There was a surprise in the Minister’s Cup as outsider Yeonggwanguihunter (Colors Flying) raced to victory in what was the final leg of the 2017 Korean Triple Crown at Seoul Racecourse on Sunday afternoon.
Derby winner Final Boss was sent off as favourite for the 2000M test but just like in the Cup mile, he didn’t feature until far too late after a pedestrian (to put it generously) pace was set in the early stages on a track that was beginning to dry out following a weekend of rain.
Cup mile winner Indian King performed admirably, joining outsider Wild Thunder on what passed for the early speed and staying on well for 2nd place. Daeho Sidae built on disappointing runs in both Cup Mile and Derby to come home a close 3rd. Royal Ruby, 2nd in both first two legs ran well in 4th.
The day belonged to Yeonggwanguihunter though whose jockey Lim Sung Sil opted to loop the field in the back straight, something that transpired to be the key move. They struck the front a furlong out and comfortably saw off the late challenges to win by half a length on the line.
Yeonggwanguihunter began the race a 33/1 chance. He’d won three of his ten previous starts at no higher level than class 4 and at no greater distance than 1300M. He took his chance here following 3rd place in an 1800M class 3 handicap a month ago.
For trainer Lim Keum Man, it was a second Group winner following Yeongung Manse in the 2009 Gyeongnam Governor’s Cup. For jockey Lim Sung Sil, it was a seventh group success.
Yeonggwanguihunter [Colors Flying – Cheers Again (Awesome Again)] was bred by Kim Hae Buk. His dam, Canada-bred Cheers Again was a $17,000 purchase from Keeneland’s October 2007 Breeding Stock sale. Yeonggwanguihunter is her fifth foal to race in Korea with four of them having won at least one race. She has a yearling by Eurosilver and recently produced a foal by Chapel Royal. Both are colts.
Busan provided the first four home on the day with Final Boss leading home the Seoul representatives in 5th. Final Boss surely remains the most naturally gifted of this crop. Will he produce later in the year?
Minister’s Cup (KOR G3) – Seoul Racecourse – 2000M – July 16, 2017
1. Yeonggwanguihunter (KOR) [Colors Flying – Cheers Again (Awesome Again)] – Lim Sung Sil – 33.7, 6.5 2. Indian King (KOR) [Biwa Shinseiki – Indian Diamond (Indian Charlie)] – Ham Wan Sik – 3.3 3. Daeho Sidae (KOR) [Simon Pure – Ara Mireu (Didyme)] – Choi Si Dae – 2.8 Distances: 0.5 lengths / Neck Also Ran: 4. Royal Ruby 5. Final Boss 6. Wild Thunder 7. America Power 8. Uju Star 9. Jejui Haneul 10. Bright Star 11. Teukbyeol Star 12. Choegang Jeollyeok
The final leg of the 2017 Korean Triple Crown takes place on Sunday at Seoul Racecourse with the winners of the Cup Mile, Derby and Oaks all taking their chance in the Minister’s Cup. Sunday sees 11 races at Seoul from 11:45 to 19:00 and 6 at Busan from 13:25 to 17:40.
Final Boss won the Korean Derby (Pic: KRA)
Derby winner Final Boss is the favourite. He was Champion Juvenile last year but arrived at the first leg of the Triple Crown, the KRA Cup Mile (Korean Guineas) in Busan in April looking anything but himself. He still ran 5th as Indian King took the honours ahead of Royal Ruby and American Power.
Back home in Seoul in the Derby in May, Final Boss once more didn’t make things easy for himself. He dawdled at the back of the field in the early stages of the race and once he launched his late challenge, veered violently across to the stands-side rail. Regardless, he hit the front in the final furlong and raced on to win by an easy three lengths. Royal Ruby and American Power once more came home in 2nd and 3rd.
So to Sunday and stretching out to 2000M in the Minister’s Cup, a distance none of the 12 runners have tackled before. That surely won’t be a problem for Final Boss who looked ready to go round again after the Derby. Nor should it be for Royal Ruby and American Power who could well end up filling out the places in all three legs of the Triple Crown.
Across the first two legs of the Crown, only one filly took her chance. This time there are four and they’re the top four place-getters from last month’s Oaks. That race produced a record breaking trifecta dividend as longshot Jejui Haneul enabled Kim Hye Sun to make history as the first Korean female jockey to win a Classic. She goes again, however, it is the runner-up that day, Bright Star who could turn out to be the best of them.
All in all though, the race looks set up for Final Boss to confirm his position as the standout of his crop. Notes on all Seoul races are below:
Race 1: Class 6 (1300M) Allowance / KRW 22 Million
1. SPECIAL BIG C – 7th behind Little Wing last start but looks to have potential for better. Placing chances.
2. UPDATE – Woeful in first few outings but getting the hang of it now. Minor money chances.
3. NANGMAN STAR – Not beaten many in three goes so far.
4. WIND POWER – Not too far away in recent outings and should be looking to match career best of 4th.
5. LITTLE WING – Beat Special Big C last start and can look for the places again.
6. YAHO WORLD STAR – 8th of 11 on debut a month ago. Needs a bit of improvement before he can be considered.
7. SACHEON DAESEONG – Best finish to date a 5th over 1000M. 7th of 11 on first try at this distance at the end of May.
8. MIGHTY COOL – Underwhelming so far but from an enterprising stable so may improve.
9. BEST MISSION – Best of 4th from five. Plenty to find here.
Final Boss came wide and late but ended up scoring a remarkably convincing victory in the Korean Derby at Seoul Racecourse on Sunday afternoon.
All alone, Final Boss and Choi Bum Hyun win The Korean Derby (Pic: Ross Holburt)
Out of sorts in the Cup Mile at Busan last month and at the back of the field for much of the Derby, last year’s Champion Juvenile Final Boss came through very late and very wide to claim victory. Royal Ruby was 2nd with American Power just pipping Cup Mile winner Indian King to repeat his Cup Mile 3rd place.
Royal Ruby was sent off as the slight favourite. The Peter Wolsey trainee had come desperately close to catching Indian King in the Cup Mile and punters clearly felt that Sunday’s extra furlong would suit. It was not to be once more. Nor would it be for Indian King himself who despite being pushed slightly wide on the first turn, rallied well and raced prominently to end in 4th.
It was the unconventional stretch run of Final Boss that was the story. He was last as they sighted the line just over two furlongs out. On the race video, you can’t see him until they are within a furlong on the finish. By this time he is front having shifted all the way over to the stands-side rail. Generally, horses that do that lose. And get sent back to trial to improve their manners. Final Boss just ran on and on and had three lengths on Royal Ruby on the line.
Korean Derby (KOR G1) – Seoul Racecourse – 1800M – May 14, 2017
1. Final Boss (KOR) [Menifee-Sinsok Dolpa (Lindo Shaver)] – Choi Bum Hyun – 6.6, 2.0 2. Royal Ruby (KOR) [Chapel Royal – Red Ruby (Yehudi)] – Jo Sung Gon – 1.3 3. American Power (KOR) [Ecton Park – White Angelica (Quiet American) – Francisco Da Silva 1.5 Distances: 3 lengths / 1.25 lengths Also Ran: 4. Indian King 5. Adele Ace 6. Taeyangui Sinhwa 7. Daeho Sidae 8. Muhan Yeoljeong 9. Jangsan Power 10. Lion Rock
Final Boss [Menifee – Sinsok Dolpa (Lindo Shaver)] provided his sire, Menifee, with his 5th consecutive Korean Derby winner. His dam, Sinsok Dolpa, ran 23 times in Korea for 2 wins. She was bred in Japan. Final Boss is her 4th foal to make the track with two of the other three having been winners. She has a two-year-old Rock Hard Ten filly called Raise Me Up set to begin racing this year and a yearling by 2012 Korean Derby winner Jigeum I Sungan (the last non-Menifee to win the Derby).
Jigeum I Sungan was also saddled by trainer Ji Yong Cheol. That colt would go on to claim the Minister’s Cup, the final leg of the Triple Crown, as well and Final Boss is now surely favourite to go on to repeat that feat. Ji has been training since 1986 and has won plenty of big races. Jigeum I Sungan has been his best so far but Final Boss looks very exciting – especially if he can learn to run in a straight line.
Final Boss with connections in the Derby winner’s circle (Pic: Ross Holburt)
For jockey Choi Bum Hyun, it was a first Derby. The 38-year-old won the Grand Prix twice on Dongbanui Gangja in 2008 and 2009 but this was his first success in any of the three-year-old classics.
So Seoul wins the Derby for the first time since 2012 and only the third time since Busan horses began competing in 2008. The best of the three-year-old crop will reconvene in Seoul on July 16th for the Minister’s Cup, the final leg of the Triple Crown. Before that, the fillies Classic – the Korean Oaks – is at Busan on June 11th.
A confident Darryl Holland couldn’t have been more emphatic: “I wouldn’t swap my mount” the jockey declared as he prepared to partner Indian King in Sunday’s Korean Derby (KOR G1) at Seoul Racecourse on Sunday afternoon. The KRA Cup Mile winner heads into the race looking to add the 2nd leg of the 2017 Korean Triple Crown to the first jewel he won at Busan a month ago.
Indian King and Darryll Holland winning the KRA Cup Mile (Pic: KRA)
Meeting the media, Holland bristled at any suggestion that the 75/1 Indian King’s Cup Mile victory was down to chance. “I don’t think there was any fluke about the win because he did it the hard way”, he said of Indian King taking up the running a long way out and staying on to win by half a length from the fast closing Royal Ruby. Nor will the distance or the outside gate be an issue: “We’ve got one furlong more to go and I don’t think that will present a problem…I don’t think the gate is a big problem. I’ve rode in enough big races all around the world to overcome it.”
Nevertheless, as much as Holland praised his horse, many observers felt at the time that the decisive factor in the race was the jockey himself and Indian King isn’t expected to start as favourite for Sunday’s showpiece. Royal Ruby, runner-up in the mile, returns again and the Peter Wolsley trained colt is set to be a big danger again as is 3rd placed American Power whose jockey Francisco Da Silva senses an opportunity to turn things around: “There was only half a length between Indian King and my horse. Royal Ruby was there as well and I expect those three to fight again. 1800M is no problem”.
In the Cup Mile those three were five lengths clear of pre-race favourites Daeho Sidae and Final Boss. Cypriot jockey Marios Mina will get the leg up on Daeho Sidae for the first time and was in good spirits. “My horse is in great condition and training very well” said Mina, “the last race wasn’t the best of him”. It wasn’t the best of Final Boss either who didn’t enjoy travelling to Busan and arrived in the parade ring looking a shadow of the horse who had won his two tune-up races in explosive fashion but may be better back on home sand. Here’s that Cup Mile:
There are ten runners in total in the Derby:
1. Lion Rock – He was undefeated heading into the Cup Mile but stumbled coming out of the gate and was never involved. There is still a feeling that we may not see the best of him until later this year. He’s a full-brother to Triple Nine, who ran at the Dubai World Cup Carnival. If he gets away ok this time, he is expected to sit handy.
2. Daeho Sidae – Commanding wins over 1800M and a mile saw him sent off as slight favourite in the Cup Mile but he wasn’t able to reproduce the kick in the home straight that he has shown before and ended up 4th. Better is possible. Likely to settle in the rear of midfield.
3. Taeyangui Sinhwa – A stablemate of American Power, he didn’t run in the Cup Mile. A good winner over 1400M a month ago, this is his first try at further so there are some unknowns and he is the second string. Was beaten by Indian King in March. In his races so far, he has settled in midfield.
4. Adele Ace – A stablemate of Daeho SIdae he gets to take his chance having scored a seven-length win over a mile on April 7th. It was all the way down at class 5 though and it was his maiden triumph. Looks to have plenty to find. He has tended to settle handy or in midfield.
5. American Power – Just a head behind Royal Ruby in the Cup Mile on what was just his second start of the year having been surprisingly beaten in the first of them. He won all three as a juvenile. From Busan’s top stable, he will be very well supported and may start as favourite. Not usually the quickest of starters, it’s his first try at the distance but he should get back.
6. Final Boss – Last year’s champion juvenile didn’t look himself at Busan for the Cup Mile but despite that, he still finished off the race very well, quicker than all but Royal Ruby and American Power in the final furlong having travelled poorly for the first half of the race. He won at this distance with dismissive ease in February. It will be important to see him in the parade ring. Expected to be on the early pace today.
7. Muhan Yeoljeong – A touch unlucky in the Cup Mile, never really finding a run and ending up in 7th place, he had been very impressive in beating some useful horses over a mile in his preparation. 3rd behind Final Boss and Daeho Sidae in the Championship Juvenile race last December. Runs best when on or close to the early speed.
8. Jangsan Power – He didn’t go to the Cup Mile but won three consecutive races between January and March. 3rd on his first try at 1800M last time, running on well. Most likely be ridden in a forward position today.
9. Royal Ruby – There weren’t high hope of him as a 2-year-old but he won three races in a row to begin 2017 including twice at this distance beating some good horses along the way. Almost got up in the Cup Mile. Barrier is irrelevant as he’ll get back and Aussie trainer Peter Wolsley has a big chance of winning his first Derby. He will likely settle towards the rear of the field.
10. Indian King – The Cup Mile winner may not start as favourite but don’t rule him out. He ran on strongly at the end having led for a decent portion of the race. As before he’ll most likely settle in midfield and if the opportunity comes, there’s no reason why he can’t take it.
If there is to be a Korean Triple Crown winner this year then his name is Indian King. The 74/1 outsider took the initiative under jockey Darryll Holland in the early part of the race and clung on to defeat Royal Ruby and American Power and claim the first Jewel in the Crown, the KRA Cup Mile at Busan on Sunday afternoon.
Punters couldn’t split Breeders’ Cup winner and runner-up Final Boss and Daeho Sidae sending them off as almost co-favourites but it was Illyu Star and longest shot on the board Taeyangui Jeonseol who were out of the gates the quickest. By the end of the straight, however, Holland had brought Indian King up alongside the leader and as they rounded the corner he kicked on in front and had stolen three lengths on the field as they straightened up.
The challenges would arrive too late. Daeho Sidae, expected to lead, offered little while Final Boss had far too much to do. Instead, while Holland coaxed his mount home, the one who would get the closest would be Royal Ruby. He had been the back-marker for much of the race but flew home to get within half a length of the winner on the line. The Peter Wolsley trainee, who also started as an outsider, must surely be very much in the Derby mix now. American Power was just a further head back in 3rd while there was a 5-length gap back to Daeho Sidae who led home the rest.
KRA Cup Mile (KOR G2) – Busan Racecourse – 1600M – April 2 2017
1. Indian King (KOR) [Biwa Shinseiki – Indian Diamond (Indian Charlie)] – Darryll Holland – 75.0, 17.5 2. Royal Ruby (KOR) [Chapel Royal – Red Ruby (Yehudi)] – Jo Sung Gon – 4.6 3. American Power (KOR) [Ecton Park – White Angelica (Quiet American)] – 1.7 Distances: 0.5 lengths / Head Also Ran: 4. Daeho Sidae (KOR) 5. Final Boss (KOR) 6. Ice Marine (KOR) 7. Muhan Yeoljeong (KOR) 8. Illyu Star (KOR) 9. Wonder Wall (KOR) 10. Lion Rock (KOR) 11. Taeyangui Jeonseol (KOR)
Indian King [Biwa Shinseiki – Indian Diamond (Indian Charlie)] is a half-brother to Indian Star, winner of last year’s Jeju Governor’s Cup and one of the top sprinters at the track – she came out one race later on Sunday afternoon and ran 2nd over 1200M to Triple Five in a class 1 handicap.
Indian Diamond herself was an $18,000 purchase at the Keeneland September Sale in 2002. She ran 36 times at Seoul between 2003 and 2006 winning on 3 occasions and in addition to Indian Star has had three others make the track so far, although only one of them was a winner.
For trainer Mun Je Bok, it was his biggest win to date; his first Group 2 having previously won Group 3 events with Hangangui Gijeok, Perdido Pomeroy and of course, Indian Star.
As for Darryll Holland, it was his first Listed or Group winner in Korea. After the race, Holland noted that he isn’t able to ride as many as he would like due to a minimum riding weight of 54kg. He paid tribute to the preparation done by the trainer and thanked him for putting him on. There’ll be no trouble making weight for the Korean Derby next month.
Can Indian King get 1800M at Seoul? It makes for a fascinating Derby on the second Sunday in May.
The 2017 Korean Triple Crown gets underway on Sunday as eleven three-year-olds line up for the first jewel; the KRA Cup Mile at Busan.
Final Boss beat Daeho Sidae and Muhan Yeoljeong to become Champion Juvenile (Pic: KRA)
The race, sometimes known as the “Korean Guineas” is over 1600M and will come under orders at 4.20pm at Busan Racecourse. A total of 11 runners will take part, 8 from Busan and 3 from Seoul. 7 of them took part in Korea’s top juvenile race, the “Breeders’ Cup” at Seoul in December, including Final Boss and Daeho Sidae, who came home 1st and 2nd and are likely to head the betting.
1. Muhan Yeoljeong [Officer – Ridemetothemoon (Malibu Moon)] 8(3/1/2) (An Woo Sung)- Yonekura Satoshi
A fast finishing 3rd in the Breeders’ Cup, he’s won two of three starts since, all of them over this distance. A five-length winner last time, he is tactically versatile but given the draw is more likely to look to get on pace early today. He has a chance.
2. Daeho Sidae [Simon Pure – Ara Mireu (Didyme)] 6(4/2/0) (Baik Kwang Yeol) – Choi Si Dae
2nd to Final Boss in the Breeders’ Cup he’s gone on to win two from three since then including at a mile which has him up to class 2 already. Likely to be on or close to the early pace here and given home track advantage, it is very possible he will start as favourite. His dam won 3 of 24 starts at Busan. Daeho Sidae is her third foal while all have won, he looks the best.
3. Taeyangui Jeonseol [J.S. Hold – I’m Legend (Smoke Glacken)] 5(3/0/0) (Yu Jae Gil) – Lee Hyeok
Sire a Korean Triple Crown winner, he comes in following three consecutive wins, two of them at 1700M, making all last time. Another likely front-runner, he should stick to task well but whether he has the late speed to challenge is another matter.
4. Illyu Star [Officer – Run For Little Bit (Tactical Advantage)] 8(4/0/1) (An Woo Sung) – Jo In Kwen
He beat Indian King when winning over 1400M three weeks ago, a performance that saw him promoted to class 3 level. His previous attempt at a mile was unsuccessful though which means he probably won’t be among the favourites here. Not expected to try to lead but he won’t be too far away early on.
5. Wonder Wall [Chapel Royal – No Bull Baby (Indian Charlie)] 9(3/4/1) (Kim Young Kwan – Ham Wan Sik
Shunsuke Yoshida owned half-brother to Main Stay, who was a winner over 1200M at the Dubai World Cup Carnival this year. Wonder Wall was 4th in the Breeders’ Cup but has won two from three this year including one over this distance ahead of Indian King. Last time he was 2nd to Mujeok Vicar, a horse who also beat Daeho Sidae in January, over 1800M. From Kim Young Kwan’s stable, he will be backed as all of that trainer’s horses are, but he won’t be among the top line of favourites. Will proabbly compete for the lead early.
6. Ice Marine [Officer – Runkerry Point (Giant’s Causeway)] 9(5/2/0) (Choi Ki Hong) – Song Keong Yun
The only filly in the race, she did nothing in the Breeders Cup but finished 2nd to American Power in a valuable race at the end of December. She’s won both her outings so far in 2017, including a six-length triumph in what was basically an early Oaks trial over 1400M a month ago. That confirms her as the leading filly but doesn’t mean a whole lot here. She is likely to settle in midfield and she should be competitive but a win would be a surprise.
7. Indian King [Biwa Shinseiki – Indian Diamond (Indian Charlie)] 8(2/2/2) (Mun Je Bok) – Darryll Holland
His two wins both came last autumn and he went on to run 6th in the Breeders’ Cup. He has two 3rds and a 2nd from three outings this year and has been beaten by both Wonder Wall and Illyu Star in the process. Top jockey booking but a lot of form to overturn here. He’s likely to break in midfield. Indian King’s dam ran in Korea, winning three times and she also produced the sprinter Indian Star, winner of Jeju Governor’s Cup last year.
8. Lion Rock [Ecton Park – A Little Poke (Pleasant Tap)] 3(3/0/0) (Lee Shin Young – Moon Se Young
Full brother to Triple Nine and three other winners, he is the only one who enters with a 100% record to defend. Seoul’s champion jockey Moon Se Young comes down to ride him which will tempt some. He was a seven-length winner over 1700M in February but that was at class 5. Plenty of raw ability but possibly a bit behind some of the others in terms of development with the Derby and Minister’s Cup more serious targets but could still go well.
9. American Power [Ecton Park – White Angelica (Quiet American)] 4(3/1/0) (Kim Young Kwan) – Francisco Da Silva
he beat Ice Marine and Illyu Star when comfortably winning a valuable race at the end of December but was unexpectedly beaten on his only outing so far this year. That was at a mile on February 19th. He finished off well though and he was only beaten half a length by an older horse. A stablemate of Wonder Wall, he is likely to settle towards the rear of the field and he can’t be ruled out.
10. Final Boss [Menifee – Sinsok Dolpa (Lindo Shaver)] 8(6/1/0) (Ji Yong Cheol) – Choi Bum Hyun
The Champion Juvenile of 2016 having beaten six of these in the Breeders’ Cup race in Seoul in December. He’s raced twice this year, both of them relatively facile victories at 1700M and 1800M. Likely to be contesting favourite status with Daeho Sidae, he has a contrasting style, coming from off the pace. If he gets into gear into the home straight, the prize could be heading back to the capital.
11. Royal Ruby [Chapel Royal – Red Ruby (Yehudi)] 7(4/1/1) (Peter Wolsley) – Jo Sung Gon
He has progressed a little bit under the radar narrowly winning all three of his 2017 starts so far and actually beat Lion Rock’s older sister Black Sapphire by a nice over 1800M a month ago. From Peter Wolsley’s stable, he certainly has potential and is the most likely to settle towards the rear of the field. Interesting outsider.