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Korea Derby 2024: Full preview and form comments

3 minute read

A full field of sixteen will go to post for the Korean Derby (1800M KOR-G1), the second leg of the 2024 Triple Crown, at Seoul Racecourse on Sunday afternoon.

The field is headed by Success Baekpa , who claimed the first jewel, the KRA Cup Mile, at Busan on April 7th for trainer Min Jang-gi and jockey You Hyun-myung. They will be favourites to score again but it is a wide-open renewal.

SUCCESS BAEKPA winning the Class Open Special Weight A
SUCCESS BAEKPA winning the Class Open Special Weight A Picture: Korea Racing Authority

Jockey Moon Se-young was the most relieved man on the peninsula last Sunday after he dropped his crop when clear in the Korean Oaks on Eclipse Berry. The filly just about managed to get him home in a photo-finish. He partners Sports Seoul Trophy (Seoul's Classic Trial) winner Nice Time , who ran 2nd in the Cup Mile. The only concern is the wide draw but they shape as big dangers.

Another threat is Hangang Class . He was sent off as the favourite for the Cup Mile but missed the start for the second consecutive race and was then always on the back foot. He did rally for a strong 3rd though and Franco Da Silva, who rode the winner of this race in 2018, is engaged. The widest gate will probably make the start moot in any case as different tactics may be required.

NICE TIME winning the Class Open Special Weight A
NICE TIME winning the Class Open Special Weight A Picture: Korea Racing Authority

Trainer Kim Young-kwan has won the Korean Derby five times but it is one big race that still eludes top jockey Seo Seung-un. Seo partners WORLD DRAGON for trainer Kim and having won at this distance at class 4 level in April, they are not without a chance.

Last Year, Kim Hye-sun became the first female jockey to win a Korean Derby, adding to her Oaks score in 2017. Almost a year on and Global Hit has firmly established himself at the top of the Korean racing pyramid. This time around, Kim partners WONDERFUL LEAR for trainer Tom Gillespie. They combined to win Busan's Classic Trial, the Gyeongnam Shinmun Trophy, over 1400M in February, but weakened having shown on pace in the Cup Mile. Don't rule out a return to form.

UMAPOY would be a popular winner. Running in the colours of Japanese owner Yoshiaki Kimura, and named with a certain racing based video game in mind, he has become the mascot horse of a sizeable portion of the young "MZ Generation" fan group. He has won twice at 1800M and is not without a chance although he is racing for the first time since early March and, like Nice Time and Hangang Class, has the challenge of a wide gate.

Here is a full run down of the field:

1. GEOLJAK ONE – The only filly in the race, she skipped the Oaks last week to come here. Won a Listed race for juvenile fillies last December and was 3rd in the Sports Seoul but well back in the Cup Mile when drawn gate 14. Much better draw today and CC Wong up.

2. MEGA DRAGON – Well back in the Sports Seoul but a smart winner at class 4 over a mile on March 24th. Ran 2nd at class 3 level on first try at this distance in a good time on April 20th. Likes to be on pace, gets a great draw and can make excellent each-way appeal.

3. MY CENTER – The highest rated in the race and the most experienced with twelve starts and five wins, his latest a valuable Trophy race at a mile. First time at 1800M but is by a Korea Cup winner over the distance and not impossible he can run a big race.

4. LAST DRAGON – Gets his chance after winning his last three, most recently over this distance on April 21st in a good time. Likes to settle midfield and run on and from a good gate, Choi Si-dae, who has won the Derby, can pick his spot. Will have support.

5. EUNPA SARANG – Ran a strong 2nd to Nice Time in the Sports Seoul and then 5th in the Cup Mile, making up excellent ground both times. The step up to 1800M should suit and while others are favoured, don't rule out him running late into some money again.

6. FLYING KHAN – 4th in both the Gyeongnam Shinmun and then in the Cup Mile, both times settling midfield and running on. Has also led his races and from a good draw may figure on pace. Doesn't shape as a winning chance but may have a say in the outcome.

7. SUCCESS BAEKPA – Won the Cup Mile from off the pace to make it four wins in a row and his second at a mile. His dam won the Korean Oaks and that, along with his racing style, suggests the additional furlong can suit and he is the favourite here.

8. WONDERFUL LEAR – Won the Gyeongnam Shinmun in a stretch duel with Hangang Class but having shown on pace in the Cup Mile, he weakened to finish last. Worth another chance today, but others favoured.

9. WORLD DRAGON – A winner of three from six, he ran 2nd to Success Baekpa over a mile in February before stepping up to this distance and winning on April 5th, racing on pace. Should be close to the speed and with a top trainer/jockey combination, will be backed.

10. LALA K – Hasn't quite lived up to his from the clouds viral exploits in last August's Seoul rookie Stakes although he did add a Listed win in November. 5th in the Sports Seoul and 7th in the Cup Mile. Not the worst but those would be par finishes again. Two turns may suit.

11. ZIGGURAT – Building a solid record but so far just come up short against the elite. 4th in the Sports Seoul and then the same finish in a Trophy race over 1200M in April. Untried at further than 1400M and one of the outsiders.

12. SEOGWI PERFECT – Two-time winner at this distance up to class 4 level although the times weren't the quickest. Likes to be on or close to the pace so has the challenge of a wide draw. Not to be completely dismissed but this is harder.

13. UMAPOY – Two-time winner over 1800M up to class 4 level when making all in slowly run races. That makes the wide draw a concern, as well as the fact that this is his first start for ten weeks. Looked well in an April trial though so don't rule out a big run.

14. NICE TIME – Seoul's top juvenile last year, his only defeats have been in the Breeders' Cup last December and then when 2nd to Success Baekpa in the Cup Mile. Won the Sports Seoul and 1800M can suit. Top jockey on and the only concern is the draw. Big chance.

15. SPEED ONE – Has won three in a row to take his chance here, all in quick times, albeit at sprint distances. Big step up in trip here and Moon Se-young, who rode him to those three wins, picks Nice Time. Bit of a wildcard.

16. HANGANG CLASS – Favourite for both the Gyeongnam Shinmun and the Cup Mile but started badly in both before rallying for 2nd and 3rd. Da Silva climbs on and a change of tactics is probably necessitated by the wide draw. If he can find a position, don't rule out.

Korean Racing Authority

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