Month: March 2009

Lost Mountain Dies at 21

Sad news out of Jeju earlier this month as Lost Mountain, who had been standing at stud on the island for the past fifteen years, passed away on March 5 at the age of twenty one. He had been suffering from worsening arthritis for some time.

On the track, Lost Mountain [Cox’s Ridge – Space Angel (To The Quick)] was a winner of the 1991 Haskell Invitational, Peter Pan Stakes and Dwyer Stakes. Imported to Korea in 1994, he sired a number of strong performing runners, the best known of whom was Bicheonbong [Turn To You (Like You And Yours)] who won the President’s Cup in 2004.

Lost Mountain’s legacy could well be further enhanced this year with his son Nice Choice [Betty’s Rhapsody (Don’t Hesitate)] winning the 2008 Herald Business, the nation’s top two year old race and looking a strong contender for Triple Crown honours beginning next month with the KRA Cup Mile.

Stallions in Korea update / KRA Studbook

Crafty Louis Catches Them Out

Namdo Jeap, Seokcheong win / Iku dominates Busan / Swanepoel debuts
Crafty Louis stepped back in distance and bounced straight back into form landing Busan Race Park’s feature event this afternoon. Dropping back to a mile for the first time in over two years, the six year old went off fourth in the betting as highly fancied Patches Of Gold made the early running.

Favourite Dongbang Geona was well placed throughout but as they came off the turn it was Crafty Louis who accelerated the quickest. Only Oneuri Bobae could go with him and these two opened up a substantial gap on the field, Jo Chang Wook bringing Crafty Louis home for a length and a half win with Storm Rider leading the field in a full eleven lengths back.

Jo was one of only two Korean jockeys to ride a winner at Busan this afternoon. Ikuyasu Kurakane really hit the jackpot in moving from Seoul to Busan and had wrapped up a treble by the race 4. Meanwhile South African Martin Wepner scored his second victory in Korea, guiding relatively unfancied Captain Kim to victory in race 3.

Another jockey getting his second victory on the peninsula was American Santos Chavez who landed race 3 at Seoul Race Park on Yaho Shani. Chavez is gradually picking up more rides and followed up his front-running win on Yaho Shani with a surprise second place on unfancied Baram Queen in Seoul’s feature race. Under Chavez, the filly finished less than a length adrift of favourite Cheonnyeonbulpae, the Cho Kyoung Ho ridden four year old taking his second consecutive win at class 2 level.

In what was an eventful day for overseas riders, another South African jockey, Stephanus Swanepoel made his Seoul debut. Swanepoel’s first mount came in race 4, a race which exemplified Korean racing at its worst. Horses ran wide on the turn and, in the stretch, eventual winner My Photo Map suddenly veered off towards the stands. That the gelding still managed to win spoke volumes about the quality of the field behind. Meanwhile Swanepoel’s mount returned home lame after finishing tailed off and has been stood down for at least a year. His second mount, Smart Angel, finished in the middle of a pack well beaten by Giant Rose in race 7, the filly giving Moon Se Young his third victory of the day.

In other races, there were two three year old performances of note. At Busan, Namdo Jeap [Ft. Stockton – Wandering Katie (Tejano)] predictably wired a field of eight fellow three year olds and was eased to a five length win on his season’s debut. Up at Seoul, Seokcheong [Fiercely – Miss Geology (Jade Hunter)] was always likely to put in a good performance, but the colt exceeded expectations by winning race 8, two lengths ahead of favourite Saerounjeonseol.

Class 1 (foreign bred) – Busan Race Park – 1600M – Mar 15, 2009

1. Crafty Louis (USA) [Louis Quatorze – Crafty Atlantic (Crafty Prospector)] – Jo Chang Wook – 7.0
2. Oneurui Bobae (USA) [Montbrook – Promise Me Magic (Pentelicus)] – Jo Chan Hoon – 12.1
3. Storm Rider (JPN) [Tabasco Cat – Goldrush Gal (Gulch)] – Han Sang Gyu – 18.0
Distances: 1.5 lengths/11 lengths – 12 ran



Namchonuijijon Wins At Last

Mighty Runner’s streak ends / Red Ball wires field
Last week it was Bally Brae, today it was Namchonuijijon returning to the Winner’s Circle with a long overdue triumph at Seoul Race Park. The five year old started second favourite to Mighty Runner, who was looking for a sixth straight win, and was slow away as Heukjo Bisang made the running in the early stages of the 2000 metre race.

Mighty Runner, under Shin Hyoung Cheol, looked menacing throughout but as they turned for home, Jung Ki Young made his move on Namchonuijijon. Heukjo Bisang fell away and Mighty Runner never seemed to get into his stride. Only Free Woody, who had been racing at the front throughout, offered resistance but he too was passed as Namchonuijijon went on to take the line with a length and a half in hand.

Very much in the shadow of J.S. Hold in his three year old season, Namchonuijijon was expected to shine in 2008 and victory over Baekgwang in the Ttukseom Cup in April seemed to indicate great things ahead. On his next outing, however, Baekgwang’s sister, Baekpa, would soundly defeat him and things got worse from there as he finished out of the money for the first time in his career in his next appearance. Finally in December, he managed a creditable second behind Taebaek Janggun and now, with his first outing of the year ending in success, maybe 2009 could be Namchonuijijon’s year.

In other races, three year old Red Ball [Lethal Instrument – Wildly Magic (Peterhof)] stepped up in class and never looked anything other than a winner as he led race 10 from start to finish. The colt goes on to four wins from seven starts. Another three year old in the winner’s circle was Modern Fighter [Even The Score – Jester Rehab (Dmitri)] who scored moved up to 1700 metres and scored his third success from six starts in race 9.

Tommorow sees eleven races at Seoul with the first off at 11:20. South African jockey Stephan Swanepoel will make his Korean debut in race 4 riding unfancied gelding Gangcheolbong. Swanepoel also has a mount in race 7. Busan hosts a six race card with the first off at 12:40 while Jeju gets its ten race program off at 12:10.

Class 1 – Seoul Race Park – 2000M – Mar 14, 2009

1. Namchonuijijon (KOR) [Concept Win – Intriga (Lord At Law) – Jung Ki Young – 4.3
2. Free Woody (KOR) [Social Charter – Choeseonbong (Imperial Price)] – Moon Jung Kyun – 7.6
3. Mighty Runner (KOR) [Pacificbounty – Roan All Over (Fight Over)] – Shin Hyoung Cheol – 2.1
Distances: 1.5 lengths/0.5 lengths – 12 ran


Weekend Preview

The weekend is almost upon us and that means that after a four day break, racing returns to the peninsula. Busan will start things off on Friday, Seoul and Jeju race on Saturday and all three tracks will host cards on Sunday.

Headlining the weekend’s action is Saturday’s showdown between Mighty Runner and Namchonuijijon over 2000 metres at Seoul. A late developer, five year old Mighty Runner has won his last five outings and will still have a two kilo advantage over Namchonuijijon. Last year’s Ttukseom Cup winner struggled after his big race win, but was second last time and returns after more than two months off. Busan’s main event is on Friday with Luna and Pick Me Up among a field of twelve going over nine furlongs.

With just three weeks to go until the first leg of the Triple Crown, it’s possible that the the future KRA Cup Mile winner has already had their last outing before the big race, but nevertheless there remain some three year olds to look out for. At Seoul, Red Ball steps up in class in race 10 on Saturday in a bid to make it three straight wins while on Sunday, Seokcheong, who suffered his first reverse last time out, will appear in race 8. Busan hosts a three year old race on Sunday with Namdo Jeap looking the pick of a small field of eight.

Busan Race Park

Friday March 13: 10 races, first post 13:00
Sunday March 15: 6 races, first post 12:40

Seoul Race Park

Saturday March 14: 12 races, first post 11:20
Sunday March 15: 11 races, first post 11:20

Jeju Race Park hosts nine races on Saturday and ten on Sunday with first post at 12:10 both days. At Seoul, Saturday should be dry and bright but cold, Sunday should be warmer but with a chance of rain. Rain is also forecast at Busan on Friday but it’s expected to be mild and dry by Sunday.

Trifecta to Launch for KRA Cup Mile

The KRA has announced that the trifecta will make its first appearance in Korea on KRA Cup Mile day on April 5. However, on the day, the bet will only be available on the actual Cup Mile race – the first leg of the Korean Triple Crown – which will take place at Busan Race Park. As with the five other types of bet, minimum stake will be 100 won and the maximum will be 100,000 won. Takeout will be 27%, in line with the Quinella and Exacta.

KRA Trifecta

KRA Trifecta

In other gambling news, word is that our old friends at the National Gaming Control Commission (NGCC) aren’t happy with the number of pari-mutuel windows at Seoul Race Park. There are too many and apparently a queuing punter is a responsible punter.   One proposal is that the number of windows that can be open at any one time be reduced. Additionally, the NGCC is holding firm with its long stated aim of limiting off-track betting.

While the NGCC fine-tunes its latest proposals to protect Korean society, at least three  Korean provinces are reported to have expressed an interest in building a fourth race track, which would become necessary if the off-track KRA Plazas are forced to close or have further limits on their size.  Jeolla and Chungcheong Provinces are thought to be the most eager.

Elsewhere in the world of betting, there is happier news for those who bet on US racing. Thoroughbred Bloggers Alliance readers can now get a substantial discount on past performance information from the Daily Racing Form. See the TBA Homepage for details.

Playing Politics Retired

It’s been confirmed that Playing Politics is to be retired from racing. As reported last week, the four year old gelding came back lame after winning his first race at class 1 level on February 21. An x-ray revealed a fracture to his knee and further tests showed he would not be able to return to the track.

Imported to Korea in October 2007, Playing Politics [Outflanker – Political Bluff (Unaccounted For)] is a half brother of Bally Brae, Korea’s most successful imported horse of the past few years. Playing Politics broke the Seoul Race Park track record for 1300 metres in his second outing and went on to win the JRA Trophy Race in October last year. Moving up to class 1, he defeated Subsidy in a race thought by many to symbolise the new generation taking over from the old and a match-up with Dongbanui Gangja – and possibly even Bally Brae himself – was to look forward to.

Instead it was his last race. Retiring with figures of six wins from seven races, we will never know if Playing Politics would have gone on to make the same impact as his older brother. The Korean blogger “샤카” has put together a very good video of all his seven races, complete with appropriately sad music, which is well worth a watch.

Ecton Park on Jeju

The newest addition to Korea’s stallion ranks is Ecton Park, winner of the 1999 Super Derby and Jim Dandy Stakes. The thirteen year old has been purchased by Jeju Island’s Isidore Farm where he will join Yehudi [Sadler’s Wells – Bella Vitessa (Thatching)], Isidore’s first stallion purchase in 2005 and whose first offspring are expected to begin racing later this year.

Ecton Park [Forty Niner – Daring Danzig (Danzig)] has long been a favoured stallion amongst Korean overseas racehorse buyers, with eleven of his foals having been imported. Among these have been Summit Party, the filly who won her first five races including the 2006 JRA Trophy and 2007 Segye Ilbo Cup.

Others include Miss Ecton, who won the Busan Ilbo in 2008, Ecton Cat who is on a run of eleven money winning finishes and Blue Dia, third in the 2007 KRA Cup Classic. Winner of that race was Pocketful of Money and coincidentally her sire, Running Stag [Cozzene – Fruhlingstag (Orsini)] is also a recent arrival in Korea.

Ecton Park’s stud fee for 2009 has reportedly been set at KRW 3.5 Million.

Hat-tip to Sid Fernando.

First Winner for Wepner

Sky Star beats Sandeomi / Machine Gun misses at Seoul
On his fourth day of racing, South African jockey Martin Wepner rode his first Korean winner at Busan Race Park this afternoon. The thirty seven year old partnered Daehan Gangja to a two length victory in the day’s co-feature race, a class 2 handicap over 1600 metres for overseas bred horses.

Racing prominently throughout, Wepner hit the front on the five year old gelding as they entered the home straight and held off a determined challenge from Park Geum Man on the fast finishing outsider Sun Dance. Hot favourite, US import Heukjanggun was a disappointing fifth. For the Australian bred Daehan Gangja, it was a fourth career win. With Sun Dance finishing second, it made for a 1404.8 exacta.

On a good day for Wepner, the newcomer managed to land second place in the other feature race on outsider Homerun Yeowang. The pair finished just a length and a half behind Ikuyasu Kurakane on the highly rated Sky Star. Just as Impeccable did on Friday, Sky Star stepped up to class 2 for the first time, only at the Derby distance of nine furlongs. Kurakane kept Sky Star safely in the pack, making his move as they turned for home, overhauling favourite and fellow three year old Sandeomi in the straight and never looking in danger from there on despite Wepner’s late charge on five year old mare Homerun Yeowang.

Sandeomi had been four from six before today’s race but clearly didn’t appreciate the step up from a mile. Sky Star meanwhile, who had been inconsistent in previous outings, relished it. Although Impeccable has yet to go further than seven furlongs, with the first of the Triple Crown races being the KRA Cup Mile, there is plenty of time for that.

Also at Busan, it was another good day for the partnership of trainer Peter Wolsley and jockey Park Geum Man. After their double on Friday with Mentor and Impeccable, they repeated the feat today; pairing up to land wins on three year old filly Lady In Gala in race 3 and the gelding Running Man in race 4.

Up at Seoul Race Park, on what can only be described as a glorious spring day, Balhaejanggun upset favourite Machine Gun in a tight finish to the feature race. Third favourite Ugildongja led for much of the race but in a blanket finish it was Balhaejanggun who got his nose in front of Seonju Jangsu with Machine Gun in third.

* Jockey Kim Young Jin remains under observation in hospital following a heavy fall from Tobougg King in race 8 at Seoul. The horse was uninjured.

Class 2 (Foreign bred) – Busan Race Park – 1600M – Mar 8, 2009

1. Daehan Gangja (AUS) [West Quest – La Daze (Palace Music)] – Martin Wepner – 18.5
2. Sun Dance (JPN) [Mutafaweq – Ensayista (Maruzensky)] – Park Geum Man – 73.4
3. Sunday Punch (JPN) [Silent Hunter – Makenaide (Arcangues)] – Kim Kyoung Geun – 63.4
Distances: 2 lengths/Nose – 11 ran



Bally Brae is Back Where He Belongs

After four consecutive second placed finishes, 2007 Grand Prix champion Bally Brae stood tall once again at Seoul Race Park this afternoon. Nearly four years after his debut and two weeks after younger brother and stablemate Playing Politics suffered a career threatening injury, the seven year old recorded his fourteenth win in his twenty-seventh outing.

Sent off the marginal favourite in a field of eight, Bally Brae was quickest out of the stalls and led into the first corner with main danger Seoul Teukgeup right behind him. As they turned into the back straight, Yoo Sang Wan brought Pocketful of Money around the field to take up the running. The mare had extended her lead to five lengths as they turned for home but by the time they entered the home straight, the field was right behind her. Moon Se Young shook Bally Brae into action, passing Pocketful of Money with two furlongs to go. He then took the gelding over to the rail and the sprint was on. By now the only danger was Seoul Teukgeup and, under Moon Jung Kyun the big four year old found his run down the centre of the track.

But Bally Brae was not to be beaten today. Not by Seoul Teukgeup and not by Angus Empire who Yang Hee Jin brought roaring late down the outside. The line came in time, champion jockey Moon screaming as they crossed it as if they had won the Grand Prix all over again, not a Saturday afternoon handicap.

Bally Brae has a special place in Korean racing. His first jockey Hong Dae You is now his trainer and in his first big race win, the STC Trophy in 2006, he was ridden by the late Lim Dae Gyu who would also partner him in his first attempt at the Grand Prix on Christmas Eve that year. He would finish second, two places ahead of Subsidy with whom he was to enjoy some memorable battles over the course of the next year before defeating him to take the top prize in the 2007 Grand Prix. 2008 was tougher as he disappointed in the Owners’ Trophy and then Dongbanui Gangja took his Grand Prix crown. However, today Bally Brae emphatically showed he’s not done yet and Moon Se Young was joined by thousands of racegoers in delighting in his victory.

In other races on a gloriously sunny March day at Seoul Race Park, three year old Towering took his third win. A promising but inconsistent performer, Towering was always well placed and came through in the final furlong for a length and a half win. Meanwhile the confusingly named US import Thewon Thewon [Siphon – Marlee’s Rainbow (Geiger Counter)] broke his maiden in spectacular fashion scoring an eleven length domination of race 6.

Meanwhile race 5 resulted in a dead-heat between Dae Hit and Sky Center, with third placed Chonmyeong just a neck behind. Aside from being a dramatic finish, the dead-heat produced the amusing effect (unless you backed it) of favourite Sky Center paying less to win on the Pari-Mutuel than it did to show.

Racing returns to Seoul tomorrow with the first of eleven races going to post at 11:20. Busan gets underway at 12:40 and Jeju at 12:10. It’s going to be a dry and mild day so…Come Racing!

Class 1 (Foreign bred) – Seoul Race Park – 2000M – Mar 7, 2009

1. Bally Brae (USA) [Yarrow Brae – Political Bluff (Unaccounted For)] – Moon Se Young – 2.1
2. Seoul Teukgeup (USA) [Safely’s Mark – Bemmalou (Waquoit)] – Moon Jung Kyun – 2.7
3. Angus Empire (USA) [Lion Cavern – Clever Dorothy (Clever Trick)] – Yang Hee Jin – 5.2
Distances: 2.5 lengths/3 lengths – 8 ran


Impeccable Passes Test

It was another step up in class and another easy win for Impeccable at Busan Race Park this afternoon. The three year old colt had won his previous three races by a combined thirty lengths and today Impeccable [Distilled – Bellebreezy (Foolish Pleasure)] had little trouble disposing of a class 2 field over seven furlongs to confirm his status as the most highly rated three year old on the peninsula.

Breaking from stall nine, the Park Geum Man ridden Impeccable settled in towards the back of the field in the early stages, improved round the turn and finally hit the front with two furlongs to go. Extending his stride in the stretch, he was eased down in the last fifty metres to a six length win.

It was a good day for jockey Park and trainer Peter Wolsley who have an exciting season to look forward to. Two races earlier they also combined to bring home promising filly Mentor [Testa Rossa – Crystal Decanter (Encosta De Lago)] for her fourth win from five races. In other three year old action, Geumbit Sesang [Duality – Shawnee Sunset (True Colors)] stepped up to a mile and got back to winning ways taking race 7 by two lengths for his third win in four.

In the first of two feature races, hot favourite Yeongung Manse took a two length win from Bulpae Yeoksa. In the second, punters kept faith with Golding but the big seven year old struggled again finishing sixth, while giving ten kilos to winner Gangsan Jijo who was scoring for the first time since 2007. Golding is now five races without a win.

Racing returns to Busan on Sunday when a six race card gets underway at 12:40. Tomorrow, the action is at Seoul (11:20) and Jeju (12:10).