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.

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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…)

Ecton Blade & Franco Da Silva Win The 2018 Korean Derby

Ecton Blade (Ecton Park) won the 2018 Korean Derby at Seoul Racecourse Park on Sunday afternoon.

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Pics by Ross Holburt

How they went:

1.  Ecton Blade – Settled prominently behind Hiddden Champ and had things his own way. Once he struck the front he never looked like being beaten

2. Mask – Really good performance, finishing well down the outside for a fine 2nd. He’ll be a danger in the Minister’s Cup too.

3. Choinma – Made for two Seoul horses in the top three. Raced in midfield and kept to the rail in the straight holding off Divide Wind by a neck.

4. Divide Wind – Began poorly and never looked settled. Clearly considered the second string from his stable despite his KRA Cup Mile win. Jockey – a very good jockey – slightly fortunate to only get a three-day suspension for the incident which saw World Sun cut-off in the home straight.

5. World Sun – Settled at the back as expected but just as in the KRA Cup Mile got a bad trip. Had the door slammed shut by Divide Wind as he was trying to find a run in the home straight. Would never have got to the winner though.

6. Hiddden Champ – Looked very coltish in the parade ring and sweated up badly on the way to the gate. Went to the lead as expected but never looked truly settled and faded when put under pressure.

7. Fire Wind – Close to the pace in the early part of the race but found the competition too stiff at the business end of the race. All being well she should be back for the Oaks.

8. Clean Up Teukgeup – Made little impression throughout.

9. Icheon Ssal – Last all the way around until passing a tiring Let’s Yeongcheon in the closing stages.

10. Let’s Yeongcheon – Tried to keep up early but was under pressure early on and weakened to last before the final furlong.

Korean Derby Day 2018: Race-By-Race Preview (May 13)

It’s the 2nd leg of the 2018 Korean Triple Crown as 10 horses line up for the 21st running of the Korean Derby at Seoul Racecourse on Sunday afternoon. And Divide Wind will join his stablemate Ecton Blade, who he beat by a length to capture the first jewel in the crown, the KRA Cup Mile, as favourite. The big race is the highlight of an 11-race card at Seoul from 10:45 to 18:00 which also includes the ARF Commemorative Race, to mark the opening of the 37th Asian Racing Conference. There are also 6 races at Busan from 12:40 to 17:05.

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Divide Wind won the KRA Cup Mile. Can he add the 2nd leg of the 2018 Triple Crown? (Pic: Ross Holburt)

Divide Wind and Ecton Blade have been joined on the trip to Seoul by World Sun and Hiddden Champ. World Sun was a fast finishing 3rd in the Cup Mile and could challenge the two favourites here. As for Seoul, the challenge is led by Mask, who also ran well in the Mile for 4th and an upset is not impossible. Here is the race-by-race preview of all 17 Derby Day races at both Seoul & Busan with horse-by-horse comments for the ARF and Derby races?

Seoul Race 1: Class 6 (1300M) Allowance / KRW 24 Million

(1) SEUNGRI PLUS will be strong favourite to score here, having been getting progressively closer across his latest outings. He was 2nd to a good winner at this distance last time on April 7th and should have too much today. (4) MAIN RACER has shown some ability across three starts so far and can build on the 5th he managed last time while (5) RAON OPTIMUS enters after back to back 4th place finishes and should be looking to at least match here. (6) BARAM KING and (8) MAJJABEUN SON are others who can be considered.

Selections (1) Seungri Plus (6) Baram King (4) Main Racer (8) Majjabeun Son
Next Best 5, 3
Fast Start 1, 4, 9

Seoul Race 2: Class 6 (1200M) Allowance / KRW 24 Million

(7) BLACK SPIRIT was an improved 3rd at 1300M on her last start at the beginning of March and returns here after a couple of months off with solid claims. She can come from just off the pace and finish strongly. (8) SANTOS showed prominently before weakening over 1300M two weeks ago. He drops back slightly in trip here and may benefit. (2) CLEAN FLOWER showed some signs of life with 5th place at 1300M last time and gets Manoel Nunes on board today. (6) ARGO UNIQUE and (11) DONGBANG JIJU are others with potential to improve on recent outings.

Selections (7) Black Spirit (8) Santos (2) Clean Flower (11) Dongbang Jiju
Next Best 6, 1
Fast Start 8, 9, 10, 11

Seoul Race 3: Class 5 (1000M) Handicap / KRW 40 Million

(8) MACHA BUCHA ran a close 2nd at class and distance on April 7th having been prominent throughout and leading briefly close to home. He can go one better this time. (2) BOLD NINER comes in following back to back 4th place finishes at this distance and at 1200M and surely comes close again while (12) LEAD UP can overcome the widest draw to get close to the pace early and can match the 3rd she managed last tie. (4) EVER A ONE beat Macha Bucha at the distance two starts ago and while he didn’t go well at 1300M on reappearance last month, can be given another chance today. (9) STIRLING returns to action after a three-month absence and can be considered too.

Selections (8) Macha Bucha (2) Bold Niner (4) Ever A One (12) Lead Up
Next Best 9, 7, 1
Fast Start 8, 9, 12

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

(8) L CAR romped home to easily win his second start on April 14th. It was at 1000M, so he is up in both class and distance today, but he could well have enough to prevail again. (3) EAGLE SKY could be the one to beat though. He improved significantly last start on April 15th when ridden by Johan Victoire for the first time, just beaten half a length at this distance and looks set to go well here. (7) EUMAK DAEJANG beat a couple of these on his way to 3rd at 1300M on April 14th and should have the beating of plenty once more. One of those behind him that day was (1) REBECCA and the slight drop in trip may benefit her today. (9) SPECIAL LIGHT ran 4th in a solid race at 1300M last month and is another to consider. He usually comes from well off the pace so will need things to set up just right for him. (4) CHEON MONG is up in class after a somewhat unexpected win at 1300M and while he perhaps has a bit more to find, shouldn’t be ruled out completely.

Selections (3) Eagle Sky (8) L Car (9) Special Light (1) Rebecca
Next Best 4, 7
Fast Start 1, 4, 7

Busan Race 1: Class 5 (1200M) Handicap / KRW 40 Million

(7) HOTHAE is up in class following a convincing win over this distance on April 13th. He made all that day and could well do so again here. It won’t be easy. (3) HANGIL too steps up following her maiden win which came at the fourth time of asking. Her triumph was over 1000M, so she faces an increase in distance as well but should be able to cope with it. (5) GEUJIKOJI had a hard time at a mile last time but should be more comfortable dropped back today. (1) BLUE DANCER defied her odds to run a good 2nd at class and distance three weeks ago and will not more respect here. (9) SWEET MEMORY steps up in trip after a 3rd and a 4th behind some useful ones in her latest two and can come under consideration.

Selections (7) Hothae (3) Hangil (9) Sweet Memory (1) Blue Dancer
Next Best 5, 4
Fast Start 1, 3, 7, 9

Seoul Race 5: Class 4 (1400M) Handicap / KRW 60 Million

(1) JANGSAN WILD has won two from three so far and is up in both class and distance today. He had to work for his win last time but looks to have scope for more improvement and he’s the one they’ll need to beat today. He had to battle last time though and if the additional furlong is a concern then (6) DAESEUNG BIBEOB is the one to turn to. He drops back in trip after some good efforts around two turns and will surely run on strongly. (7) TEUKBYEOL STAR still somehow remains a maiden. She’s a good filly and rarely misses the money but can’t quite make the breakthrough. That will probably be the case again, but she’ll be firmly in the placing hunt. (5) FINE CHAMP and (10) SPEED CHEONGNYONG, the latter up in class, both enter in good form and should also be involved.

Selections (1) Jangsan Wild (6) Daeseung Bibeob (7) Teukbyeol Star (10) Speed Cheongnyong
Next Best 5, 4
Fast Start 1, 2, 9

Busan Race 2:  Class 4 (1000M) Handicap / KRW 60 Million

(9) MAKGANG BOLT has won his latest two in decent fashion, his latest at this class. He’s a front-runner and with an apprentice keeping his carried weight nice and low, he has every chance of making it three in a row. (2) YUKRYONGI ran poorly when favourite last time out four weeks ago but had been showing enough prior to that to suggest he’s worth another chance today and he should be a threat. (11) QUEEN THE QUEEN is up in class following back to back runner-up finishes, both at this distance. She’s never been worse than 3rd and despite the step up in level, she can maintain that record today. (10) CHARTERED DREAM came home 2nd and 5th respectively when they raced each other at (more…)

Final Boss Wins The 2017 Korean Derby

Final Boss came wide and late but ended up scoring a remarkably convincing victory in the Korean Derby at Seoul Racecourse on Sunday afternoon.

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All alone, Final Boss and Choi Bum Hyun win The Korean Derby (Pic: Ross Holburt)

Out of sorts in the Cup Mile at Busan last month and at the back of the field for much of the Derby, last year’s Champion Juvenile Final Boss came through very late and very wide to claim victory. Royal Ruby was 2nd with American Power just pipping Cup Mile winner Indian King to repeat his Cup Mile 3rd place.

Royal Ruby was sent off as the slight favourite. The Peter Wolsey trainee had come desperately close to catching Indian King in the Cup Mile and punters clearly felt that Sunday’s extra furlong would suit. It was not to be once more. Nor would it be for Indian King himself who despite being pushed slightly wide on the first turn, rallied well and raced prominently to end in 4th.

It was the unconventional stretch run of Final Boss that was the story. He was last as they sighted the line just over two furlongs out. On the race video, you can’t see him until they are within a furlong on the finish. By this time he is front having shifted all the way over to the stands-side rail. Generally, horses that do that lose. And get sent back to trial to improve their manners. Final Boss just ran on and on and had three lengths on Royal Ruby on the line.

Korean Derby (KOR G1) – Seoul Racecourse – 1800M – May 14, 2017

1. Final Boss (KOR) [Menifee-Sinsok Dolpa (Lindo Shaver)] – Choi Bum Hyun – 6.6, 2.0
2. Royal Ruby (KOR) [Chapel Royal – Red Ruby (Yehudi)] – Jo Sung Gon – 1.3
3. American Power (KOR) [Ecton Park – White Angelica (Quiet American) – Francisco Da Silva 1.5
Distances: 3 lengths / 1.25 lengths
Also Ran: 4. Indian King 5. Adele Ace 6. Taeyangui Sinhwa 7. Daeho Sidae 8. Muhan Yeoljeong 9. Jangsan Power 10. Lion Rock

Final Boss [Menifee – Sinsok Dolpa (Lindo Shaver)] provided his sire, Menifee, with his 5th consecutive Korean Derby winner. His dam, Sinsok Dolpa, ran 23 times in Korea for 2 wins. She was bred in Japan. Final Boss is her 4th foal to make the track with two of the other three having been winners. She has a two-year-old Rock Hard Ten filly called Raise Me Up set to begin racing this year and a yearling by 2012 Korean Derby winner Jigeum I Sungan (the last non-Menifee to win the Derby).

Jigeum I Sungan was also saddled by trainer Ji Yong Cheol. That colt would go on to claim the Minister’s Cup, the final leg of the Triple Crown, as well and Final Boss is now surely favourite to go on to repeat that feat. Ji has been training since 1986 and has won plenty of big races. Jigeum I Sungan has been his best so far but Final Boss looks very exciting – especially if he can learn to run in a straight line.

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Final Boss with connections in the Derby winner’s circle (Pic: Ross Holburt)

For jockey Choi Bum Hyun, it was a first Derby. The 38-year-old won the Grand Prix twice on Dongbanui Gangja in 2008 and 2009 but this was his first success in any of the three-year-old classics.

So Seoul wins the Derby for the first time since 2012 and only the third time since Busan horses began competing in 2008. The best of the three-year-old crop will reconvene in Seoul on July 16th for the Minister’s Cup, the final leg of the Triple Crown. Before that, the fillies Classic – the Korean Oaks – is at Busan on June 11th.

 

 

Korean Derby 2017 – Preview

A confident Darryl Holland couldn’t have been more emphatic: “I wouldn’t swap my mount” the jockey declared as he prepared to partner Indian King in Sunday’s Korean Derby (KOR G1) at Seoul Racecourse on Sunday afternoon. The KRA Cup Mile winner heads into the race looking to add the 2nd leg of the 2017 Korean Triple Crown to the first jewel he won at Busan a month ago.

Indian King

Indian King and Darryll Holland winning the KRA Cup Mile (Pic: KRA)

Meeting the media, Holland bristled at any suggestion that the 75/1 Indian King’s Cup Mile victory was down to chance. “I don’t think there was any fluke about the win because he did it the hard way”, he said of Indian King taking up the running a long way out and staying on to win by half a length from the fast closing Royal Ruby. Nor will the distance or the outside gate be an issue: “We’ve got one furlong more to go and I don’t think that will present a problem…I don’t think the gate is a big problem. I’ve rode in enough big races all around the world to overcome it.”

Nevertheless, as much as Holland praised his horse, many observers felt at the time that the decisive factor in the race was the jockey himself and Indian King isn’t expected to start as favourite for Sunday’s showpiece. Royal Ruby, runner-up in the mile, returns again and the Peter Wolsley trained colt is set to be a big danger again as is 3rd placed American Power whose jockey Francisco Da Silva senses an opportunity to turn things around: “There was only half a length between Indian King and my horse. Royal Ruby was there as well and I expect those three to fight again. 1800M is no problem”.

In the Cup Mile those three were five lengths clear of pre-race favourites Daeho Sidae and Final Boss. Cypriot jockey Marios Mina will get the leg up on Daeho Sidae for the first time and was in good spirits. “My horse is in great condition and training very well” said Mina, “the last race wasn’t the best of him”. It wasn’t the best of Final Boss either who didn’t enjoy travelling to Busan and arrived in the parade ring looking a shadow of the horse who had won his two tune-up races in explosive fashion but may be better back on home sand. Here’s that Cup Mile:

There are ten runners in total in the Derby:

1. Lion Rock – He was undefeated heading into the Cup Mile but stumbled coming out of the gate and was never involved. There is still a feeling that we may not see the best of him until later this year. He’s a full-brother to Triple Nine, who ran at the Dubai World Cup Carnival. If he gets away ok this time, he is expected to sit handy.

2. Daeho Sidae – Commanding wins over 1800M and a mile saw him sent off as slight favourite in the Cup Mile but he wasn’t able to reproduce the kick in the home straight that he has shown before and ended up 4th. Better is possible. Likely to settle in the rear of midfield.

3. Taeyangui Sinhwa – A stablemate of American Power, he didn’t run in the Cup Mile. A good winner over 1400M a month ago, this is his first try at further so there are some unknowns and he is the second string. Was beaten by Indian King in March. In his races so far, he has settled in midfield.

4. Adele Ace – A stablemate of Daeho SIdae he gets to take his chance having scored a seven-length win over a mile on April 7th. It was all the way down at class 5 though and it was his maiden triumph. Looks to have plenty to find. He has tended to settle handy or in midfield.

5. American Power – Just a head behind Royal Ruby in the Cup Mile on what was just his second start of the year having been surprisingly beaten in the first of them. He won all three as a juvenile. From Busan’s top stable, he will be very well supported and may start as favourite. Not usually the quickest of starters, it’s his first try at the distance but he should get back.

6. Final Boss – Last year’s champion juvenile didn’t look himself at Busan for the Cup Mile but despite that, he still finished off the race very well, quicker than all but Royal Ruby and American Power in the final furlong having travelled poorly for the first half of the race. He won at this distance with dismissive ease in February. It will be important to see him in the parade ring. Expected to be on the early pace today.

7. Muhan Yeoljeong – A touch unlucky in the Cup Mile, never really finding a run and ending up in 7th place, he had been very impressive in beating some useful horses over a mile in his preparation. 3rd behind Final Boss and Daeho Sidae in the Championship Juvenile race last December. Runs best when on or close to the early speed.

8. Jangsan Power – He didn’t go to the Cup Mile but won three consecutive races between January and March. 3rd on his first try at 1800M last time, running on well. Most likely be ridden in a forward position today.

9. Royal Ruby – There weren’t high hope of him as a 2-year-old but he won three races in a row to begin 2017 including twice at this distance beating some good horses along the way. Almost got up in the Cup Mile. Barrier is irrelevant as he’ll get back and Aussie trainer Peter Wolsley has a big chance of winning his first Derby. He will likely settle towards the rear of the field.

10. Indian King – The Cup Mile winner may not start as favourite but don’t rule him out. He ran on strongly at the end having led for a decent portion of the race. As before he’ll most likely settle in midfield and if the opportunity comes, there’s no reason why he can’t take it.

Power Blade Powers To Derby Glory

In a monsoon downpour at Seoul, Power Blade added the Korean Derby to his victory in the KRA Cup Mile and heads into the final leg of the Triple Crown with two jewels safely  secured and looking for all the world like he will be the first horse to sweep the crown in its current form.

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Power Blade makes it through the rain to win the Korean Derby (Pic: Ross Holburt)

Jockey Kim Yong Geun surprised many and opted to go right to the front out of the gate on Power Blade, having been slightly more leisurely away in previous starts. He was joined by stablemate World Champion along with Tohamsan and Banjiui Jewang. He would see them all off comfortably.

World Champion failed to stay on the fast running track, Tohamsan ran out and unseated his rider on the final turn. The others would stay on and challenges emerged from Zettabyte and Stealth, 4th and 3rd in the Cup Mile. Challenge is too strong a word though as this was always to be Power Blade’s and he romped away to win by three lengths on the line. Zettabyte was 2nd a further six lengths ahead of Stealth.

Winners Glory was Seoul’s best finisher in 4th place with Banjiui Jewang a creditable 5th. It is another Derby for trainer Kim Young Kwan. Few will bet against him completing his first Triple Crown on July 17th.

Korean Derby (KOR G1) – Seoul Racecourse – 1800M – May 15, 2015

1. Power Blade (KOR) [Menifee – Cheonmacheong (Lost Mountain)] – Kim Yong Geun – 1.2, 1.0
2. Zettabyte (KOR) [Menifee – Fight Back (Sakura Seeking)] – Lim Sung Sil – 3.7
3. Stealth (KOR) [Colors Flying – Missed The Tower (Woodman)] – Ikuyasu Kurakane – 2.2
Distances: 3 lengths/6 lengths
Also Ran: 4. Winners Glory 5. Banjiui Jewang 6. Cheonji Storm 7. Siseon Pochak 8. Saeroun Stealth 9. Gongryong 10. Theme Deunggeuk 11. Ever In Ever 12. V Man 13. World Champion 14. Seungniui Chukje DNF: Tohamsan