar.

Here’s another look at the full list of runners and riders:

KRA Cup Mile (KOR G.II) – Busan Race Park – 1600M – Apr 3, 2011 – 16:15

1. Soseuldaemun (KOR) [Meisei Opera – This Ole Way (Vigors)] (9/2/3/1) – Busan – Toshio Uchida
2. Mupaeseungni (KOR) [Ingrandire – Dangdae Eutteum (Pro For Sure)] (4/3/0/0) – Seoul – Jung Ki Yong
3. 9. Double Light (KOR) [Menifee – Iruda (Glorify)] (7/3/2/1) – Seoul – Cho Kyoung Ho
4. Haengunui Mannam (KOR) [Creek Cat – Clever Lil (Lil’s Lad)] (Filly) (5/2/3/0) – Busan – Hitomi Miyashita
5.Useung Touch (KOR) [Menifee – Jenny Tudor (Gulch)] (Filly) (5/3/1/1) – Busan – Choi Si Dae
6. Daeseung Yegam (KOR) [Silent Warrior – Tolp’ung-Yegam (Land Rush)] (9/3/1/1) – Busan – Jo Chang Wook
7. Beongaegangho (KOR) [Vicar – Carson City Dancer (Carson City)] (7/2/2/1) – Seoul – Choi Bum Hyun
8. Reigns Cat (KOR) [Creek Cat – Eternal Reigns (Eternal Orange)] (7/2/2/0) – Seoul – Park Eul Woon
9. Cheonji Horyeong (KOR) [Buster’s Daydream – Sorority Jazz (Dixieland Band)] (7/2/2/1) – Busan – Chae Gyu Jun
10. Ophelia (KOR) [Commendable – Miss Personality (El Prado)] (5/2/3/0) – Seoul – Moon Jung Kyun
11. Sun Hero (KOR) [Menifee – Strategic Reward (Bold Revenue)] (8/4/2/1) – Seoul – Moon Se Young
12. Sun Blaze (KOR) [Menifee – Claudia’s Secret (Crafty Prospector)] (6/2/3/0) – Seoul – Park Tae Jong
13. Flower (KOR) [Menifee – Fancy Cheeks (Jade Robbery)] (Filly) (6/2/2/1) – Busan – Kim Myoung Sin
14. Singgeureounachim (KOR) [Exploit – Singgeureoun (Mr. Adorable)] (7/2/1/2) – Seoul – Jo In Kwen

Weekend Preview: Invasion!

Seoul Sends Eight For KRA Cup Mile Assault

It’s Triple Crown time. Final declarations have been made for the season’s first classic, the KRA Cup Mile – also known as “the Korean 2000 Guineas”, which will be run at Busan Race Park this coming Sunday. And there will be a big contingent from the capital in Busan this weekend with eight of the fourteen starters for the Cup Mile travelling down from Seoul for the event.

See below for a full list of runners and riders, but first up here’s what’s happening when and where on the first weekend in April:

Friday April 1

Busan Race Park: 9 races from 12:00 to 18:00
Jeju Race Park: 9 races from 13:30 to 17:30

Saturday April 2

Seoul Race Park: 11 races from 11:10 to 17:30
Jeju Race Park: 9 races from 12:30 to 17:20

Sunday April 3

Seoul Race Park: 11 races from 11:10 to 18:10
Busan Race Park: 6 races from 12:30 to 17:10

The KRA Cup Mile is at Busan 16:15 on Sunday afternoon and will be simulcasted live back to Seoul Race Park. Eight jockeys will also travel down from the capital to partner the Seoul-based horses which means that while some of Busan’s biggest names such as Jo Sung Gon and You Hyun Myung are without a ride, the Seoul weighing room will be rather quiet place on Sunday.

Among the six Busan jockeys who do have a ride in the big race are Japanese pair Toshio Uchida and Hitomi Miyashita. They will be bidding to emulate Australian Garry Baker, who won the Cup Mile in 2007 – albeit before the race became part of the Triple Crown series.

Well have a final run-down of the field on Saturday evening but in the meantime, here is the full list of runners with pedigrees, race records, home track and rider:

KRA Cup Mile (KOR G.II) – Busan Race Park – 1600M – Apr 3, 2011 – 16:15

1. Soseuldaemun (KOR) [Meisei Opera – This Ole Way (Vigors)] (9/2/3/1) – Busan – Toshio Uchida
2. Mupaeseungni (KOR) [Ingrandire – Dangdae Eutteum (Pro For Sure)] (4/3/0/0) – Seoul – Jung Ki Yong
3. 9. Double Light (KOR) [Menifee – Iruda (Glorify)] (7/3/2/1) – Seoul – Cho Kyoung Ho
4. Haengunui Mannam (KOR) [Creek Cat – Clever Lil (Lil’s Lad)] (Filly) (5/2/3/0) – Busan – Hitomi Miyashita
5.Useung Touch (KOR) [Menifee – Jenny Tudor (Gulch)] (Filly) (5/3/1/1) – Busan – Choi Si Dae
6. Daeseung Yegam (KOR) [Silent Warrior – Tolp’ung-Yegam (Land Rush)] (9/3/1/1) – Busan – Jo Chang Wook
7. Beongaegangho (KOR) [Vicar – Carson City Dancer (Carson City)] (7/2/2/1) – Seoul – Choi Bum Hyun
8. Reigns Cat (KOR) [Creek Cat – Eternal Reigns (Eternal Orange)] (7/2/2/0) – Seoul – Park Eul Woon
9. Cheonji Horyeong (KOR) [Buster’s Daydream – Sorority Jazz (Dixieland Band)] (7/2/2/1) – Busan – Chae Gyu Jun
10. Ophelia (KOR) [Commendable – Miss Personality (El Prado)] (5/2/3/0) – Seoul – Moon Jung Kyun
11. Sun Hero (KOR) [Menifee – Strategic Reward (Bold Revenue)] (8/4/2/1) – Seoul – Moon Se Young
12. Sun Blaze (KOR) [Menifee – Claudia’s Secret (Crafty Prospector)] (6/2/3/0) – Seoul – Park Tae Jong
13. Flower (KOR) [Menifee – Fancy Cheeks (Jade Robbery)] (Filly) (6/2/2/1) – Busan – Kim Myoung Sin
14. Singgeureounachim (KOR) [Exploit – Singgeureoun (Mr. Adorable)] (7/2/1/2) – Seoul – Jo In Kwen

A Tale Of Two Classic Cities

Will Busan Continue Its Triple Crown Domination?

When the final line-up for Sunday’s KRA Cup Mile is declared on Wednesday afternoon, there is likely to be a roughly equal number of horses from both Seoul and Busan taking part. While Seoul has the better known names, if performances in recent years are anything to go by, the ultimate winner is likely to hail from the Southern city.

Busan's Cheonnyeon Daero wins the 2010 Derby (Pic: Ross Holburt)

While Seoul Race Park is the undoubted headquarters of Korean horse racing, since Busan horses started competing in the three-year old Classic races in 2008, the capital’s horsemen have found themselves consistently losing out to those of the newer track down South. Of the nine colt Classics run in the past three years, Busan horses have won eight of them. They’ve also won two out of the past three runnings of the Korean Oaks.

So is it just chance or is Busan really doing something better than Seoul? Those with experience of both praise the set-up at Busan as being more conducive to the development of racing. In the capital – as has been mentioned ad-nauseum on this blog before – vested interests; the various unions and horsemen’s associations, really do run the show. There is little incentive to change the status-quo as it’s served them very well. Until that is, their biggest prizes of the year started disappearing down the Gyeongbu Expressway.

Busan's Double Classic winning filly Sangseung Ilro (Pic: KRA)

The unions have had less power at Busan and so – the theory goes – there has been more focus on delivering quality on the track. This is most visible in the success that foreign jockeys have had at Busan compared to Seoul. In Busan, talented jockeys will get rides, regardless of where they are from. Frankie Dettori would struggle to get a ride at Seoul.

It is absolutely proper that there are limits on the numbers of foreign jockeys granted licenses but the presence of talented ones can only be beneficial to local riders. Toshio Uchida may be “taking their money” now, but the likes of Jo Sung Gon and Park Geum Man are surely benefiting from riding alongside him; indeed both are now Classic winning jockeys.

It’s not only jockeys but also trainers. Busan has two foreign trainers – and more reportedly on the way – with Peter Wolsley now helming one of the track’s most successful barns. He’s not won a classic but again, could it be that the competition is raising the all around standard?

On a more practical level, another theory is simply that regularly training on the challenging Busan track produces better horses. Busan has a punishing uphill back-straight, a long sweeping level turn, and then a two and a half furlong stretch. Seoul meanwhile has a reasonably flat back-straight and a steep descent around the turn into the two-furlong home-straight. It’s plausible and is frequently mentioned in the Korean racing media. Or it could just play into the stereotype that eveyone from the capital – both man and beast – is well…a bit soft.

Busan's Dangdae Bulpae and Jo Sung Gon win the Minister's Cup

There is an anomaly though. Imported horses who are based at Seoul have, in the few races in which they have taken on their Busan counterparts, generally come out on top. Bulpae Gisang and Tough Win have won the last two editions of the Busan Metropolitan while Dongbanui Gangja claimed the first Grand Prix to which Busan horses were also invited. Of course, Busan’s Mister Park put an end to that by winning the 2010 Grand Prix but even so, it is worth asking whether Busan owners are just choosing better lots at the yearling and two-year old sales.

They’re certainly spending more money. At the recent March two-year old sales on Jeju Island, Busan buyers were responsible for the three most expensive lots: a filly by Menifee and colts by Forest Camp and El Corredor. If all goes to plan, they’ll be making their track debuts this coming autumn. By which time this could of course, all be forgotten about. Horses from the capital filled the top to places in the Breeders’ Cup – the nation’s top two-year old race, last November. Maybe this will be the year that Seoul strikes back.

Here is a list of the classic winners since Seoul and Busan started competing in 2008:

2010
KRA Cup Mile: Money Car (Newsprint) – Seoul
Korean Derby: Cheonnyeon Daero (Creek Cat) – Busan
Korean Oaks: Euro Fighter (Archer City Slew) – Seoul
Minister’s Cup: Dangdae Bulpae (Biwa Shinseiki) – Busan

2009
KRA Cup Mile: Sanseung Ilro (Concept Win) – Busan
Korean Derby: Sangseung Ilro (Concept Win) – Busan
Korean Oaks: Pangpang (Revere) – Busan
Minister’s Cup: Namdo Jeap (Ft. Stockton) – Busan

2008
KRA Cup Mile: Rainmaker (Revere) – Busan
Korean Derby: Ebony Storm (Buster’s Daydream) – Busan
Korean Oaks: Jeolho Chance (Didyme) – Busan
Minister’s Cup: Gaeseon Janggun (Duality) – Busan

Triple Crown 2011: First Look at KRA Cup Mile Line Up

Sixteen Remain in “Korean Guineas”

It’s almost upon us. The 2011 Korean Triple Crown Challenge Series gets underway this coming Sunday, April 3 with the KRA Cup Mile – The Korean 2000 Guineas – at Busan Race Park.

So far sixteen horses are entered; at least two will be eliminated before the day and therefore if there is going to be a Triple Crown winner, it’s going to be one of these. Both Seoul and Busan have eight entries each. Five of the host track’s representatives are fillies while all of those from Seoul are colts.

Breeders' Cup winner Sun Hero is one of 5 horses by Menifee entered for the Cup Mile

Menifee was both leading first-crop sire and Champion two-year old sire in 2010 and he has five entrants, all with serious claims. Filly Useung Touch finished in a surprise third place in the Breeders’ Cup last year and the filly has brought her good form over to 2011. Meanwhile, Breeders’ Cup winner Sun Hero and stablemate Sun Blaze, along with Double Light will be among those heading the Seoul contingent.

Despite the name, Ophelia's a colt. A handsome one too

There’s been plenty of hype surrounding the grey Ophelia, while Mupaeseungni has the best strike rate in the race with three wins from his four starts. Unusually, there are no unbeaten horses in the race although like Ophelia, the filly Haengunui Mannam, has finished first or second in all of her five starts.

The KRA Cup Mile is a relatively new addition to the Korean racing calendar. It was first run in its current form – for Korean bred three-year olds – in 2008, which was the first year that the Korean Triple Crown series incorporated horses from the new Busan track. The Series itself has only been started the previous year when J.S. Hold scored a clean sweep of the Ttukseom Cup, Korean Derby and Minister’s Cup. For 2008, the Ttukseom Cup was made age-open and the Cup Mile restricted to three-year olds and thrown open to horses from across the peninsula.

Busan won the 2008 and 2009 editions in the form of Rainmaker and Sangseung Ilro, however, Money Car became the first Seoul based three-year old to win a Classic since 2007 when he took the 2010 renewal. Of those, only Sangseung Ilro went on to win the Korean Derby, two months later and she failed at the final Triple Crown hurdle as Namdo Jeap, second in both the Cup Mile and the Derby that year, finally came out on top in the Minister’s Cup in Seoul in October.

Winning the Triple Crown is tough – there are six months between the Cup Mile and the Minister’s Cup and there may be later developing horses, such as Dangdae Bulpae last year, who get better as the season progresses and overtake those who were on top in April. Sangseung Ilro’s fragile shins didn’t hold up for the whole year, while poor old Money Car only ran once more after being caught in the final strides of the Derby.

It’s a long time until October but if we’re to have a Triple Crown winner in 2011, it will be one of one of these sixteen (Name/Pedigree/Race Records/Home Track):

1. Cheonji Horyeong (KOR) [Buster’s Daydream – Sorority Jazz (Dixieland Band)] (7/2/2/1) – Busan
2. Soseuldaemun (KOR) [Meisei Opera – This Ole Way (Vigors)] (9/2/3/1) – Busan
3. Daeseung Yegam (KOR) [Silent Warrior – Tolp’ung-Yegam (Land Rush)] (9/3/1/1) – Busan
4. Dallija (KOR) [Adcat – Great Lakes (Meadowlake)] (Filly) (7/3/1/0) – Busan
5. Shamash (KOR) [Al Naba – Jayeon Juui (Road Of War)] (Filly) (8/2/2/0) – Busan
6. Flower (KOR) [Menifee – Fancy Cheeks (Jade Robbery)] (Filly) (6/2/2/1) – Busan
7. Useung Touch (KOR) [Menifee – Jenny Tudor (Gulch)] (Filly) (5/3/1/1) – Busan
8. Haengunui Mannam (KOR) [Creek Cat – Clever Lil (Lil’s Lad)] (Filly) (5/2/3/0) – Busan
9. Double Light (KOR) [Menifee – Iruda (Glorify)] (7/3/2/1) – Seoul
10. Beongaegangho (KOR) [Vicar – Carson City Dancer (Carson City)] (7/2/2/1) – Seoul
11. Reigns Cat (KOR) [Creek Cat – Eternal Reigns (Eternal Orange)] (7/2/2/0) – Seoul
12. Singgeureounachim (KOR) [Exploit – Singgeureoun (Mr. Adorable)] (7/2/1/2) – Seoul
13. Ophelia (KOR) [Commendable – Miss Personality (El Prado)] (5/2/3/0) – Seoul
14. Sun Blaze (KOR) [Menifee – Claudia’s Secret (Crafty Prospector)] (6/2/3/0) – Seoul
15. Sun Hero (KOR) [Menifee – Strategic Reward (Bold Revenue)] (8/4/2/1) – Seoul
16. Mupaeseungni (KOR) [Ingrandire – Dangdae Eutteum (Pro For Sure)] (4/3/0/0) – Seoul

*Here is Money Car’s 2010 victory: