Month: March 2010

Triple Crown 2010: Full Field For KRA Cup Mile

It’s Seoul vs Busan and the first leg of the 2010 Korean Triple Crown as fourteen of the peninsula’s most talented colts line up for the KRA Cup Mile – “The Korean Guineas” – at Busan Race Park this coming Sunday.

Here’s a full run-down of the runners and riders:

KRA Cup Mile (KOR.G.II) – Busan Race Park – 1600M – Apr 4, 2010, 15:45

1. Money Car [Newsprint – Pinocchio (Big Sur)] (6/5/1/0) – Park Tae Jong
Heading the Northern raiders, Money Car has looked untouchable at every distance since an inauspicious debut. Will he take to Busan’s brutally difficult track? If he does, he’ll be hard to beat.
2. Baekjeom Manjeom [Fiercely – Mia Victoria (Flying Victor)] (5/3/1/0) – Jo Chang Wook
Didn’t impress in good company over a mile last time but knows how to win.
3. Dangdae Bulpae [Biwa Shinseiki – Indeed My Dear (Alydeed)] (5/4/0/0/) – Martin Wepner
Wepner already has a Korean Classic to his name and could get another. Dangdae Bulpae was an impressive winner over a mile last time out.
4. Mega Tough [Concept Win – Keu Roo (March Magic)] (5/1/2/2) – Lim Sung Sil
One of two entrants for Australian trainer Peter Wolsley. Mega Tough only broke his maiden last time out – that was at nine furlongs, having been third in his only run over a mile.
5. The Almighty [Capital Spending – Dauntless Cat (Mountain Cat)] (4/2/1/0) – Shin Hyoung Chul
Has never gone more than six and a half furlongs and is completely unproven in this company. Nevertheless,with two wins and a second from three races, he knows where he is supposed to be at the end of the race.
6. Daewan [The Groom Is Red – Greatgrama (Border Guard)] (8/2/2/0) – Kim Hong Il
Will he run? All of trainer Kim Young Kwan’s horses have been scratched the past two weeks. If he does run, he’ll have his work cut out to win for the trainer who scooped all three of last year’s Triple Crown races.
7. Almighty Hit [Concept Win – Dixie Snow (Dixie Brass)] (7/2/3/0) – Park Geum Man
Second behind Dangdae Bulpae last time out, one of three second places. He’s worth a bet to place again.
8. Forest Wind [Capital Spending – Coffee Royale (Sword Dance)] (3/2/0/0) – Ham Wan Sik
A smart winner on both his last two outings but like stablemate The Almighty, has done little to suggest he’ll be competing for top honours here. Place at most.
9. Saeroun Taeyang [Volponi – Glorious Thunder (Thunder Gulch)] (7/3/1/0) – Hitomi Miyashita
Made it up to class 2 racing early and has competed over a mile twice before, fourth being his best finish. The second of Peter Wolsley’s two runners, an overseas trainer and jockey connection would not be welcomed on the backstretch but would be welcomed elsewhere.
10. Glory Yeonggwang [Didyme – Lady Sandido (Sandrigo)] (7/2/1/2) – Jo Chan Hoon
Plenty of experience including a second place finish over a mile. Was runner-up to Almighty Hit last time out.
11. Cheonnyeon Daero [Creek Cat – Doneitmyway (Northern Flagship)] (8/2/5/1) – Jo Sung Gon
Never worse than third in eight races and is a winner at class 2 over the distance. Purely on caliber of horses he’s beaten, he’s worth supporting – however, six out of eight times, something has gotton the better of him.
12. Triple Sinhwa [Capital Spending – Claudia’s Secret (Crafty Prospector)] (4/1/3/0) – Chae Gyu Jun
A late entry, Triple Sinhwa was a surprise winner at his first attempt at a class 3 race two weeks ago. That was at two furlongs less than he’ll be running on Sunday though.
13. Silver Mon [Distilled – Silver Fizz (Cee’s Tizzy)] (6/2/1/1) – Boo Min Ho
Seoul’s final challenger is the grey Silver Mon. Disappointing in the Herald Business last season but a surprise third place over eight and a half furlongs on his season debut may have persuaded connections to think he is going to excel at the mile.
14. Udeumji [Yehudi – Lady Dignity (Nordico)] (7/1/0/2) – Kim Yong Geun
Has been in indifferent form of late and there’s no real reason why that should change on Sunday. An outsider.

Kim Tae Hee Set To Star in New Racing Movie

A new movie with horse-racing as its backdrop is about to go into production. “Grand Prix” will star Kim Tae Hee and Lee Jun Ki with both playing the roles of jockeys.

One of Korea’s most popular (for various reasons) actresses, Kim Tae Hee is most famous for leading roles in TV dramas including most recently last year’s “IRIS” and can also be seen in Cyon (LG) mobile phone adverts (see below). Lee is best known for his lead role in the 2005 movie “The King and the Clown”.

Kim Tae Hee and Lee Jun Ki at Seoul Race Park last week

Lee’s character will be a jockey who is successful in Japan returning to Korea to ride where he meets and competes against – and more than likely falls in love with – a female jockey. The announcement of the movie came just days after news of jockey Park Jin Hee’s suicide in Busan and allegations of mis-treatment of jockeys by trainers. All of this was picked up on by the mainstream Korean media and as such, a great deal of attention is likely to be given to Kim’s portrayal of the role.

Grand Prix is to be part-funded by the Korea Racing Authority and is a follow-up to the acclaimed 2006 film “Gak-sol-tang” (“Lump Sugar”), a good-natured tear-jerker which also had a female jockey as its lead character (played by Im, Su Jeong). That movie was notable for its impressive racing scenes – some of which are in the clip below – and was credited for creating many first-time racegoers:

Filming of Grand Prix, which is named after Korea’s most prestigious race, begins in April and is expected to last for approximately two months with a tentative release date of September or October. Both lead actors have reportedly been learning how to ride.

Probably the best mobile phone advert ever:

Seungundaesung Wins Sports Donga

For the second consecutive week, a dusty Saturday gave way to a sunny Sunday at Seoul Race Park. While the worst of the latest dust-storm to hit the peninsula came on Friday evening, there was still enough in the air yesterday to make for an unpleasant afternoon.

Yoo Sang Wan won on Seungundaeseung

There were no such worries today though as Seungundaeseung upset Gi Ra Seong and Taesanbukdu to claim the feature Sports Donga Cup. Punters sent Gi Ra Seong off the favourite but it was Yoo Sang Wan on six-year old Seungundaeseung who got the better of a tight finish ahead of Free Woody. Taesanbukdu was third as Gi Ra Seong wilted in the final furlong.

Down at Busan, a small but very competitive field contested the main ten furlong handicap. Highly rated US bred three-year old Captain Sir led for almost the whole race only to be pipped on the line by Seonnyang Yongsa, the Australian bred gelding snatching a second victory of 2010.

Meanwhile, for the fourth consecutive meeting at Busan, all horses from trainer Kim Young Kwan’s stable were scratched.

Good form: Lee Ae Li

It was a good day for female riders at both tracks. Seonnyang Yongsa was partnered by Japanese jockey Hitomi Miyashita, scoring her seventeenth winner of the year. Up at Seoul, Lee Ae Li, took race 3 on Victory Camp. For the resurgent Lee, it was a third winner from fifteen rides in March.

FULL RESULTS FROM SEOUL

FULL RESULTS FROM BUSAN

Weekend Preview

With the Triple Crown getting underway next weekend, this week sees a low-key three days of racing on the peninsula with the best three-year olds safely in their stables and only three class 1 races; two at Busan, one at Seoul.

Friday’s feature at Busan is over a mile and is an open race with Lucky Dancer, Galmaegi Kkum and old favourite Procyon involved. On Sunday at the Gyeongnam Province track, the main race sees seven go in a handicap rescheduled from two weeks ago when racing was called off following Park Jin Hee’s suicide. King Kephalos and Crafty Louis are joined by Seonnyang Yongsa and the three-year old import Captain Sir over ten furlongs.

At Seoul, Sunday has the pick of the action. Gi Ra Seong is yet to strike this year but is in contention for the feature race along with Taesanbukdu and the now six-year old Namchonuijijon.

Friday March 26

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 March 27

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

Sunday March 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

Triple Crown 2010: First Look At KRA Cup Mile Field

Nine from Busan and Four from Seoul set for Korean Guineas

The first leg of the 2010 Korean Triple Crown is less than two weeks away and the field is taking shape for the KRA Cup Mile – “The Korean Guineas” – which will be run at Busan Race Park on Sunday April 4.

Four challengers will be travelling south from Seoul in a bid to overturn the capital’s recent dismal record in the Triple Crown. Busan horses have swept all three classic races for each of the past two years.

Money Car leads the Capital contingent. He’s won five of his six starts with dismissive ease and has looked equally at home going round one turn or two. How he takes to Busan’s punishingly long back straight could be key to this race.

Money Car

He’s joined on the trip South by Silver Mon, who’ll have some supporters due to his being grey and the Seo Soon Bae owned pair of The Almighty and Forest Wind, both lightly raced and intriguing prospects.

On the home team, Cheonnyeon Daero is a prolific placer, if not winner, and has already qualified for the top tier of racing at Busan. Dangdae Bulpae, Saeroun Taeyang, Baekjeom Manjeom and Almighty Hit are not far behind. Meanwhile, Australian trainer Peter Wolsley saddles Mega Tough, who has won or placed in all his five races to date. Daewan, Udeumji and Glory Yeonggwang perhaps have less in their favour at this point. However, over the past couple of years, Korean classics have tended not to go to form.

KRA Cup Mile (KOR.G.II) – Busan Race Park – 1600M – Apr 4, 2010

Busan

Cheonnyeon Daero [Creek Cat – Doneitmyway (Northern Flagship)] (8/2/5/1)
Dangdae Bulpae [Biwa Shinseiki – Indeed My Dear (Alydeed)] (5/4/0/0/)
Almighty Hit [Concept Win – Dixie Snow (Dixie Brass)] (7/2/3/0)
Saeroun Taeyang [Volponi – Glorious Thunder (Thunder Gulch)] (7/3/1/0)
Baekjeom Manjeom [Fiercely – Mia Victoria (Flying Victor)] (5/3/1/0)
Mega Tough [Concept Win – Keu Roo (March Magic)] (5/1/2/2)
Daewan [The Groom Is Red – Greatgrama (Border Guard)] (8/2/2/0)
Udeumji [Yehudi – Lady Dignity (Nordico)] (7/1/0/2)
Glory Yeonggwang [Didyme – Lady Sandido (Sandrigo)] (7/2/1/2)

Seoul

Money Car [Newsprint – Pinocchio (Big Sur)] (6/5/1/0)
Silver Mon [Distilled – Silver Fizz (Cee’s Tizzy)] (6/2/1/1)
The Almighty [Capital Spending – Dauntless Cat (Mountain Cat)] (4/2/1/0)
Forest Wind [Capital Spending – Coffee Royale (Sword Dance)] (3/2/0/0)

As always since the KRA Cup Mile assumed the role as the first leg of the Triple Crown, much focus will also be on who is not making the trip south from Seoul. Arguably the most exciting three-year old of the lot, Northern Ace is, like Nice Choice last year, being targeted 100% at the Korean Derby in May. This backfired on Nice Choice but with Northern Ace only just back from a long lay-off, there was never much prospect of him going to Busan.

There are no fillies to follow in the hoof-steps of last year’s heroine Sangseung Ilro, who went on to win the Derby. Both Manjeomhwanhui and the unbeaten Dongbang Rose will stay in their boxes in Seoul waiting for their day to come later in the year.

Whereas in the past two years, the KRA Cup Mile has been given Korean Group 3 status, this year it has been upgraded to Group 2.

We’ll take a closer look at all the runners as the race gets closer. For now, here’s Sangseung Ilro winning last year’s event:

Smart As Me Wins Busan Ilbo Cup

Bally Brae Strikes At Seoul

Smart As Me got up for an unlikely victory in a thrilling end to the Busan Ilbo Cup this afternoon.

After Aju Joa had set the early pace in the seven furlong race, the stage seemed set for Useung Geotap, winner of five of her six previous races, to take the honours as she battled into the lead. But that was to reckon without some final furlong drama.

Outsider Neat Play, under Lee Sung Jae, darted to the rail as Hwang Jong Woo on Smart As Me began flying down the outside. In the middle Useung Geotap and Aju Joa seemed to go backwards. Five horses hit the line within half a length of each other but it was Smart As Me who was the clear winner by a nose.

Imported in 2007, Smart As Me was out for most of 2009. She returned last month with a victory and now, at age 5, is set to finally fulfil her potential. She has a record of five wins from twelve starts.

Busan Ilbo Cup – Busan Race Park – 1400M – March 21, 2010

1. Smart As Me (USA) [Take Me Out – Smart As Scot (Ascot Knight)] – Hwang Jong Woo – 12.3, 2.6
2. Neat Play (JPN) [Meishi Doto – Kobekko (Windstoss)] – Lee, Sung Jae – 33.0
3. Ilchul Gwangya (AUS) [Honours List – Zella (Zoffany)] – Lee Hee Cheon – 4.4
Distances: Nose/Neck
Also Ran: 4. Useung Geotap (USA); 5. Aju Joa (USA); 6. Daejaui Yeosin (USA); 7. Dalbit Miso (KOR); 8. Amateras (JPN); 9. Double The Gold (USA); 10. I First (USA); 11. Scit Scat Cat (USA); 12. Tropical Sky (USA); 13. Ecton Legacy (USA); 14. Bonghwasan Jeongi (JPN)

Up at Seoul, Bally Brae was expected record his second consecutive win in the feature race. With Oh Kyoung Hoan in the saddle for the first time, the popular eight-year old duly obliged leading from start to finish to win by a length from Free Hugs. In scoring his second victory of the year, Bally Brae notched his seventeenth career victory.

Oh Kyoung Hoan

It was a blustery day at Seoul although the wind thankfully did not bring with it the dust-storm that wreaked havoc across the track yesterday. Nevertheless, it made the long home straight very hard work for some. One of those who completely faded was Juamdaegun.

The three-year old Australian import was strongly fancied to make it three wins in a row in the last. However, after leading from the gate he fell away badly in the final furlong.

Also of mention at Seoul was a maiden victory for Murim Choegang. The four-year old had recorded five second and two third place finishes in his nine starts to date. Today, he finally went one better, cruising to victory in race six.

Yesterday's dust was still in evidence but the sun was out at Seoul today

FULL RESULTS FROM SEOUL

FULL RESULTS FROM BUSAN

Khanui Jeguk Busts The Dust

While high winds, rain and a dust-storm combined to create a trifecta of unpleasantness at Seoul Race Park this afternoon,  Khanui Jeguk kept up his 100% start to 2010 with an impressive win in the feature race.

Ham Wan Sik - Khanui Jeguk was the biggest of his 3 winners today

The four-year old was sent off as favourite for the ten furlong handicap and, under Ham Wan Sik, he took an early lead and always kept his rivals at arm’s length to take victory by a length and a half. Bungjeongmalli and Machine Gun filled out the placings.

Underperforming in the really big races in 2009 – the Derby, Minister’s Cup and President’s Cup – Khanui Jeguk did manage to land the Ilgan Sports. Winning on his season debut last month he looked much improved from last year and today’s performance confirmed  that he is likely to be involved in some of the bigger prizes later in the year.

Generally the only punters who have to go outside on miserable days like today are those who have plenty of respiratory problems already. Today those gents suffered even more for their cigarettes as a dust-storm swept in from China coating both surfaces and lungs in a fine yellow film of dirt and chemicals. Just as we had finally gotten rid of the snow, the phenomenon known as “yellow-dust” was making its first appearance of the year.

If it was awful in the stands, it must have been ten times worse on the track Just plain dismal weather had made it seem like night-time at lunchtime even before the dust hit. There were wins for useful looking fillies Secret Woman and Cheonun while Australian-bred three-year old Emperor Cugat looks to be getting better with every run.  Today the colt saw off a class 2 field by six lengths to take his second win of 2010.

Racing returns to Seoul tomorrow and at the moment the forecast is for much of the same. Yellow-dust is notoriously difficult to predict though so we may get lucky. On the track, Bally Brae is set to be the star attraction at Seoul while Sangseung Ilro, last year’s KRA Cup Mile and Derby winner is considered doubtful to start in the main event at Busan. That leaves the Busan Ilbo Cup, which pits some of the track’s up and coming imports against one another, as the big race.

FULL RESULTS FROM SEOUL

Weekend Preview

Bally Brae at Seoul, Sangseung Ilro at Busan

Both Bally Brae and Sangseung Ilro will be bidding for back-to-back wins on Sunday as the two star names headline the feature events at Seoul and Busan respectively. Bally Brae put in a commanding performance to see off Baekjeonmupae, three years his junior, back in February to claim his first win in nearly a year. However, the younger horse will be back on Sunday, this time carrying two kilos less than Bally Brae and with another half a furlong to run. Bally Brae will also have to do without the services of regular jockey Moon Se Young, who misses the weekend through suspension.

Sangseung Ilro, last year’s KRA Cup Mile and Derby heroine, has always been fragile but she was back in the winner’s circle for her first run as a four year old in January and now, after two months of rest, she’s back in the Busan feature on Sunday. She’ll be giving at least three kilos to the rest of the eleven strong field – all bar one of whom are male.

Also at Busan on Sunday, highly rated young US imports Aju Joa, Scit Scat Cat and Useung Geotap face each other in the Busan Ilbo Cup race over seven furlongs.

Friday March 19

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 March 20

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

Sunday March 21

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

Busan Re-Opens After Park Jin Hee Laid To Rest

Suicide note blamed competition and treatment by trainers

Busan Race Park will re-open on Friday, the first time since the suicide of jockey Park Jin Hee last week. A funeral service for Park took place at the track on Tuesday.

Earlier in the week, Park’s handwritten suicide note was made public. In it, she wrote of the stress she was under following a lean year, but also singled out the harsh treatment she felt she had received from trainers – naming one in particular (the name was redacted from the released copy of the note).

This is an issue that is well-known in Korean racing circles. Many are shocked to witness the way in which trainers interact with jockeys at trackwork, at race-trials and after races. Extreme verbal abuse is accepted as the norm and an authoritarian culture dominates. Some ascribe it in large part to the fact that it has always been that way. Today’s trainers were jockeys ten or twenty years ago and went through the same thing. Instead of ending it, they feel as though the roles have reversed and finally it is their turn.

This is something that has surprised visiting overseas jockeys (and indeed visiting trainers) and has contributed to some of them leaving soon after their arrival, including some from countries not known for its trainers refraining from jockey chastisement. The local jockeys do not like it, but accept it and indeed, it would be wrong to say that all trainers behave in the same way. They do not. Meanwhile, Stewards do their best to intervene when they can – as seen in this report from February– but what they see is perhaps only the tip of the iceberg.

The Korea Racing Authority (KRA) has said that it will respond to the tragedy by taking steps to improve working conditions for jockeys. However, the KRA, while ostensibly administering racing, has very little power over what actually happens. That power lies with the licensees and the Unions. Of the licensees, the Trainers are Kings. For all the strength of the Jockeys’ Union against the KRA, they cannot stand up to the trainers.

The tragedy has appeared in the mainstream Korean media over the past week, including the the English language Korea Times.

While according to the Times, Korea’s poisonous “netizens” have turned their bile onto the KRA’s homepage, the online racing community has paid its own respects this week. See tributes from Korean bloggers Shaka and Chulgigi. Chulgigi has put together a number of galleries of Park Jin Hee in happier days which can be viewed at his website here.

Notably there is a picture of Park with Lee Myoung Hwa, the jockey who also committed suicide in Busan in 2005. It is a stark fact that of the eleven Korean women granted jockey licenses, two have now taken their own lives.

Included in Chulgigi’s tribute is a music video Park appeared in for the Korean band SoBangCha. The video is also on YouTube:

Northern Ace Back in Classic Pack?

Northern Ace showed no signs of being any the worse for a six month lay-off as he picked up where he left off last August at Seoul Race Park this afternoon. Just as in his only two outings to date, the colt required nothing more than to be pointed in the right direction to easily see off the rest of the class 4 field. The margin of victory was thirteen lengths without him even being asked to run.

Whether he is back in the classic picture remains to be seen. The first jewel of the Triple Crown, the KRA Cup Mile, is just three weeks away and it may be, like with Nice Choice last year, Seoul’s best horses again skip the Busan leg of the Crown. Regardless of what comes next, the very fact that he is back is good news for race fans across the peninsula.

Northern Ace capped four winners for Moon Se Young

On a day when there was still a sense of shock in the air following the events of 48 hours ago in Busan, Moon Se Young was the undoubted star. He suffered a bad fall on the same day of Northern Ace’s last run. If it hadn’t happened, he would surely have won last year’s championship. Today he took a big step towards regaining it with four wins in total.

There were co-feature races, one for domestic horses and one for overseas bred horses. In the domestic event, Triple Seven, got the better of Good Day by a length, while in the overseas race, Bold Magic scored his first class 1 win in eleven attempts. He overcame K J Khan and favourite Obaek Yechan to win the ten furlong race by a convincing two and a half lengths.

FULL RESULTS FROM SEOUL