It promised to be a great occasion and so it proved as in the sunshine of a glorious autumn afternoon at a packed Seoul Racecourse, Triple Nine avenged two big race defeats to stablemate Rock Band to romp away with the President’s Cup.
Triple Nine after winning the President’s Cup
Triple Nine was 2nd in the Korean Derby to Yeongcheon Ace, 2nd in the Minister’s Cup to Rock Band and 2nd in the Owner’s Cup once more to Rock Band. He had picked up a minor Stakes of his own in between and today punters were split between the two three-year-olds. In the end Triple Nine started as favourite by the tiniest possible margin.
That faith by punters was to prove well-founded. Rock Band, ridden by Kim Yong Geun, would lead early with Gumpo Sky and High Five for company. Lim Sung Sil meanwhile kept Triple Nine just behind, stalking the leading three.
The question as they turned into the home straight was would Rock Band find another gear and go away? He wouldn’t. But he did stay on well. Sotong Sidae briefly got his nose in front at the furlong pole but travelling down the outside by far the best of them was the winner. Triple Nine collared them all and then lengthened away, already in front by three lengths on the line.
Rock Band rallied himself for 2nd while Masa Tanaka brought home the fast-finishing Ildeung Hanghaesa to edge Sotong Sidae out of 3rd. Gumpo Sky was 5th with Derby winner Yeongcheon Ace in 6th.
Triple Nine and Rock Band meant yet another big race 1-2 for the Kim Young Kwan trainng juggernaut. It was a clean sweep too for Ecton Park and for the Isidore Farm on Jeju Island where he stands. Triple Nine is the third product of a mating between his sire Ecton Park and his dam, the wonderfully named A Little Poke (Pleasant Tap). She already has three more full siblings to today’s champion; a filly and two colts, on the ground. Rock Band and Ildeung Hanghaesa are also both Isidore products.
For jockey Lim Sung Sil it was a second President’s Cup win. He rode Indie Band, Rock Band’s elder brother, to victory in 2013. He would go on to win the Grand Prix Stakes on the same horse.
Indeed, for the past two years, the winner of the President’s Cup has gone on to win the season-ending Grand Prix Stakes back at Seoul over 2300M in December. Triple Nine, who has now won seven of his eleven starts and has finished 3rd in the other four could well be there and could well make it three in a row. In a sign that he may not be coming to the Grand Prix, Rock Band was this week nominated for the Tokyo Daishoten at Ohi, also in December.
As expected, the race was once again dominated but Busan horses with them occupying five of the top six spots. The exception was the ever-improving Sotong Sidae who stepped up again to finish a very gallant 4th. Busan has been entering horses in this race for six years now and has won on all six occasions. The two tracks face each other again on the south coast next Sunday in the final leg of the Queens’ Tour. It’s hard to see the capital’s trainers starting to make amends there.
President’s Cup (KOR G1) – Seoul Racecourse – 2000M – Oct 18, 2015
1. Triple Nine (KOR) [Ecton Park – A Little Poke (Pleasant Tap)] – Lim Sung Sil – 2.4, 1.1 2. Rock Band (KOR) [Ecton Park – Plie (Dixieland Band)] – Kim Yong Geun – 1.2 3. Ildeung Hanghaesa (KOR) [Ecton Park – Saeroun Bulpae (Northern Afleet)] – Masakazu Tanaka – 3.5 Distances: 3 lengths / 0.5 lengths Also Ran: 4. Sotong Sidae 5. Gumpo Sky 6. Yeongcheon Ace 7. Heukgisa 8. Pinot Noir 9. Impetus 10. Mupae Daewang 11. Singgeureounachim 12. Haemaru 13. High Five 14. Goliath Marine 15. Yaho Sunshine 16. Jeongsang Bima
In what turned out to be a repeat of the Minister’s Cup, Rock Band led home stablemate Triple Nine and Korean Derby winner Yeongcheon Ace to score a commanding victory in the Owners’ Cup at Busan on Sunday afternoon.
Rock Band wins the Minister’s Cup (Pic: Hiromi Kobayashi)
In the final leg of the Triple Crown at Seoul in July, Triple Nine had been sent off as the odds-on favourite with Rock Band fourth in the market. With Triple Nine, 2nd in the Derby and the Minister’s Cup, having finally got a Stakes race win in the Gyeongnam Do-Min Ilbo Cup in August, he was favourite again ahead of Success Story and with Rock Band third choice.
Rock Band in the Owners’ Cup winner’s circle (Pic: Hiromi Kobayashi)
Once more, Rock Band made a mockery of that. Success Story, showed the way early on but Rock Band was always very handy and took things up entering the home straight. From then on the result was never in doubt.
Under jockey Kim Yong Geun, Rock Band ran on to win by just under two lengths with Triple Nine and Yeongcheon Ace chasing him home to complete an identical 1-2-3 to that in Seoul in July.
Jockey, Trainer and Breeder (Pic: Hiromi Kobayashi)
It was Rock Band’s 6th win from 7 career starts, his only defeat coming when he got a dreadful trip in his first try around two-turns in June.
A full-brother of Indie Band, the 2013 President’s Cup and Grand Prix Stakes winner, Rock Band didn’t race as a 2-year-old but now looks the pick of his crop. Hopefully, he will return to Seoul to attempt to emulate big brother in the President’s Cup later this autumn.
It was another solid performance by Triple Nine in 2nd. He has now raced 10 times with 6 wins and 4 second places. He too is trained by Kim Young Kwan, Busan’s top trainer and just like the winner, is by Ecton Park. The 1-2 was another triumph for Isidore Farm, where Ecton Park stands
Owners’ Cup – Busan Racecourse – 1600M – September 6, 2015
1. Rock Band (KOR) [Ecton Park – Plie (Dixieland Band)] – Kim Yong Geun – 6.4, 3.1 2. Triple Nine (KOR) [Ecton Park – A Little Poke (Pleasant Tap)] – Lim Sung Sil – 1.5 3. Yeongcheon Ace (KOR) [Menifee – Dixie Avenger (Dixie Union)] – Choi Si Dae Distances: 1.75 lengths/3 lengths Also Ran: 4. Ildeung Hanghaesa 5. Doraon Hyeonpyo 6. Success Story 7. Gumpo Sky
* Elsewhere over the weekend, the Seoul Racecourse track-record for 1700M fell for the third time this year. The capital’s track – quicker than ever in recent months – was racing extremely fast following a storm on Saturday morning. Perfect Clone (Exploit), having broker the Korean-bred record for five furlongs earlier in the day before Special Joy (Kitten’s Joy), under Djordje Perovic, took a second off the previous best set by New White Socks in July, in winning the 1700M race 9
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.
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.
Yeongcheon Ace was the winner of the 2015 Korean Derby at Seoul Racecourse on Sunday. The second-favourite secured victory by two lengths to ensure that no horse will sweep the Triple Crown this year with KRA Cup Mile victor Rafale ending in 3rd.
Choi Si Dae and Yeongcheon Ace return to the unsaddling area after winning the Derby (Pic: Slickpix)
Yeongcheon Ace is the third consecutive Korean Derby winner to have been sired by Menifee following the fillies Speedy First in 2013 and Queen’s Blade in 2014. He is also the 6th horse from Busan to win the Derby from the 8 editions that have taken place since horses from that track became eligible.
Here’s how they went:
1. Yeongcheon Ace (Choi Si Dae) – Away steadily and sat towards the back until they entered the home straight. He closed strongly and took the lead inside the final furlong to win by two lengths, going away. 4.8 to win, 1,7 to show.
2. Triple Nine (Oh Kyoung Hoan) – Ostensibly Kim Young Kwan’s second string, after receiving a lot of backing in the morning’s racing media, he was quite heavily backed. He sat in midfield but improved around the home-turn to second. He was passed by the winner and was labouring a little towards the line. 6.6, 2.5 (2 lengths behind the horse in front)
3. Rafale (You Hyun Myung) – The KRA Cup Mile winner, who’s lost 13kg since that race, sat comfortably in the middle of the pack and closed down the outside in the home straight. Finished strongly but was three-quarters of a length behind Triple Nine. 5.0, 1.7 (0.75 lengths)
4. Daegunhwang (Seo Seung Un) – When he opened up a lead of two lengths at the top of the stretch, the race was his to lose. Lose it he did but it was still a solid run from Seoul’s best finisher who was close to the front throughout and took things up as they began to turn for home. Weakened in the last half furlong. 9.1, 2.1 (0.75 lengths)
5. Doraon Hyeonpyo (Kim Dong Young) – The pre-race favourite raced in 4th or 5th the whole way around. Although he he quickened sufficiently to pass the early leaders as they tired, he too was passed in the home straight. 2.4, 1.2 (0.5 lengths)
6. Seonbong (Lee Joon Chel) – A good run although he just missed out on the prize money. He went towards the back early and closed well although couldn’t make inroads into the big guns in the final furlong. 113.9, 9.9 (1.5 lengths)
7. Smart Time (Ham Wan Sik) – The lowest rated pre-race was the first of the two fillies to finish and it was creditable enough. Went back early but passed four in the home straight. Was finishing the 3rd quickest in the race, she may be Oaks bound. 148.8, 28.5 (1 length)
8. Yuseong Fighting (Lee Hee Cheon) – We said in the preview that this one would go forward as there was no way he would be able to win from the back. Well they did totally the opposite, going right to the back and then closing impressively. Of course, there was far too much to do but only the winner finished quicker. The last of those who were in touch with the winner and can be said to have had a good race. 161.2, 15.6 (1.5 lengths)
9. Mac And Cheese (Joe Fujii) – After his performance in the KRA Cup Mile, expectations were low and he duly lived down to them. He went towards the back early and didn’t quicken when asked. 58.0, 13.7 (5 lengths)
10. Yeongung Bolt (Song Keong Yun) – The other filly, she went towards the back of midfield early and didn’t find anything in the home straight, finishing slowly. After the race she was found to have bled and will be suspended for one month. 165.4, 25.0 (5 lengths)
11. Yeonggwanguitaepung (Masa Tanaka) – He’d lost 14kg since his KRA CUp Mile 4th and the race went exactly the opposite to how it was expected. Instead of starting slowly and finishing strongly, he went towards the front early and finished weakly. Didn’t look 100% right. 19.7, 4.2 (Nose)
12. New White Socks (Moon Se Young) – A big disappointment, this one showed close to the front much of the way around but was passed on the home turn and was slow in the straight. 16.3, 3.9 (0.5 lengths)
13. Sanggam Mama (Park Eul Woon) – As expected, he went out quickly and took the early lead. As expected, he couldn’t keep it up and was done by the time they got to the home straight. 75.7, 15.8 (2.5 lengths)
The Korean Oaks will be run at Busan on June 21 while the final leg of the Triple Crown is the Minister’s Cup, back at Seoul on July 19.
Yeongcheon Ace came through with a powerful finish to win the 2015 Korean Derby at Seoul Racecourse this afternoon.
Yeongcheon Ace beats Triple Nine (Pic: Ross Holburt)
Third in the KRA Cup Mile, the extra furlong proved all the difference as Yeongcheon Ace swept past the front running Daegunhwang in the final furlong and went on for a 2-length victory from Triple Nine and Cup Mile winner Rafale.
Yeongcheon Ace and Choi Si Dae in the Derby winner’s circle (Pic: Ross Holburt)
It was another big race win for jockey Choi Si Dae and yet another Classic winner from Busan. Daegunhwang was Seoul’s best finisher, battling on for 4th ahead of pre-race favourite, Doraon Hyeonpyo.
The Korea Derby (KOR G1) – Seoul Racecourse – 1800M – May 17, 2015
1. Yeongcheon Ace (KOR) [Menifee – Dixie Avenger (Dixie Union)] – Choi Si Dae – 4.8, 1.7 2. Triple Nine (KOR) [Ecton Park – A Little Poke (Pleasant tap)] – Oh Kyoung Hoan – 2.5 3. Rafale (KOR) [Colors Flying – Dongbang Choego (Al Naba)] – You Hyun Myung – 1.7 Distances: 2 lengths / 0.75 lengths Also Ran: 4. Daegunhwang 5. Doraon Hyeonpyo 6. Seonbong 7. Smart Time 8. Yuseong Fighting 9. Mac And Cheese 10. Yeongung Bolt 11. Yeonggwanguitaepung 12. New White Socks 13. Sangam Mama
If we are to have a Triple Crown winner this year, it will be a colt by the name of Rafale. The co-favourite took out the first jewel, the KRA Cup Mile at Busan Racecourse this afternoon, getting the best of a keenly fought stretch duel with Doraon Hyeonpyo.
If ever there was going to be a race in which it was hard to look past the favourites, this was it with several of the field, including the two visitors from Seoul, never looking likely to be able to handle what was sure to be a quick pace. So it proved.
Yuseong Fighting and the other co-favourite, Doraon Hyeonpyo would set the early pace and were joined briefly at the front by Summit Myeongun. Rafale, however, was in close attendance and while others would challenge, by the furlong pole it was clear that it would be the two market leaders who would battle it out.
With Rafale on the rail and Doraon Hyeonpyo in the center of the track, it was Rafale, urged on by jockey You Hyun Myung, who took the spoils by half a length. Behind them Yeongcheon Ace just edged out the fast finishing Yeonggwanguitaepung for 3rd. Both must be under consideration for the Derby.
Behind them, it was carnage, with gaps of 4, 5, 7 and 10 lengths among the distances separating the rest of the field. The leaders truly outclassed the rest.
For trainer Kim Jae Sub, it was his second KRA Cup Mile in three years following Sting Ray’s victory in 2013. Jockey You Hyun Myung was riding his first Classic winner and the second biggest win of his career following Mister Park in the 2010 Grand Prix Stakes.
As for Doraon Hyeonpyo, Rafale remains the only horse to have beaten him. Indeed, Rafale now leads 2-1 in their head to heads having previously triumphed in the Gyeongnam Sinmun Cup last October. However, it was Doraon Hyeonpyo who came out on top when they met in the Breeders’ Cup in Seoul. When they reconvene in the capital for the Korean Derby six weeks today, will it become 2-2?
KRA Cup Mile (KOR G2) – Busan Racecourse – 1600M – April 5, 2015
1. Rafale (KOR) [Colors Flying – Dongbang Choego (Al Naba)] – You Hyun Myung 2. Doraon Hyeonpyo (KOR) [Colors Flying – Kilcoe Castle (Gone West)] – Kim Dong Young 3. Yeongcheon Ace (KOR) [Menifee – Dixie Avenger (Dixie Union)] – Choi Si Dae Distances: 0.5 lengths / 2 lengths Also Ran: 4. Yeonggwanguitaepung (KOR) 5. Summit Myeongun (KOR) 6. Yuseong Fighting (KOR) 7. Special Line (KOR) 8. Mac And Cheese (KOR) 9. Haetbinna (KOR) 10. Namhae Sinhwa (KOR) 11. Lion Star (KOR)
Only one horse has gone on to win the Derby after winning the Cup Mile; that was the filly Sangseung Ilro in 2009. We’ll reconvene at Seoul on May 16 to find out if Rafale can join her.