minister’s Cup

World Sun Finally Shines In Minister’s Cup

World Sun, the hard-luck story of both the KRA Cup Mile and the Korean Derby, finally tasted Classic glory coming through with a late – and this time unimpeded – run to win the final leg of the 2018 Triple Crown, the Minister’s Cup, at Seoul Racecourse on Sunday.

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Jockey Lee Chul Kyung reacts as he realises World Sun has beaten his mount, 80/1 chance Sharp Kaylan, in the Minister’s Cup (Pic: Korea Racing Authority)

Under Choi Si Dae, the Officer colt was taken right to the back of the field from the gate but this time, unlike in both the Cup Mile and the Derby, World Sun managed to find a clear run in the home straight and overhaul 80/1 long-shot Sharp Kaylan in the final strides. Korean Derby winner and odds-on favourite Ecton Blade was 3rd.

Sharp Kaylan set the early pace but it was a sensible one and jockey Lee Chul Kyung looked somewhat surprised to be four-lengths clear at the top of the stretch. Ecton Blade meanwhile had to ridden along by Franco Da Silva around the home turn. He would come into contention briefly at the top of the stretch but ultimately was out of it by the furlong pole.

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World Sun defeated Sharp Kaylan (Pic: Korea Racing Authority)

Unlike in the Derby, when he found himself in between two horses coming together and blocking his route, this time World Sun found clear track in front of him and it came down to a final furlong duel between him and Sharp Kaylan. The Busan horse was too strong  though, going past to win by half a length on the line., Sharp Kaylan’s jockey Lee Chul Kyung emitting an anguished howl as they crosses the line in recognition of just how close he had come to riding his first Classic winner.

Kim Young Kwan missed out on training the winner of all three legs of the Triple Crown – Ecton Blade’s stablemate Captain Force could only manage 5th., one place behind Derby runner-up Mask.

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World Sun in the Minister’s Cup winner’s circle (Pic: Korea Racing Authority)

For trainer Baik Kwang Yeol it was a second success in the race and came ten years after his previous win when Gaeseon Janggun scored in 2008.  He also won the Derby in 2015 with Yeongcheon Ace for the same owner as World Sun, Lee Jong Hun., who also owns Group winners Beolmaui Kkum (who was trained by the same trainer) and Success Story (with Min Jang Gi).

Jockey Choi Si Dae was winning the race for the first time to go along with previous wins in the Korean Derby, Korean Oaks, Busan Mayor’s Cup and Grand Prix Stakes.

Minister’s Cup (KOR G2) – Seoul Racecourse – 2000M – June 17, 2018

1. World Sun (KOR) [Officer – Dancing Desire (Mr. Greeley)] – Choi Si Dae – 8.4, 2.2
2. Sharp Kaylan (KOR) [Sharp Humor – Kaylan’s Rose (Jambalaya Jazz)] – Lee Chul Kyung – 11.3
3. Ecton Blade (KOR) [Ecton Park – Vyung Ty Grr (Regal Intention)] – Francisco Da Silva – 1.0
Distances: 0.5 lengths / 1.5 lengths
Also Ran: 4. Mask 5. Captain Force 6. Choinma 7. Hiddden Champ 8. Cheonnyeonui Gang 9. King Jjang 10. Yeonggwanguiwinner

So three Triple Crown legs yielded three different winners.  With a win an 2nd and a 3rd, Ecton Blade is the overall “winner” of the series, Now we’ve got the rest of the season to find out who’s the best.

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Minister’s Cup Sunday: 2018 Korean Triple Crown Final Leg – Race-By-Race Preview (June 17)

Sunday sees the final leg of the 2018 Korean Triple Crown and while there is no clean-sweep on the line in the Minister’s Cup at Seoul Racecourse, there is still plenty of anticipation for what should be a very good race. Derby winner Ecton Blade heads the field for what is the feature on an 11 race card at Seoul from 10:45 to 18:00. At Busan, there are 6 races from 12:40 to 17:10.

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Ecton Blade & Franco Da Silva won the Derby and go again in the Minister’s Cup (Pic: Ross Holburt)

Derby 2nd and 3rd place-getters Mask and Choinma return for another crack with the extra distance possibly to Mask’s advantage. World Sun, who got shut out in the home straight in the Derby will also take his chance again. Cup Mile winner Divide Wind suffered a setback after his 4th place in the Derby and stays at home so another stablemate of Ecton Blade’s, Captain Force, gets an opportunity. If he were to win, it would mean trainer Kim Young Kwan had won all three legs of the Triple Crown with three different horses.

Franco Da Silva keeps the ride on Ecton Blade and there is further foreign interest with Australian trainer Peter Wolsley saddling Cheonnyeonui Gang while Irish jockey Fergus Sweeney gets his first taste of racing at Seoul aboard Hiddden Champ.

Previews of all Seoul races are below (with horse by horse for the Minister’s Cup). Selections for Busan at the bottom:

Race 1: Class 6 (1000M) Allowance / KRW 40 Million

Three-year-old maiden fillies to begin with and while it’s a small field, plenty have hopes. (3) STRONG LIGHT was 4th at the distance in a marginally stiffer contest than this a month ago and should get on pace early. Another good starter is (4) HUIMANG STAR, who drops back in trip after recent good efforts at 1300M and should be competitive. (5) BODEURAM has a 2nd place to her name at this distance and returns following ten weeks off. She trialled nicely enough a couple of weeks ago and should be in the hunt. (2) STEEL RUN and (6) ALEXANDROS not without hope either.

Selections (4) Huimang Star (3) Strong Light (5) Bodeuram (6) Alexandros
Next Best 2
Fast Start 2, 3, 4

Race 2: Class 5 (1200M) Handicap / KRW 40 Million

(8) GLOBAL KINGDOM returned from six months out on May 12th looking much better than the horse who ran twice without distinction last autumn. He won his comeback by three lengths and steps up in both class and distance today. Neither should be a problem for him. (3) CAMP TOUCH was an improved 5th last time and can compete here while the slight drop back in trip may benefit (1) DURGA. The recent form of (4) SKY MARINE and (5) CONKER may not exactly impress but they find themselves in slightly weaker company today and both could improve.

Selections (8) Global Kingdom (3) Camp Touch (5) Conker (1) Durga
Next Best 4, 6
Fast Start 3, 5, 8

Race 3: Class 5 (1400M) Handicap / KRW 40 Million

(4) JANGSAN JEGUK may have finished a cool seventeen lengths behind winner Simcheong Sadal when 2nd to the surprisingly convincing winner at class and distance four weeks ago but that performance, in what was his first race since Christmas Eve, was a good one and he can go one better today. (2) SKY DOLPUNG enters off back to back 3rd place finishes in two races since being promoted to this class and a repeat should be a minimum target here. (8) CHEONHA HYEONGGUK comes in having been beaten half a length into 2nd on May 19th. He should be on pace early along with (10) SPEED YEONGUNG and both have a chance of staying on. (3) CHEONWANG BYEOL looks best of the rest.

Selections (4) Jangsan Jeguk (2) Sky Dolpung (8) Cheonha Hyeongguk (10) Speed Yeongung
Next Best 3, 1
Fast Start 8, 10

Race 4: Class 5 (1300M) Handicap / KRW 40 Million

There was a full seven months between (3) PALDO DAEJANG’s 3rd place on debut last October and her maiden win three weeks ago. She made all to score by four-lengths over 1000M and while she’s up in class and distance today, she may well get an uncontested lead here and can win again. Best chance of stopping her lies with (6) HANYANG GONGJU, who didn’t run well when favourite on her first try at this level at the end of April but has shown ability and can be given another chance today. (2) NILUI BADA and (4) RAON MIRACLE came home 3rd and 6th at class and distance on May 20th. The latter (more…)

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.

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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.