Down in Australia on Saturday, only two showed up to face the phenom that is Winx. Korean Triple Crown winner Power Blade didn’t quite command that amount of respect on his return to his home track of Busan on Sunday but he came close with only four rivals venturing out against him – one of them a stablemate – in the Kookje Sinmun Cup.
In fairness, this has never been hugely supported race, despite its hefty prize money – boosted even further this year – but the whole day was very much billed as the Power Blade celebration day. This would be the first time the Busan-trained colt had races at his home track since winning the first jewel of the Triple Crown, the KRA Cup Mile, all the way back in April.
Since then, Power Blade has gone on to romp both the Derby and the Minister’s Cup, becoming the first horse to sweep the K-Triple Crown in its current format and then, despite looking as flat as a pancake in the build-up, registered a hugely creditable 4th place in the Korea Cup at Seoul last month.
A jaunt around seven furlongs at Busan was never going to be too taxing but Power Blade’s neighbour from a few boxes down in Kim Young Kwan’s barn is an interesting talent himself. As a juvenile, Seoul Bullet was part of the KRA’s “maybe the horse isn’t the problem” program, which involved sending Korean-bred horses overseas for early training and racing. He went to Florida where he actually managed to get claimed out of a race at Gulfstream Park (the KRA claimed him back the next time he was entered) and recorded one 3rd from 4 outings.
On his return from Korea Seoul Bullet joined some of the other returnees in proving that no, the Korean-bred horse isn’t the problem, winning 6 out 6 starts, including the 2015 Gold Circle Trophy ahead of a young Macheon Bolt, before injury intervened. He would be off for more than a year and finally returned in inauspicious fashion in August.
Today was expected to be better for Seoul Bullet. It was. Under Seo Seung Un, he hot the front three furlongs out to get first run in the straight. Kim Yong Geun quickly brought Power Blade alongside and for a moment the battle was joined. Power Blade quickly got the best of it and Kim’s whip use was sparing, the Triple Crown winner always in command but only winning by half a length on the line.
So Seoul Bullet is back as a force in the Busan ranks but Power Blade retains his star status. A good day all round. A journey back to Seoul for the President’s Cup next month is possible but his stable has an embarrassment of riches for that race including Triple Nine, who bested Power Blade to finish 3rd in the Korea Cup. By virtue of their in-the-money finishes in the Cup, both Power Blade and Triple Nine can receive international ratings enabling them to be considered for the Dubai World Cup Carnival and there is no denying it would be wonderful to see a fit Korean Triple Crown winner lining up at Meydan in the New Year.
For now though, Power Blade is back home.