Month: July 2009

Hallyu Star Lights Up SBS

Outsider shocks Seoul / Areumdaun Jilju takes Min Ilbo
On a glorious summer’s evening under the lights at Seoul Race Park, long shot Hallyu Star was the shock winner of the SBS Cup.

The six year old had set the early pace in the nine and a half furlong race and had opened up a lead of four lengths at one point in the back straight. With the big guns of Namchonuijijon, Triple Seven, Natural Nine and Baekgwang all gathering behind, it was inevitable that the lead wouldn’t last for long.

It didn’t. The field came roaring back as they entered the home straight and Seoul settled back to see which of the favourites would step up. There was a twist. Rather than succomb, Choi Won Joon coaxed a second wind out of Hallyu Star. Somehow they stayed in front during a pulsating final furlong that saw the first five horses within a length and a half of each other on the line. To add to the shock, the horse closest to them was Lucky Seven, the longest shot on the board. Natural Nine grabbed third while the returning Baekgwang, finishing fast, ran out of track in fourth.

It was another big race let down for Namchonuijijon while Triple Seven never fired, despite being in a good position turning for home, ultimately beating only one home. Baekgwang looked good and ran as expected – he was fourth in the betting and he finished fourth. The vet will have the final say but the signs are good that he has indeed made a full recovery.

Today, however, belongs to Hallyu Star, the old stager winning his sixth race from thirty seven starts. For jockey Choi Won Joon, who put in a sparkling ride, it is also the biggest win of his career.

In what was a sumptious half hour of racing on the peninsula, the lights were on at Busan too as Areumdaun Jilju landed the Gyeongnam-Do Min Ilbo Cup. The only Korean bred horse in the field, Areumdaun Jilju dominated the nine furlong race, taking the lead as they entered the back straight and though tiring late on, did enough to repel a challenge from outsider Haengbok Dream. Filly Miss Ecton finished third. With the win, and in landing a race for foreign bred horses, Areumdaun Jilju further embellishes his reputation.

A little later on at Busan, it was the turn of a three year old to start to repair his reputation. Yeonseung Daero was sent off favourite in the KRA Cup Mile and was well-fancied for the Derby. He flopped in both. Today he began to make amends as he made a very late run to overhaul Distance Runner in the last few strides of the mile long category 1 handicap. The domestic picture looks very bright under the lights of Busan this evening.

Finally, mention must be made of jockey Yoo Mi Ra. The apprentice made her debut over a year ago and today she finally made it into the winner’s circle as she took favourite Tamnahwanhui to victory in race 2. It was only the third time she’d ridden a favourite in over 110 mounts and while she had scored plenty of seconds, the win had eluded her until today. Next month, Yoo will join Lee Ae Li and Park Jin Hee at Busan on Oaks day for the “Lady Jockeys International Challenge” races. Among those set to compete are Australian Claire Lindop and Ireland’s Catherin Gannon. Full preview over the next couple of weeks.

After yesterday’s storm lashed card, perfect conditions and a massive crowd at Seoul in the region of 70,000 made for a wonderful afternoon and evening’s entertainment. Next Sunday will see another big night at Seoul when the Munhwa Ilbo will top the bill.

SBS Cup – Seoul Race Park – 1900M – Jul 19, 2009

1. Hallyu Star (KOR) [Sharp Appeal – Angel (Land Rush)] – Choi Won Joon – 35.2, 4.6
2. Lucky Seven (KOR) [Didyme – Agent Flirt (Double Agent] – Lee Sang Hyuk – 10.9
3. Natural Nine (KOR) [Revere – C. Bop (Aly Dark)] – Oh Kyoung Hoan – 1.4
Distances: 0.5 lengths/Neck
Also ran: 4. Baekgwang; 5. Geumbit Gangja; 6. Daehyo; 7. Namchonuijijon; 8. Triple Seven; 9. Seungni Yongsa
Non-Runner: Wangson

Gyeongnam-Do Min Ilbo Cup – Busan Race Park – 1800M – Jul 19, 2009

1. Areumdaun Jilju (KOR) [Didyme – Chills Of Nepal (Nepal)] – Lim Sung Sil – 1.9, 1.3
2. Haengbok Dream (JPN) [Lammtarra – Sister Slew (Slew The Dragon)] – Jo Chan Hoon – 7.4
3. Miss Ecton (USA) [Ecton Park – Miss Lion King (Lion Cavern)] – Martin Wepner – 2.8
Distances: 1 length/1.5 lengths
Also ran: 4. Phasmes; 5. Crafty Louis; 6= Hardride; 6=Wonder Love; 8. Winter Invitation; 9. Angle Slam; 10. Gyeongcheonsa; 11. King Kephalos; 12. Jewang; 13. Power Captain; 14. Saeroun Bulpae



Weekend Preview – Night Racing Begins

After a year’s break, night racing returns to Korea this weekend. High oil prices were blamed for last year’s decision to abandon the usual four weeks of late starts and late finishes but this year, it goes ahead. This year the four weekends are interrupted by a two week total break from racing.

It is a weekend capped by two big races within thirty minutes of each other on Sunday evening: The Gyeongnam-Do Min Ilbo Cup at Busan (preview) and the SBS Cup at Seoul (preview).

Busan will get things underway with a ten race card on Friday. The first will come under orders at 4pm and the last will be at 9pm. Seoul and Jeju take over on Sunday and as usual, all three tracks host cards on Sunday.

Busan Race Park

Friday July 17: 10 races, first post 16:00, last post 21:00
Sunday July 19: 6 races, first post 16:20, last post 20:50

Seoul Race Park

Saturday July 18: 12 races, first post 14:30, last post 21:00
Sunday July 19: 11 races, first post 14:30, last post 21:00

Jeju Race Park (Pony Racing)

Saturday July 18: 10 races, first post 16:30, last post 21:30
Sunday July 19: 10 races, first post 16:30, last post 21:35

It’s been a monsoon filled week on the peninsula with Tuesday seeing the largest amount of rainfall on any one day for many years. It hasn’t rained since but more storms are predicted for Friday and Saturday.

Baekgwang Comes Back

Former Champion Heads SBS Cup Field
Baekgwang will be the star attraction on Sunday as the SBS Cup crowns this year’s first weekend of night racing at Seoul Race Park. In a week when live televised horse racing was outlawed in Korea, it is perhaps a little ironic that the first big race after the ban is sponsored by one of the country’s three main broadcasters and is the only race of the year to usually be shown on that channel.

And with the presence of Baekgwang, champion three year old of 2006, the race has become one of the most eagerly anticipated of the year. Whether the “White Wave” (see full profile) will be anything like his former self will go a long way to determining the outcome and a tough field of nine rivals will assemble to try to prevent him from achieving the fairytale comeback in winning the race his little sister Baekpa did last year.

Namchonuijijon will be there. Though dreadful last time out, he was second in the Ttukseom Cup and must always be considered. Third in that race back in April was Triple Seven and he returns on Sunday also. Winning last time out, he was a close second to Secret Weapon last month. Stepping up to the top level for the first time will be Wangson. Making his first appearance since winning the Sports Chosun in May, the four year old will be a dangerous contender.

A perennial placer of late has been Natural Nine. One of those who may have won a Classic were it not for J.S. Hold in 2007, he’s been involved at the business end of all of his races over the past year. Daehyo ran third to Top Point last monthand while Lucky Seven, Hallyu Star, Seungni Yongsa and Geumbit Gangja may look to be making up the numbers, all are proven winners.

The race, over nine and a half furlongs, is off at 7:35pm on Sunday. Click here to download past performance info (in Korean) and see below for a full list of runenrs, records and riders:

SBS Cup – Seoul Race Park – 1900M – July 19, 2009

1. Lucky Seven (KOR) [Didyme – Agent Flirt (Double Agent)] – (24/5/5/1) – Lee Sang Hyuk
2. Geumbit Gangja (KOR) [Didyme – Fleein Snow (Snow Chief)] – (25/4/7/1) – Ham Wan Sik
3. Daehyo (KOR) [Happy Jazz Band – Jasmine Douglas (Reference Point)] – (24/5/3/7) – Moon Se Young
4. Triple Seven (KOR) [The Groom Is Red – Impudence (Grand Lodge)] – (18/5/3/5) – Choi Beom Hyun
5. Seungni Yongsa (KOR) [Our Poetic Prince – Jane Lauren (Snow Chief)] – (49/5/4/7) – Won Jung Il
6. Baekgwang (KOR) [The Groom Is Red – Grey Crest (Gold Crest)] – (17/9/5/3) – Park Tae Jong
7. Hallyu Star (KOR) [Sharp Appeal – Angel (Land Rush)] – (36/5/6/3) – Choi Won Joon
8. Natural Nine (KOR) [Revere – C. Bop (Aly Dark)] – (21/7/4/4) – Oh Kyoung Hoan
9. Wangson (KOR) [Distilled – Eastern Tide (Far Out East)] – (11/5/3/0) – Kim Young Jin
10. Namchonuijijon (KOR) [Concept Win – Intriga (Lord At Law)] – (22/6/8/3) – Cho Kyoung Ho

Areumdaun Jilju Goes For The Min

A big weekend for Korean racing is coming up as the first of four weeks of evening racing gets underway. There are co-main events on Sunday with the SBS Cup at Seoul and the Gyeongnam-Do Min Ilbo Cup at Busan. The Min Ilbo is for imported horses and a full field of fourteen will contest the 1800 metre race.

Continuing the theme of recent weeks of locally bred horses running against the imports at Busan, Korean bred Areumdaun Jilju is entered. Last year’s most feared horse, has only run twice this season, but has won both of those and will, as ever, be hard to beat.

Among those trying will be a host of frequent winners such as Crafty Louis, who won over this distance last month. 2008 Busan Owners’ Trophy winner Hardride will be there, as will King Kephalos, winner of two out of his last four. Angle Slam prefers shorter distances but is always likely to be around the front of the field in the home straight while the filly Miss Ecton has been in strong form this year.

The race is off at 19:05 and is race 4 of 6 on Busan’s Sunday card which gets underway at 16:20. Full past performance information can be downloaded here (Korean) and a full list of runners and riders is below:

Gyeongnamdo Min Ilbo Cup – Busan Race Park – 1800M – July 19, 2009

1. Hardride (USA) [Colony Light – Lametta] – (21/6/5/1) – Han Sang Gyu
2. Wonder Love (USA) [Wild Wonder – Love Spanish] – (43/5/9/7) – Kim Tae Kyoung
3. Jewang (USA) [Precise End – Chap Slewy] – (21/1/6/1) – Eiki Nishimura
4. Winter Invitation (USA) [Take Me Out – Winter Crown] – (38/3/7/8) – Kim Dong Young
5. Crafty Louis (USA) [Louis Quatorze – Crafty Atlantic] – (31/11/4/2) – Jo Chang Wook
6. Power Captain (AUS) [King Charlemagne – Green Band] – (25/5/4/2) – Kim Young Min
7. Haengbok Dream (JPN) [Lammtarra – Sister Slew] – (7/3/2/1) – Jo Chan Hoon
8. Miss Ecton (USA) [Ecton Park – Miss Lion King] – (15/5/2/5) – Martin Wepner
9. Phasmes (USA) [Parker’s Storm Cat – Madelaine] – (10/4/1/4) – Jo Sung Gon
10. King Kephalos (JPN) [King Glorious – Western Edge] – (15/7/2/2) – Kim Eu Su
11. Gyeoncheonsa (USA) [Slew Gin Fizz – Jika] – (23/6/2/0) – Park Geum Man
12. Angle Slam (USA) [Gold Case – Platinum Code] – (40/8/7/8) – Gu Min Sung
13. Saeroun Bulpae (USA) [Northern Afleet – Really Appealing] – (17/5/1/4) – Chae Gyu Jun
14. Areumdaun Jilju (KOR) [Didyme – Chills of Nepal] – (19/13/3/0) – Lim Sung Sil

Tomorrow we’ll have a full look at the rest of the weekend’s cards including a run down of the contenders for Seoul’s SBS Cup.

Gaeseon Janggun Wins Again

Namdo Jeap did it last week and today at Busan Race Park it was the turn of Gaeseon Janggun to take on and beat the track’s imported horses.

Second in the first two legs of last year’s Triple Crown and winner of the final one, Gaeson Janggun has now won all four of his starts as a four year old and until Sangseung Ilro takes on older horses, still has claims to be recognised as the top Korean bred horse currently in training.

Today’s win was typical as he came late and wide to defeat a field of twelve rivals by three lengths. Korean bred horses rarely take on imported horses and although this field contained no real stars – indeed Gaeseon Janggun was sent off as odds-on favourite, it is encouraging to see some of the top horses entered in open races.

There is little incentive for owners to do so, however. Prize money is generally higher in domestic races and the competition is less fierce. While the standard of imported horses in Korea is not especially high – there is, after all, a limit ($20,000 for colts $40,000 for fillies) on how much can be spent on them, their early training and conditioning tends to have been better than that which locally bred horses receive. While the KRA spends a lot of money sending horses overseas to “test” the level of Korean racing, one might think it would be a start to get them to run against the imports here in Korea a little more often.

Up at a wet Seoul Race Park, Bulpae Gisang, last year’s top imported two year old, stepped up to category 1 racing for the first time. It was winning start as the colt overhauled long time leader Gamadongja in the final firlong of the 2000 metre race to claim his sixth win from nine career starts.

Class 1 (foreign bred) – Busan Race Park – 2000M (Hdcp) – July 12, 2009

1. Gaeseon Janggun (KOR) [Duality – Diamond Star (Dixieland Band)] – Jo Sung Gon – 1.5, 1.3
2. Bugyeong Choegang (AUS) [Flying Spur – Time For Bed (Night Shift)] – Yang Young Nam – 1.6
3. Bugyeong Maru (AUS) – [Favorite Trick – Narrate (Danzero)] – Martin Wepner – 15.7
Distances: 3 lengths/Neck – 13 ran



Seoul Saturday Round-Up

Notes from this afternoon’s meeting at Seoul Race Park:

* Natural Guy landed the feature race, a 1900 metre domestic category 2 handicap. The four year old gelding edged out Galamasan by half a length.

* Highly rated imported filly Fly Top stepped up to 1800 metres for the first time in race 10. However, neither she nor favourite Thewon Thewon, who was coming off three straight wins, managed to stay the distance as five year old mare Cheonsangcheonha took the victory.

* Another imported filly did manage to add to her reputation, albeit at the other end of the card. Australian bred Alpha Lady [Iglesia – Star Tipper (Luskin Star)] didn’t hit the front until the final 100 metres of race 3 but by the line had opened up a six length gap between her and the rest of the field. It was Alpha Lady’s second win.

A big crowd was attracted to the track today – many punters perhaps noting that heavy rain is looking inevitable tomorrow. Sunday’s cards get underway at Seoul at 11:20, Busan at 12:40 and Jeju at 12:10.


Weekend Preview

Gamadongja at Seoul / Gaeseon Janggun at Busan
The weekend is almost upon us once more and racing returns to the peninsula on Friday when the action will be at Busan. Seoul and Jeju take over on Saturday, before all three tracks host a card on Sunday.

Namdo Jijon and Sinheung Gangja head Friday’s feature race at Busan. Annika Queen and Rainmaker will also be lining up alongside them. On Sunday, another of last year’s Classic Winners, Gaeson Janggun will be in action, taking on a field of foreign bred horses including Bugyeong Choegang. Namdo Jeap took on the imports last week and won and the field that Gaeseon Janggun will face is less than intimidating.

Seoul’s feature race is on Sunday and it features a number of the track’s best imports. Seoul Teukgeup tops the weights and will be up against Dankee’s Pal, who beat Bally Brae last time out. Also going are Gamadongja and Brilliant Knight, as well as last year’s top imported two year old, Bulpae Gisang.

Busan Race Park

Friday July 10: 11 races, first post 12:30
Sunday July 12: 6 races, first post 12:40

Seoul Race Park

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

There is racing at Jeju Race Park on Saturday and Sunday with the first coming under orders at 12:10 on both days.

Thursday saw some crazy rain across the Korean peninsula which has stopped now in Seoul and should hold off for Friday and Sunday. Currently the monsoon is forecast to be back with a vengeance on Sunday. Come racing – but bring an umbrella!

Baekgwang Set for SBS Cup Return

Former Champion battled back from likely career-ending injury
It didn’t seem possible but the “White Light” could be just days away from returning to racing. Champion three year old of 2006, Baekgwang, is amongst the early entries for the SBS Cup which will be run at Seoul Race Park on Sunday July 19.

It took Baekgwang [The Groom is Red – Grey Crest (Gold Crest)] three races to break his maiden and after showing promise in the early part of his three year old season, he was beaten into third place in the 2006 Korean Derby by 85/1 outsider Baengnokjeong . Following this, he embarked on a golden late summer and autumn, landing the Munhwa Ilbo and Donga Ilbo Cups in quick succession before going to claim the Minister’s Cup, the final leg of the Triple Crown, in October that year.

His form would continue into 2007 in which he won his first four outings. With his distinctive light grey coat and his come from behind running style, which made for some thrilling finishes, he was a firm favourite of the racing public – even if his tendency to lay-in in the home straight was maddening for some punters. With J.S. Hold dominating the three year old ranks that year a likely season ending showdown between the two in the 2007 Grand Prix, looked set to be Korean racing’s most hotly anticipated race in history.

Neither of them would make it there. An already less than fully fit J.S. Hold would suffer a career ending injury in the process of making history in the Minister’s Cup by winning Korea’s first Triple Crown. Meanwhile Baekgwang suffered an injury in September that would keep him off the track until April of 2008. His return came in the Ttukseom Cup. Coming through late as ever, he hit the front with 150 metres left to run only for Namchonuijijon, a contemporary of J.S. Hold, to come through even later to pip him him on the line. After the race, it emerged Baekgwang had suffered ligament damage to his right foreleg. Automatically stood down by the stewards for a minimum one year, it seemed his career was over.

Sent to Jeju Island for recuperation, Baekgwang underwent a series of reportedly pioneering operations and, to the surprise of many, returned to his box at Seoul Race Park earlier this year. He began working out in May and, on June 12, breezed through an official race trial over five furlongs and was given the all clear to race again. Baekgwang now finds himself entered in the SBS Cup, a race won by his little sister Baekpa last year.

If he makes it to the starting gate, he is once again likely to find himself once again alongside Namchonuijijon as well as Natural Nine and Sports Chosun winner Wangson. For race fans, whether he wins or loses, seeing a fit Baekgwang once again is going to raise smiles and bring back memories. All will hope he comes back to the barn safely this time. We’ll have a full preview of the SBS Cup – with or without Baekgwang – on Thursday next week. In the meantime, here is Baekgwang’s biggest victory, the 2006 Minister’s Cup:

Photo finish…

These chaps were on the right end of the photograph for second place in race 9 at Seoul on Saturday, which brought home their quinella after a five minute wait…

Photo Finish

Korearacing only has two hands and while at the track a form guide is generally in one and a pen (or something containing caffeine) is in the other. No room for cameras. Seoul based photographer “letsbook” was at the track Saturday, however, and while he may be an even worse handicapper than your correspondent, he knows how to take a picture.


He only took a few but hopefully we’ll get him back before too long to take some more.

The future…

The future...

You can find letsbook’s photostream here.

Gi Ra Seong Triumphs as Myeongmun Gamun Sinks

First time out of the money for 8YO
He’s won back to back President’s Cups and has been the first domestically bred horse home in the Grand Prix races of the past two years, but it’s looking increasingly likely that 2009 is not to be the year of Myeongmun Gamun. On his first outing since a disappointing run in the Ttukseom Cup in April, the 2008 Horse of The Year put in a lucklustre performance at Seoul Race Park this afternoon.

After putting up only a fraction of his usual resistance at the gate, the Myeongmun Gamun got away badly. Whereas in the Ttukseom Cup, the poor start had put paid to his chances very early on, today’s distance of 2000 metres meant that by the time the field exited the back straight, Oh Kyoung Hoan had managed to shake the eight year old around the outside and ono the shoulder of the leaders.

However, that was all the exertion Myeongmun Gamun could muster and as he sank back through the field, it was Gi Ra Seong who emerged to take an emphatic four length win. Leading the rest home was Wontagui Gisa, the longest shot on the board making for a 749.1 exacta. Ttukseom Cup winner Mighty Runner came late down the outside but could only manage third.

It was the first time in all of his thirty three runs that Myeongmun Gamun had finished out of the money. However, while today signified an unwelcome milestone in his career, for another horse there was an equally significant, but altogether more positive one.

Gi Ra Seong was last in the winner’s circle on Derby weekend in May last year. Coincidentally the race that he won was a race that Myeongmun Gamun refused to go into the gate for. Trailing behind that day was Baekpa. An injury picked up immediately after that win kept him off the track for the remainder of his four year old season. Coming back in April this year he placed fourth, and then managed a second in May. With victory today in a race in which most of Seoul’s top Korean bred horses were present, perhaps 2009 could be the year of Gi Ra Seong.

Class 1 (Korean bred) – Seoul Race Park – 2000M (Hdcp) – July 5, 2009

1. Gi Ra Seong [Precise End – Dauntless Cat (Mountain Cat)] – Oh Kyoung Hoan – 3.9, 1.4
2. Wontagui Gisa [Fiercely – Grove Lady (Varick)] – Lee Sang Hyuk – 25.1
3. Mighty Runner [Pacific Bounty – Roan All Over (Fight Over)] – Park Tae Jong – 1.2
Distances: 4 lengths/1 length – 14 ran