Month: December 2008

No Supernatural as Afternoon Dove Swoops

Saeroun Bulpae wins Min Ilbo Cup / Six in a row for Tu Won
Supernatural, set to be nailed on favourite, was a late scratching at Seoul Race Park this afternoon in a race which saw Shaving Points return to the track. It was outsider Afternoon Dove, however, who took advantage of the four year old’s absence to claim a three length win from Royal Missile and Hero’s Song. On his first outing since being pulled up in early September, Shaving Points showed little interest in racing although Ikuyasu Kurakane managed to battle his way into fifth place on the line.

One race later, Tu Won continued his remarkable run of recent form which has seen the gelding win six times from six starts since breaking his maiden in July. Today’s victory was was a stroll from gate to wire although he did his best to make things difficult for jockey Choi Beom Hyun, veering drastically towards the stands in the home straight. Fortunately there was plenty of daylight between him and Geumbit Gangja and Sinbi Wangja who were battling it out for second and all it meant was that what should have been a ten length win became a two length win.

Seoul’s most valuable race went to form as favourite Dashing Champ led old stager Flying Cat home by three lengths. Earlier in the day, Luxury Jewang took his second win in a row, Boo Min Ho bringing the gelding through from the very back of the field at just the right time to steal vicory in race 6. Meanwhile, jockey Yoo Mi Ra missed out on her very first victory as Natural Guy succumbed to Keuntaeyang in the final strides of race 4. Yoo remains the only member of this year’s intake of jockeys to be without a winner although injury has restricted her to just 22 rides.

At Busan Race Park, it was the GyeongnamDo Min Ilbo Cup, a race which gave overseas bred horses a rare opportunity to compete for a big prize over the short distance of 1400 metres. Japanese filly Jilju Hara made the early running but faded badly as they turned into the straight as Dongbang Geona took over. The gelding wouldn’t stay there for long though as at the furlong pole, 13.4 shot Saeroun Bulpae hit the front and stayed there for a length and a half win from second favourite King Kephalos who just edged out Shane Bob for third. Dongbang Geona held on for fourth but Jilju Hara eventually finished tailed off. Another disappointment was Florida Native, while Metropolitan winner Hard Ride managed fifth. The US bred Saeroun Bulpae moves on to five wins from fourteen starts with all but one of those wins coming at 1400 metres.

In other news from Busan, Japanese jockey Eiki Nishimura was relieved of his riding duties after failing a random alcohol test. Confessing to having had a heavy Saturday night, Nishimura has been suspended until December 28.

Gyeongnam-Do Min Ilbo Cup – Busan Race Park – 1400M – Dec 14, 2008

1. Saeroun Bulpae (USA) [Northern Afleet – Really Appealing (Valid Appeal)] – Chae Gyu Jun – 13.4
2. King Kephalos (JPN) [King Glorious – Western Edge (Woodman)] – Jo Sung Gon – 4.3
3. Shane Bob (USA) [Double Honor – Severeturbulence (Far Out East)] – Toshio Uchida – 16.5
Distances: 1.5 lengths/Neck – 13 ran



Seoul Teukgeup Takes His Chance

Always in the money but rarely in the Winner’s Circle of late, Seoul Teukgeup took advantage of a weak field to finally land a category 1 contest at Seoul Race Park this afternoon. The three year old colt breezed past second favourite Haengun Daewang in the final furlong to win by a comfortable three lengths. Second in the Owners’ Association Trophy, the American bred Seoul Teukgeup [Safely’s Mark – Bemmalou (Waquoit)] has never finished lower than fourth in fifteen outings and today’s win takes his career total to five.

On a day of what was largely mediocre racing, Seven Card continued his progress through the ranks, stepping up in class to win the 1800 metre race 9, just edging out a strong challenge from Mr. Fortune to make it four wins from seven starts.

Tomorrow’s cards get underway at Seoul at 11:00 with Busan and Jeju both beginning at 12:20.


Weekend Preview

Gyeongnam Citizen Ilbo Cup at Busan / Shaving Points is back at Seoul

Busan Race Park
Friday December 12: Busan’s Friday card gets the weekend action underway as usual. The first of ten is off at 13:00.
Sunday December 14: Feature race of the weekend is the Gyeongnam-Do Min Ilbo Cup, a 1400 metre handicap for overseas bred horses. Florida Native is top weight and, following his unexpected win in the Busan Metropolitan last month, Hard Ride shares the second highest impost with Dongbang Geona. In a competitive field of thirteen, they are joined by the Japanese filly Jilju Hara as well as Ima Firecracker, Angle Slam and King Kephalos. The big race is off at 15:05 and is race 5 on the card of six which starts at 12:20.

Seoul Race Park
Saturday December 13: Seoul’s weekend program starts at 11:00 on Saturday. The feature race of twelve sees Seoul Teukgeup head a field of ten in a cat 1 handicap over 2000 metres.

Sunday December 14: While the most valuable race of the weekend at Seoul sees Dashing Champ and Flying Cat go against each other in the very last race on the card, more attention will be paid to an intriguing race 9. For a time earlier this year it wouldn’t have come as a surprise if right now, three year old American import Shaving Points was preparing to take part in his first Grand Prix race. An injury in May and then an abortive comeback race in September put paid to that. However, the colt will be back, over 1800 metres in a field of eleven that also includes Supernatural who went three for three after his debut but has disappointed since. Sunday’s card has eleven races with the first off at 11:00.

Down on Jeju Island, Jeju Race Park will hold its usual two day Pony racing meet. There are ten races both days with a start time of 12:20. After last week’s arctic conditions, it should be slightly milder at Seoul this week with temperatures predicted to hover around the 3-4C mark. Down South at Busan it should average a comfortbale 7-10C above.

Secret Weapon Heads Grand Prix Vote

Voting has closed for the season ending Grand Prix race which will be run at Seoul Race Park on Sunday December 21. The field for the race, one of the few big races of the year to allow overseas bred horses, is decided by an open vote of racing fans. This year a total of 5310 votes were cast and it was the five year old Secret Weapon who came out top winning 19.5% of the vote, just ahead of Dongbanui Gangja on 19.4%. Others in the top fourteen include Vicar Love as well as last year’s winner Bally Brae and President’s Cup winner Myeongmun Gamun.

Fillies and mares are well represented with Baekpa, Top Point, Fly Queen and Galsaem all gaining entry. In total, six domestic bred and eight overseas bred horses made the cut. We’ll have a full preview once the line up has been confirmed but for now, the top fourteen in the voting was as follows:

Grand Prix (G1) – Seoul Race Park – 2300M – Dec 21, 2008
1. Secret Weapon (KOR) – H 5 (28/16/6) – 19.5%
2. Dongbanui Gangja (USA) – C 3 (13/6/4) – 19.4%
3. Vicar Love (USA) – C 3 (10/7/1) – 17.9%
4. Bally Brae (USA) – G 6 (24/13/7) – 15.6%
5. Myeongmun Gamun (KOR) – G 7 (28/16/3) – 8.8%
6. Baekpa (KOR) – F 4 (20/8/4) – 5.0%
7. Top Point (KOR) – F 4 (16/10/1) – 4.4%
8. Fly Queen (USA) – M 5 (28/7/5) – 2.8%
9. Galsaem (KOR) – M 6 (35/17/9) – 2.0%
10. Seungyu Sinhwa (USA) – H 6 (31/12/3) – 1.3%
11. Obaek Yechan (AUS) – G 5 (27/5/5) – 1.2%
12. Noubeau Riche (USA) – G 4 (11/6/0) – 0.9%
13. Bandoui Byeol (KOR) – G 5 (25/6/3) – 0.6%
14. Seongpacheonha (AUS) – G 4 (17/4/2) – 0.5%

Luna Lands Stunning Win in Owners’ Cup

Mare upsets younger rivals / Nice Choice strolls Herald Juvenile
In an amazing final furlong twist, Luna was the shock winner of the Busan Owners’ Cup at Busan Race Park this afternoon. The seven year old mare came through the star-studded field to secure victory and the KRW 74Million first prize at odds of 53.9. As the field broke from the gate, it was Jeolho Chance who took up her usual position at the front with Ebony Storm just behind and favourite Gaeseon Janggun a menacing presence just a little further back.

Derby winner Ebony Storm was quick to fall out of contention but, in a re-run of the Minister’s Cup, Jeolho Chance continued to set the pace as they turned for home with Gaeseon Janggun looking the main danger. No-one was looking at Luna, but as Park Seung Kwang got to work, the mare, who had been steadily moving through the bunch, responded with a bust of speed. Jeolho Chance faltered but Gaeseon Janggun had nothing to give and Luna led the bunch through to win from fellow outsiders Sinheung Gangja and Boryeong Bulbit.

Of the pre-race favourites, in what was a tight finish, Jeolho Chance finished fifth, one place behind Yeongung Manse. Gaeseon Janggun could only manage seventh. For Luna, KRA Cup Mile winner in 2007, it was a 12th career victory in 27 starts dating back to 2004, but only her second of this year.

Up at Seoul Race Park, an early morning dusting of snow had made the setting suitably festive for the Herald Economic Juvenile, the top two year old race at the track. Unlike at Busan, there were no surprises as hot favourite Nice Choice made short work of a field of just five rivals, winning by five lengths from the previously unbeaten Clever Money. The filly Mipung was a further six behind in third.

Temperatures were a little more bearable than yesterday but still failed to make it above freezing point as strong favourite Baekjeonmupae took the feature handicap five lengths ahead of Pocketful of Money. Earlier in the afternoon, exciting two year old import Bulpae Gisang made it three from three with a two length win in race 5.

Owners’ Cup – Busan Race Park – 2000M (Hdcp) – Dec 7, 2008

1. Luna [Concept Win – Wu Su Hae (Exactly Sharp)] – Park Seung Kwang – 53.9
2. Sinheung Gangja [Archer City Slew – Recondite (Silver Deputy)] – Han Sang Kyu – 17.5
3. Boryeong Bulbit [Revere – Windy Ruki (Wind And Wuthering)] – Jo Sung Gon – 20.3
Distances – 0.75 lengths/Head – 14 ran

Herald Economic Cup (2YO) – Seoul Race Park – 1200M – Dec 7, 2008

1. Nice Choice [Lost Mountain – Betty’s Rhapsody (Don’t Hesitate)] – Moon Se Young – 1.4
2. Clever Money [Lethal Instrument – Hotline (Desert Sun)] – Cho Kyoung Ho – 2.5
3. Mipung [Revere – T’aep’ungjeonya (Cache of Gold)] – Jun Duk Young – 30.7
Distances: 5 lengths/6 lengths – 6 ran



Machine Gun Thaws the Quickest

Seoul freezes in sub-zero conditions / Serendipper upset / Cheongha Eutteum returns with win
Machine Gun continued his strong run of late season form in the feature race at an almost unbearably cold Seoul Race Park this afternoon. With the “highest” temperature reading of the afternoon at -4 and a breeze worsening the conditions, it was a day for punters to stay in the warmth of the grandstands and pity the jockeys outside.

Machine Gun, a six year old gelding, has had an indifferent career since reaching the top level back in early 2006. It took over two years for him to take a category 1 race, finally achieving it in August this year. Today, he racked up his third in four outings. Starting the 1.7 favourite and top weight, Moon Se Young kept Machine Gun just behind the leaders for much of the 2000 metre race. He asked for an effort as the hit the home straight and they pulled away for a four length win from second favourite and early pace-setter Sound Hawk. Machine Gun still only has a record of eight victories from 35 starts but the late bloomer has confirmed himself as one of the top handicappers in Korea right now.

Thirty minutes earlier, Mupae Jilju caused an upset in the big race for foreign bred horses. Serendipper was sent off the 1.4 favourite of an underwhelming field but, in a final furlong battle, New Zealand bred Mupae Jilju held off the Australian filly to score a half length victory.

Much earlier in the day, there had been an impressive win for Cheongha Eutteum. The two year old made his debut with a win way back in May but has been injured ever since. Stepping up in class on his return, the colt went off at an unfancied 14.0 with Suseong Equus the 1.3 favourite in the 1200 metre race 2. There wasn’t much of a race, however, as Cheongha Eutteum bolted out of the gate and never came close to being caught, eventually winning by seven lengths on the line. He’s going to be another one to watch carefully over the next few months.

On a day where it was impossible not to have both sympathy and respect for the jockeys, Moon Se Young – certain to be 2008 champion – landed a treble and Park Tae Jong a double. Mercifully, it will be slightly warmer tomorrow with temperatures set to be slightly the right side of freezing for the Herald 2YO race. However, that will bring its own hazards as there is an outside chance of snow. Meanwhile, it’s Owners’ Cup day at Busan. As usual, the southern city was much warmer than Seoul today and temperatures should be a comfortable 6 above tomorrow.


Weekend Preview

Temperatures have plummeted overnight across the peninsula and it is set to be the first really cold weekend of racing of the year:

Busan Race Park: Busan gets underway on Friday at 13:00 with ten races and then hosts six more on Sunday including the feature Owners’ Cup. Sunday’s first race is under orders at 12:10.

Seoul Race Park: Seoul hosts cards on Saturday and Sunday. The first race on both days is at 11:00. Seoul’s feature race of the weekend is the Herald race for two year olds on Sunday although a field of only seven will brave the cold.

Jeju Race Park hosts its regular Saturday and Sunday pony racing with the first of ten races at 12:20 both days.

Big Names Come Out for Owners’ Cup

This year’s top three year olds will join the older horses in the Busan Owners’ Cup at Busan Race Park on Sunday. Three Classic winners are amongst them, with recent Minister’s Cup winner Gaeseon Janggun assigned top weight. Second that day, Jeolho Chance also goes, the Oaks winner the top filly in the field, as does Derby winner Ebony Storm. They are joined by the gelding Yeongung Manse, the veteran mare, Luna and others such as Boryeong Bulbit and Mirae Cheonsa

The 2000M handicap is off at 15:15 on Sunday and is the biggest of a card of six. Full list of runners, records, weights and riders:

Busan Owners’ Cup – Busan Race Park – 2000M (Hdcp) – Dec 7, 2008, 15:05

1. Yeongung Manse (10/6/1/2) – 57kg – Jo Chang Wook
2. Jeolho Chance (13/6/2/1) – 55.5kg – Yoo Hyun Myoung
3. Gaeseon Janggun (10/4/3/1) – 58kg – Jo Chan Hoon
4. Pungun Jilju (29/4/1/4) – 51kg – Choi In Deok
5. Luna (26/11/5/1) – 57kg – Park Sung Kwang
6. Janggun Sinhwa (21/6/6/1) – 53.5kg – Ahn Sun Ho
7. Ebony Storm (15/5/2/3) – 55kg – Kim Tae Kyung
8. Haneul Cheonsa (14/5/1/0) – 52.5kg – Kim Dong Young
9. Sinheung Gangja (17/4/2/6) – 54kg – Han Sang Gyu
10. Mirae Cheonsa (22/10/3/1) – 54.5kg – Gu Young Jun
11. Boryeong Bulbit (21/8/2/2) – 54.5kg – Jo Sung Gon
12. Gangjaui Beopchik (7/4/2/0) – 53kg – Chae Gyu Jun
13. Scramble (19/5/3/2) – 54.5kg – Lim Suns Sil

Gear Rules Change has Instant Impact

In late October, the KRA approved the use of pacifiers for the first time. Pacifiers, a closely knit mesh placed over the eyes, have a number of purposes. Firstly, they are intended to do what their name suggests and pacify an otherwise excitable horse as it needs to concentrate much harder to see where it is going. The other main reason for their use is that they can reduce the effect of kickback on dirt with horses who resent it as well as reducing the number of eye injuries suffered. They have opponents, however, who claim that impeding vision is dangerous and indeed although the vast majority of racing jurisdictions permit pacifiers, they are often banned in wet weather as mud can accumulate.

The first to take advantage of the rule change was Peter Wolsley, the only foreign trainer currently training in Korea. Wolsley fitted Gyeongcheonsa with pacifiers in the feature handicap at Busan on November 14 and the five year old mare went on to record her first win since 2006. Thirty minutes later in the next race, another of Wolsley’s horses, Khaosan, came from last to second in the stretch, missing out on victory by a head, also wearing pacifiers. The following week, Cherokee Morn, another five year old mare who had been in dismal form in 2008 since moving up to category 1 races, was fitted with pacifiers, and duly ran into second place at odds of 163.1. It remains to be seen if their use will catch on but right now, it is certainly worth checking the race card closely to see if there will be any first-time pacifier wearers.