Triple Crown

2017 Korea Triple Crown – First Preview

We’re less than three weeks away from the KRA Cup Mile – the Korean 2000 Guineas – which will be run at Busan on Sunday April 2. Last year, Power Blade swept all three jewels of the Triple Crown, the first horse to do so in its current incarnation. This year, we’re in the unusual position of a Seoul-trained horse, Final Boss, being the early favourite to emulate him.

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Power Blade won the KRA Cup Mile on his way to the Triple Crown last year (Pic: KRA)

Only four Seoul horses are among the 21 currently nominated for the race but three of those four are strong. The unbeaten Lion Rock is a full brother to Triple Nine (who will race in the Godolphin Mile at Meydan on World Cup night on March 25th) joins Final Boss and the promising Taeyangui Jeonseol as contenders. Here’s a run-down of the current nominations with race records and trainer:

Blue Time (filly) (8/3/1/0) Oh Mun-sik – Won three in a row at the back end of 2016 but hasn’t really pushed on. 9th behind Ice Marine in the Gyeongnam Sinmun.

Morning Park (7/1/3/0) Oh Mun-sik – Yet to go further than 1300M and 5th of 12 on first try at class 4.

American Power (4/3/1/0) Kim Young-kwan – Won his first three but unexpectedly defeated by a nose by a 6-year-old gelding (Yankee Dream) on his first try at a mile last start. A contender.

Wonder Wall (9/3/4/1) Kim Young-kwan – Owned by Shunsuke Yoshida he’s come back into form after being 4th to Final Boss in the Breeders’ Cup. A win at a mile and a 2nd at 1800M last start.

Happy Gongju (filly) (5/3/0/2) Jang Se-han – 3rd to Ice Marine in the Gyeongnam Sinmun. Oaks likely to be the bigger target.

Adeleui Bom (9/2/1/1) Baik Kwang-yeol – Holds a 2nd place over a mile at class 4. Not one of the top contenders but not impossible.

Daeho Sidae (6/4/2/0) Baik Kwang-yeol – 2nd in the Breeders’ Cup and a winner at both a mile and 1800 since. Already a class 2 horse and arguably Busan’s top hope.

Party Tonight (8/0/3/1) Baik Kwang-yeol – One of only two maidens still in. Three 2nd places, one at this distance. Likely to be the one from the trainer who drops.

Illyu Star (8/4/0/1) An Woo-sung – Back among the wins last start. Previous try at a mile didn’t go particularly well.

Muhan Yeoljeong (8/3/1/2) An Woo-sung – 3rd in the Breeders’ Cup and a class 4 winner at a mile last time. He’s in the frame.

Seongsan Jilju (6/2/0/1) Yang Kui-sun – Won a couple of five furlong races but hasn’t looked especially smart at any further.

Ice Marine (filly) (9/5/2/0) Choi Ki-hong – Dominant winner of the Gyeongnam Sinmun puting her in pole position for the Oaks. She’s been beaten by some of these colts before though.

Yongwangdam (5/2/0/1) Mun Je-bok – Class 5 winner at a mile but 5th to Ice Marine in the Gyeongnam Sinmun suggests there is plenty to find.

Indian King (8/2/2/2) Mun Je-bok – Two class 4 3rd places at a mile suggests there could be more to come from this one.

Royal Ruby (7/4/1/1) Peter Wolsley – This one has been under the radar a little bit but has won over 1800M and looks a serious player.

Bulkkot Nori (6/3/0/1) Peter Wolsley – Won three of his first four and was 3rd over a mile at class 4 last start. Others  look more advanced at this stage.

Yeonggwanguihunter (6/2/0/0) Lim Keum-man – Not shown an awful lot so far and was 5th on his only try at class 4 so far.

Final Boss (8/6/1/0) Ji Yong-cheol (Seoul) – The Breeders’ Cup winner has gone on to win twice around two-turns this year. A Seoul horse going to Busan aside, he is the favourite and a strong one at that.

Daeseung Bibob (6/0/2/1) Ji Yong-cheol (Seoul) – Stable-mate of Final Boss which is perhaps the only reason for his inclusion.

Lion Rock (3/3/0/0) Lee Shin-young (Seoul) – Full brother to Triple Nine, he’s the only one who enters unbeaten. It may be too much too soon with the Derby & Minister’s Cup the main targets, but don’t rule out.

Taeyangui Jeonseol (5/3/0/0) Yoo Jae-gil (Seoul) – Back to back wins at 1700M puts this still unexposed colt firmly in the hunt.

The maximum field size is 16 so at least five will miss out and it is possible for others to nominate this week as well – Nasca Prince, who won at Seoul on Sunday, being a potential one, given that as it stands the Capital as usual isn’t taking up as many spots as it has been assigned.  As in all races in Korea, no more than 2 horses can be from the same trainer. Seoul last won the race with Cheongnyong Bisang, now improbably a ranch horse in the USA, in 2014, but Final Boss currently looks the one to beat here. We’ll have plenty more build up to the start of a fascinating Triple Crown series over next couple of weeks.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Upcoming Graded/Listed/Special races:

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

Power Blade Powers To Derby Glory

In a monsoon downpour at Seoul, Power Blade added the Korean Derby to his victory in the KRA Cup Mile and heads into the final leg of the Triple Crown with two jewels safely  secured and looking for all the world like he will be the first horse to sweep the crown in its current form.

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Power Blade makes it through the rain to win the Korean Derby (Pic: Ross Holburt)

Jockey Kim Yong Geun surprised many and opted to go right to the front out of the gate on Power Blade, having been slightly more leisurely away in previous starts. He was joined by stablemate World Champion along with Tohamsan and Banjiui Jewang. He would see them all off comfortably.

World Champion failed to stay on the fast running track, Tohamsan ran out and unseated his rider on the final turn. The others would stay on and challenges emerged from Zettabyte and Stealth, 4th and 3rd in the Cup Mile. Challenge is too strong a word though as this was always to be Power Blade’s and he romped away to win by three lengths on the line. Zettabyte was 2nd a further six lengths ahead of Stealth.

Winners Glory was Seoul’s best finisher in 4th place with Banjiui Jewang a creditable 5th. It is another Derby for trainer Kim Young Kwan. Few will bet against him completing his first Triple Crown on July 17th.

Korean Derby (KOR G1) – Seoul Racecourse – 1800M – May 15, 2015

1. Power Blade (KOR) [Menifee – Cheonmacheong (Lost Mountain)] – Kim Yong Geun – 1.2, 1.0
2. Zettabyte (KOR) [Menifee – Fight Back (Sakura Seeking)] – Lim Sung Sil – 3.7
3. Stealth (KOR) [Colors Flying – Missed The Tower (Woodman)] – Ikuyasu Kurakane – 2.2
Distances: 3 lengths/6 lengths
Also Ran: 4. Winners Glory 5. Banjiui Jewang 6. Cheonji Storm 7. Siseon Pochak 8. Saeroun Stealth 9. Gongryong 10. Theme Deunggeuk 11. Ever In Ever 12. V Man 13. World Champion 14. Seungniui Chukje DNF: Tohamsan

Power Blade The Sharpest In KRA Cup Mile

Power Blade once more defeated stablemate Ottug Ottugi to claim the first leg of the 2016 Korean Triple Crown, the KRA Cup Mile, at Busan Racecourse on Sunday.

Last year’s champion juvenile, Power Blade was sent off as the odds-on favourite and was always very handy as Ottug Ottugi and outsider Gasok Engine set the early pace. Banjiui Jewang, expected to be prominent, sat just behind but failed to make a run in the home straight and would trail home in 7th place.

Instead it was left to the Kim Young Kwan pair to battle it out and just over a furlong out, Power Blade did look under pressure for a time. Ottug Ottugi, the only filly in the race and trying the distance for the first time would crack though and Power Blade ran on for a four-length win with the filly a brave second.

Stealth, a 25/1 shot, ran a huge race in 3rd  under Ikuyasu Kurakane, getting up from the back along with Zettabyte who came home 4th. Ever In Ever came a solid 5th, leading home Seoul’s top finisher. the 120/1 outsider Theme Deunggeuk. Behind them, the field was strung out.

Power Blade has now won five of his seven starts and is likely to head back to Seoul as favourite for the Korean Derby on May 15th. Already a winner at the Derby-distance of 1800M, he is going to be tough to stop. Ottug Ottugi showed that she has developed and a mile is within her capabilities. She’ll also need to get 1800M the Oaks in June.

The Kim Young Kwan training dominance of the top races continues. Today’s Cup Mile was his 28th Grade race winner – by far a Korean record. Kim rotates his jockeys – partly as he believes it benefits his horses although many suspect ensuring none of the top ones commit to another trainer also plays its role. Today’s rider Kim Yong Geun can’t complain too much though; today was his 9th Graded win – all of them coming on Kim Young Kwan-trained horses.

KRA Cup Mile (KOR G2) – Busan Racecourse – 1600M – April 3, 2016

1. Power Blade (KOR) [Menifee – Cheonmacheong] – YK Kim – Kim Yong Geun – 1.7, 1.1
2. Ottug Ottugi (KOR) [Forest Camp – Main Objective] – YK Kim – Choi Si Dae – 2.1
3. Stealth (KOR) [Colors Flying – Missed The Tower] – SY Lee – Ikuyasu Kurakane – 4.7
Distances: 4 lengths / 2 lengths
Also Ran: 4. Zettabyte 5. Ever In Ever 6. Theme Deunggeuk 7. Banjiui Jewang 8. Gongryong 9. Gasok Engine 10. Dyna’s Dream 11. Smart Gentleman 12. Argo Flying