Esmeraldina tunes up for Korea's Ttukseom Cup
Esmeraldina (morning trackwork)
Among the international action this weekend, racing in Korea comes into the spotlight with the 27th running of the Ttukseom Cup, in which Japan’s representative will be the 4-year-old filly Esmeraldina. The race for fillies and mares under five years of age has been staged since 1989, and is held at the Seoul Racecourse over 1400 meters on dirt. The race is named after the former track at Ttukseom on the north bank of the Han river, where racing was held for over thirty years until the opening of the Gwacheon course, which became the capital’s home of horseracing after the 1988 Seoul Olympic Games. The Gwacheon track is a left-handed oval with a two furlong home straight.
The domestic Grade 3 Ttukseom Cup is the first leg of a series of three races known as the Queens Tour. The other two legs are the listed KNN Cup at Busan in September, and the domestic Grade 3 Gyeongnam Governor’s Cup, also held at Busan in November. This year’s Ttukseom Cup sees the first ever runner from the JRA. There are four Korean Stakes races open to overseas trained horses this year, as racing in Korea moves to a higher profile. There were twenty two early entries for this year’s Ttukseom Cup, including another JRA horse in Robe de Soie, but she was unable to make the journey due to bleeding.
This leaves the American bred Esmeraldina to represent Japan, and the filly by Harlan’s Holiday out of Tasha’s Star, goes into the race with some good credentials. She won on her only start as a 2-year-old, and as a 3-year-old she won the Kanto Oaks at Kawasaki over a sloppy 2100 meters when ridden by Australian jockey, Craig Williams. Also in 2014, she finished third in the Grade 2 Hochi Hai Fillies’ Revue over 1400 meters on turf at Hanshin, the only time she’s run over the Ttukseom Cup distance. In her two runs in 2015, she’s finished sixth and tenth, the latter over 1200 meters in the Keiyo Stakes at Nakayama in April. Esmeraldina is trained by Makoto Saito, and runs in the familiar colours of owner Kazumi Yoshida.
The bay filly, who is three wins from eight starts, arrived at Busan port on May 27, and was then transferred to Gwacheon. All has gone well with her preparation so far, and her big race jockey will be Korea based Japanese rider Kanichiro Fujii. The jockey has won three big Stakes races in Seoul, including the Korean Derby, and is really looking forward to the ride on Esmeraldina. Earlier in the week, he commented on his mount in the Ttukseom Cup: “I rode her for the first time this morning (June 2) and she’s settled in pretty well and is eating well. I’ve watched her race replays, have done plenty of homework, as well as keeping up with the Korean competitors. She walked around the race day paddock to look around and get used to things. The plan is to gallop her on Thursday morning. I’ve ridden in Korea for the last three years and have had some big wins, but riding a Japanese horse, and getting the opportunity from Mrs. Yoshida, makes me proud, and I really appreciate the chance I have been given here. I’m really looking forward to the big race on Sunday.”
There are currently twelve runners declared for the Ttukseom Cup, which carries a purse of ¥44 million. Esmeraldina has drawn gate two in the race, which has a post time of 4.55pm and is race 9 on the eleven race card at Seoul on Sunday.
Official Card (please select 9th race on June 7, 2015)
Please visit the following websites for more information.
Korea Racing Authority