Month: December 2008

Myeongmun Gamun is Horse of the Year

2008 Review Part 2: The Horses
Myeongmun Gamun won the Horse of the Year award for 2008 but while the Seoul based seven year old gelding was the top money earner of the year, it was Busan horses who dominated the three year old ranks, winning all the classics. In his fourth season, Myeongmun Gamun was imperious. A reversal at the hands of the filly Baekpa was the only setback prior to his second consecutive third place finish in the Grand Prix race where again, he was the first domestically bred horse home. Highlight of the year was his retention of the President’s Cup in November when he broke through the billion won prize money mark.

Outstanding filly of the year was Busan based Jeolho Chance. Running against males in all but her Oaks victory, she was only narrowly defeated by Gaseon Janngun in the final strides of the Minister’s Cup in October. For Gaeseon Janggun, that victory came after running second in both the KRA Cup Mile and the Derby. The Derby itself was run on a saturated track and rank outsider Ebony Storm took the honours but hasn’t won since. Cup Mile winner Rainmaker also subsequently disappointed and is now out injured until at least March. Prolific winner of the year at Busan was Areumdaun Jilju. The four year old harvested big handicaps throughout the year and is possibly the most feared horse on the peninsula right now.

The absence of any domestically bred three year olds in Seoul’s top ten speaks volumes about the dismal three year old crop at the track this year. For the imports, Dongbanui Gangja finally came through in the Grand Prix to leap into second place overall for the year and become Korea’s top imported horse. Through Jeolho Chance and Areumdaun Jilju, Didyme is sire of the year and his sire, Dixieland Band is also the damsire of the other two in Busan’s top four.

Seoul Race Park – Top Horses 2008
1. Myeongmun Gamun (KOR) [Future Quest – Guided Dancer (Incinderator)] G 7 – 7/5/1/1
2. Dongbanui Gangja (USA) [Broken Vow – Maremaid (Storm Bird)] C 3 – 9/5/3/1
3. Baekpa (KOR) [Revere – Grey Crest (Gold Crest)] F 4 – 10/2/3/0
4. Namchonuijijon (KOR) (Concept Win – Intriga (Lord At Law)] H 4 – 9/3/3/0
5. Secret Weapon (KOR) [Native Regent – Aheadofthetimes (Gold Alert)] H 5 – 9/6/0/0
6. Top Point (KOR) [Tom Cruiser – Mooncello (Northern Baby)] F 4 – 7/5/0/1
7. Good Day (KOR) [Double Honor – Fanciest (Lear Fan)] H 4 – 8/4/2/1
8. Geumsuni (KOR) [Big Sur – Monster (Waikiki Star)] F 4 – 10/3/3/0
9. Saerounbisul (NZ) [Danske – Miss Golly (Casual Lies)] G 4 – 9/2/2/3
10. Bally Brae (USA) [Yarrow Brae – Political Bluff (Unaccounted For)] G 6 – 7/2/3/1

Busan Race Park – Top Horses 2008
1. Gaeseon Janggun (KOR) [Duality – Diamond Star (Dixieland Band)] C 3 – 8/3/3/0
2. Jeolho Chance (KOR) [Didyme – Harboring (Boston Harbor)] F 3 – 9/3/1/1
3. Ebony Storm (KOR) [Buster’s Daydream – Sorority Jazz (Dixieland Band) C 3 – 11/3/2/2
4. Areumdaun Jilju (KOR) [Didyme – Chills of Nepal (Nepal) H 4 – 9/7/2/0
5. Rainmaker (KOR) [Revere – Wandering Katie (Tejano)] C 3 – 10/3/1/1
6. Hardride (USA) [Colony Light – Lametta (Lomond)] G 3 – 11/4/2/0
7. Wonder Love (USA) [Wild Wonder – Love Spanish (Spanish Drums)] H 6 – 9/1/2/4
8. Boryeong Bulbit (KOR) [Revere – Windy Ruki (Wind and Wuthering)] G 4 – 11/5/1/2
9. Yongdu Baram (KOR) [Our Poetic Prince – Leave The Nest (Euclase)] G 4 – 12/5/2/1
10. Florida Native(USA) [Kissin Kris – Binndiana (Jose Binn)] H 4 – 11/3/3/1

Over The Moon

2008 Review Part 1: Jockeys
Moon Se Young was yesterday crowned 2008 Champion jockey at Seoul Race Park having completed the season with a record breaking 128 winners. The 28 year old Moon finished 31 ahead of his closest rival and former record holder Park Tae Jong. Although his days as Champion may be over, it was still another solid season from Park Tae Jong. The 43 year old is approaching his 10,000th ride (no mean feat in a country where they race only twice a week) and 1500th winner. In October Park won the Seoul International Jockeys’ challenge.

Seoul Jockeys’ Championship 2008 – Final Standings

1. Moon Se Young – 128
2. Park Tae Jong – 97
3. Cho Kyoung Ho – 91
4. Choi Beom Hyun – 81
5 = Ikuyasu Kurakane; Kim Hyo Seob – 44

Yoo Seung Wan was top apprentice with 31 winners and looks set to ride out his claim soon. Of the newcomers this year, Lee Sang Hyeok finishes on top with 7 wins plus a ride in the Grand Prix race to his name.

At Busan, the remarkable Toshio Uchida only arrived in Korea in May but that was plenty of time for “Mr Pink” to comfortably take the title with 69 wins and a win rate of 22%. Uchida received a raucous reception from punters when he ventured to Seoul for the Minister’s Cup in October and there have been persistant rumours that Seoul may be his next destination. Four winners last Friday saw Chae Gyu Jun into second spot, one ahead of Yoo Hyun Myoung. Chae will have plenty of time to reflect on his success in the new year, as in just about the only race he didn’t win on Friday, he managed to pick up a six meeting ban.

Busan Jockeys’ Championship 2008 – Final Standings

1. Toshio Uchida – 69
2. Chae Gyu Jun – 55
3. Yoo Hyun Myoung – 54
4. Ahn Sun Ho – 43
5. Jo Chan Hoon – 40

It was a mixed year for overseas riders. At Seoul, the Japanese pair of Ikuyasu Kurakane and Nozomu Tomizawa, both extended their contracts to see the year out and finished on 44 and 32 wins respectively. At Busan, aside from Uchida, Kazuyuki Watase performed reasonably well in his short spell during the summer. After three months his contract wasn’t renewed, however, and Eiki Nishimura was brought in to replace him. Nishimura has four winners so far but is currently sidelined after failing a random breath test.

For the non-Japanese riders, it was not a good year. Danny Craven completed a solid nine months, returning to Australia in July, however, South African Chris Taylor returned home after only a month. Another South African, Deryl Daniels made a creditable start to his stint at Busan but left Korea for a break towards the end of November and it is looking unlikely he will return. While it was sad to see those jockeys unable to do themselves justice, no one bemoaned the loss of Willie Uys who lasted one day and is best forgotton. The KRA continues to advertise for overseas jockeys (see below) and has received some interest. However, the departing jockeys have all spoken of the difficulties faced by overseas riders, the language, the schooling of the horses and, most fundamentally for a jockey on a freelance contract, the lack of rides they received

Jeju Race Park based Na Yoo Na was the most successful female jockey, notching 24 wins, one ahead of Kim Joo Hee. Lee Shin Young at Seoul landed 9 wins early in the year before having her season ended by injury but it was a year to forget for Lee Ae Li who managed just 3. Park Jin Hee at Busan finished the year with 16.

* Overseas jockeys wishing to apply to ride in Korea can download the relevant forms from the KRA’s English website. Click Here for details and here for the application form.

Dangdae Stars Over the Distance

Taebaek Janggun edges Namchonuijijon / Moon crowned Champion
On the final race day of the 2008 season, Dangdae Star was victorious over Busan Race Park’s longest distance. Starting second favourite, the New Zealand bred gelding was quick to show towards the front of the field of 12 iin the 2200 metre race. The early pace was set by Hidden Hero and Crafty Louis but as they rounded the final turn, Toshio Uchida made his move on Dangdae Star and they were quickly in front. Favourite Hwanggeumbit Taeyang had been sitting comfortably in the middle of the pack and his move, when it came wasn’t enough to match Dangdae Star who ran on for his ninth career win with four lengths to spare.

At Seoul Race Park, things were slightly closer in the feature as Taebaek Janggun thwarted Namchonuijijon’s late run to claim his third straight win and his first against top class opposition. The five year old gelding hit the front as the field exited the back straight, pulling away as they rounded the final turn. As the likes of Geumsuni, Ugildongja and Balhaejanggun failed to mount a challenge it was Namchonuijijon, this year’s Ttukseom Cup winner and thir favourite here who came from the back of the field to almost snatch victory, denied on the line by a head.

Moon Se Young was crowned Champion jockey in a ceremony after race 7 and the 28 year old added to his record breaking haul earlier in the day on the promising two year old colt Strong Hug. The US import arrived in Korea in June and cantered to his second win by eight lengths in race 1. Meanwhile, back down at Busan it was an imported two year old filly taking things easy as Lana De Free went two for two.

So that’s it for 2008. Later in the week, we’ll take a look back at the year and, of course, a look forward to 2009 – the new season is just days away!

Class 1 (Foreign bred) – Busan Race Park – 2200M – Dec 28, 2008

1. Dangdae Star (NZ) [Danske – Joie De Chine (Racing is Fun)] – T. Uchida – 3.6
2. Hwanggeumbit Taeyang (AUS) [Real Quiet – No Flirting (Danzero)] – Gu Young Jun – 2.9
3. Admiral Reigart (USA) [General Royal – Entoria (Stop The Music)] – Kim Eu Su – 10.6
Distances: 4 lengths/0.5 lengths – 12 ran



Playing Politics Sticks His Neck Out

Angus Empire in form / Gate Way does it the right way
An unexpected late challenge by outsider Angel Pegasus wasn’t enough to stop Playing Politics claiming his fifth victory in six outings at Seoul Race Park this afternoon. Under Choi Beom Hyun, the JRA Trophy winner hit the front on the first turn and looked to be cruising to a routine victory having seen second in the betting Big Sox fade from contention as they entered the straight. Always well placed, Cho Kyoung Ho brought Angel Pegasus down the outside but just missed out as Playing Politics held on for the win by a neck with K J Khan in third.

Feature event of the day was won by Angus Empire. The four year old is in good winter form and fully justified his favourite’s status, accelerating away from the field in the final furlong with a four length margin on the line from Yodongseong and Dankee’s Pal.

Gate Way made an overdue return to the Winner’s Enclosure putting in an impressive win to land race 8. The filly, third in the Korean Oaks in August, sat behind favourite Gangho Jewang for much of the 1800 metres but once Park Tae Jong went to work coming off the final turn, the result wasn’t in doubt. The win was only Gate Way’s fourth in eighteen starts but the manner of it suggests that her four year old season may be more successful.

The win on Gate Way was Park Tae Jong’s third of the day having earlier secured successes on hot favourite Yongwang in race 3 and the previously unraced Claim Victory in race 5. In other races, Champgippeum secured a battling handicap victory over 1900 metres in race 9 as Kim Hyo Seob stalked pace-setters Taklamakan and Bulkkot Juja befre striking in the final 100 metres to steal victory by half a length.

Racing returns to Seoul at 11am Sunday with twelve more races. Busan’s Sunday card gets underway at 12:20. There is no card at Jeju Island tomorrow.


Weekend Preview

Boxing Day hangovers will need to be quickly overcome as the weekend’s racing gets underway at Busan on Friday. Busan also returns on Sunday with six races while Seoul runs on Saturday and Sunday. Playing Politics will make an appearance in race 10 at Seoul on Saturday.

Busan Race Park
Friday December 26: 10 races, first post time 13:00
Sunday December 28: 6 races, first post time 12:20

Seoul Race Park
Saturday December 27: 12 races. first post time 11:00
Sunday December 28: 12 races, first post time 11:00

It’s been a dry and bright but bitterly cold Christmas Day in Seoul but things should warm up to the right side of freezing by the weekend with a risk of snow showers on Saturday and rain on Sunday. Busan should see similar temperatures and a similar chance of rain on Sunday.


Grand Prix Weekend Round-Up

Grand Prix video/ Symphony Sonata wins
Yesterday’s Grand Prix race can now be viewed online courtesy of Fallight – Click Here! While Dongbanui Gangja’s four length success in the season finale was undoubtedly the highlight, there were plenty of other things going on throughout the weekend:

– Saturday’s feature had something of an upset as favourite Natural Nine went down to a length and a half defeat at the hands of Saebyeok Achim.

– Race 2 on Saturday featured a first victory for three year old Symphony Sonata. The colt is notable for being a half brother to Dominican, winner of the Toyota Bluegrass Stakes at Keeneland in 2007. Symphony Sonata [E. Dubai – First Violin (Dixieland Band)] made his debut in October, running second to the impressive Something New and on Saturday led from gate to wire over 1400 metres. First Violin came to Korea in 2005, returning to the USA this year.

– After over a year out of the Winner’s Circle, jockey Kho Sung Yi managed a double on Sunday with victories on favourite Blue Pin in race 3 and outsider Chamsuri Family in race 6.

– Sunday’s feature at Busan was won by favourite Patches of Gold, the US bred gelding starting favourite and holding off Seneca Light to win by half a length.

Dongbanui Gangja Wins Grand Prix

Bally Brae second / Another big win for Choi Beom Hyun
At the end of eleven and a half furlongs, Dongbanui Gangja was the strongest in the sprint to win the 27th annual Grand Prix race on a bright winter’s afternoon at Seoul Race Park. The three year old colt overturned last year’s winner Bally Brae in the final furlong and run on to win by four lengths for jockey Choi Beom Hyun.

Punters couldn’t make up their minds and opted for experience as they sent off Bally Brae the slight favourite just ahead of Vicar Love, with Dongbanui Gangja third in the betting. However it was an outsider, Top Point who took the early lead. Drawn in stall 10, Shim Seung Tae brought the filly around the field and into the pace setting position as they passed the grandstand for the first time. Going with her was Secret Weapon with Bally Brae in third.

This was how it stayed until midway through the backstraight when Cho Kyoung Ho asked Myeongmun Gamun to quicken, the seven year old coming around the outside to take a position just behind the now flagging Top Point as they began the long turn for home. Meanwhile Dongbanui Gangja was sitting comfortably in fourth. Now the question was, which horses would stay the distance? Bally Brae was certain to and as Top Point fell away as they began the sprint, Moon Se Young looked likely to guide the six year old to his second consecutive Grand Prix. Down the outside though came Dongbanui Gangja, hitting the front with 150 metres to go. Bally Brae tried to fight back but there was to be no catching him.

Myeongmun Gamun ran on for third, repeating his 2007 performance by being the highest placed Korean bred horse. Fly Queen came home fourth, just edging out Baekpa. Rank outsider Seongpacheonha was sixth followed by Galsaem. Secret Weapon was a disappointing eighth and second favorite Vicar Love never got going, finishing in ninth. Predictably, early pace-setter Top Point was last to finish.

Grand Prix (G1) – Seoul Race Park – 2300M – Dec 21, 2008

1. Dongbanui Gangja (USA) [Broken Vow – Maremaid (Storm Bird)] – Choi Beom Hyun – 4.6
2. Bally Brae (USA) [Yarrow Brae – Political Bluff (Unaccounted For)] – Moon Se Young – 2.9
3. Myeongmun Gamun (KOR) [Future Quest – Guided Dancer (Incinderator)] – Cho Kyoung Ho – 11.8
Distances: 4 lengths/1.25 lengths – 10 ran



Ten Go in Grand Prix

The Group 1 Grand Prix race which traditionally acts as a season finale will be run at Seoul Race Park on Sunday. Although the race is by no means the most valuable on the calender it is arguably the most prestigious as it pits domestic and overseas bred horses against each other, which is rare in Korea. The overseas bred horses are generally faster, but the Koreans will carry less weight. However, with only Seoul based horses competing, it means that none of this year’s Classic winners, who are all based at Busan, will be taking part. Nevertheless, a strong and an intriguing line up will assemble for race 10 at 16:35 on Sunday:

Grand Prix (G1) – Seoul Race Park – 2300M – Dec 21, 2008
1. Myeongmun Gamun (KOR) – G 7 (28/16/3) -54kg- Cho Kyoung Ho
This year’s top Seoul based horse in terms of prize money won, the seven year old finished second in last year’s race and, having behaved himself at the gate of late, won the President’s Cup last time out. Only beaten once in 2008, by Baekpa in the SBS Cup
2. Baekpa (KOR) – F 4 (20/8/4) -51kg- Moon Jung Kyun
Myeongmun Gamun’s conqueror in the SBS Cup, last year’s Oaks winner left it too late in the President’s Cup. The filly will have plenty of supporters but will need to produce the race of her life to challenge here
3. Fly Queen (USA) – M 5 (28/7/5) -55kg- Kim Hyo Seob
Fourth last year, the mare had an indifferent start to 2008 in handicaps before landing the G3 KRA Cup Classic in September ahead of top Point and Galsaem. A stayer, she went on to win over 2300 metres a month later.
4. Bally Brae (USA) – G 6 (24/13/7) -58kg- Moon Se Young
Last year’s winner began 2008 tidily winning some big handicaps before suffering an unexpected reverse and then a dismal showing in the Owner’s Association Trophy in June finishing out of the money for only the second time in his career – the other being in the corresponding race in 2007. Having a torrid time at the hands of the handicapper Bally Brae has since finished second in both his recent outings.
5. Top Point (KOR) – F 4 (16/1/1) -51kg- Shim Seung Tae
A prolific winner, her defeat by Fly Queen in the KRA Cup Classic broke a winning streak of six, however, she was quickly back to form the following month.
6. Secret Weapon (KOR) – H 5 (28/16/6) -54kg- Park Tae Jong
Dominant in 2008, Secret Weapon is on a run of five straight wins and carrying much less weight than he does in handicaps, a big run will be expected.
7. Galsaem (KOR) – M 6 (35/17/9) -51kg- Ikuyasu Kurakane
The mare has carried big weights in 2008 but finally got her first win of the year in November.
8. Dongbanui Gangja (USA) – C 3 (14/7/4) -55kg- Choi Beom Hyun
The second best three year old imported colt this year, he finished third in the Owner’s Association Trophy and hasn’t been out of the money in fourteen starts.
9. Seongpacheonha (AUS) – G 4 (18/4/2/4) -58kg- Lee Sang Hyuk
The least well known of all entrants, Seongpacheonha is yet to win at category 1 level. Apprentice jockey Lee Sang Hyuk gets his first big race ride.
10. Vicar Love (USA) – C 3 (10/7/1) -55kg- Yang Hee Jin
Impressive winner of the YTN Cup and in formidable form, the three year old colt could be the one to beat. Only one outing at 2000 metres but this finished in a comfortable win.

Too Easy for Areumdaun Jilju

Busan’s top handicapper, Areumdaun Jilju closed out his 2008 with a stylish performance in this afternoon’s feature at Busan Race Park. The four year old stalked second favourite Procyon throughout the latter half of the 2000 metre race, dismissively coming past at the furlong pole and sprinting away for a six length win. Areumdaun Jilju finishes 2008 with seven wins and two second place finshes from nine starts.

In other races, there was a second win for three year old Khaosan. The Peter Wolsley trained colt was one of the first horses in Korea to wear pacifiers when finishing second last time out. Today he stepped up in both class and distance but soundly defeated his cat 2 opponents by two and a half lengths.


Weekend Preview

It’s Friday so the weekend’s action is about to get underway. Sunday is a big day at Seoul with the season ending Grand Prix race bringing together some of the track’s top performers in 2008. We’ll have a full preview of the big race later today. For now, here are the start times for the next three days:

Busan Race Park
Friday 19 December: 10 races, first post time 13:00
Sunday 21 December: 6 races, first post time 12:20

Seoul Race Park
Saturday 20 December: 12 races, first post time 11:00
Sunday 21 December: 12 race, first post time 11:00 – the Grand Prix is race 10 and will go to post at 16:35.

Jeju Race Park hosts pony racing on Saturday and Sunday with first post time 12:20. It’s going to be a cold weekend at Seoul with a chance of snow showers on Sunday. It will be much warmer down at Busan with rain likely on Sunday.