Dongbang Daero

Power Blade’s Grand Prix The Best Yet

On Sunday, we probably saw the best Grand Prix Stakes we ever have. The 2015 edition, won by Bold Kings, was outstanding, while for those of us who go in for that sort of thing, Tough Win’s 2011 victory over fellow “troika” members, Mister Park and Smarty Moonhak will always be special, even if the race itself wasn’t that exciting.  Power Blade’s victory this year, on the other hand, was in a race that involved a win by a genuine star in a contest that wasn’t settled until the final stride.

Power Blade Grand Prix Fnish1

Power Blade wins the Grand Prix (Pic: KRA)

Cheongdam Dokki, the three-year-old favourite, set a pace that was quite brutal by Korean standards. In a Grand Prix Stakes, only Ugildongja in 2009 and Beolmaui Kkum in 2014 had set anything close to his early sectionals – and both finished well back in their respective fields. Cheongdam Dokki didn’t. The final time of Power Blade broke the 2300M track record by over a second and was precisely three seconds quicker than the fastest previous Grand Prix – the aforementioned 2009 edition, which was won by Dongbanui Gangja.

The horses who went with Cheongdam Dokki – or at least tried to – simply had nothing left for the closing stages; Diferent Dimension, Dynamic Dash and last to succumb, Silver Wolf, fading through the pack. The only one who kept pace early and had something to offer was the outstanding Triple Nine. Lim Sung Sil, possibly fearing that Cheongdam Dokki was simply too good, began to get after Triple Nine as they began the long turn for home, a full four-furlongs out, in order to keep up with the leader. At the same time Oh Kyung Hwan on Power Blade and Park Jae I on Dongbang Daero opted to save energy and allowed their mounts a more leisurely trip, ultimately paying huge dividends in the closing stages.

It is therefore perhaps testament to the sheer ability of Triple Nine and the huge potential of Cheongdam Dokki that they still managed to finish 3rd and 4th respectively after such stiff early efforts. Less than three lengths separated the winner and 5th placed Buhwarui Banseok.

Power Blade Grand Prix Winners Circle

Power Blade in the Grand Prix winner’s circle (Pic: KRA)

Dongbang Daero had finished 3rd behind Saengil Gippeum in what was a trial for the Grand Prix over 2200M at Busan at the beginning of November. Saengil Gippeum blew them away that day but Dongbang Daero had finished the quickest, running on very nicely to become involved in a finish in which there was just half a length separating 2nd and 6th. Buhwarui Banseok was also involved in that finish and he too ran on very well on Sunday.

Last year’s winner Clean Up Joy didn’t look the part before the race and never really featured, ending up in 7th place.

It became clear around two furlongs out that Cheongdam Dokki wasn’t going to be able to keep things up the whole way around. Triple Nine got first crack at him but Power Blade and Dongbang Daero simply had too much in reserve and Power Blade’s class saw him home by a Head on the line.

It is a shame that neither Triple Nine nor Power Blade will be returning to the Dubai World Cup Carnival as both look eminently capable of winning a race this time around. Connections have other plans, however, and hopefully they’ll get a nice long rest through the worst of the winter – although in all honesty, it would be no surprise to see one or other lining up in a nondescript Class 1 handicap come February. The pair of them have been such good ambassadors for Korean racing over the past three seasons, that they went overseas even once is something we can be grateful for. That trip, plus their showings in the Korea Cup and Sprint demonstrated that the pair of them could hold their own to a good (not elite, but good) standard anywhere.

Trainer Kim Young Kwan can divide opinions, but there can be no denying that when a horse of his comes out to run in a big race, his team will have it in peak condition and Triple Nine and Power Blade are the epitome of this – Triple Nine’s Godolphin Mile aside (and he was in desperate need of a spell then), they never seem to have an off-day.

Both now have claims to be the top Korean-bred horse ever. Power Blade’s Triple Crown and Grand Prix matching up with Triple Nine’s President’s Cup hat-trick. Their prize money earnings are almost identical with both breaking the 3 Billion Won barrier at the Grand Prix.  They’ve raced each other seven times now with Triple Nine leading the head-to-head by 4 to 3  – although Power Blade has now won three of their last four meetings.

We head into 2018 with plenty to be excited about on track. Cheongdam Dokki’s development along with the pair who ultimately didn’t run in the Grand Prix, Dolkong and New Citadel. Then there is the emergence of a new domestic three-year-old crop which looks stronger than this year’s. Still on top for now though are Power Blade and Triple Nine and next year they will still only be five and six-years-old.

 

 

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Aragoni Rides 1st Busan Winner / Rice Stable Continues To Star

He’d come close a few times but Paolo Aragoni bagged his first Korean winner at Busan this afternoon. The Italian jockey partnered Ocean Line to victory in race 5.

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Paolo Aragoni and Ocean Line head out (Pic: Ross Holburt)

Aragoni debuted on April 29th and has already ridden in two Graded races, including last week’s Korean Derby at Seoul. He had racked up four 2nd places and three 3rds but the win had ths far proving elsuive. It might have arrived on Dochi in race 4 today but the colt missed the start and while he flew home, he had too much to do.

Instead it was one race later that Aragoni produced a strong finish on 10/1 chance Ocean Line to see off Wish Me Luck and the fast finishing Four Star by a neck on the line. Too strong, felt the Stewards, who fined him 50,000 Won for overuse of the whip.  Aragoni won’t be overly concerned about that. His win arrived on his 16th mount in Korea.

It was another solid day for Bart Rice. The South African trainer has been in outstanding form in May and it would continue in race 2 today.

Supernova Iji (Ecton Park) was racing for the first time in 2015 and under jockey You Hyung Myung, she dominated the all-filly test to win by three lengths over pre-race favourite Pangpang Legend. Rice has sent out twelve runners so far this month and no less than five of them have now returned as winners.

Supernova Iji

Bart Rice’s Supernova Iji and You Hyun Myung go clear at Busan on Friday. The Rice stable is in good form at the moment (Pic: Ross Holburt)

In other races, Dongbang Daero (Curlin) now has three wins from his last four starts following a resounding victory in the 1800M race 9, ending the winning streak of Saengil Gippeum (Parading), who was racing at class 2 for the first time, in the process.

There was something of a surprise in the final race of the day, the 1400M race 10 as the highly thought-of pair of US imports, First Magical (First Dude) and Useung Line (Congrats) both went down as Tariat Tale (Tale Of Ekati) swept home to claim the honours and move on to three wins from five starts.

Earlier, 2014 President’s Cup and Grand Prix Stakes winner Gyeongbudaero’s half broether Wonil Rookie (Forest Camp) secured his fourth win in eight attempts, wininng race 7 by just under a length.

On Saturday, attention shifts to Seoul where Park Tae Jong will have four opportunities to become the first Korean jockey to ride 2000 career winners, beginning in race 1. There are 11 races from 10:50 to 18:00.

Busan Friday Review

A pair of US imports, Tongil Sidae and Dongbang Daero provided the stand-out performances at a chilly but sunny Busan on Friday.

Tongil Sidae (Munnings), racing at a mile for the first time, continued his impressive start to his career recording a strong two-length victory in the class 2 race 10. Always prominent under jockey You Hyun Myung, the three-year-old gelding ran on to record his third victory in five starts.

One race earlier, Dongbang Daero (Curlin), who got his maiden win at the ninth attempt at the end of January, quickly followed up with another, once more at 1800M. Carrying top weight, the four-year-old comfortably held off the challenging of the promising Sinhang (who had previously been narrowly beaten by Tongil Sidae), to claim race 9 by just over a length.

Despite getting beaten on hot favourite Smart Gentleman in race 8, You Hyun Myung was jockey of the day with three winners while it was a mixed day for Ikuyasu Kurakane. The Japanese rider claimed race 1 on 5/1 shot Golden Leo but then got left in the gate in race 7 after the well fancied Raon Santos reared up and ran off without him. Makoto Okabe was also among the winners, partnering perennial placer Seorabeol Gongju to victory over Smart Gentleman in the aforementioned race 8.

Saturday March 12
Seoul Racecourse: 12 races from 10:50 to 18:00
Jeju Racecourse: 9 races from 12:20 to 17:20

Sunday March 13
Seoul Racecourse: 11 races from 10:50 to 18:00
Busan Raecourse: 6 races from 13:00 to 17:05