Viva Cat

KRA Cup Mile Runners And Riders

After months of preparation, finally it’s the big one.

Chae Gyu Jun & Good Time in the Breeders' Cup Winner's Circle

The first leg of the 2012 Korean Triple Crown will be run at Busan Race Park this Sunday.

The KRA Cup Mile, also known as the “Korean 2000 Guineas” will see four runners from Seoul travel down South to take on a ten strong home team.

One of them could be on the way to emulating J.S. Hold who in 2007, became the first and only horse to complete the Triple Crown. Champion Juvenile of 2011 Good Time leads the line for the home team while Viva Cat, with 5 wins from his 6 starts, heads the challenge from Seoul.

Here is a full list of the runners and riders with pedigrees, race records and jockey:

KRA Cup Classic (KOR.GII) – Busan Race Park – 1600M – Sunday April 8, 15:50

1. Good Time (KOR) [Yehudi-A Little Poke (Pleasant Tap)] C (8/3/3/0) – Chae Gyu Jun (Busan)
Champion Juvenile of last year and has made steady progress this year up to class 2 level, recording a very easy win over the distance in February.

2. Himchan Jilju (KOR) [Kwaedo Nanma-Wild Triple (Military)] C (8/4/0/1) – Jo Chang Wook (Busan)
Untried at the distance but was impressive last time out and should be in with a chance.

3. Wonderful Namhae (KOR) [Vicar-Make That Call (Glow)] C (6/4/0/0) – Akane Yamamoto (Busan)
Has won his last three in good fashion and with Akane on board, has to be a contender.

4. Gyeongbudaero (KOR) [Menifee-Princess Lanique (Cherokee Run)] C (8/4/2/0) – Park Geum Man (Busan)
Over the winter, he was set to be favourite but put in an indifferent performance last time out when he finished behind Good Time over 1800 metres. Could win easily or could finish last, it depends which Gyeongbudaero shows up.

5. Myeongseo Hero (KOR) [Pico Central-Regal Heir (Regal Intention)] C (7/2/3/0) – Song Keong Yun (Busan)
Was disappointing in his only outing over the distance and comes into the race off the back of two second place finishes over seven furlongs at class 3. He’ll need to show much more to challenge here.

6. Cheoneun (KOR) [Forest Camp-Naha (Silver Buck)] F (8/5/1/0) – Choi Bum Hyun (Seoul)
A poor run in the Breeders’ Cup last November and again over 1800 metres last month. Sandwiched between those two though were two very impressive wins and if she can bring that form to Busan, she can’t be discounted.

7. Jigeum I Sungan (KOR) [Ingrandire-Solmaru (Mujaazif)] C (9/3/4/1) – Moon Se Young (Seoul)
A colt that has been getting better with every run. The longer Derby distance might suit him better but more improvement can’t be ruled out here and Moon Se Young would not travel South if he didn’t feel he had a shot at bringing home a big prize.

8. Dolpung Jilju (KOR) [Didyme-Alder Gulch (Gulch)] F (8/3/1/1) – Jun Duk Yong (Seoul)
Without a win since claiming the Gwacheon Mayor’s Stakes last October, she is a talented filly but it would be a surprise if her return to the Winner’s Circle came here.

9. Baekho Janggun (KOR) [Pico Central-Oaks Fever (Old Trieste)] C (9/1/2/2) – Narazaki Kosuke (Busan)
Second over the distance last time out but has done little to suggest that he will be one of the favourites here. Needs improvement.

10. Dream Tower (KOR) [Forest Camp-HUrricane Warning (Thunder Gulch)] C (8/4/1/1) – Kim Yong Geun (Busan)
The most expensive colt of his generation, Dream Tower was third in the Breeders’ Cup last year. Yet to go a mile, he was second over 1500 metres at class 2 in his last race and must be among the frontrunners here.

11. Viva Cat (KOR) [Creek Cat-Babaria (Engagement)] C (6/5/0/0) – Cho Kyoung Ho (Seoul)
A fourth place in the Gwacheon Mayor’s Cup aside, this colt has done nothing wrong at all. Two smart wins at 1700 metres this year as well as Cho Kyoung Ho on board for the first time make him arguably the favourite. However, Seoul horses do not have a good record at Busan.

12. Bongodong (KOR) [Meisei Opera-Martie’s Prospect (Allen’s Prospect)] C (7/1/2/2) – You Hyun Myung
Undoubtedly the best named horse in the race (with the possible exception of the musically inspired Jigeum I Sungan), Bongodong would have to show form far beyond what he has demonstrated so far if he is to compete here.

13. Sing A (KOR) [Fortitude-Seollimwon (Wheaton)] F (9/2/3/2) – Kim Dong Young
A very nice filly who was second in the Breeders’ Cup behind Good Time and won over course and distance last month with Predict behind her. She’ll need to go quicker than she did that day to win here but she’s tough to oppose.

14. Predict (KOR) [The Groom Is Red-Muhanseungni (Big Sur)] C (7/3/2/0) – Jo Sung Gon (Busan)
Finished behind Good Time and Sing A in his last two starts, both of which were at this distance. Jo Sung Gin can never be ruled out in the big races but he’ll need to find improvement here.

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Viva Cat Among The Classic Hopefuls

Viva Cat Impressive at Seoul / Eiki Bows Out with a Winner / Murphy Scores

We’re less than two months away from the KRA Cup Classic, the first leg of the Korean Triple Crown, and while the weather remains cold, things are starting to heat up in the three-year old ranks.

Viva Cat saunters to victory at Seoul this afternoon

While Busan’s Gyeongbudaero (Menifee) remains most people’s early pick for Classic glory, each week others are staking their claim. At Busan on Friday, Good Time (Yehudi) won by a visually impressive nine lengths over a mile but today at Seoul, it was the turn of Viva Cat (Creek Cat) to show why he should be taking the trip down south in early April.

Sent off as favourite against a field containing only older horses, Viva Cat was a comfortable length-and-a-half winner in a fast time over 1700 metres. The colt has now won five of his six starts while Gyeongbudaero has been beaten on both of his attempts at further than seven furlongs, albeit in slightly better company.

With the likes of Jigeum I Sungan (Ingrandire) and Cheoneun (Forest Camp) recording important wins last week, the signs so far are good for this year’s three-year old crop being more competitive than the disappointng one last year.

Down at Busan, hot favourite Tamna Ace (Thunder Gulch) scored a routine victory in the feature handicap to take his record to en wins from fourteen starts. Joe Murphy’s top rated horse Deep Desire (Jump Start) was a disappointing last in that race but there was success earlier for the American trainer as his filly De Bora (Dehere) broke her maiden in race 1.

It was Murphy’s second win of what, given that he only had seven successes in the prvious eighteen months, is looking an ever more promising 2012. Murphy himself ascribes the new positive feeling in his barn to having had an Australian trackwork rider join him in January which has made communication in training much easier. Whatever the reason, his runners are ones to follow over the next few months.

Finally at Busan it was a day of farewells for Japanese rider Eiki Nishimura. The 36-year-old completed his second stint at the track today and bowed out with a winner, partnering 3/1 shot Camilla (Menifee) to victory in race 2. Popular with just about everybody, Eiki scored a total of 13 winners from 109 rides in his four months here.

He previously rode 38 winners during 2009, including winning that year’s KRA Cup Classic on Sangseung Ilro. He will be missed.

* Next weekend, we have Stakes action at Seoul in the shape of the Segye Ilbo Cup for foreign bred fillies and mares. As ever, we’ll have all the build up here on Thursday.

Filly Is Seoul’s New Year Darling

Favourite Darling Vision swooped to win the New Year Stakes on opening day at Seoul Race Park.

Darling Vision and Cho Kyoung Ho in the New Year's Stakes winner's circle

Coming into the race on the back of a strong end to her three-year old season, the four-year-old filly was always travelling well under jockey Cho Kyoung Ho and the pair came wide to win by a length from rank outsider Bon Rising, who led the rest of the field home by a nose.

It was Darling Vision’s fifth win in four starts and marked a very quick return to the Stakes winner’s circle for jockey Cho Kyoung Ho who ended last season in the best possible way with victory on Tough Win in the Grand Prix Stakes. Darling Vision is no Tough Win, but she won handily enough to suggest that she cause problems in tougher races than this later in the year.

Also winning handily was three-year-old colt Viva Cat (Creek Cat), who got the race to the Triple Crown underway with a smart victory in race 7. Racing around two turns for the first time, Viva Cat posted his fourth win from five career starts to date. There’s a long way to go until the first of the Triple Crown races, the KRA Cup Mile on the first Sunday of April, but things are off to a good start.

The afternoon’s feature handicap was a very open betting race and it was US five-year-old Jumong (Johar-Foreign Aid) who got the better of top filly Kkakjaengi (Put It Back) to take the spoils over nine and a half furlongs.

Herald Business New Year Stakes – Seoul Race Park – 1800M – Jan 7, 2011

1. Darling Vision (KOR) [Perfect Champion-Groom’s Darling (Runaway Groom)] – Cho Kyoung Ho – 3.2, 1.5
2. Bon Rising (KOR) [Volponi-Shadaroba (El Prado)] – Lee Gang Seo – 18.1
3. Summit Runner (KOR) [Capital Spending-Zeppelin Zu (Night Zeppelin)] – Jang Chu Yeol – 7.6

Distances: 1 length/Nose
Also Ran: 4. Kakamega 5. King Fighting 6. Prime Galloper 7. Fly Energy 8. Seoul Jeongsang 9. Forest Wind 10. Palgigun 11. Storm Troop 12. Manjeomhwanhui 13. Beongaegangho 14. Seungniuihamseong

Racing returns to Seoul on Sunday with 12 races from 11:10 to 17:30. There is no racing at Busan.