Triple Crown

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

Triple Crown R1 – KRA Cup Mile: Runner-By-Runner Preview

A field of twelve – eleven colts and one filly – will line up at Busan Racecourse on Sunday afternoon for the the first leg of the 2016 Korean Triple Crown. 

Power Blade Banjiui

Power Blade beat Banjiui Jewang at Seoul in the Breeders’ Cup in November (Pic: Ilgan Sports/KRA)

Three are from Seoul and nine from the host track. Power Blade, champion juvenile of 2015 is likely to be sent off as the favourite. The race is race 6 on a 7-race card at Busan which gets underway at 12:20pm. There are also 10 races at Seoul from 10:50. The race will be shown live in Australia on Sky Racing 2 along with another couple of races (preview of those here).

KRA Cup Mile (KOR G2) – Busan Racecourse – 1600M – Sunday April 3, 2016 (16:40)

1. Gongryong [Revere – Parisilton (Woodman)] (7/4/1/0) DS Bae – Moon Se Young
Likely to be Seoul’s best hope, Moon Se Young coming to ride is a plus. Gongryong (which means “Dinosaur”) come sin having won hislast three including last time at 1700M by a full four lengths. Unique among the field, he will want to be right at the back from the start and he could find the money

2. Ever In Ever [Sharp Humor – Habidongju (Silent Warrior)] (6/3/2/1) KY Baik – Seo Seung Un
This one has slipped a little under the radar having begun his career a little too late to run in the big juvenile races last autumn. He’s won three of six and last time was just beaten a head in a quick race at a mile having led for most of the way. He goes forward and a place is possible.

3. Stealth [Colors Flying – Missed The Tower (Woodman)] (8/4/0/1) SY Lee – Ikuyasu Kurakane
A winner at a mile on Boxing Day by a full five lengths inindifferent company, he won a solid race over 1400M last time. Should be content to let others lead here as any involvement in an early pace battle would be to his detriment, he has a very good jockey on board but is an outsider.

4. Theme Deunggeuk [Menifee – Pilseung Giwon (Silent Warior)] (7/2/3/1) JK Park – Park Eul Woon
He’s won two of his last three at Seoul, making all last time to win by six lengths at 1400M. Big step up today though. Likely to one of the very many looking to get forward early.

5. Smart Gentleman [Menifee – Hennesy N Lime (Limehouse)] (8/4/1/2) JS Kim – Makoto Okabe
Distance is a question mark with this one. He is competent at sprints but has only tried further than 1200M on one occasion and came 4th. Temptation would be to go out as fast as possible and try to cling on for as long as possible, but he does have a smart jockey on board.

6. Dyna’s Dream [Meiner Select – Dyna’s Gold Legend (Gold Legend)] (7/3/2/0) SB Han – Jo Chang Wook
He comes in following three consecutive victories but he really hasn’t beaten very much along the way and with the exception of last time, has been allowed to dictate. That won’t happen today. Never tried at further than 1300M, distance will also be a doubt. He may well leave the early speedsters to get on with it and try to come from just behind.

7. Argo Flying [Colors Flying – Proper Prospector (Crafty Prospector)] (3/1/1/1) JY Heo – Kim Dong Soo
He hasn’t done anything wrong but this is surely too much too soon. Got his maiden win last start at class 6 over 1000M. At least connections are having a go which is more than can be said for plenty at Seoul but success is unlikely.

8. Banjiui Jewang [Ecton Park – Sweetoil (Broken Vow)] (5/4/1/0) PM Wolsley – Pasquale Borelli
Big chance. He was 2nd to Power Blade in the Juvenile Championship race at Soeul last Noveber and has won his two starts since with an eight-length stroll last time out over a few decent older horses. Tried at the distance for the first time but hell get that and further. Good speed too. Goes forward and he is a big threat to the favourite.

9. Gasok Engine [Forest Camp – Cat Lea (Cat Thief)] (6/4/1/0) JS Kim – Lim Sung Sil
A winner of four of six but he didn’t go well at 1400M last time. Another who needs to go forward and it may just be too competitive here. He has a lot to find

10.Power Blade [Menifee – Cheonmacheong (Lost Mountain)] (6/4/2/0) YK Kim- Kim Yong Geun
The champion juvenile will be the favourite and likely a strong one. Has beaten the next two in the betting, Banjiui Jewang and Ottug Ottugi and and won really well at 1800M against older horses last time out. He doesn’t need to get involved in any early speed battle and will look to ease to the front on the long turn for home. He is beatable but hard to bet against.

11. Ottug Ottugi [Forest Camp – Main Objective (Lion Heart)] (7/5/1/0) YK Kim – Choi Si Dae
Power Blade’s stablemate, she just held on to beat him in Busan’s top juvenile race at 1200M before failing to stay on at 1400M in Seoul a month later. She’s won a couple since though including an Oaks trial last start. Beating a few fillies at 1400M is different to beating Power Blade at a mile but she is developing and there is a feeling she can get this distance. She’s fast and even from gate 11, can get forward.

12. Zettabyte [Menifee – Fight Back (Sakura Seeking)] (7/3/2/1) KM Lim – You Hyun Myung
Beaten by Power Blade and Ottug Ottugi in December shes won two since very handily indeedincluding at a mile last time out. She does have plenty to find here and she goes best when she leads early which will be hard here but she has a chance.

Rock Band Calls The Tune In Minister’s Cup

Rock Band led from gate-to-wire to win the Minister’s Cup at Seoul Racecourse this afternoon, holding off Triple Nine who had to settle for 2nd in his second consecutive Classic race.

Rock Band in the Minister's Cup winner's circle

The Rock Band/Triple Nine 1-2 was a remarkable achieivement for Isildore Farm, who bred the pair of them and also – although we have come to expect it by now – for trainer Kim Young Kwan.

Rock Band was sent off as the 4th fvourite in the betting in a field that was depleted in terms of numbers by the scratchings of Daegunhwang and Bulpae Line. Last time he faced such a small field, Rock Band got stuck in traffic and suffered his only loss to date. This time, jockey Kim Yong Geun decided to take the race by the scruff of the neck and lead from the gate.

Derby winner Yeongcheon Ace was slow to settle in the early stages but went with the leader as did Triple Nine, who began the race as favorite, and KRA Cup Mile winner Rafale. It was a lead Rock Band would never relinquish. Triple Nine lost some ground beginning the long turn for home and that would prove crucial as Rock Band had enough in hand to hold off his late charge and take victory by half a length on the line.

Yeongcheon Ace battled on for 3rd while Doraon Hyeonpyo, last year’s champion juvenile, got up for 4th ahead of a tiring Rafale.

For jockey Kim Yong Geun, it was a 2nd Classic of the year after winning the Korean Oaks on Jangpung Parang, also for trainer Kim Young Kwan, at Busan last month.

Minister’s Cup (KOR G2) – Seoul Racecourse – 2000M – July 19, 2015

1. Rock Band (KOR) [Ecton Park -Plie (Dixieland Band)] – Kim Yong Geun – 8.6, 3.4
2. Triple Nine (KOR) [Ecton Park – A Little Poke (Pleasant Tap)] – Lim Sung Sil – 1.3
3. Yeongcheon Ace (KOR) [Menifee – Dixie Avenger (Dixie Union)] – Choi Si Dae – 1.5
Distances: 0.5 lengths/2.5 lengths
Also ran: 4. Doraon Hyeonpyo (KOR) 5. Rafale (KOR) 6. Seonbong (KOR) 7. Yuseong Fighting (KOR) NR. Daegunhwang (KOR) NR. Bulpae Line (KOR)

Rock Band is the full-brother to Indie Band, another product of Isildore. Indie Band won the 2013 President’s Cup and Grand Prix Stakes but has been sidelined for the past year. The younger brother never raced as a 2-year-old and today was only his 6th career start. There could be much more to come from him.

Next week, Busan takes its summer vacation but there will be plenty of action at Seoul. Trainer Kim Young Kwan will be in Singapore to saddle Gamdonguibada and Nobody Catch Me in the KRA Trophy at Kranji. He’ll not be training a 1-2 finish there. Today though, Rock Band was throroughly on song.