Month: April 2009

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.


Weekend Preview

The cherry blossoms are out, temperatures are in the low twenties and three days of unbroken sunshine are forecast – with Spring very much underway, there’s no better place to be this weekend than the racecourse. It’s Ttukseom Cup weekend at Seoul Race Park with the big race off at 5pm on Sunday (see full preview) and there’s plenty of other action too.

As usual, Busan kicks things off on Friday with the action moving to Seoul and Jeju on Saturday before all three tracks host cards on Sunday.

Busan Race Park

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

Seoul Race Park

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

Jeju Race Park has nine races on Saturday and ten on Sunday with first post time 12:10 on both days. The current weather forecast is looking fantastic across the whole peninsula all weekend. Come Racing!

* Indian jockey Rahul Shinde will make his Korean debut at Busan on Sunday. We’ll have a full profile of the latest addition to the overseas jockey ranks next week.

Namchonuijijon set for Ttukseom Cup Defence

Seoul Race Park’s biggest race of the year so far comes under orders on Sunday afternoon as the Park Dae Heung trained pair of Namchonuijijon and Myeongmun Gamun head the field for the Group Three Ttukseom Cup.

Horse of the Year in 2008, the eight year old Myeongmun Gamun will be dropping down to seven furlongs for the first time since the corresponding race in 2006 when he finished fifth – his worst ever finish in a career spanning thirty one races so far in which he has never been out of the money. Nevertheless, Myeongmun Gamun’s only outing this year ended in a surprise defeat and he hasn’t raced since January.

Winner of this race in 2008, Namchonuijijon didn’t kick on after last year’s race but opened his 2009 account with a smart win last month. In that race he finished ahead of two of his rivals here, Free Woody and Mighty Runner, the latter suffering his first defeat in five races.

Also going are the “three sevens”; Triple Seven, Lucky Seven and the impressive but untried at this level so far Seven Card, as well as mares Seonju Jangsu and Geumsuni. The race is off at 17:00. See below for a full list of runners, records and riders (Races/1st/2nd/3rd):

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

1. Highway Star – (71/5/5/9) – Jung Pyeong Soo
2. Myeongmun Gamun – (31/17/3/6) – Cho Kyoung Ho
3. Seonju Jangsu – (40/6/11/3) – Yang Hee Jin
4. Seven Card – (9/5/3/0) – Yoo Seung Wan
5. Mighty Runner – (19/6/3/4) – Kim Hyo Seob
6. Saebyeok Dongja – (34/10/5/2) – Shin Hyoung Cheol
7. Lucky Seven – (21/5/5/1) – Lee Sang Hyuk
8. Free Woody – (17/5/5/3) – Moon Jung Kyun
9. Triple Seven – (15/4/2/4) – Choi Beom Hyun
10. Taebaek Janggun – (25/7/3/0) – Park Tae Jong
11. Namchonuijijon – (20/6/7/3) – Jung Ki Young
12. Geumsuni – (21/6/4/2) – Han Sung Yeol

Obituary: Saegangja

Record career earnings / First domestic Grand Prix winner
The KRA has announced that Saegangja, winner of 33 races including a Grand Prix and three consecutive Chairman’s Trophies in the late nineties and the early part of this decade, died on March 28 at the age of thirteen. The gelding had been suffering from colic and was euthanized after failing to respond to treatment.

Foaled in 1996, Saegangja was by the sire Fiercely [Danzig – Whirl Series (Roberto)] and out the New Zealand bred mare Exotic Goddess [Nuage d’Or – Rhine Goddess (Rheingold)]. He made his racecourse debut in September 1998, running third of seven in a maiden race over six furlongs. From this relatively inauspicious start he returned the following month to beat an odds-on favourite over five furlongs and was then undefeated in his next fourteen races taking him up until the middle of 2000.

These included victories in the 1999 Chairman’s Trophy, the Munhwa Ilbo Cup and the end of season Grand Prix becoming the first Korean bred winner of arguably the year’s most prestigious race. In the Grand Prix, he was the first of a group of horses to overhaul the tiring Sinsedae, himself winner of 43 races, in the final furlong.

His winning streak was broken in the Owner’s Association Trophy in April 2000 by the unfancied Pisan. He quickly recovered his form, however, retaining the Chairman’s Trophy and Munhwa Ilbo Cup over the following months but with only six runs under his belt for the year, skipped the Grand Prix. In seven races, he made it a hat-trick of Chairman’s Trophies by a neck but, in the first signs he may have reached his peak, suffered losses in the Minister’s Cup and SBS Cup before running third in the Grand Prix.

In 2002, he lost his Chairman’s Trophy title but managed second placings in the Ttukseom Cup and in the Grand Prix while continuing to win top class handicaps. As his careeer wound down, so did his speed failing to win from seven races in 2004. However, in his first race of 2005, he bounced right back to the winner’s encosure in his season debut and added one more before being retired at the age of nine. Saegangja (1996-2009) retired after 58 races, 33 wins, 8 seconds and 5 thirds with career earnings of KRW 1.5 Billion, still a Korean record.

Shaka has a full obituary (in Korean) complete with video. The “And justice for all” blog carries pictures from his retirement.

Cup Mile Day Round-Up

Sangseung Ilro landing the first leg of the Triple Crown was undoubtedly the highlight of the day (video now available here), but there was plenty of other action on the peninsula.

At Seoul, it was another female horse making headlines as Pocketful Of Money made the most of a seven kilo weight advantage to comfortably see off Angus Empire and Seoul Teukgeup. the mare went wire to wire for a five length win in Seoul’s feature race.

Earlier in the day, My Symphony landed a competitive fillies race over 1200 metres. The three year old, making her third start scored her second win. Also winning was Australian bred debutante Jinglebella [Belong To Me – Chandrika (Kenmare)]. The gelding ovetook favourite Big Boss in the final furlong and ran on for a three length win.

At Busan, following the Cup Mile there was a class 1 handicap and New Zealand bred Gunham scored his first victory in almost two years. The seven year old had a long lay off in 2008 and had been well down the field in his two starts since returning. This time, however, he went wire to wire for 2000 metres to defeat a field including Shane Bob, Florida Native and 2008 Busan Metropolitan winner Hardride.

Back to the Cup Mile and the Trifecta (or more accurately “Trio”, as it was pick 3 in any order rather than a trifecta) was launched for the race and punters appear to have embraced it. The Trio pool for the KRA Cup Mile was just under KRW 600 Million (about $450,000) and the first three of Sangseung Ilro, Namdo Jeap and Yeonseung Daero in any order paid 53.6. The pool was larger than that for Quinella Place, however, it was six times smaller than the regular Quinella.

Finally, readers may have noticed Korearacing has finally succumbed to Twitter. As has been discussed elsewhere, Twitter and horse racing – indeed many sports – are potentially a very good fit. The feed will be updated from the track on big racedays where possible (wi-fi is usually blocked at Seoul Race Park to frustrate illegal betting signals but yesterday it wasn’t) and perhaps during the week too. Unfortunately Korearacing cannot guarantee that all updates will be as good/lucky as the first one, pointing out Sangseung Ilro as the value bet for the KRA Cup Mile…