Fantastic Kingdom

Speed Young Downs Fantastic Kingdom For Juvenile Crown

Fantastic Kingdom came up short in his bid for a clean-sweep of top juvenile races, as Speed Young romped by for a comprehensive victory in the Breeders’ Cup (1400M KOR-G2) at Busan Racecourse on Sunday afternoon.

Speed Yong wins the Breeders’ Cup – no, not that Breeders’ Cup (Pic: KRA)

Having prevailed in the Busan Rookie Stakes, the Areumdaun Jilju Stakes and the Gimhae Mayor’s Trophy, Fantastic Kingdom was sent off a slight favourite over the filly Jeulgeounyeojeong who had pushed him all the way in the Gimhae, over the shorter distance of 1200M a month ago.

The filly was scarcely a factor though as Fantastic Kingdom sat on an early pace that was set by Sun Dragon and Lucky Sun. Both “Suns” would fall away quickly as Fantastic Kingdom took up the running three furlongs from home. He looked set to go on, only for Speed Young, who had drawn the widest but one gate and then sat back in the field, to loom up.

With just over a furlong to run, Speed Young sped by and ran on to win by a comfortable five-lengths with Nonghyup Chairman’s Trophy 3rd placegetter Nanometa also emerging from the rear to claim 2nd place ahead of a tiring Fantastic Kingdom in 3rd.

The winner, who was racing for just the third time, was sent off slightly in excess of 10/1, fourth overall in the market. The relatively short odds reflected that in addition to his Areumdaun Jilju Stakes 2nd, he was just one of four who had previously won over the 1400M, coming from off the pace and beating a filly in Smarty Dolpung who herself went on to win in fine style on Friday.

Speed Young is from the final crop by Menifee and is out of Tapestry (by Fusaichi Pegasus). He was bred by Nokwon Farm and was purchased for 100 Million Korean Won by owners D R M City at the November 2021 KTBA Yearling Sale – a sale at which D R M signed for five of the top seven sale-toppers. He is trained at Busan by Bang Dong-suk, who sent out Hit Yegam to win two legs of the Triple Crown last year. You Hyun-myung, who rode Hit Yegam to both those wins, also partnered Speed Young.

Given that it was the only Group race on the schedule, the victory was enough to see Speed Young win the Juvenile Series and for Nanometa to leapfrog Fantastic Kingdom to claim 2nd. Only time will tell but the early indications are that this year’s two-year-old crop has been a good one and we could be set for a fascinating Triple Crown series in 2023, which will kick off in April with the KRA Cup Mile.

Next week the Stakes season draws to a close with the traditional season finale of the Grand Prix Stakes (2300M KOR-G1) at Seoul on Sunday afternoon. Korea Cup winner Winner’s Man is scheduled to run as is that day’s runner-up and subsequent KRA Cup Classic winner Raon The Fighter. President’s Cup heroine Raon First is also expected to be in the starting gate as is defending champion Haengbok Wangja as well as Simjangui Godong and Dubai Carnival hopeful King Of The Match with seventeen remaining in at this stage.

Fantastic Kingdom Can Sweep Juvenile Slam on Sunday

Fantastic Kingdom can complete an unprecedented sweep of all the year’s top juvenile races when he bids to add the Breeders’ Cup (1200M KOR-G2) to his three already bagged trophies at Busan on Sunday afternoon. But with an embarrassment of riches among the juvenile ranks this year, any victory is going to be hard-earned among a full field of sixteen, who have already racked up twenty-six race victories between them.

Fantastic Kingdom and Jeulgeounyeojeong will clash again on Sunday (Pic: KRA)

First to deal with those who are not there. Betelgeuse has been sent a different route, tackling 1800M and winning up at class 4 level last weekend as he is targeted to emulate stablemate Winner Star’s successful Derby campaign. Nonghyup Chairman’s Trophy winner Saenae Town likewise swerves the race having only returned to training just over a week ago.

Of the sixteen who will line up on Sunday as Busan and Seoul’s best two-year-olds meet for the first time having been in separate races for the lead-up, eight are from the home track and eight have travelled down from Seoul. Very few could be said to be without a chance but the one to beat is FANTASTIC KINGDOM.

After running 3rd on debut, Fantastic Kingdom won second-up and then preceded to win the Busan Rookie Stakes, the Areumdaun Jilju Stakes and the Gimhae Mayor’s Trophy, all over 1200M. He steps up to the 1400M for the first time but is well drawn and will be hard to beat again.

Seoul’s Rookie Stakes was won by GIANT PUNCH, who ran on after racing handy to the lead. He hasn’t raced since his 3rd place in the Munhwa Ilbo Trophy on October 2nd when he was hampered slightly at the start before settling midfield and running on well. He will need some luck from the relatively wide barrier but looks suited to 1400M.

Filly JEULGEOUNYEOJEONG was a winner at this distance in a fast time in class 4 company at the end of September before running a huge race when a close 2nd to Fantastic Kingdom in the Gimhae Mayor’s Trophy. She’s never finished any worse than 2nd and is a big chance here.  

Then there is SUN DRAGON. A winner at class 5 over 1300M, he led almost the entire way around in the Nonghyup Chairman’s Trophy, only to be denied by Saenae Town in the shadow of the post. He gets a fantastic draw on the inside here and he shouldn’t be ruled out.

Plenty of others are in the money frame as well. LUCKY SUN is the only one in the race with an unbeaten record as he comes in two for two with the second of those having been over this distance. Another 1400M winner is NAOL SNIPER. Along with SPEED YOUNG, who was 2nd in the Areumdaun Jilju Stakes, he was the wide draw to contend with but can’t be ruled out.

The Breeders’ Cup is the concluding race on a six-race program at Busan on Sunday with a local post time of 16:40. There are also eleven races at Seoul on Sunday.

Selections: (5) Fantastic Kingdom (11) Giant Punch (6) Jeolgeounyeojeong (2) Lucky Sun

Juvenile Series: Fantastic Kingdom Wins Again, Hangang Ace Unseats Park Tae Jong as Saenae Town Scores

Fantastic Kingdom maintained his dominance of the juvenile ranks at Busan by winning the Gimhae Mayor’s Trophy, but at Seoul Hangang Ace spilled his jockey at the start ensuring that a new name would claim the NACF Chairman’s Trophy. That name would prove to be Saenae Town who came through late to score in a topsy-turvy finish.

At Seoul, Munhwa Ilbo Trophy winner Hangang Ace was sent off as warm favourite for the NACF Chairman’s Trophy (1200M Korean Listed). His challenge would end barely three strides out of the gate though as he stumbled, causing jockey Park Tae-jong to tumble forward and onto the sand.

That left Sun Dragon, the second favourite who had skipped both the Rookie Stakes and the Munhwa Ilbo, to set the pace. This he did with gusto, and he seemed set for a gate to wire victory until the very final strides when Saenae Town, 4th in the Munhwa Ilbo a month ago, swept by under Song Jae-chul in the shadow of the post.

Sun Dragon was 2nd a head in arrears while a stewards’ inquiry determined that a length behind them, Kwaehyang, who crossed the line in 3rd place, had interfered with Nanometa in 4th and their placings were reversed.

Saenae Town is by Purge and is out of Oh My Creek (by Creek Cat), who raced in Korea. He was bred by Nokwon Farm and is owned by Moon Geum-cheol and trained at Seoul by Seo Hong-soo. The victory kicked off a remarkable end of Sunday’s card for trainer Seo, who proceeded to send out the winner of the remaining three races as well.

At Busan, it wasn’t easy for Fantastic Kingdom, but he managed to hold off a determined challenge from Jeulgeounyeojeong to add the Gimhae Mayor’s Trophy (1200M Korean Listed) to his previous successes in the Busan Rookie Stakes and Areumdaun Jilju Stakes.

Fantastic Kingdom was beaten on debut but has since won four in a row to top the juvenile rankings. He is by Concord Point and out of Union Belle (by Dixie Union). He was bred by Jung Hwan of Taesan Farm, is owned by Moojigae Rentcar and is trained at Busan by Lim Keum-man. Seo Seung-un piloted.

Jeulgeounyeojeong was just half a length back in 2nd place and intriguingly has already won over 1400M which is the distance of the Breeders’ Cup (KOR-G2), the race which will decide the ultimate destination of the title of Champion Juvenile on Sunday December 4th. With Saenae Town also threatening to get stronger as the distances get longer as well as a host of other juveniles who were steered away from this weekend’s features, and Fantastic Kingdom may not have things all his own way next month.

Next weekend, the top locally bred horses in the country will gather at Seoul for the President’s Cup (2000M KOR-G1) on Sunday afternoon. Korea Cup hero Winner’s Man currently tops the expected field.