Triple Nine

Cheongdam Dokki Marches On In Mayor’s Cup

Cheongdam Dokki ventured outside of Seoul for the first time but the four-year-old made himself right at home on the South-Coast, beating a strong set of rivals to win the Group 3 Busan Mayor’s Cup on Sunday afternoon confirming his status as the top-rated horse in Korea.

Cheongdam Dokki Mayor's Cup Lets Run Park Busan

Cheongdam Dokki & Lim Gi Won winning the Busan Mayor’s Cup (Pic: KRA)

Sent off as the odds-on favourite for the 1800M race, often called the “Summer Grand Prix” such is its usual strength, Cheongdam Dokki broke from the widest gate was unable to get to his favoured position on the lead. That was because King Of Ace got out much the quickest and under Franco Da Silva went on to set the pace. Aboard Cheongdam Dokki, jockey Lim Gi Won was happy enough to let the leader get on with it and settled at the front of the chasing pack with Cheonji Storm and 2nd favourite Triple Nine just behind him.

As the field entered the home straight, King Of Ace began to weaken and Cheongdam Dokki assumed command and while fellow Seoul-raider Cheonji Storm threatened to mount a challenge, Cheongdam Dokki comfortably saw him off in the final furlong to win by three-lengths on the line. Triple Nine, a three-time President’s Cup winner and former Horse of the Year, hit top gear late in the race but could only come home in 3rd place one ahead of last year’s winner I’m Your Father.

It was a breakout performance from Cheonji Storm, who was 6th in the 2016 Korean Derby behind eventual Triple Crown winner Power Blade, and who has matured greatly since missing seven months of last season. Triple Nine, making just his second start of 2018 ran well but was always likely to be too late reaching top speed to challenge Cheongdam Dokki over 1800M.

The win took Cheongdam Dokki, an American import by To Honor And Serve, to 11 wins from 16 career starts and was his second Korean Group race triumph following his victory in last autumn’s Group 2 KRA Cup Classic. He is unbeaten in 2018 with his last defeat coming in December’s Grand Prix Stakes over 2300M. It also gave him a new domestic rating of 130, the highest of any horse since the rating system in its current form began and Cheongdam Dokki is now surely on a path to face the ultimate test in Korean racing – taking on the international visitors in September’s Keeneland Korea Cup.

Busan Mayor’s Cup (KOR G3) – Busan Racecourse – 1800M – July 1, 2018

1. Cheongdam Dokki (USA) [To Honor And Serve – Elusive Gold (Strike The Gold)] –  Lim Gi Won – 1.4, 1.0
2. Cheonji Storm (KOR) [Admire Don – Great Thought (Empire Maker)] – Johan Victoire – 2.9
3. Triple Nine (KOR) [Ecton Park – A Little Poke (Pleasant Tap)] – Lim Sung Sil – 1.5
Distances: 3 lengths / 3 lengths
Also Ran: 4. I’m Your Father (USA) 5. Buhwarui Banseok (USA) 6. Saengil Gippeum (USA) 7. King Of Ace (USA) 8. Dongbang Daero (USA) 9. Champ Line (KOR) 10. Iron Train (USA) 11. World Number One (USA) 12. Cheonjeok (USA) 13. Winner Red (USA)

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Busan Mayor’s Cup: Cheongdam Dokki vs Triple Nine – Busan & Seoul All-Race Preview (July 1)

One of the highlights of the summer racing season takes place at Busan on Sunday when thirteen of the best horses on the peninsula go to post in the Busan Mayor’s Cup (Korean Group 3) over 1800M. They include last year’s winner I’m Your Father, but all eyes will be on the clash between three-time President’s Cup winner Triple Nine and the new star on the stable-block, Cheongdam Dokki.

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Cheongdam Dokki

Cheongdam Dokki and Triple Nine have met once before, in the Grand Prix Stakes at Seoul in December last year. In a remarkable race, Cheongdam Dokki set a blistering early pace but wasn’t quite able to keep it up over the punishing 2300M – the longest distance currently used in Korean racing – and he ultimately finished 4th with Triple Nine running a big race in 3rd. Dongbang Daero, who closed late on and beat both running 2nd to winner Power Blade, is among those who join them on Sunday.

Since that Grand Prix, Cheongdam Dokki has looked invulnerable. He’s raced three times for three facile victories and has been steadily relieving Clean Up Joy, formerly the top-rated horse at Seoul, of the silverware he had amassed in recent years. Having beaten him in the KRA Cup Classic last autumn, Cheongdam Dokki beat Clean Up Joy in both the Herald Business and YTN Cups this Spring, the older horse having won all three of those races the year before. Now in advance of a likely tilt at the Korea Cup in September, he faces a true test, going to Busan to face Triple Nine on his home track. It is a test he will be expected to pass.

(I didn’t have the multi-million dollar studio at my disposal for this one so here’s a 10 minutes on Moviemaker Special!)

Triple Nine remains the benchmark against which all other horses are judged in Korea. He held his own at the Dubai World Cup Carnival at the start of 2017 and returned to beat stablemate Power Blade on his way to a record-equalling third straight win in the President’s Cup. Power Blade would gain revenge in the Grand Prix but Triple Nine lost nothing in defeat that day. He has only raced once in 2018, making a rare foray into the handicap ranks in March and coming away, inevitably, with another victory. He did trial in public last week although offered few clues. The torch may be passed at Busan on Sunday.

Here are Busan’s Race-By-Race Comments including all-horses in the big race. Scroll down for the race-by-race from Seoul:

Race 1: Class 4 (1000M) Handicap / KRW 60 Million

(7) SMART DANCER has won her latest two, both at this distance, in front-running fashion and while it means she is rapidly up in class, there is little for her to fear here and she has an excellent chance of making it three in a row. (9) MAY STAR beat (3) BAENGNYEON SONNIM as the pair came home 2nd and 3rd at class and distance on May 27th. Both can go well again with Baengnyeon Sonnim favoured to overturn that form. (1) WONDERFUL SHOW races for the first time in almost a year but has looked competent across a series of trials in the last couple of months and can go well first up. (6) RETURN OF THE KING comes in off a useful 2nd place ahead of three of these on June 10th and can go close again. (8) CHERRY VANQUISH was one of the vanquished that day, but it was just her second outing and she can improve here.

Selections (7) Smart Dancer (3) Baengnyeon Sonnim (8) Cherry Vanquish (6) Return Of The King
Next Best 9, 1
Fast Start 1, 2, 6, 9, 12

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

Franco Da Silva was on (1) WONDERFUL MEMORY for his only previous win and he should be guiding the Lookin At Lucky colt to another here. He was a decent 3rd last time on his first try at this class and should have too much. (7) JANGHAN JILJU and (11) SAKISAKI came home 2nd and 3rd at class and distance on June 1st and look among the most likely to challenge the favourite although (2) JAEDOYAKUI BANSEOK was an improved 2nd last time out and is well drawn to get to the front from the gate once more. (10) WHITE POINT was disappointing behind Janghan Jilju and Sakisaki but came back out just two weeks ago to run a much better 4th and can look to at least match that today.

Selections (1) Wonderful Memory (2) Jaedoyakui Banseok (7) Janghan Jilju (11) Sakisaki
Next Best 4, 10
Fast Start 3, 4, 8

Race 3: Class 4 (1600M) Allowance / KRW 60 Million

(8) WORLD DAY is two for two and the Kim Young Kwan trainee steps up in class and also in distance with solid claims of maintaining his 100% record. This is a significantly stiffer test than what he has faced so far but he should be close to the front from the start and can overcome it. (6) MABEOPUI JILJU and (4) VIVA VICTORY come in having run 2nd and 3rd behind World Day’s stablemate Sun Day at class and distance on May 27th. Both are proven performers at the distance and cause World Day problems. So too can (5) CHOEGANG THUNDER, a winner at the distance in April and 2nd when dropped back to 1300M for his first try at this class three weeks ago. (10) YONGGU is up in class after a surprise win at a mile six weeks ago and while he will need to improve, could be an interesting outsider.

Selections (8) World Day (5) Choegang Thunder (6) Mabeopui Jilju (4) Viva Victory
Next Best 10, 7
Fast Start 1, 2, 4, 8

Race 4: Class 3 (1600M) Handicap / KRW 75 Million

Eight of the twelve raced each other at class and distance on May 27th (race 4) so we have plenty to go on. The surprise winner that day was (7) YEONGGWANG SEUNGNI, who struck the front late and ran on to win by half a length. She warrants more respect today, but we’ll still fancy her to get beaten. (2) JUSTINE MAGIC led for most of that race, ultimately finishing 2nd in what was his first try at a mile. He should have learned from that and can overturn the form here. (1) DYNAMIC ROOKIE was favourite that day and while he finished well back, is worth another chance today but the other likely ones didn’t run that day. (4) BAENGMUNBAEKDAP is up in class following a convincing win at the distance at the end of April and can be considered while (11) TUFELLO ran a solid 3rd on his first try at this class three weeks ago and should be in the frame as well.

Selections (2) Justine Magic (4) Baengmunbaekdap (7) Yeonggwang Seungni (11) Tufello
Next Best 1, 12
Fast Start 1, 2, 3, 12

Race 5: Class Open “The Busan Mayor’s Cup” (KOR G3) 1800M / Weight for Age / KRW 500 Million

  1. IRON TRAIN – Class 2 winner over this distance in May but only beat one home on his first class 1 try three weeks ago. Generally goes right to the back and closes. May pick off a few in the home straight.

 

  1. CHAMP LINE – Thomas Gillespie’s six-year-old is a very consistent type and he beat Buhwarui Banseok and Saengil Gippeum on his way to 2nd at 2000M last time. Usually runs at further than this but he can certainly make the minor money.

 

  1. DONGBANG DAERO – Ran a huge 2nd in the Grand Prix Stakes last December but has been a little indifferent in five starts since. Another who perhaps wants a little further to be at his most effective, but he could make a value bet for the places.

 

  1. I’M YOUR FATHER – Last year’s winner returned from seven months out to land a narrow win over King Of Ace over a mile at the beginning of June, finishing very strongly. Fergus Sweeney keeps the mount today and he has a chance of an upset.

 

  1. BUHWARUI BANSEOK – Ran 2nd to Triple Nine at 2000M in March and beat Dongbang Daero and Champ Line at the same distance in April. Champ Line returned the favour last time, but this is a very solid, consistent horse. Another who probably prefers further.

 

  1. CHEONJI STORM – Won the Seoul Owners’ Cup over 1200M in March before crushing a class 1 field by ten-lengths in the capital at the end of April. Lots of talent he is a front-runner who is likely to take on Cheongdam Dokki early. That’s risky but anything could happen.

 

  1. WINNER RED – Only two starts in 2018 so far and was a long way behind Cheongdam Dokki in the YTN Cup last time out. An outsider today.

 

  1. CHEONJEOK – Last home in the YTN Cup at the end of May continuing a run of indifferent form. Little to no chance here.

 

  1. WORLD NUMBER ONE – A stablemate of Iron Train, he was a class 2 winner at this distance in March but has been a touch disappointing in two efforts since. Likely to go right to the back from the gate and may improve late but is an outsider.

 

  1. KING OF ACE – Has suffered from a number of injury setbacks and is two starts into his latest comeback. He ran very well for 2nd to I’m Your Father in a tight finish on June 3rd and makes for an interesting outsider here.

 

  1. TRIPLE NINE – The gold standard in Korean racing. He beat four of these when winning his only start of 2018 to date in March, giving them plenty of weight too. He offered few clues when trialling up half-heartedly last weekend. Superior to all of these except Cheongdam Dokki and were he to win, it would be arguably his greatest achievement yet. He won’t challenge the Seoul horse for the lead but at this distance, neither will he let them get too far away. He often takes some time to hit top gear and that may be his undoing at 1800M.

 

  1. SAENGIL GIPPEUM – Has been beaten by plenty of these in recent starts at varying distances. Plenty of talent and has Busan’s champion jockey on board but will be an outsider here.

 

  1. CHEONGDAM DOKKI – His three outings this year have simply confirmed what we already knew – he is now better than Clean Up Joy. Here he has a chance to stamp his authority on all of Korean racing by beating Triple Nine at his home track. He is stepping back in trip for the first time since last September but even that should be in his favour. The widest gate is perhaps not ideal, but he has the speed to get to the front anyway and it would be a surprise were he not to hold off all-comers – including Triple Nine.

 

VERDICT: (13) CHEONGDAM DOKKI should take a big step towards asserting his hegemony by defeating (11) TRIPLE NINE. He’ll be on pace early and while there is a risk of an early speed battle with (6) CHEONJI STORM, he should have too much to able to cope with this and to see off everything else over 1800M. Cheonji Storm can go well as well as can last year’s winner (4) I’M YOUR FATHER. (2) CHAMP LINE and (10) KING OF ACE make for some potential value.

 

Selections (13) Cheongdam Dokki (11) Triple Nine (4) I’m Your Father (6) Cheonji Storm
Next Best 2, 10, 3
Fast Start 6, 13

Race 6: Class 3 (1400M) Handicap / KRW 75 Million

Small field to finish with and there are two up and comers here. After a few near misses, (1) UNSEOK has now won three in a row by handy margins and while he’s up in class and slightly in distance today, has every chance of making it four.  (3) GEUMSURYEONG has the best chance of beating him. He’s won three from five and was runner-up in the other two and there could well be more to come. He will lead early and Unseok will have to (more…)

Triple Nine & Clean Up Joy Are Winners Again at Busan & Seoul

Two of Korea’s most popular horses returned to the winner’s circles at Busan and Seoul yesterday with Triple Nine and Clean Up Joy prevailing in valuable Sunday handicaps.

Three-time President’s Cup winner Triple Nine had put in a strong effort in December’s Grand Prix Stakes, trying to counter early leader Cheongdam Dokki but ultimately finished 3rd behind stablemate and rival Power Blade. Following three months off, he returned to action on Sunday in the 2000M “Road To Group 1” feature on the south coast.

The race attracted a strong line-up and Triple Nine had to work for his win, with You Hyun Myung sitting towards the back of the field as the early pace was set, inevitably, by Success Story. Although he had plenty of traffic to negotiate in the home straight, the gap did open up and Triple Nine, carrying 60kg, ran on nicely to win by two lengths. Buhwarui Banseok, who also ran so well in the Grand Prix, came home in 2nd place ahead of Good Casting who, a disappointing effort over 2200M last month aside, has been a revelation in recent months.

It’s a good start to the season for the now 6-year-old Triple Nine which will likely have a bid an unprecedented fourth President’s Cup and another tilt at the so-far elusive Grand Prix as its ultimate targets.

Clean Up Joy has already won a Grand Prix, having been victorious in 2016’s season finale when he beat Triple Nine by just over a length. Although his 2017 started strongly with three consecutive wins, including in the YTN Cup, he lose his way a little in the second half of the year.

A chastening experience when not looking 100% in the Busan Mayor’s Cup in the summer was followed by 3rd place for Clean Up Joy in the KRA Cup Classic, a race he’d won in each of the two previous seasons as three-year-olds Cheongdam Dokki and New Citadel announced their arrival on the elite scene. He could then only run 7th in the Grand Prix before beginning 2018 with another defeat at the hands of Cheongdam Dokki.

Clean Up joy had a significantly simpler task then Triple Nine, facing only six rivals in Seoul’s “Road To G1” event. Such was his rating superiority that all of them were out of the handicap and accordingly carried 52kg to Clean Up Joy’s 60kg. Under Park Tae Jong, he hit top gear at the two furlong pole and cruised away for a visually impressive seven-length score.

There will be tougher tests to come.

Power Blade’s Grand Prix The Best Yet

On Sunday, we probably saw the best Grand Prix Stakes we ever have. The 2015 edition, won by Bold Kings, was outstanding, while for those of us who go in for that sort of thing, Tough Win’s 2011 victory over fellow “troika” members, Mister Park and Smarty Moonhak will always be special, even if the race itself wasn’t that exciting.  Power Blade’s victory this year, on the other hand, was in a race that involved a win by a genuine star in a contest that wasn’t settled until the final stride.

Power Blade Grand Prix Fnish1

Power Blade wins the Grand Prix (Pic: KRA)

Cheongdam Dokki, the three-year-old favourite, set a pace that was quite brutal by Korean standards. In a Grand Prix Stakes, only Ugildongja in 2009 and Beolmaui Kkum in 2014 had set anything close to his early sectionals – and both finished well back in their respective fields. Cheongdam Dokki didn’t. The final time of Power Blade broke the 2300M track record by over a second and was precisely three seconds quicker than the fastest previous Grand Prix – the aforementioned 2009 edition, which was won by Dongbanui Gangja.

The horses who went with Cheongdam Dokki – or at least tried to – simply had nothing left for the closing stages; Diferent Dimension, Dynamic Dash and last to succumb, Silver Wolf, fading through the pack. The only one who kept pace early and had something to offer was the outstanding Triple Nine. Lim Sung Sil, possibly fearing that Cheongdam Dokki was simply too good, began to get after Triple Nine as they began the long turn for home, a full four-furlongs out, in order to keep up with the leader. At the same time Oh Kyung Hwan on Power Blade and Park Jae I on Dongbang Daero opted to save energy and allowed their mounts a more leisurely trip, ultimately paying huge dividends in the closing stages.

It is therefore perhaps testament to the sheer ability of Triple Nine and the huge potential of Cheongdam Dokki that they still managed to finish 3rd and 4th respectively after such stiff early efforts. Less than three lengths separated the winner and 5th placed Buhwarui Banseok.

Power Blade Grand Prix Winners Circle

Power Blade in the Grand Prix winner’s circle (Pic: KRA)

Dongbang Daero had finished 3rd behind Saengil Gippeum in what was a trial for the Grand Prix over 2200M at Busan at the beginning of November. Saengil Gippeum blew them away that day but Dongbang Daero had finished the quickest, running on very nicely to become involved in a finish in which there was just half a length separating 2nd and 6th. Buhwarui Banseok was also involved in that finish and he too ran on very well on Sunday.

Last year’s winner Clean Up Joy didn’t look the part before the race and never really featured, ending up in 7th place.

It became clear around two furlongs out that Cheongdam Dokki wasn’t going to be able to keep things up the whole way around. Triple Nine got first crack at him but Power Blade and Dongbang Daero simply had too much in reserve and Power Blade’s class saw him home by a Head on the line.

It is a shame that neither Triple Nine nor Power Blade will be returning to the Dubai World Cup Carnival as both look eminently capable of winning a race this time around. Connections have other plans, however, and hopefully they’ll get a nice long rest through the worst of the winter – although in all honesty, it would be no surprise to see one or other lining up in a nondescript Class 1 handicap come February. The pair of them have been such good ambassadors for Korean racing over the past three seasons, that they went overseas even once is something we can be grateful for. That trip, plus their showings in the Korea Cup and Sprint demonstrated that the pair of them could hold their own to a good (not elite, but good) standard anywhere.

Trainer Kim Young Kwan can divide opinions, but there can be no denying that when a horse of his comes out to run in a big race, his team will have it in peak condition and Triple Nine and Power Blade are the epitome of this – Triple Nine’s Godolphin Mile aside (and he was in desperate need of a spell then), they never seem to have an off-day.

Both now have claims to be the top Korean-bred horse ever. Power Blade’s Triple Crown and Grand Prix matching up with Triple Nine’s President’s Cup hat-trick. Their prize money earnings are almost identical with both breaking the 3 Billion Won barrier at the Grand Prix.  They’ve raced each other seven times now with Triple Nine leading the head-to-head by 4 to 3  – although Power Blade has now won three of their last four meetings.

We head into 2018 with plenty to be excited about on track. Cheongdam Dokki’s development along with the pair who ultimately didn’t run in the Grand Prix, Dolkong and New Citadel. Then there is the emergence of a new domestic three-year-old crop which looks stronger than this year’s. Still on top for now though are Power Blade and Triple Nine and next year they will still only be five and six-years-old.

 

 

Triple Nine’s Stamina Defies Doubters To Land 3rd President’s Cup

In the end the punters were much closer to getting it right than the pundits. The vast majority of the Korean racing world had managed to convince itself that when it came to the rivalry between Triple Nine and Power Blade, the younger horse was now in charge, even at 2000M. Bettors, however, sent the pair off as pretty much co-favourites and ultimately it was Triple Nine who prevailed at Seoul Racecourse on Sunday to match the achievement of Dangdae Bulpae in winning three consecutive President’s Cups.

Triple Nine President's Cup 3

Triple Nine beat Power Blade to win his 3rd President’s Cup at Seoul on Sunday (Pic: KRA)

l was guiltier than most, having gone from believing at the start of the week that Triple Nine still had every chance over his preferred distance to by the time of the race, being sure Power Blade would win. In the end, it wasn’t even close with Triple Nine collaring his rival a furlong from home and running on to win by an ever-increasing two lengths.

Triple Nine was given a very good ride by Lim Sung Sil who this year has established himself as the top big race rider in Korea. This was his third Group race victory of the year (more impressive than it sounds given the limited number), achieved on three different horses and he is likely to ride favourite World Sun in the Breeders’ Cup race back at Seoul in early December. Then of course, there is the prospect of Triple Nine in the Grand Prix Stakes.

Lim is an infrequent rider, his minimum weight of 54kg not being conducive to regular mounts in Korea, but some of the rides he has produced – initiative in the Minister’s Cup and timing in last week’s Gimhae Mayor’s Cup and of course on Triple Nine on Sunday – mark him out as a cut above most here.

Ultimately, the President’s Cup finishing order was exactly the same as last year, with Triple Nine winning, Power Blade 2nd and Success Story 3rd. Korean Derby winner Final Boss could only manage 4th. He raced prominently throughout but never looked likely in the home straight and is perhaps not quite at the very elite level yet. That elite level is set by the winner and runner-up, ten lengths clear of the rest.

Korean racing has been very lucky to have both Triple Nine and Power Blade over the past two years. Their performances over the summer must surely put an end to the general belief on the backstretches in Seoul and Busan that travelling overseas to race is detrimental to horses’ chances of racing successfully in Korea. Granted it took both a while to readjust on their return from Dubai and they probably did miss out on winning some easy prize money in routine handicaps – and granted too, remarkably this was Triple Nine’s first race win since the corresponding one a year ago. But both could have probably used the spell anyway after long campaigns.

Moreover, Power Blade especially came back a better horse and it has now been demonstrated that Triple Nine lost nothing either with both having beaten the other at their preferred trips. There is, of course a reason why in September, Power Blade ran in the Korea Sprint and Triple Nine in the Korea Cup. While Triple Nine will head for the Grand Prix, Power Blade almost certainly won’t and at least for him, another trip to Dubai would make perfect sense, even if he has to forego an easy win or two here. For now, connections remain unconvinced.

Dangdae Bulpae, whose three-timer Triple Nine has now equaled, did attempt a fourth in 2013. It was a race too far for him. A year is a very long time in flat racing but hopefully Triple Nine will still be here.

Seoul & Busan Sunday – Triple Nine vs Power Blade in the President’s Cup: Race-By-Race Preview (November 5)

Triple Nine heads into Sunday’s President’s Cup (KOR G1) at Seoul Racecourse looking to match Dangdae Bulpae’s feat of three consecutive wins in what is the nation’s most valuable race restricted to Domestic-bred horses. More likely though is that we witness a changing of the guard of sorts as stablemate Power Blade will be favourite to assert his own claim to be top of the Korean racing tree.

D3

Power Blade won the Korean Derby this year. He gets the chance to depose Triple Nine in the President’s Cup (Pic: Ross Holburt)

That transition is almost complete. Both went to the Dubai World Cup Carnival and represented Korea with extremely creditable performances but since they’ve come back, it’s Power Blade who has gone on to excel. That’s not to say that Triple Nine is demonstrably any worse; just that that Power Blade has got better and better and the younger horse has already downed Triple Nine at distances of 1400M and a Mile.

Neither are straightforward horses. Power Blade needs urging all the way around while Triple Nine takes a very long time to reach his top gear. It’s those factors which combine with the 2000M distance of the President’s Cup that gives Triple Nine backers a glimmer of hope. Power Blade now though, is good enough to extinguish it.

Traditionally in Korea this would be the race where the top three-year-olds of the year faced their older counterparts in a Group race for the first time. Indeed, Korean Derby winner Final Boss takes his chance. Similar to the two favourites, he is anything but straightforward but on his day, looks an exceptional talent. Daeho Sidae, who beat Final Boss in the final leg of the Triple Crown also goes.

Seoul Race 1: Class 6 (1000M) Allowance / KRW 22 Million

(1) DUSON EYE just missed out by a neck over 1000M on October 1st and he’s the pick to go one better here, likely leading all the way. (2) SKY CAMP has been 3rd in both his starts so far, albeit in less than exalted company and there’s no reason why that record can’t continue here. He’ll likely join Duson Eye up front early. (5) GEUMEUN JUOK was well back behind Duson Eye on latest effort but had shown glimpses of talent before while debut-maker (3) BAEKDUUI JEONGSANG has to be given a chance in this company having trialled up in decent fashion last month.

Selections (1) Duson Eye (2) Sky Camp (3) Baekduui Jeongsang (5) Geumeun Juok
Next Best 9, 11
Fast Start 1, 2, 11

Seoul Race 2: Class 6 (1000M) Allowance / KRW 22 Million

(8) HIGH STAR comes in having run 3rd and 4th in her latest two, both of them similarly modest contests to this one. She’s not necessarily the fastest of starters but will run on and could get her maiden win here. (3) O.J. HWAK DAB gets a fresh start today. She’s not been convincing in two outings to date but looked much improved when trialling up in October and can be backed here. (2) SOJUNGHAN SEONGBUL’s latest two have been too difficult and she should be much happier today – the champion jockey riding her will (more…)

Power Blade Cuts Down Triple Nine Again

Power Blade asserted his dominance, at least at short distances,  over stable-mate and long-time rival Triple Nine with a commanding win in the Kukje Sinmun Cup at Busan Racecourse on Sunday Afternoon.

Since the pair returned from the Dubai World Cup Carnival earlier this year, they have raced each other twice with Power Blade prevailing both times; first over a mile in August’s Owners’ Cup and then again in Sunday’s Kukje at 1400M. Last year, Triple Nine got the better of the then 3-year-old Power Blade at 1800M, 2000M and 2300M.

Given a better draw, Power Blade may well have won the Korea Sprint. Instead he was a fast finishing 2nd behind Japanese raider Graceful Leap. That day Triple Nine went in the Korea Cup and once more was the best Korean finisher in 4th. Today they raced together but at the distance, Triple Nine was always going to struggle to get into top gear in time to trouble his younger rival.

As it was Franco Da Silva took things up on Power Blade as they entered the home straight and he ran on strongly to win by almost three lengths on the line. Triple Nine, still getting faster, was 2nd with Seoul-trained City Star pipping Success Story for 3rd.

It was Power Blade’s tenth career win and took his earnings to well in excess of US$2 Million. Whether he takes on the President’s Cup and Grand Prix Stakes once more at unfavourable distances remains to be seen but hopefully connections can be persuaded to have another crack at Meydan in the new year. Cheongdam Dokki and Final Boss (if we forgive the unpredictable latter’s 4th in a 1200M Sprint on Sunday) are the young pretenders but Power Blade and Triple Nine remain very much the big boys of Korean racing right now.

Kukje Sinmun Cup – Busan Racecourse – 1400M – October 1, 2017

1. Power Blade (KOR) [Menifee – Cheonmachong (Lost Mountain)] – Franco Da Silva – 1.5, 1.1
2. Triple Nine (KOR) [Ecton Park – A Little Poke (Pleasant Tap)] – Lim Sung Sil – 1.0
3. City Star (KOR) [Menifee – City Styling (Carson City)] – Kim Yong Geun – 1.7
Distances: 2.5 lengths/3 lengths
Also Ran: 4. Success Story 5. Dongchonui Achim 6. Cheonji Park 7. Baedari Bobae 8. Rocket Blade

Racing takes a one week break now with the action resuming at Busan on Friday October 13th.