Eoma Eoma was the star of Friday’s behind-closed-doors meeting at Seoul Racecourse, taking out the class 1 feature and in the process breaking the track record for 1400M,
They might only be racing for small stakes but for the second week running, the form mostly held up. Aside from Eoma Eoma, the shock Korean Oaks winner Uaryung (Testa Matta) showed that her win in Busan in August was no fluke by handily defeating a batch of class 4 gallopers while down at Busan, exciting juvenile Winner’s Man (Musket Man) moved on to three wins from three starts with an easy score over older horses, also at 1400M.
Eoma Eoma (Algorithms) didn’t debut until December of his juvenile season but won his first three races – either side of the first shutdown – in such style that he was allowed to take his chance in both the SBS Sports Sprint and Owners; Cups. He performed valiantly in both finishing 3rd and 2nd to Morfhis and East Jet respectively. Given his lack of experience those were a tough ask but he ran well both times and the manner of his win today, with Moon Se Young needing to do very little in the way of encouragement, suggests he will be the one they need to beat next season.
As it stands, there is a possibility that some spectators can be admitted to the racecourses next weekend, which would mean that racing would return to a more normal Friday to Sunday schedule. However, this morning’s Covid-19 figures showed 138 new local transmissions nationwide with 98 of them in Gyeonggi Province – in which Seoul Racecourse is located. If the numbers remain at that level or higher over the next few days, there is a chance the government may reinstate “Level 2” social distancing, which would in effect put everything back to square 1 and would mean these Friday “zombie meetings”, with no crowds and no betting and low Stakes, would have to continue.
After a second prolonged shutdown, Korean racing took its first steps back toward resumption on Friday with behind-closed-doors/no wagering cards at both Seoul and Busan. They may have been racing for significantly reduced prize money but there was no shortage of competitiveness as Ioannis Poullis rode four winners at Busan while Japanese jockey Msasahi Ueda landed his first Korean winner at Seoul.
The very good Ssonsal (Adios Charlie) was the pick of Ioannis Poullis’s four winners on the ten-race card at Busan. The four-year-old Bart Rice trainee moved on to seven wins from thirteen starts as he outlasted two-time SBS Sprint winner Doraonpogyeongseon and regular rival Seobu Cat in the 1400M class 1 feature.
At Seoul there were 15 races and while Tiz Plan was scratched from the feature, there was still plenty of interest in the 1800M Class 1 affair. Ultimately it would be won by Cheongdam Jewang (Shackleford) ahead of the progressive Australian import Brigadier General (Tapit).
While it was a relief for everybody involved to be out and racing, albeit in somewhat surreal circumstances and for vastly reduced prizes, for Masashi Ueda it was no doubt especially so.
Japanese jockey Ueda was licensed early this year but his arrival was delayed first by the initial Covd-19 shutdown and then by Japan and Korea’s tit-for-tat entry bans. He finally arrived in mid-August and completed his mandatory quarantine only for racing to then immediately shut down again before he had managed a single ride.
Ueda kept busy riding work and trials throughout September and early October and his reward came in race 5 as he made all on Most Speed (Federalist) to secure his first Korean victory.
Another set of these low-stakes/no broadcast meetings will take place next Friday. If Covid-19 restrictions remain at their current “level 1” grade, then there is a chance of more normal racing resuming in November.
Racing – of a kind – will resume in Korea on Friday with both the thoroughbred tracks at Seoul and Busan, as well as the pony racecourse on Jeju hosting race meetings. The meetings will take place behind closed doors for significantly reduced prize money. There will initially be no wagering either locally or internationally. Races will only be held on Fridays.
Following a four-month hiatus in the first half of the year, racing was abandoned again at the end of August. The purpose of these race meetings is to support connections and horsemen who have kept horses in work throughout the prolonged shutdowns. It was felt that offering prize-money – albeit at a significantly reduced level – was the best way to distribute the money while keeping the industry ticking over so it is in the best shape possible if and when a normal resumption becomes possible.
Class 1 thoroughbred races – the top level of racing – will have a total purse of 40 Million Won (compared to 110 Million normally) while Class 6 – the lowest level – will keep its usual purse of 22 Million Won. Across all levels there will be a more even distribution of prize-money among place-getters with each winner receiving 33% of the total purse compared to 58% in normal circumstances. Thoroughbred races will be run over three distances only; 1200M, 1400M and 1800M. All races will be run under allowance conditions with set weights according to ratings bands.
Korea unexpectedly lowered its social distancing alert to “level 1” earlier this week. This has enabled spectators to return to baseball and football stadiums and means there is an outside chance of some spectators being admitted to the track from the first week of November (racing needs other sports to have successfully completed at least two weeks of fans in attendance). If this were to happen, then more normal weekend racing with wagering would be able to resume. We have been here before though.
Triple Nine, a record-breaking four-time President’s Cup winner and Korea’s all-time leading money earner, has been retired. The eight-year-old last ran in the Herald Business Cup in June and with racing in Korea on another indefinite hiatus, the decision was taken to retire him.
With fifteen wins from thirty-three starts in Korea and 4.7 Billion Won (US$4Million) in prize money, Triple Nine retires as one of the most successful and significant horses in local racing history. He won five Korean Group 1 races, including an unprecedented four consecutive Presidents Cups from 2015 to 2018 as well as the Grand Prix Stakes in 2018.
Bred by Isidore Farm on Jeju Island, and placed by owner Choi Byung-bu with trainer Kim Young-kwan at Busan, Triple Nine ran 2nd on debut as a juvenile in late November of 2014. He then won four in a row before being beaten by Yeongcheon Ace in the Korean Derby the following May. He would be runner-up again in the final leg of that year’s Triple Crown with stablemate Rock Band besting him in the Minister’s Cup.
There weren’t many more setbacks. In October of 2015, Triple Nine turned the tables on Rock Band to secure his first President’s Cup, a race he would go on to make his own. In the 2016 edition he defeated another stablemate, the Triple Crown winner Power Blade before equaling Dangdae Bulpae’s feat of three wins in the race in 2017 with Power Blade once more coming home in 2nd place. A year later he came from off the pace to score his historic fourth win in what is, Derby aside, the richest race restricted to Korean bred horse.
Triple Nine didn’t only run well against his fellow Korean-bred horses though. He finished in 3rd place behind the Japan-trained pair of Chrysolite and Kurino Star O in the inaugural Korea Cup in 2016 and was again the best of the locally-trained runners in the international race a the following year when 4th to London Town.
In early 2017, Triple Nine joined Power Blade in travelling to the Dubai World Cup Carnival. His 2nd place on his Meydan debut coupled with a 4th and a 5th in Group company earned him a spot in the Godolphin Mile and while that was a race too far, he had proved he could hold his own internationally, a precursor of what was to come from Korea-trained horses both in Dubai and at the Breeders’ Cup in subsequent years.
Across his career, Triple Nine also picked up victories in the Gyeongnam Ilbo and Busan Owners’ Cups but the one that appeared to be eluding him was the Grand Prix Stakes, the traditional season-ending finale in December. He finished 4th in 2015, 2nd in 2016 and 3rd in 2017. In 2018, he got it right, overhauling Cheongdam Dokki and Today in the closing stages to claim victory at the fourth time of asking. Future stars Dolkong and Moonhak Chief were 4th and 6th.
That would ultimately prove to be his final victory. Injury kept him out for the entire 2019 season and while he reappeared earlier this year to run a creditable 3rd in a tune-up race, racing’s enforced shutdown then intervened. His 8th place in the Herald Business behind Cheongdam Dokki in June and then the second shutdown meant that Triple Nine’s racing days were over.
“Triple Nine has had a huge influence on my life” said owner Choi Byung-bu. “He is like a child to me and I am sorry he can’t end his career in a flashy way. I would like to express my gratitude to all those who have supported Triple Nine”.
That “flashy way” would have been an official retirement ceremony on a Sunday afternoon during racing at Busan Racecourse that as a Group 1 winner, Triple Nine would have been entitled to. Instead he quietly exits the scene, initially to Challenger Farm, which is also home to imported stallion Cowboy Cal.
Two and a half months of behind closed doors action was brought to an end of Sunday when Touch Star Man confirmed his status as Champion Three-Year-Old by adding to his KRA Cup Mile win with victory in the final leg of the Triple Crown, the Minister’s Cup at Seoul Racecourse. Following the conclusion of the meeting, Korean racing entered its most uncertain period since the Korean War with the sport going on indefinite hiatus from September after a rise in Coronavirus cases ended any prospect of any spectators – and therefore betting – being permitted for the foreseeable future.
A strong winner of the KRA Cup Mile in early July, Touch Star Man was never a factor in the Derby earlier in August though did rally late on to make it into 5th place. He was dominant in the 2000M Minister’s Cup, however, always racing prominently before leaving his rivals trailing in the home straight to record a four-length win.
It was an extremely turbulent race. After long-shot Miracle Icheon refused to leave the gates, Touch Star Man was involved in an incident himself when he crossed sharply causing a chain reaction that disadvantaged A To Z, Complete Kingdom and Top Day to all be impeded. Jockey Seo Seung-un picked up a five-day ban and was perhaps a touch fortunate that the incident was so early in the race and that his ultimate winning margin was so great.
More was to come on the second corner when at the back of the field, Derby runner-up Raon Tough Man took it upon himself to suddenly try to hurdle the inside rail. He achieved it and continued running on the empty inner-track but left jockey Choi Bum-hyun requiring hospital treatment for three fractured ribs after a heavy fall.
Thankfully the rest of the race passed off without incident and Touch Star Man [Testa Matta – Useung Touch (Menifee)] proved his superiority in the home straight. He moves on to five wins from nine starts. For jockey Seo Seung-un, it was a third win in a Classic race, having taken the KRA Cup Mile on Cheongnyeong Bisang in 2014 and the Korean Oaks on Deep Mind in 2019.
As for trainer Kim Young-kwan, Touch Star Man was his fifth Minister’s Cup winner. His previous ones were Namdo Jeap in 2009, Dongseo Jeongbeol in 2011, Rock Band in 2015 and Power Blade in 2016.
One of very few positives to come out of this wretched year is that the three-year-olds got to have their Triple Crown races (although the fillies have missed out on the Gyeonggi Governor’s Cup, the final leg of the “Tiara” which was scheduled for this coming Sunday).
This year’s juveniles look set to miss out on most, if not all the rest of the season but at Seoul, they gave us a glimpse of what to look out for in next year’s Triple Crown in the inaugural running of the “Rookie Stakes”.
Thirteen juveniles went around in the 1200M test and it was Heungbaragi [Old Fashioned – Grand Marketing (After Market)] who led from gate to wire, just as he had done on debut a month ago. Will he get further? Which of the ones he beat will emerge as threats as the distances get longer? And what about Busan which was due to run its first big juvenile race later? Those are questions about which we can only speculate on the answers.
So what now? The new shutdown will encompass at least all of September and will likely include the Chuseok holiday in the first week of October. After that things will be dependent upon whether there has been an improvement in the Coronavirus situation to the extent that there is a real prospect of spectators being allowed on course or if the legislation to legalise online wagering is making progress.
The majority of KRA staff have been placed on furlough three-days a week, however, trackwork is for now continuing as normal so that if things do go well, the horses are ready to race right away with just a week’s notice to be given for resumption.
The 2020 Triple Crown concludes at Seoul on Sunday with the running of the Minister’s Cup. There are 12 races at Seoul along with 5 at Busan, both behind closed doors and with no betting. They are likely to be the final race meetings held in Korea for some time.
Seoul Race 1: Class 6 (1300M) Allowance / KRW 40 Million
The two and three-year-old Korean-bred gallopers line up in the first. Cue the Star Wars puns as (1) JEDI looks hardest to beat coming off a nice performance on debut. The Cowboy Cal filly missed the kick last start before reeling off a strong last sectional to finish third behind Cobra Ball. The step-up to the 1300m looks ideal for the filly, who should put them to the lightsaber late (sorry). (6) REMEMBER WHEN looks next best after finishing second in three-year-old company last start over this distance. The Rock Hard Ten filly finished two and a half lengths off the winner when clocking a reasonable time. (10) CHAMPION GAMUN comes out of the same race as Jedi when finishing fourth. The two-year-old was another that hit the line strong but will need to improve to be considered a winning chance. (3) SUNNY K looks next best after finishing fifth at start two. The Officer filly gets a reasonable draw for the first time in her short career.
(1) Jedi (6) Remember When (10) Champion Gamun (3) Sunny K
Seoul Race 2: Class 6 (1400M) Allowance / KRW 25 Million
Tricky little maiden. (4) POWER MUSIC has the best time of any of these at the distance, achieved when running 3rd on a very wet track in July. She overcame a poor start to run on well for 5th at her latest start three weeks ago at 1300M and if she can just get herself into a decent position this time, she can win. (3) THROUGH THE SKY enters with the most convincing recent form in the race having registered a 2nd and a 3rd in his latest two. He’s well drawn to get on pace early and could go all the way. (11) TYCHE FIRE hasn’t shown much in the way of speed but did run an improved 3rd when stepped up to this trip a couple of weeks ago. Moon Se-young stays aboard and he should have more improvement in him. (8) RUFFIAN PARK and (9) THUNDER WIND are others who should go close.
(3) Through The Sky (11) Tyche Fire (4) Power Music (9) Thunder Wind
Seoul Race 3: Class 5 (1400M) Handicap / KRW 40 Million
The Class Five gallopers will line up in the third event over 1400m. In a race that lacks form, (9) BIG FACE looks the one to beat albeit the three-year-old still looking to break maiden status. The Simon Pure Colt has placed behind some handy types at his two starts back which puts him in good stead for his assignment. (11) GOSOK PEDAL will be second up after clocking a good time over the 1300m when first up. The Officer colt’s one win was when lining up over this distance. (7) GLOBAL WANGJA is another who is yet to break maiden status. The lightly raced four-year-old will drop back to the 1400m after finishing fifth over the 1700m last time out. His performances over the short course have been good. (4) SUNSHINE TEUKGEUP looks best of the rest but has been stuck in this class for quite some time.
(9) Big Face (11) Gosok Pedal (7) Global Wangja (4) Sunshine Teukgeup
Seoul Race 4: Class 4 (1300M) Handicap / KRW 60 Million
(9) JEONGMUN BOLT was an outstanding winner over this distance at class 5 level on a relatively dry track back on July 12th. He reappears today up in class but with every chance of scoring again. He will try to lead from the gate. It won’t be easy. (4) ICE PUNCH was a similarly impressive winner at 1200M a month ago. He’s won two of four starts to be rapidly promoted to this level and from a good draw can sit just off the speed. The slight step up in trip today should only be to his benefit. (3) LUISA perhaps has a bit more to find but nevertheless was a good winner at 1200M last start and can be competitive at this level. As for those with experience at this class, (2) LION YEOJE was a touch disappointing on his first crack at it three weeks ago following a good win in July. With Munro on today, he must be given another chance.
Seoul Race 5: Class 4 (1400M) Handicap / KRW 60 Million
The fifth event will see a field of eleven line up over the 1400m. (4) GO UP is the on top selection coming off a good Class Five victory last time out. The Tiz Wonderful filly clocked a very impressive time (1:12.8) considering it was a dry track. She has accounted for herself well in all of her starts and with 53kg on her back she looks the one to beat. Apart from Go Up, you can throw almost the rest of the field into your selections. (10) LUCKY BONGHWA we will make second elect after a fair performance when resuming last time out. The five-year-old entire finished fifth behind Federal Cat when finishing off strong. The lightly weighted galloper should show some improvement second-up. (3) VICTORY KING has been consistent since resuming, finishing in the top five at all three starts. The Magician gelding comes off a fourth placed performance behind Haedeulmoe, not the strongest form but we will include him for his consistency. (5) BACK SPIN looks best of the rest second up after finishing fourth when first up.
(4) Go Up (10) Lucky Bonghwa (3) Victory King (5) Back Spin
2, 4, 7
Busan Race 1: Class 6 (1200M) Allowance / KRW 40 Million
A maiden for three-year-olds and down with just four of the eleven having raced before. Of those four, (2) CHOEGANG DRAGON has appeared the most, racing three times already and in the latest of those recorded a 3rd place
With racing widely expected to have to shut down again from next week onwards as coronavirus reappears in Korea, this time in Seoul, Saturday is likely the penultimate day of action indefinitely in the capital city. The 15-race card is behind closed doors and runs from 10:45 to 18:00.
Race 1: Class 4 (1000M) Allowance / KRW 75 Million
The first event on another mammoth fifteen-event card will see the imports line up over the short course. (1) SIRIUS A looks a big chance in the event after finishing third on debut behind a very impressive Balvenie. Moon Se-young sticks with the Malibu Moon colt who has drawn favourably for his second run. (7) MUNHAK MOON is another main chance that finished second on debut behind Spring King. The Gemologist colt clocked a good time given he was on debut, with some improvement he is an each way chance. (8) NAESAENGAE CHOEGO comes out of the Balvenie race where the two-year-old finished fifth. He yielded ground after sitting on speed early in the event. (10) DUSON JANGGUN looks best of the debutants after a fair trial. Place chances look best for the Broken Vow two-year-old on debut.
Race 2: Class 6 (1200M) Allowance / KRW 75 Million
A field of eleven juveniles all making their racecourse debuts will line up in race 1. The eye-catcher in trials was one of the fillies, (7) REAL CONCORD. While her fast time was helped by a very wet track, the manner in which she ran away from the rest of the field was impressive and if she can bring that form to the actual races, then she looks good for the win. (2) M J STORM is the first foal out of Smart Time, a winner of five races here up to class 2 level. M J Storm won his trial in good order and shapes well to go well first-up today. (6) CHEONGSAN GANGHO and (11) CHOEGANGYEONGCHEON both ran 2nd in their respective heats and both should be competitive. So should (8) NUBIGO who looked as though she knows what’s required of her when 3rd in a trial all the way back in June.
(7) Real Concord (2) M J Storm (6) Cheongsan Gangho (11) Choegangyeongcheon
Race 3: Class 6 (1200M) Allowance / KRW 40 Million
The two and three-year-old Korean-bred gallopers line up in the third where there are many chances. (3) JINTTOBAEGI finished of nicely in his debut run when second to Hwanggeum Power. The two-year-old is likely to camp on the leader’s backs for being presented by Lee Hyeok to finish off strongly. (1) HAPPY DAY is another two-year-old that showed plenty on debut. The filly comes out of the same race where she finished third. (2) HOEDURYEONG steps up to the 1200m after finishing second behind Raon Dia on debut. The margin was big between first and second but we suspect he will appreciate the step up to the 1200m. (6) HEALING GONGJU looks next best after finishing third on debut when clocking a good time on a dry track.
(3) Jinttobaegi (1) Happy Day (2) Hoeduryeong (6) Healing Gongju
Race 4: Class 6 (1400M) Allowance / KRW 40 Million
Only one of these has raced at the distance before. That’s (1) ABOUT SOMETHING and she took to it well, running 4th on her latest start just over a month ago. She’ll need to improve again but it bodes well. (9) BIROE KING beat three of these on his way to 3rd place over 1200M on August 1st. He ran on strong that day for what was his second 3rd in two starts and the additional trip may well be to his benefit today. (6) RIDE MAN and (8) A.P. PATEK were back down the track behind him that day but the latter especially looks like he wants furthers and having previously been a runner-up at 1300M, looks to have solid claims here. (10) GO WELL went ok when 4th over 1200M on August 2nd, coming from off the pace and is another for whom the step up in trip should suit.
(8) A. P. Patek (9) Biroe King (1) About Something (10) Go Well
1, 4, 9
Race 5: Class 6 (1300M) Allowance / KRW 25 Million
The Class 6 Korean-bred gallopers line up in the fifth where there looks only a handful of winning chances. (7) GHOST VILLAGE goes on top with no great deal of confidence. The Quality Road colt finished midfield behind Old Blade on debut. Whilst beaten a big margin the quality of opposition is much less here, plus we are expecting some natural improvement at her second start. (11) MAX DAERO comes off a last start fifth
The delayed 2020 Korean Triple Crown will finally conclude this weekend with the Minister’s Cup at Seoul on Sunday. Before that, things kick off with a 15-race behind closed doors Friday card at Busan from 11.30 to 18.00.
Race 1: Class 6 (1200M) Allowance / KRW 25 Million
A pretty average set of maidens to kick things off. (2) ROYALIST hasn’t exactly been quick across three starts so far but he has been consistent and he has shown he can run on pace. He led most of the way around before weakening to 5th over 1300M two weeks ago and dropping back in trip today could be the one to beat. Of those who have tackled this distance before, (5) BEODEUL BARAM has recorded the fastest time. The track condition had plenty to do with that but she dead-heated for 3rd that day so clearly knows how to race and can be a threat. (10) MOVIE BROTHER was a much-improved 2nd on his latest start two weeks ago and while that was, if anything, an even poorer race than this, gives some confidence about another good performance. (1) THALE NOI and (7) NEW LUX are others who can improve.
(2) Royalist (5) Beodeul Baram (10) Movie Brother (7) New Lux
Race 2: Class 6 (1200M) Allowance / KRW 40 Million
Eleven maidens of which five are unraced will line up in the second event over the six furlongs. (11) CHOEGANG CUPID has had two starts to date and comes off a last start second when clocking a time that reads well for this assignment. He has sat on speed at both of his starts to date, expect Lee Hyo-sik to ask him to work forward as soon as the gates open. (5) TOP OF KOREA lines up for his second start after finishing fourth behind Geuma Bonny on debut. He was unable to reel in the leading division on that occasion, but he should take some improvement from the run. (7) COLOR WIND will line up for her second start after finishing midfield over the short course on debut. She clocked a time that with some improvement will see her figure in this event, as long as she can run the 1200m out strong at this point in time. (3) HAVE A GOOD TIME debuts after a fair trial and is capable of finishing in the minor money.
(11) Choegang Cupid (5) Top Of Korea (7) Color Wind (3) Have A Good Time
5, 8, 11
Race 3: Class 6 (1300M) Allowance / KRW 25 Million
(4) BARAMAUI YEOSIN beat a couple of these on her way to 2nd place behind Eagle Star at this distance on August 7th. There have been a couple of false dawns for him in the past but he won’t need to improve much on last time to be winning here. (9) GENERAL ANN ran well for 3rd over 1200M earlier this month. She finished well and steps up to 1300M for the first time with solid claims to go close. Similarly, (5) DAEHO ARA was a solid 3rd first-up just over a month ago. He too tries this distance for the first time and continue his positive momentum today. (8) YEONGGWANGUI EAGLE was 5th behind General Ann last start and does have a runner-up finish to his name already. In this company he can get close. Three of the runners get to carry just 50kg due to having apprentice jockeys claiming the maximum 4kg. Of the three, (2) TWO TWO CHALLENGER, impressive in a trial earlier this month, is perhaps the one to look out for.
(4) Baramui Yeosin (9) General Ann (5) Daeho Ara (2) Two Two Challenger
Race 4: Class 6 (1300M) Allowance / KRW 25 Million
The fourth is an all-aged maiden for the Korean-bred gallopers. (6) DIVINE QUEEN looks hardest to beat in a weak affair. She improved significantly at her most recent outing when finishing third behind Echo Good. She normally jumps with them and should sit just behind the pace in the run. (2) JANGMI GONGJU is another galloper that improved last time out when finishing third behind Doctor Khan over the six furlongs. A similar performance to that of last start will see him as an each way chance in this assignment. (10) QUEEN FLYING looks the likely pacemaker and it will be a case of how long she can hold on. (9) FAMILY DANCER is first up after some reasonable performances earlier on in the year. She trialed up only fairly coming into this new preparation.
Race 5: Class 6 (1400M) Allowance / KRW 25 Million
(1) ROCK PEGASUS significantly improved to finish strongly for 2nd place over 1300M on July 31st. It was a useful time albeit on a wet track, and the step up in trip to 1400M today may well suit. (10) MARK STAR has put in
The beleaguered Korean racing industry was thrown a potential lifeline this week after local media reported that a group of fifteen lawmakers submitted a bill to the National Assembly seeking to allow the online sale of horse racing betting tickets.
The group, led by Representative Kim Seung-nam of the ruling Democratic Party, have proposed a partial amendment to the Korean Horse Racing Act which currently only permits wagers to be taken in person at a racecourse or off-track betting facility.
A spokesperson for Representative Kim said the group understood there are those who are concerned about the effects of legalizing online wagering but that “minimizing the damage to the industry while preventing the spread of the coronavirus is also needed. The bill allows for a temporary suspension of online wagering should the turnover exceed an acceptable level that is set by the government.”
Racing in Korea was suspended in February due to the COVID-19 pandemic and while it resumed in June, the races have been run behind closed doors, with neither the racecourse or off-track facilities allowed to admit customers.
Both of Korea’s international races, the Korea Cup and Korea Sprint, scheduled for September have been postponed by one year with the prolonged shutdown having caused an unprecedented near-collapse of the industry.
Some other racing jurisdictions in the region such as Japan and Hong Kong have been able to continue their operations during the pandemic largely unaffected with their customers being able to place their bets online from home. The Japan Cup will be held as planned in November, albeit with only Japan-trained horses competing. Korea remains one of the only countries in the world to still not allow online wagering.
Horse racing’s collapse would have dire consequences. Not only are the racing and breeding industries significant employers, but the Korea Racing Authority is one of the largest taxpayers in Korea and provides significant support to rural communities.
Of total wagering turnover, 73% is returned as dividends, 10% goes to general taxation, 4% to local education programs and 2% to support farming and fishing communities. Operating expenses account for 7% of turnover while profits are 4% with the majority of that contributed back to an agriculture development fund. It is estimated that by the end of August, 751.7 Billion Korean Won (US $634 Million) in tax revenue will have already been lost.
Should the bill proceed in a normal manner, it would be expected to go through the various committee stages between October and December of this year before potentially coming to a vote of the full National Assembly in early 2021. All infrastructure for the processing of online bets already exists and is ready to go as soon as legalization takes place.
Dia Road firmly established herself at the top of the filly and mare division by taking out the Ttukseom Cup (KOR G2) at Seoul Racecourse on Sunday afternoon and in doing so, beat perennial champion Silver Wolf for the second consecutive time. One race later, British jockey Alan Munro recorded his first Korean Stakes race victory when guiding East Jet to a smart victory in the Seoul Racehorse Owners’ Association (KOR G3).
Coming into the Ttukseom Cup, the first leg of the Queens’ Tour, Dia Road [Captain Coltish – Gieongnal Geunal (Menifee)] had won seven of her eight prior races, including that meeting with stablemate Silver Wolf in the Donga Ilbo Cup prior to the shutdown earlier this year when she had a 5kg weight advantage.
At level weights this time, Dia Road was slowly out of the gates but by the end of the back straight, jockey Kim Yong-geun had threaded a way through the field and was up just behind the leaders. She struck the front at the top of the home straight and powered away from the rest to record a six-length win from early pacesetter Raon First and closer Ice Marine. Silver Wolf, who took a long time to find space for a run, came home 5th.
If all goes to plan – and that is a big “if” with Korean racing in an uncertain position due to the recent COVID-19 resurgence, the four-year-old Dia Road and the eight-year-old Silver Wolf will most likely meet again in the final two legs of the Queens’ Tour – of which Silver Wolf is already a two-time winner – in the autumn.
The SROA Trophy (KOR G3) brought back together some of the nation’s top sprinters including the first five home in last month’s SBS Sports Sprint. Most pre-race attention focused on the young up and comer Eoma Eoma who after three straight wins, had suffered her first career defeat when a gutsy 3rd in the SBS Sports Sprint a month ago.
Despite a much better draw, this time Eoma Eoma had to settle for 2nd place as East Jet [Strike Again – Lend (Coronado’s Quest)], the only other three-year-old in the race, made short work of a wide draw to get right on pace with the leaders and then proved too strong in the straight, holding off Eoma Eoma by just under a length. SBS Sports Sprint winner Morfhis produced his customary late charge but had to settle for 3rd.
East Jet was ridden by Alan Munro, who was recording his first Koream Stakes race victory. Munro, who only returned earlier this month from a broken wrist suffered prior to the KRA Cup Mile has now ridden 67 winners from 570 rides in the country since debuting in February 2019.