Korean Triple Crown 2014

Brilliant Never Seen Before Wins Minister’s Cup For Peter Wolsley

Never Seen Before, a 26/1 outsider, produced the run of his life at Seoul Racecourse this afternoon to win the Minister’s Cup – the final leg of the 2014 Korean Triple Crown – and hand Australian trainer Peter Wolsley the biggest win of his Korean career.

Never Seen Before and Lee Hee Cheon win the Minister's Cup

Never Seen Before and Lee Hee Cheon win the Minister’s Cup

Unsurprisingly, it was the Korean Derby and Oaks winning filly Queen’s Blade who was sent off as the solid favourite for the 10 furlong test, with plenty of support too for fellow Busan raiders Gumpo Sky and Success Story.

It was the latter of these, Success Story who set the early pace under Jo Sung Gon, bounding out of gate 15 and going across to take the lead into the first corner. He would maintain it for much of the race, with Queen’s Blade, under You Hyun Myung for the first time in the absence of regular jockey Kim Yong Geun, in close attendance throughout.

Meanwhile, Never Seen Before sat patiently in the front half of the field with plenty of cover. As they swung for home it looked like Queen’s Blade was ready to strike as Success Story went to the rail. The Derby and Oaks winner though had nothing. Instead, Gumpo Sky and outsider Ganghae came through the middle while Never Seen Before came around to fight out the finish.

By the furlong pole, Success Story and Ganghae had been seen off and it was a straight duel between Gumpo Sky and Never Seen Before, the outsider finally getting in front 50 metres from the finish and pulling away for a half-length win. Ganghae ran on gamely for 3rd with Success Story 4th and Queen’s Blade a further 4-lengths back in 5th.

Never Seen Before moves on to five wins from ten starts. There looks to be more to come too from Gumpo Sky while Ganghae was a revelation in 3rd.

For winning jockey Lee Hee Cheon, it was unquestionably the pinnacle of a tough career to date. Wolsley is far too much of a diplomat to say so but it is likely that Lee was at best 2nd or maybe 3rd choice for the ride after stable jockey Jo Sung Gon opted to go elsewhere and You Hyun Myung got the ride on Queen’s Blade.

Lee, who 8 years since turning professional still has only 92 winners to his name, gave the colt the perfect ride. Those of us – including this blog – who doubted his ability to close out a tight finish when the pressure is on, were emphatically put in our place. He was superb.

As for the trainer, over the years we’ve written plenty about Peter Wolsley. The 51-year-old Aussie arrived in Korea in late 2007 (coincidentally around the same time this blog started) and endured an extremely rough first couple of years at first, taking charge of the “breakdown barn” – the horses no-one else wanted to train.

Slowly but surely, he started getting winners and when there are winners, suddenly there are more owners and more – and better – horses. His stable is now firmly established as second only to the Kim Young Kwan machine in terms of winners. What had been missing until recently were the big ones.

Old favourite Khaosan won Wolsley his first Group race back in September 2011, although it was by virtue of being promoted from 2nd after Cheonnyeon Daero was disqualified. Late last year, Secret Whisper took the Gyeongnam Governor’s Cup by a head to land what would be Wolsley’s biggest victory until today.

In many ways, Wolsley is the exception that proves the rule. It is extremely difficult for foreigners to make a go of things in Korean racing and his achievements standing out so much only emphasize this. But his success is no accident. Seven years of sheer hard work against all odds paid off in full today and he deserves every plaudit.

The bars of Gimhae will need to be fully stocked with Martini Rosso and Coca Cola tonight.

Minister’s Cup (KOR G2) – Seoul Racecourse – 2000M – October 5, 2014

1. Never Seen Before (KOR) [Ecton Park – Gwangyeolhan (Stormin Fever)] – Lee Hee Cheon – 26.0, 4.1
2. Gumpo Sky (KOR) [Vicar – Perfect Storm (Didyme)] – Choi Si Dae – 1.7
3. Ganghae (KOR) [Didyme – Ocelot (Catrail)] – Choi Bum Hyun – 10.4
Distances: 0.5 lengths/2.5 lengths
Also Ran: 4. Success Story 5. Queen’s Blade 6. Ildeung Hanghaesa 7. K Man 8. Jeongsang Bima 9. Wild Rush 10. Cheongnyong Bisang 11. Winner’s Marine 12. Nubi Queen 13. Major Star 14. Super Legend NR. Super Lucky

Queen’s Blade Wraps-Up Derby/Oaks Double With Dominating Busan Win

Queen’s Blade becam the second filly is as many years to complete the Korean Derby and Korean Oaks double with a comfortable win in the fillies’ Classic at Busan on Sunday.

Queen's Blade and Kim Yong Geun win the Korean Oaks (KRA).

Queen’s Blade and Kim Yong Geun win the Korean Oaks (KRA).

Having run – and won – just once since winning the Derby at Seoul in May, Queen’s Blade was sent-off as the long odds-on favourite.

She didn’t disappoint. Close to the front throughout, jockey Kim Young Geun eased Queen’s Blade away from the field in the final straight and they cruised to a 5-length victory.

One of the Seoul raiders, Nubi Queen, grabbed second while Winner’s Marine was a further length back in third.

It’s another Classic winner for Busan training machine Kim Young Kwan, following on from Speedy First, the filly who won last year’s Derby and Oaks. It’s to be hoped that Queen’s Blade doesn’t face the same fate as her predecessor. Speedy First only ran a couple more times and was last seen on the North East coast of the US.

Next on the agenda for Queen’s Blade should be the final leg of the Triple Crown, the Minister’s Cup at Seoul in October.

Korean Oaks (KOR G2) – Busan Racecourse – 1800M – Aug 24, 2014

1. Queen’s Blade (KOR) [Menifee – Harboring (Boston Harbor)] – Kim Yong Geun – 1.3, 1.1
2. Nubi Queen (KOR) [Menifee – Dream Runner (Our Poetic Prince)] – Seo Seung Un – 4.5
3. Winner’s Marine (KOR) [Volponi – Graceful Ballerina (Posse)] – Yang Young Nam – 3.0
Distances: 5 lengths/1 length
Also Ran: 4. Geumbit Hwanhui 5. Jungang Cheonhae 6. Jungang Gongju 7. Ua Deungseon 8. Argo Aseet 9. Secret Garden 10. First One 11. Gamun Yeojanggun 12. Daeryuk Gangja 13. Bravo Life 14. Zenith 15. Ohio Girl NR: Hwanggeumbitjijunghae

Korean Oaks 2014: Queen’s Blade Seeks Derby/Oaks Double – Full Preview

Derby winner Queen’s Blade will head the field in the Korean Oaks at Busan Racecourse this Sunday.

Nothing else in sight. Kim Yong Geun and Queen's Blade win the 2014 Korean Derby (Pic: Ross Holburt)

Nothing else in sight. Kim Yong Geun and Queen’s Blade win the 2014 Korean Derby (Pic: Ross Holburt)

Last year Speedy First landed the Derby/Oaks double and Queen’s Blade, who has run just once since that Classic win – a 12 length stroll – should be the favourite. Here’s a full run down of the runners and riders with pedigrees and race records:

Korea Oaks (KOR GII) – Busan Racecourse – 1800M – Aug 24, 2014 – 18:00

1. First One [Peace Rules – Keep This Cat (Z Z Cat)] (11/3/2/2) – Seong Keong Yun (Busan)
Last when stepping up in class and distance last time out against a challenging field following two consecutive victories. Others are more proven.

2. Nubi Queen [Menifee – Dream Runner (Our Poetic Prince)] (12/4/1/2) – Seo Seung Un (Seoul)
7th in the KRA Cup Mile at Busan in April and 6th in the Seoul Oaks trial. In between that she landed a class 3 victory at this distance to suggest she has potential and Seo Seung Un making the trip to Busan to partner her suggests an outside chance.

3. Jungang Gongju [Menifee – Command And Hope (Commands)] (10/3/3/0) – Choi Si Dae (Busan)
An also-ran in the KRA Cup Mile but has shown steady improvement in two starts since, including a class 3 win at this distance in a reasonably competitive time. Likely to come from just off the pace and could be one to watch in the home straight.

4. Hwanggeumbitjijung [Menifee – Firstclasscat (Catienus)] (8/5/0/1) – Masakazu Tanaka (Busan)
Disappointed in the Gyongnam DoMin Ilbo last time out and hasn’t done anything to suggest that this is her ideal trip. However, she has the fastest recorded final furlong of the whole field and if she stays, she may surprise.

5. Gamun Yeonjanggun [Revere – Wild Triple (Military)] (6/2/1/1) – Kim Do Hyun (Busan)
A bit of an unknown quantity, she’s yet to try further than 1400M. She’s undoubtedly quick though and is not without a chance of sneaking a place.

6. Bravo Life [Peace Rules – Melina’s Fuse (Light The Fuse)] (7/5/0/0) – You Hyun Myung (Busan)
She comes into this race after 5 consecutive wins. The toughest of those was only at class 3 – beating Jungang Gongju by a length. She’ll need to find more to win here but has great potential. Expect her to be looking for the lead early.

7. Secret Garden [Archer City Slew – Powerful Runner (Bertolini)] (12/3/1/1) – Jo Sung Gon (Busan)
Tried her luck against imported horses last month without success. She does have a win at this distance, however, and with Busan’s champion jockey on board, look for her to make a move around the home turn. Whether she’ll be fast enough in the straight is another matter.

8. Ohio Girl [Mupae Gangja – Victor Gypsy (Creek Cat)] (8/1/2/1) – Chae Gyu Jun (Busan)
Korean-bred Sire and Dam means this is the purists’ favourite. Shan’t be the punters’ favourite though. 7 of her 8 starts have been at 5 furlongs and there’s little recommend.

9. Geumbit Hwanhui [Peace Rules – Sincheongchun (Silent Warrior)] (9/4/0/2) – Jang Chuyoul (Seoul)
The winner of the Seoul Oaks Trial by 3-lengths at long odds, she’ll most likely be at reasonably long-odds to repeat. It was a slow time that day and while Geumbit Hwanhui is talented, she may find one or two too quick here.

10. Zenith [Duality – Need More Business (Alzao)] (7/1/0/0) – Lee Gang Seo (Seoul)
Never tried at further than 1300M and hasn’t been especially impressive in the process. Difficult to reccommend here.

11. Daeryuk Gangja [Revere – Rendezvous Bay (Wonderloaf)] (12/0/1/2) – Lee Ah Na (Seoul)
She’s never won in 12 starts to date and that’s unlikely to change here. She’ll find this field very challenging.

12. Queen’s Blade [Menifee – Harboring (Boston Harbor)] (10/6/3/0) – Kim Yong Geun (Busan)
The Derby winner. She’s run once since then, a front-running 12-length win over a mile at class 1 and that was enough to suggest that on form, she’s very difficult to beat here. Physically impressive, she’s a top quality filly.

13. Ua Deungseon [Menifee – Singgereoun (Mr. Adorable)] (6/4/0/0) – Shin Hyung Chul (Seoul)
A 6-length win over this distance at class 3 last time suggests there’s more to come and although she’ll have to go much quicker than she did that day to compete here, she’s not without hope. Could be in with a chance of a place.

14. Argo Asset [Menifee – Honeypit (Fusaichi Pegasus)] (10/4/3/1) – Shinichi Terachi (Seoul)
Sent off as favourite for the Seoul Oaks Trial but finished 4th. She’d already shown she could compete at a higher level. A lot of improvement will be needed here though.

15. Jungang Cheonhae [Creek Cat – Pupil (Unbridled)] 11/3/4/1) – Kim Dong Young (Busan)
Third at this distance in a decent time last month building on some decent results at sprint distances. Was behind Winner’s Marine that day but could go close.

16. Winner’s Marine [Volponi – Graceful Ballerina (Posse)] (9/5/2/0) – Yang Young Nam (Busan)
She won her first 5 races before crashing back to Earth in the KRA Cup Mile. Hasn’t won since but comes into the race off the back of two consecutive 2nd places, including one at this distance suggests that more is to come and she can’t be discounted.

Filly Queen’s Blade Romps to Korean Derby Victory

A Triple Crown may on the cards in the United States but any hope we may have had of getting our own in Korea this year vanished in the Seoul sunshine this afternoon as filly Queen’s Blade crushed all-comers in the Korean Derby.

Kim Yong Geun and Queen's Blade Cross the line as Derby winners (Pic: Ross Holburt)

Kim Yong Geun and Queen’s Blade Cross the line as Derby winners (Pic: Ross Holburt)

Most morning lines had KRA Cup Mile winner Cheongnyeong Bisang down as the likely winner so it was mildly surprising to see punters send Queens Blade, who had finished 5th in that race, off as the slight favourite for this, the 2nd leg of the Triple Crown.

They were very quickly vindicated. Raon Morris, 4th in that Cup Mile in Busan last month, set the pace but Queen’s Blade went right with him. Cheongnyong Bisang tried to close in the home straight but he had too much to do. Queen’s Blade was out of sight.

Queen's Blade in the Derby Winner's Circle (Pic: Ross Holburt)

Queen’s Blade in the Derby Winner’s Circle (Pic: Ross Holburt)

The distance on the line was 10 lengths. It may as well have been 20 such was her superiority today. Jeongsang Bima, a 40/1 outsider, was the only one who did close semi-successfully, coming home 2nd while Raon Morris stayed on for 3rd, one place ahead of Cheongnyong Bisang.

Peter Wolsley’s Jungle Jim managed an unlikely 5th but it was a generally depressing race for the foreign contingent; Darryll Holland the highest finisher among the 5 foreign jockeys in the race, coming 6th on Wild Rush.

Connections get a cake in the VIP room after a Stakes win, trainer Kim Young Kwan is on the right of the picture (Pic: Ross Holburt)

Connections get a cake in the VIP room after a Stakes win, trainer Kim Young Kwan is on the right of the picture (Pic: Ross Holburt)

Queen’s Blade is a half-sister to 2008 Korean Oaks winner Jeolho Chance and was today recording her 5th win from 9 career starts. She looks set to be heavy favourite to follow her big sister in the Oaks in Busan in August.

For jockey Kim Yong Geun, it was just a second Stakes race win and his first Classic. For the remarkable trainer Kim Young Kwan, however, it was a third Korean Derby win. All three of those have been with fillies with today’s win adding to those of Sangseung Ilro in 2009 and Speedy First a year ago.

Another winner's circle pose (Pic: Ross Holburt)

Another winner’s circle pose (Pic: Ross Holburt)

It’s also another classic win for Busan means the southern track leads Seoul by 4 Derby victories to 3 since competition between the two began in 2008.

While Queen’s Blade and the other fillies today have the Oaks to attend to, the rest of the best of the 3-year-old crop won’t reassemble until the final leg of the Triple Crown, the Minister’s Cup at Seoul in October. How many of today’s field make it there is open to debate.

Nothing else in sight. Kim Yong Geun and Queen's Blade win the 2014 Korean Derby (Pic: Ross Holburt)

Nothing else in sight. Kim Yong Geun and Queen’s Blade win the 2014 Korean Derby (Pic: Ross Holburt)

A number of high-profile names didn’t make it into the starting gate today. Gilbert, who placed 2nd in the Cup Mile and the promising Yeonggwanguichampion both suffered injuries after the Cup Mile. Meanwhile Peter Wolsley’s best 3-year-old Never Seen Before failed his barrier trial last week and wasn’t allowed to run.

So dominant was Queen’s Blade today though that it is unlikely any of those three would have come any closer to her than the fourteen she left strung across the track in her wake today. The Queen from Busan, Queen’s Blade is our 2014 Korean Derby Champion.

Korean Derby (KOR G1) – Seoul Race Park – 1800M – May 18, 2014

1. Queen’s Blade (KOR) [Menifee – Harboring (Boston Harbor)] – Kim Yong Geun
2. Jeongsang Bima (KOR) [Forest Camp – Smokegetenyoureyes (Smokester)] – Ham Wan Sik
3. Raon Morris (KOR) [Yankee Victor – Thunder By Night (Thunder Gulch)] – Moon Se Young
Distances: 10 lengths / 0.5 lengths
Also Ran: 4. Cheongnyong Bisang 5. Jungle Jim 6. Wild Rush 7. Royal Impact 8. Namdo Trio 9. Gumpo Sky 10. Gangchi 11. Cupid Girl 12. Clean Up Speed 13. Pureun Geotap 14. Jangsan Horangi 15. Super Rider

K-Triple Crown 2014: Korean Derby 2014 – The Runners & Riders

A field of 15 will contest the 17th Korean Derby at Seoul Race Park this coming Sunday.

If we're going to have a Triple Crown winner this year, it will be Cheongnyong Bisang (KRA)

If we’re going to have a Triple Crown winner this year, it will be Cheongnyong Bisang (KRA)

Cheongnyong Bisang took the first leg of the Triple Crown, the KRA Cup Mile at Busan last month and he returns to his home track to seek to take out the second jewel.

An unprecedented 5 foreign jockeys have rides in the race. Korean racing stalwarts Joe Fujii, Masa Tanaka, Ikuyasu Kurakane and Darryll Holland are joined by newcomer Shinichi Terachi. With trainers Peter Wolsley and Bart Rice both saddling runners, it is set to be the most international running of the Derby to date.

Below is a full run-down of the runners and riders but first here’s what’s happening around Korea this weekend:

Friday May 16
Busan Race Park: 10 races from 13:00 to 19:00
Jeju Race Park: 9 races from 13:25 to 17:40

Saturday May 17
Seoul Race Park: 11 races from 10:50 to 18:00 including the JRA Trophy at 17:00
Jeju Race Park: 9 races from 12:30 to 17:15

Sunday May 18
Seoul Race Park: 11 races from 10:50 to 18:00 including the Korean Derby at 16:40
Busan Race Park: 6 races from 12:45 to 17:05

The JRA are in town on Saturday for their annual trophy race and there are some good ones going in that. Our main focus though is the Derby and here is a full run down of the runners with [Pedigree} (Starts/1/2/3) (Trainer) – Jockey (Home Track):

The Korean Derby (KOR G1) – Seoul Race Park – 1800M – May 18, 2014

1. Raon Morris [Yankee Victor – Thunder By Night (Thunder Gulch)] (7/3/1/1) (Lee Shin Young) – Moon Se Young (Seoul)
Set the pace for much of the Cup Mile and ran on well to finish 4th at generous odds. He has every chance of improving here and if he gets the lead and others have a bad trip, he just might keep it.

2. Gangchi [Volponi – Regal Heir (Regal Intention)] (10/3/1/1) (Bart Rice) – Masakazu Tanaka (Busan)
Bart Rice is the new star of the Busan trainer colony and he saddles his first Korean Derby runner here. Gangchi made little impact in the Cup Mile and will need to show a lot of improvement to challenge here.

3. Jeongsang Bima [Forest Camp – Smokegetenyoureyes (Smokester)] (9/2/3/2) (Park Hui Cheol) – Ham Wan Sik (Seoul)
A winner over the distance, albeit at class 4, he has a nice turn of foot and likes to come from just behind the leaders. Could be worth a place interest.

4. Jangsan Horangi [Forest Camp – Steal The Show (Cat Thief)] (5/2/2/1) (Kim Jeom Oh) – Oh Kyoung Hoan (Seoul)
Lightly raced and untried at further than 1400M and hasn’t won at higher than class 5. Has plenty of promise and has never finished worse than 3rd but is difficult to recommend here.

5. Wild Rush [Forest Camp – Wisconsin Girl (Smart Strike)] (7/2/3/2) (Kim Young Kwan) – Darryll Holland (Busan)
Won a minor event on Cup Mile day and yet to go further than a mile. Kim Young Kwan doesn’t bring horses to Seoul unless he has high expectations though and with Darryll Holland on board, punters will take note.

6. Gumpo Sky [Vicar – Perfect Storm (Didyme)] (8/3/2/2) (Kwan Seung Joo) – Jeong Dong Cheol (Busan)
Comes into the race in excellent form with two consecutive wins behind him, the most recent of which was just 2 weeks ago over a mile. Expect him to be close to any early pace, he’ll need to show a bit more speed than he has to date in the home straight to challenge.

7. Jungle Jim [Peace Rules – Diamond Stephanie (Lucky Lionel)] (5/2/1/1) (Peter Wolsley) – You Hyun Myung (Busan)
Peter Wosley is searching for his first winner at Seoul and while this colt is not without claims, he will have to improve to win this. Rallied well for 2nd over a mile last start and if he comes on here, he could cause problems at the business end of the race.

8. Queen’s Blade [Menifee – Harboring (Boston Harbor)] (8/4/3/0) (Kim Young Kwan) – Kim Yong Geun (Busan)
Sent off as the odds-on favourite in the Cup Mile, she finished a disappointing 5th having shown briefly at the front with a furlong to run. The half-sister to 2008 Oaks winner Jeolho Chance will have plenty of backers to put things right here. Kim Young Kwan will no doubt have fixed her final furlong but will others have come on more?

9. Royal Impact [Cielo Gold – Skeemo (Meadowlake)] (8/2/3/0) (Kim Byung Hak) – Song Keong Yun (Busan)
The closer never closed in the Cup Mile, staying in 11th position the whole way around. Needs others to run poorly to have a chance.

10. Super Rider [Ft.Stockton – Poyeon (Road Of War)] (9/1/0/1) (Choi Yong Goo) – Shinichi Terachi (Seoul)
Little to recommend this one-time winner who is yet to start at further than 7 furlongs. Japanese jockey Shinichi Terachi gets a first Derby ride in just his 2nd week in Korea.

11. Clean Up Speed [Pico Central – Rich Emotions (Rizzi)] (7/4/1/0) (Seo In Seok) – Ikuyasu Kurakane (Seoul)
The Oaks may be a more realistic target for this filly but she’s a frontrunner with a quick finish who’s beaten colts before. These may be a bit too good though. Was in great form until a disappointing 5th last time out.

12. Namdo Trio [Didyme – Tapas (Sky Classic)] (10/2/4/1) (Baik Kwang Yeol) – Kanichiro Fujii (Busan)
The surprise package of the Cup Mile, he closed very strongly to land third. Joe Fujii rode Speedy First to win this race last year and while he’ll not be favourite to win here, heis not without a chance.

13. Cheongnyong Bisang [Volponi – Miss Alwuhush (Alwuhush)] (8/5/0/0) (Kim Jeom Oh) – Seo Seung Un (Seoul)
The Cup Mile winner and favourite. He was superb in Busan last month and if he repeats that form, he wins. Cheongnyeong Bisang’s defeats have come when he’s had a poor trip and Seo Seung Un is going to have to work very hard to get him into his favoured position from gate 13.

14. Cupid Girl [Vicar – Sheza Hot Dish (Rubiano)] (9/4/0/1) (Park Jae Woo) – Cho Kyoung Ho (Seoul)
A decent filly but another for who the Oaks is a more likely target. A creditable 8th in the Cup Mile, a similar position here seems achievable.

15. Pureun Geotap [Menifee – Charmin Strike (Smart Strike)] (9/2/2/3) (Ji Yong Cheol) – Lee Chan Ho (Seoul)
Had an abortive attempt on the Cup Mile but otherwise has form at this distance, winning a slowly run race here in March. This will be tougher though.

K-Triple Crown 2014: The Korean Derby – First Preview

While the great and good of Asian racing are living it up at the ARC in Hong Kong this week, back here in Korea we turn our attention away from the Steamed Spotted Garoupa Fillets and Ferrero Rocher for a moment because we are just over a week away from the big one. The 2014 Korean Derby will be run at Seoul Race Park on Sunday May 18.

If we're going to have a Triple Crown winner this year, it will be Cheongnyong Bisang (KRA)

If we’re going to have a Triple Crown winner this year, it will be Cheongnyong Bisang (KRA)

It’s the 2nd leg of the 2014 Triple Crown, the first jewel, the KRA Cup Mile at Busan last month, having been claimed by the capital raider Cheongnyong Bisang. He heads what is currently a field of 16 for the big race.

Eight are scheduled to make the trip up from Busan. Peter Wolsley plans to bring two while Bart Rice is also set to have his first runner in the Derby in his first year training in Korea.

Along with Cheongnyong Bisang, the next four home from the Cup Mile are also entered; Gilbert, Namdo Trip, Raon Morris and Queen’s Blade will be looking to improve on their showings.

We will have a full and comprehensive build-up to the race over the next week but in the meantime, here are the entrants as they stand today (Name, Pedigree, Race Records – Trainer):

Busan

Gangchi [Volponi – Regal Heir (Regal Intention)] (10/3/1/1) Bart Rice
Queen’s Blade [Menifee – Harboring (Boston Harbor)] (8/4/3/0) – Kim Young Kwan
Wild Rush [Forest Camp – Wisconsin Girl (Smart Strike)] (7/2/3/2) – Kim Young Kwan
Gilbert [Yankee Victor – Wonderful Wanda (Fusaichi Pegasus)] (6/3/2/0) – Min Jang Gi
Namdo Trio [Didyme – Tapas (Sky Classic)] (10/2/4/1) – Baik Kwang Yeol
Gumpo Sky [Vicar – Perfect Storm (Didyme)] (8/3/2/2) – Kwan Seung Joo
Heukgangja [Creek Cat – Rosa Gulch (Thunder Gulch)] (7/3/1/0) – Peter Wolsley
Never Seen Before [Ecton Park – Gwangyeolhan (Stormin Fever)] (5/3/1/0) – Peter Wolsley

Seoul

Cheongnyong Bisang [Volponi – Miss Alwuhush (Alwuhush)] (8/5/0/0) – Kim Jeom Oh
Jangsan Horangi [Forest Camp – Steal The Show (Cat Thief)] (5/2/2/1) – Kim Jeom Oh
Pureun Geotap [Menifee – Charmin Strike (Smart Strike)] (9/2/2/3) – Ji Yong Cheol
Clean Up Speed [Pico Central – Rich Emotions (Rizzi)] (7/4/1/0) – Seo In Seok
Raon Morris [Yankee Victor – Thunder By Night (Thunder Gulch)] (7/3/1/1) – Lee Shin Young
Jeongsang Bima [Forest Camp – Smokegetenyoureyes (Smokester)] (9/2/3/2) – Park Hui Cheol
Gamunui Chukje [Biwa Shinseiki – Gamun Nyeonggwang (Concept Win)] (6/2/2/1) – Park Dae Heung
Cupid Girl [Vicar – Sheza Hot Dish (Rubiano)] (9/4/0/1) – Park Jae Woo

Cheongnyong Bisang Dominates KRA Cup Mile

Cheongnyong Bisang showed that he was no Juvenile wonder as he landed a dominating win in the KRA Cup Mile – the Korean 2000 Guineas – at Busan this afternoon.

Cheongnyong Bisang wins the KRA Cup Mile (KRA)

Cheongnyong Bisang wins the KRA Cup Mile (KRA)

Despite having won the Breeders’ Cup and being crowned champion 2-year-old of 2013, Cheongnyong Bisang was sent off at odds of 20/1 for the first leg of the 2014 Korean Triple Crown. He duly made a mockery of those odds, stalking the leaders early on before unleashing a sprint that none could respond to.

But for a short stint at the front, pre-race favourite Queen’s Blade showed little, ultimately fading and finishing in 5th and as her fellow pacesetters also fell away it was left to outsiders Gilbert and Namdo Trio to close strongly and push the winner to the line.

Two horses threw away their chances at the start. First, Pureun Geotap reared in the gate and had to be scratched. Once they finally did get underway Busan’s champion juvenile of last year Jungang Gongju missed the break and only managed to catch one horse by the end, continuing her recent run of poor form.

Also disappointing was previously unbeaten filly Winner’s Marine who finished 9th after being sent off as the 2nd favourite.

Aside from the three placers, Raon Morris put on a good show, leading for most of the way before being overcome at the end. He could be one to watch going forward.

Cheongnyong Bisang is the first Seoul winner of the KRA Cup Mile since Money Car in 2010 and he did it in style. He’ll be the favourite as we head back to the capital for the Korean Derby on May 18.

KRA Cup Mile (KOR G2) – Busan Race Park – 1600M – April 6, 2014

1. Cheongnyong Bisang (KOR) [Volponi – Miss Alwuhush (Alwuhush)] – Seo Seung Un – 21.5, 4.1
2. Gilbert (KOR) [Yankee Victor – Wonderful Wanda (Fusaichi Pegasus)] – Kim Dong Young – 14.9
3. Namdo Trio (KOR) [Didyme – Tapas (Sky Classic)] – Kanichiro Fujii – 4.3
Distances: 2 lengths/0.5 lengths – 14 ran
Also Ran: 4. Raon Morris 5. Queen’s Blade 6. Yeonggwanguichampion 7. Nubi Queen 8. Cupid Girl 9. Winner’s Marine 10. Gangchi 11. Royal Impact 12. Power Champion 13. Jungang Gongju 14. Classic Cat NR. Pureun Geotap NR. Hwanggeumbitjijunghye

K-Triple Crown 2014: KRA Cup Mile Full Preview

The Triple Crown is upon us. We’ve a long slog ahead with 6 months between the first leg and final legs. We begin at Busan Race Park this coming Sunday with the KRA Cup Mile – the Korean 2000 Guineas.

Cheongnyong Bisang stands to attention after becoming champion juvenile. He'll have plenty of supporters in the KRA Cup Mile

Cheongnyong Bisang stands to attention after becoming champion juvenile. He’ll have plenty of supporters in the KRA Cup Mile

A full field of 16 will line up for the big race – 7 of them fillies. It looks extremely open and hard to call. Here’s a run-down of the runners and riders:

KRA Cup Mile (KOR G2) – Busan Race Park – 1600M – Sunday April 6, 2014

1. Classic Cat [One Cool Cat – Deoksugung (Cherokee Run)] (6/3/1/0) – Park Hyun Woo (Seoul)
Faded badly in the final furlong of his last start which was his first try at 7 furlongs. Prior to that he’d recorded some very dominant wins and with plenty of speed, if he runs back to that form he could do feature at the buiness end of the race. Doing it at Busan is a big ask though.

2. Yeonggwanguichampion [Menifee – Manwang (Road Of War)] (7/4/1/1) – Lim Sung Sil (Busan)
Lim Sung Sil has been to be on in Stakes races recently although he’s not riding for trainer Kim Young Kwan this time. Finished 2nd on his only start over the distance to date. He’s a front-runner and will need to have come on since then if he is to hold on here. A chance.

3. Cheongnyong Bisang [Volponi – Miss Alwuhush (Alwuhush)] (7/4/0/0) – Seo Seung Un (Seoul)
Last year’s Champion Juvenile found himself exposed last time out against class 2 opposition. That was over 1800M and he already has a win at 1700M to his name. With the exception of his Breeders’ Cup, his wins have come from the front and he is going to face a lot of competition up there. If he can stay on in the long and tough Busan home straight, he’ll be among the contenders.

4. Pureun Geotap [Menifee – Charmin Strike (Smart Strike)] Filly (9/2/2/3) Lee Chan Ho (Seoul)
The filly was 3rd in the Breeders’ Cup and has gone on to show she can handle an extended trip, with a class 4 win over 1800M. She was hanging on a bit in a slowly run race but should appreciate the drop down to 1600M.

5. Gangchi [Volponi – Regal Heir (Regal Intention)] (9/3/1/1) – Darryll Holland (Busan)
Bart Rice saddles his first Korean Classic runner. Gangchi was a sharp-looking winner over 1300M last time out. Expect to see him just off the lead and if anyone can coax the best out of him, it’s Darryll Holland.

6. Nubi Queen [Menifee – Dream Runner (Our Poetic Prince)] Filly (9/3/1/2) – Oh Kyoung Hoan (Seoul)
Another who has won over 1800M at Seoul, Nubi Queen could only manage 6th when facing a lot of these rivals in the Breeders’ Cup last December and although she’s clearly gone on since, whether she has the pace to match them at the business end of the race is open to question.

7. Winner’s Marine [Volponi – Graceful Ballerina (Posse)] Filly (5/5/0/0) – You Hyun Myung (Busan)
The only unbeaten runner coming into the race, she’s going to have to work very hard to still be unbeaten come the end of Sunday afternoon though. She’s never tried further than 1300M and hasn’t beaten anything special but she is undeniably quick and jockey You Hyun Myung has been in sensational form of late.

8. Raon Morris [Yankee Victor – Thunder By Night (Thunder Gulch)] (6/3/1/1) – Moon Se Young (Seoul)
Seoul’s champion 2-year-old of last year has only made one competitive start in 2014, finishing 3rd over 1700M in January. He has race-trialed twice since though and Seoul’s top jockey Moon Se Young has seen fit to make the journey South – a tip in itself. On his day, he has the fastest sprint and must be respected.

9. Jungang Gongju [Menifee – Command And Hope (Commands)] Filly (7/2/2/0) – Choi Si Dae (Busan)
Winner of Busan’s biggest 2-year-old race last year, she’s been deeply unimpressive in her three starts since. Likes to come from off the pace with a very fast final three furlongs, if she runs to her best, she can win especially if the front-runners burn themselves out. However, she’s not been doing that lately, disappointing punters who’ve backed her into short odds each time. They won’t this time.

10. Queen’s Blade [Menifee – Harboring (Boston Harbor)] Filly (7/4/3/0) – Kim Yong Geun (Busan)
A Kim Young Kwan trained horse must always be in contention in a big race and his filly cones into this race with the most impressive recent form, winning a class 2 race over this distance. She’ll need to go quicker than she did that day to win this but she has the pace and the pedigree to excel here – she’s half-sister to 2008 Oaks winner Jeolho Chance – and could be hard to beat.

11. Gilbert [Yankee Victor – Wonderful Wanda (Fusaichi Pegasus)] (5/3/1/0) – Kim Dong Young (Busan)
One of the bigger colts in the race, Gilbert looks like a sprinter and so far has only run once over 6 furlongs – he finished 8th. Kim Dong Young, who won this race last year on Sting Ray, will be his 5th jockey in 6 races. He’s quick but others are quicker.

12. Namdo Trio [Didyme – Tapas (Sky Classic)] (9/2/4/0) – Kanichiro Fujii (Busan)
A very encouraging run over the distance in March and Joe Fujii on his back are two things that Namdo Trio has in his favour. Likes to close from just off the pace, he should find one or two quicker here but the Fujii-factor will mean he has his backers.

13. Power Champion [Perfect Champion – Perfect Vision (Psychobabble)] (8/4/1/0) – Jo In Kwen (Seoul)
Enters the race in great form, having won his past 4 starts and with Jo In Kwen on board, he’ll have plenty of support from punters. It’s his first try at this distance which could be a concern but he will be among the favourites.

14. Cupid Girl [Vicar – Sheza Hot Dish (Rubiano)] Filly (8/4/0/1) – Park Byung Yun (Seoul)
Another who comes into the race on a winning streak, her’s currently stands at 3, her most recent coming over 1800M. The distance therefore isn’t a concern and she has won both from the front and from off the pace. Should be a good price with an unfashionable jockey on board but likely to find a few too quick here though.

15. Hwanggeumbitjijung [Menifee – Firstclasscat (Catienus)] Filly (6/4/0/1) – Masakazu Tanaka (Busan)
Got squeezed out in a very tight four-way finish over 1500M last time out and the fact that she was passed by 3 class 3 horses in the final few strides of that race is a worry. If she can stay the distance, she should have plenty of speed in store.

16. Royal Impact [Cielo Gold – Skeemo (Meadowlake)] (7/2/0/3) – Song Keong Yun (Busan)
A closer who could well appreciate stepping up a further half-furlong than he’s run before. Although he comes in looking in good form, he hasn’t beaten very much and only has one start at class 3 to his name so he’ll be one of the outsiders. Bet him if you think the pace-setters will sprint each other out the race.

The KRA Cup Mile is race 5 of a 6-race program at Busan on Sunday. The race will also be broadcast live to Seoul Racecourse for simulcast betting.

The KRA Cup Mile – A Brief History

This coming Sunday, the first leg of the 2014 Korean Triple Crown will be run at Busan Racecourse. And just like the Triple Crown itself, the KRA Cup Mile is a relatively new addition to the Korean racing calendar.

Sangseung Ilro and Eiki Nishimura win the KRA Cup Mile in 2009 (Pic: KRA)

Sangseung Ilro and Eiki Nishimura win the KRA Cup Mile in 2009 with Martin Wepner and Namdo Jeap just behind (Pic: KRA)

It began in 2005 as the marquee race of the season at the then brand new Busan track.

It was run in September, wasn’t called the KRA Cup Mile and wasn’t restricted to Korean-bred 3-year-olds. The race was won by US bred Siseon Jeap (Precise End).

The following year, the race was renamed as the KRA Chairman’s race and was run over the Korean Derby distance of 9 furlongs. Another US import Golding (Gold Alert), who went on to become a stalwart of the track all the way up until 2011 took the honours.

In 2007, the race moved to June and back in distance to a mile and was given the name KRA Cup Mile. In a memorable race, Australian jockey Garry Baker rode the 6-year-old mare Luna (Concept Win) to victory. Luna, who had broken down aged 2 and was never expected to race again, would later have her story (very) loosely made into a movie.

That year, J.S.Hold had won all three legs of the Triple Crown. However, he only faced Seoul horses and the first leg had been the Ttukseom Cup. In 2008, with the Busan track coming of age, for the first time runners from both Seoul and Busan would be eligible for the Triple Crown races and it was decided that the KRA Cup Mile was the ideal first leg – a Korean 2000 Guineas.

Here are the winners since then:

2008: Rainmaker (KOR) [Revere – Wandering Katie (Tejano)] – Ahn Sun Ho
The first Classic to be run at Busan was won by a Busan horse. However, Rainmaker went on to finish 8th in the Derby the following month and never won a race again despite running on for 2 years. Now a minor stallion at Stud.

2009: Sangseung Ilro (KOR) [Concept Win – Ms. Whiskey (Whiskey Wisdom)] – Eiki Nishimura
The only filly to win since the race became part of the Triple Crown, she’s also the only winner of this race to go on to win the Korean Derby. She went on to win multiple Stakes before retiring. Delivered a foal by Menifee in 2012.

2010: Money Car (KOR) [Newsprint – Pinocchio (Big Sur)] – Park Tae Jong
Romped to an 11-length victory and is to date the only visitor from Seoul to win the race. He was caught right on the line in the Derby by Cheonnyeon Daero and only ran once more. Like Rainmaker now a minor stallion.

2011: Soseuldaemun (KOR) [Meisei Opera – This Ole Way (Vigors)] – Toshio Uchida
A comfortable winner at odds of 7/1, Soseuldaemun turned up for the Derby having lost a lot of weight and didn’t run well. He was retired after his 3-year-old season.

2012: Gyeongbudaero (KOR) [Menifee – Pirncess Lanique (Cherokee Run)] – Choi Si Dae
A 3-length winner, he finished 3rd in the Derby and has gone on to be one of the top performers in the country, running in almost every big Stakes race, recording wins in the Busan Owners’ Cup and Busan Ilbo and a 2nd in the President’s Cup. Ranked the number 2 Korean bred horse in the country right now behind Grand Prix winner Indie Band.

2013: Sting Ray (KOR) [Forest Camp – Straight Cash (Straight Man)] – Kim Dong Young
His dam was a Korean Stakes winner and while Sting Ray performed so badly for the rest of the year after the Cup Mile he got himself gelded, he was back in the winner’s circle at class 1 earlier this month.

K-Triple Crown 2014: KRA Cup Mile First Preview

We’re just 12 days away from the first leg of the 2014 Korean Triple Crown. Currently 19 horses remain in the KRA Cup Mile – the “Korean 2000 Guineas” – which will be run at Busan Racecourse on Sunday April 6.

Who will follow Sting Ray as the winner of the KRA Cup Mile? (KRA)

Who will follow Sting Ray as the winner of the KRA Cup Mile? (KRA)

OF those 19 – which will be cut to a maximum of 16 by final declarations next Wednesday, Busan supplies 11 while 8 are planning to make the trip down the Gyeongbu Expressway from Seoul. Only one horse from the capital, Money Car in 2010, has triumphed in the race to date.

Busan’s foreign trainers Peter Wolsley and Bart Rice are represented respectively by Heukgangja and Gangchi while last year’s Champion Juveniles Jungang Gongju (Busan) Raon Morris (Seoul) and Cheongyong Bisang (Overall) are all expected to be present.

Jungang Gongju is among 7 fillies still in the race. Another, Winner’s Marine, is the only entrant who heads to the race unbeaten, having won all of her 5 starts to date.

We’ll have a full preview and run-down of the final field next week but in the meantime, here is the full list of those 19 who remain in (Name [Pedigree] (Starts/1st/2nd/3rd)

KRA Cup Mile (KOR G2) – Busan Race Park – 1600M – Sunday April 6, 2014

Busan

Heukgangja [Creek Cat – Rosa Gulch (Thunder Gulch)] (5/3/1/0)
Hwanggeumbitjijung [Menifee – Firstclasscat (Catienus)] Filly (6/4/0/1)
Jungang Gongju [Menifee – Command And Hope (Commands)] Filly (7/2/2/0)
Winner’s Marine [Volponi – Graceful Ballerina (Posse)] Filly (5/5/0/0)
Namdo Trio [Didyme – Tapas (Sky Classic)] (9/2/4/0)
Gangchi [Volponi – Regal Heir (Regal Intention)] (9/3/1/1)
Royal Impact [Cielo Gold – Skeemo (Meadowlake)] (7/2/0/3)
Gilbert [Yankee Victor – Wonderful Wanda (Fusaichi Pegasus)] (5/3/1/0)
Queen’s Blade [Menifee – Harboring (Boston Harbor)] Filly (7/4/3/0)
Yeonggwanguichampion [Menifee – Manwang (Road Of War)] (7/4/1/1)
Wild Rush [Forest Camp – Wisconsin Girl (Smart Strike)] (6/1/3/2)

Seoul

Power Champion [Perfect Champion – Perfect Vision (Psychobabble)] (8/4/1/0)
Nubi Queen [Menifee – Dream Runner (Our Poetic Prince)] Filly (9/3/1/2)
Classic Cat [One Cool Cat – Deoksugung (Cherokee Run)] (6/3/1/0)
Cupid Girl [Vicar – Sheza Hot Dish (Rubiano)] Filly (8/4/0/1)
Cheongnyong Bisang [Volponi – Miss Alwuhush (Alwuhush)] (7/4/0/0)
Jangsan Horangi [Forest Camp – Steal The Show (Cat Thief)] (5/2/2/1)
Pureun Geotap [Menifee – Charmin Strike (Smart Strike)] Filly (9/2/2/3)
Raon Morris [Yankee Victor – Thunder By Night (Thunder Gulch)] (6/3/1/1)