Month: August 2009

Lucky Seven for Nice Choice

Bungjeongmalli in contention / Volponi sires first winner
Nice Choice stepped up to class 1 level for the first time to land the feature race at Seoul Race Park this afternoon. While memories of the Derby flop will only be fully erased if he wins the Minister’s Cup in October, Nice Choice continued to demonstrate that the form that made him champion two year old last year, has the potential to still make him champion three year old.

It’s true that today he didn’t face the strongest class 1 field to assemble at Seoul. Far from it, but there were some seasoned campaigners present in the likes of Natural Nine, Gang Gwon and Lucky Seven as well as Hallyu Star, who last month won the SBS Cup.

Under Cho Kyoung Ho, Nice Choice tracked the leaders for most of the 1900 metre race, coming by in the last furlong to win going away from second placed Lucky Seven. The colt now has seven wins from ten starts and thoughts are now turning to the season’s final classic.

Another three year old who could perhaps force himself into contention for that Classic was in the winner’s circle half an hour prior to Nice Choice. Bungjeongmalli [Archer City Slew – Mup’aegado (Lost Mountain)] only tsrated once as a two year old and finished eigth of ten. Given three months off he came back for his three year old season and, while too late to be in the running for the Derby, has run up a record of five wins and two seconds this term. While still some way off Nice Choice, if he continues to improve there is a possibility that Cho Kyoung Ho, who rides both, could have an interesting choice to make come October.

Today was also noteworthy as Seoul saw the first winner sired by 2002 Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Volponi. Special Volpony doesn’t look like a world-beater but the two year old filly had more than enough about her to see off thirteen rivals over six furlongs. Making her second appearance on the track, she led from gate to wire to win race 1 by a length and a half. Volponi arrived in Korea in January 2006.

Down south at Busan, Crafty Louis notched his fourth win of 2009. The six year old held off King Kephalos by the narrowest possible margin in the feature handicap.



Nothern Ace Relaxes

Wins for Strong Demand and Blue Pin as Cho Kyoung Ho cleans-up
This year’s hottest two year old prospect made his second appearance today as Nothern Ace came out for a stroll in the sunshine at Seoul Race Park. Nothern Ace [Didyme – Telegraph Road (Royal Academy)] broke the five furlong track record on his debut last month and many were looking for the six furlong record to go today.

In the event, Nothern Ace went to the front straight out of the gate and jockey Cho Kyoung Ho sensibly kept the colt well within himself as he dispatched his thirteen rivals – the eventual winning margin of just four lengths meaningless. It’s early days, but Nothern Ace appears to have a talent unusual for Korea. The only two year old race of note at Seoul is the Herald Business towards the end of the season. It will be interesting to see what course his connections take between now and then.

Cho Kyoung Ho’s examplary professionalism in guiding Nothern Ace home was the first of four winners for the jockey. It only came about, however, after Moon Se Young, who was booked for the ride, suffered a nasty fall in race 2. The previously unraced filly Raipai veered wildly coming out of the gate and threw the champion jockey into the rails.

Cho landed both of the co-feature races. First up in the domestic bred contest, three year old gelding Blue Pin – a half brother to Nothern Ace through their dam, Telegraph Road – overhauled Natural Guy in the final furlong to claim his fifth victory from eleven starts. Next up, Cho brought Strong Demand home in the overseas bred race, five lengths the margin over the returning Gangho whose first effort since his disappointing JRA Cup run was encouraging.

Earlier, there was a winning debut for US import Wonerful Sun [Pico Central – Jacket Required (Black Tie Affair)]. The two year old (whose name written in Korean reads as “Wonderful” just like Nothern Ace is “Northern”) led from gate to wire in race 4 and won’t go off at 7/1 again in the near future.


Weekend Preview

Nice Choice / Gangho / Northern Ace / Bukgeukseong
After five days off it’s back. Racing on the Korean peninsula gets underway again this Friday at Busan and at Seoul and Jeju on Saturday and then all three tracks on Sunday.

Munhwa Ilbo winner Nice Choice is the biggest draw in the weekend’s headline race at Seoul on Sunday. The three year old steps up to class 1 racing for the first time and will be up against SBS Cup winner Hallyu Star.

While the big race is on Sunday, many racegoers will have their eyes on Saturday’s card which sees a number of potential stars on show. Earlier this year, US import Gangho swept all before him, winning his first four races barely breaking into a gallop. He then flopped in the JRA Trophy in May and hasn’t been seen since. He’s back in race 11 on Saturday when he’ll take on thirteen others over 1900 metres.

Saturday may also see some clues to next year’s Classics as two year old filly Brown Girl is looking to go three for three in race 8. An hour earlier, Northern Ace will have made his second start. The colt broke the five furlong track record on his debut and his reputation was enhanced without him even leaving his stable last week as the horse he beat into second that day, Ace Galloper, cruised to an eighteen length win. Northern Ace goes over six furlongs this time.

At Busan, prolific filly Bukgeukseong steps up to class 1 in Friday’s feature. Although classified as domestically bred, the three year old was ineligible for the Oaks due to having being conceived outside of Korea. She has five wins to her name from six starts and will be up against the likes of Annika Queen and Sky Star over a mile. Sunday’s Busan feature has track stalwarts Angle Slam, Dongbang Geona, Bugyoeng Choegang and Crafty Louis facing younger rivals King Kephalos and Jilju Hara.

Busan Race Park

Friday August 28: 10 races, first post 13:00, last 17:30
Sunday August 30: 6 races, first post 12:40, last 16:30

Seoul Race Park

Saturday August 29: 12 races, first post 11:20, last 17:40
Sunday August 30: 11 races, first post 11:20, last 18:00

Jeju Race Park (Pony racing)

Saturday August 29: 9 races, first post 12:10, last 17:10
Sunday August 30: 9 races, first post 12:10, last 17:10

Ecton Cat Pounces

Symphony Sonata off key / Impressive debuts
Ecton Cat scored a comfortable win at Seoul Race Park this afternoon and in doing so qualified to step up to the top level of Korea racing. The four year old US import – whose sire now stands in Korea – led from gate to wire to grab a four length win over Saerounachim and Fly Top. Next time out for Ecton Cat will be in class 1 company.

In the other feature race – an 1800 metre class 2 handicap for Korean bred runners, Symphony Sonata was sent off favourite but failed to make any impression on the race as Challanhanbit started quickly and held off the challenge of Wangsan to win by half a length. For the five year old mare it was a sixth career win.

While the feature races were all well and good, most attention at the track was focused on the early races. Last month, Northern Ace set the five furlong track record. Not far behind him in that race was another “Ace”, Ace Galloper. In race one today, Ace Galloper [Chapel Royal – Explicitly (Exploit)] went six furlongs and crushed thirteen rivals as he was eased up for a remarkable eighteen length win.

In race 3 it was supposed to be the turn of Forest Wind. He didn’t make an impact so instead it was second favourite Seonbongbulpae [Newsprint – Jeseok (Lost Mountain)] who stepped up. The colt had thirteen lengths between him and his nearest challenger at the end of he five furlongs.

The final debut came from an import. Two year old filly Gwacheon Geojang [Peace Rules – Copelan’s Filly (Copelan)] was one of the more expensive overseas two year old purchases this year but didn’t start the favourite in race 4 as she took on a number of more experienced fillies. She showed a good turn of foot, however, to lanf the five furlong test by nearly two lengths and will be another one to watch out for in future.

A bigger than average Saturday crowd was in with the cancellation of Sunday’s card for the funeral of former President Kim Dae Jung no doubt playing a part.


Weekend Preview

For the second time this year, a Presidential funeral has meant the cancellation of a day’s racing. After six days of mourning, Kim Dae Jung – President from of South Korea from 1998 to 2003 and winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in 2000 – will be laid to rest on Sunday at the National Cemetary in Seoul following a State funeral.

The cancellation leaves each track with just one day’s racing this weekend. Busan runs on Friday while Seoul and Jeju have cards on Saturday. With the short evening racing season complete, all three tracks are running daytime cards. To replace the lost races, Seoul and Busan will each host a make-up card in December on Christmas weekend – the season had previously been scheduled to finish a week earlier.

Procyon and Yongdu Baram head the field for Busan’s feature race. Symphony Sonata is the biggest name on show at Seoul on Saturday.

Busan Race Park

Friday August 21: 10 races, first post 13:00, last 17:30

Seoul Race Park

Saturday August 22: 12 races, first post 11:20, last 17:40

Jeju Race Park (Pony racing)

Saturday August 22: 10 races, first post 12:10, last 17:10

23 August 2009

Sunday Racing Off

The KRA has confirmed that all racing on the peninsula this coming Sunday, August 23, has been cancelled. The cards at Seoul, Busan and Jeju are all off so as not to clash with the funeral of former South Korean President Kim Dae Jung, who died on Tuesday.

Friday’s card at Busan and the Saturday cards at Seoul and Jeju will go ahead as planned.

Evening Promises…

Evening racing on the peninsula drew to a close this past Sunday as Seoul, Busan and Jeju Race Parks all revert to their usual daytime hours from this coming weekend.



In 2008, there was no evening racing with high energy prices being cited as the reason. The return this year was a welcome one as on a warm summer’s night, the racetrack is the place to be.

"Happyville & Luckyville" go black & white in the dark

With a mid-afternoon start and and a late finish, horses, jockeys and punters alike were able to get some respite from the hottest days of the year so far. Despite beginning in the monsoon season, seven of the eight fixtures were gloriously dry.

Choi Beom Hyun brings Soseono home

Choi Beom Hyun brings Soseono home

On the final night, Soseono landed the YTN Cup in front of 42,000 racegoers to bring the short evening season to a close.


All pictures by letsbook.