Japanese Runners Sweep Korean Features

By Alan Carasso

Be it the relatively short ride over or their experience racing at home over a similarly deep and sandy surface, Japanese-based gallopers have succeeded in the past in Korea and did so again Sunday, running the quinella for the second straight year in the 1-billion Keeneland Korea Cup on top of a victory in the 700-million Keeneland Korea Sprint.

Before a sizeable crowd at Let’s Run Park in Seoul, Graceful Leap (Jpn) (Gold Allure {Jpn}) got the afternoon off on a positive note for Japan with a facile success from close range. A three-time listed winner while racing exclusively over dirt, the 7-year-old was racing over the metric six furlongs for the first time since November 2013, but jumped straight into the race beneath the legendary Yutaka Take. He pressed the early pace established by 2016 champion sprinter Perdido Pomeroy (Pomeroy), who burned plenty of gas to get across from gate 15, but was always traveling on the bridle and took his cue to wrest command three-sixteenths of a mile from the wire. Graceful Leap opened an unassailable advantage and was comfortably in front in near track-record time. Last year’s Triple Crown winner Power Blade (Kor) (Menifee) raced in the clear and wide on the turn and stayed on well for second ahead of Doraonpogyeongseon (Kantharos). American raider The Truth Or Else (Yes It’s True) raced well back in the early stages and closed well for fourth, while Hong Kong’s well-regarded Lucky Year (Aus) (Holy Roman Emperor {Ire}) was never comfortable and beat just one in.

Chrysolite (Jpn), like the Sprint winner a 7-year-old entire by Gold Allure, was the hot favourite to take out the Cup for the second year in a row, but compatriot London Town (Jpn) (Kane Hekili {Jpn}) had other ideas and never looked in any danger under a front-running ride from Yasunari Iwata. Quickly away from the widest gate in 11, London Town was hustled along and was the clear leader at the first corner as Chrysolite did the chasing from second. Hong Kong’s well-backed Circuit Land (Mizzen Mast) settled in the first half of the field just to the inside of U.S. representative Papa Shot (Distorted Humor), and both those rivals were bothered by a wayward Dynamic Jilju (Forestry) with about a half-mile to race. But on the business end, the Japanese team were in a race of their own, and London Town kicked on strongly through the final eighth of a mile to score decisively. The final time shaved better than a full second off the previous track record. Papa Shot held gamely for third, though a country mile away, while Triple Nine (Kor) (Ecton Park), last year’s third, plugged away late into fourth. Circuit Land, the 21-5 second wagering choice, faded into ninth.

Though it carried the richer purse, the Korea Cup is not a black-type event according to international cataloging standards. The Korea Sprint does carry full black-type.

Sunday’s Results:
KEENELAND KOREA CUP (NB), W1,000,000,000 (£678,070/€738,987/A$1,103,801/US$886,579), 3yo/up, 1800m, 1:50.7 (NTR), gd.
1–LONDON TOWN (JPN), 126, c, 4, Kane Hekili (Jpn)–Fairy Banyan (Jpn), by Honour and Glory. (¥9,504,000 Ylg ’14 HOKSUM). O-Toru Makiura; B-Yasushi Tsumura; T-Kazuya Makita; J-Yasunari Iwata; W570,000,000. Lifetime Record: GSW-Jpn, 20-7-3-0.
2–Chrysolite (Jpn), 126, h, 7, Gold Allure (Jpn)–Chrysoprase (Jpn), by El Condor Pasa. O-Carrot Farm. W210,000,000.
3–Papa Shot, 126, g, 5, Distorted Humor–Mindy Gold, by A.P. Indy. O-Barry K Schwartz. W130,000,000.
Margins: 4, 17, 3/4. Odds: 4.80, 0.70, 23.60.
Also Ran: Triple Nine (Kor), Champ Line (Kor), Nimr (GB), Bold Kings, Shamrocker, Circuit Land, Skiperia (Fr), Dynamic Jilju. VIDEO

KEENELAND KOREA SPRINT, W700,000,000 (£474,355/€517,027/A$772,513/US$620,413), 3yo/up, 1200m, 1:10.7, gd.
1–GRACEFUL LEAP (JPN), 123, h, 7, Gold Allure (Jpn)–Rabbit Foot, by Seeking the Gold. O-Shinji Maeda; B-North Hills Co Ltd; T-Shinsuke Hashiguchi; J-Yutaka Take; W399,000,000. Lifetime Record: MSW-Jpn, 37-9-8-2.
2–Power Blade (Kor), 123, c, 4, Menifee–Cheonmachong (Kor), by Lost Mountain. O-Kim Hyeong Ran. W147,000,000.
3–Doraonpogyeongseon, 123, c, 4, Kantharos–Smartybegone, by Smarty Jones. ($14,000 Ylg ’14 OBSAUG; $50,000 2yo ’15 OBSAPR). O-Kim Jin Young A. W91,000,000.
Margins: 1 3/4, 2, HF. Odds: 13.20, 5.40, 19.80.
Also Ran: The Truth Or Else, Silver Wolf (Aus), Perdido Pomeroy, Open the Sky (Kor), Beolmaui Kkum, Zentenary, Drop the Beat, Haeya, Wimbledon (Aus), Tohamsan (Kor), Lucky Year (Aus), Gasokbulpae (Kor). VIDEO

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