Day: June 18, 2009

Weekend Preview

It’s Owners’ Trophy weekend at Seoul and the big race on Sunday afternoon (see full preview) is the highlight of a busy weekend of racing. Busan gets things underway with an extended eleven race card on Friday which culminates in a clash of Busan titans as Golding, Crafty Louis and Admiral Reigart face off over 1800 metres in the last race. The three big names will all carry over seven kilos more than the remainder of the field though, so an upset could be on the cards.

Sunday’s feature race at Busan is headlined by Procyon. After a dismal second half of 2008, the five year old has won two of his three outings this year. Among those going against him is Sky Star, the colt making his first appearance since a disappinting run in the Derby. To get back in contention, to take the trip back to Seoul for the Minister’s Cup later this year, he’ll need a big run here.

Saturday’s card at Seoul has a competitive feature race as Top Point, currently the leading older female, takes on Hongji, Gayasanseong, Tu Won and Lucky Seven over 1800 metres. Saturday could also be the day when Park Tae Jong becomes the first Korean jockey to land 1500 winners. He needs just one to reach the milestone and if he hasn’t already then Symphony Sonata in race 9 looks likely to get the job done for him.

Busan Race Park

Friday June 19: 11 races, first post 12:30
Sunday June 21: 6 races, first post 12:40

Seoul Race Park

Saturday June 20: 12 races, first post 11:20
Sunday June 21: 11 races, first post 11:20

Jeju Race Park hosts pony racing on Saturday and Sunday with a first post time of 12:10 on both days. It’s the Jeju Ilbo Cup on Sunday, one of the biggest races of the year on the Island. Jeju ponies are strong and the top weight Hanramyeongseng, who has won eleven of his eighteen races, willl carry 74 kilos for the four and a half furlong race.

Dongbanui Gangja Heads Trophy Field

Seoul’s top foreign bred horses will go to post Sunday for one of their biggest events of the year, the Group 3 Seoul Owners’ Association Trophy race. Dongbanui Gangja, winner of last season’s Grand Prix and currently ranked number one horse in Korea, heads the field and will carry the top weight of the thirteen runners.

Apart from last year’s winner Saerounbisul, who has been sidelined since March, the only other big name missing is Bally Brae. The seven year old’s connections opting, as they have in the past, not to subject the former Horse of the Year to the high weight he would likely have been allocated. Bally Brae’s old rival, Subsidy, will line up though. The nine year old may be past his prime but he still finishes in the money more often than not.

Also going and likely to be around at the business end of the race are Vicar Love, Baekjeonmupae and Angus Empire. While Dongbanui Gangja is likely to be favourite, outsiders have won this race in each of the last three years. Here’s a complete look at the runners and riders:

Owners Association Trophy (G.III) – Seoul Race Park – 2000M (Hdcp) – June 21, 2009

1. Seongpacheonha (AUS) [Agnes World – House Of Chimes (Bellotto)] G 4 (24/4/2/5) 52kg – Lee Dong Kuk
A creditable fifth in the Grand Prix last December but unlikely to have more than a place chance.
2. Cash In Your Chips (USA) [Storm Boot – Le Privee (Private Account)] H 5 (17/4/5/2) 52kg – Moon Jung Kyun
Has been beaten by most of this field on various occasions so far this year.
3. Vicar Love (USA) [Vicar – Canberra (Silver Hawk)] C 4 (15/8/1/3) 54kg – Oh Kyoung Hoan
Looked set to be the top imported three year old last year until Dongbanui Gangja intervened. He’s won once this year but has since twice finished behind Baekjeonmupae.
4. Saegisang (AUS) [Commands – Constant in Opal (Lake Coniston)] C 4 (16/5/0/1) 53kg- Ham Wan Sik
His first attempt in the top tier of Korean racing – he has talent but will be hard pushed to feature here.
5. Fly Queen (USA) [Exploit – Fully Approved (With Approval)] M 6 (32/7/6/9) 52kg – Kim Young Jin
Won the KRA Classic and finished fourth in the Grand Prix last year. Second to Angus Empire last time out.
6. Subsidy (USA) [Mr. Prospector – Foreign Aid (Danzig)] G 9 (36/18/5/2) 54kg – Moon Se Young
The legendary Subsidy is reunited with Moon Se Young. It would be a fairytale ending to his career if he could do it but it is unlikely. Nevertheless, expect him to be near a money finish.
7. Angus Empire (USA) [Lion Cavern – Clever Dorothy (Clever Trick)] H 5 (29/9/7/2) 55kg – Yang Hee Jin
Has been in good form lately and will appreciate carrying less weight than usual. A big run will be required to defeat Dongbanui Gangja but he is capable of it.
8. Baekjeonmupae (NZ) [Traditionally – Star Sixty Seven (Phone Trick)] G 4 (22/8/6/1) 55.5kg – Park Tae Jong
Always there or thereabouts, he’s a threat and on a weekend when Park Tae Jong should secure his 1500th winner, he could supply the vetrean jockey with another big race win.
9. Obaek Yechan (AUS) [High Yield – Kanaka Creek (Thunder Gulch)] G 5 (33/5/5/6) 53kg – Kim Ok Sung
Well beaten over the same distance by a number of this field so far this year.
10. Free Hugs (AUS) [Fantastic Light – Woodie (Woodman)] G 4 (22/4/4/3) 53kg – Cho Kyoung Ho
The surprise winner of the JRA Trophy on Derby Day last month, it will be interesting to see how he copes with the big step up in both class and distance.
11. Dongbanui Gangja (USA) [Broken Vow – Maremaid (Storm Bird)] C 4 (18/11/4/2) 58kg – Choi Beom Hyun
The favourite. Unbeaten this year, and usually carried even more weight than this, last year’s Grand Prix winner should be this year’s Owners’ Trophy winner.
12. Seungyu Sinhwa (USA) [Commendable – Backroom Blues (Dixieland Band)] H 7 (35/12/5/2) 53kg – Shim Seung Tae
Winner of a lot of races in his career – but not recently. Ran second to Dongbanui Gangja in April.
13. Afternoon Dove (USA) [Afternoon Deelites – Flying Dove (Dove Hunt)] G 4 (19/4/3/2) 52kg – Yoo Sang Wan
Third in the JRA Trophy last month, he looks to be out of his depth here.

If you’re going to pretend to gamble….

…you can now only pretend to do it for ten hours a day…Not racing related but there have been some regulatory developments in the gambling sector. In the absence of legalized gambling all sorts of alternatives go on in Korea, most of them online. One of the most popular is “virtual gambling” where players take each other on at various games over the internet – Korean Poker or “Go-Stop” being one of the most popular. No money changes hands in these games.

In these games, players are given a certain amount of “virtual money” each day to play with how they choose. There’s no charge for this but when they run out, they have the opportunity to purchase more. Leftover money cannot be redeemed for real money so no actual “gambling” of any consequence takes place – in theory anyway. As with many online games in Korea, a market has sprung up for in-game items. In this case, there are reportedly instances of players selling their credit to other players in pre-arranged games where the “loser” deliberately loses all their game credit in exchange for real money.

Now the Korea Times reports that new regulations are coming in designed to limit players to ten hours each day. No doubt new ways to circumvent these rules will appear – most likely involving the exchange of even more “real” money. In Korea, only foreigners are allowed to legally lose all their money in casinos so Koreans have turned to all manner of different enterprises to get their gambling fix – indoor fishing being a particularly ingenious example before the Supreme Court got wind of it.