Month: September 2009

CEO Talks Up Riding to Save Racing

Meanwhile Government wants visitors to borrow to gamble
The Korea Herald reports today on a press conference given by KRA Chairman & CEO Kim Kwang Won to mark the end of his first year in the job. Gone was the talk of raising revenue and lobbying to get the KRW 100,000 maximum bet limit removed. Instead the focus was on preservation in the face a wildly unpredictable regulator.

To this end, Kim focused on the KRA’s charity work and and the expansion of its community activities. He made particular mention of his plan to promote horse riding as a leisure activity by improving equestrian facilities across the country and making it affordable for more people to actually be around horses. At the same time, Kim hopes to establish a “horse academic institution” and improve veterinarian facilities.

Kim’s comments were in line with moves by the KRA to fend off the National Gaming Control Commission – some of whose members appear determined to hand total control of the gaming market to the criminal fraternity.

The strategy has already involved sponsoring the Korean Table Tennis and Judo teams (the latter of which picked up several Olympic medals in Beijing last year) as well as the utilitzation of off track betting plazas for community activities on non-race days. Meanwhile the “KRA Angels” are becoming one of the more visible charitable organizations in Korea.

On the same day that the KRA Chairman talks of the measures his organization is having to take to distance itself from the gambling which so threatens Korean society, it comes as little surprise to hear that the government plans to wring every last bit of currency out of foreign gamers.

The Ministry of Strategy and Finance announced Wednesday that foreigners will now be able to use credit cards to buy gambling chips in the country’s casinos. The highlight of the article in the Korea Times is the following passage:

“Currently foreign tourists are able to buy chips only with cash…Government officials said this has discouraged non-Koreans from gambling here adding if visitors were allowed to purchase chips with plastic, they would spend more money”.

Yeongung Manse Crashes “Match Race”

Stars beaten at Busan / Vicar Love stays on
In the end Gaeseon Janggun beat Areumdaun Jilju in what was billed as “Match Race” between the two best Korean horses at Busan. However, he beat him for second place as both suffered a stunning reverse at the hands of Yeongung Manse in the G3 Gyeongnam Governor’s Cup.

After early leader Conqueror decided he’d had enough as they entered the home straight, the stage was set for the four year old Gaeseon Janggun and Areumdaun Jilju, one year his senior, to finally hook up after avoiding one another for the past year. Hook up they did and the battle was every bit as intense as expected. What was not expected was that in between them was the four year old gelding Yeongung Manse.

As punters cursed themselves for overlooking th fact that over the nine furlong distance he had recorded the fastest previous time, Yeongung Manse and Jo Chang Wook held off Gaeseon Janggun by a neck to land his ninth and biggest win of his career. Areumdaun Jilju was a further length back in third.

While Conqueror stayed on to only be beaten into fourth by a length, the major disappointment of the race was Pangpang. The Oaks winner wasn’t expected to win but neither was she expected to be a tailed off 14 lengths last. With Yeonseung Daero and Namdo Jeap being put in their place last week, the three year olds have not had a good few days.

Up at Seoul Race Park the International Jockey Invitational was the highlight (see report) but once that was over, there were still two major races on the card. Those hoping to gain some clues as to who may be able to challenge Dongbanui Gangja in the season ending Grand Prix were watching race 10 with interest. Not only was it one of very few races to be held over the Grand Prix distance of eleven and a half furlongs, but also featured a former winner in the shape of 2006 Horse of the Year Bally Brae as well as a host of those beaten last year.

The sentimental money went on Bally Brae but although the seven year old set the early pace, jockey Park Tae Jong eased him in the home straight as three months off the track and carrying over 60 kilos caught up with the much-loved gelding. In his place, Vicar Love was the surprise winner, holding off the late running favourite Bulpae Gisang. Last year’s Owners’ Trophy winner Saerounbisul snatched third.

Vicar Love [Vicar – Canberra (Silver Hawk)] struggled with the trip in the Grand Prix and had been in indifferent form this year. The handicapper will no doubt punish him for this but the Grand Prix race in December isn’t a handicap. Dongbanui Gangja’s connections will perhaps not be losing too much sleep at this stage, however.

In the final race of the weekend, Taesanbukdu won a class 1 domestic race by three lengths from joint favourite Ugildongja.

Gyeongnam Governor’s Cup (G.III) – Busan Race Park – 1800M – Sep 13, 2009

1. Yeongung Manse (KOR) [Sharp Appeal – Saratogasplash (Wild Again)] – Jo Chang Wook – 8.3, 2.5
2. Gaeseon Janggun (KOR) [Duality – Diamond Star (Dixieland Band)] – Jo Sung Gon – 1.4
3. Areumdaun Jilju (KOR) [Didyme – Chills Of Nepal (Nepal)] – Lim Sung Sil – 1.1
Distances: Neck/1 length
Also Ran: 4. Conqueror, 5. Pangpang



Korea Wins International Jockey Invitational

Tetsuya Kobayashi wins feature race but Ham Wan Sik overall winner
Ham Wan Sik won individual honours as Korea held onto to their overnight lead to clinch the 5th KRA International Jockey Invitational series at Seoul Race Park this afternoon.

With a deficit of over 60 points to make up in today’s two races, the odds were heavily stacked against the Rest Of The World team. Nevertheless, they can claim to have won day 2. In the first of two seven furlong races, Pat Shanahan got up to rescue a dead heat on Woljeongsa when it looked as though Ham Wan Sik had the race won on Gwacheonnyeoje.

Although Choi Beom Hyun’s third place on Urim meant that the home team had won the challenge, the ROTW team came out fighting in the fourth and final race – also the most valuable of the series. In what was a very open betting race, Japanese rider Tetsuya Kobayashi came out on top, bringing second favourite Fundahigh through late for a length and a half win. The contest ended with the Koreans on top by 126 points to 81.

With one win and one dead heat, Ham Wan Sik took the Individual contest and is $20,000 richer this evening. Cho Kyoung Ho took the $10,000 runner-up prize, while Pat Shanahan will return to Ireland with $5,000 for finishing third.

Big Lead For Home Team in Invitational

Korea lead ROTW 82-20 at the end of Day 1
Korea will head into the second day of the 5th KRA International Jockey Invitational with what should be an unassailable lead after home riders dominated the first two races of the contest at Seoul Race Park this afternoon.

After the jockeys had been presented to the crowd in heavy rain, the skies cleared and Cho Kyoung Ho landed the the first race of the event. The in-form rider brought six year old gelding Sintaepung home for a seven length win in the seven furlong class 3 race with Choi Beom Hyun leading the rest home on Jeoksita. Richard Fourie of South Africa was a fast finishing third on Princess Ruby to give the Rest Of The World team their first points, just ahead of the USA’s Luis Garcia on Arabian Bird.

Ham Wan Sik, Yang Hee Jin and Jim Byrne took the remaining minor points which gave the Koreans a big lead of 37-14. It was important therefore for the ROTW team to come out strong for the second race of the contest, this time a class 2 over nine and a half furlongs. However, with the Koreans getting the better of the draw, this was going to be a tough ask.

So it proved to be. Spectacularly. All six home riders finished ahead of the first visitor home. Outsiders made up the first two with Ham Was Sik coaxing 33/1 shot Badauibyeol home for a wire to wire win, half a length ahead of Bang Choon Sik on Beautiful Sky with favourite Jangjagang third for Yang Hee Jin.

Richard Fourie was the only ROTW rider to place

Richard Fourie was the only ROTW rider to place

Korea therefore go in to tomorrow’s two races leading the contest by a massive 82 points to 20.

* Aside from Ricard Fourie’s third place, one other visitor made it into the placings today. In a non-contest race, Australian Jim Byrne took outsider Soul Warrior into an early lead and stayed on for a battling second place to Cho Kyoung Ho on Daeseungippeum.


Gaeseon Janggun, Areumdaun Jilju Meet At Last

Oaks Winner Pangpang Joins Governor’s Cup Showdown
While the International Jockey Invitational tops the bill at Seoul this coming weekend, Busan plays host to one of its biggest races of the season on Sunday in the form of the Group 3 Gyeongnam Governor’s Cup.

Unusually for Korea – and especially for a big race – only five horses will go to post at 3:45 on Sunday afternoon. Indeed, while the minimum allowable field size was reduced to five earlier this year, this is the first race to draw such a small number.

The five that will go, however, are well worth having the stage to themselves as Gaeseon Janggun and Areumdaun Jilju, rated the top two Korean bred horses at Busan meet for the very first time. It’s a long awaited contest between the lightly raced duo as injury to one of the other has kept them apart so far. Gaeseon Janggun won the Minister’s Cup last season while Areumdaun Jilju became the top horse at the track last season, routinely beating both Korean and Overseas bred runners. Both are unbeaten in their few appearances this season.

They will be joined by Oaks winner Pangpang, who stunned KRA Cup Mile and Derby winner Sangseung Ilro in the filllies’ Classic last month. Three year old improver Conqueror and prolific four year old Yeongung Manse flesh out the field.

Gyeongnam Governor’s Cup (G.III) – Busan Race Park – 1800M – Sep 13, 2009: 15:45

1. Gaeseon Janggun (KOR) [Duality – Diamond Star (Dixieland Band)] – C 4 – (15/8/3/1) – Jo Sung Gon
Second in the first two legs of the 2008 Triple Crown before winning the final jewel, the Minister’s Cup at Seoul. On his return to Busan he suffered his only setback, finishing out of the money in the Owner’s Trophy. Lightly raced since then, he’s won all four of his 2009 outings.
2. Conqueror (KOR) [Revere – Model Actress (Stage Colony)] – C 3 – (12/4/3/0) – Park Geum Man
A slow starter, the three year old took five races to break his maiden and missed out on this year’s classics. Recently graduated to class 1, but yet to be tested at this level.
3. Pangpang (KOR) [Revere – Awishnotalark (Rio’s Lark)] – F 3 – (16/4/1/1) – Han Sang Gyu
Fourth in the Derby marked her down as the only credible challenger to Sangseung Ilro in the Oaks. She duly obliged, chasing down and overtaking the hot favourite to pull off a major upset and establish herself as one of the top stars of Korean racing. Was it a one-off? We’ll find out on Sunday.
4. Yeongung Manse (KOR) [Sharp Appeal – Saratogasplash (Wild Again) – C 4 – (16/8/3/2) – Jo Chang Wook
Has never been out of the money in his sixteen starts. He’s quick and has three top class wins to his name.
5. Areumdaun Jilju (KOR) [Didyme – Chills Of Nepal (Nepal)] – (20/14/3/0) – H 5 – Lim Sung Sil
The five year old made his debut over three years ago but has only raced twenty times. SInce turning three, he’s won ten of his tweve races including both of his outings this year.

Korea Vs Rest Of The World in 5th Challenge

The 5th KRA International Jockey Invitational takes place at Seoul Race Park this coming weekend and six overseas jocks will be in town as Korea takes on the Rest Of The World. Ireland’s Pat Shanahan and Australia’s Jim Byrne head up the Rest Of The World team with Park Tae Jong captaining the Koreans.

The Rest Of The World

Jim Byrne (Australia) – Gold Coast based Byrne has been champion jockey at Brisbane four times and is well on his way to 1500 winners.
Richard Fourie (South Africa) – Thought of as one of the most promising young South African jockeys, the 24 year old Fourie last month decided to move from his KwaZulu-Natal base to Singapore where he will join trainer Basil Marcus later this year.
Luis Garcia (USA) – Maryland based and most frequently working the circuit of Laurel, Pimlico, Colonial Downs and Delaware Park, Garcia turned 25 last week and has over 1000 career victories to his name.
Tetsuya Kobayashi (Japan) – The only Japanese rider this year, Kobayashi debuted in 1993 and, while not a prolific winner with the JRA, has secured some prestigious wins throughout his career.
Pat Shanahan (Ireland) – One of Ireland’s most experienced jockeys, Pat Shanahan came to prominence winning the 1984 Irish Oaks on Princess Pati. In 1996 he won the Irish Derby in 1996 on Dermot Weld’s Zagreb. He continues to ride for Weld, guiding Rare ransom to fourth place in this year’s Irish 1000 Guineas.
Gokhan Yildiz (Turkey) – An up and coming riding from Turkey, Yildiz is the youngest member of the ROTW team. In his six year career to date, he has amassed 326 winners.

The Koreans

Korea puts out an experienced team. Although champion jockey Moon Se Young is out for the rest of the season, the home side will still fancy their chances. Last year’s winner Park Tae Jong again captains.

Park Tae Jong – The only person in Korean racing to enjoy name recognition outside the sport, Park has won everything there is to win and has won twice as many races as any other Korean rider in history. Mention horse racing to a Korean and they will tell you two things. First they will tell you gambling is bad. Secondly they will tell you Park Tae Jong always wins.
Bang Choon Sik – Another veteran, Bang rides sparingly these days but in his time has won most of Korea’s biggest races.
Yang Hee Jin – Debuting in 1996, Yang hasn’t quite made it to the top echelon of Korean racing although if he was to go freelance, he may get an opportunity to show what he can do. A safe pair of hands who is held in high regard by punters.
Cho Kyoung Ho – A late starter, not riding in his first race until age 25, Cho Kyoung Ho is currently the man in form. Taking over leadership of the 2009 Championship last weekend, Cho has a remarkable quinella strike rate of 37% this year.
Choi Beom Hyun – Over the past year, Choi has become known as the big race jockey His partnership with Dongbanui Gangja is fast becoming one of the most enduring and successful in Korean racing history.
Ham Wan Sik – Going freelance earlier this year, Ham Wan Sik is recognised as one of Seoul’s most capable riders.

The Contest

Four races make up the contest, two on Saturday and two on Sunday:

Saturday: Race 8 – Class 3 Foreign bred, 1400M, post time 15:40
Saturday: Race 11 – Class 2 Foreign bred, 1900M Handicap, post time 17:10
Sunday: Race 7 – Class 4 Korean bred, 1400M, post time 15:10
Sunday: Race 9 – Class 3 Korean bred, 1400M Handicap, post time 17:10

Each jockey will have a ride in each race so the mininmum field size for each event will be twelve. Points are awarded in the following manner:

1st: 20, 2nd: 10, 3rd: 6, 4th: 4, 5th: 3, 6th: 2, 7th: 1

The jockey with the most points at the end of the two days will take home a bonus of $20,000, second will secure $10,000 and third will receive $5,000. In addition, each member of the winning team will be awarded a $1,000 bonus.

The rides for each race will be drawn later this week and after the draw, we’ll take a closer look at who’s likely to be leaving Korea a little richer.

Khanui Jeguk Wins the Ilgan

Love Cat surprise second / Namdo Jeap, Yeonseung Daero beaten at Busan
Khanui Jeguk took the honours in the battle of the three year olds, landing the Ilgan Sports Cup at Seoul Race Park this afternoon.

With Derby third place getter Baengnyeonbong sent off the slight odds-on favourite, it was outsider Event, under Oh Kyoung Hoan, who set the early pace in the nine furlong race with fellow longshot Cheongun Jangsu following.

Cho Kyoung Ho settled Khanui Jeguk onto the rail in the back straight and was perfectly placed as the field turned for home. The early leaders faded away and Khanui Jeguk shot through into the lead as they passed the two furlong pole. Shin Hyoung Cheol brought Baengnyeonbong wide around the field but struggled to keep the colt in a straight line and his challenge never got going. It would be the filly, Love Cat, who would get closest to the winner – three lengths the distance on the line.

Khanui Jeguk in the Ilgan Sports Winner's Circle

Khanui Jeguk in the Ilgan Sports Winner's Circle

Khanui Jeguk has only ever once been out of the money. That was in the Derby. He recovered to finish second to Nice Choice in the Munhwa Ilbo last month and confirms his place as the second best three year old at Seoul with today’s win. For Love Cat it was a fine return after two months without a race. Baengnyeonbong drifted badly in the straight – whether this accounted for the defeat he will surely be given an opportunity to prove later in the season.

The disappointment of the race was Holy Dreamer. Unbeaten in his five starts to date, he wasn’t expected to win but, despite being backed into third favourite, only managed to come home seventh.

Ilgan Sports Cup – Seoul Race Park – 1800M – Sep 6, 2009

1. Khanui Jeguk (KOR) [Sunday Well – Lucky Dip (Didyme)] – Cho Kyoung Ho – 3.4, 1.3
2. Love Cat (KOR) [Creek Cat – Love Cue (Curia Regis)] – Choi Beom Hyun – 3.7
3. Baengnyeonbong (KOR) [Al Naba – Sansovino Art (Mister C.)] – Shin Hyoung Cheol – 1.0
Distances: 3 lengths/2 lengths
Also ran: 4. Cheongha Eutteum, 5. Exzacta Runner, 6. First Flower. 7. Holy Dreamer. 8. Headline News, 9. Magic Victor, 10. Cheongun Jangsu, 11. Event, 12 Gamunuye

While the three year olds were in charge at Seoul, down at Busan they were put firmly in their place as the duo of Yeonseung Daero and Namdo Jeap fell to a late charge from Sinjin Gangja. A well positioned Namdo Jeap tired in the straight of Busan’s feature but at least clung on for third. Yeonseung Daero meanwhile attempted to make a late dash from the back of the pack, but stalled on the way and ended fifth.



Baengnyeonbong Heads Ilgan Sports Contenders

Baengnyeonbong, third in the Korean Derby, and the unbeaten Holy Dreamer head a field of twelve Korean breds for the 27th Ilgan Sports Cup at Seoul Race Park tomorrow afternoon.

Holy Dreamer has won all five his starts but will be stepping up significantly in class in a race where three year olds are expected to dominate. Khanui Jeguk was a Derby disappointment but has bounced back since May and must be considered. Cheongha Eutteum has won four out his five races and is a winner at the distance.

One filly and one mare join the colts. While five year old Gamunhuye looks overmated, Love Cat doesn’t. Love Cat skipped the Oaks but has won at the distance and in reasonable company too. She’s had two months off and if she comes back in the form she was in when she began her break, she’ll be in the mix at the finish.

Aside from Gamunhuye there are a couple of other older horses trying their luck in a race that will see the winner likely elevated to class 1 racing. Lightly raced six year old Cheongun Jangsu has won five of his twelve starts but will find things tough as will Exzacta Runner. In with a better chance though are five year old First Flower and the four year old Headline News.

Baegnyeonbong is the one to beat.

The race is off at 17:00 and is race 9 of an 11 race card which gets underway at 11:20. Here are the runners, records and riders:

Ilgan Sports Cup – Seoul Race Park – 1800M – Sep 6, 2009, 17:00

1. Event (11/6/0) – Oh Kyoung Hoan
2. Love Cat (10/6/0) – Choi Beom Hyun
3. Khanui Jeguk (10/4/2) – Cho Kyoung Ho
4. Baengnyeonbong (12/5/1) – Shin Hyoung Cheol
5. Cheongun Jangsu (12/5/1) – Lee Sang Hyuk
6. First Flower (22/4/3) – Yang Hee Jin
7. Gamunhuye (38/5/2) – Jo In Kwon
8. Exzacta Runner (17/3/3) – Park Tae Jong
9. Cheongha Eutteum (5/4/1) – Moon Jung Kyun
10. Holy Dreamer (5/5/0) Ham Wan Sik
11. Magic Victor (22/3/3) – Bang Choon Sik
12. Headline News (19/4/3) – Jung Ki Young

Dongbanui Gangja Has To Work

Saturday Review
Dongbanui Gangja rallied late extend his unbeaten streak to eight races and confirm his position as the top horse in training at Seoul. Comfortably positioned just behind early pace-setters Gamadongja and Brilliant Knight as they came off the final turn, the hot favourite looked to be about to cruise to a simple win.

Things didn’t go quite to plan, however, as both Gamadongja and Brilliant Knight fought back as Dongbanui Gangja began to sprint. Ultimately he got up to claim victory by a length and a half. Brillaint Knight just edged out Gamadongja by a nose for second.

Things were slightly more routine for Secret Weapon half an hour later. The top rated Korean bred horse never looked in any danger as he overcame Chamgippeum and Lucky Mountain by nine lengths.

Finally a mention must go to five year old Quick Bird. The mare had finished third a total of nine times in her thirty previous starts and in race 9 today, she finally broke her maiden, coming through late to grab a length and a half win.

Class 1 (Foreign bred) – Seoul Race Park – 2000M – Sep 5, 2009

1. Dongbanui Gangja (USA) [Broken Vow – Maremaid (Storm Bird)] – Choi Beom Hyun – 1.1, 1.0
2. Brilliant Knight (USA) [Lion Hearted – Deputy Lady (First Deputy)] – Han Sung Yeol – 6.5
3. Gamadongja (NZ) [Howbaddouwantit – Miss Martha (Iades)] – Ham Wan Sik – 2.4
Distances: 1.25 lengths/Nose – 14 ran


Weekend Preview

Dongbanui Gangja, Secret Weapon, Namdo Jeap, Miss Ecton all go on big weekend
It’s Ilgan Sports Day at Seoul on Sunday and the showdown between three of the track’s top three year olds headlines what is looking all round one of the most attractive weekend cards of the year.

Things get underway at Busan on Friday when a host of big names will contest the last and feature race. Miss Ecton, Golding, Hardride and Admiral Reigart will all be in action in race 10.

Sunday’s Busan feature will see two of the southern track’s top colts square off once more. Namdo Jeap was second in both the KRA Cup Mile and the Korean Derby. Yeonseung Daero was well fancied for both of those races but flopped. Since then though, he has made amends with two smart wins against tough opposition. They’ll do battle in race 5. South African jockey Martin Wepner will be reunited with Namdo Jeap for the first time since walking away from the ride on Derby day.

Saturday at Seoul sees a double-header of top races. 2008 Grand Prix winner and 2009 Owners’ Trophy winner Dongbanui Gangja is on to extend his winning streak to eight and will be hot favourite to make it nine. Regardless of his reputation, a full field will assemble for race 10 to try to stop him. Among them will be Brilliant Knight, Gamadongja, Noubeau Riche and the improving Torpedo Mast. Also there will be Yodongseong, returning from a near six month lay-off.

That race will be followed thirty minutes later by an appearance by Secret Weapon. The five year old has won his last three and will have Lucky Mountain and Namchonuijijon as well as ten others to contend with if he is cement his position as Seoul’s current top-rated domestically bred horse.

Sunday’s feature is of course, the Ilgan Sports Cup. The focus is going to be on the three year olds, especially unbeaten gelding Holy Dreamer. We’ll have a full preview of the Ilgan over the next couple of days.

Busan Race Park

Friday September 4: 10 races, first post 13:00, last 17:30
Sunday September 6: 6 races, first post 12:40, last 16:30

Seoul Race Park

Saturday September 5: 12 races, first post 11:20, last 17:40
Sunday September 6: 11 races, first post 11:20, last 18:10

Jeju Race Park (Pony Racing)

Saturday September 5: 9 races, first post 12:10, last 17:10
Sunday September 6: 9 races, first post 12:10, last 17:10