Month: December 2010

2010 Review: Cho & Jo Take Jockey Crowns

Moon Se Young returned from suspension to ride a final day treble to cut the gap to two, but it was Cho Kyoung Ho who, for the first time in his career, rode off with the 2010 Seoul Jockeys’ Championship.

Cho Kyoung Ho is Champion Jockey 2010

Victory capped a remarkable season for thirty-four year old Cho who also secured four Stakes victories: Tough Win in the Busan Metropolitan and KRA Cup Classic, Geumgangi in the Munhwa Ilbo and Dongbang Rose in the Nonghyup.

As for Moon Se Young, a five day ban picked up in late November ruled him out of all but the last day of racing in December and ultimately cost him the title. Nevertheless, with 118 wins, it was still another extremely lucrative year for the 2008 Champion. Veteran rider Park Tae Jong was third with 87 winners.

2010 Seoul Jockeys’ Championship

1. Cho Kyoung Ho – 120
2. Moon Se Young – 118
3. Park Tae Jong – 87
4. Choi Bum Hyun – 49
5. Ham Wan Sik – 45

Down at Busan, it wasn’t quite so close as Jo Sung Gon had things wrapped up by November, ultimately winning by 26 from Jo Chang Wook, who got the better of Yoo Hyun Myung and Park Geum Man in a three-way battle for second pace. Japnese rider Hitomi Miyashita took fifth place.

Jo Sung Gon Dominated Busan

In addition to winning the Busan title, Jo Sung Gon also picked up a number of major wins. Principally, he travelled up to Seoul twice in the autumn to partner Dangdae Bulpae to both the Minister’s and Presidents Cups. Not exactly a shrinking violet, floppy-fringed Jo was barracked by punters after the President’s Cup challenging him to come up to Seoul full-time to try his luck with the likes of Cho Kyoung Ho and Moon Se Young. For now though, it seems he is content to be the biggest fish in the slightly smaller Busan tank.

2010 Busan Jockeys’ Championship

1. Jo Sung Gon – 84
2. Jo Chang Wook – 58
3. Yoo Hyun Myung – 57
4. Park Geum Man – 54
5. Hitomi Miyashita – 40

At the pony-racing colony on Jeju Island, young rider Jeon Hyun Jun, who turned professional in 2005 took the crown. The 23 year-old scored 76 winners.

2010 Jeju Jockeys’ Championship

1. Jeon Hyun Jun – 76
2. Jang Woo Sung
3. Kang Seong – 62
4. Park Hoon – 60
5. Moon Sung Ho – 53

* A number of overseas riders have appeared at both Seoul and Busan this year. We’ll be having a special report on all of those over the next week as our round-up of 2010 continues.

2010 Review: Creek Cat Is Leading Sire In Korea

Didyme’s Streak Broken / Menifee Waiting

Didyme’s run of three consecutive years as Leading Sire in Korea came to an end in 2010 as Creek Cat stormed to the top of the table by an astonishing margin of over $1M.

Cheonnyeon Daero winning the Derby - he was Creek Cat's biggest earner

Derby winner Cheonnyeon Daero was Creek Cat’s chief earner while Seoul’s Champion filly & mare Love Cat also contributed big winnings for the sire who has been in Korea since 2000 and was fourth in the standings last year. Runner-up was Concept Win for who once again, Sangseung Ilro was the biggest contributor. It was a disappointing year for Didyme but it could have been very different for the now twenty-year old stallion but for the injury suffered by his colt Northern Ace in the Korean Derby and if last year’s chief earner Areumdaun Jilju had not spent most of the year on the sidelines.

Japanese sire Biwa Shinseiki entered the top ten for the first time due to the success of champion three-year old Dangdae Bulpae while Volponi saw his first Korean crop reach three-years old and was ninth on the money list.

Looming on the horizon for all the established sires in Korea though is Menifee. Having arrived in Korea in late 2006, his first crop of two-year olds hit the track this year having been highly sought-after at yearling sales in 2009. They did not disappoint. Menifee was both leading first-crop sire and Leading sire of two-year olds by some considerable distance with colts of his sweeping the placings in the Breeders’ Cup in late November.

Leading Sires In Korea 2010 (Name/Pedigree/Owner/Earnings in Korean Won/Chief Earner)

1. Creek Cat (USA) [Storm Cat – Vivano (Island Whirl)] – (Evergreen Farm) – 3,409,984,000 – Cheonnyeon Daero
2. Concept Win (USA) [Manila – Conveniently (In Reality)] – (Korea Mainland Horse Breeders’ Association) – 2,358,508,000 – Sangseung Ilro
3. Ft. Stockton (USA) [Cure The Blues – Tai The Devil (Tai)] (KRA) – 2,176,639,000 – Cheonun
4. Fiercely (USA) [Danzig – Whirl Series (Roberto)] – (KRA) – 2,107,087,000 – Lucky Dancer
5. War Zone (USA) [Danzig – Proflare (Mr. Prospector) – (KRA) – 2,081,931,000 – Tamnaseontaek
6. Didyme (USA) [Dixieland Band – Soundings (Mr. Prospector)] – (KRA) – 1,928,442,000 – Glory Yeonggwang
7. Exploit (USA) [Storm Cat – My Turbulent Miss (My Dad George)] – (KRA) – 1,795,566,000 – Mr. Rocky
8. Biwa Shinseiki (JPN) [Forty Niner – Oceana (Northern Dancer)] – (Kim Chong Sik) – 1,717,986,000 – Dangdae Bulpae
9. Volponi (USA) [Cryptoclearance – Prom Night (Sir Harry Lewis)] (Korean Mainland Horse Breeders’ Association) – 1,684,316,000 – Dongbang Rose
10. The Groom Is Red (USA) – (Runaway Groom – Sheila’s Gold (Fast Gold)] – 1,575,416,000 – Triple Seven

* Eight registered Stallions passed away in Korea in 2010. They were Gwacheon Ruler (KOR), Time Star (USA), Glorify (USA), Tertian (USA), Bohamian Butler (USA), Jamine Langfuhr (KOR), Yashima Japan (USA) and Five Aligned (USA).

Weekend Preview

The Grand Prix may be over but there’s still one more weekend of racing on the peninsula before things wrap up for 2010 and we head into the long winter break of…oh, about three weeks.

There’s plenty going on too. At Seoul, the last big handicap of the year on Sunday afternoon will see Ttukseom Cup winner Triple Seven put in an appearance while down at Busan, there are co-features on Friday with the likes of Sangseung Ilro, Areumdaun Jilju and Night Moves all in action.

Here’s what’s happening when and where:

Friday December 17

Busan Race Park: 10 race from 12:00 to 18:00
Jeju Race Park: 9 races from 13:30 to 17:30

Saturday December 18

Seoul Race Park:
12 races from 11:20 to 17:40
Jeju Race Park: 8 races from 12:10 to 16:40

Sunday December 19

Seoul Race Park: 11 races from 11:20 to 18:00
Busan Race Park: 6 races from 12:40 to 16:30

Mister Park: Korean Born, Not Bred

Grand Prix winner – and therefore Champion Korean Racehorse of 2010 – Mister Park, was born in Korea. However, he belongs to a group of horses that are considered neither fully Korean nor Foreign-bred. The reason is that while he has spent all his life in Korea, his dam (mother) Formal Deal was imported to the country while pregnant. Formal Deal was bought by the Korea Racing Authority (KRA) for $30,000 at the Keeneland November Breeding Stock Sale in 2006 and arrived in Korea the following January. When she went through the sales ring, she was in foal to stallion Ecton Park. And that foal was Mister Park.

Mister Park: Korean born - but not bred

While Korean buyers are restricted by law to spending a maximum of $20,000 on a colt at an overseas sale, they may spend up to $40,000 on a filly or broodmare. The thinking behind that is to protect and promote the domestic breeding industry; and buying a mare in foal in theory gets a racehorse as a bonus. Those foals are considered to be Korean bred and are eligible to run in any race in Korea with the exception of the three-year old Classics; the KRA Cup Mile, Korean Derby, Oaks and Minister’s Cup. Being a gelding, Mister Park was doubly unqualified for those races.

It makes sense. Young racehorses imported to Korea don’t generally have superior pedigrees to those sired domestically. There are some good sires in Korea – certainly good enough to produce foals to match those available for $20,000 at two-year old sales in the USA. However, there remains a significant advantage to being broken-in and initially trained overseas. It is for this reason that the KRA has for some time, been seriously considering setting up a training centre in Ocala, Florida.

Mister Park’s Grand Prix win, only the fourth by a horse listed as Korean-bred in twenty-nine runnings of the race, is therefore something of a triumph for domestic racing here. Even more so in that his sire, Ecton Park, who had long been popular with Korean buyers, had been finally purchased by the KRA last year and is now standing at the KRA’s Jeju Stud Farm. Sadly, there will be no reunion with Formal Deal.

Formal Deal
[Formal Gold – Green Noble (Green Dancer)] born in 2000, made her racing debut as a three-year old at Woodbine Racecourse in Toronto in 2003, finishing a rather inauspicious fifth of seven over seven furlongs. She ran another seven times – five at Woodbine and twice when shipped down to Fair Grounds in Louisiana – before finally being successful, in what turned out to be her final race at Woodbine on August 4, 2004. She was retired with career figures of nine runs, one win, one second, and three third place finishes.

Two years later and in foal to Ecton Park, she would go through the sales ring in Keeneland and be bought by the KRA. Sadly, her time in Korea was brief. She gave birth to Mister Park in March 2007 and later that year was covered by stallion Sakura Seeking but no foal resulted. Then, tragically, in 2008 she was struck down by colic and died in July that year.

Known in Korean as “Po-In-Ma” those horses sired elsewhere but born in Korea have long accounted for many of the competitors in the upper echelons of racing here. Among current the current elite class are the mare Top Point (Tom Cruiser) and colt Ace Galloper (Chapel Royal). More significantly, at both Seoul and Busan, the outstanding two-year olds of the year came from this category. In the capital Magic Party (Artie Schiller) has won three of her four races, including the Gwacheon Cup, while down at Busan another filly Bulkkot Gisang (Langfuhr) has cruised to five wins from five starts.

It’s early days but perhaps one of them could go on to emulate Mister Park a year from now.

Mister Park Romps To Grand Prix Glory

Tough Win & Dongbanui Gangja Upset As Busan’s Finest Captures The Grand Prix

They all put their reputations on the line and at the end of the 2010 Grand Prix Stakes, it was Mister Park who came out covered in glory while Tough Win, Dongbanui Gangja and Dangdae Bulpae all slumped to defeats of varying ignominy. Yet it was a performance full of valour, spirit and ultimately stamina from Mister Park, who capped a front-running performance by repelling the late charge of Larrycat at the end of the season’s longest and most prestigious race.

Mister Park and You Hyun Myung in the Grand Prix Winner's Circle. Trainer Kim Young Kwan is to the right

As it always does, the Grand Prix provided Korean racing’s most dramatic and absorbing few minutes of the year. From the raucous reception the horses and jockeys received in the paddock, to the triumphant celebration of the winning connections twenty minutes later, as ever it was unlike anything else in the calendar. As dusk fell on Seoul Race Park, we saw a race that won’t be quickly forgotten.

The unbeaten Tough Win was sent off as slight favourite over double Grand Prix champion Dongbanui Gangja with Dangdae Bulpae third in punters’ reckoning. And it was Dangdae Bulpae who was sent into an early lead by jockey Jo Chang Wook with Yoo Hyun Myung on Mister Park and Cho Kyoung Ho on Tough Win following close behind. A roar went up from the assembled 50,000 crowd as Choi Bum Hyun brought Dongbanui Gangja into contention in the back straight. As they turned for home, all the leading contenders were exactly where they wanted to be.

Mister Park finally shakes off Larrycat in the last few metres of the Grand Prix

Dongbnaui Gangja was the first to falter. He blew his chance in the Busan Metropolitan by going uncontrollably wide and although Choi Bum Hyun fought valiantly, the bad habit returned. The champion had given himself too much to do. Then it was the turn of Dangdae Bulpae. The Minister’s and President’s Cup winner tried to kick on as they entered the home straight but he had nothing left to give and the field swallowed him up. Mister Park and Larrycat were still travelling well with a furlong and a half to go.

Beaten: Tough Win returns a loser for the first time

Now it was make or break time for Tough Win; he needed to find an extra gear. He couldn’t. Mister Park hit the front with Larrycat and Yeonseung Daero, who had emerged from nowhere, in hot pursuit. In the final furlong Larrycat looked to have him collared but You Hyun Myung found one last reserve of energy in his mount to propel them over the line first. Larrycat was a brave second and Yeonseung Daero a superb third. Tough Win battled home for fourth while Seonnyang Yongsa and Jo Sung Gon flew through the field in the final furlong to claim the last of the money placings.

Mister Park, a three-year old gelding, was born in Korea, however, he was ineligible for this year’s Classics as he was sired overseas and his dam imported to Korea while pregnant. His sire, Ecton Park, has since also been brought to Korea and the success of a horse foaled and broken-in in the country is a victory for the domestic racing scene. Mister Park, while beaten on his racecourse debut, has since won eleven in a row. For jockey Yoo Hyun Myung, it was by far the biggest win of his career. For trainer Kim Young Kwan, a man used to success, this must rate as his greatest achievement coming as it does, at the end of a year which after events in March, must have been the most difficult for him both personally and professionally

Inquest: Choi Bum Hyun watches a replay to see how it all went wrong

As for Tough Win, 2300 metres was always going to be a tough ask. His unbeaten record is now gone, but he remains top horse at Seoul. His inevitable battles to come with Larrycat, now himself firmly established among the elite are something for us to look forward to in 2011.

Likewise, Dangdae Bulpae simply didn’t stay the distance. This is a colt who will be back next year. For Dongbanui Gangja though, things are less straightforward. He was beaten by seven lengths today, however he cost himself more than that by running wide on the final turn. This is the second time it’s happened this year as the five-year old – now a stallion – gets harder and harder to control.

A word too is necessary for Yeonseung Daero who again gave a courageous, battling performance. It would have been so easy for his connections to keep him home at Busan running against fellow Korean-bred horses and cherry-picking big purses. As always they showed themselves to be sportsmen, pitching their champion against the best there is and letting him prove himself. Yeonseung Daero almost always runs in open company and today he was just three lengths off being crowned the best of the best.

That title, however, goes to Mister Park. 16/1 in the betting he outran and outstayed the rest. Running nine times and winning nine times, he is the Champion Korean Racehorse of 2010.

Grand Prix Stakes (KOR.G.I) – Seoul Race Park – 2300M – December 12, 2010

1. Mister Park (KOR) [Ecton Park – Formal Deal (Formal Gold)] – You Hyun Myung – 16.8, 3.4
2. Larry Cat (USA) [Fantasticat – Tiger In My Tank (Tank)] – Park Tae Jong – 2.9
3. Yeonseung Daero (KOR) [Creek Cat – Sensationalkris (Cryptoclearance)] – Choi Si Dae – 2.6

Distances: 0.5 lengths/2.5 lengths
Also Ran: 4. Tough Win 5. Seonnyang Yongsa 6. Purely Spontaneus 7. Dongbanui Gangja 8. Jumong 9. Gunham 10. Cheonjidolpung 11. Dangdae Bulpae 12. Glory Champ

Job Well Done: Mister Park and Groom share a moment in the Winner's Circle

Grand Prix D-1: Tough To Call

Dongbanui Gangja, Tough Win, Dangdae Bulpae, Mister Park, Yeonseung Daero – This is the Big One

Something’s got to give. In fact, a lot has got to give. Will it be Dongbanui Gangja’s two-year reign as Grand Prix champion? Mister Park’s ten-race unbeaten streak? Tough Win’s lifetime unbeaten streak? It could be all three; right now the only certainty about tomorrow’s Grand Prix Stakes is that it’s going to be very cold when twelve of Korea’s best horses line up at Seoul Race Park for the nation’s most prestigious horse race.

Big Three: (clockwise) Dongbanui Gangja, Tough Win, Dangdae Bulpae

Most see it as a straight fight between Dongbanui Gangja and Tough Win. The younger Tough Win is undoubtedly faster. If this was any race other than the Grand Prix, which is run at 2300 metres, he’d be long odds-on. However, he’s untried at the distance and if he does not stay-on, Dongbanui Gangja is the most likely to take advantage and claim an unprecedented third consecutive Grand Prix. If he could do it, he will have a strong claim to be called the greatest ever in Korean racing.

However, there are three horses among the seven raiders from Busan who warrant serious consideration. Dangdae Bulpae is the outstanding Korean colt of this year and has been just as fast as Tough Win in winning the Minister’s and President’s Cups. Victory for him would be a huge step forward for the Korean breeding industry. Mister Park, though born in Korea, was sired elsewhere and therefore couldn’t run in the Classics. He’s unproven but also untested at this level and could pull off a surprise.

Then there’s Yeonseung Daero. When Dongbanui Gangja eliminated himself from the Busan Metropolitan, it was Yeonseung Daero who pushed Tough Win all the way to the line. If he’d have had a few more metres, he may have got him. Tomorrow he’ll have 300 more metres in which to do so.

Seungniuijewang gives Cho Kyoung Ho the 2nd of his 4 winners

Today, at a bitterly cold Seoul Race Park the jockeys of both Tough Win and Dongbnaui Gangja warmed up with wins. Cho Kyoung Ho landed four victories while Choi Bum Hyun took two. Neither could win the feature race, however, as Holy Dreamer was guided to his ninth career victory by Jo In Kwen.

Well back in the field was Baekpa, the 2007 Oaks winner putting in a disappointing run after being sent off favourite. Baekpa was fifth in the 2008 Grand Prix – after being allowed to trail 30 lengths off the pace on the first turn. That was her last run in Korea before a disastrous spell in the United States after which she returned a different horse. Nevertheless she remains popular. In the paddock, several punters called out her name and waved as she passed – As she has always done, she turned to look at each and every one of them.

Baekpa’s jockey today was Park Tae Jong, who will ride Larrycat in the Grand Prix. Jo In Kwen meanwhile will have his first ever Grand Prix ride on Jumong. What a story it would be if the little brother of 2007 winner Bally Brae was the one to pull off a surprise. Here’s a final rundown of tomorrow’s runners and riders:

Grand Prix (GI) – Seoul Race Park – 2300M – December 12, 2010 – 17:00

1. Mister Park (KOR) – You Hyun Myung
2. Dongbanui Gangja (USA) – Choi Bum Hyun
3. Seonnyang Yongsa (AUS) – Jo Sung Gon
4. Jumong (USA) – Jo In Kwen
5. Gunham (NZ) – Kim Dong Young
6. Yeonseung Daero (KOR) – Choi Si Dae
7. Global Champ (AUS) – Mun Jung Won
8. Dangdae Bulpae (KOR) – Jo Chang Wook
9. Purely Spontaneus (USA) – Lim Sung Sil
10. Tough Win (USA) – Cho Kyoung Ho
11. Larrycat (USA) – Park Tae Jong
12. Cheonjidolpung (USA) – Boo Min Ho

Gyongmaman’s Verdict: Tough Win has answered every question put to him so far and there’s no reason why he can’t do so tomorrow. Gyongmaman will, however, be rooting for Dongbanui Gangja to make history with a third straight Grand Prix victory.

Seoul Racecourse, December 11, 2010

Weekend Preview: Grand Prix!

Tough Win, Dongbanui Gangja, Mister Park, Dangdae Bulpae all face-off in 2010 Championship Race

It’s the big one. The stars of Korean racing will assemble in the floodlit late afternoon at Seoul Race Park on Sunday for the 29th Grand Prix Stakes to decide who is the undisputed best on the peninsula.

The Real Thing: It's Grand Prix Time

If Dongbanui Gangja can win, he will become the first ever horse to claim three Grand Prix. However, he has it all to do. The young upstart, Tough Win has beaten him twice and, in his nine starts to date, has shown no inclination that he knows how to lose.

Then there is the southern challenge. Busan sends seven of the twelve entrants. Chief among them is Dangdae Bulpae. The three year-old has already won twice in the capital, claiming the Minister’s and President’s Cups in dominant style. If he could upset the favourites on Sunday, it would be a massive boost for the Korean breeding industry. Joining him on the trip up the Gyeongbu Expressway is Mister Park. The gelding has won his last ten races and is not coming to Seoul for the weather. Likewise Yeonseung Daero will be there. He pushed Tough Win all the way in the Busan Metropolitan and will be sure to do the same on Sunday.

Face Off! Again. Dongbanui Gangja vs Tough Win

It is arguably the most anticipated race in Korean history. Certainly this correspondent cannot remember a race where no matter which of the twelve entrants win, there is a special story to tell. Which story we’ll be telling come Sunday evening is anybody’s guess. Here’s a full list of runners and riders (Name/Country/Age/Sex/Weight/Race Record/Jockey:

Grand Prix Stakes (KOR.GI) – Seoul Race Park – December 12, 2010 – 17:00

1. Mister Park (KOR) [Ecton Park – Formal Deal (Formal Gold)] 3-G-51kg (11/10/0/1) – You Hyun Myung

A winner in all but his first outing, he’s won five times at class 1. Has managed to avoid the very best and has not taken on imported horses before, but he does hold a five-length win over 2009 Minister’s Cup winner Namdo Jeap.

2. Dongbanui Gangja (USA) [Broken Vow – Maremaid (Storm Bird)] 5-H-58kg (26/17/5/2) – Choi Bum Hyun

Looking to make history with three consecutive Grand Prix. Has been difficult to control as a five-year old but, unlike the others, he is a proven winner at this distance. If he can be kept in a straight line, he will take advantage should Tough Win fail to stay the course.

3. Seonnyang Yongsa (AUS) [Catbird – Silicon Glory (Cure The Blues)] 5-G-58kg (27/10/7/4) – Jo Sung Gon

Jo Sung Gon’s choice to ride this one instead of Dangdae Bulpae isn’t one to please the romantics. The realists though would see he has a point. A proven winner at longer distances, he had an off-day when beaten by a number of this field in the Busan Metropolitan in July.

4. Jumong (USA) [Johar – Foreign Aid (Danzig)] 3-C-55kg (14/5/3/1) – Jo In Kwen

Former Grand Prix winner Bally Brae was invited but won’t be running. However, his half-brother will be. Jumong will be an outsider here but the three-year old already has a class 1 victory to his name and looks set to improve even more.

5. Gunham (NZ) [Anziyan – Kaapture The Heart (Kaapstad)] 8-G-58kg (43/10/6/4) – Kim Dong Young

One of the Grand Old Men of Busan, Gunham has had an up and down career but roared back into the winner’s circle last month beating a host of his youngers – and supposed betters. He’ll be an outsider but deserves to cap his career with a shot at the biggest race of all.

6. Yeonseung Daero (KOR) [Creek Cat – Sensationalkris (Cryptoclearance)] 4-C-54kg (26/11/5/3) – Choi Si Dae

If he had timid connections, Yeonseung Daero would have a much better win rate. Instead, his owners have been sportsmen and have never hesitated to run him against the best opposition available instead of restricting him to face fellow Korean bred runners. He got closer than any horse ever has to Tough Win all the way in the Busan Metropolitan and was second to Dangdae Bulpae in the President’s Cup. This horse is a battler.

7. Global Champ (AUS) [Charge Forward – Amarocco (Brocco)] 4-C-58kg (20/4/3/4) – Mun Jung Won

An improver but has never won over seven furlongs and difficult to see him troubling the placings here.

8. Dangdae Bulpae (KOR) [Biwa Shinseiki – Indeed My Dear (Alydeed)] 3-C-51kg (12/9/0/1) – Jo Chang Wook

Cheonnyeon Daero may have won the Derby but Dangdae Bulpae is the outstanding three-year old Korean colt of 2010. His Minister’s Cup win was good but his President’s Cup win superb. He comes back to Seoul in search of a hat-trick. It would be unlikely but he has the talent to pull off something special

9. Purely Spontaneus (USA) [Pure Precision – Marquet Order (Marquetry)] 4-G-58kg (22/9/2/1) – Lim Sung Sil

Has had a very impressive four-year old season. Will need to run the race of his life here but cannot be discounted from a place finish.

10. Tough Win (USA) [Yonaguska – Maggie May’s Sword (Sword Dance)] 3-G-55kg (9/9/0/0) – Cho Kyoung Ho

The one to beat in that he never actually has been beaten. The one question is will he stay the 2300 metres? While his first win over Dongbnaui Gangja was marred by the latter’s manners, the second was decisive. Yeonseung Daero got very close to him in Busan though and that extra distance is all that stands between Tough Win and, at the age of three, already being talked about among the greats of Korean racing.

11. Larrycat (USA) [Fantasticat – Tiger In My Tank (Tank)] 3-G-55kg (14/6/3/3) – Park Tae Jong

A pair of good wins in the autumn sandwiching third place behind Tough Win and Dongbanui Gangja in the KRA Cup Classic made him an obvious starter here. Difficult to see him winning but could well make a nuisance of himself at the business end of the race.

12. Cheonjidolpung (USA) [Tactical Cat – Luminate (A.P. Indy)] 5-G-58kg (26/5/0/4) – Boo Min Ho

The friends & relatives vote – and the likes of Cheonnyeon Daero staying home – has got this one in. A good, solid competitor, but out of his depth in this company.

* The Grand Prix is the highlight of three days of racing on the peninsula this weekend. Here’s what’s happening when and where:

Friday December 10

Busan Race Park: 10 races from 12:00 to 18:00
Jeju Race Park: 10 races from 13:00 to 17:30

Saturday December 11

Seoul Race Park: 12 races from 11:20 to 17:40
Jeju Race Park: 10 races from 12:10 to 17:40

Sunday December 12

Seoul Race Park: 11 races from 11:20 to 18:10
Busan Race Park: 6 races from 12:40 to 16:30

Twenty-Nine Years of the Grand Prix

While other races may carry more prize money, in terms of honour and prestige, the Grand Prix Stakes is second to none in Korea. It’s a race that has had movies named after it and is, perhaps, the only domestic horse race to register in the national consciousness.

Double Grand Prix Winner: Dongbanui Gangja

Sunday sees the 29th edition of the race. It’s young in international terms, but in a country where the private ownership of racehorses – and therefore prize money and big Stakes races – go back less than two decades, it is positively venerable. With race fans invited to vote on which horses they want to see in the starting gate, it is the undisputed Championship race in Korea. There is no question of the best horses trying to avoid each other as there is nowhere else to go. In the Grand Prix, the best face the best.

This is because whereas the Classics are restricted to Korean bred entrants, the Grand Prix is open to all. Indeed in the previous 28 editions, home-bred horses have ended up in the winner’s circle just three times. Fillies or mares have won the race five times with Ka Shock Do taking back-to-back wins in 1990 and 1991.

The origin of the winners also shows the change in influence on Korean racing. Throughout the eighties and nineties, the vast majority of horses imported to Korea were from the Southern Hemisphere. This is reflected by Australian or New Zealand breds winning thirteen of the first sixteen runnings, compared with just one American. Since the turn of the century, the majority of imports have come from the USA and American breds have won six out of the last seven editions.

As recently as 1999, a non-thoroughbred was triumphant. Saegangja was by the established sire Fiercely, however, his dam Chuk Je, was not in the studbook. That won’t happen again as year on year, Korean racing gradually becomes more mature.

Dongbanui Gangja already shares the record for most Grand Prix wins with two. On Sunday he has the chance to make it three, thereby going ahead of Ka Shock Do and the great Po Gyeong Seon. He’s got a massive task on his hands to prevent a new name being added to the list of horses who, for one year at least, can claim to have been the undisputed best.

2009: Dongbanui Gangja (USA) [Broken Vow – Maremaid (Storm Bird)]
2008: Dongbanui Gangja (USA) [Broken Vow – Maremaid (Storm Bird)]
2007: Bally Brae (USA) [Yarrow Brae – Political Bluff (Unaccounted For)] – Also has two second places to his name, in 2006 and 2008.
2006: Flying Cat (KOR) [Western Cat – Flying Wood (Tapping Wood)]
2005: Subsidy (USA) [Mr. Prospector – Foreign Aid (Danzig)]
2004: Value Play (USA) [Mt. Livermore – Return Of Mom (Deputy Minister)]
2003: Tempest West (USA) [Silent Tempest – Westabout (Gone West)]
2002: Bohamian Butler (USA) [Patton – Circus Princess (Forli)]
2001: Tahamkke (NZ) [Dance Floor – Cantango (Danzatore)]- has gone on to become a moderately successful sire in Korea
2000: Cheolgeoun Party (KOR) [Big Sur – Party Paint (Acaroid)] – The only Korean bred filly to win.
1999: Saegangja (KOR) [Fiercely – Chuk Je] (non-thoroughbred)
1998: Sin Se Dae (AUS) [Avon Valley – Meroo Star (Starboard Buoy)]
1997: P’Ulgeurim (NZ) [Crested Wave – Evocative (Sea Anchor)]
1996: Hula-Mingo (NZ) [Broadway Aly – Zamatina (Zamazaan)]
1995: Dae Kyeun (AUS) [Northern Regent – Romantic Evening (Sunset Hue)]
1994: Ji Goo Ryeok (AUS) [Pine Circle – Perfect Choice (Lunchtime)] – The first year prize-money was awarded, Ji Goo Ryeok’s connections took home 50 Million won. This year’s winner will receive 212 Million, the same as last year but slightly down on 2008. The Korean Derby is worth in excess of 250 Million to the winner.
1993: Gi Peun So Sik (NZ) [Bolak – Belserena (Serenader)]
1992: Chun Pung (NZ) [Coral Reef – Little Jo] (non-thorougbred)
1991: Ka Shock Do (NZ) [Engagement – Nursery Rhyme (Namnan)]- With her second , she became arguably the greatest filly to run in Korea. In all, she won twelve of her thirteen starts.
1990: Ka Shock Do (NZ) [Engagement – Nursery Rhyme (Namnan)]
1989: Cha Dol (USA) [Mr Redoy – Honest’N Do Right]
1988: Wang Bang Wool (AUS) [Moon Sammy – Aqua Nymph (Crepone)]
1987: Cheong Ha (AUS) [Suliman – Pigalle Wonder (Exalt)]
1986: Po Gyeong Seon (NZ) [Danseur Etoile – Leonotis (Lionhearted)] – with twenty wins from twenty-five starts, he is, along with Saegangja and J.S. Hold one of the three
1985: Po Gyeong Seon (NZ) [Danseur Etoile – Leonotis (Lionhearted)]

Choi Bum Hyun will be bidding to become the first jockey to win the race twice. While the current top four of Choi, Moon Se Young, Cho Kyoung Ho and Park Tae Jong have all won the race once, Lee Sung Il, who retired in 2005 is the only other jockey to have won twice.

* Although this is the 29th running of the Grand Prix, Korean racing records officially only go back to 1985.

Cheonnyeon Daero Owns Busan

Derby Winner Takes Owner’s Cup By Narrowest Of Margins

They attacked on his inside and they attacked on his outside but Cheonnyeon Daero would not let them pass. In a desperate last furlong, it was the Derby winner who held on to win the Owner’s Cup at Busan Race Park this afternoon.

Another Big Win: Cheonnyeon Daero

Namdo Jeap, one of three horses – along with Cheonnyeon Daero and Golden Appeal – who the punting public couldn’t separate, set the early pace under Jo Sung Gon. However, last year’s Minister’s Cup winner was closely tracked by his co-favourites through the back straight and around the hometurn in the ten-furlong race. He had nothing left for the straight and it was Cheonnyeon Daero and Park Geum Man who took things up with just over a furlong left to run.

The expected challenge of Golden Appeal came to nothing and it was left to Khaosan and Yoshi Aoki in the inside and then King Hunter and Toshio Uchida on the outside to put the Derby winner under double-pressure. Khaosan was seen off but King Hunter, 33/1 in the betting, kept coming and coming until finally, the line arrived just in time for Cheonnyeon Daero to take the narrowest of victories.

The victory was just the fifth of Cheonnyeon Daero’s career, however, with the Derby being one of the other four as well as a second place in the Minister’s Cup – not to mention never having finished out of the money – he is undoubtedly established as one of the top Korean bred horses on the peninsula. Victory today also vindicates his connections’ decision to skip next week’s Grand Prix at Seoul. In that race it will be left to Dangdae Bulpae and Yeonseung Daero to fly the flag for Korea against the best foreign talent in the country.

Owner’s Cup – Busan Race Park – 2000M – December 5, 2010

1. Cheonnyeon Daero (KOR) [Creek Cat – Doneitmyway (Northern Flagship)] – Park Geum Man – 3.7, 1.4
2. King Hunter (KOR) [Yehudi – Wildly Magic (Peterhof)] – Toshio Uchida – 8.2
3. Khaosan (KOR) [Sunday Well – Mogaung (Jade Hunter)] – Yoshiyuki Aoki – 1.9

Distances: Nose/1 length
Also Ran: 4. Isidae Gangja 5. Golden Appeal 6 Glory Yeonggwang 7. New World Record 8. Sky Star 9. Namdo Jeap 10. Lucky Dancer 11. Gangjaui Beopchik

Seoul today was very much eclipsed by the goings-on at Busan, however, there was one big handicap of note. It resulted in a first win for eighteen months for Australian bred gelding Captain Cugat (King Cugat). The six-year old hadn’t won in eleven previous attempts at class 1 racing, but scored a two-length victory over Torpedo Mast and Baekjeonmupae in the ten-furlong race under the lights. Former Horse of the Year Bally Brae could only manage ninth place and unless the handicapper sees sense and stops assigning him the kind of weight he’d expect to carry if he’d won the Grand Prix last week rather than three years ago, we may see him retired very soon.

Racing at Seoul finishing under lights again

Speaking of the Grand Prix, we are now just seven days away from the most prestigious race on the Korean calendar. It’s always special, this year it could be spectacular. Full preview coming soon.

No Nerves From Florida Sox

Segye Ilbo Champion Returns a Winner / Mass Media’s Tea beaten

Last time she appeared on the track, she got so upset by other runners, she panicked and collided with the rail, injuring her leg and keeping her out of action for eight months. Today though, there were no such nerves as Florida Sox returned to the track and the Winner’s Circle at Seoul Race Park.

Bootiful job: Boo Min Ho & Florida Sox return to the Winner's Circle

The three-year old filly looked set for great things when she won the Segye Ilbo Cup by seven lengths in just her fourth outing in February. That win stepped her up in class for her next race and, unaccustomed to being challenged on the final turn, she took fright. Today, jockey Boo Min Ho took no chances. Gunning Florida Sox straight into the lead coming out of the gate, they stayed there all the way. Wonerful Sun got closest, trailing home the winner by four lengths with Green Empire third. Florida Sox (Woke Up Dreamin) moves on to four wins from six starts and will be one to look out for as she steps up in class again next time.

Victory on Florida Sox was the first leg of a double for jockey Boo Min Ho. The second leg was a lot more unlikely as 220/1 outsider Yamang (Pleasantly Perfect) scored a two-length win over one of the year’s hottest two-year old imports Mass Media’s Tea (Mass Media). The favourite, was looking for his third straight win but, stepping up to seven furlongs for the first time and having established a lead, faded badly in the straight to allow the grey Yamang – who had failed to win any money at all in seven previous attempts at class 3 – to steal the victory. Mass Media’s Tea wasn’t the only one to disappoint in that race. Pildu (Silver Train) and I’d Rather Be Lucky (Gobson County) – the most expensive imported two-year old of the year – were also well beaten.

Steaming: Maono made it two out of two

Some two-year olds did live up to their reputations, however. Three fillies to be precise. Ruby Queen (Badge Of Silver) became the fist juvenile this year to win at a distance greater than seven furlongs, when she claimed the nine-furlong race 8 to take her overall record to three wins from four starts. A race earlier, Grand First (Salt Lake) scored a narrow victory over seven furlongs to also put herself on three from four while Maono (Menifee) now has a perfect two-from-two after winning race 5.

Sons of Menifee cleaned up in the Breeders’ Cup, Korea’s biggest Juvenile race, last weekend. It seems he is going to be well-represented in terms of fillies too as his first Korean crop head for the three-year old Classics in 2011.

Today’s feature race went the way of Ace Galloper. The three-year old got the better of a final furlong tussle with Blue Pin to claim the class 1 handicap. Jilpunggangho was third. Ace Galloper (Chapel Royal) was scoring the ninth win of his fourteen race career.

Seoul Racecourse: Saturday December 4, 2010

Racing returns to Seoul on Sunday with an eleven race card from 11:20 to 18:00, however, race of the day is at Busan where it is Owners’ Cup Day. Derby winner Cheonnyean Daero faces tough opposition from Namdo Jeap and Golden Appeal in the highlight of a six race card which runs from 12:35 to 16:30.