Ohi contenders in Korea for Asia Challenge Cup
This year marks the second year of the Asia Challenge Cup, a collaboration that had put down roots in 2013 when Japan’s municipal racing authority, the National Association of Racing (NAR), teamed up with the Korean Racing Authority. The Cup was begun the following year and expanded to include Singapore.
The Cup is a two-part event, staged first in Korea at Seoul Racecourse in late summer, then at Ohi Racecourse with the Interaction Cup in November. This weekend marks the first stage, the 1,200-meter Challenge Cup over dirt on the left-handed track at Seoul on Sunday, Aug. 30. A field of 11, including two runners from Ohi Racecourse and three from Singapore, are set to vie for the first-place prize of 220 million won (approx. 22 million yen).
Japan is fielding Kogyo Douglas, an 8-year-old by Sterling Rose out of the Mejiro Ryan mare Amore Pegasus. Kogyo Douglas has run in both Interaction Cups in Japan. He finished third of 14 in the 2013 version at Ohi and 10th of 13 in the Interaction Cup last November. He has two wins from five starts this year, the first in February in the Kobai Sho over 1,400 meters and the second in April in the 1,200-meter Metropolitan April Cup. Kogyo Douglas last ran on May 19 in the Yurikamome Open for 3-year-olds and up. He finished fifth in a field of 10. This will be his first trip to Korea. The Ohi-based Takehiro Kashiwagi, with 47 wins this year, is pegged for the ride. Kashiwagi has ridden Kogyo Douglas in his last six races.
Japan’s other hopeful is the 8-year-old Taisei Legend, by King Kamehameha out of the Mejiro McQueen mare Sharp Kick. Taisei Legend, who has nine wins from 40 career starts, was initially trained by JRA’s Yoshito Yahagi and is not new to overseas excursions. He traveled to Dubai in 2013 for a bid in the Golden Shaheen. This will be his first race since moving to the Ohi stable of Terunobu Fujita. Taisei Legend captured the Tokyo Hai in October of 2013 over 1,200 meters of dirt at Ohi. In the same race last year, however, Taisei Legend ran eighth of 11 runners and followed that up with a third in the JBC Sprint at Morioka the following month. The Morioka result has proven his best result in the eight races that have followed his 2013 win. Veteran rider Fumio Matoba, who has 104 wins thus far this year, is expected to have the ride.
Last year’s Challenge Cup winner El Padrinofrom Singapore is back and hoping for a replay, but his recent form indicates he may not be up for the challenge. The 7-year-old gelding has had six starts since last year’s Cup, all over 1,200 meters. But, from them he has notched only one win, in March this year, in a G3 in Singapore. The other starts saw him finish out of the money and last out, in a G3 on July 12, he finished in last place.
Happy Money and Valevole are the other two runners from Singapore. Happy Money, a 5-year-old gelding by Econsul, has had eight wins from a total 21 starts. Raced exclusively in the 1,000-1,400 meter range, Happy Money last made the winner’s circle four races ago, in May. He ran second next out that same month, then finished out of the top spots in his next two starts. He was fifth of 10 in his last outing, a G3 over 1,200 meters on Aug. 9.
The Our Emblem-sired Valevole is a 7-year-old gelding with 10 wins in 44 starts. He has had a hard schedule of 10 outings this year alone, but has performed well. Last out, he was seventh in a G3 over the distance in early August, but before that, aced two consecutive lower-class starts, at 1,100 and 1,200 meters. In addition to those firsts, he started the year off with a win, followed by two seconds and a third.
The home team of six is a young crowd between the ages of 3 and 5. Betting will likely be strong on Cheon Gu, a 3-year-old American-bred colt by Old Fashioned with four wins, one second and a third from six outings. The 4-year-old gelding Choegang Schiller is another outstanding American-bred. By Artie Schiller, he is six for 12, with two seconds and a third. All of his wins have come in the 1,000-1,400-meter range. He ran second to the 2013 Interaction Cup winner Watts Village last out on July 12. The gelding Wonder Bolt, the oldest at 5, is last year’s runnerup in the Challenge Cup. Raced exclusively at Seoul, Wonder Bolt is coming off a fourth-place finish in a 1,400-meter race on June 28.
The Asia Challenge Cup will be the No. 5 race on the Sunday card at Seoul. Post time is 4:55 p.m. local time (the same as Japan). Taisei Legend has drawn the No. 1 gate, next to El Padrino. Kyogo Douglas will break from the No. 7 gate, with Happy Money from No. 6 and Valevole on the far outside. Cheon Gu and Choegang Schiller drew the No. 4 and No. 5 gates, respectively.
Action at Seoul Racecourse this weekend also includes the Asian Young Guns Jockey Challenge on Saturday, Aug. 29. Carrying the flag for Japan will be JRA’s Fuma Matsuwaka and the NAR’s Tsubasa Sasagawa.
Seoul Racecourse is located next to Seoul Grand Park in the suburb of Gwacheon.
Please visit the following websites for more information.
Korea Racing Authority