Race Reviews

Ecton Blade Claims Top Juvenile Crown

Two years ago, Power Blade won the Breeders’ Cup to become champion juvenile of his crop. Seven months later he was a Korean Triple Crown winner. On Sunday at Seoul Racecourse, the same connections sent out Ecton Blade and he too returned as the top two-year-old of his generation.

Ecton Blade, the latest product of the Kim Young Kwan training machine, was sent off as third-favourite for the 1400M Breeders’ Cup. Market leaders were World Sun and Choinma who had each won both their big prep races at Busan and Seoul respectively, Ecton Blade finishing a cool four-lengths adrift of World Sun in the Gimhae Mayor’s Cup at the end of October.

World Sun behaved badly on the way to the gate and proved a tough ride in the race itself too. He found himself in a good position coming off the turn but never managed to make it into top gear ultimately coming home in 5th. Choinma ran better though and ultimately got the closest to Ecton Blade as a fast finishing 2nd place.

Having already won over a mile, the distance was never going to be an issue for Ecton Blade and jockey Ham Wan Sik was happy to sit 3rd in the early stages as Global Line and Sinui Myeongryeong set the pace. He took over at the top f the stretch and never looked like being caught. Choinma was solid in 2nd while Sinui Myeongryeong stuck on for a very good 3rd to finish the best of the three fillies in the contest.

Breeders’ Cup (KOR G2) – Seoul Racecourse – 1400M – December 3, 2017

1. Ecton Blade (KOR) [Ecton Park – Vying Ty Grr (Regal Intention)] – Ham Wan Sik – 8.5, 2.0
2. Choinma (KOR) [Menifee – Kkummaeul (Curia Regis)] – Choi Bum Hyun – 1.4
3. Sinui Myeongryeong  (KOR) (Hansen – Strawberry Rose (Dr Fong)] – 3.9
Distances: 1.5 lengths / 1.25 lengths
Also Ran: 4. King Jjang 5. World Sun 6. Gyeongjuui Durebak 7. Divide Wind 8. Global Line 9. Wonderful Jackpot 10. Icheon Ssal 11. Sin Stealth 12. Okay Queen

Ecton Blade has now won three out of five starts. Owned by Power Blade owner Kim Hyung Ran, he’s trained by Kim Young Kwan. It’s early days but this two-year-old crop certainly looks stronger and deeper than the one a year ago so we will hopefully be set for an exciting Triple Crown season in 2018.

In other races, Tohamsan (Kwaedo Nanma) returned to winning ways in Busan’s feature. The Korea Sprint also-ran was giving his rivals plenty of weight in the 1200M handicap but cruised to an easy victory, his first since May.

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World Sun Lands Busan Juvenile Crown

Yesterday at Seoul, Choinma completed a Juvenile double, adding the Gwacheon Mayor’s Cup to his earlier triumph in the Gyeonggi Governor’s. Today at Busan, World Sun matched his feat, scoring an emphatic win in the Gimhae Mayor’s Cup having a month previously scored in the Gold Circle Trophy. They’ll clash in early December at the Breeders’ Cup in the Capital.

He has an exciting style, World Sun. Just as in the GC Trophy, his late burst of speed overwhelmed his rivals and he ran on to win by an easy 4-lengths.  Kim Young Kwan’s Ecton Blade trailed home 2nd while the Thomas Gillespie pair of Yeonghui Sidae and Gyeongjuui Durebak came in 3rd and 4th.

Gimhae Mayor’s Cup – Busan Racecourse – 1200M – October 29, 2017

1. World Sun (KOR) [Officer – Dancing Desire (Mr. Greeley)] – Lim Sung Sil – 2.7, 1.2
2. Ecton Blade (KOR) [Ecton Park – Vying Ty Grr (Regal Intention)] – Ham Wan Sik – 1.4
3. Yeonghui Sidae (KOR) [Hansen – Pebble In The Sand (Malibu Moon)] – Jin Kyum – 3.4
Distances: 4 lengths / 2 lengths
Also Ran: 4. Gyeongjuui Durebak 5. Yeonggwanguiwinner 6. Christiano 7. Captain Force 8. Sin Stealth

Choinma Makes It A Gyeonggi/Gwacheon Juvenile Double

Choinma confirmed his place at the top of the Juvenile rankings by adding the Gwacheon Mayor’s Cup to his resume at Seoul Racecourse on Saturday afternoon.

The Menifee colt was a convincing winner of last month’s Gyeonggi Governor’s Cup but with several new exciting youngsters entering the fray for the Mayor’s – the last big test before the nationwide Juvenile title is settled in the Breeders’ Cup on December 3rd, many felt Choinma would need to up his game to stay on track.

Up his game he did as he came through late to beat Hansen colt Sinui Myeongryeong by almost two lengths on the line. The previously unbeaten and well-fancied trio of Global Line, Hae Hu and The Queen Grace all faltered and ended up as also-rans but Wonderful Jackpot, 3rd in the Gyeonggi repeated the trick as that form held up very well. There was also a big run from Icheon Ssal who closed strongly for 4th and should be a very interesting prospect once the distances get longer in the new year.

Inly tme will tell how strong this crop turns out to be but the signs are good so far. Busan holds its own Juvenile Championship race on Sunday afternoon. Whoever comes out on top will have to go some to beat Choinma back here in December.

Gwacheon Governor’s Cup – Seoul Racecourse – 1200M – October 28, 2017

1. Choinma (KOR) [Menifee – Kkumaeul (Curia Regis)] – Choi Bum Hyun – 4.3, 1.3
2. Sinui Myeongryeong (KOR) [Hansen – Strawberry Rose (Dr Fong)] – Lim Gi Won – 2.2
3. Wonderful Jackpot (KOR) [Ingrandire – Endless Heroine (Oath)] – Kim Yong Geun – 7.0
Distances: 1.75 lengths / 0.75 lengths
Also Ran: 4. Icheon Ssal 5. Fire Wind 6. Okay Queen 7. Hoeng Un Gol 8. Global Line 9. Hae Hu 10. Raon Alice 11. Eagle Sky 12. Dae Cain 13. The Queen Grace 14. Meni Bada

Cheongdam Dokki Downs Clean Up Joy To Cruise To Seoul’s Summit

There is a new force in Korean racing. His name is Cheongdam Dokki.

Even though he was going up against Clean Up Joy, last year’s winner and top-rated at Seoul, and New Citadel, who had already beaten him, nobody really thought he would lose. And he didn’t. However, the ease with which Cheongdam Dokki won the KRA Cup Classic served notice that this really is a potential star.

KRA Cup Classic (KOR G2) – Seoul Racecourse – 2000M – October 22, 2017

1. Cheongdam Dokki (USA) [To Honor And Serve – Elusive Gold (Strike The Gold)] – Moon Se Young – 1.6, 1.1
2. New Citadel (USA) [With Distinction – Ree Ensign (Proud And True)] – Jo Jae Ro – 1.1
3. Clean Up Joy (USA) [Purge – Greta’s Joy (Joyeux Danseur)] – Djordje Perovic – 1.2
Distances: 4 lengths / 9 lengths
Also Ran: 4. Clean Up Cheonha (USA) 5. Shamrocker (USA) 6. Suseong Captain (KOR) 7. Muhudaeje (USA) 8. Cheonjeok (USA)

It was over by the first corner, champion jockey Moon Se Young taking Cheongdam Dokki into an early lead from the gate and while Clean Up Joy and New Citadel closed the gap and then went with him rounding the far turn, it was clear they were under pressure a long way out.

In the straight there was only ever going to be one winner. The margin on the line was 4-lengths from New Citadel (who may provide some interest over the 2300M of the Grand Prix Stakes) with Clean Up Joy a further 9 lengths back in 3rd. To give some context to it, Clean Up Joy today ran his quickest ever time at 2000M – and he had tackled the distance on no fewer than eight prior occasions, winning on seven of them. Yet he was over two seconds slower than Cheongdam Dokki today.

Cheongdam Dokki, a gelding, was a $20,000 purchase from the 2015 Keeneland September Yearling Sale. Despite the obvious talent, he hasn’t always been the easiest to handle but has now won four races in a row by margins of his choosing. There are still others he needs to beat; Dolkong at Seoul and of course Triple Nine and Power Blade, but on today’s performance, few would bet against him against any of those. Hopefully, they will meet. While a trip to the Dubai World Cup Carnival unfortunately doesn’t appear to be on his agenda, the next few months could be very interesting.

Silver Wolf Maintains Outstanding 2017 Record in Munhwa Ilbo

Silver Wolf may only have run five times in 2017 but it’s been a golden year for the Aussie import. Last Sunday at Seoul, she took home yet another big prize, scoring in the Munhwa Ilbo Cup over six furlongs.

Having won the Ttukseom Cup over 1400M and the KNN Cup at a mile, Silver Wolf has essentially already won the “Queens’ Tour” series for fillies & mares even before the final leg – the 2000M Gyeongnam Governor’s Cup in November. She has spent the early autumn sprinting, running a very creditable 5th in the Korea Sprint in September and then picking up Sunday’s Munhwa.

The strong early pace suited Silver Wolf’s style and under a patient ride from Djordje Perovic, Silver Wolf turned on the accelerator just as the early leaders started to fade. She went away to win by just under two lengths from two other fast finishers, Daisyan and Parang Juuibo.

Munhwa Ilbo Cup – Seoul Racecourse – 1200M – October 15, 2017

1. Silver Wolf (AUS) [Oratorio – Ready For More (More Than Ready)] Djrodje Perovic – 1.5, 1.0
2. Daisyan (USA) [Rock Hard Ten – My Catriona (Tactical Cat)] – Shinji Hatanaka – 2.5
3. Parang Juuibo (USA) [With Distinction – Spicy Souffle (French Deputy)] – Lim Gi Won – 1.8
Distances: 1.75 lengths / 0.5 lengths
Also Ran: 4. Wonder Bolt (USA) 5. Choegangja USA) 6. Cheonjiga (USA) 7. Always Winner (KOR) 8. Zentenary (USA) 9. Clean Up Bingo (KOR) 10. Cheonma (USA)

Power Blade Cuts Down Triple Nine Again

Power Blade asserted his dominance, at least at short distances,  over stable-mate and long-time rival Triple Nine with a commanding win in the Kukje Sinmun Cup at Busan Racecourse on Sunday Afternoon.

Since the pair returned from the Dubai World Cup Carnival earlier this year, they have raced each other twice with Power Blade prevailing both times; first over a mile in August’s Owners’ Cup and then again in Sunday’s Kukje at 1400M. Last year, Triple Nine got the better of the then 3-year-old Power Blade at 1800M, 2000M and 2300M.

Given a better draw, Power Blade may well have won the Korea Sprint. Instead he was a fast finishing 2nd behind Japanese raider Graceful Leap. That day Triple Nine went in the Korea Cup and once more was the best Korean finisher in 4th. Today they raced together but at the distance, Triple Nine was always going to struggle to get into top gear in time to trouble his younger rival.

As it was Franco Da Silva took things up on Power Blade as they entered the home straight and he ran on strongly to win by almost three lengths on the line. Triple Nine, still getting faster, was 2nd with Seoul-trained City Star pipping Success Story for 3rd.

It was Power Blade’s tenth career win and took his earnings to well in excess of US$2 Million. Whether he takes on the President’s Cup and Grand Prix Stakes once more at unfavourable distances remains to be seen but hopefully connections can be persuaded to have another crack at Meydan in the new year. Cheongdam Dokki and Final Boss (if we forgive the unpredictable latter’s 4th in a 1200M Sprint on Sunday) are the young pretenders but Power Blade and Triple Nine remain very much the big boys of Korean racing right now.

Kukje Sinmun Cup – Busan Racecourse – 1400M – October 1, 2017

1. Power Blade (KOR) [Menifee – Cheonmachong (Lost Mountain)] – Franco Da Silva – 1.5, 1.1
2. Triple Nine (KOR) [Ecton Park – A Little Poke (Pleasant Tap)] – Lim Sung Sil – 1.0
3. City Star (KOR) [Menifee – City Styling (Carson City)] – Kim Yong Geun – 1.7
Distances: 2.5 lengths/3 lengths
Also Ran: 4. Success Story 5. Dongchonui Achim 6. Cheonji Park 7. Baedari Bobae 8. Rocket Blade

Racing takes a one week break now with the action resuming at Busan on Friday October 13th.

World Sun, Choinma Land Juvenile Series Prizes

World Sun and Choinma set themselves up as front-runners for this year’s Juvenile Honours with the pair claiming big prizes at Busan and Seoul this afternoon. Both came from behind to respectively win the Gold Circle and Gyeonggi Governor’s Trophy.

Neither were favourite but both ran out convincing winners. In the Gold Circle at Busan, Kim Young Kwan’s Classic Match was punter’s overwhelming first choice having impressed on his debut and for much of the race, it looked as though the Hansen colt was going to dominate from gate-to-wire. In the final furlong, however, he began to start tying-up and World Sun, the 6/1 second-favourite, having come from last place easily swept by to win win by an ever-increasing four-lengths. Captain Force, stablemate of Classic Match and half-brother to 2016 Korean Oaks winner Ottug Ottugi, was 3rd.

Gold Circle Trophy – Busan Racecourse – 1200M – September 24, 2017

1. World Sun (KOR) [Officer – Dancing Desire (Mr. Greeley)] – Lim Sung Sil – 6.6, 1.5
2. Classic Match (KOR) [Hansen – Intouchable (Elusive Quality)] – Ham Wan Sik – 1.0
3. Captain Force (KOR) [Peace Rules – Main Objective (Lion Heart)] – Jo In Kwen – 2.1
Distances: 4 lengths / 1.5 lengths – 9 ran

At Seoul, Icheon Ssal was sent of as favourite in the Gyeonggi Governor’s Cup. He arrived two for two although much of that was down to the excellence of Johan Victoire’s ride on a soaking wet track last time. It was always going to be harder to get up today.

As it was, Icheon Ssal never came close as Hoeng Un Gol set the early place only to be ground down in the closing stages by second-favourite Choinma who ran on to win by just over a length.

Gyeonggi Governor’s Cup – Seoul Racecourse – 1200M – September 24, 2017

1. Choinma (KOR) [Menifee – Kkumaeul (Curia Regis)] – Choi Bum Hyun – 3.3, 1.4
2. Hoeng Un Gol (KOR) [Forest Camp – Miss Travelin (Lycius)] – Moon Se Young – 2.0
3. Wonderful Jackpot (KOR) [Ingrandire – Endless Heroine (Oath)] – Jang Chu Youl – 2.4
Distances: 1.25 lengths / 3 lengths – 11 ran

Sunday at Seoul also saw another impressive performance by Cheongdam Dokki (To Honor And Serve). The three-year-old was absolutely effortless in winning a class 1 Championship Series race over 1800M by 14-lengths. He moves on to six wins from ten starts and is by far the hottest property at the track right now.