minister’s Cup

Minister’s Cup Sunday: Seoul & Busan Race-By-Race Preview (June 12)

Sunday sees the final leg of the 2022 Korean Triple Crown, the Minister’s Cup. Click here for a full preview of the big race. The Cup is the highlight of a 10-race Sunday program at Seoul which runs from 10:45 to 18:00. There are also 6 races at Busan from 11:35 to 16:30. Here is the race-by-race:

Might Cup Mile winner Captain Yankee appreciate the 2000M of the Minister’s Cup? (Pic: KRA)

Seoul Race 1: Class 6 (1200M) Allowance / KRW 25 Million

Maiden three-year-olds to open the card. (5) CHADOL RUN will be the favourite based on his 3rd place over this distance on May 15th when he settled back in a similarly small field and then ran on well. He has previously posted a faster time at this distance and in this limited company looks the one to beat. (3) CASH BACK has two 3rd places to his name including at this latest start at this distance on March 6th. That’s enough to put him in contention here and he comes in fresh and down 3kg with an apprentice claim. (1) JEWELRY BEST was an improved 4th and from the inside gate can drop back and run on here. (4) BARAMSAL and (2) TIGER ZONE other potentials.

Selections(5) Chadol Run (3) Cash Back (1) Jewelry Best (4) Baramsal
Next Best2, 7
Fast Start3, 5, 6, 8

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

(3) FLASH THUNDER went back to trial following his debut race in March and looked assured on his return when leading for much of the way around over 1300M on May 14th. He should have come on from that, will benefit from the slight drop in trip, and from a good draw can lead all the way this time. (1) POSA POSA has mixed his form across eleven starts to date with the best being a 2nd place over 1400M back in March. An apprentice claims 3kg here and from a good draw, he should be in this a long way. (2) MIGHTY ANN ran an improved 3rd at start number three over 1200M on May 14th. She looks nicely in here and won’t need to improve much to match or better that finish. (4) BIG ENERGY has found some consistency in his latest starts with a 3rd and two 4th placed finishes. He has run fair times at this distance and from a decent draw looks to have a chance here. (6) BURUI SINHWA has been back to trial since his latest outing and looked well enough when running 2nd in a fair time in a decent heat in May.

Selections(3) Flash Thunder (1) Posa Posa (2) Mighty Ann (4) Big Energy
Next Best6, 7
Fast Start2, 3, 7, 8

Busan Race 1: Class 6 (1200M) Allowance / KRW 25 Million

(10) WIND CROSS has shown consistency across his four starts so far culminating in a runner up finish at this distance at his latest start on April 24th. He has the fastest time among these at the distance by some margin and looks hard to go past here and will be a hot favourite. (1) HOLLYWOOD PARTY did improve at start number two, running 5th of ten over this distance on April 29th. She draws nicely to get a soft run to the lead and should be going closer today. (9) SINUI JEONSA ran 3rd behind Wind Cross in that April 24th race. Unlike the favourite, he has raced since and while he didn’t go well that day, weakening badly after leading, he can be given another chance in this company. (4) PRETTY CHARM has hinted at ability across her four outings so far and along with (7) SORI TAPEUNG looks a place chance here.

Selections(10) Wind Cross (1) Hollywood Party (9) Sinui Jeonsa (4) Pretty Charm
Next Best7, 3
Fast Start1, 9, 10, 11

Seoul Race 3: Class 5 (1300M) Handicap / KRW 40 Million

Tricky race. We’ll take a chance on (10) ONLY WINNER. True, he has been anything but a winner in fifteen starts so far, but he has eight top-four finishes to his name, and he runs on well. The wide draw shouldn’t be an issue and he can be considered here. The probable favourite is (12) JISANGUN. He can mix his form but has posted some decent times over 1200M and 1400M. This is his first try at 1300M. He does tend to go best when on pace so he may need a touch of luck in the early stages from the widest gate, but he has the speed to get a good position. (3) BARAMGWA HAMKKE had a poor day at the office on his latest start back in April. He has since been back to trial which he won, making all in a fair time, and from a good draw can be back to some semblance of form today. (7) WONDERFUL STORM and (9) DESK TAP others in the minor money frame.

Selections(10) Only Winner (12) Jisangun (3) Baramgwa Hamkke (7) Wonderful Storm
Next Best9, 5
Fast Start5, 9, 11, 12

Busan Race 2: Class 5 (1300M) Handicap / KRW 40 Million

Fillies only here and (4) YASAENGHWA looks the one to beat. She got her maiden win at start number two over this distance on April 29th when she sat handy early, before taking the lead turning into the home straight, and then running away from the field to score as easily as she pleased. She then ran a good 2nd on her first try at this class over 1400M. She comes back in trip, gets a much better gate and should be hard to get past. (9) PYEONGHWA CHUKJE comes up in class after registering her maiden win on her third career appearance on May 13th when she led early, then sat handy, before rallying strongly. Nicely weighted here, she should be challenging for the early lead and can surely measure up at this level. (11) NAMED enters off back-to-back 4th places at this class and has run a decent time from a wide draw over this distance before. (3) BORAMI beat Named two starts back and while up 4kg from her 4th place at 1200M on May 13th, can be considered too. (2) PICTURE JASPER another in the placing hunt.

Selections(4) Yasaenghwa (9) Pyeonghwa Chukje (11) Named (3) Borami
Next Best2, 8
Fast Start3, 4, 9, 11

Seoul Race 4: Class 5 (1400M) Handicap / KRW 40 Million

(9) SOJUNGHAN DANGSIN got promoted to this class without a win but showed she belongs with a runner-up finish at class and distance on May 8th when she was in 2nd place the entire way around. Like a number of others here, she is very nicely treated by the handicap here and has every chance of getting that maiden win today. That applies to (2) K N POST too. It took her a couple of goes to figure things out, but she gets promoted to this level following back-to-back runner-up finishes over 1200M. Her style has been to go back and then tun on and the extended trip today may just suit her. (3) NINE EYE is another maiden but has run 2nd on no fewer than five occasions. He hinted at a return to form when 4th over 1300M at his latest start on May 28th and he can be close here. (7) SMART POWER and (8) GOLD WING are others who can enter the calculations.

Selections(9) Sojunghan Dangsin (2) K N Post (3) Nine Eye (7) Smart Power
Next Best8, 4
Fast Start5, 7, 8, 9

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

Small but competitive field. (4) LINE BREAKER comes up in class having secured her maiden win over 1300M on May 15th. That win had been coming as she had been getting progressively closer and while this is harder, she has run well at this distance before. She should be on pace and can win. (5) CHEONNYEONUIGUREUM is yet to win in a full twenty-three starts but has twelve top-five finishes and has been a model of consistency of late. She overcame the widest draw to run a very good 5th at this distance last time out on May 29th and she will be there or thereabouts again today. (6) GREAT CAPTAIN comes up in class having made all to win over 1300M on May 8th. Just like Line Breaker, that win had been coming and she should measure up at this class especially with the same apprentice who partnered her last time, claiming 3kg. (9) GOSUUI POWER and (2) ECHO LADY among others who can go close.

Selections(4) Line Breaker (5) Cheonnyeonuigureum (6) Great Captain (9) Gosuui Power
Next Best2, 7
Fast Start3, 4, 6, 9
(more…)

Minister’s Cup 2022 – Full Preview of the Final Leg of the Triple Crown

The Korean Triple Crown of 2022 reaches its climax on Sunday afternoon and while the Triple Crown itself isn’t on the line, champion three-year-old honours very much are as KRA Cup Mile winner Captain Yankee and Derby winner Winner Star are among a full sixteen-strong field in the Minister’s Cup (2000M KOR-G2).

Winner Star won the Derby (Pic: Ross Holburt/KRA)

Captain Yankee was a 40/1 winner of the first jewel, the KRA Cup Mile (1600M KOR-G3) at Busan on April 17th, launching a late run to thread through leaders Complete Value and Seungbusa to score. Winner Star was an impressive winner of the Derby (1800M KOR-G1) at Seoul on May 15th, swooping from a handy position and winning by two lengths from Seungbusa and Captain Yankee.

This time they have an additional furlong to contend with as well as a maximum field of sixteen. In addition to Winner Star and Captain Yankee, Seungbusa, with a 3rd and a 2nd from Cup Mile and Derby returns, as does Complete Value, last year’s champion juvenile, who was sent off as favourite for both races, finishing 2nd and 6th. A bold showing in the final leg can’t be ruled out from the son of Girolamo and he could end up being sent off as favourite again.

Wow Wow and Tiz Barows produced strong Derby performances and may appreciate the additional distance while among those who skipped one or both of the first two legs of the series, Beomi Naeyeo Onda and Burui Geom look perhaps the most likely to step up.

Beomi Naryeo Onda will be ridden by Franco Da Silva, one of four foreign jockeys to have rides in the race. Djordje Perovic will partner Winner Star, as he did in their Derby success, while Johan Victoire will be aboard Tiz Barows, and David Breux on Nubi Gangja.

The Minister’s Cup is race 8 on a 10-race program at Seoul Racecourse on Sunday. Here is the horse-by-horse:

1. FLYING THE CHAMP [Cowboy Cal – Thebignbadestbunny (Smart Strike)]

5(2/1/1) KRW 62,800,000

O: Kim Hyeong-sun T: An Woo-sung J: Park Jae-i

Class 5 winner over 1400M at Busan before stepping up to 1800M at class 4 and running 2nd to Burui Geom. Top jockey comes up from Busan to ride him and a money finish is possible.

2. TEN BAGGER [Cowboy Cal – Sugar Victory (Peace Rules)]

9(2/0/0) KRW 45,800,000

O: Kim Myung-sik T: Kang Sung-o J: Lim Da-bin

(more…)

Touch Star Man Too Good In Minister’s Cup as Korean Racing Shuts Down for a Second time

Two and a half months of behind closed doors action was brought to an end of Sunday when Touch Star Man confirmed his status as Champion Three-Year-Old by adding to his KRA Cup Mile win with victory in the final leg of the Triple Crown, the Minister’s Cup at Seoul Racecourse. Following the conclusion of the meeting, Korean racing entered its most uncertain period since the Korean War with the sport going on indefinite hiatus from September after a rise in Coronavirus cases ended any prospect of any spectators – and therefore betting – being permitted for the foreseeable future.

A strong winner of the KRA Cup Mile in early July, Touch Star Man was never a factor in the Derby earlier in August though did rally late on to make it into 5th place. He was dominant in the 2000M Minister’s Cup, however, always racing prominently before leaving his rivals trailing in the home straight to record a four-length win.

It was an extremely turbulent race. After long-shot Miracle Icheon refused to leave the gates, Touch Star Man was involved in an incident himself when he crossed sharply causing a chain reaction that disadvantaged A To Z, Complete Kingdom and Top Day to all be impeded. Jockey Seo Seung-un picked up a five-day ban and was perhaps a touch fortunate that the incident was so early in the race and that his ultimate winning margin was so great.

More was to come on the second corner when at the back of the field, Derby runner-up Raon Tough Man took it upon himself to suddenly try to hurdle the inside rail. He achieved it and continued running on the empty inner-track but left jockey Choi Bum-hyun requiring hospital treatment for three fractured ribs after a heavy fall.

Thankfully the rest of the race passed off without incident and Touch Star Man [Testa Matta – Useung Touch (Menifee)] proved his superiority in the home straight. He moves on to five wins from nine starts. For jockey Seo Seung-un, it was a third win in a Classic race, having taken the KRA Cup Mile on Cheongnyeong Bisang in 2014 and the Korean Oaks on Deep Mind in 2019.

As for trainer Kim Young-kwan, Touch Star Man was his fifth Minister’s Cup winner. His previous ones were Namdo Jeap in 2009, Dongseo Jeongbeol in 2011, Rock Band in 2015 and Power Blade in 2016.

One of very few positives to come out of this wretched year is that the three-year-olds got to have their Triple Crown races (although the fillies have missed out on the Gyeonggi Governor’s Cup, the final leg of the “Tiara” which was scheduled for this coming Sunday).

This year’s juveniles look set to miss out on most, if not all the rest of the season but at Seoul, they gave us a glimpse of what to look out for in next year’s Triple Crown in the inaugural running of the “Rookie Stakes”.

Thirteen juveniles went around in the 1200M test and it was Heungbaragi [Old Fashioned – Grand Marketing (After Market)] who led from gate to wire, just as he had done on debut a month ago. Will he get further? Which of the ones he beat will emerge as threats as the distances get longer? And what about Busan which was due to run its first big juvenile race later? Those are questions about which we can only speculate on the answers.

So what now? The new shutdown will encompass at least all of September and will likely include the Chuseok holiday in the first week of October. After that things will be dependent upon whether there has been an improvement in the Coronavirus situation to the extent that there is a real prospect of spectators being allowed on course or if the legislation to legalise online wagering is making progress.

The majority of KRA staff have been placed on furlough three-days a week, however, trackwork is for now continuing as normal so that if things do go well, the horses are ready to race right away with just a week’s notice to be given for resumption.

Minister’s Cup Sunday: Race-By-Race Preview (June 16)

Sunday sees the final leg of the Korean Triple Crown, the Minister’s Cup, taking place at Seoul Racecourse. (Seoul 11 races from 10:45 to 18:00, Busan 6 races from 12:40 to 17:10). There’s no Triple Crown on the line but the 2000M showpice nevertheless promises to be a fascinating affair as KRA Cup Mile winner Global Chukje and Korean Derby winner Wonderful Fly face-off.

Wonderful Fly KRA

Wonderful Fly won the Derby (Pic: Ross Holburt/KRA)

Seoul Race 1: Class 6 (1300M) Allowance / KRW 40 Million

A filly-only maiden to begin with and (4) PRIMA NIKE steps back up in trip after a strong 2nd place over 1000M a month ago looking the one to beat. A good apprentice jockey keeps the weight nice and low and she’s only ever finished outside the top four on one occasions. She can win here. (7) GOLD LEVEL beat a couple of these on her way to 2nd over 1200M on May 19th and shapes to be the main danger here. (1) HAWK ARIRANG finished 5th in that same race which was marked improvement from prior efforts and she can continue to make progress here. (2) SERA YEOJE is best of the rest.

Selections (4) Prima Nike (7) Gold Level (1) Hawk Arirang (2) Sera Yeoje
Next Best 3, 9
Fast Start 4, 5

Seoul Race 2: Class 6 (1700M) Allowance / KRW 24 Million

A two-turn maiden and (3) RAON JEWANG is set to be firm favourite. Though yet to win in nine attempts, he’s raced at this distance four time already and has finished no worse than 4th. This should be his day, likely leading from gate to wire. (4) TAP MUSIC showed some promise when stepped up to this trip on just his third start a month ago, running 4th. He should have come on for that run and can continue to improve today, likely trying to close late. (7) RAON STELLA’s best performance to date came at this distance and he steps back up to it today with placing claims, while both (2) INCHEON LION and (11) CHEONJI GISANG can compete for minor money too.

Selections (3) Raon Jewang (4) Tap Music (2) Incheon Lion (7) Raon Stella
Next Best 11, 8
Fast Start 5, 7, 10

Seoul Race 3: Class 4 (1700M) Allowance / KRW 60 Million

Kim Yong Geun partners (1) SMARTY BLUE for the second time, having ridden the colt to a good 4th place at class and distance on May 11th. He looks nicely in here and has every chance of getting what would be a second career win. (7) CHEONGDAM TIGER was a strong class and distance 2nd on a wet track last start and if he can get close to the early lead again, has every chance of a repeat or better. (6) WELLBEING STORY enters with recent form reading promisingly and has the services of Moon Se Young today. (4) SEOUL SIDAE saw his rating slide sufficiently to drop back in class last start. He promptly won and while back up in grade today, find himself nicely in under a light weight and he can go close again.

Selections (1) Smarty Blue (7) Cheongdam Tiger (6) Wellbeing Story (4) Seoul Sidae
Next Best 9, 3
Fast Start 1, 2, 7, 9

Seoul Race 4: Class 5 (1000M) Handicap / KRW 60 Million

(5) L CHOICE is the pick here. An admittedly distance 3rd behind a very good winner las start, she’s nicely drawn to get to the lead and if she does, she’ll be hard to catch. Main danger is (7) LUCKY SOCHEON. She drops back in trip after good work around 1300M last start and shouldn’t be far away here. (4) FULL MOON OCEAN was slowly away when well backed for her first try at this level on May 11th. She never had a chance after that but ran on ok and is worth another go today. (11) UNMYEONGE FALLING is up un class after an all the way win on May 5th on just her third career outing. She’s drawn the widest gate but should be competitive at this level. (1) PARTY POWER, going around for the 52nd time today, is more than capable of running into some prize money in this company.

Selections (5) L Choice (7) Lucky Socheon (4) Full Moon Ocean (11) Unmyeonge Falling
Next Best 1, 2
Fast Start 2, 4, 5, 11

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

(11) PRIVATE MAN enters after a 3rd and a 4th in his latest two and while both times he’s been well back behind good winners, could have enough about him to make the breakthrough here. He’ll come from off the pace so the wide draw is no problem, and he can win. (10) LAO JIN steps back up in trip following two solid 3rd place finishes over 1000M while (3) HEY DREAMER and (5) GEOMBIT YEOLJEONG are both up in class and should be competitive. (4) WANY K was a shock winner at class and distance three weeks ago and while a repeat would be a surprise, she warrants more respect today.

Selections (11) Private Man (10) Lao Jin (5) Geombit Yeoljeong (3) Hey Dreamer
Next Best 4, 6
Fast Start 5, 8, 10, 12

Busan Race 2: Class 5 (1300M) Handicap / KRW 40 Million

Having secured his maiden win in April, (7) GIMABUDAEJANG ran 4th on his first try at (more…)

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.

Ministers3

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.

2018년6월17일 농림축산식품장관배 월드선 최시대 (2)

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.

2018년6월17일 농림축산식품장관배 월드선 최시대 (3)

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.

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.

RH7_1815

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.

FinalBossDerby

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