KRA Cup Mile

KRA Cup Mile 2021 Review

A little late but: It was billed as the hottest opening leg to a Korean Triple Crown ever but in the end Heat Yegam turned it into a procession with a scorching gate to wire win in the KRA Cup Mile (KOR G2) at Busan last Sunday afternoon.

The first race of the three-year-old Classic series had been delayed from its usual April spot by six months due to the ongoing impact of the pandemic on the racing industry. That delay led to what is usually green and unexposed field in the Cup Mile, reaching the starting line this time with in-excess of sixty previous race wins between them.

Heat Yegam was sent off as the betting favourite and from gate nine he got a beautiful start while some of the expected speedsters on his inside faltered and was quickly into an early and surprisingly easy lead. Big rival Winner’s Man was quickly on his shoulder but having come out of gate twelve was being made to work hard. Meanwhile Seoul’s big hope, Heungbaragi, was content to sit handy and wide with jockey Choi Bum-hyun having quickly abandoned any hopes of leading from gate fifteen.

By the top of the stretch, Heat Yegam and Winner’s Man held a four-length advantage over the rest of the field, but it was clear the latter was feeling the effects of the early pace. Heat Yegam though was fresh and while he drifted a little in the final furlong and a half, he cruised home two-lengths to the good. Heungbaragi – who having been wide for most of the race, ended up on the inside fence – ran a strong race in 2nd, while another Seoul raider, Chief Indy closed ominously for 3rd. Mr. Indie was 4th and Winner’s Man a brave 5th.

The win itself may have been soft but the performance was anything but. Heat Yegam completed the first six furlongs just one-tenth of a second outside the track record for that distance – no wonder Winner’s Man couldn’t cope any longer – and then ran on to record an overall time only a second shy of the track record for a mile, held by Blue Chipper.  It was his eighth win in nine starts.

For jockey You Hyun-myung, post-race feelings were a mixture of elation and relief. “Going on my experience with this horse so far, I had to expect him to win,” You told the Korea Racing Broadcasting Channel (KRBC) after the race. “There was always going to be a lot of pressure at the start, so I just wanted to get out of the gate in a straight line with no trouble. As it happened, we got away very well and, in the end, everything was much smoother and easier than I expected.” 

Next up will be the Korean Derby in Seoul on November 7th, as Heat Yegam seeks to emulate J.S. Hold and Power Blade in winning a Triple Crown. You Hyun-myung thinks the horse will be ready. “

Heat Yegam was bred by the Yeonhak Agricultural Corporation at the Yeonhak Farm on Jeju Island and was sold privately to owner Kim Joon-hyun for 150 Million Korean Won as a yearling in September 2019. Sired by Take Charge Indy, during that stallion’s brief sojourn in Korea before his American farm bought him back due to the unexpected success of his Stateside progeny, he is out of Desert Heat, a mare from the final crop by the legendary sire, Mr. Prospector.

How they ran:

1st  Heat Yegam – started favourite today  showed great speed to sit a tad wide but a fast comfortable rhythm, on the corner he applied some pressure to get a good break on the field and while he drifted out in the early part of the straight came back towards the finish. This was a sensational run and the fastest ever KRA Cup Mile run to date.

2nd Heungbaragi – He had a challenge from barrier 15 but showed  good speed to get forward however he was very wide most of the journey lost ground on the corner and then fought on strongly in the straight making up much ground. A stellar performance

3rd  Chief Indy – Settled wide and midfield then on the corner the jockey elected to go inside near the fence where he was balanced up and urged forward. It was at the 150m when he came into the picture and kept taking ground off the leaders. A great run and further distance will also suit him.

4th Mr. Indie – He was ridden hard early to get a more forward position settling on the fence midfield then slotted forward just behind Mach Titan. He stayed on the rails saving much ground, into the straight and he was a clear 4th he kept fighting in the straight to maintain 4th in a strong run.

5th Winner’s Man – Ridden hard early to be on the shoulder of Heat Yegam and was wide from a less favourable gate. Couldn’t maintain that pace after such a fast opening but plenty of merit in the way he ran on for 5th. He may be a different prospect in Seoul at the Korean Derby.

Sunday Seoul & Busan: KRA Cup Mile Day Race-By-Race Preview (October 10)

Sunday is KRA Cup Mile Day! See below for selections for the big race or here for a runner-by-runner preview. There are 6 races at Busan from 12:10 to 17:30 and 9 at Seoul from 10:45 to 18:00. Here are the previews:

There were no spectators at the KRA Cup Mile last year. A year later and only 20% is allowed at Busan. And still none at Seoul. (Pic: KRA)

Seoul Race 1: Class 6 (1000M) Allowance / KRW 60 Million

Juvenile maidens to get us underway and it involves one of the banker favourites of the day. Having won a trial in fine fashion in August, (4) WORLD FORCE ran a close 3rd on debut on September 4th having led from the gate until the closing stages, only to get narrowly overhauled close to the line. It was a fast time, and she won’t need to have improved very much – if at all – to win this. The others will need to improve. (5) JILJU JEONSA has raced twice before and showed improvement at the second of those on August 28th, running 5th at this distance in a good time, albeit someway behind a good winner. He will settle midfield and run on and should be looking for a better finish today. (7) SPEED GALLOP goes for the second time having run 5th on debut behind Bencal Princess, who has since gone on to run well in two big Juvenile Stakes race. She came from well off the pace after a slow start that day and should be ready to improve. (9) YOUNG BLOOD beat a couple of these when 4th on debut and along with (2) NO SMALL SUN, has placing claims here.

Selections(4) World Force (5) Jilju Jeonsa (7) Speed Gallop (9) Young Blood
Next Best2, 6
Fast Start4, 5, 7, 9

Seoul Race 2: Class 6 (1300M) Allowance / KRW 25 Million

Competitive maiden with a couple of them looking ready to win. (2) REAL CONCORD comes in following her best finish to date when 2nd over this distance on August 8th. She has run good times at the distance, is well drawn and while she does come in off a nine-week layoff, has solid claims here. So too does (1) GRAY CAT. He has gone even faster at this distance and should strip fitter second up following his return from five-months out in early September when he ran 4th at 1200M. With an apprentice climbing aboard today he gets a 4kg allowance and the inside gate should allow him to get to a prominent position early and maybe lead – if he does, he can win. It is the low numbers who are favoured here. (3) DOUBLE TAKE has mixed her form but ran well for 3rd over 1400M at her latest start when settling back and running on. She should be in the mix here. (4) TEUKGEUP YEOWANG weakened badly having led over this distance last time but has shown some ability and may be worth another chance. (5) YELLOW CAT, 5th on debut at the end of August is another in the hunt.

Selections(2) Real Concord (1) Gray Cat (3) Double Take (4) Teukgeup Yeowang
Next Best5, 6
Fast Start1, 4, 7, 9

Seoul Race 3: Class 6 (1700M) Allowance / KRW 40 Million

All twelve of these maidens step up to racing at two turns for the very first time and the one it should benefit the most is (9) WONDERFUL K. The Purge colt has been consistent over seven starts so far with his best result being 3rd over 1200M two starts back. He ran well at his latest effort for 4th over 1400M and there is no indication that the additional 300M won’t suit. He’s the one to beat. (10) WONDERFUL SAM has been doing his best work late in both his two outings so far at 1200M and 1400M. Both times he has been right at the back entering the straight and has only started to pick up when too late. His final furlong times have been good so the extra distance to play with may help today. (12) SANGSEUNG HAENGJIN has been showing signs of improvement in his latest couple of outings including last time when he came from well back to run 4th over 1300M. An apprentice keeps the weight nice and light which he may benefit from given the extended trip today. (11) SINUI HANSU has only raced three times and has stuck to his task on all three occasions. He’ll probably be aimed for the early lead here and could still be around at the business end. If you prefer your two-turn picks to come from a good barrier, then (1) LUCKY BALLY could be the one.

Selections(9) Wonderful K (10) Wonderful Sam (12) Sangseung Haengjin (11) Sinui Hansu
Next Best1, 3
Fast Start1, 3, 9, 11

Busan Race 1: Class 6 (1000M) Allowance / KRW 60 Million

Juvenile filly maidens get to compete for a big prize here with six of them racing for the first time. It’s the experience that’s favoured though with all five who have previously raced having shown enough to suggest they have wins in them. We’ll take a chance with (8) GREEN SPEED, who ran 3rd on debut on September 12th. That day’s impressive winner didn’t run well on reappearance last week, but Green Speed should have improved for the run and the Bart ice/Seo Seung-un combination is a good one. (5) H. DAY will probably be betting favourite. After three trials, she ran 3rd on debut in a scorching time on September 17th. It was a very wet track that day which made it quicker, but it was very promising and from a good draw she should be leading or on pace here. (1) B.K. MARSHALL has raced twice before, notching a 3rd and a 2nd, both at this distance and both in decent times. She has sat handy before running on and from the inside gate is another who will be on pace here. (3) STELL LUNA ran 4th behind B.K. MARSHALL on what was her debut on September 3rd when she settled in midfield and finished well. With some natural progression she can go close here. This is a really tough race to debut in but if any of the first-timers is to break through, (10) DOCTOR KONGSUNI looks the most likely.

Selections(8) Green Speed (5) H. Day (1) B.K. Marshall (3) Stell Luna
Next Best10, 7
Fast Start1, 3, 5, 8

Seoul Race 4: Class 5 (1400M) Handicap / KRW 45 Million

(9) NAMSAN SIDAE is the clear pick here on the basis of a close 2nd at this distance on September 11th. That was first-up and his first time up in class too following a maiden win in April. The time was good and while he comes up 2kg in the weights and draws a touch wider than ideal, he will try to sit handy to the lead and is the one to beat. (5) SILVER DRAGON is worth some thought following his last start 5th over 1300M on his first try at this class. He had the outside barrier that day and after a slow start settled a long last before swinging wide in the straight to come home very nicely. The extra distance appears to be in his favour as his solitary win came at this trip and while those slow starts are a habit of his, the better gate may limit the damage this time. (6) NONSTOP GISANG drops back in trip and into contention after a couple of swings around 1700M. He is a winner at 1300M at class 6 level and ran a fair 5th at that distance at this class. He is another who likes to be handy to the lead and then run on. (2) WONDERFUL ORANGE is up in class after a win over 1300M when she was midfield before finishing strongly for a narrow score. While the margin wasn’t big on the line, she was running on and has the benefit of a good gate today giving her placing chances. (7) ROCK FIGHTER another with placing claims.

Selections(9) Namsan Sidae (5) Silver Dragon (6) Nonstop Gisang (2) Wonderful Orange
Next Best7, 12
Fast Start7, 8, 10, 12

Busan Race 2: Class 6 (1200M) Allowance / KRW 25 Million

Not the strongest of maidens and that allows us to take a chance on a debut-maker. Isidore Farm’s homebred (3) SUNSET MELODY looked accomplished in her trial, given an easy time early and then responding very well when asked for an effort in the straight. It seems she knows her business and there’s every chance she could score right away here. If you prefer your maidens to be experienced, (5) MY DESTINY is the one to go for. She has four top four finishes from six starts so far and has run consistently decent times. She draws well and should be in the mix. Back to the first-timers and (9) BLUE SKY went through two trials showing improvement in the second of them to the extent that she may be considered a placing chance first up. (11) MYEONGSEONG CHARGE was handy to the lead on debut on September 9th before ultimately coming home in 5th. She should strip fitter for the experience and get closer today. (8) DAEHO PYEONGEONG the best of the rest.

Selections(3) Sunset Melody (5) My Destiny (9) Blue Sky (11) Myeongseong Charge
Next Best8, 4
Fast Start2, 5, 7, 11

Seoul Race 5: Class 5 (1300M) Handicap / KRW 40 Million

Fillies only here. (7) DREAM KNOCK won a class 6 race over 1200M in fine style by eight-lengths in July before following up with 2nd place in a similar all-filly affair on her first try at this class on August 28th, beating several of today’s rivals in the process. She will have benefited from that experience and looks hard to beat here. (12) BLACK ROOKIE is a filly who is adapting to class 5 and at her last start was a good 3rd over 1300M when wide all the way yet still ran on. Given some better luck in running and ideally a bit of cover, she could be a threat here. (4) K BLADE ran 6th on his first try at this class on September 4th. That was over 1400M, and he came out of gate ten but two starts back he got his maiden win at this distance when handy from the same gate as today and he is in with a shout here. (11) DANCING WITH YOU ran 3rd behind Dream Knock on August 28th showing she is getting to grips with racing at this level and while her draw isn’t great, she can go close again. (5) GOLD SPIKE another in the hunt.

Selections(7) Dream Knock (12) Black Rookie (4) K Blade (11) Dancing With You
Next Best5, 6
Fast Start4, 6, 7, 11

Busan Race 3: Class 5 (1800M) Allowance / KRW 40 Million

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Jockey Lee Hyo-sik Targets Cup Mile Salute Before Obeying Marching Orders

The jockey game is a tough one where even at the best of the times, a rider can never be certain when or why he or she might be replaced on a good horse. It’s different this time for Lee Hyo-sik, who knows that even if he rides a flawless, winning race on leading KRA Cup Mile (1600M – KOR G2) contender Winner’s Man on Sunday, he won’t be aboard the colt in next month’s Korean Derby. That’s because by that time, he will be in boot camp beginning his eighteen months of mandatory military service.

Lee Hyo Siks in the Stakes race winner’s circle with King Socks 2 years ago

“Of course, I am a little disappointed that just when we finally have Stakes races back, I have to go,” Lee told in-house broadcaster KRBC this week. “But there is nothing I can do about it.” He then quipped “Maybe Winner’s Man will wait for me. He will still only be five-years-old when I come back.”

For now, Lee preferred to focus on the business at hand with his mount being one of the favourites in what is arguably the highest ever quality field for the opening leg of a Korean Triple Crown. “I believe in (Winner’s Man); his condition is similar to how it was at his last win. He has always been a mature horse and forward in his ability.”

Identifying Heat Yegam and Seoul raider Heungbaragi as the primary dangers among the sixteen strong field, Lee was able to reflect on the fact that he knows one of those rivals very well and sought to ease any pressure. “I have ridden both Heat Yegam and Winner’s Man. I think they are of similar ability but maybe Heat Yegam is slightly better right now.”

Heat Yegam, a winner of seven from eight and likely to be the betting favourite inside Korea, will be ridden by You Hyun-myung whose own military experience is long in the rear-view mirror, but he knows how his younger rival will be feeling. “He’s starting his military service next week so he will be very hungry to win.” You missed Heat Yegam’s latest two victories in August. “I was injured in August so Lee Hyo-sik rode him twice and won twice. He ran very well. Since I have come back, I have been working on getting my strength up for this race.”

On Heat Yegam’s readiness for the race, You Hyun-myung was confident. “I don’t really need to worry about the horse because the stable management is so good there isn’t very much the rider needs to do. We have galloped him, and he was good and fast. Our draw isn’t great, but others have worse.” On which horse he fears most, he was clear. “Winner’s Man is the most dangerous rival.”

It is by no means a two-horse race as the fact that the sixteen runners have no fewer than sixty-one victories between them heading in bears out. Five of those wins belong to Galaxy Road, so could he upset the favourites? “Yes,” according to trainer Kim Kil-jung. “We finished up the main training with him on Thursday morning and I was very satisfied,” Kim told KRBC. “It’s my first runner in a Triple Crown race so I’m excited, we’ve got a great draw and we can run well. (Jockey) Lee Sung-jae has ridden him a lot and I think his expectations are high too. We are well prepared, so we are confident.”

The Seoul challenge is headed by Heungbaragi. He may have been drawn wide but remains dangerous for trainer Lee Joon-chel, who rode him in his earlier races before taking over the training license this summer. Lee has made a super start to his career with eight wins from his first thirty runners.

Joining Heungbaragi in making the journey from the capital was Chief Indy, who will give Antonio Da Silva his very first ride at Busan, despite him having ridden in Korea for more than four years now. “Moon Se-young usually rides the horse but he had a fall last month, so I got the call three weeks ago and rode him in work and then a barrier trial. He seems to be a good horse and in good condition,” Da Silva said of the colt who has won his latest four. “On Sunday I hope we can show 100% of our ability. I know it is a strong race, he likes to sit behind the lead, I am not sure if the middle gate is good or not, but he is a good horse, and we can win.”

The theme of the strength of the race was echoed by Kim Yong-geun, who won the Cup Mile on eventual Triple Crown winner Power Blade in 2016 and is a former Busan Champion jockey now plying his trade in Seoul. “I’ve ridden in a lot of these races and usually there are just one or two standouts but not this time. There are the two big ones though (Heat Yegam and Winner’s Man), who look like class 1 horses already.” As for his own mount, Royal Road: “It’s going to be important to get a good racing position. Get a good start and be up with the pace. If we’re up there at the beginning of the straight, then we have a chance.”

Spot Flatter earned his spot with back-to-back wins at Seoul over 1400M and jockey Ham Wan-sik rides him for the first time. “(Alan) Munro usually rides him but he needed to be in Seoul this week, so I got the chance,” said Ham. “I think he is a good horse; the distance is good. We know there are some very good horses in this race and there will be a hot pace early. I won’t worry about. I will ride my own race and not get impatient.

Patience is something Lee Hyo-sik is going to need during his next year and a half in uniform. Whether he can play a role in helping Winner’s Man on the way to a Triple Crown will become clear on Sunday afternoon.

The KRA Cup Mile is race 5 at Busan on Sunday afternoon.

KRA Cup Mile 2021: Horse-By-Horse Preview

The 2021 Korean Triple Crown gets underway a full six-months later than originally planned with the KRA Cup Mile taking place at Busan Racecourse on Sunday afternoon. As a result of the delay, the depth of form is incredible with the full field of sixteen having collectively won sixty-one races between them already and all runners will go to post with some justifiable confidence. Last year the race was won by Touch Star Man, who went on to finish 5th in the Korean Derby before winning the final leg of the Crown, the Minister’s Cup Here is a run-down of the field:

Touch Star Man won last year’s KRA Cup Mile

1. SPOT FLATTER [Cowboy Cal – Palmetto Flatter (Flatter)] – Gets his chance after back to win wins over 1400M up to class 4 level in Seoul when sitting midfield and running on with both times good. He draws nicely draw and should get the trip, but this is a level up in difficulty for him.

2. MACH TITAN [Hansen – Send An Angel (Street Sense)] – Scorching winner at this distance at class 3 two starts back in a time that would have won every edition of this race to date. He did though run poorly at his latest start over 1800M three weeks ago, running very wide early before working hard to be on the pace but then finding the extended trip a bit much. Back at a mile he should be a different prospect and he is the big winner from the draw. He likes to sit handy and run on.

3. GALAXY ROAD [Afleet Express – How Bout Tonight (Proud Citizen)] – Winner of his latest three including last start when he overcame gate twelve to lead all the way over 1800M at class 4. He has the second fastest time among those who have tackled a mile and won at this distance when sitting handy and running on strong. May lead but there is plenty of other speed in this race. Placing chances.

4. MR. INDIE [Indie Band – Candace Gold (Seeking The Gold)] – Races for the first time since July when he ran out a comfortable front-running class 4 winner over 1800M. Twelve weeks off since then but he looked well when trialing up last week. Jockey Seo Seung-un won this race in 2014 and a bold showing is possible from a nice draw.

5. ROYAL ROAD [Afleet Express – Officer Lady (Officer)] – An all the way nine-length win at class 5 over 1700M put him on the radar for this although he was a touch disappointing when 3rd at class 4 over the same distance four weeks ago. He did have to contend with gate twelve that day and drifted wide on jumping before eventually finding the rail. He is better than that and can get an easier run from a better draw, but he is not in the first line of favourites here. Jockey Kim Yong-geun partnered Power Blade to victory in the race in 2016 on his way to sweeping the Triple Crown.

6. DONGJIN CHOEGANG [Officer – Pureun Miso (Malibu Moon)] – Untried at further than 1400M and his best form has been at 1200M, he come in following a narrow runner-up finish at that distance in a very fast time on a wet track on September 12th. It’s deeper waters today and despite Park Tae-jong, who won the race on Money Car in 2010, being engaged to ride, others are favoured.

7. WILD INDIE [Indie Band – Wild Dixie Gal (Wild Event)] – Yet to be out of the top two in five career starts, he won back-to-back races at this distance to be rapidly promoted up to class 4. On his first try at that level he ran 2nd over 1800M, sitting midfield and then running on strong. He has one of the strongest finishes in the race so don’t rule him out of passing plenty late on. Definite place chances.

8. CHIEF INDY [Take Charge Indy – City Splash (City Zip)] – He has won his last four starts including carrying 58kg to victory over 1700M at class 4 level. He hasn’t raced since June which may be a concern, but he looked well when winning a trial in mid-September. He will want to sit handy to the lead and run on and the jockey booking is a plus.

9. HEAT YEGAM [Take Charge Indy – Desert Heat (Mr. Prospector)] – Super horse who beat Winner’s Man when the pair were juveniles. Both have come a long way since and Heat Yegam enters following a strong of four victories up to Class 2 level when made all over 1200M on August 27th by seven-lengths. He was an eleven-length all the way winner on his only try at this distance which came at class 3 level in June in a fast time. His style is to get out in front and just go. If he gets the lead, he may be hard to catch. He’s the favourite, with jockey You Hyun-myung bidding for an unprecedented third win in the race.

10. TK BOY [Cowboy Cal – Indian Myeongun (Indian Charlie)] – Not likely to be among the top line of favourites but could be an interesting outsider. Has a fast finish on him and while he just missed out when 2nd over 1700M at class at his latest start, he has won well at 1400M, and he will be flashing home strong. May prefer it if it’s wet.

11. JERA [Musket Man – High Key (Menifee)] – A good winner two starts back at this distance at class 4 when he settled in midfield before taking the lead entering the straight. That was in May though and he was out of sorts in his latest race when having been in a prominent position early, he weakened to last in the straight. That makes him hard to have here but punters will always take note of jockey Lim Sung-sil climbing aboard in a big race.

12. WINNER’S MAN [Musket Man – Winner’s Marine (Volponi)] – A winner of seven races so far and he fairly bolted in by eight-lengths in class 2 company over 1800M when eased down at the 50M on September 12th. He has won at a mile and there should be no issue in dropping back today and while he will need some luck position-wise from his wide draw, he is race fit and is a big chance.

13. DOCTOR GIANTS [Cowboy Cal – Ms. Fool Proof (Not For Love)] – A fine 3rd over 1400M on September 17th, it was at class 4 level and while in four attempts at that class he has shown he is competitive he hasn’t looked like winning in it. Accordingly, in much deeper waters today, this appears to be a hard ask.

14. ONNURI JILJU [Officer – Onnuri Plaza (Touch Gold)] – Super consistent type who since a 4th place on debut, has finished no worse than 2nd in eight subsequent outings. That includes a runner-up finish to Mach Titan at 1400M in June and most recently, 2nd to the excellent filly Doctor Fappiano (who skips this to go for the filly Triple Crown, which begins next week) over 1800M at class 3. Times are very good, and he has a big race jockey aboard, so he is not to be dismissed, but he looks more a place line.

15. HEUNGBARAGI [Old Fashioned – Grand Marketing (After Market)] – Top juvenile in Seoul last year, he could not have been more impressive on his latest start on September 12th when a runaway gate-to-wire winner by six-lengths over 1800M. He likes to lead though, and this barrier draw has done him no favours. Nevertheless, he will be in this a long way and a win isn’t impossible.

16. YUJEONG CHAMP [Forest Camp – Yujeong Yeojanggun (Warrior’s Reward)] – Back-to-back wins over 1400M in fast times at classes 6 and 5 allow him to take his chance here but he struggled behind Royal Road on his first go at class 4 level over 1700M on September 12th. That suggests this is going to be tough.

Touch Star Man Lands Triple Crown Opener At Busan

Touch Star Man struck the front in the final furlong and held off all-comers to win the KRA Cup Mile, the first leg of the 2020 Korean Triple Crown, at Busan this afternoon.

One major contender had already fallen by the wayside earlier in the week when it emerged that Breeders’ Cup winner Roller Blade didn’t have the correct paperwork in order to enter. Another had to drop out ten minutes before the race when Determination reared up when parading and dislodging Alan Munro who was taken to hospital for x-rays on a suspected broken wrist (unfortunately this was subsequently confirmed).

That left Save The World as the leading contender but just as he had done in the Breeders’ Cup last December, the Menifee colt was slow out of the gates and was playing catch-up from the start.

That left outsider Golden Winner showing the way early with Thunder King and K N Road for company while Touch Star Man settled at the front of midfield. The former two would quickly capitulate in the home straight, but K N Road stuck gamely to his task as Touch Star Man and Gyeongnam Do Min Ilbo Cup winner Doctor Carson emerged as the main challengers.

Ultimately jockey Jung Do-yun would find a little bit more from Touch Star Man who went on to win by a length from K N Road with Doctor Carson a further three-lengths in arrears. Despite his dreadful start, Save The World ran a big race coming home in 4th.

Touch Star Man is by Testa Matta and out of Useung Touch (by Menifee). Useung Touch herself runner-up in the Korean Derby in 2011.

For jockey Jung Do-yun, the victory was his first in a Group race. For trainer Kim Young-kwan it was his fourth in this race alone following successes with Sangseung Ilro in 2009, Power Blade in 2016 and Divide Wind in 2018. Power Blade would, of course, go on to sweep all three legs of the Triple Crown.

The next leg of the Triple Crown is the Korean Derby which is currently scheduled for Sunday August 2nd over 1800M at Seoul.

KRA Cup Mile Sunday: Busan & Seoul Race-By-Race Preview (July 5)

It’s been a rocky road to the first three-year-old Classic of the season but against the backdrop of an existential threat to Korean racing with seemingly little prospect of either online or offline betting arriving any time soon, the KRA Cup Classic will finally be run at Busan this afternoon. There is a 5 race card at Busan with the big race at 3.30pm while at Seoul there are 14 races from 10.25 to 18.00.

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Save The World enters the KRA Cup Mile as a leading contender

Fourteen horses will enter the gate but champion juvenile and one time Triple Crown favourite Roller Blade won’t be among them, after a 10,000/1 type administrative oversight meant he hadn’t fulfilled the qualification criteria.

It hasn’t been the smoothest of build-ups for another leading candidate Save The World either, with his trainer having sadly passed away in March.

Save The World does run and is set to be among the favourites as is Choegang Team who has only been beaten by Roller Blade in his five starts to date and looks to be the pick of the raiders from Seoul along with so far unbeaten Roan Tough Man. Gyeongnam Do Min Cup winner Doctor Carson is another in a race made all the more fascinating for the lengthy absence of racing at a time when the three-year-olds would have been coming into their own. Here are all the previews – scroll down for the KRA Cup Mile (Busan race 5):

Seoul Race 1: Class 6 (1000M) Allowance / KRW 25 Million

A tough race to kick proceedings off on Sunday with a lack of exposed form for punters to assess. (8) SHINY FIRE is the top elect based on a reasonable trial performance in April combined with what she showed at her first couple of starts. The Midshipman filly has shown early speed in her racing and should work forward early on. Expect it to be a slog up the home straight but we think she will be one of them left in the finish. (2) KKAEUCHIM can run into the money based on some reasonable performances before the hiatus. The four-year-old is yet to place from nine starts but this race has a severe lack of form. (1) SHADOW QUEEN has been included on the basis of a nice trial in recent times. She has had the one start where she showed very little but the trial was good and if she collects a cheque it would not surprise. (3) WOL YEONG I is another that trialed well but needs to bring it to race day.

Selections (8) Shiny Fire (2) Kkaeuchim (1) Shadow Queen (3) Wol Yeong I
Next Best 4, 5
Fast Start 2, 8

Seoul Race 2: Class 6 (1000M) Allowance / KRW 25 Million

Not the strongest of maidens here. (1) HAMYANG SANGRIM sports two 3rd place finishes among seven starts so far and is at least capable of consistently running a competitive time. She didn’t catch the eye in an April trial but if Ha Jung-hun can work her to the front from the inside gate then she has a good chance of scoring here. (4) GEUMA MAJESTY is the only one of the field who has recorded a runner-up finish, something she achieved at this distance. She returned in February after nine months out to run a decent 4th, again over this distance and can go well first up once more. Neither (3) GAJA PLAN nor (9) OKAY JJANG offered much in their limited experience so far but both showed a bit more promise, the former especially, in recent trials and can improve today. That’s true too for (10) MAY BLUE, who does at least have a 4th place to her name and will be expected to work forward to the front from the outside gate.

Selections (3) Gaja Plan (1) Hamyang Sanrim (10) May Blue (4) Geuma Majesty
Next Best 9
Fast Start 1, 10

 

Seoul Race 3: Class 6 (1200M) Allowance / KRW 40 Million

The Korean-bred three-year-old fillies line up in the third over 1200m. (3) RAPIDO ARES looks the one to beat based on a very solid debut performance. The Lion Metal filly finished third behind Lucky Myeongho on that occasion when hitting the line strongly. The step out to the 1200m looks ideal for her and she comes off a reasonable trial. (2) SAENAE CHOICE must be considered as a winning chance. She is a speedy type who has stuck on in her races honestly to date and with fresh legs she is one to keep safe in your selections. (5) HANIL MOA has been settling further back at her past couple of starts. She will be hitting the line strong late and looks a place chance at best. (7) GLOBAL SUN is on the two week back up after feeling the pinch late in her recent run. She should strip fitter for the run and looks capable of collecting a cheque.

Selections (3) Rapido Ares (2) Saenae Choice (5) Hanil Moa (7) Global Sun
Next Best 4, 1
Fast Start 2

 

Seoul Race 4: Class 6 (1200M) Allowance / KRW 40 Million

Maiden fillies only tackling the 1200M. (1) DREAM GIRLS showed progress over three starts prior to the shutdown culminating in a 2nd place on February 22nd. All of them were at 1000M and all were in decent times. She confirmed her ability when trialing well behind Blessing Road in May and stepping up to 1200M for the first time, she can win and in a race with no early speed, can probably lead gate to wire. The form for the rest is patchy, to put it mildly. (7) ANYANG HORANGI has never finished any better than 4th but has posted some good times, albeit in rain-assisted tracks. She trialed up well – also in the wet – three weeks ago and can be competitive here. (6) WONDER PLACE too has been consistent if unspectacular and she too performed competently in her trial. (9) HARUON got sent out only slightly better than even-money when she raced at this distance in February. Punters must have seen something in her prior run when she clocked a useful time over the 1000M. She ended up finishing 5th but that form is enough to bring her firmly into placing contention today.

Selections (1) Dream Girls (9) Haruon (7) Anyang Horangi (6) Wonder Place
Next Best 4
Fast Start 1

 

Seoul Race 5: Class 5 (1400M) Handicap / KRW 40 Million

A compact field of eight will go over the 1400m in the fifth event. (4) YEOLRIN MUN was a good last start winner over the 1200m back in February. The Any Given Saturday colt has had just the five runs for the win and two minors. The trial in April was average but he lined up against some handy types. (2) STREET GANGJA was a last start winner on debut. The Hongji gelding won by a clear margin but clocked a very slow time for the 1200m. The recent trial was good and with some improvement has to be considered a winning chance. (6) MISSILE CANDY is consistently around the mark and finds an assignment where the entire can collect some prizemoney. He comes off a last start fifth behind Gold Blue Magic when shortening stride in the final stages over 1400m. The drop back to the six furlongs suits and his trial was good. (1) RESKA looks next best after lining up in a tougher assignment last start when finishing fifth. Expect the Big Brown filly to sit behind the speed and motor late.

Selections (4) Yeolrin Mun (2) Street Gangja (6) Missile Candy (1) Reska
Next Best 5, 3
Fast Start 3, 4 ,6

 

Busan Race 2: Class 3 (1200M) Handicap / KRW 75 Million

(2) CHROME MAGIC had started to lose his way somewhat in his last three outings prior to the shutdown so it may be that the enforced time off has done him some good. It certainly looked that way when he trialed up at the beginning of June, running 2nd in a fast heat to the class 1 Baengmunbaekdap. Moon Se-young is an intriguing booking aboard and he can win. (1) WONDERFUL COUNTRY and (8) DAEHO JILJU both returned to action two weeks ago, both (more…)

KRA Cup Mile 2018 – Full Preview

For race-by-race previews of the 11-race Sunday card at Seoul, click here

The 2018 Korean Triple Crown kicks off at Busan Racecourse on Sunday afternoon with the KRA Cup Mile – “The Korean 2000 Guineas”. Nine runners set out hoping to emulate the feat of Power Blade two years ago, when he swept all three jewels to become the first winner of the Triple Crown in its current format. Now a five-year-old Power Blade remains in training and it’s his stablemate and namesake, Ecton Blade, who is set to begin as favourite.  

Ecton Blade

Ecton Blade won the Breeders’ Cup in December and will be favourite for the Cup Mile (Pic: KRA)

Ecton Blade was a dominant winner of the Breeders’ Cup, Korea’s top juvenile race, last December, and was an impressive eight-length winner on his only start of 2018 so far. A two-time winner already at this distance, he is going to be tough to beat. Trainer Kim Young Kwan once more has an embarrassment of riches at his disposal. He’s won this race three times already and in addition to Ecton Blade, also sends out Divide Wind, comfortable winner of the Gyeongnam Sinmun Cup, a trial for this race, a month ago. Punters will surely send them off as favourite and 2nd favourite.

Divide Wind

Divide Wind (Pic: KRA)

Seoul sends down three runners and two of them look to have credible chances. Mask and Gaon Champ came home 1st and 2nd in the capital track’s trial for this race and while it was Mask who prevailed that day, Gaon Champ, who was unbeaten going into that race, has a good chance of overturning that form today. World Sun and Yeongcheon Derby round out the ones who seem to have credible chances, but it shouldn’t be forgotten that in this race anything can happen – last year’s winner, Indian King, started at odds of 70/1.

Mask Gaon Champ

Mask defeated Gaon Champ in the Sports Seoul Cup (Pic: KRA)

Race 5: Class Open (1600M) – The KRA Cup Mile (KOR G2) / KRW 500 Million  

1. YEONGGWANGUIWINNER – Took five attempts to get his maiden win but has gone on to add two more including making all at this distance last time. 3rd behind Yeongcheon Derby at a mile in January. Likely to want to be on the early speed.
2. YEONGCHEON DERBY – The only unbeaten one in the field, the filly hasn’t raced since comfortably winning at this distance in January, beating Yeonggwanguiwinner in the process. A bit of a wildcard, she is a stablemate of World Sun. She has made all to win all three so far. She will try to get to the front from the gate.
3. MASK – Impressive winner at 1700M in January and then ran down and defeated Gaon Champ over 1400M in the Sports Seoul Cup a month ago. Has won from the front and from just off the pace. Likely to take a sit here, a place will be a minimum aim.
4. MONE FLYING – Started very promisingly but seemed to lose her way a little before coming back into form with a very good win over 1300M at Seoul in February. This seems a very tough ask though. Generally settles in the middle of the field.
5. GAON CHAMP – Looked a huge talent when romping home in his first three. Returned to action in the Sports Seoul Cup last month when he was run down by Mask in the closing stages. Up to a mile for the first time, he can overturn the form on Mask, but it would be a surprise – though not impossible – were he to beat the Busan favourites. Has led his races so far and will surely look to do so again.
6. WORLD SUN – The first of these to make a stake a claim as a juvenile winning the Gimhae Mayor’s Cup ahead of Ecton Blade last October. Ecton Blade returned the favour in the Breeders’ Cup and World Sun was a lacklustre 3rd to Divide Wind in the Gyeongnam Sinmun Cup, his only start of 2018. Jockey Lim Sung Sil may well be happy to take a sit at the back of the field and if the others go too fast, there is a chance it could open up for him.
7. YEONGGWANGUI CHAMP – Three wins from six and 3rd on first try at this distance at class 4 last month. Yet to be tested in this kind of company though and likely has plenty to find. Expected to settle in the middle of the field.
8. ECTON BLADE – Runner-up to World Sun in the Gimhae Mayor’s Cup but a commanding winner of the Breeders’ Cup in Seoul to become Champion Juvenile. Recorded an effortless win on first try at this distance on solitary start of 2018 so far. Stablemate of Divide Wind and very much the favourite, he will look to be on speed from the start.
9. DIVIDE WIND – Well back in the Breeders’ Cup but has been gone on to record three straight victories, including at this distance in January, and was impressive when comfortably scoring in the Gyeongnam Sinmun Cup over 1400M. Stablemate of Ecton Blade and likely to be the primary danger. Tactically versatile but probably content to let others to lead early here.

Verdict: It does look like Kim Young Kwan has done it again as he goes into the first leg of the Triple Crown boasting the favourite and second-favourite. Of his pair, (8) ECTON BLADE is the one to beat. The Champion juvenile has only raced once in 2018 so far, scoring in facile fashion over a mile in February but he arrives at the Cup Mile reportedly in even better shape and ready to win. Stablemate (9) DIVIDE WIND has really impressed in three starts since an underwhelming performance in the Breeders’ Cup and looks the main danger. (3) MASK and (5) GAON CHAMP came home 1st and 2nd in last month’s Sports Seoul Cup – although the order was somewhat of a surprise – and the two raiders from the capital are certainly capable of finding the places, even if they will have to raise their game to beat the favourites. (6) WORLD SUN looks best of the rest.

Selections (8) Ecton Blade (9) Divide Wind (5) Gaon Champ (3) Mask
Next Best 6, 2
Fast Start 1, 2, 5, 8

Race 4: Class 3 (1800M) Handicap / KRW 75 Million

Trainer Kim Young Kwan and jockey Lee Hyo Sik will partner with the favourite in the KRA Cup Mile and they do so here too. (2) SIGANUI JIHYE ran 2nd when favourite at class and distance just two weeks ago. He led from the gate that day and held on until being passed in the closing stages. She should be on speed again today and this time should go all the way. (6) WIN GO MAN pulled off a surprised win over a mile three weeks ago beating (4) MUJEOK SINHWA and (3) USAIN NUT in the process. Win Go Man needs a little but more respect today but up at this distance, Usain Nut at least – and possibly Mujeok Sinhwa too – should really be overturning that form. (1) ITSAGAINT WARRIOR was a very useful 2nd on his first try at this distance in February and comes in fresh after eight weeks out. (8) BRAVO MARINE moves back up to this distance after some positive recent showings and could be in the placing frame.

Selections (2) Siganui Jihye (3) Usain Nut (1) Itsagaint Warrior (8) Bravo Marine
Next Best 6, 4
Fast Start 1, 2, 7

Race 6: Class 1 (1400M) Handicap / KRW 110 Million

Hard to look past the Kim Young Kwan and Lee Hyo Sik combination again. (7) FINEST WARRIOR has won three of five starts so far and the Majestic Warrior gelding finds himself up at class 1 for the first time. His wins have been impressive though and the manner especially of his latest two suggest he has little to fear here. He should be close to the pace early and can win. (1) GASOK ENGINE was 3rd behind Drop The Beat and Haeya in a well-run race at this distance last time. He’s beaten a number of these in recent starts and should push the favourite close here. (2) MUJEOK WONDERFUL was a close at hand 4th in that race and can go well again too. (8) STEALTH has been up and down in recent starts but was 2nd on his last try at this distance in January in a better race than this and can’t be ruled out. (9) BANJIUI JEWANG enters after back to back competitive 3rd place finishes and can aim to at least match those today.

Selections (7) Finest Warrior (1) Gasok Engine (8) Stealth  (2) Mujeok Wonderful
Next Best 9, 6
Fast Start 1, 7, 9, 10

Korean Triple Crown 2018: All The Cup Miles So Far

The Korean Triple Crown season is upon us with the first jewel, the KRA Cup Mile, set to be run at Busan this coming Sunday, April 8th. We’ll have a full preview of the big race in the forthcming days but in the meantime let’s take a look back at all previous runnings of the Cup Mile.

Indian King

Indian King won the KRA Cup Mile in 2017 (Pic: KRA)

 

The track configuration at Seoul Racecourse has never allowed for races to be run at a distance of a mile – although this is set to change within the next year – so, when the Busan Racecourse was designed, that was to be a key feature. The track was completed in 2004 and the first Cup Mile, held on a Friday in September 2005, was won by US import Siseon Jeap (Precise End).

The following year the race got a name change, the KRA Chairman’s Cup and a distance change to 1800M. Golding (Gold Alert), who would continue to be a stalwart at Busan until 2011, took the honours. In 2007, it was back to being the Cup Mile and Luna (Concept Win) landed the biggest win of her career. Australian jockey Garry Baker became the first of three foreign riders to date to have won the race.

In that same year, J.S. Hold won all three races of the Seoul Triple Crown but for 2008 Busan horses were invited to take part for the first time and the track invited to host the first leg. As a result, the Cup Mile was shifted to the first Sunday in April. Here is a list of the winners every year since then and what’s become of them:

2008: Rainmaker [Revere – Wandering Katie (Tejano)] – The 3/1 favourite won the race by two and a half lengths but then finished last in the Derby and would never win a race again. He suffered some injury setbacks and was finally retired in 2010. He was registered for breeding and covered the occasional mare but was ultimately retrained for Equestrianism.

2009: Sangseung Ilro [Concept Win – Ms. Whiskey (Whiskey Wisdom)] – The first of two superstar winners, she was a 16/1 outsider (the first and possibly only correct tip ever given on this blog’s twitter feed!) and despite behind the scenes shenanigans with Eiki Nishimura getting jocked off in favour of Jo Sung Gon, she went on to win the Korean Derby. Long odds-on favourite for the Korea Oaks. she was caught on the line by Pang Pang and then, at 80% fitness, ran 3rd in the Minister’s Cup when trying to seal the Triple Crown. Until Power Blade, she was the only Cup Mile winner so far to go on to win the Derby. Sangseung Ilro won two more Stakes races as a 4-year-old before being retired for broodmare duties. One of the best fillies ever produced in Korea.

2010: Money Car [Newsprint – Pinocchio (Big Sur)] – The first of just two winners from Seoul, he came into the Cup Mile with 5 wins from 6 starts and was a dominant 11-length winner. Odds-on favourite for the Derby, he looked home and hosed a furlong out but was run down on the line by Cheonnyeon Daero. He only ran once more, his career ended by injury. Out at pasture for a few years, he was registered for breeding in 2013 and occasionally covers mares at Hyunma Farm on Jeju Island.

2011: Soseuldaemun [Meisei Opera – This Ole Way (Vigors)] – This was a 3-year-old crop that, filly Useung Touch and solid handicapper Singgereounachim aside, didn’t really live up to its early promise. Toshio Uchida, “Mr. Pink” rode 7/1 chance Soseuldaemun to a 2-length win but the colt didn’t travel well to Seoul for the Derby and, 20 kilos lighter, finished 7th. He only raced twice more, with a very solid 3rd in the Gyeongnam Do-Min Ilbo followed by a return to Seoul for the Minister’s Cup where he was last of 14. Not registered for breeding, he was retired to Myeongsin Farm on Jeju.

2012: Gyeongbudaero [Menifee – Princess Lanique (Cherokee Run)] – One of the finest Korean-bred racehorses who is only now peaking. He was Busan’s champion Juvenile in 2011 and was the 3-length winner of the Cup Mile. A month later, he finished 3rd in the Derby, just a length behind Jigeum I Sungan and was 3rd behind the same horse in the Minster’s Cup. The same year, he was also 3rd in the President’s Cup. 13 of his 29 starts have come in Stakes races and it was in 2014 where he rose to the very top of Korean racing. Having won the President’s Cup at Seoul in November, he returned to win the biggest race of all, the Grand Prix Stakes, that December.

2013: Sting Ray [Forest Camp – Straight Cash (Straight Man)] – A victory at the time for the Korean breeding program with dam Straight Cash being a winner of the JRA Trophy in Korea. Sting Ray was the odds-on favourite for the Cup Mile and duly won by 4-lengths. He finished 6th in the Derby a month later and went on to be a solid class 1 handicapper befire his eventual retirement in April 2017.

2014: Cheongnyong Bisang [Volponi – Miss Alwuhush (Alwuhush)] – The 20/1 chance filly became Seoul’s second winner of the KRA Cup Mile when taking a 2-length victory last year. Another filly, Queen’s Blade, had been sent off as the odds-on favourite and she would come good a month later in the Korean Derby in Seoul with Cheongnyong Bisang back in 4th. Blighted by injury, he was inexplicably sent to the United States, where his story took a quite unexpected turn.

2015: Rafale [Colors Flying – Dongbang Choego (Al Naba)] – 2nd behind Doraon Hyeonpyo in the previous year’s Breeders’ Cup, Rafale begin his three-year-old campaign with a win but only managed 4th place in his final prep for the Cup Mile. Nevertheless, it was enough for him to be sent off as co-favourite with Doraon Hyeonpyo for the big race. Under You Hyun Myung, he struck the front late on and beat Doraon Hyenpyo by half a length. That would be as good as it got for Rafale as he finished 3rd in the Derby and then 5th in the Minister’s Cup before tendinitis brough a premature end to his career after just ten starts and five wins. He remains alive at Sinhwa Farm on Jeju Island.

2016: Power Blade [Menifee – Cheonmacheong (Lost Mountain)] – Champion juvenile the previous year, Power Blade was odds-on favourite for the Cup Mile, obliging by four-lengths and swept to all three legs of the Triple Crown with supreme ease. He went on to represent Korea at the Dubai World Cup Carnival in 2017, placing at Group level before returning to Seoul to run 2nd in the Korea Sprint and then to win the Grand Prix Stakes.

2017: Indian King [Biwa Shinseiki – Indian Diamond (Indian Charlie)] – British jockey Darryll Holland became the fourth foreign jockey to win the Cup Mile, guiding 75/1 outsider Indian King to a narrow win having taken the initiative early in the race. He ran solid 4ths in both the final two legs of the Triple Crown but suffered an injury setback shortly afterwards. He has recently returned to training.

Final declarations for this year’s race will be made on Wednesday. A full preview of the big race will follow.

Indian King & Darryll Holland Win First Leg Of 2017 Korean Triple Crown

If there is to be a Korean Triple Crown winner this year then his name is Indian King. The 74/1 outsider took the initiative under jockey Darryll Holland in the early part of the race and clung on to defeat Royal Ruby and American Power and claim the first Jewel in the Crown, the KRA Cup Mile at Busan on Sunday afternoon.

Punters couldn’t split Breeders’ Cup winner and runner-up Final Boss and Daeho Sidae sending them off as almost co-favourites but it was Illyu Star and longest shot on the board Taeyangui Jeonseol who were out of the gates the quickest. By the end of the straight, however, Holland had brought Indian King up alongside the leader and as they rounded the corner he kicked on in front and had stolen three lengths on the field as they straightened up.

The challenges would arrive too late. Daeho Sidae, expected to lead, offered little while Final Boss had far too much to do. Instead, while Holland coaxed his mount home, the one who would get the closest would be Royal Ruby. He had been the back-marker  for much of the race but flew home to get within half a length of the winner on the line. The Peter Wolsley trainee, who also started as an outsider, must surely be very much in the Derby mix now. American Power was just a further head back in 3rd while there was a 5-length gap back to Daeho Sidae who led home the rest.

KRA Cup Mile (KOR G2) – Busan Racecourse – 1600M – April 2 2017

1. Indian King (KOR) [Biwa Shinseiki – Indian Diamond (Indian Charlie)] – Darryll Holland – 75.0, 17.5
2. Royal Ruby (KOR) [Chapel Royal – Red Ruby (Yehudi)] – Jo Sung Gon – 4.6
3. American Power (KOR) [Ecton Park – White Angelica (Quiet American)] – 1.7
Distances: 0.5 lengths / Head
Also Ran: 4. Daeho Sidae (KOR) 5. Final Boss (KOR) 6. Ice Marine (KOR) 7. Muhan Yeoljeong (KOR) 8. Illyu Star (KOR) 9. Wonder Wall (KOR) 10. Lion Rock (KOR) 11. Taeyangui Jeonseol (KOR)

Indian King [Biwa Shinseiki – Indian Diamond (Indian Charlie)] is a half-brother to Indian Star, winner of last year’s Jeju Governor’s Cup and one of the top sprinters at the track – she came out one race later on Sunday afternoon and ran 2nd over 1200M to Triple Five in a class 1 handicap.

Indian Diamond herself was an $18,000 purchase at the Keeneland September Sale in 2002. She ran 36 times at Seoul between 2003 and 2006 winning on 3 occasions and in addition to Indian Star has had three others make the track so far, although only one of them was a winner.

For trainer Mun Je Bok, it was his biggest win to date; his first Group 2 having previously won Group 3 events with Hangangui Gijeok, Perdido Pomeroy and of course, Indian Star. 

As for Darryll Holland, it was his first Listed or Group winner in Korea. After the race, Holland noted that he isn’t able to ride as many as he would like due to a minimum riding weight of 54kg. He paid tribute to the preparation done by the trainer and thanked him for putting him on. There’ll be no trouble making weight for the Korean Derby next month.

Can Indian King get 1800M at Seoul? It makes for a fascinating Derby on the second Sunday in May.

Korean Triple Crown 2017: KRA Cup Mile – Full Preview

The 2017 Korean Triple Crown gets underway on Sunday as eleven three-year-olds line up for the first jewel; the KRA Cup Mile at Busan.

Final Boss

Final Boss beat Daeho Sidae and Muhan Yeoljeong to become Champion Juvenile (Pic: KRA)

The race, sometimes known as the “Korean Guineas” is over 1600M and will come under orders at 4.20pm at Busan Racecourse. A total of 11 runners will take part, 8 from Busan and 3 from Seoul. 7 of them took part in Korea’s top juvenile race, the “Breeders’ Cup” at Seoul in December, including Final Boss and Daeho Sidae, who came home 1st and 2nd and are likely to head the betting.

1. Muhan Yeoljeong [Officer – Ridemetothemoon (Malibu Moon)] 8(3/1/2) (An Woo Sung)- Yonekura Satoshi
A fast finishing 3rd in the Breeders’ Cup, he’s won two of three starts since, all of them over this distance. A five-length winner last time, he is tactically versatile but given the draw is more likely to look to get on pace early today. He has a chance.

2. Daeho Sidae [Simon Pure – Ara Mireu (Didyme)] 6(4/2/0) (Baik Kwang Yeol) – Choi Si Dae
2nd to Final Boss in the Breeders’ Cup he’s gone on to win two from three since then including at a mile which has him up to class 2 already. Likely to be on or close to the early pace here and given home track advantage, it is very possible he will start as favourite. His dam won 3 of 24 starts at Busan. Daeho Sidae is her third foal while all have won, he looks the best.

3. Taeyangui Jeonseol [J.S. Hold – I’m Legend (Smoke Glacken)] 5(3/0/0) (Yu Jae Gil) – Lee Hyeok
Sire a Korean Triple Crown winner, he comes in following three consecutive wins, two of them at 1700M, making all last time. Another likely front-runner, he should stick to task well but whether he has the late speed to challenge is another matter.

4. Illyu Star [Officer – Run For Little Bit (Tactical Advantage)] 8(4/0/1) (An Woo Sung) – Jo In Kwen
He beat Indian King when winning over 1400M three weeks ago, a performance that saw him promoted to class 3 level. His previous attempt at a mile was unsuccessful though which means he probably won’t be among the favourites here. Not expected to try to lead but he won’t be too far away early on.

5. Wonder Wall [Chapel Royal – No Bull Baby (Indian Charlie)] 9(3/4/1) (Kim Young Kwan – Ham Wan Sik
Shunsuke Yoshida owned half-brother to Main Stay, who was a winner over 1200M at the Dubai World Cup Carnival this year. Wonder Wall was 4th in the Breeders’ Cup but has won two from three this year including one over this distance ahead of Indian King. Last time he was 2nd to Mujeok Vicar, a horse who also beat Daeho Sidae in January, over 1800M. From Kim Young Kwan’s stable, he will be backed as all of that trainer’s horses are, but he won’t be among the top line of favourites. Will proabbly compete for the lead early.

6. Ice Marine [Officer – Runkerry Point (Giant’s Causeway)] 9(5/2/0) (Choi Ki Hong) – Song Keong Yun
The only filly in the race, she did nothing in the Breeders Cup but finished 2nd to American Power in a valuable race at the end of December. She’s won both her outings so far in 2017, including a six-length triumph in what was basically an early Oaks trial over 1400M a month ago. That confirms her as the leading filly but doesn’t mean a whole lot here. She is likely to settle in midfield and she should be competitive but a win would be a surprise.

7. Indian King [Biwa Shinseiki – Indian Diamond (Indian Charlie)] 8(2/2/2) (Mun Je Bok) – Darryll Holland
His two wins both came last autumn and he went on to run 6th in the Breeders’ Cup. He has two 3rds and a 2nd from three outings this year and has been beaten by both Wonder Wall and Illyu Star in the process. Top jockey booking but a lot of form to overturn here. He’s likely to break in midfield. Indian King’s dam ran in Korea, winning three times and she also produced the sprinter Indian Star, winner of Jeju Governor’s Cup last year.

8. Lion Rock [Ecton Park – A Little Poke (Pleasant Tap)] 3(3/0/0) (Lee Shin Young – Moon Se Young
Full brother to Triple Nine and three other winners, he is the only one who enters with a 100% record to defend. Seoul’s champion jockey Moon Se Young comes down to ride him which will tempt some. He was a seven-length winner over 1700M in February but that was at class 5. Plenty of raw ability but possibly a bit behind some of the others in terms of development with the Derby and Minister’s Cup more serious targets but could still go well.

9. American Power [Ecton Park – White Angelica (Quiet American)] 4(3/1/0) (Kim Young Kwan) – Francisco Da Silva
he beat Ice Marine and Illyu Star when comfortably winning a valuable race at the end of December but was unexpectedly beaten on his only outing so far this year. That was at a mile on February 19th. He finished off well though and he was only beaten half a length by an older horse. A stablemate of Wonder Wall, he is likely to settle towards the rear of the field and he can’t be ruled out.

10. Final Boss [Menifee – Sinsok Dolpa (Lindo Shaver)] 8(6/1/0) (Ji Yong Cheol) – Choi Bum Hyun
The Champion Juvenile of 2016 having beaten six of these in the Breeders’ Cup race in Seoul in December. He’s raced twice this year, both of them relatively facile victories at 1700M and 1800M. Likely to be contesting favourite status with Daeho Sidae, he has a contrasting style, coming from off the pace. If he gets into gear into the home straight, the prize could be heading back to the capital.

11. Royal Ruby [Chapel Royal – Red Ruby (Yehudi)] 7(4/1/1) (Peter Wolsley) – Jo Sung Gon
He has progressed a little bit under the radar narrowly winning all three of his 2017 starts so far and actually beat Lion Rock’s older sister Black Sapphire by a nice over 1800M a month ago. From Peter Wolsley’s stable, he certainly has potential and is the most likely to settle towards the rear of the field. Interesting outsider.