Korea fields three in third Interaction Cup at Ohi
On the heels of the international field of the Sprinters Stakes at Nakayama comes the Japan-Korea Interaction Cup, a 1,200-meter race over dirt at Ohi Racecourse on Tuesday, Oct. 13. Taking on the challenge from Korea is a competitive and youthful trio of American-bred colts headlined by Cheon Gu. They will vie with 13 local runners.
This year, the race is being held early, a month ahead of last year’s version and nearly two months ahead of its inaugural time slot in 2013. The Interaction Cup is the second half of a bilateral event that sees the first leg run in Korea in the summer and brings together horses and horsemen from the two countries. It is hosted in Japan by the NAR (National Association of Racing; racing by local governments).
This year’s first leg of the international event, the 1,200-meter Asia Challenge Cup, was held in Korea on Aug. 30 at Seoul Racecourse. Japan sent two runners to the Challenge Cup and Kogyo Douglas finished the better of the two in fifth place. Korea’s Choegang Schiller captured the race with last year’s winner El Padrino from Singapore, turning in an impressive second place. Cheon Gu, one of the three runners in Japan for the Interaction Cup, finished third.
The Interaction Cup carries a first-place prize of 10 million yen and this year will see 16 runners to the gate. The Japan team is made up of 13 runners hailing from four NAR tracks in the Kanto region -- Ohi, Funabashi, Kawasaki and Urawa.
Four-year-olds and up will carry 57 kg, 3-year-olds 56 kg. Females will receive a 2-kg allowance and runners bred in the Southern Hemisphere (born in 2012) receive a 1 kg allowance.
From Korea are:
Cheon Gu -- A 3-year-old son of Old Fashioned, Cheon Gu has won four of his 8 starts thus far, three of them this year. Last out and following a trip to Singapore, he ran third of 11 in the Aug. 30 Asia Challenge Cup. Trained by Seo Inseok, Cheon Gu he will be partnered with Yoo Seungwan, who rode the colt in the Asia Challenge Cup. Cheon Gu has drawn the No. 1 gate.
Cowboy Son -- A 4-year-old colt by Cowboy Gal, this American-bred was unstoppable for his first six races and has gone on to win 10 of his 19 career outings. Of five starts this year, he has won two and finished second in another, his last time out, on Aug. 7 over the mile. He has won over distances from 1,000 meters to 1,500 meters and is trained by Lee Sang Young. Since stepped up to the graded level last year, he has had little chance to take on his preferred sprint distances. Back at a better fit should be a plus. He is pegged to be ridden by Oh Kyunghwan.
Dynamic Jilju –Dynamic Jilju is a 4-year-old colt by Forestry. Trained by Kwon Seungju, this solid runner has won six of his 27 starts and notched three seconds and four thirds as well. He has had only one win from seven runs this year. The victory came on his last time out, on Aug. 23 over the mile. He has been raced predominately over mid distances, but has won over 1,200 in 2013 and, more recently, finished third over 1,400 meters at the end of last year. Ikuyasu Kurakane, a jockey from Kochi who rides on a short-term license in Korea, will be up.
Both Cowboy Son and Dynamic Jilju have drawn wide. They will break from the No. 12 and 13 gates, respectively.
Promising hopefuls from the home team include:
Satono Tiger – A 7-year-old by King Kamehameha, Satono Tiger has tallied only one finish in the money this year in seven starts and that at the open-class level. All but one of his other starts were at the graded level, three of them at JRA venues. The Urawa-based, Satoshi Kokubo-trained Satono Tiger ran second in the G3 Capella Stakes at Nakayama at the end of last year and took on the Tokyo Sprint at Ohi in April over 1,200 meters to finish seventh among a field of predominately JRA-registered runners. Satono Tiger finished second best of the NAR horses. Satono Tiger finished seventh last out in the Tokyo Hai at Ohi over 1,200 meters on Sept. 30. He finished half a length behind Satono Daytona, last year’s winner of the Interaction Cup, and will be breaking from the No. 7 gate.
Maruka Bakken – Another 8 year old worth a wager is Maruka Bakken, by Kurofune. This will be his first race since he capped his JRA career with a 15-place finish in the G3 Procyon Stakes at Chukyo in July. He is now based at Ohi at the stable of Hideyo Yoneta. Though Maruka Bakken proved competitive at the G3 level in 2012 and 2013, his best both this year and last was a third in an open-class at Nakayama. He will be running at Ohi for the first time and will have to deal with an outside draw.
Gorski – The 8-year-old Gorski, by Neo Universe, was initially not expected to race until November since he moved to the NAR ranks from the JRA. But, his first run since leaving the JRA stable of Yasutoshi Ikee and joining the ranks of the Katsuyoshi Uchida stable at Kawasaki will be the Interaction Cup. His last race saw him finish ninth in the 1,700-meter G3 Elm Stakes at Sapporo over dirt on Aug. 16. It was his first run since his fourth in the G3 Negishi Stakes in February at Tokyo over 1,400 meters. The Interaction Cup, however, will be his first time over 1,200 meters. Though he tends to run from far off the pace, he has fared well on the pace as well at Funabashi with a fourth in the mile top-class Kashiwa Kinen last year in May. He has drawn the No. 2 gate and may be good for a bet.
Erimo Feather – This Ohi-based 5-year-old mare has had three races since moving to NAR racing from the national level. Two of her three starts were at Ohi over 1,200 and 1,400 meters and she turned in respectable third and fourth-place finishes. The odds are likely to be good for those looking to pad their returns with a darkhorse, a daughter of Sinister Minister.
Coreles Puma – Coreles Puma, at 11 years of age, is the eldest in the field. Though he tops the second-oldest age group by 3 years, he may not be ready to hang it up quite yet. Based at Funabashi, Coreles Puma has not seen a win since July of 2013 over the 1,200 at Ohi in an open-class race, but in June of this year, the son of High Bridge Slew ran second over 1,200 meters at Ohi and third in a 900-meter race at Kawasaki. Both were at the open-class level. He had a prep in the 1,200-meter Tokyo Hai on Sept. 30, and though he ran 13th of 15 in a race that saw the top four spots swept by JRA horses, the Interaction Cup may be more within his reach.
Fire Prince -- Fire Prince is a 4-year-old by On Fire who at a still rather tender age already has 30 starts behind him. Those include five wins and six seconds. Though the Satono Tiger stablemate has been out of the top spots over his last four outings, he did notch a second in May and a first in February and has been given distances at the mile or longer for much of this year. His last two races were at Ohi and resulted in a sixth over 2,400 and an eighth-place finish last out on Sept. 29 over 1,600 meters. He has proven successful over the Ohi 1,200, however, and notched two wins under those conditions in his 2-year-old year. The colt was born on March 11, 2011, the day the Great East Japan Earthquake rocked Japan, and, having drawn an inside No. 4 gate, Fire Prince may be able to turn some tables on his own.
Major Athlete – The Daiwa Major-sired 6-year-old Major Athlete is coming off a ninth-place run in a 1,400-meter at Urawa after running in the money in two of his three previous races, all at Sonoda Racecourse. It will be his first time over 1,200 meters and his first time at Ohi.
The race is the 11th race on the Ohi Tuesday card of 12. Races start from 3 p.m. and post time for the Interaction Cup is 8:15 p.m. local time.
Japan-Korea Interaction Cup
Race Card (Japanese) http://www.nankankeiba.com/race_info/2015101320120211.do
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Racing by Local Governments