The last Triple Crown season may only just have entered the books less than three months ago but we’re already just over a month away from the 2022 renewal and on Sunday, Seungbusa and Man Of The Year staked their claims by winning the main Classic trials at Seoul and Busan.
At Seoul, the 2021 Champion Juvenile, Complete Value, unbeaten in five starts last term, including the Breeders’ Cup championship race, was favourite for the Sports Seoul Cup, the capital’s principal trial. Also lining up were Nonghyup Chairman’s Cup winner Aspen Taeyang and Nonghyup and Breeders’ Cup runner-up Double Edge, among a ten-strong field.
It would be 5/1 chance Seungbusa who got the jump on the pack though, bounding out of gate eight under jockey Jang Chu-youl and into an early lead in the 1400M Listed test and from that moment on, the rest never looked like getting to him. The margin on the line was just over a length from the fast-finishing Complete Value, who got a little far back and was then wide around the turn. Aspen Taeyang was a further half-length back in 3rd.
Complete Value, perhaps caught a bit far back early and then a little wide around the turn, finished well and while he suffered his first defeat, there was nothing about the run that suggested he won’t still be a leading contender for the first leg of the Triple Crown, the KRA Cup Mile, in April.
Seungbusa is a colt by Mischievously and out of the Flatter mare T P Mc G. Bred by Bae Eun-jeong, he is owned by Kim Gwang-myeong and trained by Jung Ho-ik. He has now won five of seven starts in total and never finished worse than 3rd.
Trainer Jung Ho-ik was winning his first Listed or Stakes race of any kind since 2009 and he was understandably delighted although the gameplan was simple: “We needed to get in front of Complete Value and make him come past us. When Complete Value was gaining in the last part of the race, I was nervous but confident in our horse. He didn’t quite manage to get a big race win as a two-year-old, but he had been training well and we will carefully prepare him for what’s next.”
For jockey Jang Chu-youl, it had also been a long time between Stakes winning drinks. “I won my first big race in 2012 (Cheoneun in the G3 Owners’ Association Trophy), when I had only been riding for two years, and I admit I really didn’t think then that it would take ten more years to get back here. I know now just how hard it is and how much work is required to get here again.”
At Busan, Rookie Stakes winner and Gimhae Mayor’s Cup runner-up Man Of Year was sent off as favourite for the south-coast track’s Classic trial, the Gyeongnam Shinmun Cup.
And Man Of The Year duly obliged, sitting handy early before asserting his authority as the field turned for home and running on to win by a full three-lengths from Captain Yankee, with Beomi Naeryeo Onda a further four-lengths away in 3rd.
Man Of The Year is a colt by Federalist and out of the Menifee mare Over Speed. He was bred by Ko Seok-hoon and is owned by Shin Yoon-gyeong and trained by Kim Byung-hak. It was his trainer’s first Listed or Stakes winner of any kind since taking out his license in 2004.
Now a winner of two from seven, Man Of The Year was ridden by Franco Da Silva, who firmed up his status as one of Korea’s all-time leading visiting jockeys. He won the Korean Derby on Ecton Blade in 2018 and has ridden in excess of 250 winners since his 2016 debut.
The first leg of the 2022 Korean Triple Crown is the KRA Cup Mile and will be run at Busan on Sunday April 17.
It’s been less than three months since the last Triple Crown series finished but what with the Three-Year-Old Championship moving back to its usual place on the calendar, we are just over a month away from the first leg the KRA Cup Mile at Busan on Sunday April 17th. Therefore both Seoul and Busan run trials on Sunday with the Sports Seoul Cup in the capital and the Gyeongnam Shinmun Cup at Busan, both Listed races over 1400M. There are 11 races at Seoul from 10:45 to 18:00 and 6 at Busan from 12:00 to 16:40. All betting branches are open and while the vaccine pass system has now been ended, attendance myst still be pre-booked using the MyCard app. Here are the previews:
Seoul Race 1: Class 6 (1200M) Allowance / KRW 40 Million
Three-year-old maidens open proceedings. (7) YESULIYA shapes as the one to beat having hinted at ability across five starts to date including an on-pace 2nd place over 1000M at his latest. He also has the fastest time among any of these at today’s distance and is likely to be on the lead early with claims to go all the way. (12) PURGE DAY was an improved 2nd place over 1000M on his second start back in November. He comes in here following seventeen weeks off and while the draw isn’t ideal, this looks a nice race to return in. (9) P N S GOLD ran a good 2nd on debut and while she hasn’t quite managed to build on that yet, Moon Se-young climbs back aboard and she should be in the frame today. First-timer starter (11) SAEBYEOK BAND put in a decent trial and can be considered first-up with (10) CASH BACK also entering the calculations.
(7) Yesuliya (12) Purge Day (9) P N S Gold (11) Saebyeok Band
1, 7, 9, 10
Seoul Race 2: Class 6 (1300M) Allowance / KRW 40 Million
It’s hard to look far past (1) FINAL CHARM here. He ran on well from a wide gate for an improved 4th on his second start on January 29th, running on well. There isn’t much early speed here so he may be on pace from the start and be hard to run down. (6) DISCO BOY is the logical second pick. He has come on from well back in his two starts so far to finish 6th and 5th. He comes up in trip today and in this limited company, should be finding at least the places. Those two should fill out the quinella as the form drops off a cliff after them. (3) MIR BEST from a good draw may improve, while (4) MONEY TAP too made-up ground after a bad start last time and can sneak some minor money too. (8) DONGBANGUI HON perhaps another one capable of getting round.
(1) Final Charm (6) Disco Boy (3) Mir Best (4) Money Tap
1, 2, 7, 9
Seoul Race 3: Class 6 (1300M) Allowance / KRW 25 Million
Another hot favourite here, this time in the shape of (4) DREAM SPEED. She has finished in the top five in five of her six starts so far and has a 2nd and a 3rd from her latest two. She tens to settle handy or midfield and should have way too much for this lot. (8) SHINE MUSIC comes back in trip after a spin over 1700M when she led but weakened in the home straight. She possesses the fastest time of any of these over today’s distance and has much chance as any of placing. (2) BANGTAN YEOGEOL and (3) DDATTEUTHANBIT can both be forgiven their respective latest outings. Both have performed fairly at this distance and should be in the placing frame here. (9) FYING BARIBE another with minor money hopes.
Busan Race 1: Class 6 (1300M) Allowance / KRW 40 Million
Small field and probable warm favourite in (8) FLYING THE CHAMP. After a nondescript debut, he was a much-improved 3rd on his second start which came over 1300M on February 13th in a good time. In such a small field the outside gate shouldn’t be a problem and he may take some beating. (4) EUNSEONG YEONGUNG came from well off the pace to run a fast-finishing 2nd over 1200M on February 11th, very nearly getting to the winner. The additional half furlong can work in his favour here and he will surely be coming on strong late again. (5) DONGBU WORLD was 4th behind Eunseong Yeongung in his racecourse debut. He’d previously been through plenty of trials, worked home well and can build on that performance here. (2) PHANTOM ACE and (7) DOCTOR KONGDOLI others to consider.
(8) Flying The Champ (4) Eunseong Yeongung (5) Dongbu World (2) Phantom Ace
2, 4, 5, 6
Seoul Race 4: Class 5 (1300M) Handicap / KRW 40 Million
(2) BLACK MASK has raced three times and finished as runner-up on all three occasions, twice at 1000M and most recently at 1200M. That’s enough to send him up in class here but that shouldn’t matter as from a great draw he should be on pace from the start and can lead all the way. (8) TES GO DAEBO looks to be the main danger. He too is up in class following a maiden win at start number four, but it had been coming. He can settle handy here and run on. (9) FLEX QUEEN will need a line drawn though her latest when she was slowly away from a wide gate and never made an impact. She has run well at this distance at class 6 level though and with a better start can challenge for the places. (4) ROCK FIGHTER too had a hard time at his latest when drawn wide but from a much better gate today can be given more of a chance. Another up in class following a last start win, (7) DIAMITE is another to keep safe.
(2) Black Mask (8) Tes Go Daebo (9) Flex Queen (4) Rock Fighter
2, 4, 5, 8
Busan Race 2: Class 6 (1300M) Allowance / KRW 40 Million
(9) UNJU BULPAE looks to be working towards a win with a 2nd and a 3rd from his latest two, both over 1200M. He has raced at this distance too, posting a fast time (albeit at a time when the track was extremely fast). He will be expected to be on pace or handy here and could well have too much. Both Kim Young-kwan and Djordje Perovic are in form, and they team up here with (6) WONDERFUL FILE. The filly was much improved at her second outing at this distance on February 18th and will tempt plenty here. (11) SKY JEJUHYANG has got forward in all three of her races so far. She doesn’t draw well here but has good early speed and can go close again. (4) HWARANG BRAVO and (7) BLUE CAPTAIN are others who can enter the calculations.
Seoul Race 5: Class 5 (1200M) Allowance / KRW 40 Million
(6) EUNSEONG MARU was a good winner on debut over 1000M when coming from a handy position and running on but whatever could go wrong did on his reappearance at this class and distance on January 23rd. He pulled hard early before his saddle shifted forward at the 1000M and then he came back slightly lame. He has been back in work since mid-February and can return to winning ways here. (10) BYEOLBIT BOSEOK is yet to win in nine attempts but has six top-four finishes including at his latest start on January 22nd when he was 3rd at class and distance, settling midfield and running on. He comes up 3.5kg in the weights but should be going close. (9) NEW HOPE also comes in off a good 3rd last time out and while up in class can measure up. (11) NONSTOP CAT comes up a couple of kilos in the weights on a good 2nd place last time but should be competitive again. (4) TANK SOCKS will need to be forgiven his latest two, first over 1700M and then when getting too far back at this distance. He does have ability though and can go better this time.
Busan Race 3: Class 5 (1600M) Handicap / KRW 40 Million
(7) LIGHT STORY has mixed his form since an impressive win on debut, but he has placed at this class over 1400M and comes in having run 4th over 1800M at his latest start when close to the pace throughout. He can return to winning ways today. The main danger is (9) YEONSEUNG BRAVO. He got his maiden win over this distance at class 6 level two starts back before running 3rd on his first try at this class on January 21. He goes best when on pace and will be aiming to get forward early here. (1) PICTURE JASPER remains a maiden but comes up in class after a good 2nd place at his latest start on February 11th. From a wide draw he got on pace and ran on well and under a lighter weight and much better gate, he can overturn the form on (6) DIA FORCE, who won that race and comes up in class too. That was a big upturn in form for the latter, but he can’t be completely ruled out here. (10) ALIVE CAPTAIN another to consider.
(7) Light Story (9) Yeonseung Bravo (1) Picture Jasper (6) Dia Force
5, 7, 8, 9
Seoul Race 6: Class 5 (1700M) Allowance / KRW 40 Million
Tricky race here as the form isn’t especially convincing all round. Without much confidence, we’ll go with (5) RUFFIAN PARK, whose sole win was at this class and distance. He also has the fastest time of any of these at the distance and comes in following a decent 3rd place finish – again at class and distance – on January 30th. He carries the same weight here and from a good draw can go well. (10) DOUBLE TAKE is yet to win in eleven but has run well at this distance, albeit at class 6 level. Choi Bum-hyun, who rode him to his best finish, climbs back aboard today and he can be competitive. (9) CHALLAN HANNAL has decent experience at this class including a runner-up finish over 1400M. In this company he should be there or thereabouts. (2) FAST TRACK and (8) REAL PACK are others in the frame.
(5) Ruffian Park (10) Double Take (9) Challan Hannal (2) Fast Track
2, 3, 7, 8
Busan Race 4: Class 3 (1200M) Handicap / KRW 75 Million