Japan duo takes home Korea Cup & Sprint titles
Japan-trained London Town and Graceful Leap completed a double of the two Korean Grade 1 races – the Keeneland Korea Cup and Keeneland Korea Sprint – held on Sunday at Seoul Racecourse.
Graceful Leap put Japan on the board first, with Yutaka Take guiding the 7-year-old horse to victory in the 1,200-meter Korea Sprint. Trained by Shinsuke Hashiguchi, Graceful Leap jumped out of the gates well and travelled behind America’s Perdido Pomeroy setting the early pace. Graceful Leap caught Perdido Pomeroy with 300 meters left and never relinquished the lead, winning with a race time of 1:10.7 and finishing 1-3/4 lengths in front of local runner Power Blade. America-trained Doraonpogyeonseon finished another two lengths behind for third.
Graceful Leap, which had finished fifth in his previous race, the Summer Champion, in mid-August, was a 14-1 shot for the race in the Korean market. Take proved his doubters wrong, winning his debut ride Korea.
“The horse was in good condition and getting a great jump was huge – it was an ideal race for him,” Take said. “He hung on well until the end. We had a great crowd and I felt the excitement of the Korea racing fans close by. I’m thrilled to be able to win my first race riding in such atmosphere.”
London Town, the second favorite and ridden by Japan’s Yasunari Iwata, went wire-to-wire to win the Korea Cup, with compatriot and last year’s champion Chrysolite, ridden by Take, finishing four lengths behind in second. The Japanese duo dominated the 11-horse field, with America-trained Papa Shot finishing 17 lengths behind Chrysolite for third.
London Town, a 4-year-old horse by Kane Hekili trained by Kazuya Makita, was fresh off of a record-time win of the Grade 3 Elm Stakes at Sapporo Racecourse in August. He also set the course record in Korea, winning the 1,800-meter Korea Cup in 1:50.7.
Similar to Take, it was also the first ride in Korea for Iwata, who has won major races globally, including Australia, Hong Kong and USA.
"I had the outer barrier draw, so I was thinking of travelling behind Chrysolite. But I got a great jump, so I let him take the lead," Iwata said. "He travelled with a steady pace, so I was able to win rather comfortably. The grandstand and screen at Seoul Racecourse are huge and I enjoyed riding in the enthusiastic atmosphere of the Korea racing fans."
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Korea Racing Authority (racing page)