Triple Crown 2022

Winner Star Lands Djordje Perovic Second Derby Win

Winner Star closed late to overhaul Seungbusa and win the 25th running of the Korean Derby (1800M KOR-G1) at Seoul Racecourse on Sunday afternoon, and in doing so, gave jockey Djordje Perovic his second win in the biggest of the three-year-old Classics.

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

Just as in the KRA Cup Mile, Complete Value was sent off as favourite, ahead of the first jewel’s winner Captain Yankee. As expected, Seungbusa set the pace, and the Sports Seoul Trophy winner was in it for a long way as Complete Value stalked handy and looking as though he was ready to make a move.

It never happened. In the home straight, Seungbusa pressed on, and while Complete Value’s challenge waned, Winner Star ran on down the outside of the field, striking the front in the final furlong, and went on to win by two-lengths.

Captain Yankee’s late charge saw him come home in 3rd while Tiz Barows was an excellent 4th. Another Triple Crown series newcomer Wow Wow was 5th ahead of Complete Value in 6th.

Winner Star sees off Seungbusa (Pic: Ross Holburt/KRA)

Winner Star was the only horse in the starting gate to have already won over the distance and after the race, winning jockey Djordje Perovic stressed the importance of that to in-house broadcaster, KRBC.

“His (Winner Star’s) previous experience at nine-furlongs was the key. The Derby was the target and so we prepared really well. We focused on the tactics for the race and where we needed to be in the final stage. It worked out perfectly.”

On a day where there were more racegoers in Seoul Racecourse than at any other time since before the pandemic, Perovic had a message for his fans: “I am so grateful for the support from racing fans here and I am very happy I can repay them by winning this race.”

Perovic went on to acknowledge the bumper Sunday crowd, who had taken advantage of the traditional free entry on Derby Day with the total attendance as big as for a Korea Cup. Perovic previously won the Derby on Save The World in 2020 at a pandemic-enforced deserted Seoul Racecourse. “I actually don’t think I have ever raced in front of so many people as were here today. It was brilliant.”

For Perovic himself, it was yet another milestone. The Serbian jockey nicknamed the “Balkan Wolf” last month overtook Ikuyasu Kurakane to become the most successful foreign jockey in terms of winners in Korean racing history. Winner Star was his 350th race win in the country. He now joins Park Tae-jong, Moon Se-young and Kim Yong-geun as the only riders to have won the Korean Derby more than once.

(Pic: KRA)

As Perovic noted in his interview, Winner Star was the (joint) most experienced runner in the race and the only one to have previously won at the distance, having already raced against older horses on plenty of occasions. That’s why the Derby was only his third win on his eleventh career start. Winner Star is by Concord Point and is out of Jangguneui Huye, who did her racing in Korea and is herself by Korean bred stallion Gaeseon Janggun (by Duality). He was bred by his owner Kang Hoon-pyo and is trained by Baik Kwang-yeol, who previously won the Derby in 2015 with Yeongcheon Ace.

Winner Star’s damsire, Gaeseon Janggun, won the Minister’s Cup in 2008. Winner Star will get a chance to emulate that as the final leg of the Triple Crown is the 2022 Minister’s Cup (2000M KOR-G2) at Seoul Racecourse on Sunday June 12th.

Derby Day Seoul & Busan: Race-by-Race Preview (May 15)

it’s 2022 Korean Derby Day. Click here for a full preview of the big race which is race 8 on an 11-race program at Seoul which runs from 10:45 to 18:00. There is also a 6-race card at Busan from 12:00 to 16:45. As is customary on Derby weekend, general admission to the racecourses and to OCBs across the country, is free of charge. Here are the previews:

Seoul Race 1: Class 6 (1200M) Allowance / KRW 40 Million

(9) TOUCH NINE is the one to beat here. The Fed Biz colt is yet to finish in the top two, but he has four finished between 3rd and 5th including back-to-back 4th places from his latest two, both of them at this distance. He has post fair times and has proven able to run on pace or to close. From the widest gate he will probably look to drop in and use his late speed to be too good. (2) TIZ FIGHTING was 5th behind Touch Nine at was both their latest starts on April 9th. He draws well again and can be competitive. So can (5) BIG ENERGY. Yet to win in twelve, he does have six top-four finishes to his name and was 3rd at his latest outing three weeks ago when going right back and running on. He can run into some money again. (3) KKANGDORI has shown signs recently of figuring things out with a 2nd and a 3rd among her latest four appearances. And under another light weight can run well here too. (6) CHADOL RUN another minor money contender.

Selections(9) Touch Nine (2) Tiz Fighting (5) Big Energy (3) Kkangdori
Next Best6, 8
Fast Start2, 3, 4, 6

Seoul Race 2: Class 6 (1200M) Allowance / KRW 40 Million

(2) TOP CLASS will be hot favourite here. He raced twice quite ordinarily last summer and then didn’t reappear until this spring when following a positive March trial, he returned to action on April 17th, running a very good 2nd at this distance when overcoming gate eleven to lead for most of the race. He should have come on for that run, he draws a much better gate, and he is very much the one to beat. (6) M J TIME was significantly improved at start number four when leading almost the entire wat around at this distance on April 23rd, only to get passed late on by a good winner. He will be on or close to the pace again and can maintain that momentum here. (9) WONDERFUL MUSIC didn’t do too much wrong on debut at this distance on April 16th, running around in midfield and improving to 4th. That followed a good trial and he she can put in another bold showing today. There are two first-time starters and both (4) GANA FASHION and (8) WHITE CAT trialed up pleadingly, with the former quicker and more preferred first-up.

Selections(2) Top Class (6) M J Time (9) Wonderful Music (4) Gana Fashion
Next Best8, 3
Fast Start2, 5, 6, 11

Seoul Race 3: Class 5 (1200M) Allowance / KRW 40 Million

Since getting her maiden win last September, (2) SOBERANIA has been sent off as favourite all three times she has appeared in the gates. At the first of those, she ran a slightly disappointing 2nd. At the second she deposited her jockey on to the sand coming out of the barrier and proceeded without him. Most recently, she led but just got pipped into 2nd place at class and distance on April 10th. From a good draw, she goes on top again and surely it will be fourth time lucky. Should something go wrong again – and let’s face it, it might – (6) CUPID VOW could take advantage. He ran 4th behind Soberania on April 10th, running on, and he can be considered to go closer today. So too (8) K N OLD QUEEN. She was disappointing in that same race which was her first at class 5 following a maiden win over this distance in January. She is worth another chance here. (5) DIECO and (12) RAON THE WILD others in the frame.

Selections(2) Soberania (6) Cupid Vow (8) K N Old Queen (5) Dieco
Next Best12, 11
Fast Start2, 6, 8, 11

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

Small field in the opener on the south-coast but three of the seven look ready to win. We’ll take a chance on (4) ADELE ALLIE’S who has steadily improved across three starts so far, culminating in a 3rd place at this distance on April 10th when settling midfield and running on. In this field, she should be on pace and has every chance of winning. So too does (6) LINE BREAKER. He comes back in trip following some good performances at 1400M including last time when he was an on-pace 3rd. He is yet to finish any worse than 5th in five starts and will probably be the favourite here. (5) SPECIAL FACT came from off the pace to run a good 3rd in a slowly run race at this distance on April 15th. (1) STAR CATCH and (3) FANTASTIC YEOGEOL could potentially sneak some minor money.  

Selections(4) Adele Allie’s (6) Line Breaker (5) Special Fact (1) Star Catch
Next Best3, 7
Fast Start1, 2, 4, 6

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

Fillies and mares only here. (9) BOOSTER ROCKET warrants favourite status on the back of her runner-up finish in a similar class and distance event on April 23rd, when she came from off the pace to work home well. She has eight top-five finishes from ten attempts and will be finishing off strongly again. (8) ADAMS APPLE might be worth a speculative additional chance here at probable good odds. She had shown plenty of ability in four starts prior to a lengthy layoff and hinted at it still being there when trialing. She has been ordinary in two starts back but following another six weeks out, she may be fitter this time. (2) BIG BIT is one who returned to form after some lacklustre performances. She comes in following a good 2nd place at this class over 1200M on April 17th and from a good gate and under a light weight, should be in the mix here. (3) SONGAM BEST comes up in class following a good win over 1200M when handy throughout and she can measure up in this company. (1) NANA LAND also comes up in class following back-to-back runner-up finishes and she too can compete.

Selections(9) Booster Rocket (8) Adams Apple (2) Big Bit (3) Songam Best
Next Best1, 11
Fast Start3, 6, 7, 8

Busan Race 2: Class 6 (1200M) Allowance / KRW 40 Million

He’s been out for almost a year but (6) POKPUNG JILJU still shapes as the one to beat here. He registered two smart 3rd places over 1400M before his layoff and looked very well when trialing up at the end of April. This is a small field with little to fear, and he couldn’t have asked for a better race to return in. (3) PURPLE MANGO has also had an interrupted career so far. She made one appearance in August of last year and then didn’t race again until April 22nd when she was handy for much of the 1200M before ultimately ending in 7th. She should have benefited from that run and can go closer today. (2) YEONGCHEON POWER has shown signs of figuring things out in her latest two and can go close today. (7) WONDERFUL REALTY and (8) FANTASTIC MAGIC are others in the hunt.

Selections(6) Pokpung Jilju (3) Purple Mango (2) Yeongcheon Power (7) Wonderful Realty
Next Best8, 4
Fast Start2, 3, 5, 8
(more…)

KOREAN DERBY 2022 – DETAILED PREVIEW

The 25th Korean Derby will be run over nine-furlongs at Seoul Racecourse on Sunday afternoon, with Captain Yankee, who won the KRA Cup Mile in Busan a month ago, bidding to add the second jewel on his quest to sweep the Triple Crown.

Captain Yankee won the KRA Cup Mile (Pic: KRA)

In total, eight of the twelve who contested the Cup Mile return for the Derby. They include last year’s Champion Juvenile Complete Value, who was sent off as favourite in the Mile and looked set to win, only to be run down by Captain Yankee’s late burst. He is set to be favourite once more.

Captain Yankee, a 40/1 winner of the Cup Mile, heads up the challenge from Busan. Since 2008, horse trained at the south-coast track have won ten of the fourteen runnings of the Derby.

Wow Wow and Tiz Barows are the most intriguing newcomers on the Triple Crown trail. Both swerved the Cup Mile and enter in form good enough to enable them to take their chance.

Four overseas jockeys have rides in the race with Johan Victoire aboard Tiz Barows, Antonio Da Silva on Daemul and David Breux and Djordje Perovic partnering Fast Track and Winner Star respectively.

The Derby is race eight on an eleven-race card at Seoul on Sunday with a local post time of 16:20.

Here is the runner-by-runner guide:

KOREAN DERBY (KOR G1) 1800M Allowance / KRW 800 Million

1. DAEMUL [Menifee – Eyes Aglow (Broad Brush)]

(Runs/1st/2nd/3rd): 3/1/1/0 – (Career Earnings) KRW 30,800,000

Owner: Cho Myeong-sik Trainer: An Byung-ki Jockey: Antonio Da Silva

The lowest rated horse in the gate, Daemul has only raced three times, winning at class 6 over 1300M. Only start since was at 1700M at class 5 level on March 20th, when he led early and was still in contention entering the closing stages only to get passed and ultimately finished 7th. There was merit in that run and improvement is possible, but this is a very tough ask.  

Recent Race Video: February 19th, Class 6 (1300M) 1st: https://youtu.be/DhUsUk10JKI

2. BYEOLUI SUNGAN [Menifee – Free Release (Dixie Union)]

8/2/1/2 – KRW 99,700,000

O: Jung Hyung-chul T: Song Moon-gil J: Kim Yong-geun

Only the winner, Captain Yankee, ran the final furlong of the Cup Mile faster, Byeolui Sungan sat back and ground out the finish but had way too much to do. Previously finished 4th in the Sports Seoul Classic trial and has won up to 1400M at class 5. The distance may well suit and he has a great draw. Jockey won the Triple Crown on Power Blade in 2016 adding to his 2014 Derby on Queen’s Blade.

January 22nd, Class 5 (1400M) 1st: https://youtu.be/KI5Y5QyKUwk

3. TIZ BAROWS [Tizway – Kaylan’s Rose (Jambalaya Jazz)]

4/2/2/0 – KRW 66,000,000

O: Inokumu Hirotsugu T: Seo In-seok J: Johan Victoire

Yet to finish worse than 2nd and comes in off a good win over 1700M at class 5 level on April 2nd when he tracked the leader throughout before going clear in the home straight and winning by five-lengths in a fair time. The distance should suit, and he draws well to pick a position again, probably handy or midfield. He can be in this a long way and could be a value pick.

April 2nd, Class 5 (1700M) 1st: https://youtu.be/Dno3kgVnvuI

4. COMPLETE VALUE [Girolamo – Ft. Sduction (Ft. Stockton)]

7/5/2/0 – KRW 637,460,000

O: Jang Se-jun T: Park Jae-woo J: Lim Gi-won

A perfect five-from-five as a juvenile, he has finished runner-up in both outings this year, behind Seungbusa in the Sports Seoul Classic trial at 1400M and then to Captain Yankee in the Cup Mile. He had excuses in both. The Sports Seoul was a pipe-opener following three months without a race while he came down with a cold in the aftermath of the Cup Mile and may not have been at 100%. It still looked like he was going to win that race until Captain Yankee’s late burst and from a great draw, expect him to sit handy and then launch his challenge at the top of the straight. The one to beat and the probable favourite.

April 17th, KRA Cup Mile (1600M) 2nd: https://youtu.be/Tmtr-C_w6WQ

5. MONGTTANG [To Honor And Serve – Miss Stravinsky (Stravinsky)]

10/2/0/3 – KRW 64,150,000

O: Daeryung T: Kim Young-kwan J: Lim Sung-sil

Looked to have a lot of potential when winning back-to-back races in October last year but has come up short whenever he has been tested in good company. A fair 4th in the Gyeongnam Shinmun Classic trial over 1400M was followed up by only beating two in the Cup Mile when he sat midfield and didn’t quicken. The connections mean local punter will be wary – his trainer has won this race five times – but this is a hard ask.

February 11th, Class 4 (1600M) 3rd: https://youtu.be/pDBYqbv7o68

6. FAST TRACK [Take Charge Indy – X File (Exploit)]

8/2/0/0 – KRW 42,750,000

O: Yoon U-hwan T: Kang Hwan-min J: David Breux

(more…)

TRIPLE CROWN 1st LEG: KRA CUP MILE – RUNNER-BY-RUNNER PREVIEW

It’s just four months since the delayed 2021 series was completed, but the Triple Crown season is back in Korea this weekend with the KRA Cup Mile – the Korean 2000 Guineas – being run at Busan on Sunday.

Complete Value was Champion Juvenile of 2021 and will be favourite for the KRA Cup Mile (Pic: KRA)

And it’s a thrilling race in prospect with arguably ten of the thirteen runners having legitimate winning claims, and the other three hardly being no-hopers themselves.

Six of the entrants have traveled down from Seoul, including probable favourite Complete Value, last year’s Champion Juvenile. However, it was a Busan filly who won the Luna Stakes (Korean 1000 Guineas) last weekend, and the home side fields a strong line up too.

All races in the Korean Triple Crown Series, which comprises the Cup Mile, the Derby and the Minister’s Cup are restricted to Korean-bred horses. There were two main trial races for the series, the Sports Seoul Trophy, at Seoul, and the Gyeongnam Shinmun Cup at Busan, both run over 1400M.

Sports Seoul Trophy video:

Gyeongnam Shinmun Trophy video:

Here’s a full run down of the field:

1. BEOLMAUI STAR [To Honor And Serve – Gaya Gongju (War Zone)] – The wildcard of the field. He won his first two starts with dismissive ease before running 3rd on his third appearance at 1400M, leading most of the way but weakening. That was in January, and he hasn’t raced since although he did win a fast trial in February. He has a great draw to challenge for the lead and a jockey who knows how to win these races, but the mile is a big question.

2. MAN OF THE YEAR [Federalist – Over Speed (Menifee)] – 5th in the Breeders’ Cup but an impressive winner of the Gyeongnam Shinmun Trophy when he settled on the pace but was wide most of the trip before running away for a big win. He also has a 3rd place at 1800M at class 4 level so the trip should not be an issue. He draws well to be on pace or handy and will be one of the favourites.

3. DOUBLE EDGE [Cowboy Cal – Blade’s Edge (Corinthian)] – A winner of just one of six starts but was runner-up to both Aspen Taeyang in the Nonghyup Trophy and Complete Value in the Breeders’ Cup. Also has a 3rd place over 1700M at class 4 level and ran 5th in the Sports Seoul Trophy. He goes back and runs on and has the fastest final furlong average time in the field. He has to overturn form on a lot of these though and a place line is realistic.

4. ASPEN TAEYANG [With Distinction – Aspen Light (Bernardini)] – A high class galloper with three wins from six including the Nonghyup Trophy. Blew the start of the Breeders’ Cup before running on for 4th and was then 3rd in the Sports Seoul Cup when handy all the way and running on late. First time further than 1400M but that should not be a problem. Moon Se-young aboard will tempt plenty and he will probably start second or third favourite. On pace and in this a long way.

5. COMPLETE VALUE [Girolamo – Ft. Sduction (Ft. Stockton)] – The winner of the Breeders’ Cup to be crowned champion juvenile of last year and unbeaten until his latest start when 2nd in the Sports Seoul Trophy to Seungbusa. He was first-up that day off an eight-week break and raced keenly and a little wide, making up plenty of ground late. Expect progress from that, the mile should suit, and he is hard to hold out here if at his best.

6. CAPTAIN YANKEE [Old Fashioned – Can’t Rezist (Action This Day)] – Won two of his first three but came to light with a solid 2nd in the Gyeongnam Shinmun when after taking a bump at the start, he settled on the pace and was strong in the straight. That was his first run at further than 1300M and he should have derived much benefit. Expect similar tactics here and he could provide some each-way interest at probable big odds.

7. BYEOLUI SUNGAN [Menifee – Free Release (Dixie Union)] – A winner up to 1400M at class 5 level, he ran a solid 4th in the Sports Seoul when from a wide draw, he settled back and then ran on well.  That is perhaps the strategy that will be employed here as well as he does have some speed on his inside, and he can run on well. Not among the top line of favourites but could run into the minor money.

8. WINNER STAR [Concord Point – Jangguneui Huye (Gaeseon Janggun)] – He ran 3rd behind Complete Value and Double Edge in the Breeders’ Cup when coming from well off the pace before stepping up to take two spins around 1800M at class 4 level, finishing 2nd in the first of them and winning the latest when settling handy and running on. He may be more a Derby horse, but he has run a good time when 3rd at this distance too and is a serious contender.

9. BEOMI NARYEO ONDA [Take Charge Indy – To Live Fore (Pass Rush)] – Of the four horses here who have tackled a mile before, he has the fastest time among them, recorded when 2nd to Old Cheonha at class 5 level in January. He does have plenty of form to overturn here though having only beaten one home in the Breeders’ Cup and then 3rd in the Gyeongnam Shinmun when he sat midfield and ran on. Jockey has won this race three times, but a place line seems most realistic.

10. SEUNGBUSA [Mischieviously – T P Mc G (Flatter)] – The form horse of the race, he didn’t run in the Breeders’ Cup but has won his latest three in fine style, including the Sports Seoul when he made all and never looked like being caught. He is a front-runner and while he draws wide, he should have enough speed to get to the front. The mile is going to be the big question though. Will be among the favourites.

11. P N S HAENGBOK [Colors Flying – Haengbok Cheonsa (Menifee)] – Just the one win from five starts so far and that was over 1200M at class 6 level when he sat handy and ran on. He has enterprising owners, and with a spot available, takes his chance. This is going to be a big ask though and he is likely to be the longest shot on the board. He’ll settle midfield or back and see what happens.

12. MONGTTANG [To Honor And Serve – Miss Stravinsky (Stravinsky)] – The sole representative of trainer Kim Young-kwan, who has won the race four times, he blundered in the Breeders’ Cup and finished well back, but was a solid 4th in the Gyeongnam Shinmun. He does have a 3rd place at class 4 level over a mile and a good run is possible, but the jockey/trainer connection may make his local odds shorter than they should be and it is a hard ask from gate twelve.

13. UNJU HERO [Cowboy Cal – Black Ruby (War Zone)] – The only horse in the race to have won at this distance, he did that at his latest start at class 5 level on March 27th when he settled midfield and steadily improved, taking a narrow victory. He is in much better company today though and accordingly will find it much harder. From the wide draw, his best hope is perhaps to drop back and look to run on, but he will need improvement.

Selections: (5) Complete Value (8) Winner Star (2) Man Of The Year (6) Captain Yankee