Race Reviews

Silver Wolf Beats Power Blade in Sprint Series 1st Leg

Champion mare Silver Wolf downed Power Blade in a stretch battle to win the Busan Ilbo Cup, the 1st leg of the 2018 Korean Sprint Series at Busan on Sunday afternoon.

Power Blade was sent off the hot favourite but with a slightly more favourable draw, jockey Kim Dong Soo kept his nerve and kept Silver Wolf on the rail where she was able to gain valuable lengths on her rival as they rounded the turn. Power Blade meanwhile went wide around the field and had significant ground to make up in the straight.

Make it up he did and when Silver Wolf took the lead from early front-runner Perdido Pomeroy, Power Blade was right there. He got to within a length and no more, however, as Silver Wolf held on for what may not have been the richest win of her career but was certainly the best.

More to follow on the race over the next couple of days.

Busan Ilbo Cup – Busan Racecourse – 1200M – Sunday April 29, 2018

1. Silver Wolf (AUS) [Orotorio – Ready For More (More Than Ready)] – Kim Dong Soo – 6.0, 1.4
2. Power Blade (KOR) [Menifee – Cheonmacheong (Lost Mountain)] – Lee Hyo Sik – 1.1
3. Doraonpogyeongseon (USA) [Kantharos – Smartybegone (Smarty Jones)] – You Hyun Myung – 1.6
Distances: 0.5 lengths/4 lengths
Also Ran: 4. Perdido Pomeroy (USA) 5. Paran Juuibo (USA) 6. Saengil Gippeum (USA) 7. Morning Daero (USA) 8. Dynamic Star (KOR) 9. Success Story (KOR) 10. Party Again (KOR) 11. Macheon Bolt (KOR) NR: Cheonha TOngil (KOR)

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Korean Triple Crown 2018: All The Cup Miles So Far

The Korean Triple Crown season is upon us with the first jewel, the KRA Cup Mile, set to be run at Busan this coming Sunday, April 8th. We’ll have a full preview of the big race in the forthcming days but in the meantime let’s take a look back at all previous runnings of the Cup Mile.

Indian King

Indian King won the KRA Cup Mile in 2017 (Pic: KRA)

 

The track configuration at Seoul Racecourse has never allowed for races to be run at a distance of a mile – although this is set to change within the next year – so, when the Busan Racecourse was designed, that was to be a key feature. The track was completed in 2004 and the first Cup Mile, held on a Friday in September 2005, was won by US import Siseon Jeap (Precise End).

The following year the race got a name change, the KRA Chairman’s Cup and a distance change to 1800M. Golding (Gold Alert), who would continue to be a stalwart at Busan until 2011, took the honours. In 2007, it was back to being the Cup Mile and Luna (Concept Win) landed the biggest win of her career. Australian jockey Garry Baker became the first of three foreign riders to date to have won the race.

In that same year, J.S. Hold won all three races of the Seoul Triple Crown but for 2008 Busan horses were invited to take part for the first time and the track invited to host the first leg. As a result, the Cup Mile was shifted to the first Sunday in April. Here is a list of the winners every year since then and what’s become of them:

2008: Rainmaker [Revere – Wandering Katie (Tejano)] – The 3/1 favourite won the race by two and a half lengths but then finished last in the Derby and would never win a race again. He suffered some injury setbacks and was finally retired in 2010. He was registered for breeding and covered the occasional mare but was ultimately retrained for Equestrianism.

2009: Sangseung Ilro [Concept Win – Ms. Whiskey (Whiskey Wisdom)] – The first of two superstar winners, she was a 16/1 outsider (the first and possibly only correct tip ever given on this blog’s twitter feed!) and despite behind the scenes shenanigans with Eiki Nishimura getting jocked off in favour of Jo Sung Gon, she went on to win the Korean Derby. Long odds-on favourite for the Korea Oaks. she was caught on the line by Pang Pang and then, at 80% fitness, ran 3rd in the Minister’s Cup when trying to seal the Triple Crown. Until Power Blade, she was the only Cup Mile winner so far to go on to win the Derby. Sangseung Ilro won two more Stakes races as a 4-year-old before being retired for broodmare duties. One of the best fillies ever produced in Korea.

2010: Money Car [Newsprint – Pinocchio (Big Sur)] – The first of just two winners from Seoul, he came into the Cup Mile with 5 wins from 6 starts and was a dominant 11-length winner. Odds-on favourite for the Derby, he looked home and hosed a furlong out but was run down on the line by Cheonnyeon Daero. He only ran once more, his career ended by injury. Out at pasture for a few years, he was registered for breeding in 2013 and occasionally covers mares at Hyunma Farm on Jeju Island.

2011: Soseuldaemun [Meisei Opera – This Ole Way (Vigors)] – This was a 3-year-old crop that, filly Useung Touch and solid handicapper Singgereounachim aside, didn’t really live up to its early promise. Toshio Uchida, “Mr. Pink” rode 7/1 chance Soseuldaemun to a 2-length win but the colt didn’t travel well to Seoul for the Derby and, 20 kilos lighter, finished 7th. He only raced twice more, with a very solid 3rd in the Gyeongnam Do-Min Ilbo followed by a return to Seoul for the Minister’s Cup where he was last of 14. Not registered for breeding, he was retired to Myeongsin Farm on Jeju.

2012: Gyeongbudaero [Menifee – Princess Lanique (Cherokee Run)] – One of the finest Korean-bred racehorses who is only now peaking. He was Busan’s champion Juvenile in 2011 and was the 3-length winner of the Cup Mile. A month later, he finished 3rd in the Derby, just a length behind Jigeum I Sungan and was 3rd behind the same horse in the Minster’s Cup. The same year, he was also 3rd in the President’s Cup. 13 of his 29 starts have come in Stakes races and it was in 2014 where he rose to the very top of Korean racing. Having won the President’s Cup at Seoul in November, he returned to win the biggest race of all, the Grand Prix Stakes, that December.

2013: Sting Ray [Forest Camp – Straight Cash (Straight Man)] – A victory at the time for the Korean breeding program with dam Straight Cash being a winner of the JRA Trophy in Korea. Sting Ray was the odds-on favourite for the Cup Mile and duly won by 4-lengths. He finished 6th in the Derby a month later and went on to be a solid class 1 handicapper befire his eventual retirement in April 2017.

2014: Cheongnyong Bisang [Volponi – Miss Alwuhush (Alwuhush)] – The 20/1 chance filly became Seoul’s second winner of the KRA Cup Mile when taking a 2-length victory last year. Another filly, Queen’s Blade, had been sent off as the odds-on favourite and she would come good a month later in the Korean Derby in Seoul with Cheongnyong Bisang back in 4th. Blighted by injury, he was inexplicably sent to the United States, where his story took a quite unexpected turn.

2015: Rafale [Colors Flying – Dongbang Choego (Al Naba)] – 2nd behind Doraon Hyeonpyo in the previous year’s Breeders’ Cup, Rafale begin his three-year-old campaign with a win but only managed 4th place in his final prep for the Cup Mile. Nevertheless, it was enough for him to be sent off as co-favourite with Doraon Hyeonpyo for the big race. Under You Hyun Myung, he struck the front late on and beat Doraon Hyenpyo by half a length. That would be as good as it got for Rafale as he finished 3rd in the Derby and then 5th in the Minister’s Cup before tendinitis brough a premature end to his career after just ten starts and five wins. He remains alive at Sinhwa Farm on Jeju Island.

2016: Power Blade [Menifee – Cheonmacheong (Lost Mountain)] – Champion juvenile the previous year, Power Blade was odds-on favourite for the Cup Mile, obliging by four-lengths and swept to all three legs of the Triple Crown with supreme ease. He went on to represent Korea at the Dubai World Cup Carnival in 2017, placing at Group level before returning to Seoul to run 2nd in the Korea Sprint and then to win the Grand Prix Stakes.

2017: Indian King [Biwa Shinseiki – Indian Diamond (Indian Charlie)] – British jockey Darryll Holland became the fourth foreign jockey to win the Cup Mile, guiding 75/1 outsider Indian King to a narrow win having taken the initiative early in the race. He ran solid 4ths in both the final two legs of the Triple Crown but suffered an injury setback shortly afterwards. He has recently returned to training.

Final declarations for this year’s race will be made on Wednesday. A full preview of the big race will follow.

Weekend Round-Up: Haeya Strikes At Busan But Choinma Stumbles on Season Debut At Seoul

Haeya sprinted her way to success for the 6th time in 12 career starts as the lightly raced five-year-old mare took victory in Sunday’s feature at Busan.

Haeya

Haeya, seen here at the Korea Sprint, was a fine winner on Sunday (Pic: Ross Holburt)

A good field assembled for the 1400M “Road To G1” contest on the South Coast with Haeya joined by big name sprinters such as Perdido Pomeroy and Drop The Beat. King Of Ace made his second start since returning from surgery while Macheon Bolt, 2nd in the Korea Sprint in 2016 also returned for the first time in almost a year. Diferent Dimension also made his first start since moving to the stable of Kang Byung Eun.

Not many of them went well. Neither King Of Ace nor Macheon Bolt looked fully ready while Diferent Dimension showed early but then faded. Perdido Pomeroy as ever set the pace but Haeya was always handy and under You Hyun Myung, she struck the front in the home straight, running on to win by a comfortable two and a half lengths. Outsider Stealth and Thomas Gillespie’s Party Again came home strongly late to take 2nd and 3rd.

Haeya [Flatter – Luxaholic (Macho Uno)] was 2nd in last year’s Ttukseom Cup and 3rd in the KNN Cup, both times behind Silver Wolf and looks set to be a contender in those and other big races up to a mile later in the year.

With victories in the Gyeonggi Governor;s and Gwacheon Mayor’s Cups followed by 2nd place to Ecton Blade in the Breeders’ Cup, Choinma was the biggest earning juvenile in Korea in 2017 and widely expected to play a big role in the Triple Crown series this year. He stepped up to 1700M for his first outing of 2018 at Seoul on Saturday and was sent off the prohibitive favourite in a class 3 handicap. It didn’t quite go to plan as not for the first time recently, a long-shot got on pace early and couldn’t be caught .

This time it was 45/1 Jeongan Kingdom who made all and while Choinam rallied late on, he was still a full two and a half lengths adrift in 2nd place on the line. It wasn’t the most auspicious beginning to his three-year-old career but it’s early days and conditions will likely be very different once we reach the KRA Cup Mile in April.

Weekend Round-up: New Citadel, Today Begin 2018 With Wins

New Citadel and Today were the biggest names in action this past weekend in Korea, the pair beginning strong favourites for their respective assignments at Seoul and Busan.

Today was an easy winner of Busan’s Sunday feature, tracking early leader Gasok Engine under just over a furlong out before cruising past for a three-length victory. Today (Drosselmeyer) moved on to eight wins from ten starts and is looking a fine sprinter althugh he has won at a mile too.

At Seoul, New Citadel had to work much harder for victory on what was his first start sicne running 2nd to Cheongdam Dokki in the KRA Cup Classic last October. He was sent (more…)

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.

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