Month: February 2010

Money Car Drives On as Others Stall

Ace Galloper, Bulpae Gisang beaten

Some reputations were left intact but some were in question at the end of a busy afternoon at Seoul Race Park. While Money Car continued his stately progress through the ranks, fellow hot property Ace Galloper went down to a shock defeat to break a five race winning streak.

Stepping up to class 2 and going half a furlong further than in any of his previous outings, Ace Galloper was nevertheless sent off the 1/5 favourite. Coming round the final bend in third place on the shoulder of the leaders, he looked set to justify that price and go clear. To everyone’s surprise, however, while early pace-setter Good Diva did indeed start to fade, second placed Brothers did not. Instead the four-year old kicked on and tied up with Ace Galloper in the home straight.

Ace Galloper was a joker in the paddock and folded on the track

On the line, the older horse got the better of the potential superstar by half a length to record an unexpected win. For Brothers, it was a fourth win from thirteen starts. For Ace Galloper [Chapel Royal – Explicitly (Exploit)], who was causing mischief in the paddock before the race, it was bad day.

There were no such problems in race 8 for classic hopeful Money Car. Park Tae Jong waited until the final furlong to ask the three-year old to make any effort but when he did, the colt abruptly jumped away from the field and was a confortable three-length winner. Since finishing second on his debut, Money Car [Newsprint – Pinocchio (Big Sur)] has now won five in a row.

Money Car (Park Tae Jong) won for the fifth time

Later, in the gathering gloom of a grey, waning afternoon, Bulpae Gisang went to post as the odds-on favourite in the feature handicap. He would be the second odds-on favourite to go down on the day though as he could only third place with Haengun Daewang leading from gate to wire. Four-year old Bulpae Gisang is generally recognised as the second best horse running at Seoul. Not on today’s performance.

Finally in the last race, it was the turn of another three-year old hopeful Dongbang Rose [Volponi – Night Mary (Strike Gold)] to put her unbeaten record on the line. She came through with no problems whatsoever, scoring a two-length victory over seven furlongs.

Down at Busan, there were co-feature races. Australian-bred Cheonseungmanseung [Way of Light – Mysterious Ransom (Red Ransom)] – a horse whose name looks much shorter in Korean than it does in English, took the first of these, a mile handicap for foreign bred horses, while an Australian trainer, Peter Wolsley, took the honours an hour later in the domestic event. His five-year old gelding Khaosan came home three lengths ahead of Isidae Gangja and Golden Appeal.



Still Easy for Tough Win

Three-year old goes five-for-five

Tough Win eased to a fifth straight victory at Seoul Race Park this afternoon and in doing so, ensured that in future he’ll only be running against the best as he qualified for the top level of Korean racing.

Making his second outing at over nine furlongs and against the best field he has faced so far, the three-year old Tough Win had to come wide from stall 14 to sit on the outside of the field for the first three quarters of the race. As they entered the home straight, jockey Cho Kyoung Ho kicked him on and Tough Win loped away from the rest to take a five length win.

Tough to pacify: Two handlers and a set of pacifiers keep Tough Win in check

While not as visually impressive as some of his earlier runs, given the company he was in, the time he recorded and the fact that jockey Cho still didn’t need to trouble the horse with the whip, today’s performance adds to the buzz there is about this horse.

Tough Win [Yonguska – Maggie May’s Sword (Sword Dance)] moves onto five wins from five runs.

In domestic three-year old news, Full Step, third in last year’s Herald Business, got the better of Kkonnam and Bonsol – who finished third and fifth respectively – to take victory in the last race of the day. The colt now has three wins to his name.

Although Tough Win and Full Step both landed reasonably good races, neither of them was the feature race of the day. That was won by Love Cat, the filly taking her first win since triumphing in the Sports Seoul Stakes last June. The four-year old just edged out Jeokdaejeok and Baengnyeonbong in a tight finish to the ten furlong handicap.

Racing returns to Seoul tomorrow when Bulpae Gisang, Money Car and Ace Galloper will be the star attractions. The first of eleven races will be underway at 11:20. Busan also hosts a Sunday card with the first of six races starting at 12:40.


Weekend Preview

Tough Win, Money Car, Ace Galloper all starters

Three year-olds are very much to the fore at Seoul Race Park this Holiday Weekend as several Classic hopefuls – and others who can’t run for the Triple Crown but will be in line for other big prizes – take to the track.

Money Car will aim to take a fifth straight win on Sunday while Bonsol, Kkonnam and Full Step all go in the last on Saturday. Ace Galloper, while not Classic bound, will be going for six straight wins when he goes in race 9 on Sunday.

They could all be upstaged by potentially the best of the lot, US import Tough Win, who is yet to break into a gallop in his four wins to date. He is unlikely to be troubled by any of thirteen rivals in race 10 on Saturday.

Although upstaged by the younger horses, the likes of Bulpae Gisang, Symphony Sonata and Love Cat will all be running in valuable handicaps over the weekend.

At Busan, where if recent history is anything to go by, the Classic winners are likely to come from, promising three-year olds Baekjeom Manjeom and Saeroun Taeyang will face each other on Friday.

Friday February 26

Busan Race Park: 10 races, first post 12:00, last 18:00
Jeju Race Park (Pony racing): 9 races, first post 13:30, last 17:30

Saturday February 27

Seoul Race Park: 12 races, first post 11:20, last 17:40
Jeju Race Park (Pony racing): first post 12:10, last 17:10

Sunday February 28:

Seoul Race Park: 11 races, first post 11:20, last 18:00
Busan Race Park: 6 races, first post 12:40, last 16:30

Florida Sox Them in Segye Ilbo

Florida Sox produced a commanding performance to take victory in the Segye Ilbo Cup at Seoul Race Park this afternoon – the first Stakes race of 2010 at the track. In doing so, the three-year old filly gave jockey Boo Min Ho the biggest win of his career to date.

Boo-tiful, A first Stakes win sinks in for Boo Min Ho

Sent off second favourite, Florida Sox led the anticipated cavalry charge out of the gate as they began the seven furlong race. Favourite Gippeumnuri came up alongside her as they left the back straight and looked well-place to kick on.

Instead though it was Florida Sox who had the extra gear, effortlessly going away from the chasing pack and ultimately putting seven lengths between her and second placed Jangjagang with Gippeumnuri trailing in third.

US bred Florida Sox made a low-key debut last autumn finishing sixth out of fourteen in a six furlong maiden race. Dropping back to five furlongs for her next outing though, she proceeded to come within half a second of the course record. She followed that up with another easy win over that distance last month. Any ideas that she might be unable to last more than a thousand metres were emphatically quashed today.

Florida Sox in the Segye Ilbo Winner's Circle

Segye Ilbo Cup (Stakes Listed) – Seoul Race Park – 1400M – Feb 21, 2010

1. Florida Sox (USA) [Woke Up Dreamin – Chordette (Dixieland Band)] – Boo Min Ho – 4.0, 1.8
2. Jangjagang (USA) [Buddha – Illusory (Skywalker)] – Park Tae Jong – 1.7
3. Gippeumnuri (USA) [Eurosilver – Regatta Queen (Danzig Connection)] – Moon Se Young – 1.3
Distances: 7 lengths/1.5 lengths
Also ran: 4. Hwansanguimulgyeol; 5. Golden Rose; 6. Nunbusin Seongjang; 7. Devilish Speed; 8. Fly Top; 9. Isanghwa; 10. Illicit Image; 11. Cheonsangcheonha; 12. Gwacheon Geojang; 13. Uigiyangyang; 14. Kentucky Nose

In other races, Khanui Jeguk, winner of last year’s Ilgan Sports, claimed his first victory in class 1 company, as he overcame Machine Gun and Gi Ra Seong in the feature handicap over nine and a half furlongs. Meanwhile, down at Busan, Yeongung Manse claimed the afternoon’s main event.



Bally Brae Breezes to a Billion

Manjeomhwanhui, Hustilled also win as Moon Lands Five

Bally Brae brought ten winless months to an emphatic end at Seoul Race Park this afternoon, cruising to victory in the feature handicap. In doing so, the former Horse of the Year and Grand Prix winner took his career earnings to over One Billion Korean Won.

Bally Brae is all alone in front once more

The eight-year old had shown signs of being back to his old self when staying on to finish third to Dongbanui Gangja at the end of January and today, despite being sent off only second favourite in a field of fourteen, he dominated from the off.

Bouncing out of the gate he took an early lead and never looked like being caught, accelerating away from the field as they entered the home straight. K J Khan got the closest with favourite Baekjeonmupae a further length back in third.

It was a sixteenth career win for Bally Brae. For jockey Moon Se Young, it was the fourth of five winners on the day. Two of them came on potentially classic-bound fillies as Hushtilled and in particular, the exciting Manjeomhwanhui won their respective tests. Manjeomhwanhui [Yehudi – Just A Love Tap (Two Punch)] took the Class 3 race 9 by six lengths and now has four victories from her seven starts.

Also looking good was an imported three-year old. US bred gelding Juamdaegun [Sweetsouthernsaint – Beautiful Beau (Robyn Dancer)] made his third start of his career and gained a second victory, Kim Cheol Ho not needing to do much to get him home seven lengths clear of his nearest rival in the seven furlong race 7.

Juamdaegun (Kim Cheol Ho up) was an impressive winner

After what has been a long, hard and very very cold winter, punters were basking in temperatures that were, for the first time for a long time, well above freezing. With Bally Brae, one of Korea’s most popular horses back where he belongs in the winner’s circle, it almost felt like Spring.

Racing returns to Seoul on Sunday when Moon Se Young will be expected to add to his weekend winner haul on Gippeumnuri in the Segye Ilbo Stakes. Busan also hosts a card on what promises to be another day of fascinating action on the track.


Weekend Preview

Segye Ilbo Stakes / Bally Brae

Seoul Race Park sees its first Stakes action of the year this coming Sunday in the form of the Segye Ilbo Cup, a seven furlong test for foreign bred fillies and mares. Three-year olds Florida Sox, Gwacheon Geojang and Gippeumnuri look among the most exciting entrants and we’ll have a full run down of the runners and riders over the next couple of days.

Bally Brae has a chance on Saturday

On Saturday, Bally Brae takes centre stage as the much-loved gelding who returned to form with a third placed finish behind Dongbanui Gangja last month, looks to have a winning chance in the feature handicap. Baekjeonmupae could provide the biggest danger. On the Classic trail, Korean bred three-year old fillies Secret Woman, Hushtilled and Manjeomhwanhui are in action.

Friday February 19

Busan Race Park: 10 races, first post 12:00, last 18:00
Jeju Race Park: 9 races, first post 13:30, last 17:30

Saturday February 20

Seoul Race Park: 12 races, first post 11:20, last 17:40
Jeju Race Park: 9 races, first post 12:10, last 17:10

Sunday February 21

Seoul Race Park: 11 races, first post 11:20, last 18:10
Busan Race Park: 6 races, first post 12:40, last 16:30

As the Invasion began, Racegoers kept on Punting

Sinseol-Dong’s last day….

At 4am on June 25, 1950, North Korea launched a massive artillery barrage against the South across the 38th parallel – the artificial boundary that had split the two Koreas since liberation from the Japanese. On that day, a Sunday, one of the biggest races of the year was scheduled with the running of a race at Seoul Racecourse in honour of Shin Ik Hee.

Shin had been a resistance fighter against Japanese colonial rule and, along with Syngman Rhee, was recognised as one of the two “Founding Fathers” of the Republic of Korea and the then Speaker of the “Constituent Assembly” (now “National Assembly” or Korean Parliament). Shin, President Syngman Rhee and Kim Gu – the former President who had died the previous year, were all frequent visitors to the races.

One of the "Founders of the Republic" a race in honour of Shin Ik Hee was run on the day North Korea invaded

Despite the rumours that were flying around the city of the invasion taking place just 30 miles to the North, a big crowd packed into the track in Sinseol-dong – location of Seoul Racecourse since 1928 – and racing got underway as usual at 11am. Many believed that what had happened was just a border skirmish, the likes of which were very common at the time and, while troubling, certainly weren’t worth losing a day’s punting over.

During Race 4, however, an unidentified plane circled the track and dropped hundreds of leaflets from the North announcing that an invasion – or ‘liberation’ – was in progress. Shortly afterward military jeeps arrived at the track equipped with loudspeakers calling for soldiers on leave among the crowd to immediately return to their divisions.

Racing continued and the Shin Ik Hee race (race 7) went ahead as planned, as did all twelve scheduled races, as word slowly filtered through that this was no border skirmish. At the end of racing at 5pm, young men at the track – including trainers, grooms and jockeys – were required to report to the racing office where most were immediately pressed into military service.

And so the Korean War had begun. Within 48 hours Seoul had been abandoned to the advancing Communist forces.

On September 15, the daring Incheon landings were launched under the direction of General MacArthur. Within a week Seoul was back in UN hands. The racing authorities – recently renamed the KRA – reconvened and believing, along with most others, that the Communists had been expelled for good, they discussed the possibility of racing resuming in late October.

The battle for Seoul though had been brutal. The advance of the Allies had been yard-by-yard and was met with fierce resistance in a bloody three-day street battle which left much of the city in ruins. The Communist army had used Sinseol-dong to store equipment, making it a prime target for allied bombing. When racing authorities returned to the track, they found it devastated, the safe looted and the horses gone. Most likely they had been used by the advancing army to carry supplies with the majority likely to have perished under fire as the Northern invaders were expelled.

Nevertheless, the Racing Authority was initially determined to go ahead with the re-opening and made plans to bring in horses from the South of the country. This plan was dashed – along with hopes for a swift end to the fighting – when China officially entered the war and promptly drove the Allies back across the 38th parallel and out of Seoul once more.

So began a long period of stalemate. Seoul would change hands several more times and would be little more than a burnt out shell of a city when nearly three years – and millions of military and civilian lives later – a truce would be agreed leaving both sides with roughly the same territory that they had before the war.

Seoul Racecourse in Sinseol-dong, some time prior to 1950

Racing never did return to Sinseol-dong. When the Authorities brought racing back to the shattered capital in 1954, it was to the north bank of the River Han at Ttukkseom. This new track would be home to Seoul Racecourse until the 1988 Olympic Games.

As for Shin Ik Hee, history doesn’t definitively record whether he showed up at the track as scheduled that fateful day to present the trophy named in his honour. He survived the war though and was a candidate in the 1956 Presidential elections but while campaigning, fell ill and died at the age of 62.

* Sources: The Korean language newspapers Ilgan Sports and Gyeonggi News both wrote on Sinseol-dong Racecourse’s last meeting last year. Information in English on Shin Ik Hee (also known as “Hae-Gong”) is scarce but some can be found here. General information on the Korean War is from Hastings, Max “The Korean War” (Pan, 1987, 2000).
Updated See this post for information on what became of Sinseol-dong.

New Racecourse Set For Yeongcheon

The Korea Racing Authority (KRA) this week announced that Yeongcheon, North Gyeongsang Province, will be the location of Korea’s fourth racecourse.

A number of regions had bid to host the track which will join Seoul and Busan in hosting thoroughbred racing (with Jeju remaining the sole host of Pony racing) but Yeongcheon got the Authority’s nod. In addition to the racecourse, Yeongcheon will also play host to a training centre and “leisure town”.

The site that will be a racecourse by 2014

Yeongcheon is a small city with a population of just over 100,000. It is approximately 350 kilometres south-east of Seoul but only 80 from Busan and is on the the main “Gyeongbu” Expressway that links the peninsula’s two main cities.

With the gambling regulator, the National Gaming Control Commission, shutting down internet and telephone betting last year and also decreeing that a minimimum of 50% of all betting handle must be taken on-track threatening the off-track betting plazas, a new racecourse has become imperative for the KRA. Nevertheless, eyebrows will be raised at the decision to locate the new site in such a rural area with no obvious supply of punters nearby.

Construction at the new site will begin almost immediately with the first races expected to be run in 2014.

Yeongcheon is quick to incorporate racing into its official homepage

Yeongcheon City English Homepage

Chulgigi has a full account (in Korean) as well as video of the award ceremony

Baekgwang Too Late

Grey Goes Down to Triple Seven / No Success for Jumong

Baekgwang just gave himself too much to do in the big race at Seoul Race Park this afternoon. The popular grey slumped to defeat at the hands of Triple Seven after running into too much traffic as he tried to launch his usual home straight charge.

Baekgwang would leave his run too late

Sent off long odds-on favourite, Baekgwang dawdled as usual through the early stages as the field allowed outsider Rich Family to open up a ten length lead on them in the back straight. As they bunched together turning for home, Park Tae Jong on Baekgwang found himself having to go around too many horses before being able to sprint for home.

In the meantime Choi Beom Hyun on Triple Seven, who was given a clear run, hit the front and was able to open up a big lead. Once Baekgwang finally got running there was just a furlong to go and he still had seven horses in front of him. He got to all but one; Triple Seven holding on for the win by a length.

His fast-finishing style is part or what makes Baekgwang so popular (that and being a grey) but today it was his downfall. Nevertheless every race he runs in is guaranteed to be exciting.

Another horse running into traffic problems was US import Jumong [Johar – Foreign Aid (Danzig)]. The three-year old half-brother to Subsidy and Soseono was going for his third straight win in the class 2 race 9 but had trouble getting past the tiring front-runner Photo Map. By the time he did, he had a race well and truly on his hands and it was six-year old Key To Success who held off the young pretender to take victory.

Key To Sucess edges out Jumong - Gyongmaman makes no apology for the shaky trigger finger - he was on it at 20/1

One of very few British bred horses racing in Korea, Key To Success [Mujahid – Shining Cloud (Indian Ridge)] was recording just his second win from thirty-five starts. He’s come close plenty of times though with eleven other placed finishes to his name. Meanwhile, with better luck, Jumong – sent off at 5/1 on today – will surely be back in the winner’s enclosure soon.

Tomorrow there’s action at both Seoul and Busan. Seoul has eleven races between 11:20 and 18:00, while Busan has six events from 12:40 to 16:30.


Weekend Preview

Baekgwang is the feature attraction of another big weekend of racing on the peninsula. The former Horse of the Year goes in Saturday’s feature at Seoul Race Park where he’ll face stiff competition from the likes of Secret Weapon and Triple Seven and Lucky Mountain.

Also in action over the weekend will be the fast improving US import Jumong, while Seoul Teukgeup, Yodongseong and Galsaem go in Sunday’s feature.

Down at Busan, Namdo Jeap heads up Friday’s card, giving at least five kilos to field of thirteen.

Friday February 5

Busan Race Park: 10 races, first post 12:00, last 18:00
Jeju Race Park: 9 races, first post 13:30, last 17:30

Saturday February 6

Seoul Race Park: 12 races, first post 11:20, last 17:40
Jeju Race Park: 9 races, first post 12:10, last 17:10

Sunday February 7

Seoul Race Park: 11 races, first post 11:20, last 18:00
Busan Race Park: 6 races, first post 12:40, last 16:30