Month: September 2009

Eleven Entered For Minister’s Cup

Tough task for Sangseung Ilro to complete Triple Crown
There’s no racing in Korea this coming weekend as the nation shuts down for the “Chuseok” (Korean Thanksgiving) holiday which falls on Saturday. The following week, however, it’s the big one. Sangseung Ilro will attempt to emulate J.S. Hold two years ago and complete the Triple Crown when she travels up from Busan to Seoul to run for the Minister’s Cup.

Entires were published today and at this stage there are eleven horses set to go. There are seven colts and four fillies while a remarkable eight of the entrants are from Busan, Here’s the provisional line up with their race records (Runs/Wins/2nd/3rd). All are Korean bred:

1. Nice Choice [Lost Mountain – Betty’s Rhapsody (Don’t Hesitate)] Colt, Seoul (10/7/2/0)
2. Love Cat [Creek Cat – Love Cue (Curia Regis)] Filly, Seoul (11/6/1/2)
3. Khanui Jeguk [Sunday Well – Lucky Dip (Didyme)] Colt, Seoul (11/5/2/1)
4. Sangseung Ilro [Concept Win – Ms. Whiskey (Whiskey Wisdom)] Filly, Busan (8/5/2/1)
5. Namdo Jeap [Ft. Stockton – Wandering Katie (Tejano)] Colt, Busan (12/4/3/3)
6. Pangpang [Revere – Awishnotalark (Rio’s Lark)] Filly, Busan (17/4/1/1)
7. Isidae Gangja [Lost Mountain – Angel (Land Rush)] Filly, Busan (11/3/3/2)
8. Yeonseung Daero [Creek Cat – Sensationalkris (Cryptoclearance)] Colt, Busan (14/8/1/2)
9. Tamna Hero [Creek Cat – The Big C (Deputed Testamony)] Filly, Busan (10/4/3/0)
10. Conqueror [Revere – Model Actress (Stage Colony)] Colt, Busan (13/4/3/0)
11. Sky Star [Tahamkke – Blue Lark (Ravenwood)] Colt, Busan (15/5/3/1)

Over the next few days, we’ll look at the race in a little bit more detail before final declarations are made next Thursday.

Top Point Cruises To Cup Classic

Top Point put in a commanding performance to cruise to victory in the KRA Cup Classic at Seoul Race Park this afternoon.

Sent off the odds-on favourite, Park Tae Jong took the five year old into the lead straight out of the gate and there was any question of her relinquishing it as she pulled away from the field in the home straight. The winning distance on the line was five lengths, with plenty in hand.

Behind her there was something of a shock as 50/1 outsider Angel Pegasus came wide with a late run to grab second ahead of 2007 winner Pocketful Of Money. Serendipper placed fourth and YTN Cup winner Soseono took the last of the moneying positions in fifth.

For Top Point, third in this race last year, it was a validation of her position as top rated filly or mare on the peninsula and should guarantee her ticket to the season ending Grand Prix in December. She was last in that race last year, a rare setback in a career which now boasts fourteen wins from twenty two starts.

KRA Cup Classic (KOR. GIII) – Seoul Race Park – 2000M – Sep 27, 2009

1. Top Point (KOR) [Tom Cruiser – Mooncello (Northern Baby)] – Park Tae Jong – 1.6, 1.2
2. Angel Pegasus (USA) [Gold Case – Sahara Princess (Alphabet Soup)] – Bang Choon Sik – 10.9
3. Pocketful Of Money (USA) [Running Stag – Ms. Deep Pockets (Buckaroo)] – Oh Kyoung Hoan – 3.9
Distances: 5 lengths/3 lengths
Also Ran: 4. Serendipper; 5. Soseono; 6. Air Kat; 7. Kkumchaja; 8. Hwanggeum Dwaeji; 9. Badajebi; 10. Princess Thumb; 11. Ginny’s Delight; 12. Mexicali Blues; 13. Gate Way

With Championship leader Cho Kyoung Ho sidelined due to a trackwork injury sustained this morning, Park Tae Jong was dominant. Aside from Top Point, he added three more winners including on Symphony Sonata [E. Dubai – First Violin (Dixieland Band)] – the four year old winning his fifth race from nine and his first at class 2 level.

Down at Busan, King Kephalos upset Dongbang Geona to take the feature Mile Handicap, the more valuable of two races at the Gyeongnam track this afternoon sponsored by the Japan Bloodstock Breeders’ Association (JBBA).



Top Point Seeks Home Win in KRA Cup Classic

Five year old can taste glory at last
On Ladies’ Day at Seoul Race Park, it’s billed as the Filly & Mare Grand Prix. As the winner will almost certainly book her ticket to the actual season ending Grand Prix, it’s an unnecessary title but what is certain is that Sunday’s Group 3 KRA Cup Classic is Seoul’s biggest race of the year restricted to fillies and mares. And with the Oaks at Busan being restricted to Korean bred runners, it’s arguably the biggest on the peninsula.

A Korean born, rather than Korean bred looks the overwhelming favourite. Top Point, foaled in Korea but bred in the USA, is a class above most of her rivals and she has waited a long time for this. The five year old has an impressive record of thirteen wins from twenty one starts and regularly beats the males at the highest level. She was third in this race last year but with the winner, Fly Queen, out for at least a year, Top Point is the top filly or mare on the peninsula by some distance.

Whenever Soseono is mentioned on this site, we always have to mention that she is the little sister of Subsidy through their dam, Foreign Aid. Named after one of the founding Queens of Korea’s Baekje dynasty, there are many at the track who would love to see Subsidy’s dynasty carried on. Soseono won the YTN Cup last month and still it seems the best from her is yet to come.

Second in the YTN Cup was Air Kat. She is another whose best days seem in front of her and she can’t be discounted. Neither can Serendipper. The five year old Australian bred rarely wins but that’s because she spends most of her time racing the likes of track superstars Dongbanui Gangja and Bally Brae. Back with other fillies and mares, she’ll be a dangerous prospect and arguably the biggest threat to Top Point.

Among the others, Pocketful Of Money won this race as a three year old in 2007 while Mexicali Blues – offcially champion three year old filly last year – has struggled since making it up to class 1 level as has Hwanggeum Dwaeji – but aside from Top Point, connections of both will feel they have a chance of beating everyone here.

KRA Cup Classic (KOR. GIII) – Seoul Race Park – 2000M – Sep 27, 2009, 17:00

1. Serendipper (AUS) [Danewin – Coppelius (Pleasant Colony)] – (19/3/6) – 56kg – Lee Sang Hyuk
2. Top Point (KOR) [Tom Cruiser – Mooncello (Northern Baby)] – (21/13/2) – 57kg – Park Tae Jong
3. Princess Thumb (USA) [Stravinsky – Narjis Flower (Pleasant Colony)] – (29/2/2) – 52kg – Park Si Cheon
4. Hwanggeum Dwaeji (AUS) [Langfuhr – Proudest (Sir Tristram)] – (22/2/6) – 54kg – Cho Kyoung Ho
5. Soseono (USA) [Aldebaran – Foreign Aid (Danzig)] – (12/2/4) – 54kg – Choi Beom Hyun
6. Mexicali Blues (USA) [Golden Missile – Golden Made (Alien’s Prospect)] – (19/5/2) – 53kg – Yoo Sang Wan
7. Pocketful Of Money (USA) [Running Stag – Ms. Deep Pockets (Buckaroo)] – (31/8/8) – 57kg – Oh Kyoung Hoan
8. Badajebi (KOR) [Mujaazif – Madonna (Avon’s Lord)] – (25/6/3) – 52kg – Moon Jung Kyun
9. Kkumchaja (USA) [Orientate – Westerville (Gone West)] – (11/1/2) – 53.5kg – Jo In Kwen
10. Air Kat (USA) [Digging In – Vivian’s Mercedes (Broad Brush)] – (14/3/4) – 54.5kg – Jung Ki Young
11. Gate Way (KOR) [Psychobabble – Rich Emotions (Rizzi)] – (23/5/3) – 52kg – Shim Seung Tae
12. Ginny’s Delight (USA) [Polish Miner – Political Bluff (Unaccounted For)] – (27/1/2) – 52kg – Hwang Soon Do
13. Angel Pegasus (USA) [Gold Case – Sahara Princess (Alphabet Soup)] – (11/3/2) – 53kg – Bang Choon Sik

It being “Ladies’ Day”, women get free entry to Seoul Race Park on Sunday. The first of eleven races is off at 11:20.

Saturday Review

Juveniles stake their claim
Ace Galloper has been very much in the shadow of Seonbongbulpae and Nothern Ace, having been beaten ten lengths by the latter in their track debuts. Despite coming out in his second race and winning by practically a furlong, he was still thought vulnerable as he stepped up to six and a half furlongs as the only two year old in a field of twelve at Seoul Race Park this afternoon.

He doesn’t look vulnerable any more. Not only did he win with plenty to spare, he took nearly a second off the Korean record for the distance – and was only a tenth of a second outside the track record held by the ill-fated Playing Politics.

On the filly side of things, there was plenty of interest in the two year old ranks as well as Oh My Sun took her third consecutive win, this time against older fillies and mares.

The feature race of the afternoon went the way of the favourite as Huimang Energy saw off Natural Nine for a two and a half length win. It was jockey Cho Kyoung Ho’s second in as many races after bringing home hot favourite Blue Pin by seven lengths in race 9. The three year old – ineligible for the classics by virtue of being Korean born but not Korean bred – now has six wins from twelve and looks ready for the top tier of racing.

* We mentioned earlier tis week that winning on Enertein last Sunday may have been what jockey Lee Ae Li needed to get back in form after a recent barren spell. Indeed, it seems to have been the case as she nursed 25/1 outsider Believe Win to victory in race 8 this afternoon when the colt looked done for in the home straight after setting a strong early pace.


Weekend Preview

It’s KRA Cup Classic weekend and thirteen fillies and mares will line up for the Group 3 handicap on Sunday afternoon. It will be the climax to an as usual busy weekend of racing on the peninsula before next week’s Chuseok (Korean Thanksgiving) break. We;ll have a full preview of the Classic over the next couple of days.

Busan Race Park

Friday September 25: 10 races, first post 13:00, last 17:30
Sunday September 27: 6 races, first post 12:40, last 16:30

Seoul Race Park

Saturday September 26: 12 races, first post 11:20, last 17:40
Sunday September 27: 11 races, first post 11:20, last 18:10

Jeju Race Park (Pony Racing)

Saturday September 26: 9 races, first post 12:10, last 17:10
Sunday September 27: 9 races, first post 12:10, last 17:10

Korean Racing Girls

Success and Tragedy – A short history of female jockeys in Korea
Back in the early days of this site, a not insubstantial proportion of traffic came from those googling for “Korean racing girls”. A high instance of the words Korean, racing and a lot of horses with the word “girl” in their name no doubt contributing to that. And probably disappointing those surfers. Hopefully those figures will now get another boost.

On Sunday, jockey Na Yu Na landed the KRA Jeju Cup on 9-1 shot Mangpouikkum and in doing so secured what was arguably the most prestigious ever win for a female rider in Korea. With Lee Shin Young and Lee Ae Li also in the Winner’s Circle at Seoul, it meant that 25% of all licensed female riders in Korean racing history tasted victory this past weekend. The story of female jockeys in Korea is brief, but contains elements of tragedy, frustrated ambition but also success in a challenging environment.

You have to go back to the now long-gone Ttukkseom Racecourse on the north bank of the Han River and to the Spring of 1975 when 21 year old Lee Ok Rae became the first woman to be granted a jockey license in Korea. South Korea was, at the time, under the authoritarian rule of President Park Chung Hee who had recently survived the second of three assassination attempts – this one had resulted in the death of his wife. Then, as now, racing held a near monopoly on gambling and Ttukkseom was full to bursting on each race-day.

Lee Ok Rae graduated in the same class as Bae Dae Sun and Ji Yong Cheol, who would go on to become two of the top riders of their generation and today are among the country’s most successful trainers. Lee was assigned to trainer Kwon In Deok and on March 17 that year rode in her first race. In true storybook fashion it was a winning debut as in race 4 that day, she partnered horse number 1, “Kansas” to victory over five and a half furlongs.

Lee continued to establish herself over the coming months, however, in August that year, disaster struck in the shape of a fall in which she sustained injuries that would end her career. She retired just six months after her first ride with seven wins from forty eight starts. No Korean woman would ride in a race for the next quarter of a century.

By the time they did, Park Chung Hee had been dead for two decades and his once bitter enemy Kim Dae Jung was now President of South Korea. Seoul had hosted the Olympic games in 1988 and Ttukkseom Racecourse was closed as the huge new track at Gwacheon opened. At the turn of the millennium, the KRA made an effort to get more women into the sport.

In 2001, two jockeys were granted licenses, Lee Geum Joo and Lee Shin Young. They were followed a year later by Lee Ae Li and Park Jin Hee. While Lee Geum Joo remains licensed, she hasn’t ridden for over two years. The other three, however, have enjoyed successful careers.

Lee Shin Young, known for an aggressive style that has her in the stewards’ room as often as the winner’s circle has the most thoroughbred wins with 82 while Park Jin Hee moved down to Busan when the southern track opened and has become well-established there. Lee Ae Li, meanwhile, continues to be the punters’ favourite with her pink silks and “Ae Li Gongju” (Princess Ae Li) nickname despite a recent dip in form. Booting home Enertein for a wire-to-wire win in race 1 last Sunday, however, may be the fillip she needs to get back in form.

Tragedy struck the next intake, however. Granted a license in 2005, Lee Myoung Hwa took her own life shortly afterward. She was found to have been suffering from depression that is believed to have been exacerbated by worries about constant reducing to make weight. A year later, newly licensed Kim Seo Jin quit

In 2006, the jockeys received nationwide mainstream publicity with the release of the movie “Gaksoltang” (“Lump Sugar”). Starring actress Im Su Jeong, key parts of the movie were shot at Seoul Race Park as the heroine takes on the role of a jockey (click here to watch trailer). KBS Television produced a one-off documentary about Lee Ae Li to coincide with the film’s release.

Meanwhile, down on Jeju Island Kim Joo Hee and Na Yu Na became the first women to receive jockey licenses for the pony racing there. Kim was formerly a promising athlete while Na was an Aerobics instructor. Both have become prolific winners with Na becoming the first woman to reach 100 career winners as well as landing the KRA Jeju Cup.

Na and Kim have found it easier to compete riding the Jeju ponies than their counterparts have on the thorougbreds on the mainland and in a short time have risen to first and third in the all-time female winners list.

Back in Seoul, Yoo Mi Ra qualified in 2008. It took her over a year to record her first winner and she languishes with one of the worst quinella percentages at the track. However, she has only ever ridden one horse with a clear chance of winning – and she won. Her time may come. Still searching for her first winner is this year’s graduate, Kim Hae Sun. With plenty of support from trainers, however, it seems this first win isn’t far away.

There will soon be an eleventh woman joining the ranks of licensed jockeys in Korea. Having won the International Lady Jockey Invitational last month, Japanese rider Hitomi Miyashita clearly took a liking to the Busan track and applied for a license as soon as she returned home. She’s anticipated to join in the coming weeks.

All time List – (Winners/Rides):

1. Na Yu Na* – 102 (963)
2. Lee Shin Young – 82 (816)
4. Kim Joo Hee* – 51 (897)
5. Lee Ae Li – 43 (808)
6. Park Jin Hee – 38 (586)
7. Lee Geum Ju – 16 (624)
8. Lee Ok Rae – 7 (48)
9. Yoo Mi Ra – 1 (132)
10. Kim Hae Sun – 0 (23)
11. Lee Myoung Hwa –
11. Kim Seo Jin –

*Jeju Pony Racing

* Much of the information for this post was sourced from the excellent Korean language blog “Enjoy Horse Racing”. Pictures of all the jockeys mentioned can be found at this link.

Dangdaeteukgeup Lands Dong-a

Favourites go down across the peninsula but Seonbeongbulpae marches on

Dangdaeteukgeup was a comfortable five length winner of the Dong-a Ilbo Cup at Seoul Race Park this afternoon. The four year old started as second favourite and was quickly in control of the seven furlong race. Under Choi Beom Hyun, she never looked vulnerable, pulling away in the final furlong to win from Hallasinbi in second and favourite Feel It Now in third.

At Busan there were two big races. The Gold Circle Trophy had looked like being a straight fight between three year olds KO Punch and Top Grade and so it proved to be. And fittingly for the South Africa sponsored race, it was South African jockey Martin Wepner who guided Top Grade to victory by a length and a half from favourite KO Punch. Top Grade now moves onto five victories from seven starts.

While the favourites missed out in the Dong-a and GC, the ultimate winners were at least well-fancied. Not so in the Macau Jockey Club Special. Hot favourite Sweet Summertime left it too late to get seriously involved at the business end of the race and it was left to 60-1 outsider Rolling On Strong to take the win. Fellow long shot Namchee rounded out a 1000-1 exacta in a tight finish with third favorite Haegeoreum leading the rest of the pack home.

On a cool autumn afternoon at Seoul, there was one other appearance of note. Along with Nothern Ace, Seonbeongbulpae is one of the two most highly regarded two year olds at the track. Today he made his second appearance and breezed through six and a half furlongs within half a second of the track record without jockey Jo In Kwen having to move.

If Nothern Ace and Seonbeongbulpae both make it unscathed to November, then the Herald Business – the nation’s top two year old race – is going to be one to savour.

Meanwhile on Jeju Island the ponies had one of their biggest races of the year in the form of the 1700 metre KRA Jeju Cup. In what was a very open betting race, 9-1 shot Mangpouikkum took a half length win for female jock Na Yu Na. Favourite Minsokchum came in third.



Big Sunday Preview

Dong-a Ilbo / GC Trophy / MJC / KRA Jeju Cup
Sunday sees four big races split between Seoul, Busan and Jeju. It promises to be one of the most interesting days of the year:

Dong-a Ilbo Cup – Seoul Race Park – 1400M – 17:00

It’s the 13th running of the Dong-a Ilbo and it is, for the second time, restricted to class 2 fillies and mares. Previous winners – when it was open to all – have included Baekgwang in 2006 and Hongji in 2007.

A full field of fourteen will gather this time and they are a mixture of up and comers and those who haven’t quite made the breakthrough to the top level of Korean racing.

It’s an open looking race. Ganghan Speed and Dangdae Teukgeup should be in the mix at the end as shoud Feel It Now and Grandzif. Hwaryeohanbisang is also an interesting prospect. Never tried at this level, the three year old has won four of her six starts.

Gold Circle Trophy – Busan Race Park – 1400M – 15:35

South Africa’s Gold Circle Organization runs racecourses and betting in KwaZulu-Natal and the Western Cape. Over the past few years it has built links with the KRA which have seen three Korean apprentice jockeys going to South Africa for training and a Riding Instructor come to Korea. Earlier this year the KRA sponsored the KRA Guineas at Greyville Racetrack.

The first GC Trophy is open to class 2 horses and has attracted a field of eight including two of Busan’s most highly rated three year olds. KO Punch arrived on the scene too late for the classics while Top Grade is a gelding so was ineligible. Both have impressive records with KO Punch four for five and Top Grade four for six. Molto Presto, another three year old in a winning habit lately, can’t be discounted, nor can lightly raced four year old Namdo Myeongjang.

Macau Jockey Club Special – Busan Race Park – 1400M – 16:30

The second MJC brings together fourteen of Busan’s up and coming imports. Unlike the day’s other two big races, this one should have a clear favourite in Sweet Summertime. The Soto filly has three wins from her six starts and has beaten better than she will face in this.

That’s not to say she’ll have it easy. Essence Of Dubai colt Haegeoreum is capable of springing a surprise as are Jungwon Jepae and Double The Gold. Nevertheless, as so often this year, the most likely results is a filly beating her male counterparts.

KRA Jeju Cup – Jeju Race Park – 1700M – 15:50

This site doesn’t cover Jeju very often, however, the Jeju Ponies have one of their biggest races of the year in the shape of the KRA Jeju Cup. Minsokchum is top weight but faces a host of regular winners at the track in the shadow of Mt. Halla.

Racing is underway at Seoul at 11:20 (11 races) , Jeju at 12:10 (9 races) and Busan at 12:40 (6 races). With temperatures likely to be in the mid twenties (celsius) and a light breeze taking the edge off the sun, there really is going to be no better place to be on the peninsula – or on Jeju Island – on Sunday, than one of the racecourses. Come Racing!

Baekgwang’s Second Ends in Second

Grey runs well but beaten by Gi Ra Seong
Gi Ra Seong may have won, but most eyes were on Baekgwang in the feature race at Seoul this afternoon. The great grey was making his second start since his year on the sidelines while undergoing the stem cell treatment that has rescued his career.

While connections are still being cautious, today’s second place in a tough handicap was an improvement on his fourth in last month’s SBS Cup. By the time Park Tae Jong unleashed the now six year old’s familiar stretch run down the middle of the track, Gi Ra Seong was already out of sight. For a moment, however, there was a glimpse of the Baekgwang of three years ago as he ate into the lead and even found time to revert to his old habit of drifting toward the rail.

The distance on the line though, while only a length and a half, owed more to Gi Ra Seong easing in the final few strides. The five year old is now on three straight wins and has eleven from twenty in all.

Baekgwang, Park Tae Jong up, parades

Baekgwang, Park Tae Jong up, parades

For Baekgwang, if he has come through this race unscathed and if he continues to improve in training, a shot at the President’s Cup remains an option.

While Baekgwang’s comeback continued, there were others beginning theirs today. Another grey, New Heart, won her first and only race on her debut last November. Sustaining an injury shortly afetrwards that would keep her off the track for ten months, today she finally made her first appearance as a three year old. She duly showed punters what they’ve missed by claiming race 5 with a strong late run.

Also returning today after a lengthy spell out was jockey Lee Shin Young. Korea’s top female jock didn’t take long to make an impact, winning race 7 on Sinhwacheoreom. Tomorrow she will be re-united with former regular mount Kkumcheoreom as the pair go for the Dong-a Ilbo Cup.

Class 1 Handicap (Domestic) – Seoul Race Park – 2000M – Sep 19, 2009

1. Gi Ra Seong (KOR) [Precise End – Dauntless Cat (Mountain Cat)] – Choi Beom Hyun – 2.0, 1.1,
2. Baekgwang (KOR) [The Groom Is Red – Grey Crest (Gold Crest)] – Park Tae Jong – 1.2
3. Wontagui Gisa (KOR) [Fiercely – Grove Lady (Varick)] – Moon Jung Kyun 1.7
Distances: 1.5 lengths/3 lengths – 8 ran


Weekend Preview

Dong-a Ilbo / Gold Circle Trophy / MJC Cup / KRA Jeju Cup
It’s another big weekend of racing on the peninsula with three trophy races on Sunday, two at Busan and one at Seoul headlining the action. At Busan, Sunday is International Day with South Africa’s Gold Circle sponsoring a race for the first time at the track and the Macau Jockey Club sponsoring the second MJC Trophy. Up at Seoul, some of the track’s up and coming fillies and mares will contest the Dong-A Ilbo Cup. We’ll have a full preview of all three trophy races over the next couple of days.

There’s plenty of other action too. On Friday, just two weeks after being shown up by Sinjin Gangja, Yeonseung Daero and Namdo Jeap will go against each other again. Sky Star will be joining them.

Then on Saturday, the white wave, Baekgwang, makes his second appearance since recovering career-rescuing stem cell treatment. He’ll have it tough again with Gi Ra Seong and Hwangnyongsaji also among a field of eight over ten furlongs.

Jeju doesn’t go without either. One of the track’s biggest races, the KRA Jeju Cup is on Sunday afternoon.

Busan Race Park

Friday September 18:
10 races, first post 13:00, last 17:30
Sunday September 20: 6 races, first post 12:40, last 16:30

Seoul Race Park

Saturday September 19: 12 races, first post 11:20, last 17:40
Sunday September 20: 11 races, first post 11:20, last 18:10

Jeju Race Park (Pony racing)

Saturday September 19: 9 races, first post 12:10, last 17:10
Sunday September 20: 9 races, first post 12:10, last 17:20