American shippers seek top prizes in Korea

Profile Picture: Kellie Reilly

September 8th, 2017

Last year’s inaugural runnings of the Korea Sprint and Korea Cup were swept by international shippers, and the two lucrative races on Seoul’s sandy dirt track are attracting the nation’s first-ever American-based runners on Sunday (late Saturday night U.S. time).

Ken McPeek sends out The Truth or Else in the Korea Sprint, worth approximately $620,000, while Linda Rice is represented by Papa Shot in the about nine-furlong Korea Cup, boasting a purse around $890,000. Both will be ridden by Dylan Davis.

Sponsored by Keeneland, the Sprint and Cup anchor this weekend’s Korean Autumn Racing Carnival, and serve to raise the international profile of the Korean racing scene.

The Truth or Else, a multiple graded stakes performer, broke through with his first stakes victory in the seven-furlong Sir Shackleton at Gulfstream on April 1. Also placed in the Aristides (G3) and Kelly’s Landing this summer at Churchill Downs, the five-year-old has drawn the rail in the Korea Sprint.

Hong Kong, which furnished the race’s first winner in Super Jockey, aims to go two-for-two with Lucky Year. Last seen shocking the May 28 Sha Tin Vase H. (G3) as one of the lighter weights in the field, the Danny Shum trainee has scored all eight of his career wins at this 1200-meter (about six-furlong) distance. But he’s yet to race on a surface other than turf.

Other Korea Sprint contenders include Singapore’s Wimbledon (owned by emerging global power China Horse Club); Japan’s Graceful Leap; and a home team featuring last year’s Korean Triple Crown hero Power Blade, Doraonpogyeongseon, Silver Wolf, and Perdido Pomeroy, fourth in the 2016 edition.

Japan’s Chrysolite romped in the 2016 Korea Cup, and the defending champion enters in fine form. Since turning a three-peat in the March 15 Diolite Kinen, the seven-year-old veteran has finished second in both the Heian (G3) and the Teio Sho last time on June 28. Chrysolite topped an all-Japanese exacta here last year, a scenario that could well be repeated with compatriot London Town coming off a record-setting score in the Elm (G3).

Hong Kong’s Circuit Land, a stablemate of Sprint hopeful Lucky Year, brings smart turf form and surface versatility. Bred by Juddmonte in Kentucky, the son of Mizzen Mast has also won on Deauville’s all-weather and Sha Tin’s dirt. France dispatches two raiders, with last-out Deauville conditions winner Nimr arguably better qualified than the handicap mare Skiperia.

American contender Papa Shot, who crushed a second-level allowance at Belmont on May 6, has subsequently placed in a trio of New York-bred stakes. The well-bred five-year-old is well drawn in post 4.

Korean Horse of the Year Triple Nine, third to Chrysolite last year, aims to keep the Cup home, as do Champ Line, a Korean-bred son of Curlin, and Shamrocker.

Post time for the Korea Sprint is 2:30 a.m. (EDT) Sunday morning, with the Cup following at 3:35 a.m.

TwinSpires is offering a chance for a free bet on Korean racing this weekend!

(Korean Racing Photo courtesy of Sky Racing)