Month: June 2011

Sen Girl Strides Into Oaks Contention

Strodes Creek Filly Wins Sports Seoul / Kim Ok Sung Returns To Stakes Winner’s Circle

Under an angry sky at Seoul Race Park this afternoon Sen Girl, a 7/1 chance, took victory in the Sports Seoul Cup and in the process put herself among the favourites for the Korean Oaks this coming August.

All Smiles: Kim Ok Sung and Sen Girl return as Sports Seoul Champions

Sunday’s racing began in the monsoon rain that has lashed the peninsula non-stop since Wednesday, however, by the time the ten fillies took to the track for main event at 4:30pm, the rain had stopped and a brisk wind made for drying conditions. While Seungniuihamseong was sent off the even money favourite, it was Mustang Queen and champion jockey Cho Kyoung Ho who set the early pace. As they began the long turn for home, veteran jockey Kim Ok Sung brought Sen Girl around the field to take the lead.

While Mustang Queen fought back bitterly in the home straight, it was a lead they wouldn’t relinquish and Sen Girl held on to win by a neck on the line to claim the 108 Million Won first prize and punch her ticket to the Oaks at Busan. Behind Mustang Queen, Allegrissmo was a distant third.

Sen Girl is just one of twenty foals to be produced by the sire Strodes Creek (Halo) during his spell in Korea before his untimely death in 2008. Imported from Japan in late 2006, Strodes Creek stood for just one season before his tragic paddock accident. Three of that crop were in this race with Cheonupilseung and Event Queen finishing fifth and sixth respectively.

A few months ago, few would have foreseen Kim Ok Sung being back on the podium after a Stakes victory

It was also a milestone day for jockey Kim Ok Sung. Kim had his license cancelled last year after being accused of passing along inside information. After serving a six month ban, he returned to action last month. Although accused of a crime that punters hate more than almost anything, Kim remains exceptionally popular with race fans in Korea.

It could be his ever-present grin and willingness to engage in paddock banter that causes this – since his return punters are forever asking him for a tip. Or it could be the fact that he’s one the most experienced riders in the weighing room and punters like familiarity.

Perhaps though, it’s more to do with the fact that unlike the young professional athletes he rides alongside these days, he simply looks as though he enjoys a spot of soju and Sam-gyeop-sal and that if he wasn’t riding, he’d be queuing at the betting windows along with everyone else. Whatever the reason, it seems great to have him back.

Sports Seoul Cup – Seoul Race Park – 1700M – June 26, 2011

1. Sen Girl (KOR) [Strodes Creek – Badgering Shari (Badger Land)] – Kim Ok Sung –
2. Mustang Queen (KOR) [Concept Win – Arouser (Golden Missile)] – Cho Kyoung Ho –
3. Allegrissimo (KOR) [Bon Vivant – Corporate Romance (Corporate Report)] – Moon Se Young –

Distances: Neck/8 lengths
Also Ran: 4. Seungniuihamseong 5. Cheonupilseung 6. Event Queen 7. Giengnal Geunal 8. Saebyeokcheonsa 9. Hwaryeohansesang 10. Firenze

The rain stopped leaving clear air and an angry sky over Seoul Race Park

Saturday Round-Up – Sunday Sports Seoul Line-up

Kim Hae Sun’s Lucky Day / Seungniuihamseong Favourite To Claim Sports Seoul

Saturday at Seoul saw Kim Hae Sun add to her reputation as one of Korea’s most promising young jockeys as she rode a pair of winners in the monsoon rain. Having partnered favourite Nice Active to victory in race 7, she then scored in the first of co-feature races on three-year old colt I’d Rather B Lucky (Gibson County).

Double: Kim Hae Sun

Kim, who debuted two years ago, has now ridden 26 winners from 450 rides. There was also a rare winner for Kim’s fellow female rider Lee Ae Li, who claimed the last on 9/1 shot Victory Camp.

In other races, there were victories for last year’s Gyeonggi Governor’s Cup winner Magic Party (Artie Schiller) and also for Sun Best (Woke Up Dreamin), who saw off Derby also rans Yeongung Icheon and Geuma Champ in race 9. Meanwhile, much earlier in the day, New Zealand bred two-year old Mister Captain (Captain Rio) recorded his second win in his second outing as he comfrotabel defeated dubut-making Smarty Jones colt Smarty Moonhak in race 4.

Sunday at Seoul sees the Sports Seoul Stakes. It’s one of the biggest trial races for the Korean Oaks which will be run at Busan in August. Ten fillies will line up for the race which will be run over 1700 metres. Here’s a run down of all of them all with race records and jockey – all are Korean bred:

Sports Seoul Stakes – Seoul Race Park – 1700M – Sunday June 26, 16:35

1. Seungniuihamseong [Vicar] (7/3/2/0) – Choi Won Joon
Has won three out of her last four including last time out over the Oaks distance of 1800 metres. She will be the clear favourite.

2. Gieongnal Geunal [Menifee] (4/1/0/1) – Yoon Tae Hyoug
Well beaten behind Event Queen last time out and will be an outsider here.

3. Saebyeokcheonsa [Vicar] (5/2/0/1) – Park Byeong Yun
Another outsider, she won well last time out.

4. Allegrissimo [Bon Vivant] (7/2/3/0) – Moon Se Young
Came close to Seungniuihamseong last time and is likely to be one of her main rivals here.

5. Firenze [Yankee Victor] (10/3/1/0) – Oh Kyoung Hoan
Showed promise earlier this year but struggled over this distance in her last race.

6. Hwaryeohansesang [Perfect Vision II] (2/2/0/0) – Park Tae Jong
The unknown quantity in the race. Her two wins have been at five and six furlongs but if she gets the trip, she could be a factor.

7. Mustang Queen [Concept Win] (6/3/2/0) – Cho Kyoung Ho
Possibly the biggest danger to the favourite. She knows how to win and ran well over 1700 metres in her last race.

8. Sen Girl [Strodes Creek] (10/2/2/3) – Kim Ok Sung
Could the last crop of Strodes Creek include a Stakes winner? He’s got three in this race Sen Girl is the most useful of them and while she is without a win in three, they have been against good horses. Also has no problems getting the distance.

9. Event Queen [Strodes Creek] (7/1/4/0) – Ham Wan Sik
Broke her maiden last time out over six furlongs after repeated second place finishes. While improving, there should be better fillies here.

10. Cheonupilseung (7/2/2/0) – Choi Bum Hyun
Won well last time out but as yet hasn’t beaten a lot. An outside chance of a place.

* And here’s what’s happening when and where:

Sunday June 26

Seoul Race Park: 11 races from 11:10 to 18:05
Busan Race Park: 6 races from 12:30 to 17:05

Wet Weekend Preview

Sports Seoul Cup Headlines Monsoon Weekend

There are many great things about living in Korea – the people, the food, the natural beauty, the technology, the, to name just a few. The weather is not on that list. The snow of January may now be a distant memory but instead, we have monsoon season!

Expect this to be a frequent sight over the next few weeks

This year’s downpours began on Wednesday and quite spectacular they have been too. The rain is forecast to continue throughout the weekend at all three tracks with perhaps the odd thunderstorm too to liven things up. Racing continues of course with the headline event being the Sports Seoul Cup at Seoul Race Park on Sunday. The race, for Korean bred three-year old fillies, is one of the main trials for the Korean Oaks which will be run at Busan in August.

While the track isn’t necessarily the greatest place to be during a monsoon downpour – home generally is – it’s no reason to stay away. At Seoul, ,there is plenty of non-smoking outside covered seating on the second and third floors of the Happyville Grandstand. Here’s what’s happening when and where.

Friday June 24

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

Saturday June 25

Seoul Race Park: 11 races from 11:10 to 17:30
Jeju Race Park: 10 races from 12:30 to 17:30

Sunday June 26

Seoul Race Park: 11 races from 11:10 to 18:05 including the Sports Seoul Cup at 16:35
Busan Race Park: 6 races from 12:30 to 17:00

* Blogging has been unavoidably light recently but normal service will be resumed shortly and if possible, we’ll aim to have a full run-down of the Sports Seoul line-up on Saturday evening.

Stroll In The Park

Mister Park Ties Unbeaten Record / Ace Galloper Finds It Easy At Seoul

A mismatch isn’t easy to celebrate. Certainly very few punters were as Mister Park’s victory at Busan today paid out at a rate of 1.0 – that is, those who bet on him got their money back, but no more. Nevertheless, this demolition job took the Grand Prix Champion onto fifteen straight wins, equal with two greats of Korean racing, Po Gyeong Seon and Saegangja.

Mister Park (Pic: KRA)

A horse can only beat what is put in front of him or her and Mister Park (Ecton Park) has certainly done that. However, of his fifteen wins, only the Grand Prix – admittedly the biggest of them all – was a Stakes race and on only one other occasion was he asked to take on foreign bred horses.

Today’s victory was as routine as it gets. Jockey Yoo Hyun Myung took Mister Park into the lead straight out of the gate and accelerated away from the field as they entered the home straight. Ten lengths was the distance jockey Yoo opted to win by. It could have been thirty.

The record will surely come next time out and after that is when it should get interesting. Mister Park’s handicap mark should render staying competing against domestic bred horses impractical in all but Stakes races. Then we’ll have some fun.

Ace Galloper and Cho Kyoung Ho return after another win

Up in Seoul, there was another finding the going pretty easy today. Ace Galloper (Chapel Royal) is just like Mister Park in that he is Korean born but not bred (in that his dam was imported to Korean while pregnant) and therefore wasn’t eligible for the three-year old Classics last year and also in that he has been campaigned rather conservatively.

This afternoon in the feature race in the Capital, he took on Top Point, former Champion filly & mare. While Top Point took an early lead, Cho Kyoung Ho produced a masterful ride on Ace Galloper to come through and take the victory by a comfortable three lengths. Ace Galloper moves onto thirteen wins from nineteen starts. Oh but would he and Mister Park race each other.

Japanese Trifecta: from left to right - Mai Beppu, Hiro Hamada and Makoto Noda

In other races, Japanese jockeys Mai Beppu and Makoto Noda both registered their first place finishes. Beppu had made her Korean riding debut nearly two months ago but got injured on only her second day. Returning this weekend, she managed a second and a third place. Meanwhile, Noda was making his debut and on his thirteenth and final ride of the weekend, scored a very unlikely third place on longshot Silk Road in the last today.

Both jockeys seemed to get the quantity but not the quality in their rides this weekend. Their countryman Hiro Hamada, who joined them in a couple of races today, has been riding in Korea for more than a year now and, while arguably one of the best riders at the track, these days receives neither quality nor quantity to ride. Such is the life for a foreign jockey in Korea.

Racing returns to the peninsula next weekend when we will have Stakes action in the form of the Sports Seoul Cup.

These chaps had fun in the heat

Weekend Preview

Mister Park runs at Busan, Japanese jockey Maokoto Noda debuts at Seoul and it’s the Jeju Ilbo Stakes on Jeju Island. Here’s what’s happening when and where this weekend:

Friday June 17

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

Saturday June 18

Seoul Race Park: 11 races from 11:10 to 17:30
Jeju Race Park: 10 races from 12:30 to 17:50 including the Jeju Ilbo Stakes at 16:05

Sunday June 19

Seoul Race Park: 11 races from 11:10 to 18:00
Busan Race Park: 6 races from 12:30 to 17:05

Grand Prix Champion Mister Park runs at Busan on Sunday

Dangdae Bulpae Deadly Again

Ttukseom Cup Champ Eases to KNN Cup / Kkakjaengi Wins Owners’ Trophy

He’d already won the Governor’s Cup, The Minister’s Cup, The President’s Cup and the Ttukseom Cup and today, Dangdae Bulpae was in imperious form as he soundly defeated the best of his peers to win the KNN Cup at Busan Race Park.

Almost all of Busan’s top Korean bred horses were there. Cheonnyeon Daero won the Derby last year before stablemate Dangdae Bulpae, hit his stride. He was the one who got closest to the winner today. However, “closest” is a relative thing when the winner was eased down yet still finished ten lengths ahead of everyone else. Battling into third place was the 2008 Derby winner Ebony Storm. Now a gelding, the six-year-old showed at the front early and stayed on well to beat out Triple Sinhwa, who came close in all three Classics last year.

Disappointment of the race was Yeonseung Daero. Pre-race he was considered Dangdae Bulpae’s biggest threat but, while seemingly well placed as they entered the home straight, the five-year old faded badly to finish out of the money. Also running below-par was Lucky Dancer, meaning the wait goes on for Aussie trainer Peter Wolsley to saddle a Korean Stakes winner.

As for Dangdae Bulpae, it was his twelfth win from seventeen starts and his fifth Stakes. Only one horse stands between him and being the undisputed top Korean bred horse in the country. Mister Park couldn’t run today by virtue of having been sired overseas. Last time they clashed, in the Grand Prix at Seoul, Mister Park won. Their next meeting promises to be very interesting indeed.

Kkakjaengi in the Seoul Stakes winners' circle for the second time this year

Up at Seoul there was also Stakes action in the shape of the Seoul Racehorse Owners’ Association Trophy, one of the biggest races of the year for foreign bred fillies and mares. This year three Korean bred fillies also took their chance.

However, while Love Cat, Cheonun and Raon Glory were all sent off among the favourites, it was imports who swept the placings. In the end it was Segye Ilbo Cup winner Kkakjaengi who took her second Stakes victory of the year as she comfortably held off pre-race favourite Geumbi to take a two-length win. Long-shot Imperial Girl completed the placings with Cheonun coming home fourth.

SROA Trophy (KOR.G.III) – Seoul Race Park – 2000M – June 12, 2011

1. Kkakjaengi (USA) [Put It Back – Wild Dixie Gal (Wild Again)] – Shin Hyoung Chul – 6.6, 2.2
2. Geumbi (USA) [Ecton Park – Lady Justine (Lit De Justice)] – Jo In Kwen – 1.6
3. Imperial Girl (USA) [Imperialism – Wallena (Wallenda)] – Jang Chu Youl – 22.1

Distances: 2 lengths/2 lengths
Also ran: 4. Cheonun (KOR) 5. Gippeumnuri (USA) 6. Jangjagang (USA) 7. Pilseung Korea (JPN) 8. Fortunata (USA) 9. Love Cat (KOR) 10. Sky Center (USA) 11. Blueband Mama (USA) 12. Burning Sky (JPN) 13. Florida Sox (USA) 14. Raon Glory (KOR)

KNN Cup – Busan Race Park – 1600M – June 12, 2011

1. Dangdae Bulpae (KOR) [Biwa Shinseiki – Indeed My Dear (Alydeed) – Jo Sung Gon – 1.8, 1.1
2. Cheonnyeon Daero (KOR) [Creek Cat – Doneitmyway (Northern Flagship)] – Park Geum Man – 1.7
3. Ebony Storm (KOR) [Buster’s Daydream – Sorority Jazz (Dixieland Band)] – You Hyun Myung – 3.7

Distances: 10 lengths/3 lengths
Also ran: 4. Triple Sinhwa 5. Crown Flag 6. Pick Me Up 7. Coming Through 8. Annika Queen 9. Yeonseung Daero 10. Gangjaui Beopchik 11. Lucky Dancer 12. Super Chocolate

With five wins from eight starts, Kkakjaengi will head into class 1 racing as a force to be reckoned with. Today, however, most went home talking about Dangdae Bulpae,

Seoul Racecourse, June 12, 2011

who just seems to get better and better.

Ft. Stockton, Sire Of J.S. Hold, Dies At Stud

Nineteen-year-old was one of Korea’s most successful Sires

Ft. Stockton [Cure The Blues – Tai The Devil (Tai)], one of the nation’s longest-serving and most successful sires, is dead. The nineteen year old died suddenly at stud on May 30.

Ft. Stockton, 1992-2011 (Pic: KRA)

Seemingly in good health, Ft Stockton had been performing stallion duties up until the day before he was found dead. The cause of death given is a ruptured Pulmonary Artery.

As a racehorse in his native United States, Ft. Stockton won the Jersey Shore Breeders’ Cup and Hirsch Jacobs Stakes as a three-year old and the Arlington Breeders’ Cup Sprint Handicap at four, retiring with seven wins from his thirty-one starts.

In more than a decade at stud, Ft. Stockton has sired some outstanding Korean racehorses including 2005 President’s Cup winner French Dancer and 2009 Minister’s Cup winner and Korean Guineas and Derby runner-up, Namdo Jeap. However, there is one horse in particular that Ft. Stockton will be remembered for.

J.S. Hold (out of the Passetreul mare Hwansangjiljoo) was, in Korean racing terms, exceptional. Winning nine of his ten races, he completed the inaugural Triple Crown in 2007 including a ten length triumph in the Derby. Only 75% fit for the Minister’s Cup, the final leg of the Crown, J.s. Hold still managed to battle to victory. The injury didn’t heal and he was retired having secured his place as arguably Korea’s greatest ever home-produced racehorse.

Ft. Stockton’s legacy will continue. He’s represented in both of this weekend’s big Stakes races; Annika Queen takes part in the KNN Cup at Busan while last year’s Korean Oaks runner-up Cheonun takes her chance in the Owners’ Trophy at Seoul. With nearly three more crops of foals to reach the track, he may be gone but it will be a long time before Ft. Stockton’s impact on Korean horse racing is forgotten.

* Here is J.S. Hold’s crushing Derby win:

Ft. Stockton is the third high-profile stallion to pass away in Korea this year following the deaths of Yankee Victor and The Groom Is Red.

– Ft. Stockton’s Pedigree Query page and his Korean Stud Book entry.

Weekend Preview

KNN Cup at Busan / Owners’ Trophy at Seoul

It’s set to be a Super Stakes Sunday as the KNN Cup at Busan and the Seoul Racehorse Owners’ Association (SROA) Trophy headline a busy weekend of action on the peninsula.

Yeonseung Daero and Choi Si Dae will go for the KNN Cup

Down south, the KNN brings together a pair of Derby Winners in Cheonnyeon Daero and Ebony Storm as well as President’s Cup Champion Dangdae Bulpae and Governor’s Cup winner Yeonseung Daero.

Classic placed Triple Sinhwa and prolific winner Lucky Dancer also join a star-studded line-up who will race over a mile in one of the most eagerly anticipated contests of the year (see blow for a full list of runners and riders).

Up at Seoul, it’s the Owners’ Trophy which is one of the biggest races of the year for foreign bred fillies and mares. Having said that, plenty of Korean bred fillies will be taking their chance including well-known names such as Love Cat, Cheonun and recent Stakes winner Raon Glory. We’ll have a full preview of the race – in which young jockey Kim Hae Sun will get her first Stakes ride – on the blog on Saturday.

Mai Beppu returns this weekend

Also this weekend sees a welcome return to action for jockey Mai Beppu.

The Japanese rider suffered an injury exiting the starting gate on just her second day of racing in Korea back in March after just five rides. She has several chances this weekend.

Here’s what’s happening when and where:

Friday June 10

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

Saturday June 11

Seoul Race Park: 11 races from 11:10 to 17:30
Jeju Race Park: 10 races from 12:30 to 17:30

Sunday June 12

Seoul Race Park: 11 races from 11:10 to 18:10 including the SROA Trophy at 16:45
Busan Race Park: 6 races from 12:30 to 17:15 including the KNN Cup at 16:15

* And here is a full run-down of the field for the KNN Cup – all are Korean bred and the race is a handicap:
(Name (Pedigree) – Age, Sex, Weight to Carry – Races/1sts/2nds/3rds) – Jockey

KNN Cup – Busan Race Park – 1600M – Sunday June 12, 16:15

1. Annika Queen (Ft. Stockton) – 7,M,50Kg (46/6/7/0) – Hwang Jong Woo
2. Super Chocolate (Silent Warrior) – 4,G,50Kg (24/4/2/3) – Kim Tae Kyung
3. Pick Me Up (Time Star) – 9,H,50Kg (71/8/13/9) – Jo Chang Wook
4. Ebony Storm (Buster’s Daydream) – 6,G,54.5Kg – (32/8/5/5) – You Hyun Myung
5. Dangdae Bulpae (Biwa Shinseiki) – 4,C,58.5Kg – (16/11/1/1) – Jo Sung Gon
6. Triple Sinwha (Capital Spending) – 4,C,55.5Kg – (16/6/6/0) – Chae Gyu Jun
7. Lucky Dancer (Fiercely) – 6,H,56.5Kg – (28/11/3/3) – Toshio Uchida
8. Cheonnyeon Daero (Creek Cat) – 4,C,57.5Kg – (21/7/8/3) – Park Geum Man
9. Crown Flag (Volponi) – 4,F,50Kg – (22/2/3/7) – Kim Myoung Sin
10. Coming Through (Bon Vivant) – 4,C,50Kg – (16/3/6/1) – Jo Chan Hoon
11. Yeonseung Daero (Creek Cat) – 5,H,58.5Kg – (32/14/6/5) – Choi Si Dae
12. Gangjaui Beopchik (Fortitude) – 6,G,50Kg – (33/6/3/4) – Kim Do Hyun

After Government Bans Floodlit Golf, Will Night Racing Be Next?

High Oil Prices Could see a Repeat of 2008 Cancellation of Evening Program

Korea’s traditional summer night racing program could be under threat after the Korean government banned Golf courses across the peninsula from using their floodlights in order to save electricity. The measure, which came into effect in March will only be repealed if crude oil prices are recorded as being below $100 per barrel for five consecutive days.

The lights come on at Seoul - will they be kept off this year?

Korea, which must import 100% of its oil, is very sensitive to the prospect of fuel shortages and in 2008, the KRA dropped its plans for summer evening racing after the global oil price rocketed. Neither Baseball nor Football (Soccer) are affected by the measures and, while technically, the rules only come into effect at midnight each day, given the KRA’s status as a branch of the Agricultural Ministry, it would make sense if the evening program was abandoned to set an energy-saving example.

Currently, racing is scheduled to switch to the evenings at all three Race courses (Seoul, Busan and Jeju) from the weekend beginning Friday July 15 and continuing until Sunday August 20 with the last weekend of July being blank. “Evening” racing generally gets underway at Seoul at around 2:30pm continuing until 9pm with the lights on from about 7pm.

Of course, if it does happen the fixtures themselves will still go ahead but will be run during daylight hours.

Lee Shin Young Will Become First Female Trainer

Korea’s Most Successful Female Jockey To Begin Training In July

After eighty-nine years of organised horse-racing on the peninsula, Korea is finally getting its first ever female Trainer after it was confirmed that Lee Shin Young will make the transition from riding to saddling on July 1.

Lee Shin Young (Picture: KRA)

As we reported last April Lee successfully passed the Trainer’s License exam to become eligible to take charge of her own barn once a vacancy became available. That vacancy has now arisen and thirty-one year old Lee will give up her Jockey license at the end of June to begin training full-time.

Lee was only the third woman to gain a Jockey license in Korea and in her ten-year career on the track has ridden 90 winners from 893 rides. Known for an aggressive racing style that proved popular with punters but frequently landed her in trouble with stewards, she holds the record for thoroughbred race wins by a female jockey in Korea (Na YuNa having ridden well over 150 winners in pony racing on Jeju Island). That record may soon be under threat from Kim Hae Sun who has notched 23 winners during her apprenticeship at Seoul so far.

Whether Lee will get much support from owners remains to be seen. As Peter Wolsley will testify at Busan, outsiders tend to start off their training careers with the horses nobody else wants. While she has been in Korean racing circles for a very long time, Lee Shin Young will know better than anyone else that there will be those who see her as an outsider. It’s going to be a tough road to success but there will be few who doubt her ability to successfully navigate it.

* Back in 2009, we wrote about the history of women in Korean racing. This was followed in 2010 by the death of jockey Park Jin Hee