J.S. Hold [Ft. Stockton – Hwansangjiljoo (Passetreul)], considered by many to be Korea’s greatest ever domestically bred thoroughbred, has been officially retired nearly a year since his last outing on the track. In 2007, the chestnut colt won Korea’s Triple Crown in commanding style.
Debuting in race 1 at 11am on Minister’s Cup day in October 2006, J.S. Hold finished fourth of twelve in a category 6 race. It was the last time any horse would finish in front of him and one year later, he would be completing the Triple Crown in the main event. Following that first race, J.S. Hold ran once a month winning each time as he stepped up in class and distance until he arrived at the Ttukseom Cup in April 2007. By this time, word was out that a special horse had arrived and, sent off the 1.4 favourite, under Moon Jung Kyun the horse powered to a seven length win.
Next up was the Korean Derby in May. In an astonishing display, J.S. Hold hit the front on the backstretch and cruised to an eleven length win. The following month, the three year old was sent up against older horses and, in a big handicap, cantered past the likes of Secret Weapon and Myeongmun Gamun to win by five lengths. It was after this, however, that a leg injury started to affect the horse and it was touch and go as to whether he’d be ready for the final race of the Triple Crown, the Minister’s Cup on October 14. He made it, however. The pace was set throughout by Ganghomyeongjang who was still in front as they entered the final furlong, Moon Jung Kyun shifted J.S. Hold out from the rail and gradually ran down his opponent hitting the front just metres from the line for the historic win in Korea’s first Triple Crown series.
Whether the race aggravated his injury is unclear but trainer Kim Dae Geun has been quoted as saying that regardless of the historic achievement, he regrets running J.S. Hold that day. When it came to the season ending Grand Prix in December the trainer won the argument with his owner and he didn’t run. Indeed, he never ran again. In June this year, he appeared among the entries for a handicap race after showing promise in track-work. Come declaration day, however, his name was gone and never appeared again. For a Triple Crown winner, J.S. Hold faces an uncertain future. With little interest among breeders for any Korean bred horse, even one as talented as him, his owners have had a hard time finding a place for him with even the farm where he was born turning him down. Eventually it was agreed he will retire to Taemyoung Farm on Jeju Island but it is doubtful that there will be sons or daughters of J.S. Hold on the track in future. What this says for the fate of less high-profile horses in Korea is troubling.
This coming Saturday, there will be a ceremony to honour the achievements of J.S. Hold after the fourth race at Seoul Race Park. The videos of his Triple Crown win can be seen below:
Ttukseom Cup – 1200M, April 15, 2007
Korean Derby – 1800M, May 27, 2007
Minster of Agriculture’s Cup – 2000M 14 October, 2007