Month: May 2009

Hwangnyongsaji Battles Past Gi Ra Seong

Choi Beom Hyun in form but Park inches closer to milestone
Hwangnyongsaji and Gi Ra Seong fought a tough stretch battle in the main event at Seoul race Park this afternoon and it was the four year old Hwangnyongsaji who got the better of his older rival to record his ninth career victory.

As Kim Ok Sung on Jigusangwiryeok set a fast early pace, only Choi Beom Hyun on Gi Ra Seong chose to try to keep up with Jun Deok Young keeping Hwangnyongsaji at the head of the main pack a few lengths back. As they turned into the home straight, Jigusangwiryeok tired to leave Hwangnyongsaji to take the line half a length ahead of Gi Ra Seong with Lucky Mountain a further length and a half back.

The defeat was a rare setback for Choi Beom Hyun on an afternoon where the jockey landed three winners. His first came on New Zealand import The Key Lucky [Danroad – Diamond Flute (Clay Hero)], the three year old filly breaking her maiden in race 4. Choi also took wins on highly rated gelding Brothers in race 5 and Hi Friends in race 9, the latter seeing off favourite Grandzif by two lengths.

Grandzif’s jockey was Park Tae Jong and Korea’s most successful ever rider moved a step closer to reaching the next milestone his career – 1500 wins. A wire to wire victory in Gwacheon Jijon in race 8 took Park to 1496 and all eyes will be on his mounts next week to see if they can carry him to the landmark figure.

At Busan Race Park the feature race was won by favourite Glory Champ, who just beat out Annika Queen in the photograph. However, the race was marred by a fatal injury to Janggun Sinhwa. The five year old winner of six races was pulled up in the back straight.

Class 1 (Korean bred) – Seoul Race Park – 2000M – May 31, 2009

1. Hwangnyongsaji [Slew Gin Fizz – Wild Guess (Wild Rush)] – Jun Deok Young – 3.0
2. Gi Ra Seong [Precise End – Dauntless Cat (Mountain Cat)] – Choi Beom Hyun – 2.9
3. Lucky Mountain [Silent Warrior – Myeonggaheui (Revere)] – Cho Kyoung Ho
Distances: 0.5 lengths/1.75 lengths – 11 ran



Dankee’s Pal Noses out Bally Brae

Bally Brae was finishing the fastest but Dankee’s Pal just managed to hold off the seven year old to claim victory by the narrowest of margins in the feature race at Seoul Race Park this afternoon.

When these two met last month, the result was reversed and agin Dankee’s Pal hit the front early while Moon Se Young kept Bally Brae in the middle of the ten strong field. This time, however, although Bally Brae, carrying six kilos more than his rival, began relentlessly closing the gap in the straight, Dankee’s Pal, under Cho Kyoung Ho, just did enough to hang on. Seongpacheonha was a well beaten third.

One race earlier, Santos Chavez got his final weekend’s riding underway with a win, taking race 9 on outsider Gamunhuye. In other races, there were wins for Lhotse Shar and Saegisang.

Class 1 (Foreign bred) – Seoul Race Park – 2000M – May 30, 2009

1. Dankee’s Pal (USA) [Max’s Pal – Dankee (Regal Intention)] – Cho Kyoung Ho – 2.7
2. Bally Brae (USA) [Yarrow Brae – Political Bluff (Unaccounted For)] – Moon Se Young – 1.6
3. Seongpacheonha (AUS) [Agnes World – House Of Chimes (Bellotto)] – Park Tae Jong – 21.9
Distances: Nose/8 lengths – 10 ran


Weekend Preview

It’s been a turbulent week on the peninsula. With the suicide of former President Roh Moo Hyun last Saturday morning shortly followed by North Korea’s nuclear test forty-eight hours later, as well as “Swine Flu” finally making its way into the news, even in a country where there is scarcely a quiet week, this one has been different.

As reported yesteraday, the regular Friday racing at Busan is off so as not to clash with President Roh’s funeral. The rest of the weekend’s cards will go ahead as planned, however, and horses will be running at Seoul Race Park from 11:20 on Saturday morning.

Bally Brae is the biggest name on show over the weekend. The seven year old former horse of the year is looking for his third straight win and has the beating of his ten rivals in Saturday’s feature race. However, he will be conceding at least six kilos to all of his rivals, a handicap that could let in the likes of Dankee’s Pal and Seungyu Sinhwa.

Busan Race Park

Sunday May 31: 6 races, first post 12:40

Seoul Race Park

Saturday May 30: 12 races, first post 11:20
Sunday May 31: 11 races, first post 11:20

Jeju Race Park hosts cards on Saturday and Sunday with first post at 12:10 both days. The weather is forecast to be dry, bright and hot.

Friday at Busan Cancelled for Presidential Funeral

The Korea Racing Authority (KRA) has confirmed that this Friday’s meeting at Busan Race Park has been cancelled. The funeral for former Korean President Roh Moo Hyun will take place at Gyeongbok Palace in Seoul at 11am on Friday.

Roh, a Busan native, jumped to his death last Saturday morning in his home village of Bongha.

Sunday’s meeting at Busan will go ahead as planned, as will Saturday and Sunday’s cards at Seoul Race Park.

Wangson Steps up to Win Sports Chosun

Beomtti and Sandeomi also win
Wangson came through late to land a convincing win in the Sports Chosun Cup at Seoul Race Park this afternoon. The four year old ran at the back of the pack for most of the 1800 metre race before coming through with a stong run in the home straight to have victory secured with half a furlong still to run.

The Sports Chosun Cup is traditionally an opportunity for those four year olds who were either not quite ready for the previous year’s major three year old races or who competed but hadn’t yet reached their peak, to kick on to the top level of Korean racing.

Seven Card led for much of the race and hung on for second place to make it a one-two finish for his and Wangson’s sire, Distilled. Pre-race favourite Happy Queen finishing strongly in third. For Wangson, it is a fifth win in eleven outings and his next race will be in category 1 company.

In other races at Seoul, three year old filly Beomtti threw her name back into contention for big race honours with a surprise win in race 7 beating out two other highly rated fillies in the process. Sangsangbong and My Symphony were more fancied, but it was Beomtti, under Yoo Seung Wan, who came through to snatch the lead and the victory with less than 20 metres remaining. Beomtti is now on three wins from five runs and the three year old filly picture in Seoul is looking increasingly interesting. Whether one can kick on and make a serious challenge for the Oaks in Busan in August is another matter.

In Seoul’s second most valuable race, Blue Pin took his third straight victory. The colt, whose form arrived too late for entry into the Derby picture was a comfortable four length winner.

Meanwhile, another colt who skipped the Derby was in action at Busan Race Park this afternoon. Sandeomi was the only one of the top six finishers in the KRA Cup Mile not to journey to Seoul for the Derby. Today he ran out a comfortable winner over a mile in race 5. Busan’s feature race went the way of Gangsan Jijo. The six year olf New Zealand bred gelding beat out Power Captain and Admiral Reigart in a tight photo finish.

Sports Chosun Cup – Seoul Race Park – 1800M – May 24, 2009

1. Wangson (KOR) [Distilled – Eastern Tide (Far Out East)] – Kim Young Jin – 4.9
2. Seven Card (KOR) [Distilled – Youcancallmebetty (Buckaroo)] – Kim Ok Sung – 4.4
3. Happy Queen (KOR) [Revere – C. Bop (Aly Dark)] – Cho Kyoung Ho 3.4
Distances: 2 lengths/0.5 lengths – 12 ran



Weekend Preview

Sports Chosun Cup / Gaeseon Janggun / Mighty Runner
After the the excitement of Derby weekend it’s back to normal this week as racing once again returns to the peninsula. Big race of the weekend is the Sports Chosun Cup at Seoul Race Park on Sunday afternoon, but both Friday at Busan and Saturday at Seoul also have some interesting races.

Last year’s top Korean-bred three year old, Gaeseon Janggun headlines Busan’s Friday card. The Minister’s Cup winner faces seven opponents over 2000 metres in race 10. He’ll be favourite but will be giving at least five kilos to a host of proven winners such as Mirae Cheonsa, Boryeong Bulbit, Sinheung Gangja and even Pick Me Up. Sunday at Busan sees two of the southern track’s most prominent overseas bred horses face off as Golding goes up against Admiral Reigart.

While the Sports Chosun Cup is Seoul’s feature race of the weekend (full preview to follow), Saturday sees a fascinating feature race as Ttukseom Cup winner Mighty Runner faces among others, Hongji, Machine Gun and Ugildongja over 1900 metres.

Busan Race Park

Friday May 22: 10 races, first post 13:00
Sunday May 24: 6 races, first post 12:40

Seoul Race Park

Saturday May 23: 12 races, first post 11:20
Sunday May 24: 11 races, first post 11:20

Jeju Race Park will host pony racing cards on Saturday and Sunday with a first post time of 12:10 on both days. Sunday sees the Jeju Owner’s Cup, one of the island’s top races of the year. Established winners Mansokchum and Medaljeonseon will come up against three year old filly Cheonjibusa, who has six wins from eight outings in the race, which is run over a mile.

The current wet weather is predicted to continue throughout the weekend with showers likely at both tracks.

Sangseung Ilro Romps the Derby

Filly on course for Triple Crown after destroying Derby field
There were doubts about Sangseung Ilro. Yes, she had won the KRA Cup Mile pulling away, but the Cup Mile is not the Derby and Seoul’s best had stayed home that day in April. There are no doubters now.

Seoul’s best didn’t stay home today and they were found wanting as Sangseung Ilro destroyed the best colts Korea has to offer to win the Derby at Seoul Race Park this afternoon and in doing so, take herself to within one race of completing the Triple Crown.

As expected, it was Nice Choice who was sent off favourite, with Sangseung Ilro fourth in the betting, behind Seokcheong and Yeonseung Daero. As the field broke, it was Namdo Jeap who grabbed the early lead under Shin Hyoung Cheol, standing in for Martin Wepner who lost the ride reportedly for failing to weigh-in on time.

Namdo Jeap, second in the Cup Mile last month, continued to lead through the back-straight with Yeonseung Daero, Seokcheong and Khanui Jeguk following close behind. Jo Sung Gon meanwhile was keeping Sangseung Ilro tucked in at the back of the field. Jo began to make his move as they rounded the home turn coming level with Nice Choice in the middle of the field as they exited the turn and entered the home straight.

When the filly started to sprint, however, there were no equals. As in the Cup Mile, Namdo Jeap battled valiantly but once caught, was never going to be able to fight back. Sangseung Ilro ran on to win by five lengths on the line, Jo Sung Gon comfortable in victory with half a furlong still to go. Namdo Jeap completed the same 1-2 as in the Cup Mile while Baengnyeonbong salvaged a tiny amount of pride for Seoul, finishing third. Rank outsider Pangpang, the only other filly in the field, ran a creditable fourth. Yeonseung Daero came in fifth.

Favourite Nice Choice never got involved and crossed the line in sixth, while second favourite Seokcheong disappeared in the home straight and came home ninth. It was another miserable classic for Seoul trained horses. With Busan raiders taking four of the five money finishes, the pressure is going to be on the beleaguered Seoul backstretch to take a long hard look at itself and figure out what it is doing wrong.

Sangseung Ilro is the fifth filly to win the Derby and she is now on course to become the first to land the Triple Crown. She will have to wait a long time to do it, however, as the final leg isn’t until the Minister’s Cup, back at Seoul in October. Before that, however, she will have the opportunity to add the Korean Oaks to her collection at Busan in August.

Overnight, the fear had been that the rain which had fallen throughout yesterday’s card would continue into today and that by post time, the track would be a quagmire. Instead, it was dry from early morning and a strong wind around lunchtime dried the track out considerably and by the time the Derby got underway, the sun had been shining for quite some time. The poor forecast, however, meant that a slightly smaller crowd than hoped for enjoyed the now traditional free entry to the track on Derby day.

Korean Derby (G.I) – Seoul Race Park – 1800M – May 17, 2009

1. Sangseung Ilro (F) [Concept Win – Miss Whiskey (Whiskey Wisdom)] – Jo Sung Gon – 8.1
2. Namdo Jeap [Ft. Stockton – Wandering Katie (Tejano)] – Shin Hyoung Cheol – 19.8
3. Baengnyeonbong [Al Naba – Sansonvino Art (Mister C.)] – Kim Ok Sung – 19.8
Distances: 5 lengths/3 lengths
Also Ran: 4. Pangpang; 5. Yeonseung Daero; 6. Nice CHoice; 7. Money Teukgeup; 8. Sky Star; 9. Seokcheong; 10. Triple Canon; 11. Khanui Jeguk; 12. Impeccable; 13. Khanui Huye; 14. Red Ball

One race before the Derby, the final International Exchange race of the weekend took place. The unbeaten Gangho was sent off the odds-on favourite but it was third favourite Free Hugs who emerged from the pack to land the victory from Saerounachim and Afternoon Dove – Gangho a disappointing fourth:

JRA Trophy – Seoul Race Park – 1200M – May 17, 2009

1. Free Hugs (AUS) [Fantastic Light – Woodie (Woodman)] – Cho Kyoung Ho – 5.6
2. Saerounachim (NZ) [Pyrus – Jouet (Langfuhr)] – Kim Dong Cheol – 57.5
3. Afternoon Dove (USA) [Afternoon Deelites – Flying Dove (Dove Hunt)] – Jung Ki Young – 35.1
Distances: 2.5 lengths/Neck – 14 ran

* He may have been jocked off Sangseung Ilro for the Derby, but Eiki Nishimura responded in the best possible way, doubling the two most valuable races on offer at Busan Race Park this afternoon. The Japanese rider landed race 5 on Hangang Jeil and race 6 on Jewang.