07/24/2017 1:50PM

Mr. Crow scores for Korea at Saratoga

Barbara D. Livingston
Mr. Crow rolls to an 11 1/2-length maiden win Saturday at Saratoga.

Korean racing interests posted another milestone victory for their rising program Saturday at Saratoga, where KRA Stud Farm colorbearer Mr. Crow scored a convincing victory in a maiden special weight race.

The 3-year-old Tapizar colt, trained by Todd Pletcher, led at every call of the six-furlong race, powering away in the stretch to win by 11 1/2 lengths and stopping the clock in 1:09.44. He was assigned a Beyer Speed Figure of 109, the top number this year for a 3-year-old.

With racing in Korea conducted exclusively on dirt due to frequent wet weather, owners and breeders have placed a premium on American stock to build their industry, importing stallions such as classic-placed Menifee, now a perennial leading sire, and juvenile champion Hansen.

In recent years, an active Korean buying base for bloodstock and young racing prospects has also gained increased purchasing power at major American sales. For many years, their activity overseas was curtailed because the national government, which regulates Thoroughbred industry activities, imposed a price limit for imported horses. With racing on the rise in the country, those restrictions have been amended, and buyers have been more active and at higher levels as a result.

One example is Mr. Crow, a $150,000 purchase at the Ocala Breeders’ Sales Co.’s March sale of 2-year-olds in training. Instead of being exported to Korea, as many younger purchases have been in the past, he remained in the U.S. and was sent to Pletcher, for whom he finished a close second in his debut at Belmont before his breakout win at Saratoga.

KRA Stud Farm followed the same pattern with J. S. Choice, a 2015 Keeneland September yearling purchase who finished second in the Grade 3 Pilgrim Stakes last year and was subsequently 13th in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf, becoming Korea’s first Breeders’ Cup starter.

Earlier this year, Korea recorded its first winner at the Dubai Carnival when Main Stay won a handicap race in January at Meydan. The victory came just a year after the country started its first two horses at the Carnival, including Korean-bred Success Story, who finished third in a pair of handicap races, the latter of which was won by California Chrome in his local prep for his Dubai World Cup win.