Month: April 2009

Holiday Weekend Preview

Gukje Sinmun Cup / Gayasanseong returns
With May Day on Friday, Buddha’s Birthday on Saturday and Children’s Day on Tuesday, Korea is gearing up for what for many will be a five-day weekend. May Day isn’t an official public holiday but most companies take the day off for “International Labour Day”. With most of this year’s holidays falling on weekends, for many this will be the longest holiday of the year.

While the first Saturday in May is one of the biggest days on the World Racing calender, Sunday will see the peninsula’s feature races of the weekend with the Gukje Sinmun at Busan while at Seoul, Gayasanseong – former winner of the President’s Cup – returns after a year on the sidelines. Now eight years old, he’ll take on a strong field including Top Point, Dashing Champ and Natural Nine.

Busan should benefit from May Day being a Friday and get a large crowd in. Impeccable will be seeking to bounce back from his disappointing run in the KRA Cup Mile, stepping back to seven furlongs in race 8. Meanwhile, in the feature race, mares Luna and Annika Queen head the weights over nine furlongs.

Sunday’s big race is the Gukje Sinmun Cup. For Class 1 foreign bred horses, it is run over seven furlongs and attracts a full field of fourteen including Miss Ecton, Hwanggeumbit Taeyang, Crafty Louis and Angle Slam as well as Mighty Hero, the filly with five wins from her first eight outings. The big race is off at 15:35 and will be simulcasted to Seoul.

Busan Race Park

Friday May 1: 10 races, first post 13:00
Sunday May 3: 6 races, first post 12:40

Seoul Race Park

Saturday May 2: 12 races, first post 11:20
Sunday May 3: 11 races, first post 11:20

Jeju Race Park hosts ten pony races on both Saturday and Sunday with a first post time of 12:10. While Busan is forecast to be fine for both its days of racing, Seoul is looking likely to be unsettled. Nevertheless, it’s holiday weekend so come racing!

First 2009 Horse Rankings Published

Myeongmun Gamun / Dongbanui Gangja head tables
Standings for the first quarter of 2009 have been released aand there are no surprises as Myeongmun Gamun tops the domestic table while Dongbanui Gangja heads the list of overseas bred horses currently running at Seoul.

The tables, produced four times a year, distinguish only between locally bred and overseas bred with points worked out by race performances. In the domestic list, Myeongmun Gamun remains on top although his poor performance in this month’s Ttukseom Cup may see him slip down in future, likewise Mighty Runner’s win in that race should see him rise from his current spot in tenth. With Baekpa currently in the United States – and still looking for her first race – Top Point is top filly or mare on the list, in fourth place overall.

In the overseas ranks, Dongbanui Gangja takes top spot ahead of Bally Brae. Gangho, with four wins from four currently lies in twentieth place and is expected to line up against similarly highly thought of young import Bulpae Gisang in next month’s JRA Cup. Poignantly, Playing Politics rises into the top ten for the first time. The four year old was retired injured last month and although there have been rumours that if the long injured Baekgwang’s anticipated comeback next month goes ahead successfully, Playing Politics may receive the same stem-cell treatment, few expect to see him on the track again.

Here are the top tens with points earned:

Quarter 1 2009 Standings – Overseas Bred

1. Dongbanui Gangja (USA) 135
2. Bally Brae (USA) 133
3. Baekjeonmupae (NZ) 131
4. Angus Empire (USA) 127
5= Vicar Love (USA) 125
5= Seoul Teukgeup (USA) 125
5= Subsidy (USA) 125
8. Playing Politics (USA) 123
9. Saerounbisul (NZ) 122
10. Yodongseong (USA) 119

Quarter 1 2009 Standings – Korean Bred

1. Myeongmun Gamun 129
2. Secret Weapon 128
3. Good Day 126
4. Top Point 124
5. Hongji 121
6. Namchonuijijon 118
7. Saebyeok Dongja 116
8= Balhae Janggun 114
8= Machine Gun 114
10= Mighty Runner 112
10= Natural Nine 112
10= Nujindo 112

The Thoroughbred Bloggers Alliance produces standings for US based horses. Click here for the latest table.

Bally Brae Does It Again

Ebony Storm finally wins / Iku bows out blank
Bally Brae emphatically proved that his return to the Winner’s Circle last month was no fluke as he powered to another big race win at Seoul Race Park this afternoon. The seven year old had scarcely a single backer in the build-up to the race with the younger pair of Baekjeonmupae and Vicar Love heavily favoured.

Punters knew better, however, and be it out of sentimentality – and Korean racegoers are not, by and large, a sentimental lot – or a genuine belief that the 2006 Horse of the Year is still at the top of his game, by post time Bally Brae had been backed into favourite.

He didn’t disappoint. Vicar Love set the early pace until Cho Kyoung Ho brought the five year old Dankee’s Pal around the field in the back-straight, stretching out to a lead of over five lengths. He maintained the lead going into the home straight and for a while it looked as though he may hold on. Bally Brae, Baekjeonmupae and Vicar Love entered the home straight together but it was only Bally Brae who had the speed to run down Dankee’s Pal, passing him in sight of the line to enable Moon Se Young to perform his familiar victory celebration on this horse as they crossed it.

Some had pointed out that last time, Bally Brae had not had much to beat. Today the big boys were there and now, Dongbanui Gangja is the only horse to have the beating of Bally Brae on current form. Korean racing needs more horses like Bally Brae and another it needs more like is his great rival from 2006, Subsidy. Today the eight year old showed that while he may have slowed, he still belongs in top class races, running on for a creditable fifth, just a length behind Vicar Love, to record his thirty third money finish from thirty six races.

Earlier, Subsidy’s little sister Soseono was denied a second career victory by the narrowest of margins. The filly was leading in the final furlong of race 8, only to be pipped on the line by favourite New Destination.

Down at Busan Race Park, it was Ikuyasu Kurakane’s final day in the saddle in Korea. The Japanese jockey, who will be sorely missed by punters on the south coast, had an uncharacteristically quiet day troubling the placings just once – a third placed finish on Choedae Geoljakpum just behind Phasmes and Jilju Hara in a three way photo finish to race 5.

Nearly a year after his Derby triumph, Ebony Storm finally made his way back to the Winner’s Circle in Busan’s feature. The four year old has managed plenty of second placed finishes but today was finally able to go one better with a fast finish to come from behind to overhaul Gangjaui Beopchik and long time leader Wellbeing Sidae with just metres to spare.

Class 1 (Foreign bred) – Seoul Race Park – 2000M – Apr 26, 2009

1. Bally Brae (USA) [Yarrow Brae – Political Bluff (Unaccounted For)] – Moon Se Young – 2.3
2. Dankee’s Pal (USA) [Max’s Pal – Dankee (Regal Intention)] – Cho Kyoung Ho – 10.0
3. Baekjeonmupae (NZ) [Traditionally – Star Sixty Seven (Phone Trick)] – Moon Jung Kyun – 2.9
Distances: 1.25 lengths/1 length – 12 ran



Weekend Preview

Bally Brae, Subsidy, Baekjeonmupae, Vicar Love – all in one race!
Two of the biggest names in Korean racing will find themselves up against each other once more at Seoul Race Park on Sunday afternoon as Bally Brae and Subsidy renew hostilities for the first time in a year.

They will have it all to do, however, as they will face a stiff challenge from the younger pair of Vicar Love and Baekjeonmupae. With Bally Brae landing victory in his last outing, the seven year old will carry top weight in the 2000 metre race which goes to post at 17:30. Bally Brae has a record of fourteen wins and nine second places from twenty seven outings.

Race fans will have to wait a little longer for the return of Gayasanseong. the eight year old who has been out with injury for a year won’t go in Saturday’s feature. In his place, Balhae Janggun and Machine Gun will share top weight.

Busan Race Park

Friday April 24: 10 races, first post 13:00
Sunday April 26: 6 races, first post 12:40

Seoul Race Park

Saturday April 25: 12 races, first post 11:20
Sunday April 26: 11 races, first post 11:20

Jeju Race Park hosts pony racing cards on Saturday and Sunday with 12:10 the first post time on both days. Weekend weather is forecast to be chilly and unsettled with the likelihood of rain throughout.

Hardride for Shinde’s Debut

A week later than planned, Indian jockey Rahul Shinde is scheduled to make his Korean debut at Busan Race Park on Friday. After missing his one riding engagement last Sunday, with illness the reason given to punters, Shinde is booked to partner last year’s Busan Metropolitan winner Hardride in Friday’s feature race.

Shinde joins the jockey ranks at Busan on an initial contract until the end of August. Like all overseas jockeys, he’ll be a free agent. In India, Shinde has been Champion Jockey at the Hyderabad meet five times and earlier in his career also won three titles in Sri Lanka.

His greatest successes came before 2005 when the previously closed Hyderabad relaxed its rules over none-local jockeys competing. Shinde’s most recent figures for the recently concluded 2008/2009 winter meet were just one win from over ninety rides with nine second and ten third placed finishes.

Meanwhile, Stephan Swanepoel has been telling the KRA’s blog about his time in Korea so far – it’s not been easy but he’s giving it a go, seems to be the gist. The South African jockey mentions being impressed by the infrastructure, if less so by the racing. Click here for the link (in Korean) with photos.

Thanks to Shyam from the “Horses and Races” Indian racing site

Gangho Steps Up and Dominates

Secret Weapon wins/Symphony Sonata beaten
Gangho sent out another warning to Seoul’s elite group of horses as he continued his rapid progress with a fourth straight win at Seoul Race Park this afternoon.

Once more, it was not so much that he won but the manner of it that suggests that this three year old colt has the potential to be the dominant force at the track for some time to come. For the fourth time running, Boo Min Ho took Gangho into an early lead, gave the reins a shake as they rounded the home turn and then allowed him stretch away from the field in the home straight, easing down this time for a nine length win.

This time last year, two three year old imports, Shaving Points and Playing Politics were the horses everyone was talking about. Shaving Points suffered some niggling injuries and hasn’t been able to live up to his early promise. Playing Politics meanwhile was just beginning to demonstrate that he was the real deal when he was struck down with a devastating knee injury in February this year. That he and Gangho will never meet on the track is regrettable. As it is, if Gangho continues to develop as he has so far, the showdown to look forward to will be with Dongbanui Gangja – possibly as early as the Owner’s Association Trophy in June.

While Gangho was the star-attraction of the day, his race wasn’t the feature. That went to Secret Weapon following the early scratching of likely favourite Good Day. For Secret Weapon it was his first win of what had been a disappointing 2009 so far.

Earlier on an eventful day, Ganghan Speed landed a useful fillies and mares race over seven furlongs. The three year old got the better of two year old upstart D Day, who was looking for her third straight win. There was also a second career defeat for Symphony Sonata. The four year old, by E. Dubai and out of First Violin is being watched closely by Korean racegoers due to his parentage. Today he stepped up to class 3 and ran smack into a fully loaded Triple Canon who got the better of him in a stretch battle for a three length win. Triple Canon is now on four wins from seven and is very much a possible Derby contender.

Down at Busan Race Park, there was also an eventful card. Dangdae Star landed the feature race and Sandeomi and Haste found themselves upset a race earlier by a late run from Glory Winner, the five year old gelding upsetting the three year old classic hopefuls.

Class 2 (Foreign bred) – Seoul Race Park – 1400M – Apr 19, 2009

1. Gangho (USA) [Peace Rules – Honor Delilah (Honor Grades)] – Boo Min Ho – 1.5
2. Kahnui Jeonseol (NZ) [Howbaddouwantit – Flash (Jetball)] – Ham Was Sik – 7.9
3. Saerounachim (NZ) [Pyrus – Jouet (Langfuhr)] – Kim Dong Cheol – 36.5
Distances: 9 lengths/0.75 lengths – 12 ran



Dongbanui Gangja Makes it Six

It was easy once more for Dongbanui Gangja as the four year old again confirmed his status as Seoul’s top horse with a commanding victory at Seoul Race Park this afternoon.

Carrying at least seven kilos more than any of his eight rivals, last year’s Grand Prix winner was, as usual, tucked in towards the rear of the field by Choi Beom Hyun as they emerged from the gate at the start of the ten furlong race.

Improving in the back-straight, Choi brought Dongbanui Gangja towards the front as they turned for home and the race was won with nothing likely to live with him in the straight. At the line, the winning margin was seven lengths.

Dongbanui Gangja is now unbeaten in six and has lifetime figures of eleven wind from eighteen outings. The well beaten second was Seungyu Sinhwa with Brilliant Knight taking third.

In other races, after nearly a year without a win, jockey Lee Ae Li recorded her second in as many racing days by taking race 1 on Haedong Teukgeup. Moon Se Young was back in action today but the champion jockey may have been suffering exhaustion on his return from honeymoon as he unusually falied to register a winner.

Racing returns to Seoul tomorrow with the first off at 11:20. Gangho, who could be giving Dongbanui Gangja a run for his moey later in the year, goes in race 9 at 17:00. Busan Race park gets underway at 12:40 and Jeju Race Park at 12:10.

Class 1 (Foreign bred) – Seoul Race Park – 2000M – Apr 18, 2009

1. Dongbanui Gangja (USA) [Broken Vow – Maremaid (Storm Bird)] – Choi Beom Hyun – 1.3
2. Seungyu Sinhwa (USA) [Commendable – Backroom Blues (Dixieland Band)] – Oh Kyoung Hoan – 13.7
3. Brilliant Knight (USA) [Lion Hearted – Deputy Lady (French Deputy)] – Park Tae Jong – 7.0
Distances: 7 lengths/0.5 lengths


Weekend Preview

Another week draws to a close and that means it’s time for racing on the peninsula to get underway once more. Busan gets things started on Friday, Seoul and Jeju run on Saturday and all three tracks host cards on Sunday.

Dongbanui Gangja, winner of the 2008 Grand Prix and possibly the top horse in training at Seoul at the moment, will make an apeearance on Saturday. He will be giving his rivals a minimum of eight kilos but will still be the likely favourite in race 11 in a race where he will have the likes of Brilliant Knight and Mexicali Blues for company.

Meanwhile on Sunday, a possible contender for this year’s Grand Prix, US import Gangho, will bid to go four for four as he steps up to class 2 in race 9. Also on Sunday, two of the top locally bred horses in the shape of five year old Good Day and six year old Secret Weapon will go head to head over 1900 metres in race 10.

Busan’s main action will be on Sunday. Golding heads the field in the feature race but many eyes will be on race 5 where promising filly Haste will be going up against an interesting field including KRA Cup Mile also ran Sandeomi.

Busan Race Park

Friday April 17: 10 races, first post 13:00
Sunday April 19: 6 races, first post 12:40

Seoul Race Park

Saturday April 18: 12 races, first post 11:20
Sunday April 19: 11 races, first post 11:20

Jeju Race Park will get its pony racing cards underway at 12:10 on both Saturday and Sunday. Weather has been unpredicatable for much of the week but is forecast to be dry throughout the weekend. Come Racing!

Mighty Runner Sprints to Ttukseom Cup Success

Mighty Runner finally lived up to his potential as the five year old strode to victory in the Ttukseom Cup in front of a huge crowd at Seoul Race Park this afternoon. Sixth in the betting, the horse who won only once in his first thirteen outings held off a field including Myeongmun Gamun and last year’s winner Namchonuijijon over seven furlongs.

Sent off slight favourite, the notoriously recalcitrant Myeongmun Gamun lapsed back into his bad habits at the gate. After thirty one starts, the 2008 Horse of the Year is still no fonder of the starting stalls than he ever has been and is wise to the attempts of the handlers to coax him in. With a leadin, a blindfold and brute force all failing, after a full five minutes, the eight year decided that actually he wouldn’t mind running today and lined up. His pre-race exertions may have taken their toll as he was slow to get away.

It was the mare Geumsuni, breaking from stall 12 who sprinted across the track to take the early lead with Seven Card right behind her as Kim Hyo Seob tucked Mighty Runner into third as they reached the end of the back-straight.

Geumsuni continued to lead as the field came together rounding the home turn and she led Taebaek Janggun into the home straight first. Taebaek Janggun quickly dropped out of contention as Mighty Runner started the sprint, hitting the front with a furlong to go. Meanwhile, Jung Ki Yong coaxed Namchonuijijon into top gear down the outside with Triple Seven and Choi Beom Hyun emerging from the pack to join the challenge.

They were too late, however, as Mighty Runner never looked in danger of being caught with the winning margin two and a half lengths on the line. Namchonuijijon just managed to hold off Triple Seven for third with Geumsuni staying on to a creditable fourth. Myeongmun Gamun’s traditional late run came too late with the favourite only maging fifth place, equally his worst ever finish in this race in 2006.

For Mighty Runner, it was a seventh career victory with six of these now coming in his last seven outings. He finished sixth behind J.S. Hold in the 2007 Derby but remained in the lower ranks until beginning his remarkable run last September which saw him improve from class 4 to class 1 in the space of four races.

Ttukseom Cup (G.III) – Seoul Race Park – 1400M – Apr 12, 2009

1. Mighty Runner (KOR) [Pacific Bounty – Roan All Over (Fight Over)] – Kim Hyo Seob – 16.1
2. Namchonuijijon (KOR) [Concept Win – Intriga (Lord At Law)] – Jung Ki Yong – 3.4
3. Triple Seven [The Groom Is Red – Impudence (Grand Lodge)] – Choi Beom Hyun – 5.0
Distances: 2.5 lengths/Head
Also Ran: 4. Geumsuni; 5. Myeongmun Gamun; 6. Seven Card; 7. Free Woody; 8. Saebyeok Dongja; 9. Seonju Jangsu; 10. Lucky Seven; 11. Highway Star; 12. Taebaek Janggun



Wig Forces Field To Pay in the Sunshine

Torpedo Mast wins / First victory for Abigail
Punters brought the sun-block out for the first time this year as Seoul basked in the sunshine for the first day of the Ttukseom Cup meeting. And with the cherry blossoms in bloom in the infield and a big Saturday crowd in attendance, it was five year old mare Wig who landed the day’s feature race.

Sent off second in the betting, Wig made a late run under Choi Beom Hyun to overhaul Esteban, who had led from the gate, in the final furlong. Favourite Baram Queen, one of Seoul’s top fillies last season, ran into second with the tiring Esteban hanging on for third. Wig ran in a slew of big races last year but went through her entire four year old season without a win. Today’s victory takes her on to five in her career.

In the top race for foreign bred horses, Torpedo Mast took the honours, outsprinting odds-on favourite Free Hugs to win by a Head on the line. Earlier, on what was a generally low-key card, Australian-bred My Photo Map took his second consecutive win, overcoming another odds favourit in Badauibyeol.

In other races, after three consecutive second place finishes, promising three year old filly Abigail broke her maiden, taking a very competitive race 5 with victory over debut making Australian two year old Sumba.

With champion jockey Moon Se Young away on honeymoon, the old guard took the opportunity to make up some ground in the jockey’s championship. Park Tae Jong landed a treble with wins on Smart Khan, Saebyeokgisang and Galmasan while fellow veteran Kim Hyo Seob managed a double. It was also a good day for Stephan Swanepoel. Still to record his first winner in Korea, the South African managed consecutive thirds in races 3 and 4.

Tommorrow sees the main event of the weekend with the 21st running of the Ttukseom Cup with Namchonuijijon and Myeongmun Gamun heading the field. The big race isn’t until 5pm but the first race goes to post at 11:20. Busan gets its card underway at 12:40 and the ponies will be running on Jeju Island from 12:10.