The Korean Derby

Korean Derby Sunday: Race-By-Race Preview (August 2)

It’s finally here. The generation that risked being forgotten or worse, finally gets its Derby at Seoul Racecourse on Sunday afternoon. There are 12 races at Seoul from 10:35 to 18:00 while there is also a card at Busan. Racing remains behind closed doors.

Roller Blade

Roller Blade is back. But have the others left him behind? (Pic: KRA)

KRA Cup Mile winner Touch Star Man heads the field but it’s a race with at least nine live chances. Champion juvenile Roller Blade finally returns while the likes of Determination look to have been screaming out for this kind of distance.

Here are previews of all of Seoul’s Sunday races with horse-by-horse for the Korean Derby, which has a post time of 5pm in Seoul:

Race 1: Class 6 (1000M) Allowance / KRW 75 Million

The Korean-bred two-year-old gallopers will kick the twelve-event card off at Seoul on Sunday. The trial of (6) WHITE CHARM last month was very good suggesting the Cowboy Cal colt can put his best foot forward on debut. With a central draw it is expected that Kim Dong-soo will work forward on the grey and find a position in the leading division. The time he clocked in the trial was good enough to ensure he is there come the business end of the race. (11) CHEONGDAM WICKED is another debutant that trialed well back in June. The Menifee filly is another likely to be fired up early and sit prominent in the run. (8) JILJU DAERO is one of a few runners engaged that has had a previous start. The colt finished fourth on debut behind the impressive Heungbaragi. (7) ELITE RULES looks a place chance at best after a trial that was fair.

Selections (6) White Charm (11) Cheongdam Wicked (8) Jilju Daero (7) Elite Rules
Next Best 9, 3
Fast Start 3, 6, 11

 

Race 2: Class 6 (1200M) Allowance / KRW 40 Million

Three-year-old maidens here with all but one of them having raced at least once before. Only one of them has troubled the judges so far. That’s (8) YONGMARU GU, who ran an improved 2nd on his second outing on July 4th at this distance beaten by well thought-of Soseono Legend. In doing so, he recorded the best time of any of these who have attempted this distance and while that is an extremely modest achievement, it should be enough to put him firmly in the frame here. (6) EUNHYE PADO has shown herself capable of running a useful time as well and tries her luck in softer company today. She gets well back in her races but seems to have a good finish on her and should improve today. (11) PIEONADA got a dreadful trip but still managed to finish 5th on debut at this distance and can build on it today. As for the solitary debut-maker, (2) MYEONGMA TIME went through a couple of trials in good order, running through the line well in both of them and couldn’t really have picked a more accommodating race to debut in.

Selections (8) Yongmaru Gu (6) Eunhye Pada (2) Myeongma Time (11) Pieonada
Next Best 9, 10
Fast Start 5, 11

 

Race 3: Class 6 (1300M) Allowance / KRW 40 Million 

The third on the card has a mixture of two and three-year-old gallopers to line up over the 1300m. (7) NINE EYE comes out of much stronger events where he clocked some good times over the short course. The Menifee colt has been hitting the line in good style which suggests the 1300m should suit. Moon Se-young will be legged aboard the two-year-old for the first time, which is always a good sign. (2) GOLDEN SWITCH is second up after a midfield performance behind Hansen Choice last start. The filly’s times have been fair and with some improvement second-up, she can run into the money. (1) GOVERNANCE looks next best and with a good draw is capable of sitting closer to the speed today. She passed a couple in the straight last time out over the six furlongs. (4) ACE HAMSEONG looks an each-way chance after finishing second last time out over the 1300m. His time was only fair but with some improvement he is a chance of figuring.

Selections (7) Nine Eye (2) Golden Switch (1) Governance (4) Ace Hamseong
Next Best 10, 8
Fast Start 8

 

Race 4: Class 5 (1200M) Handicap / KRW 40 Million

(9) GAJA PLAN was an impressive all the way maiden winner over 1000M on July 5th on what was her third career start. She is up in both class and distance today but while the draw may not be as favourable for her getting an easy lead, she has claims again. (8) GOLD FIELD also got her maiden win at her latest start, albeit for her it was the fifteenth time of asking. So long at class 6 would suggest the transition to the higher grade isn’t going to be easy, however, the time she ran was faster than all but one of her rivals here have achieved at this distance and she must be given another chance. Another up in class is (1) GLORY FIGHTER. She remains a maiden but has finished 3rd on three occasions. Moon Se Young rode her on the most recent of those and sticks with her today. She should be competitive. As for those with experience of this level already, (2) YEOLRIN MUN ran out a solid 2nd over 1400M on July 5th. He has won at this distance already and is nicely drawn to get to the lead once more.

Selections (2) Yeolrin Mun (9) Gaja Plan (1) Glory Fighter (8) Gold Field
Next Best 7, 6
Fast Start 2, 5, 6, 9

 

Race 5: Class 5 (1200M) Handicap / KRW 40 Million

Ten Korean-bred gallopers line up in the fifth where the majority of the runners appear to be out of form. (9) RIDE LUCKY is the one engagement that brings a last start win into the race, which he brought up at start two. He will carry the same weight with the claim of Moon Sung-hyeok being applied. He showed plenty of speed first up when clocking a good time for this grade. (1) NONGBUI SUCHEAHWA looks to map in the first four in running. Kim Yong-geun will be legged aboard for the first time, with the filly drawn the inside for her ninth assignment. She has placed on four occasions from eight starts and this looks weaker than previous assignments. (8) MENI STAND is second up after a reasonable performance when finishing fourth behind Songnam Tiz first up. The Menifee filly should improve off the run, 1200m is not an ideal distance with her best performances over 1000m. She will need to start running out a strong six furlongs (more…)

The Korean Derby – All The Winners So Far

The delayed 2020 Korean Derby will finally be run at Seoul Race Park this coming Sunday. The three-year-old Classic, originally scheduled for its usual spot in May, is in its 23rd year.

D3

Power Blade won the Korean Derby in a monsoon downpour on his way to the 2016 Triple Crown (Pic: KRA/Ross Holburt)

Except for an enforced stoppage during the Korean War – and this year’s COVID-19 hiatus – racing has been running on the peninsula continuously since the 1920’s but while those early years saw horses racing each other, it wasn’t exactly the kind of horse racing we’re familiar with today. Many horses weren’t even thoroughbred and with no Studbook or organised breeding to speak of, there was little point in having a Derby for three-year olds.

The establishment of a domestic thoroughbred breeding industry and the introduction of the private ownership of race-horses – and therefore prize money – changed all of that. The late 1980’s and early 1990s saw the creation of big Stakes races and, with the breeding industry reaching some maturity, finally in 1998, the Derby was run for the first time. In 2007, the Korean Triple Crown Series was inaugurated with the Ttukseom Cup, Derby and Minister’s Cup making up the three Classic races. Indeed, in that first year, J.S. Hold swept the lot.

The following year, as the first set of foals sent to Busan after the track’s opening in 2005 reached maturity, the KRA Cup Mile at the Southern track was re-designated as the “Korean Guineas” and replaced the Ttukseom Cup as the first jewel in the crown. The filly Sangseung Ilro won the first two legs in 2009 and Jigeum I Sungan won the Derby and Minister’s Cup in 2012, but it took until 2016 and Power Blade for a horse to win all three under the new set-up.

In the twenty-two editions of the Derby run so far, fourteen colts and eleven fillies have taken the prize which for its first three years was run over just seven furlongs before moving up to its current nine in 2001. However, with the Derby and Oaks now being run on consecutive weekends, there is little prospect of a filly entering, let alone winning the Derby any time soon.

When the first crop of foals to be sent to race exclusively at Busan reached three-years of age in 2008, the Derby – and other major Stakes races – became open to horses from both Seoul and Busan. Since then, raiders from the South have won eight out of twelve times:

Here is a list of the winners so far:

2019: Wonderful Fly [Tiz Wonderful – Butterfly (Pioneering)] – Moon Se Young – A dominant all the way winner under Moon Se Young, he was unplaced in the Minister’s Cup but bounced back to win two more races in the 2019 season. Remains in training and is racing at class 2 level.

2018: Ecton Blade [Ecton Park – Vying Ty Grr)] – Franco Da Silva – Another “Blade” winner for owner Kim Byeong-jin and another winner for trainer Kim Young-kwan with Franco Da Silva becoming the second foreign jockey to win the race. Menifee’s five-year winning streak was ended by the Ecton Park colt. Ecton Blade won just one more race after the Derby and was retired to Stud at the end of the 2019 season.

2017: Final Boss [Menifee – Sinsok Dolpa (Lindo Shaver)] – Choi Bum Hyun – The famously unruly Final Boss ended up on the Grandstand rail but still had enough about him to somehow pull off a victory. He won nine of his twenty-two races in total and was officially retired in a snowy ceremony earlier this year.

2016: Power Blade [Menifee – Cheonmachong (Lost Mountain)] – Kim Yong Geun – He became the second horse, after J.S. Hold, to sweep all three legs of the Triple Crown and the first with it in its current form of the final leg coming just a month after the Derby. Went on to have a sensational career which included solid performances in Dubai as well as a Grand Prix Stakes win. Retired through injury in 2018, he is now at Stud and covered 70 mares in the 2020 Breeding season.

2015: Yeongcheon Ace [Menifee – Dixie Avenger (Dixie Union)] – Choi Si Dae – The 4/1 second favourite ran out a two-length winner over Triple Nine. It would, of course, be the latter who would go on to have the greater career. In fact, Yeongcheon Ace would never actually win another race. He is retired now and covers the occasional mare.

2014: Queen’s Blade [Menifee – Harboring (Boston Harbor)] – Kim Yong Geun – The second filly in as many year’s to win the race and the second in a row from trainer Kim Young-kwan. Despite only finishing 5th in the KRA Cup Mile, she began as favourite and romped the Derby by ten-lengths. Like Speedy First, she too followed up comfortably in the Oaks. In 2015, she returned to Seoul to win the Group 3 Jeju Governor’s Cup. She has had one foal reach the races so far.

2013: Speedy First [Menifee – Speedy Deedy (Victory Gallop)] – Kanichiro Fujii – The first filly to win since Sangseung Ilro, she went on to win the Oaks at Busan in August but aside from an ill-advised trip to the USA, only raced once more after that. Now a broodmare, both of her foals to reach the track so far have been winners. Jockey Joe Fujii went on to win a Korea Cup and Korea Sprint and now rides the JRA circuit in his native Japan.

2012: Jigeum I Sungan [Ingrandire – Solmaru (Mujaazif)] – Moon Se Young – A horse who as just got better and better since winning the Derby at generous odds a year ago. He went on to win the Minister’s Cup, the final leg of the Trip Crown in October before coming back as a 4-year old to win the Owners’ Cup  and run 2nd in the Grand Prix Stakes. Now stands at Stud.

2011: Gwangyajeil [Vicar – Hurricane Havoc (Jade Robbery)] – Oh Kyoung Hoan – He skipped the KRA Cup Mile and went straight to the Derby. It paid off as he was an easy winner. Injury meant he only ran twice more and was retired to Stud at the end of his three-year old season. Bred by the late Im Sang Yun, who also bred J.S. Hold.

2010: Cheonnyeon Daero [Creek Cat – Doneitmyway (Northern Flagship)] – Park Geum Man – Money Car, winner of the KRA Cup Mile was sent off the favourite but got sucked into a speed duel with the sprinter Seonbongbulpae in the early stages. Still, the favourite had a considerable lead entering the final furlong. He was spent though, and Cheonnyeon Daero, a 30/1 shot, chased him down and caught him on the line. Money Car was never the same again and only ran once more. Cheonnyeon Daero went on to finish second in the Minister’s Cup – the final leg of the Triple Crown. A horse with a bad case of seond-itis – he finished 2nd 14 times during his career, he was retired in early 2012 and will go to Stud.

2009: Sangseung Ilro [Concept Win – Ms. Whiskey (Whiskey Wisdom)] – Jo Sung Gon
– The filly, a shock winner of the KRA Cup Mile a month earlier made it two in a row for Busan. She couldn’t maintain her form over the whole year, however, and went down to a shock defeat in the Oaks in August before returning for a creditable third in the Minister’s Cup, the third and final leg of the Triple Crown in October. Went on to win two more Stakes races as a four-year old before being retired from racing in January 2011 for broodmare duties.

2008: Ebony Storm [Buster’s Daydream – Sorority Jazz (Dixieland Band)] – Shim Seung Tae – Two years ago was the first time that Busan’s best three-year olds were invited up to Seoul to contest the Derby and it was one of those visitors, Ebony Storm, the longest shot on the board, who took victory in a monsoon downpour. Ebony Storm continued in training until the age of 8.

2007: J.S. Hold [Ft. Stockton – Hwangsangjiljoo (Passetreul)] – Moon Jung Kyun – Widely considered the best Korean bred horse ever. J.S. Hold landed the inaugural Triple Crown injuring himself in the final race and not returning to the track. He retired with nine wins from ten starts and stood at Stud, passing away in 2017.

2006: Baengnokjeong [Slew O’Green – Lesu Run (Proper Reality)] – Hwang Soon Do – The rank outsider at over 80-1 on Derby day, Baengnokjeong was at the time, the longest priced horse to win the Derby.

2005: Saebyeok Dongja [Fiercely – Cheongpa (The Rodgers Four)] – Chun Chang Ki – Raced on at the top-level for three more years. His jockey, Chun Chang Ki became a trainer and sadly passed away of cancer in 2012.

2004: Mupae Gangja [Didyme – A Heun A Hop Kan (Kinsky)] – Kim Hyo Seob – One of the top colts of this decade, Mupae Gangja won ten of his sixteen races including the Chairman’s Trophy and Minister’s Cup along with the Derby in 2004.

2003: Habidongju [Silent Warrior – Kahwa (Zoffany)] – Park Tae Jong – The last filly to win until Sangseung Ilro in 2009.

2002: Haeam Janggun [Didyme – Ronde (Toast The Champ)] – Lim Dae Gyu – Ronde foaled her second Derby winner in as many years with this filly who won eight of her fourteen races and gave the late Lim Dae Gyu a Derby victory.

2001: Haetpit Maeul [Mujaazif – Ronde (Toast The Champ)] – Ji Ha Ju – Starting a run of three consecutive years of filly triumphs was Haetpit Maeul. Now a broodmare with some success.

2000: Haekdol’pung [Lost Mountain – Swift Diplomacy (Nice Pirate)] – Park Tae Jong – Korea’s most successful ever jockey got his second straight Derby win on the favourite. It was tight though, with Haekdol’pung getting the verdict in a three-way photograph. Sire Lost Mountain died in 2009.

1999: Manseokkkeun [Fiercely – Komplication (Kris. S)] – Park Tae Jong – Yes, he really did have three consecutive ‘k’s in his name. Park Tae Jong got the first of his three Derby winners on the colt whose sire, Fiercely, died in 2009.

1998: Useung Yegam [Happy Jazz Band – Man Jang Dae()] – Song Seok Hen – Nine of the 14 runners in the first Derby were fillies and the favourite Useung Yegam, whose dam wasn’t even in the studbook, took the honours by a length.

Wonderful Fly Sensational In The Derby

The 2019 Korean Derby was turned into a one-horse procession as Wonderful Fly got the jump on his rivals early and and powered away to win the nation’s top three-year-old race by a near-record 13-lengths at Seoul Racecourse last Sunday.

Wonderful Fly KRA

While Global Chukje was sent off as a prohibitive favourite, the KRA Cup Mile winner was scarcely a factor. Breaking from an unfavourable gate he was wide the entire way around and could only run on for share of the minor money.

Wonderful Fly has similar bad luck with the draw down in Busan but from a perfect gate 5 this time, the result was never in doubt even if jockey Moon Se Young didn’t quite do as he was told.

“It wasn’t my instruction to lead” said trainer Park Dae-heung, “I wanted to be close but not in front. But I trust this jockey. It turned out he was right”.

Most of the other pre-race fancies such as True King and Glitter also struggled to play much of a role and so it was left to outsiders Simuangui Godong and Power Windy to fill out 2nd and 3rd, the latter coming from a seemingly tailed off last at the top of the stretch.

They finished the race an entire two-seconds after the winner, however.

Wonderful Fly Derby KRA

For trainer Park Dae-heung it was a first Derby in his twenty-third year of training. For Moon Se Young it was his third triumph in the race.

Wonderful Fly is a colt by Tiz Wonderful and out of Butterfly (by Pioneering).

The final race in the 2019 Korean Triple Crown series is the Minister’s Cup over 2000M at Seoul Racecourse on Sunday June 16th.

2019 KOREAN DERBY – FULL PREVIEW (May 12)

The 22nd running of the Korean Derby (KOR G1) takes place at Seoul Racecourse on Sunday afternoon (race 9 of 11 races which run from 10:45 to 18:00). Global Chukje, the dominant winner of the KRA Cup Mile, the first leg of the 2019 Triple Crown at Busan last month, is set to be hot favourite to score a repeat in the second jewel against fourteen rivals over 1800M.

Horse by horse comments for the Derby are followed by race-by-race for the rest of the Seoul card and then selections for Busan:

Seoul Race 9: KOREAN DERBY (1800M)

  1. DELTA BROTHER – Didn’t run as a juvenile but has won two of four starts this year, with his latest being a front-running victory over 1700M in April. It was only at class 5 so he is still relatively untested, but it showed good potential.
  1. DO KKI BLADE – Only start this term was a good win over 1700M at class 4 level on April 13th when he made all to win by three-lengths. Plenty of potential for improvement. He’ll want to be on pace from the start but has got the ideal draw to do it. There’s a bit of hype around this horse but it could be justified, especially after the draw.
  1. POWER WINDY – Takes his chance having run 2nd to True King at this distance on April 12th having previously racked up back to back wins at shorter. Ran on well that day but will need to find significantly more here.
  1. GABO DAY – Got wiped out coming out of the gates in the KRA Cup Mile but his 45/1 odds that day were likely fair anyway. A class 4 winner but only up to 1300M, the distance is a question too. Outsider again.
  1. WONDERFUL FLY – (KRA Cup Mile 7th) – Won his first two last summer but then suffered some injury setbacks. Showed promise when 2nd on his return over 1400M in March before running a creditable but unthreatening 7th in the Cup Mile. Ran on pleasingly enough from an unpromising position and could be one under the radar here. Multiple champion jockey Moon Se Young takes the ride.
  1. ENDURANCE – Just the one win from six starts so far, he comes in having run 2nd at class 5 over 1300M a month ago. Despite his name, his one attempt around two turns didn’t go well so there are question marks over the distance too. Likely to attempt to get close to the early speed and stay on as long as possible. Outsider.
  1. JANGSAN JOY – Has won twice over a mile at Busan and comes in here following back to back 3rd-place finishes at that same distance at class 4 level, beaten by useful ones both times. Had a couple of setbacks which makes this his first start since February. From a top stable and jockey Franco Da Silva won this race last year. Settles behind the early speed.
  1. DAEJI CHAMP – Two wins as a juvenile but yet to come out on top this term. Runner-up twice to promising filly Doctor Thunder over a mile in January and February. Latest effort saw him 3rd, again at a mile, at class 4 level a month ago. More needed here. Another likely to head for the front from the gate.
  1. WONDERFUL EVIL – Ran 5th in the Seoul Classic trial in March, coming from well-back to finish the quickest of all, but swerved the Cup Mile in order to win over 1700M at class 4 level, once more coming from of the pace. Could be coming into form at the right time and there could be more to come. Live outsider.
  1. SIMJANGUI GODONG – Only debuted in January and after finishing 3rd in his first two, went on to win his next pair, including a wild score over 1700M at class 5 on April 20th when he went so wide, he almost ended up climbing the grandstand. A Korean Derby has actually been in that manner in the past – Final Boss in 2017 – but you’d think he’ll need better manners in order to prevail here.
  1. GAON FORCE – Well backed for the Cup Mile having run a close 3rd in Seoul’s Classic trial in March but was one of a number who was severely hampered coming out of the gate and he accordingly never figured. He’s won 1700M
  1. TRUE KING – A little later coming onto the scene than most rivals, but he was a winner at this distance when he beat Power Windy on his way to scoring by two-and-a-half lengths at class 4 level in April. That puts him right in the hunt. Tucked in behind early lead and finished well. More improvement possible.
  1. GLOBAL CHUKJE – (KRA Cup Mile Winner) – The winner of the KRA Cup Mile, he cruised to the front early that day and won with a full eight-lengths to spare. He’s also a standout winner at class 3 level over 1700M and has shown plenty in the way of speed. He’ll be favourite and won’t need to improve too much to win. He doesn’t need to lead but there will always be question marks about such a wide draw.
  1. MYEONGPUM CHUKJE – (KRA Cup Mile 5th) – Likeable colt who could thrive on the distance. 4th in the Sports Seoul and then 5th in the Cup Mile but both were perhaps too short. Easy gate to wire winner over 1700M at class 4 in January. He has a chance.
  1. GLITTER – (KRA Cup Mile 4th) – Solid but unspectacular 4th in Cup Mile but he does hold a 3rd place in a fast class 3 race over 1800M – albeit on a wet track – which may stand him in good stead here. Needs more and will have to do it from the widest gate but can’t rule out the stable. Settles mid-position.

Verdict: A really competitive renewal of the Korean Derby sees (13) GLOBAL CHUKJE set to start a prohibitive favourite on the back of his demolition job in the KRA Cup Mile a month ago. He is the best horse at this stage and all things being equal, he’ll win. However, there are one or two doubts, not least the draw and it’s not impossible he could find himself in trouble in the straight. If that happens then the front running (2) DO KKI BLADE, the big winner from that draw, could be the one to take advantage leading gate to wire but also that one’s stablemate, the improving (5) WONDERFUL FLY, who can run his own race from gate 5. Then there is Kim Young-kwan’s (15) GLITTER, who can be expected to stick to Global Chukje like glue throughout. The long-shot play could be (9) WONDERFUL EVIL, a really good winner over 1700M last month and with potential to improve further still.

Selections (5) Wonderful Fly (13) Global Chukje (15) Glitter (2) Do Kki Blade
Next Best 9, 12, 14
Fast Start 1, 11, 12, 13

Here’s the race-by-race for the rest of the Seoul Sunday card:

Race 1: Class 6 (1300M) Allowance / KRW 40 Million

Filly maiden to begin with. (4) CRAZY QUEEN came from just behind the early pace to run a strong 2nd on what was just her second start and first at this distance on April 14th. She’s well drawn to get to the front here and can win. (1) SONGAM BARBIE has been knocking on the door for a while and steps back up in trip in good shape to be competitive while (5) BINNANEUN RUBY too has been consistently close and could make a breakthrough here. (2) SUNSHINE MARINE and (8) JANGGUNUI SIDAE were both a touch below par last time but could improve here.

Selections (4) Crazy Queen (1) Songam Barbie (5) Binnaneun Ruby (8) Janggunui Sidae
Next Best 2, 3
Fast Start 3, 4, 9

Race 2: Class 5 (1200M) Handicap / KRW 40 Million

(6) SPEED BELLE was a good winner in a fast time over 1000M on April 13th and steps up in class here with solid claims of a repeat. She raced promisingly over 1300M before so should have few problems with the trip today and can lead all the way. (2) LOOKING GOOD looked anything but when weakening on his latest start. He had a win and a 3rd place before that though, the latter at this class, and is worth another chance off six-weeks break. (7) HANEUL ACE beat Looking Good last time on her way to 5th on what (more…)

The Korean Derby 2015: How They Went

Yeongcheon Ace was the winner of the 2015 Korean Derby at Seoul Racecourse on Sunday. The second-favourite secured victory by two lengths to ensure that no horse will sweep the Triple Crown this year with KRA Cup Mile victor Rafale ending in 3rd.

Choi Si Dae and Yeongcheon Ace return to the unsaddling area after winning the Derby (Pic: Slickpix)

Choi Si Dae and Yeongcheon Ace return to the unsaddling area after winning the Derby (Pic: Slickpix)

Yeongcheon Ace is the third consecutive Korean Derby winner to have been sired by Menifee following the fillies Speedy First in 2013 and Queen’s Blade in 2014. He is also the 6th horse from Busan to win the Derby from the 8 editions that have taken place since horses from that track became eligible.

Here’s how they went:

1. Yeongcheon Ace (Choi Si Dae) – Away steadily and sat towards the back until they entered the home straight. He closed strongly and took the lead inside the final furlong to win by two lengths, going away. 4.8 to win, 1,7 to show.

2. Triple Nine (Oh Kyoung Hoan) – Ostensibly Kim Young Kwan’s second string, after receiving a lot of backing in the morning’s racing media, he was quite heavily backed. He sat in midfield but improved around the home-turn to second. He was passed by the winner and was labouring a little towards the line. 6.6, 2.5 (2 lengths behind the horse in front)

3. Rafale (You Hyun Myung) – The KRA Cup Mile winner, who’s lost 13kg since that race, sat comfortably in the middle of the pack and closed down the outside in the home straight. Finished strongly but was three-quarters of a length behind Triple Nine. 5.0, 1.7 (0.75 lengths)

4. Daegunhwang (Seo Seung Un) – When he opened up a lead of two lengths at the top of the stretch, the race was his to lose. Lose it he did but it was still a solid run from Seoul’s best finisher who was close to the front throughout and took things up as they began to turn for home. Weakened in the last half furlong. 9.1, 2.1 (0.75 lengths)

5. Doraon Hyeonpyo (Kim Dong Young) – The pre-race favourite raced in 4th or 5th the whole way around. Although he he quickened sufficiently to pass the early leaders as they tired, he too was passed in the home straight. 2.4, 1.2 (0.5 lengths)

6. Seonbong (Lee Joon Chel) – A good run although he just missed out on the prize money. He went towards the back early and closed well although couldn’t make inroads into the big guns in the final furlong. 113.9, 9.9 (1.5 lengths)

7. Smart Time (Ham Wan Sik) – The lowest rated pre-race was the first of the two fillies to finish and it was creditable enough. Went back early but passed four in the home straight. Was finishing the 3rd quickest in the race, she may be Oaks bound. 148.8, 28.5 (1 length)

8. Yuseong Fighting (Lee Hee Cheon) – We said in the preview that this one would go forward as there was no way he would be able to win from the back. Well they did totally the opposite, going right to the back and then closing impressively. Of course, there was far too much to do but only the winner finished quicker. The last of those who were in touch with the winner and can be said to have had a good race. 161.2, 15.6 (1.5 lengths)

9. Mac And Cheese (Joe Fujii) – After his performance in the KRA Cup Mile, expectations were low and he duly lived down to them. He went towards the back early and didn’t quicken when asked. 58.0, 13.7 (5 lengths)

10. Yeongung Bolt (Song Keong Yun) – The other filly, she went towards the back of midfield early and didn’t find anything in the home straight, finishing slowly. After the race she was found to have bled and will be suspended for one month. 165.4, 25.0 (5 lengths)

11. Yeonggwanguitaepung (Masa Tanaka) – He’d lost 14kg since his KRA CUp Mile 4th and the race went exactly the opposite to how it was expected. Instead of starting slowly and finishing strongly, he went towards the front early and finished weakly. Didn’t look 100% right. 19.7, 4.2 (Nose)

12. New White Socks (Moon Se Young) – A big disappointment, this one showed close to the front much of the way around but was passed on the home turn and was slow in the straight. 16.3, 3.9 (0.5 lengths)

13. Sanggam Mama (Park Eul Woon) – As expected, he went out quickly and took the early lead. As expected, he couldn’t keep it up and was done by the time they got to the home straight. 75.7, 15.8 (2.5 lengths)

The Korean Oaks will be run at Busan on June 21 while the final leg of the Triple Crown is the Minister’s Cup, back at Seoul on July 19.

Aced It! Yeongcheon Ace Wins The Korean Derby

Yeongcheon Ace came through with a powerful finish to win the 2015 Korean Derby at Seoul Racecourse this afternoon.

Yeongcheon Ace beats Triple Nine (Pic: Ross Holburt)

Yeongcheon Ace beats Triple Nine (Pic: Ross Holburt)

Third in the KRA Cup Mile, the extra furlong proved all the difference as Yeongcheon Ace swept past the front running Daegunhwang in the final furlong and went on for a 2-length victory from Triple Nine and Cup Mile winner Rafale.

Yeongcheon Ace and Choi Si Dae in the Derby winner's circle (Pic: Ross Holburt)

Yeongcheon Ace and Choi Si Dae in the Derby winner’s circle (Pic: Ross Holburt)

It was another big race win for jockey Choi Si Dae and yet another Classic winner from Busan. Daegunhwang was Seoul’s best finisher, battling on for 4th ahead of pre-race favourite, Doraon Hyeonpyo.

The Korea Derby (KOR G1) – Seoul Racecourse – 1800M – May 17, 2015

1. Yeongcheon Ace (KOR) [Menifee – Dixie Avenger (Dixie Union)] – Choi Si Dae – 4.8, 1.7
2. Triple Nine (KOR) [Ecton Park – A Little Poke (Pleasant tap)] – Oh Kyoung Hoan – 2.5
3. Rafale (KOR) [Colors Flying – Dongbang Choego (Al Naba)] – You Hyun Myung – 1.7
Distances: 2 lengths / 0.75 lengths
Also Ran: 4. Daegunhwang 5. Doraon Hyeonpyo 6. Seonbong 7. Smart Time 8. Yuseong Fighting 9. Mac And Cheese 10. Yeongung Bolt 11. Yeonggwanguitaepung 12. New White Socks 13. Sangam Mama

Full report to follow.

The Korean Derby 2015: The Final Preview

The 18th running of the Korean Derby takes place at Seoul Racecourse on Sunday afternoon. Eight horses from Busan, including the KRA Cup Mile winner Rafale take on five from Seoul in the second leg of the 2015 Korean Triple Crown.

Queen's Blade won last year's Derby. Who will succeed her in 2015? (Pic: Ross Holburt)

Queen’s Blade won last year’s Derby. Who will succeed her in 2015? (Pic: Ross Holburt)

If you’ve never been before, get down to Seoul Racecourse for this one. Although the Derby is the feature, it is one of ten races with the first at 10:50 and the last at 18:00. The Keeneland Cup is another big race on the day while K-Pop is provided by “Mamamoo”.

Here is a full run-down of the field (Name [Pedigree] (Starts/1st/2nd/3rd) – Jockey):

The Korean Derby (KOR G1) – Seoul Racecourse – 1800M – May 17, 2015 (16:55)

1. Yeonggwanguitaepung [Menifee – Grand Pass (Grand Slam)] (9/3/2/2) – Masakazu Tanaka
A really quick finisher, he flew home in the Cup Mile to just be edged into 4th. He is a winner over 1800M already and is likely to go to the back early and try to close. Trainer Kim Young Kwan won the Derby in 2009, 2013 and 2014 and there is a real chance here of Masa Tanaka becoming the second foreign jockey to win the race.

2. Daegunhwang [Menifee – Lusi Pond (Elusive Quality)] (6/5/1/0) – Seo Seung Un
Seoul’s great hope. After a second place on his debut, he’s won five in a row generally from the front and without coming under any real pressure. He should be close to the early pace and is going to finally be subjected to a stern examination here. So far there is nothing to suggest he isn’t up to it and failure to at least place will be very disappointing.

3. New White Socks [Secret Weapon – Wonder Queen (Canadian Silver)] (7/5/0/0) – Moon Se Young
Another highly promising one from Seoul. He was a winner over 1700M last time out in a decent time beating both Seonbong and Smart Time in the process. He has raced close to the front on most starts – although he has had little to stop him doing that, has plenty of potential and may sneak into the money. Jockey Moon Se Young won the Derby in 2012 on Jigeum I Sungan while trainer Lee Shin Young would become the first female Derby winner.

4. Doraon Hyeonpyo [Colors Flying – Kilcoe Castle (Gone West)] (7/5/2/0) – Kim Dong Young
He and Rafale exchanged Champion Juvenile races last year and he was then overhauled in the closing stages of the Cup Mile by the same horse having hit the front three furlongs out. He won a slow mile race the time before that but hasn’t been tried at this distance. He will probably try to take the early initiative and with the home straight at Seoul generally being less taxing than at Busan, he may well hold on.

5. Triple Nine [Ecton Park – A Little Poke (Pleasant Tap)] (5/4/1/0) – Oh Kyoung Hoan
The second string from the Kim Young Kwan stable didn’t run in the Cup Mile but comes in here after four consecutive wins, the most recent two of which were over a mile. He also has a quick finish and will try to come from just off the pace. Jockey Oh Kyoung Hoan, now based at Busan, won the Derby on Gwangyajeil in 2011.

6. Yeongcheon Ace [Menifee – Dixie Avenger (Dixie Union)] (8/3/3/2) – Choi Si Dae
Along with Yeonggwanguitaepung, this is the other noted closer in the race. He came from off the pace to finish 3rd in the Cup Mile and has never been worse than 3rd in eight career starts. The distance won’t be a problem – he beat Rafale over 1900M in March and he must be strongly considered. Jockey Choi Si Dae won last year’s President’s Cup and Grand Prix at Seoul but is yet to win the Derby.

7. Sanggam Mama [Peace Rules – Miss Merit (Old Trieste)] (5/3/1/1) – Park Eul Woon
He has plenty of speed, putting in some really quick times but is yet to be tried at further than 1400M. As such, others will be favoured although he did beat Seonbong over 1300M earlier this year. His only shot is perhaps to go out quickly and try to hold on so expect to see his jockey try to get to the front before the first turn. Park Eul Woon is yet to win a Graded race.

8. Yeongung Bolt [Colors Flying – Haneul Gisang (Duality)] (7/3/1/1) – Song Keong Yun
One of two fillies in the race, she didn’t run in the Cup mile and her saddle slipped on her only try at further than 1400M so far. She won at that distance last month and is likely to try to take up a position just behind the early leaders. She won’t be among the favourites as the others are far more proven but it is worth noting that fillies do have an excellent record in this race and have won the last two renewals.

9. Mac And Cheese [Menifee – Squared (Posse)] (8/5/0/1) – Kanichiro Fujii
Well-fancied for the Cup Mile, he was a real disappointment, never getting into the right position and never travelling well ending 8th of 11. He had been an impressive winner over the same distance the time before A disappointment in the Cup Mile, running 8th of 11 when well-fancied, he had been an impressive winner over the same distance the time before. If he can get to the front entering the home straight, he has a chance but he won’t be among the favourites this time. Joe Fujii won the 2013 Derby on Speedy First.

10. Rafale [Colors Flying – Dongbang Cheogo (Al Naba)] (8/5/2/0) – You Hyun Myung
The KRA Cup Mile winner will no doubt have plenty of support in the Derby too. He won a class 2 race at this distance in January although Doraon Hyeonpyo beat him on his only previous visit to Seoul and he also finished behind Yeongcheon Ace over 1900M in March. Others were finishing faster in the Cup Mile but he got the job done. He won’t want to lead but neither will he want to be too far away and if he finds a run in the home straight, he can win this. You Hyun Myung is yet to win the Derby but he has won the Grand Prix Stakes at Seoul.

11. Smart Time [Ft. Stockton – Charon (Jade Robbery)] (6/3/2/0) – Ham Wan Sik
The other filly in the race, she will one of the rank outsiders.A filly, she will be an outsider here. She was second to her talented stablemate Meni Money in the Sports Seoul Cup but was 4th on her only try around two turns so far with both New White Socks and Seonbong beating her and this will be a tough ask.

12. Yuseong Fighting [Didyme – Maggies Prayer (Songandaprayer)] (7/4/0/1) – Lee Hee Cheon
He led for much of the Cup Mile but didn’t stay on, fading to 6th. Going an extra furlong today, the distance will again be the primary negative against him as he gives every impression of being a sprinter. He will probably go forward again as he’s certainly not going to win by coming from the back, but he will be a long shot. Jockey Lee Hee Cheon’s biggest win came at Seoul last October on Never Seen Before in the Minister’s Cup

13. Seonbong [Duality – Megabuck Gal (Montbrook)] (7/3/2/1) – Lee Joon Chel
He was just beaten a neck by New White Socks last time out over 1700M having led at one stage. He will probably settle in the middle of the pack and should stay on. He will not be among the favourites but is certainly capable of putting in a good performance. Jockey Lee Joon Chel’s biggest win to date came in the Owners’ Cup in March this year.

Korean Derby 2015 – First Preview

One of the biggest days of the year is almost upon us. The 2015 Korean Derby will be run at Seoul Racecourse on Sunday May 17. The Grand Prix has the prestige while the new Asia Challenge Cup has the international visitors but the Derby is still the Derby.

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Speedy First won the Korean Derby and Oaks a couple of years ago

Eight are scheduled to make the trip up from Busan headed of course by Rafale. He won the first leg of the Triple Crown, the KRA Cup Mile (Korean 2000 Guineas) at his home track last month.

The horses who finished 2nd to 4th in the Cup Mile will also be there. Connections of Doraon Hyeonpyo, Yeongcheon Ace and Yeonggwanguitaepung will be hoping that the additional furlong of the Derby will make all the difference.

Unlike for the Cup Mile last month, Seoul looks set to at least provide a challenge for the visitors with the exciting Daegunhwang perhaps best placed to keep the silverware in the capital. Two fillies are entered; Smart Time from Seoul and Yeongung Bolt (she of saddle-slipping fame) from Busan.

Here is a full run down of the 13 in at this stage, listed in order of prize money won over the past six months (Runs/1st/2nd/3rd):

The Korean Derby (KOR G1) – Seoul Racecourse – 1800M – Sunday May 17, 2015

Rafale [Colors Flying – Dongbang Cheogo (Al Naba)] (8/5/2/0)
The KRA Cup Mile winner will no doubt have plenty of support in the Derby too. He won a class 2 race at this distance in January. Others were finishing faster in the Cup Mile but he got the job done. He won’t necessarily want to lead but he will want to be close.

Doraon Hyeonpyo [Colors Flying – Kilcoe Castle (Gone West)] (7/5/2/0)
Last year’s champion juvenile was overhauled in the closing stages of the Cup Mile by Rafale having hit the front three furlongs out. He won a slow mile race the time before that but hasn’t been tried at this distance.

Daegunhwang [Menifee – Lusi Pond (Elusive Quality)] (6/5/1/0)
Seoul’s great hope. After a second on his debut, he’s won five in a row generally from the front and without coming under any real pressure. It is going to be very interesting to see what he can do when subjected to a proper examination.

Yeongcheon Ace [Menifee – Dixie Avenger (Dixie Union)] (8/3/3/2)
This one likes to come from off the pace which he did to run third in the Cup Mile. Has never been worse than 3rd in eight career starts and will have no trouble with the distance.

New White Socks [Secret Weapon – Wonder Queen (Canadian Silver)] (7/5/0/0)
Another highly promising one from Seoul. He was a winner over 1700M last time out in a decent time and has plenty of potential.

Mac And Cheese [Menifee – Squared (Posse)] (8/5/0/1)
A disappointment in the Cup Mile, running 8th of 11 when well-fancied, he had been an impressive winner over the same distance the time before. He’ll get another chance here.

Triple Nine [Ecton Park – A Little Poke (Pleasant Tap)] (5/4/1/0)
He didn’t go in the Cjup Mile but comes in here after four consecutive wins, the most recent two of which were over a mile. A very quick finisher, he is from the Kim Young Kwan stable.

Yeonggwanguitaepung [Menifee – Grand Pass (Grand Slam)] (9/3/2/2)
This is another quick finisher, he flew home in the Cup Mile to just be edged into 4th, he was a winner over 1800M the time before and has a real chance here.

Smart Time [Ft. Stockton – Charon (Jade Robbery)] (6/3/2/0)
A filly, she will be an outsider here. Second in the Sports Seoul Cup but 4th on her only try around two turns so far, this will be a tough ask.

Yeongung Bolt [Colors Flying – Haneul Gisang (Duality)] (7/3/1/1)
The other filly, her saddle slipped on her only try at a mile so far. She returned to win over 1400M. Likely to be showing towards the front early but she probably won’t be among the favourites. Fillies do have an excellent record in this race recently though.

Seonbong [Duality – Megabuck Gal (Montbrook)] (7/3/2/1)
Just beaten a neck by New White Socks last time out over 1700M, he was leading at one stage and is certainly capable of putting in a good performance.

Yuseong Fighting [Didyme – Maggies Prayer (Songandaprayer)] (7/4/0/1)
He showed the way for much of the Cup Mile but didn’t stay on, fading to 6th. The distance will again be the big question mark here.

Sanggam Mama [Peace Rules – Miss Merit (Old Trieste)] (5/3/1/1)
Plenty of speed, putting in some really quick times but is yet to be tried at further than 1400M. As such, others will be favoured.

We will have another detailed preview once final declarations have been made, jockey bookings have been confirmed and all horses have arrived in Seoul. This has the makings of a very interesting Derby.

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

Joe Fujii Wins The Korean Derby On Filly Speedy First

Speedy First romped away with the Korean Derby this afternoon, ending the Triple Crown hopes of pre-race favourite and KRA Cup Mile winner Sting Ray and became the first filly since Sangseung Ilro in 2009 to win the biggest race of all. Her jockey, Joe Fujii became the first foreign rider to win the Derby

Speedy First and Joe Fujii in the Korean Derby Winner's Circle

Speedy First and Joe Fujii in the Korean Derby Winner’s Circle

Speedy First (Menifee) came in to the race off 4 consecutive wins and was sent off the 4/1 second favourite behind Sting Ray (Forest Camp), who punters had backed into odds-on.

Outsiders Heungnyong Bisang (Ft.Stockton) and Titan (Creek Cat) made the early pace but the pack was bunched tightly together as they entered the final corner. Turning into the home straight they fanned out across the track but it still looked anyone’s race until Joe Fujii got to work on Speedy First a furlong and a half out. The pair sped away from the rest and never looked back.

The margin of victory on the line was 2 lengths with 47/1 chance Unhae (Ingrandire) finishing 2nd and Major King (Pico Central) 3rd. Sting Ray never looked likely to add the second jewel in the Triple Crown to the first and trailed home 6th.

Aussie trainer Peter Wolsley’s Amell’s Atom (Menifee) picked up some prize money by finishing 5th, however, there was disappointment for British jockey Darryll Holland who ended in 12th place on Fantastic Jazz (Menifee). Lee Shin Young, the first female trainer to have a runner in the Derby, saw both her entrants struggle with Titan in 13th and Awesome Tiger (Exploit) disqualified.

Speedy First goes clear

Speedy First goes clear



For jockey Joe Fujii
, it was the 60th winner of what has been a quite remarkable 11 months in Korea. The 29-year old won the Grand Prix Stakes on another filly, Gamdonguibada, last December becoming the first foreign jockey to do so and today he completed a unique double by achieving the distinction of being the first foreigner to win the Derby. He has now won 2 out Korea’s 3 richest races.

Fujii’s license was recently extended until September and his reputation among punters is such that he is well on the way to taking on Toshio Uchida’s title of the most popular Japanese man in Korea.

Speedy First’s win also firmly cemented Busan trainer Kim Young Kwan as the nation’s best. This was his 2nd Derby, following Sangseung Ilro’s 2009 triumph. In more general terms, Busan horses once again got the better of their Seoul counterparts in a big race.

Before the Derby, punters were treated to the charms of Sistar. currently K-Pop's top girl group (Pic: @SeoulBhoy)

Before the Derby, punters were treated to the charms of Sistar. currently K-Pop’s top girl group (Pic: @zstokes)

So just a few hours after a Triple Crown hope went down in the US in the shape of Orb, so Sting Ray’s hopes of emulating J.S.Hold in Korea have gone. Never mind, today we saw a new star emerge on to the scene.

Speedy First will automatically become favourite for the Korean Oaks, which will be held at Busan in August and then if all goes well, we should see her back at Seoul in October when the cream of this year’s generation reconvene for the Minister’s Cup, the final leg of the Triple Crown. There is a lot to look forward to.

Korean Derby (KOR G1) – Seoul Race Park – 1800M – May 19, 2013

1. Speedy First (KOR) [Menifee – Speedy Deedy (Victory Gallop)] – Kanichiro (Joe) Fujii – 5.1, 1.7
2. Unhae (KOR) [Ingrandire – Silver Meteor (Creator)] – Lee Sang Hyeok – 6.5
3. Major King (KOR) [Pico Central – Still Golden (Gold Fever)]

Distances: 2 lengths/175 lengths
Also Ran: 4. Brig 5. Amell’s Atom 6. Sting Ray 7. Last Mudae 8. High Five 9. Joy Lucky 10. K Tap 11. Suseong BR 12. Fantastic Jazz 13. Titan 14. Yapung 15 Heungnyong Bisang DQ: Awesome Tiger