minister’s Cup

Seoul Sunday – Minister’s Cup Day: Race-By-Race Preview (July 16)

The final leg of the 2017 Korean Triple Crown takes place on Sunday at Seoul Racecourse with the winners of the Cup Mile, Derby and Oaks all taking their chance in the Minister’s Cup. Sunday sees 11 races at Seoul from 11:45 to 19:00 and 6 at Busan from 13:25 to 17:40.

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Final Boss won the Korean Derby (Pic: KRA)

Derby winner Final Boss is the favourite. He was Champion Juvenile last year but arrived at the first leg of the Triple Crown, the KRA Cup Mile (Korean Guineas) in Busan in April looking anything but himself. He still ran 5th as Indian King took the honours ahead of Royal Ruby and American Power.

Back home in Seoul in the Derby in May, Final Boss once more didn’t make things easy for himself. He dawdled at the back of the field in the early stages of the race and once he launched his late challenge, veered violently across to the stands-side rail. Regardless, he hit the front in the final furlong and raced on to win by an easy three lengths. Royal Ruby and American Power once more came home in 2nd and 3rd.

So to Sunday and stretching out to 2000M in the Minister’s Cup, a distance none of the 12 runners have tackled before. That surely won’t be a problem for Final Boss who looked ready to go round again after the Derby. Nor should it be for Royal Ruby and American Power who could well end up filling out the places in all three legs of the Triple Crown.

Across the first two legs of the Crown, only one filly took her chance. This time there are four and they’re the top four place-getters from last month’s Oaks. That race produced a record breaking trifecta dividend as longshot Jejui Haneul enabled Kim Hye Sun to make history as the first Korean female jockey to win a Classic. She goes again, however, it is the runner-up that day, Bright Star who could turn out to be the best of them.

All in all though, the race looks set up for Final Boss to confirm his position as the standout of his crop. Notes on all Seoul races are below:

Race 1: Class 6 (1300M) Allowance / KRW 22 Million
1. SPECIAL BIG C – 7th behind Little Wing last start but looks to have potential for better. Placing chances.
2. UPDATE – Woeful in first few outings but getting the hang of it now. Minor money chances.
3. NANGMAN STAR – Not beaten many in three goes so far.
4. WIND POWER – Not too far away in recent outings and should be looking to match career best of 4th.
5. LITTLE WING – Beat Special Big C last start and can look for the places again.
6. YAHO WORLD STAR – 8th of 11 on debut a month ago. Needs a bit of improvement before he can be considered.
7. SACHEON DAESEONG – Best finish to date a 5th over 1000M. 7th of 11 on first try at this distance at the end of May.
8. MIGHTY COOL – Underwhelming so far but from an enterprising stable so may improve.
9. BEST MISSION – Best of 4th from five. Plenty to find here.

(more…)

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Power Blade Wins The Korean Triple Crown

As if there was ever any doubt. At Seoul Racecourse today, Power Blade looked every inch the champion the Triple Crown series has been waiting for as he utterly dominated the Minister’s Cup in the same fashion he did in both the KRA Cup Mile and the Korean Derby.

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Power Blade in the Minister’s Cup winner’s circle (Pic: Jo Kim @krapresenter )

Punters sent Power Blade off as the odds-on favourite ahead of stablemate and Korean Oaks winner Ottug Ottugi. The filly as usual set the pace early on with Kim Yong Geun happy to keep Power Blade handy. For as moment at the top of the straight there was a chance that the favourite, sitting in fourth on the rail may find himself boxed in. That moment was fleeting.

As soon as they entered the straight the gap opened up. Kim Yong Geun took it and from there the race was won. The margin on the line was seven lengths but Power Blade wasn’t stretched. So superior he is to the rest of this crop, he could win by a margin of his choosing.

Just as in the Korean Derby, Zettabyte chased him home a distance 2nd, four lengths ahead of Baedari Bobae, who ran a big race in 3rd, finishing ahead of the tiring Ottug Ottugi.

Power Blade is trained by Kim Young Kwan, who records yet another Classic win and ridden by Kim Yong Geun. His next target will now surely have to be the Korea Cup International race over 1800M on September 11th where he can be tested against overseas horses.

J.S. Hold won a Triple Crown in Korea in 2007, however, great achievement though it was, it was before the current era of Seoul and Busan. Today in its 9th running, we got a true Triple Crown winner and his name is Power Blade.

The Minister’s Cup (KOR G2) – Seoul Racecourse – 2000M – July 17, 2016

1. Power Blade (KOR) [Menifee – Cheonmacheong (Lost Mountain)] – Kim Yong Geun – 1.3, 1.0
2. Zettabyte (KOR) [Menifee – Fight Back (Sakura Seeking)] – Lim Sung Sil – 1.6
3. Baedari Bobae (KOR) [Colors Flying – Geumgang Gongwon (Pacificbounty)] – 5.2
Distances: 7 lengths / 4 lengths
Also Ran: 4. Ottug Ottugi 5. Stealth 6. Saeroun Stealth 7. Siseon Pochak 8. Kkeutpan Hero

Triple Crown Final Leg: Minister’s Cup Runner-By-Runner Preview

The final leg of the 2016 Korean Triple Crown is at Seoul Racecourse on Sunday afternoon and Power Blade is set to be favourite to win the Minister’s Cup and complete a sweep of the Crown.

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Power Blade won the Derby in the rain in May. He returns to Seoul as favourite to complete the Triple Crown on Sunday (Pic: Ross Holburt)

He has seven rivals in the 2000M race which is being run at the early time of 2.20pm due to the attendance of a government delegation. Korean Oaks winner Ottug Ottugi who, like Power Blade is trained by Kim Young Kwan is expected to be the main danger.

Here’s a full run down of the field:

The Minister’s Cup (KOR GII) – Seoul Racecourse – 2000M – July 17, 2016 (14:20)

1. Saeroun Stealth (KOR) [Colors Flying – Captive (Mutakddim)] (7/3/1/1) Sang Young Lee –Makoto Okabe
Distance is a concern. His one run at 1800M in the Derby and he finished 8th, beaten by four of these. Returned to win over 1300M last month but he has a lot to find in this company. He settles in the middle of the pack.

2. Kkeutpan Hero (KOR) [Colors Flying – Ya Ya Sunshine (Elusive Quality)] (3/3/0/0) Sung J-Kwon – Chae Sang Hyun
Unbeaten in three starts to date, he joins the Classic trail late. He won by half a length over a mile on his last start on June 10th at class 4. He’s done nothing wrong so far although it is hard to gauge him in terms of the opposition he’s faced. It’s a big step up here.

3. Stealth (KOR) [Colors Flying – Missed The Tower (Woodman)] (10/4/0/3) Sang Young Lee –Ikuyasu Kurakane
Same owner and trainer as Saeroun Stealth, he’s come 3rd in both legs of the Triple Crown so far. He came from well off the pace in the Derbyand while he was a full six-lengths behind Zettabyte in 2nd, he may appreciate the extra furlong. He will settle towards the rear of the field once more. A chance.

4. Ottug Ottugi (KOR) [Forest Camp – Main Objective (Lion Heart)] Filly (10/7/2/0) Young Kwan Kim – Choi Si Dae
Power Blade’s stablemate, she beat him at Busan last autumn but Power Blade has since bested her no fewer than three times including in the KRA Cup Mile. She passed on the Derby and instead went to the Oaks, which she won easily. In every race there have been concerns about her stamina and that’s true here too but she is very quick, she will lead and anything that wants to win this race will have to come past her.

5. Siseon Pochak (KOR) [Colors Flying – Myeongseo Gongju (Carry The Flag)] (14/3/4/3) Jang Ki Min – You Hyun Myung
Back to back wins in April enabled him to take his chance in the Derby in which he finished a creditable enough 7th. Disappointed on his return to Busan and to a mile last month. That will make him an outsider here. Likely to be ridden patiently.

6. Baedari Bobae (KOR) [Colors Flying – Geumgang Gongwon (Pacificbounty)] (11/3/5/1) Chung Yul You – Lee Sung Jae
A latecomer to the Classic trail, he gets to take his chance following as good 2nd place on his first try around twoturns at the end of May. Comes in fresh but he does have plenty to find here.

7. Power Blade (KOR) [Menifee – Cheonmacheong (Lost Mountain)] (8/6/2/0) Young Kwan Kim –Kim Yong Geun
He is the favourite and even visually, looks superior. Unbeaten since losing to Ottug Ottugi in Busan’s champion juvenile race last autumn, he was a facile winner of both the Cup Mile and Derby. At the Derby, jockey Kim Young Geun defied instructions in the rain and took him to the front right from the gate. It paid off. It’s most likely he will let Ottug Ottugi lead here but if Power Blade is at anything like his best, he completes the Triple Crown. There is little downside to this horse.

8. Zettabyte (KOR) [Menifee – Fight Back (Sakura Seeking)] (9/3/3/1) Keum Man Lim – Lim Sung Sil
He was 4th in the Cup Mile and then 2nd in the Derby, three lengths adrift of Power Blade but six clear of Stealth in 3rd. The distance will suit him, he will look to come from off the pace and he has a chance.

Power Blade Bids For Triple Crown In Minister’s Cup

Power Blade will on Sunday seek to become the first horse to sweep the Korean Triple Crown in its current form. The KRA Cup Mile and Korean Derby winner heads a field of eight – all from Busan – who will line up for the final jewel of the 2016 crown, the Minister’s Cup at Seoul Racecourse. 

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Power Blade in a soaking wet Derby Winner’s circle in May (Pic: Ross Holburt)

Also in attendance will be Power Blade’s stablemate Ottug Ottugi. She was runner up in the Cup Mile but skipped the Derby in favour of last month’s Oaks, a race she won easily. Unbeaten Kkeutpan Hero, who missed the Cup Mile and Derby, also takes his chance.

The Triple Crown has been won before, by J.S Hold (Ft. Stockton) in 2007. However that year, it consisted of the Ttukseom Cup, Derby and Minister’s Cup and was only open to horses trained at Seoul. From 2008 onwards, Busan horses became eligible and the KRA Cup Mile, at the south coast track, was designated the 1st leg (and became informally known as the Korean 2000 Guineas).

Sangseung Ilro won two legs of the Crown in 2009 but so far the complete set has remained elusive. This year, however, with the Minister’s Cup being run in July instead of in September or October – which previously gave late bloomers time to appear on the scene – there was always a chance it would be a little different. The Power Blade emerged. He’ll be strong favourite to complete the Crown on Sunday.

The race has had to be moved to the early time of 2:20pm. This is because the actual Minister (of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs – sadly “MAFRA” and not “FAFF” anymore) will be attending. While unavoidable bearing in mind the domestic politics involved, it is unfortunate as it jeopardizes the race’s chances of being available for betting through some of the overseas simulcast partners.

We’ll have a full runner by runner preview of the race on Saturday. In the meantime, here are the runners and riders:

The Minister’s Cup (KOR GII) – Seoul Racecourse – 2000M – July 17, 2016 (17:00)

1. Saeroun Stealth (KOR) [Colors Flying – Captive (Mutakddim)] (7/3/1/1) Sang Young Lee – Makoto Okabe
2. Kkeutpan Hero (KOR) [Colors Flying – Ya Ya Sunshine (Elusive Quality)] (3/3/0/0) Sung J-Kwon – Chae Sang Hyun
3. Stealth (KOR) [Colors Flying – Missed The Tower (Woodman)] (10/4/0/3) Sang Young Lee – Ikuyasu Kurakane
4. Ottug Ottugi (KOR) [Forest Camp – Main Objective (Lion Heart)] Filly (10/7/2/0) Young Kwan Kim – Choi Si Dae
5. Siseon Pochak (KOR) [Colors Flying – Myeongseo Gongju (Carry The Flag)] (14/3/4/3) Jang Ki Min – You Hyun Myung
6. Baedari Bobae (KOR) [Colors Flying – Geumgang Gongwon (Pacificbounty)] (11/3/5/1) Chung Yul You – Lee Sung Jae
7. Power Blade (KOR) [Menifee – Cheonmacheong (Lost Mountain)] (8/6/2/0) Young Kwan Kim – Kim Yong Geun
8. Zettabyte (KOR) [Menifee – Fight Back (Sakura Seeking)] (9/3/3/1) Keum Man Lim – Lim Sung Sil

Coming Up In July: Evening Racing / Busan Mayor’s Cup / Triple Crown Finale / KRA Trophy At Kranji

Evening racing begins this weekend and will run throughout July and August on Fridays and Saturdays. A busy July also sees the Busan Mayor’s Cup – the biggest race of summer – as well as Power Blade potentially looking to complete the Triple Crown in the Minister’s Cup and three Korean horses heading to Singapore for the KRA Trophy at Kranji.

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Evening racing begins this weekend

The first “evening” meeting will be at Busan this Friday. On Fridays, the first race at Busan will be at 2.30pm and the last at 9pm. Saturdays at Seoul will get underway at 2pm with the final race at 9pm. Sundays this year will remain at their usual time with the first race at Seoul at 10:50am and the last at 6pm. While the initial evening season runs until the end of August it may well be extended this year into September and October.

On the track, the month starts with the big one, the Busan Metropolitan City Mayor’s Cup, generally billed as the “Summer Grand Prix”. This year’s edition is at Busan this coming Sunday, July 3rd and a high quality field look set to take part including some strong candidates from Seoul. We will have the full line-up here this afternoon and a full preview of the race on Saturday. Last year’s winner Gamdonguibada, Triple Nine, Bold Kings, Clean Up Joy, Clean Up Cheonha and Success Story are all currently entered.

On Sunday 17th, attention will turn to Seoul and the final leg of the Triple Crown in the shape of the Minister’s Cup. Power Blade was the facile winner of the KRA Cup Mile and Korean Derby and should he make the starting gate, he will be strong favourite to become the first horse to sweep all three legs of the Crown in its current form. Stablemate and Korean Oaks winner Ottug Ottugi is also among ten entrants at this stage.

The final Group race of the month will be the KNN Cup at Busan on July 24th. It’s the 2nd leg of the Queens’ Tour which decides the champion filly or mare of the year. The first leg, the Ttukseom Cup, was won by Bichui Jeongsang at Seoul at the beginning of June.

In other news, the KRA Trophy will be run at Kranji Racecourse in Singapore on July 24th and for the second year running, Korea-trained horses will be taking part in the 1200M sprint. The three horses looking likely to travel are Parang Juuibo (With Distinction) and Always Winner (Creek Cat) from Seoul and Triple Five (Girolamo) from Busan. The optimistically named Always Winner won the JRA Trophy at Seoul earlier in June while the Bart Rice trained Triple Five is an up and comer who has won three of six outings to date. Baksuchyeo and Jingyeogui Geojang are others entered.

The KRA Trophy is part of the “Korea Festival” that takes place at Kranji that weekend.

Upcoming In Korean Racing: Triple Crown Finale / Oaks / SBS Korea vs Japan / Ttukseom Cup

It’s two down and one to go for Power Blade in his quest to complete the 2016 Korean Triple Crown. The colt won the Korean Derby in fine style in the rain last Sunday to add to his KRA Cup Mile triumph last month and will be back at Seoul in July in order to try to complete the Crown.

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All being well, Power Blade will run for the Triple Crown on July 17 (Pic: Ross Holburt)

J.S. Hold won the Triple Crown back in 2007. However, in those days Busan horses were yet to be entered in the series (that would begin the following year) and the first leg was the Ttukseom Cup. Power Blade would therefore be the first horse to sweep the Crown in its current format. The final leg is the Minister’s Cup, which will be run over 2000M on Sunday July 17th.

Ottug Ottugi was 2nd in the Cup Mile in March but didn’t run in the Derby. She may well go in the Minister’s Cup but before that, Power Blade’s stablemate has the fillies’ Classic to take care of. The 1800M Korean Oaks will be run at Busan on June 12th. We could see South African trainer Bart Rice with his first Classic runners as Janggunui Huye and Load Cell are among the seventeen fillies still left in. Seoul is set to continue its dismal record in the Classics accounting as it does for only two of the nominations even at this early stage. Hoseungjibyeok looks the main danger to Ottug Ottugi.

A week before the Oaks, on Sunday June 5th, there is a big afternoon of racing at Seoul which sees the first leg of the Queens’ Tour in the shape of the Ttukseom Cup and also the SBS Korea/Japan Cup, which is the year’s first international race.

Three horses are expected from Japan and they are the usual set of very experienced campaigners. Currently, they are the imposingly-named Dreadnought (Meishi Odo), an 8-year-old gelding with 7 wins from 33 starts, Kimon Avalon (South Vigorous), a 7-year-old horse with 9 from 53 and Best Wish (White Muzzle) a 7-year-old horse who has won just 3 from 58 but has finished in the top three a further 21 times.

The home team will fancy their chances of beating them in the race which will be run over 1200M. Gamdonguibada, Perdido Pomeroy, Tongil Sidae and Bit Blade are among a very strong contingent expected to travel up from Busan while Choegang Schiller, Cheongu, Haemaru and OS Hwadap are among the early entries from Seoul.

Last year a Japanese raider, Esmeraldina, won the Ttukseom Cup. Another Japanese filly, Lalabel (Gold Allure) was initially entered but now won’t make the trip. That leaves it an all Korean-trained affair for the 1400M event which is the first leg in the three-race Queens’ Tour series for fillies and mares 5-years-old and under.

Last year’s Oaks winner Jangpung Parang is among the 21 currently entered as is New York Blue, who was 2nd in this race last year. New York Blue was sent off as favourite for the final leg of last year’s tour but fell when clipping heels on the first turn enabling Heba to claim the race and the overall series. Bichui Jeongsang looks to be the biggest name from the capital still in.

Upcoming Graded/Listed/Special races:

May 29: YTN Cup (Listed) – Seoul
June 4: Selangor Turf Club Trophy (Special) – Seoul
June 4: JRA Trophy (Special) – Seoul
June 4: TJK (Turkey) Cup (Special) – Seoul
June 5: Ttukseom Cup (Group II) – Seoul
June 5: SBS Korea/Japan Cup (Group III) – Seoul
June 12: Korean Oaks (Group II) – Busan
June 19: Sports Chosun Cup (Listed) Seoul
July 3: Busan Metropolitan City Mayor’s Cup (Group III) – Busan
July 17: Minister’s Cup (Group II) – Seoul

Minister’s Cup – Full Preview

Rafale struck first in the KRA Cup Mile. Yeongcheon Ace romped home in the Derby. They both line up, alongside just five others, for the final leg of the 2015 Korean Triple Crown – the Minister’s Cup – at Seoul Racecourse on Sunday afternoon.

Yeongcheon Ace led Triple Nine home in the Derby (Pic: Ross Holburt)

Yeongcheon Ace led Triple Nine home in the Derby (Pic: Ross Holburt)

There have been two scratchings since declarations were made on Thursday mornings. Daegunhwang, 4th in the Korean Derby and Bulpae Line, who was set to take part in his first Triple Crown race, have both been ruled out. That means there won’t be a number 2 or number 7. Only one of the seven is from Seoul with the rest having travelled up from Busan. Here’s who’s left in:

Minister’s Cup (KOR G2) – Seoul Racecourse – 2000M – July 19, 2015 – 16:55

1. Triple Nine [Ecton Park – A Little Poke (Pleasant Tap)] (7/5/2/0) – Lim Sung Sil
He will be either favourite or second-favourite. He didnt make it to the Cup Mile but finished 2nd in the Derby and won a quick race over 1800M last month to keep him ticking over. Didn’t finish that strongly in the Derby which may be a concern but trainer Kim Young Kwan will surely have him spot-on here. He probably wont lead but he should be handy.

3. Yuseong Fighting [Didyme – Maggie’s Prayer (Songandaprayer)] (9/5/0/1) – Yang Young Nam
Credit to connections for entering their horse in all three legs of the Triple Crown but Yuseong Fighting is a sprinter. He will go out quick but he won’t get the trip with 1400M so far being his limit against decent opposition. Expect to see him win plenty of races over six furlongs but don’t expect him to win this.

4. Rock Band [Ecton Park – Plie (Dixieland Band)] (5/4/1/0) – Kim Yong Geun
The wildcard. Unraced as a 2-year-old, he sauntered to victory without really being tested in his first four starts this year. He then had a chance to show what he was made of over 1800M last month but in a small field he got a dreadful trip, managing to get stuck behind slow-moving horses twice. Rock Band flew home but it was too late. Kim Young Kwan could have entered others and Kim Yong Geun gives up a weekend of rides at Busan to partner him. He can’t be ruled out.

5. Doraon Hyeonpyo [Colors Flying – Kilcoe Castle (Gone West)] (8/5/2/0) – Kim Dong Young
Second in the Cup Mile and fifth in the Derby, this is another for who the distance may be an issue. Doraon Hyeonpyo was last year’s Champion Juvenile but the Derby was his first attempt at a mile and while he should beat plenty there are a few who may be too quick at the business end of the race.

6. Rafale [Colors Flying – Dongbang Choego (Al Naba)] (9/5/3/1) – You Hyun Myung
The KRA Cup Mile winner and then 3rd in the Derby, less than three lengths behind Yeongcheon Ace. He is quick and the distance shouldn’t pose too much of a problem for him. Expect him to settle in the middle of the pack and improve around the home turn. Rafale is most likely to start 3rd favourite and he should be looking for at least a place.

8. Seonbong [Duality – Megabuck Gal (Montbrook)] (9/3/3/0) – Lee Joon Chel
A very creditable 6th in the Korean Derby but there is no strong reason to believe he can finihs much higher here. Seongbong has raced once since the Derby, dropping all the way down to five furlongs and coming 2nd. Following Daegunhwang’s scratching, he is the home-track’s sole representative. This is a small field so anything can happen but he is up against it here.

9. Yeongcheon Ace [Menifee-Dixie Avenger (Dixie Union)] (9/4/3/2) – Choi Si Dae
The Korean Derby winner and the likely favourite here. He is a closer and sat right in the middle of the pack in the Derby. Given the small field today, he may even go right to the back early on. Others have show more speed but he will get the distance and has every chance of grinding out another win. Choi Si Dae is the current big race jockey.