KRA Cup Mile

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
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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.

2017 Korea Triple Crown – First Preview

We’re less than three weeks away from the KRA Cup Mile – the Korean 2000 Guineas – which will be run at Busan on Sunday April 2. Last year, Power Blade swept all three jewels of the Triple Crown, the first horse to do so in its current incarnation. This year, we’re in the unusual position of a Seoul-trained horse, Final Boss, being the early favourite to emulate him.

power-blade-kra-cup-mile.jpg.jpeg

Power Blade won the KRA Cup Mile on his way to the Triple Crown last year (Pic: KRA)

Only four Seoul horses are among the 21 currently nominated for the race but three of those four are strong. The unbeaten Lion Rock is a full brother to Triple Nine (who will race in the Godolphin Mile at Meydan on World Cup night on March 25th) joins Final Boss and the promising Taeyangui Jeonseol as contenders. Here’s a run-down of the current nominations with race records and trainer:

Blue Time (filly) (8/3/1/0) Oh Mun-sik – Won three in a row at the back end of 2016 but hasn’t really pushed on. 9th behind Ice Marine in the Gyeongnam Sinmun.

Morning Park (7/1/3/0) Oh Mun-sik – Yet to go further than 1300M and 5th of 12 on first try at class 4.

American Power (4/3/1/0) Kim Young-kwan – Won his first three but unexpectedly defeated by a nose by a 6-year-old gelding (Yankee Dream) on his first try at a mile last start. A contender.

Wonder Wall (9/3/4/1) Kim Young-kwan – Owned by Shunsuke Yoshida he’s come back into form after being 4th to Final Boss in the Breeders’ Cup. A win at a mile and a 2nd at 1800M last start.

Happy Gongju (filly) (5/3/0/2) Jang Se-han – 3rd to Ice Marine in the Gyeongnam Sinmun. Oaks likely to be the bigger target.

Adeleui Bom (9/2/1/1) Baik Kwang-yeol – Holds a 2nd place over a mile at class 4. Not one of the top contenders but not impossible.

Daeho Sidae (6/4/2/0) Baik Kwang-yeol – 2nd in the Breeders’ Cup and a winner at both a mile and 1800 since. Already a class 2 horse and arguably Busan’s top hope.

Party Tonight (8/0/3/1) Baik Kwang-yeol – One of only two maidens still in. Three 2nd places, one at this distance. Likely to be the one from the trainer who drops.

Illyu Star (8/4/0/1) An Woo-sung – Back among the wins last start. Previous try at a mile didn’t go particularly well.

Muhan Yeoljeong (8/3/1/2) An Woo-sung – 3rd in the Breeders’ Cup and a class 4 winner at a mile last time. He’s in the frame.

Seongsan Jilju (6/2/0/1) Yang Kui-sun – Won a couple of five furlong races but hasn’t looked especially smart at any further.

Ice Marine (filly) (9/5/2/0) Choi Ki-hong – Dominant winner of the Gyeongnam Sinmun puting her in pole position for the Oaks. She’s been beaten by some of these colts before though.

Yongwangdam (5/2/0/1) Mun Je-bok – Class 5 winner at a mile but 5th to Ice Marine in the Gyeongnam Sinmun suggests there is plenty to find.

Indian King (8/2/2/2) Mun Je-bok – Two class 4 3rd places at a mile suggests there could be more to come from this one.

Royal Ruby (7/4/1/1) Peter Wolsley – This one has been under the radar a little bit but has won over 1800M and looks a serious player.

Bulkkot Nori (6/3/0/1) Peter Wolsley – Won three of his first four and was 3rd over a mile at class 4 last start. Others  look more advanced at this stage.

Yeonggwanguihunter (6/2/0/0) Lim Keum-man – Not shown an awful lot so far and was 5th on his only try at class 4 so far.

Final Boss (8/6/1/0) Ji Yong-cheol (Seoul) – The Breeders’ Cup winner has gone on to win twice around two-turns this year. A Seoul horse going to Busan aside, he is the favourite and a strong one at that.

Daeseung Bibob (6/0/2/1) Ji Yong-cheol (Seoul) – Stable-mate of Final Boss which is perhaps the only reason for his inclusion.

Lion Rock (3/3/0/0) Lee Shin-young (Seoul) – Full brother to Triple Nine, he’s the only one who enters unbeaten. It may be too much too soon with the Derby & Minister’s Cup the main targets, but don’t rule out.

Taeyangui Jeonseol (5/3/0/0) Yoo Jae-gil (Seoul) – Back to back wins at 1700M puts this still unexposed colt firmly in the hunt.

The maximum field size is 16 so at least five will miss out and it is possible for others to nominate this week as well – Nasca Prince, who won at Seoul on Sunday, being a potential one, given that as it stands the Capital as usual isn’t taking up as many spots as it has been assigned.  As in all races in Korea, no more than 2 horses can be from the same trainer. Seoul last won the race with Cheongnyong Bisang, now improbably a ranch horse in the USA, in 2014, but Final Boss currently looks the one to beat here. We’ll have plenty more build up to the start of a fascinating Triple Crown series over next couple of weeks.

Power Blade The Sharpest In KRA Cup Mile

Power Blade once more defeated stablemate Ottug Ottugi to claim the first leg of the 2016 Korean Triple Crown, the KRA Cup Mile, at Busan Racecourse on Sunday.

Last year’s champion juvenile, Power Blade was sent off as the odds-on favourite and was always very handy as Ottug Ottugi and outsider Gasok Engine set the early pace. Banjiui Jewang, expected to be prominent, sat just behind but failed to make a run in the home straight and would trail home in 7th place.

Instead it was left to the Kim Young Kwan pair to battle it out and just over a furlong out, Power Blade did look under pressure for a time. Ottug Ottugi, the only filly in the race and trying the distance for the first time would crack though and Power Blade ran on for a four-length win with the filly a brave second.

Stealth, a 25/1 shot, ran a huge race in 3rd  under Ikuyasu Kurakane, getting up from the back along with Zettabyte who came home 4th. Ever In Ever came a solid 5th, leading home Seoul’s top finisher. the 120/1 outsider Theme Deunggeuk. Behind them, the field was strung out.

Power Blade has now won five of his seven starts and is likely to head back to Seoul as favourite for the Korean Derby on May 15th. Already a winner at the Derby-distance of 1800M, he is going to be tough to stop. Ottug Ottugi showed that she has developed and a mile is within her capabilities. She’ll also need to get 1800M the Oaks in June.

The Kim Young Kwan training dominance of the top races continues. Today’s Cup Mile was his 28th Grade race winner – by far a Korean record. Kim rotates his jockeys – partly as he believes it benefits his horses although many suspect ensuring none of the top ones commit to another trainer also plays its role. Today’s rider Kim Yong Geun can’t complain too much though; today was his 9th Graded win – all of them coming on Kim Young Kwan-trained horses.

KRA Cup Mile (KOR G2) – Busan Racecourse – 1600M – April 3, 2016

1. Power Blade (KOR) [Menifee – Cheonmacheong] – YK Kim – Kim Yong Geun – 1.7, 1.1
2. Ottug Ottugi (KOR) [Forest Camp – Main Objective] – YK Kim – Choi Si Dae – 2.1
3. Stealth (KOR) [Colors Flying – Missed The Tower] – SY Lee – Ikuyasu Kurakane – 4.7
Distances: 4 lengths / 2 lengths
Also Ran: 4. Zettabyte 5. Ever In Ever 6. Theme Deunggeuk 7. Banjiui Jewang 8. Gongryong 9. Gasok Engine 10. Dyna’s Dream 11. Smart Gentleman 12. Argo Flying

Triple Crown R1 – KRA Cup Mile: Runner-By-Runner Preview

A field of twelve – eleven colts and one filly – will line up at Busan Racecourse on Sunday afternoon for the the first leg of the 2016 Korean Triple Crown. 

Power Blade Banjiui

Power Blade beat Banjiui Jewang at Seoul in the Breeders’ Cup in November (Pic: Ilgan Sports/KRA)

Three are from Seoul and nine from the host track. Power Blade, champion juvenile of 2015 is likely to be sent off as the favourite. The race is race 6 on a 7-race card at Busan which gets underway at 12:20pm. There are also 10 races at Seoul from 10:50. The race will be shown live in Australia on Sky Racing 2 along with another couple of races (preview of those here).

KRA Cup Mile (KOR G2) – Busan Racecourse – 1600M – Sunday April 3, 2016 (16:40)

1. Gongryong [Revere – Parisilton (Woodman)] (7/4/1/0) DS Bae – Moon Se Young
Likely to be Seoul’s best hope, Moon Se Young coming to ride is a plus. Gongryong (which means “Dinosaur”) come sin having won hislast three including last time at 1700M by a full four lengths. Unique among the field, he will want to be right at the back from the start and he could find the money

2. Ever In Ever [Sharp Humor – Habidongju (Silent Warrior)] (6/3/2/1) KY Baik – Seo Seung Un
This one has slipped a little under the radar having begun his career a little too late to run in the big juvenile races last autumn. He’s won three of six and last time was just beaten a head in a quick race at a mile having led for most of the way. He goes forward and a place is possible.

3. Stealth [Colors Flying – Missed The Tower (Woodman)] (8/4/0/1) SY Lee – Ikuyasu Kurakane
A winner at a mile on Boxing Day by a full five lengths inindifferent company, he won a solid race over 1400M last time. Should be content to let others lead here as any involvement in an early pace battle would be to his detriment, he has a very good jockey on board but is an outsider.

4. Theme Deunggeuk [Menifee – Pilseung Giwon (Silent Warior)] (7/2/3/1) JK Park – Park Eul Woon
He’s won two of his last three at Seoul, making all last time to win by six lengths at 1400M. Big step up today though. Likely to one of the very many looking to get forward early.

5. Smart Gentleman [Menifee – Hennesy N Lime (Limehouse)] (8/4/1/2) JS Kim – Makoto Okabe
Distance is a question mark with this one. He is competent at sprints but has only tried further than 1200M on one occasion and came 4th. Temptation would be to go out as fast as possible and try to cling on for as long as possible, but he does have a smart jockey on board.

6. Dyna’s Dream [Meiner Select – Dyna’s Gold Legend (Gold Legend)] (7/3/2/0) SB Han – Jo Chang Wook
He comes in following three consecutive victories but he really hasn’t beaten very much along the way and with the exception of last time, has been allowed to dictate. That won’t happen today. Never tried at further than 1300M, distance will also be a doubt. He may well leave the early speedsters to get on with it and try to come from just behind.

7. Argo Flying [Colors Flying – Proper Prospector (Crafty Prospector)] (3/1/1/1) JY Heo – Kim Dong Soo
He hasn’t done anything wrong but this is surely too much too soon. Got his maiden win last start at class 6 over 1000M. At least connections are having a go which is more than can be said for plenty at Seoul but success is unlikely.

8. Banjiui Jewang [Ecton Park – Sweetoil (Broken Vow)] (5/4/1/0) PM Wolsley – Pasquale Borelli
Big chance. He was 2nd to Power Blade in the Juvenile Championship race at Soeul last Noveber and has won his two starts since with an eight-length stroll last time out over a few decent older horses. Tried at the distance for the first time but hell get that and further. Good speed too. Goes forward and he is a big threat to the favourite.

9. Gasok Engine [Forest Camp – Cat Lea (Cat Thief)] (6/4/1/0) JS Kim – Lim Sung Sil
A winner of four of six but he didn’t go well at 1400M last time. Another who needs to go forward and it may just be too competitive here. He has a lot to find

10.Power Blade [Menifee – Cheonmacheong (Lost Mountain)] (6/4/2/0) YK Kim- Kim Yong Geun
The champion juvenile will be the favourite and likely a strong one. Has beaten the next two in the betting, Banjiui Jewang and Ottug Ottugi and and won really well at 1800M against older horses last time out. He doesn’t need to get involved in any early speed battle and will look to ease to the front on the long turn for home. He is beatable but hard to bet against.

11. Ottug Ottugi [Forest Camp – Main Objective (Lion Heart)] (7/5/1/0) YK Kim – Choi Si Dae
Power Blade’s stablemate, she just held on to beat him in Busan’s top juvenile race at 1200M before failing to stay on at 1400M in Seoul a month later. She’s won a couple since though including an Oaks trial last start. Beating a few fillies at 1400M is different to beating Power Blade at a mile but she is developing and there is a feeling she can get this distance. She’s fast and even from gate 11, can get forward.

12. Zettabyte [Menifee – Fight Back (Sakura Seeking)] (7/3/2/1) KM Lim – You Hyun Myung
Beaten by Power Blade and Ottug Ottugi in December shes won two since very handily indeedincluding at a mile last time out. She does have plenty to find here and she goes best when she leads early which will be hard here but she has a chance.