Month: October 2009

Weekend Preview

The Busan Mayor’s Cup headlines a weekend which also sees the Gyeonggi Governor’s Cup at Seoul on Sunday, while a number of big name horses make appearances across the weekend.

Seoul Vs Busan Part 5 takes centre stage at Busan while up and coming fillies will run for the valuable Gyeonggi Cup at Seoul. Meanwhile, the likes of Bally Brae, Angus Empire, Namchonuijijon and Machine Gun will be in action.

Busan Race Park

Friday October 30: 10 races, first post 13:00, last 17:30
Sunday November 1: 6 races, first post 12:40, last 16:30

Seoul Race Park

Saturday October 31: 12 races. first post 11:20, last 17:50
Sunday November 1: 11 races, first post 11:20, last 18:10

Jeju Race Park (Pony Racing)

Saturday October 31: 10 races, first post 12:10, last 17:20
Sunday November 1: 10 races, first post 12:10, last 17:10

It’s Busan Vs Seoul as Hardride Defends Cup

Six head down to try to break Busan’s domination
It’s Busan vs Seoul part 5, but this time it’s different. While up until now, only the three year old classics have been contested by horses from both tracks, this coming Sunday, six older overseas bred horseswill travel to Busan for the first Group 3 Busan Mayor’s Cup. Eight will be waiting for them from the home team, among them a mixture of the Busan’s top imports as well as its home bred stars.

Hardride is back to defend his title from last year but it’s the Korean bred runners who provide most of the interest from the Busan side. Areumdaun Jilju and Gaeseon Janggun will get another crack at Yeongung Manse, who surprised both of them in last month’s Governor’s Cup, while three year old Yeonsung Daero has another tilt at glory after failing in the classics.

Vicar Love, Saerounbisul and Bulpae Gisang head the Seoul contingent who will be looking to regain some pride for the capital track. In clashes between the two, Busan leads 8-0. Will things change on Sunday? We’ll find out when they go to post for the ten furlong race at 3:40pm.

Let’s have a look at the runners and riders.

Busan Mayor’s Cup (KOR. G.III) – Busan Race Park – 2000M – Nov 1, 2009 – 15:40

1. Saerounachim (NZ) [Pyrus – Jouet (Langfuhr)] (18/2/5/3) – Seoul – Shim Seung Tae
Second in the JRA Trophy, it’s hard to argue that he’s come along for any other reason then to keep stablemate Saerounbisul company.
2. Yeongung Manse (KOR) [Sharp Appeal – Saratogasplash (Wild Again)] (17/9/3/2) – Jo Chang Wook
Pulled off a stunning win over Areumdaun Jilju and Gaeseon Janggun last month in what was billed as a match race between the track’s top two stars. Not to be ignored.
3. Tiffanyuikkum (AUS) [Iglesia – Blue Lady (Western Symphony)] (18/5/1/2) – Seoul – Shin Dae Jun
Three out of his last four runs have been dreadful. Unproven at the top level, will his best form return?
4. Gamadongja (NZ) [Howbaddouwantit – Miss Martha (Iades)] (23/9/3/4) – Seoul – Stephan Swanepoel
Likely to set the early pace, Gamadongja is a sprinter but consistantly places at the longer distances.
5. Balbora (NZ) [Keeper – Deutzia (Chem)] (21/3/0/3) – Seoul – Bang Choon Sik
Hasn’t finished in the money this year. Perhaps his connections know something we don’t.
6. Saerounbisul (NZ) [Danske – Miss Golly (Casual Lies)] (25/6/4/4) – Seoul – Martin Wepner
Finished in the money on all but one of his last twenty-three races, the five year old won the Seoul Owners’ Cup last year and must be respected.
7. Bulpae Gisang (USA) [Lightnin N Thunder – Neat Trick (Clever Trick)] (11/6/2/0) – Seoul – Choi Beom Hyun
Won on his first attempt at class 1 and has two solid second places since. Choi Beom Hyun accompanies him down from Seoul.
8. Angle Slam (USA) [Gold Case – Platinum Code (Lost Code)] (42/8/7/8) – Han Sang Gyu
Like Gamadongja, he excels at shorter distances – he may contest the minor placings but a win would be a shock.
9. Vicar Love (USA) [Vicar – Canberra (Silver Hawk)] (17/9/1/3) – Seoul – Oh Kyoung Hoan
One of the top three year olds of last season, he’s back in form with a good win last time out.
10. Hardride (USA) [Colony Light – Lametta (Lomond)] (24/6/5/2) – Chae Gyu Jun
Winner of this race last year, he’s not in quite the same form as he was a year ago but can’t be ruled out.
11. Gaeseon Janggun (KOR) [Duality – Diamond Star (Dixieland Band)] (16/8/4/1) Jo Sung Gon
Last year’s champion Korean bred three year old has won four of his five outings this term, his only defeat being to Yeongung Manse last month. A real contender.
12. Luna (KOR) [Concept Win – Wu Su Hae (Exactly Sharp)] (31/12/5/2) – Eiki Nishimura
The only female in the race, the seven year old mare is a Busan stalwart. The 2007 KRA Cup Mile is the highlight of her career to date but she also pulled off a shock win in last year’s Owners’ Cup.
13. Areumdaun Jilju (KOR) [Didyme – Chills Of Nepal (Nepal)] (21/14/3/1) – Lim Sung Sil
Always in the money and usually in the winners’ circle. His defeat last time was a shock but Lim Sung Sil retains the ride and he will be in the mix at the end.
14. Yeonseung Daero (KOR) [Creek Cat – Sensationalkris (Cryptoclearance)] (15/8/1/2) – Park Geum Man
A disappointment in the classics, he’s the “nearly colt” of this year’s three year old group. Has always finisined in the money.

It’s nice but…

….What about that “Internationalization”?

The KRA’s new homepage was unveiled at midnight last night at And it is as impressive as you would expect complete with pretty graphical representations of the tracks and plenty of laptop crashing animations.

New KRA Homepage

KRA's new homepage

The race card layout has been much improved and overall it gets a thumbs-up. There’s just one issue at the moment: As far as can be made out, there’s no link at all to the English section of the website!

Pari-Mutuel Machines Learning English

Arriving early at Seoul Race Park on Saturday morning, Gyongmaman was surprised to be accosted by KRA officials outside the Foreigner Lounge on the fourth floor of the Luckyville grandstand. Nursing a hangover and fearing that last Monday’s article about the Karaoke expense claims had hit a little too close to the mark, Gyongmaman broke into a sweat and started looking for the exit.

It transpired that they wanted him to try out a new English language betting terminal. The fourth floor of both grandstands at Seoul (and most of Busan) is entirely automated with machines instead of tellers at all the betting windows. Gyongmaman doesn’t like this – if he’s watching from the fourth floor, he always goes down to the third to bet with one of the armada of women (they are all women) staffing the regular betting windows whom the KRA is hoping to replace with the soulless – and non wage demanding – machines.

Naturally, in the face of officaldom, Gyongmaman was suitably gushing about the brilliance of the proposed new machines. And in fariness, they look very promising. Currently the machines only have Korean instructions and though easy to use, they can deter first-timers. Not only will the new machines accept bets, they will also provide searchable information on the racecard and give results from all three tracks.

End of writing in the third-person. The “Foreigner Lounge” at Seoul Race Park is located on the fourth floor of the Luckyville grandstand and looks out over the furlong marker. With a capacity of approximately 120, it provides an English Language Race Program and “how to” leaflets and once you sign in on arrival, you have a reserved seat for the rest of the day (first come, first served). English and Japanese speaking staff are also on hand to assist. While quiet on Saturdays, it tends to get very busy on summer Sundays and no visitor to the track should spend all their time in there – there’s so much else to see, but it is an extremely useful facility.

One final question the officials had was how could the betting process be made easier for overseas visitors. In truth, betting at the track in Korea is as simple and logical as it could possibly be. The only imprevements that could be made are ones that the regulator won’t allow the KRA to do. But that is another story.

Another Jockey Busted

For the third time in the past year, a jockey has been referred to the police for allegedly trading “insider information”. This time its a Seoul jockey who has supposedly been passing on information, including illicit training videos, to illegal betting rings.

As the case has now been handed over to the police, the jockey in question can only be identified by his initial “L”. Before this development, the suspension of said jockey – and the reason why – was news on the KRA’s website last week but it has now been removed.

Nevertheless, simply scanning the list of current suspensions at Seoul will satisfy those of a curious mind. Two jockeys with the initial “L” were suspended this weekend. It’s not Lee Ae Li, she’ll be back next week. The other one won’t be.

“L” is the third jockey this year to become embroiled in such an affair. Seoul rider Park Soo Hong was warned off for life while a Busan based jockey is currently suspended pending further investigation.

Seonbongbulpae Strolls On

Gi Ra Seong makes it four / Eden notches first winner
Yesterday at Seoul, Ace Galloper sent out a warning to the rest of the two year old division. Today it was the turn of Seonbongbulpae to respond as he too stepped up to class 4. Respond he did, strolling into the lead as the fourteen strong field turned for home and coming away from the field to win by a relaxed ten lengths.

In Ace Galloper, Seonbongbulpae and Nothern Ace, Seoul has three very exciting two year olds. Ace Galloper has been beaten – once by Nothern Ace, but that was over five furlongs and it seems he is getting better as the distances get longer. As for Seonbongbulpae and Nothern Ace, they have yet to be challenged.

The Herald Business Cup, Seoul’s Juvenile Championship decider is set for December 6th. If all three stay fit, it promises to be a race to savour. With the two year old picture down at Busan yet to reveal any real potential stars, for the moment at least, Seoul can look forward to next year’s Classic trail.

In the afternoon’s feature event, Gi Ra Seong continued his impressive recent run of form. The favourite led from wire to wire to hold off Badajebi by a length at the end of the 1900 metre handicap. Five year old Gi Ra Seong has now won four on the spin.

At Busan there was a first win for Hong Kong jockey Eden Hok Lai Cheung. Cheung debuted on Friday with one ride which was unplaced but in his only mount today, he managed to guide 50/1 outsider Gilsan to a surprise victory in race 5. On another good day for foreign riders at the southern track, both Martin Wepner and Hitomi Miyashita were also in the Winners’ Circle during the afternoon although Hitomi also managed to pick up a one day suspension.



Aurora Shines

Aurora landed the title of Champion Juvenile filly in a hard fought Gwacheon Mayor’s Cup at Seoul Race Park this afternoon. Under Hwang Soon Do, the Tahamkke filly beat off Hushtilled by four lengths to take Seoul’s top two year old filly race.

Pre-race favourites Oh My Sun and Saeroungamun finished last and second last respectively as Choegouisungan made the early running before Aurora came by with a furlong and a half remaining. The previously unbeaten Choegouisungan held on for third.

Two year olds were the stars of the day. Another filly, Thunder Woman, came through a little late to be in the running for the Gwacheon race, but she had little difficulty in dispatching a predominantly older field in race 5 for her second straight win.

If Ace Galloper hadn’t come up against Nothern Ace when the latter broke the track record at five furlongs,he would almost certainly be talked about as a possible Derby horse for next year. Today he put in his third routine win in a row, moving up in class and continuing his preparation for a likely shot at Nothern Ace and Seonbongbulpae in the Herald Media Cup in December.

Ten lengths was the margin on the line but it could have been whatever distance jockey Shim Seung Tae cared to make it. His more illustrious two year old counterparts have yet to try their luck against class 4 opposition – Ace Galloper has already demolished them.

Also on an eventful day, Japanese jockey Yoshiyuki Aoki made his Korean debut. And it was a winning one for the 33 year old – the first former JRA rider to take up a licence in Korea. After failing to palce with his early mounts, Aoki took the moderately fancied Namchonui Yeowang to victory in race 9.

Aurora Takes 2 y/o filly title

Aurora Takes 2 y/o filly title

Gwacheon Citizens’ Day Cup – Seoul Race Park – 1200M – Oct 24, 2009

1. Aurora (KOR) [Tahamkke – Southern Splendour (Southern Halo)] – Hwang Soon Do – 7.1, 2.1
2. Hushtilled (KOR) [Distiiled – Miss Alwuhush (Alwuhush)] – Jo In Kwen – 2.8
3. Choegouisungan (KOR) [Creek Cat – Right Out Ro (Grand Slam)] – Shin, HC) 2.9
Distances: 4 lengths/1.75 lengths
Also Ran: 4. Secret Woman; 5. Cheongsando; 6. White Volpony; 7. Bigsister; 8. Khanuiyeowang; 9. Oh My Sun; 10. Saeroungamun


Weekend Preview

Oh My Sun / Seonbongbulpae / Gi Ra Seong
The Juvenile Fillies have their big day at Seoul Race Park on Saturday as the Gwacheon Mayor’s Cup takes centre stage. Ten two year olds will go in the six furlong test with Oh My Sun and and the unknown Choegouisungan among them.

It’s rare for the feature race of the weekend to be held on a Saturday but this Sunday also has its attractions. The in-form Gi Ra Seong, will be in action in the feature race as the build up continues to next month’s President’s Cup but, in keeping with the Juvenile theme, plenty of eyes will be on race 7 where Seonbongbulpae makes his third appearance.

The colt won his first two races easily and steps up to class 4 as he prepares for his likely December showdown with Nothern Ace in the Herald Media.

Busan runs cards on Friday and Sunday. The feature is on Friday with Golding and Dongbang Geona among the contenders.

Busan Race Park

Friday October 23: 10 races, first post 13:00, last 17:30
Sunday October 25: 6 races, first post 12:40, last 16:30

Seoul Race Park

Saturday October 24: 12 races, first post 11:20, last 17:50
Sunday October 25: 11 races, first post 11:20, last 18:00

Jeju Race Park (Pony Racing)

Saturday October 24: 9 races: first post 12:10, last 17:10
Sunday October 25: 10 races, first post 12:10, last 17:20

New Jockey for Seoul, New Stallion for Jeju

The Japanese jockey contingent in Korea has risen to four again. Thirty-two year old Yoshiyuki Aoki has arrived in Seoul and looks set to make his debut at the track this coming weekend. He’ll join Toshiyuki Katoh at Seoul while Eiki Nishimura and Hitomi Miyashita are at Busan.

Meanwhile the KRA has been stallion shopping and it appears that they are close to bringing over the nine year old Peace Rules [Jules – Hold To Fashion (Hold Your Peace)], a prolific winner in his racing career taking the Haskell Invitational and Blue Grass Stakes amongst a number of Grade Ones. He’s found only moderate success as a sire and the Bloodhorse reports he will stand at the KRA’s Jeju Stud Farm where he will be alongside the likes of Volponi and fellow newcomer, Ecton Park.

Peace Rules will take the number of registered stallions in Korea to 96. Over the past year, two colts and a fiilly by Peace Rules have been imported. The best known of these is three year old Gangho [Honor Delilah (Honor Grades)], who won his first four races this Spring. Two year old filly Gwacheon Geojang [Copelan’s Lily (Copelan)]has also made a positive start withe a win and a second place in her two outings to date.

Here’s Peace Rules winning the 2004 Suburban Handicap from Funny Cide at Belmont Park:

Bloodhorse Article

A video of Peace Rules at current home Vinery Farm.

(ht – FP)

FAFFing About in Parliament

Golf, Karaoke and Illegal Race-calls all feature in Racing’s Day at the Auditors

Monday saw top KRA officials make the journey to the National Assembly building in Yeouido, Seoul where, as part of the Ministry of Farming, Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (FAFF), it was their turn to appear in front of lawmakers as part of the annual National Assembly audit.

During the three week audit, all government departments come under scrutiny with 500 administrative sections covering everything from the Army to the Tourist Board having to appear to answer questions. It’s an event widely criticised in Korea as being little to do with serious audit and more to do with political showboating.

Indeed it often turns out that way. In the past, politicians have arrived for the Defence Department audit wearing army fatigues and staged a target practice exhibition before the questions, while others decided to cut off the power while the Korean Electrical Power Corporation (KEPCO) was being grilled so that executives could see what it was like to work by candlelight.

The Korea Times commented last year that generally all officials need to do is either “beg, bribe or entertain the parliamentarians” to get through another year. The same paper did grant, however, that if nothing else, the audit period was good for “slapstick funnies” on the National Assembly TV channel.

Chairman and CEO Kim Kwang Won headed the KRA delegation. Sadly, Kim did not show up wearing racing silks and carrying a whip. Here’s a brief summary of some of the issues that were raised by lawmakers:

* Like any audit, the main purpose was to check what the KRA was doing with its money. Especially what it shouldn’t be doing. The KRA overtime payments to staff were criticised – around 4 Billion won ($3.6Million) was allegedly paid during the audit period. This was also noted in the last audit.

* Rep. Kang Seok Ho of the ruling (and perhaps appropriately named) Grand National Party, raised the issue of “improper Golf Club memberships” purchased by the KRA to the value of KRW 1 Billion as well as KRW 100 Million put on corporate credit cards at various Karaoke bars and “Saunas”. Rep. Kang condemned the expenditure as “violating every civilized subject of public sentiment” given the ongoing recession.

* Rep. Kang Ki-Kap of the Democratic Party is generally good value at any National Assembly event. Opting to neither fight, nor smash anything up today, he instead chose to focus on illegal gambling. Given that racing on TV has now been outlawed, Kang wanted to know what the KRA was doing to counter the supposed problem of illegal live commentaries of races from the track to private gaming houses.

* The appointment of a former close advisor to President Lee Myoung Bak during his election campaign to what some see as a grace and favour position within the racing authority, came under attack

* Regulatory issues were also covered. Breakfast TV news reports had speculated that the KRA would be strongly criticised over its progress in meeting guidleines laid down by the National Gaming Control Commission (NGCC). The matter was raised with criticism for the way the KRA has pushed ahead with its promotion of Off Track Betting locations (or KRA Plazas) with the NGCC requiring that by 2013, 50% of all money wagered is done so at the track – currently it stands at 30%.

How much fall-out there is from the audit session will become clearer later in the week but overall, there was little new on the regulatory front – and sadly even less on the comedy front.