Sting Ray

The KRA Cup Mile – A Brief History

This coming Sunday, the first leg of the 2014 Korean Triple Crown will be run at Busan Racecourse. And just like the Triple Crown itself, the KRA Cup Mile is a relatively new addition to the Korean racing calendar.

Sangseung Ilro and Eiki Nishimura win the KRA Cup Mile in 2009 (Pic: KRA)

Sangseung Ilro and Eiki Nishimura win the KRA Cup Mile in 2009 with Martin Wepner and Namdo Jeap just behind (Pic: KRA)

It began in 2005 as the marquee race of the season at the then brand new Busan track.

It was run in September, wasn’t called the KRA Cup Mile and wasn’t restricted to Korean-bred 3-year-olds. The race was won by US bred Siseon Jeap (Precise End).

The following year, the race was renamed as the KRA Chairman’s race and was run over the Korean Derby distance of 9 furlongs. Another US import Golding (Gold Alert), who went on to become a stalwart of the track all the way up until 2011 took the honours.

In 2007, the race moved to June and back in distance to a mile and was given the name KRA Cup Mile. In a memorable race, Australian jockey Garry Baker rode the 6-year-old mare Luna (Concept Win) to victory. Luna, who had broken down aged 2 and was never expected to race again, would later have her story (very) loosely made into a movie.

That year, J.S.Hold had won all three legs of the Triple Crown. However, he only faced Seoul horses and the first leg had been the Ttukseom Cup. In 2008, with the Busan track coming of age, for the first time runners from both Seoul and Busan would be eligible for the Triple Crown races and it was decided that the KRA Cup Mile was the ideal first leg – a Korean 2000 Guineas.

Here are the winners since then:

2008: Rainmaker (KOR) [Revere – Wandering Katie (Tejano)] – Ahn Sun Ho
The first Classic to be run at Busan was won by a Busan horse. However, Rainmaker went on to finish 8th in the Derby the following month and never won a race again despite running on for 2 years. Now a minor stallion at Stud.

2009: Sangseung Ilro (KOR) [Concept Win – Ms. Whiskey (Whiskey Wisdom)] – Eiki Nishimura
The only filly to win since the race became part of the Triple Crown, she’s also the only winner of this race to go on to win the Korean Derby. She went on to win multiple Stakes before retiring. Delivered a foal by Menifee in 2012.

2010: Money Car (KOR) [Newsprint – Pinocchio (Big Sur)] – Park Tae Jong
Romped to an 11-length victory and is to date the only visitor from Seoul to win the race. He was caught right on the line in the Derby by Cheonnyeon Daero and only ran once more. Like Rainmaker now a minor stallion.

2011: Soseuldaemun (KOR) [Meisei Opera – This Ole Way (Vigors)] – Toshio Uchida
A comfortable winner at odds of 7/1, Soseuldaemun turned up for the Derby having lost a lot of weight and didn’t run well. He was retired after his 3-year-old season.

2012: Gyeongbudaero (KOR) [Menifee – Pirncess Lanique (Cherokee Run)] – Choi Si Dae
A 3-length winner, he finished 3rd in the Derby and has gone on to be one of the top performers in the country, running in almost every big Stakes race, recording wins in the Busan Owners’ Cup and Busan Ilbo and a 2nd in the President’s Cup. Ranked the number 2 Korean bred horse in the country right now behind Grand Prix winner Indie Band.

2013: Sting Ray (KOR) [Forest Camp – Straight Cash (Straight Man)] – Kim Dong Young
His dam was a Korean Stakes winner and while Sting Ray performed so badly for the rest of the year after the Cup Mile he got himself gelded, he was back in the winner’s circle at class 1 earlier this month.

Weekend Race Times

Derby winning filly Speedy First is the weekend headliner, making her first appearance at her home track of Busan since winning the biggest race of all in Seoul back in May. Joe Fujii will partner her as she lines up for the Gyeongnam Do-Min Ilbo Stakes on Sunday afternoon.

Back: Derby winner Speedy First

Back: Derby winner Speedy First

There is also an interesting looking feature race at Busan on Friday as KRA Cup Mile winner and beaten Derby favourite Sting Ray also makes his racecourse return. He faces established stars Wonderful Namhae (with Fujii on board), filly Dongteuja and Peter Wolsley’s Ghost Whisper, which will be ridden by Darryll Holland.

We’ll have a full preview of the big Sunday race over the next couple of days, in the meantime, here is what’s happening when and where over the weekend:

Friday July 5
Busan Race Park: 10 races from 11:50 to 18:00
Jeju Race Park: 8 races from 13:10 to 17:00

Saturday July 6
Seoul Race Park: 11 races from 11:00 to 17:40
Jeju Race Park: 8 races from 12:30 to 16:55

Sunday July 7
Seoul Race Park: 11 races from 11:00 to 18:00
Busan Race Park: 6 races from 12:50 to 17:05

Joe Fujii Wins The Korean Derby On Filly Speedy First

Speedy First romped away with the Korean Derby this afternoon, ending the Triple Crown hopes of pre-race favourite and KRA Cup Mile winner Sting Ray and became the first filly since Sangseung Ilro in 2009 to win the biggest race of all. Her jockey, Joe Fujii became the first foreign rider to win the Derby

Speedy First and Joe Fujii in the Korean Derby Winner's Circle

Speedy First and Joe Fujii in the Korean Derby Winner’s Circle

Speedy First (Menifee) came in to the race off 4 consecutive wins and was sent off the 4/1 second favourite behind Sting Ray (Forest Camp), who punters had backed into odds-on.

Outsiders Heungnyong Bisang (Ft.Stockton) and Titan (Creek Cat) made the early pace but the pack was bunched tightly together as they entered the final corner. Turning into the home straight they fanned out across the track but it still looked anyone’s race until Joe Fujii got to work on Speedy First a furlong and a half out. The pair sped away from the rest and never looked back.

The margin of victory on the line was 2 lengths with 47/1 chance Unhae (Ingrandire) finishing 2nd and Major King (Pico Central) 3rd. Sting Ray never looked likely to add the second jewel in the Triple Crown to the first and trailed home 6th.

Aussie trainer Peter Wolsley’s Amell’s Atom (Menifee) picked up some prize money by finishing 5th, however, there was disappointment for British jockey Darryll Holland who ended in 12th place on Fantastic Jazz (Menifee). Lee Shin Young, the first female trainer to have a runner in the Derby, saw both her entrants struggle with Titan in 13th and Awesome Tiger (Exploit) disqualified.

Speedy First goes clear

Speedy First goes clear

For jockey Joe Fujii
, it was the 60th winner of what has been a quite remarkable 11 months in Korea. The 29-year old won the Grand Prix Stakes on another filly, Gamdonguibada, last December becoming the first foreign jockey to do so and today he completed a unique double by achieving the distinction of being the first foreigner to win the Derby. He has now won 2 out Korea’s 3 richest races.

Fujii’s license was recently extended until September and his reputation among punters is such that he is well on the way to taking on Toshio Uchida’s title of the most popular Japanese man in Korea.

Speedy First’s win also firmly cemented Busan trainer Kim Young Kwan as the nation’s best. This was his 2nd Derby, following Sangseung Ilro’s 2009 triumph. In more general terms, Busan horses once again got the better of their Seoul counterparts in a big race.

Before the Derby, punters were treated to the charms of Sistar. currently K-Pop's top girl group (Pic: @SeoulBhoy)

Before the Derby, punters were treated to the charms of Sistar. currently K-Pop’s top girl group (Pic: @zstokes)

So just a few hours after a Triple Crown hope went down in the US in the shape of Orb, so Sting Ray’s hopes of emulating J.S.Hold in Korea have gone. Never mind, today we saw a new star emerge on to the scene.

Speedy First will automatically become favourite for the Korean Oaks, which will be held at Busan in August and then if all goes well, we should see her back at Seoul in October when the cream of this year’s generation reconvene for the Minister’s Cup, the final leg of the Triple Crown. There is a lot to look forward to.

Korean Derby (KOR G1) – Seoul Race Park – 1800M – May 19, 2013

1. Speedy First (KOR) [Menifee – Speedy Deedy (Victory Gallop)] – Kanichiro (Joe) Fujii – 5.1, 1.7
2. Unhae (KOR) [Ingrandire – Silver Meteor (Creator)] – Lee Sang Hyeok – 6.5
3. Major King (KOR) [Pico Central – Still Golden (Gold Fever)]

Distances: 2 lengths/175 lengths
Also Ran: 4. Brig 5. Amell’s Atom 6. Sting Ray 7. Last Mudae 8. High Five 9. Joy Lucky 10. K Tap 11. Suseong BR 12. Fantastic Jazz 13. Titan 14. Yapung 15 Heungnyong Bisang DQ: Awesome Tiger

Korean Derby 2013: The Runners And Riders

It’s a massive weekend of racing at Seoul. The JRA Trophy gets things underway on Saturday afternoon and then on Sunday, it’s the big one.

Sting Ray and Kim Dong Young win the KRA Cup Mile - They are the Derby faovurites (KRA)

Sting Ray and Kim Dong Young win the KRA Cup Mile – They are the Derby faovurites (KRA)

A full field of 16 will line up for the Korean Derby. They are headed by KRA Cup Mile winner Sting Ray, who travels up to the capital looking to win the second-leg of the 2013 Triple Crown.

Three foreign jockeys have rides. Yukio Abe doesn’t look to have much chance on Last Mudae but Joe Fujii on Speedy First and Darryll Holland on Fantastic Jazz both look to have claims. Meanwhile, Australian trainer Peter Wolsley seeks to win his first Korean Classic race with Amell’s Atom.

With more wins behind them as a group than any previous Korean Derby, it is set to be a very interesting race. K-Pop girl group Sistar will be on hand to provide pre-race entertainment.

Saturday May 18
Seoul Race Park: 11 races from 11:00 to 17:45 including the JRA Trophy at 16:40
Jeju Race Park: 9 races from 12:30 to 17:20

Sunday May 19
Seoul Race Park: 11 races from 11:00 to 18:00 including the Korean Derby at 16:35
Busan Race Park: 6 races from 12:50 to 17:05

Here’s the full list of runners and riders with pedigrees, race records and trainer:

Korean Derby (KOR G1) – Seoul Race Park – 1800M – May 19, 2013 – 16:35

1. Awesome Tiger [Exploit – Variety Lady (Variety Road)] (7/4/1/0) Lee Shin Young – Cho Kyoung Ho
Promising colt who won at class 3 over the distance last time out although will need to find more improvement still here. One of a pair of runners giving Korea’s first female trainer Lee Shin Young her first Derby entrants.

2. Joy Lucky [Vicar – Proper Gun (Prosper Fager)] (3/3/0/0) – Park Yoon Gyu – Seo Seung Un
Only debuting in February, there is still something of an unknown quantity about her, however, everything she’s been asked to do she has done very well including a win over the distance at class 4 last start.

3. Sting Ray [Forest Camp – Straight Cash (Straight Man)] (9/4/4/1) – Kim Jae Sub – Kim Dong Young
The KRA Cup Mile winner and therefore the likely favourite especially as the increased distance will also be in his favour – he’s already won over 1900 metres. If he runs anything like his best, he will be very difficult to beat.

4. Yapung [Menifee – Wild Life (Wild Again)] (10/3/2/1) – Kim Sang Suk – Chae Gyu Jun
Last year’s champion Juvenile has shown little this term. He was heavily beaten in the Cup Mile and there is little to recommend him here.

5. Suseong BR [Volponi – Storm Cat’s Kitten (Irish River)] (8/3/2/1) – Park Jong Kon – Shin Hyoung Chul
A well-beaten 3rd behind Brig last time out and it’s hard to suggest backing him to reverse that. Has consistently placed but in weaker company.

6. Heungnyong Bisang [Ft.Stockton – Miss Alwahush (Alwahush)] (11/4/1/1) – Kim Jeom Oh – Jo In Kwen
Over the winter he was one of the Derby favourites but while he began the year with a class 4 win over the distance, he form has dipped culminating in a poor run in the Cup Mile. Will need a lot of improvement if he is to compete here.

7. Brig [Menifee – Delicias (Deputy Minister)] (8/5/1/0) An Byung Ki – Moon Se Young
The mount of last year’s winning jockey Moon Se Young skipped the Cup Mile and comes into the race with back to back class 3 wins over the distance to his name. He won’t be favourite but he has a chance.

8. Unhae [Ingrandire – Silver Meteor (Creator)] (7/3/1/2) Park Byoung Il – Lee Sang Hyeok
Another who comes into the race after consecutive wins at 1800 metres albeit at a slightly lower lever. A place may be the most realistic hope.

9. High Five [Creek Cat – Nams Gulch (Gulch) (10/4/1/1) Oh Moon Sik – Choi Si Dae
Has won at Busan over 1800 metres in a fast time. Stepped up to class 2 last time and was finished a creditable, if uninspring, 3rd. Not one of the favourites but could cause some problems.

10. Titan [Creek Cat – Shar Baby (Talinum)] (8/3/3/2) Lee Shin Young – Ham Wan Sik
One of few in the field to have made it up to class 2, Lee Shin Young’s second runner is a half-brother of last year’s Derby runner-up Nobel Pokpung. He hasn’t actually won at higher than class 4. Always there or thereabouts, he usually finds one or two just a little bit quicker and that will probably be the case here too.

11. K Tap [Menifee – Summit Party (Ecton Park)] (6/4/1/1) Bae Sae Sun – Park Tae Jong
Like favourite Sting Ray, K Tap’s dam also won the JRA Trophy. K Tap himself hasn’t yet run as a 3-year old, his last appearance being his 2nd place in the Breeders’ Cup last November. Prior to the he won the Gwacheon Mayor’s Stakes. He was very talented as a 2-year-old but it is difficult to back him after such a long lay-off when there are so many capable opponents.

12. Major King [Pico Central – Still Golden (Gold Fever)] (6/4/1/1) Kim Sang Suk – You Hyun Myung
He was 3rd over the distance in a class 2 race last time ending a run of 4 consecutive wins. A real talent, he has a strong chance to give his sire Pico Central a Derby win in the year of his untimely death.

13. Speedy First [Menifee – Speedy Deedy (Victory Gallop)] (5/4/0/1) Kim Young Kwan – Kanichiro Fujii
Cracking little filly who has won her last 4 starts. Untested at distances greater than 1500 metres, the Oaks in August may be a more realistic target, however, while a win may be asking too much, she shouldn’t be discounted.

14. Last Mudae [The Groom Is Red – White Aloa (White Muzzle)] (13/1/4/1) Ji Yong Cheol – Yukio Abe
Still at class 4 after 13 starts, there seems little to suggest that he is going to rectify that here.

15. Amell’s Atom [Menifee – Amell (Boston Harbor)] (10/4/3/0) Peter Wolsley – Jo Sung Gon
4th in the KRA Cup Mile, he dead-heated for victory in his last start. A talented horse, he has an outside chance of giving Aussie Peter Wolsley his first Derby winner. Champion jockey Jo Sung Gon gives up a weekend of rides at Busan to partner him, which is a good sign.

16. Fantastic Jazz [Menifee – Sorority Jazz (Dixieland Band)] (7/4/0/3) Kim Young Kwan – Darryll Holland
3rd in the KRA Cup Mile, the half-brother of 2008 Korean Derby winner Ebony Storm has since been moved from Peter Wolsley’s stable to that of Kim Young Kwan. Hasn’t won at further than 1300 metres but looks to have a lot more to give. Darryll Holland, who was second on Raon Boss in the KRA Cup Mile, gets his 1st Korean Derby ride.

Sting Ray Saunters to Victory in KRA Cup Mile

Sting Ray, the odds-on favourite, swept to a convincing victory in the KRA Cup Mile at Busan Race Park this afternoon.

Sting Ray and Kim Dong Young win the KRA Cup Mile

Sting Ray and Kim Dong Young win the KRA Cup Mile

The race, known informally as the Korean 2000 Guineas, was the first leg of the 2013 Korean Triple Crown.

Sting Ray (Forest Camp), who came into the race off the back of 2 consecutive impressive wins was always travelling well under Kim Dong Young as Harley (Menifee) set the early pace. As they entered the home straight and spread across the track, Sting Ray hit the front and never looked like being caught as he stretched away for a 4-length win.

Raon Boss (Pico Central) showed that his last outing, where he finished 13 of 14 was an aberration by finishing a strong second, giving British jockey Darryll Holland a great result in his first Korean Classic race.

The Peter Wolsley trained Fantastic Jazz (Menifee) was a close 3rd. Wolsley’s other-runner, the slightly better fancied Amell’s Atom (Menifee) finished 4th.

Sting Ray is a half-brother of 2012 Korean Oaks winner Rising Glory, through their dam Straight Cash. Straight Cash herself was a top class filly who ran in Korea and won the 2005 JRA Trophy race. With 2 Classic winners, she has already established herself as among the top broodmares too.

The result was another disappointment for Seoul based trainers as Busan-trained horses dominated the placings. Rapide Bullet (Revere), back in 5th, was the best placed finisher from the capital. It’s difficult to see how this is going to be reversed when the country’s top three-year olds reconvene in Seoul on May 19th for the Korean Derby.

Sting Ray has already won at 1900 metres – further than the Derby distance and looks like he’s only going to get better.

KRA Cup Mile (KOR GII) – Busan Race Park – 1600M – April 7, 2013

1. Sting Ray (KOR) [Forest Camp – Straight Cash (Straight Man)] – Kim Dong Young
2. Raon Boss (KOR) [Pico Central – Ivy’s Jewel Stone (Forestry)] – Darryll Holland
3. Fantastic Jazz (KOR) [Menifee – Sorority Jazz (Dixieland Band)] – Park Geum Man

Distances: 4 lengths/1.75 lengths
Also Ran: 4. Amell’s Atom 5. Rapide Bullet 6. Rising joy 7. like The Sun 8. Last Mudae 9. Yapung 10. Heungnyeong Bisang 11. Cheonneyon Dongan 12. Global Gangja 13. Harley 14. Ruby Canter.
Scratched: Pureun Energy, Energy Cell

Race video to follow.