Month: January 2012

Ace Galloper Does His Job

Dangdae Bulpae Beaten / Sad sub-plot to Seoul’s Feature

Four horses came into Sunday’s feature races at Seoul and Busan with high expectations. Only one could live up to them.

Ace Galloper and Park Tae Jong return as winners

At Busan, both Dangdae Bulpae and Jeonseong Sidae found themselves on the wrong end of a blanket finish but at Seoul Ace Galloper came out with his head held high after a battling win which saw champion mare Top Point well beaten.

Dangdae Bulpae (Biwa Shinseiki) hadn’t raced since successfully defending his President’s Cup crown in November and he was sent off the slight favourite ahead of Aussie import Jeonseong Sidae (Stromberg Carlson).

As they entered the home straight it was these two who looked set to battle out the finish. However, they reckoned without a late challenge on the outside from old warrior Yeonseung Daero (Creek Cat) and, even more surprisingly, 21/1 outsider Full Forest (Full Mandate) who ultimately got the decision in a tight five-way finish.

It was a disappointing start to 2012 for Dangdae Bulpae, a horse who was undoubtedly the outstanding Korean bred competitor of last year. For Full Forest, a veteran US bred six-year-old, it was the biggest of six wins from thirty-five career starts.

Up at Seoul, KRA Cup Classic winner Ace Galloper (Chapel Royal) didn’t have things all his own way but ultimately came out on top of a very competitive handicap. Main rival Top Point (Tom Cruiser), the champion mare of 20111 disappointed but Blue Pin (Lion Heart) pushed Ace Galloper all the way to the line, the margin of victory being just a neck on the line.

Ace Galloper and Blue Pin have the kind of connection that only horse racing – for all its joys and all its heartbreaks – can give. Ace Galloper, who is now five-years old, was not an especially impressive two-year-old.

However, in his second start, on July 25, 2009, he finished second – a very distant second – to a horse called Northern Ace. They were racing over five furlongs that day and Northern Ace, a ten-length winner, broke the track record. Tragically, Northern Ace (Didyme) went on to fatally break-down during the Korean Derby in May 2010.

Northern Ace was the first Korean bred foal out of mare Telegraph Road (Royal Academy). Champion Belt, currently one of Busan’s top horses was the second. When she arrived in Korea in early 2006 though, she was in foal to Lion Heart. That foal would be called Blue Pin.

Today we salute Ace Galloper who is a truly a great champion. But we also remember Northern Ace. And all those others whose potential was cruelly taken away.

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Too Smart By Far

Smarty Moonhak Beats Dongbanui Gangja By Ten Lengths

He announced his arrival by winning the Turkey Jockey Club Trophy before going on to stun Korean racing fans by not only becoming the first two-year old to run in the Grand Prix Stakes but managing to finish third. Today, just six weeks later, Smarty Moonhak [Smarty Jones-Madeira M’Dear (Black Tie Affair)] was back in the Seoul Race Park winner’s circle.

Smarty Moonhak, with Dongbanui Gangja in the background - this was about as close as the double Grand Prix winner got to him

Despite there being thirteen horses lining up for the 2000M handicap, it was billed as a match-race. Dongbanui Gangja, the two-time Grand Prix Stakes winner and former Horse Of The Year and at seven-years-old, still a formidable contender, against the now three-year old Smarty Moonhak. In the end, it was a mismatch.

After a slow start, Dongbanui Gangja (Broken Vow-Maremaid) came around the field in the back straight to take the lead. At one point he had three lengths on the field but, rounding the home-turn, Smarty Moonhak, shrugging off some bumping like an old pro, was asked to quicken slightly and the gap closed almost immediately.

Another reminder as they entered the home straight and the young colt was away. The distance n the line was ten lengths but it could have been more had jockey Shim Seung Tae decided it was absolutely necessary.

Dongbanui Gangja held on for a comfortable second place while long-shot Wind King (Montjeu) was third.

Smarty Moonhak now moves onto five wins from seven starts and a quarter of a million dollars in the bank. His two losses came in his racecourse debut and in the Grand Prix. Where he goes from here though is open to question. If he stays sound, his handicap mark is likely to quickly rise – he carried 57Kg today – and, just like Dongbanui Gangja and Bally Brae before him, he could find himself essentially eliminated from the handicap division.

While his next couple of appearances will almost certainly be in handicaps, the main focus is going to have to be on the few Stakes and Conditions races that are open to foreign-bred horses. The Busan Metropolitan, the KRA Cup Classic and ultimately of course, the Grand Prix are the most likely targets for this year. In the course of this campaign, he will almost certainly run into Mister Park and Tough Win.

It says something about the impact he has had that just one race into his three-year old season, those two are the only rivals on the peninsula that Smarty Moonhak has unfinished business with. He is, of course, yet to meet two-time President’s Cup winner Dangdae Bulpae but this too is likely to happen. On today’s evidence, they are all likely to suffer the same fate as Dongbanui Gangja

Class 1 Handicap – Seoul Race Park – 2000M – January 28, 2012

1. Smarty Moonhak (USA) [Smarty Jones-Madeira M’Dear (Black Tie Affair)] – Shim Seung Tae – 1.3, 1.0
2. Dongbanui Gangja (USA) [Broken Vow-Maremaid (Storm Bird)] – Moon Se Young – 1.4
3. Wind King (NZ) [Montjeu-Blessing (Sir Tristram)0] – Jo In Kwen – 15.9

Distances: 10 lengths/1.5 lengths
Also Ran: 4. Larrycat (USA) 5. Necromancer (JPN) 6. Celebrate Tonight (USA) 7. Baekjeonmupae (NZ 8. Indian Secret (USA) 9. Out And About (USA) 10. Royal Missile (USA) 11. Mr. Loving Life (USA) 12. Yaho Cat (USA) 13. Adam One (USA)

60/1 Deep Desire Gives Joe Murphy Unlikely First Winner Of 2012

A fortnight ago, it took a 50/1 winner to get Aussie Peter Wolsley off the mark for 2012. Today it was the turn of the only other foreign trainer in Korea, American Joe Murphy, to get his first of the year with an even longer priced victor as Deep Desire swooped late to land the feature race at Busan.

Sent off at odds of 64/1 and under jockey Lee Hee Cheon, Deep Desire hit the front deep inside the final furlong to take a half-length win from fellow outsider Money Tree while early leader Tough Tiger battled on for third.

Deep Desire (Jump Start) is a five-year old gelding who, at one stage during his three-year-old season, looked to heading for the very top. Instead he has become a solid handicapper and today recorded his eighth win in twenty-eight lifetime starts. His last victory came in September last year – a success that was until today, his trainer’s most recent too.

The win is just Murphy’s eighth in his eighteen months in Korea and while it was, in terms of prize-money, the trainer’s biggest in Korea, it may be that the morale boost to his barn at getting off to a great start for the year ends up being worth far more than the money.

As an interesting footnote to the win, Deep Desire’s owner, Yoo Su Tae, has three horses stabled with Murphy as well as others elsewhere. Remarkably one of those others is second-placed Money Tree. One wonders if, in addition to the prize-money, the owner had a few won on the exacta which paid out at 2544/1.

Weekend Preview: The Big Boys Are Back

Smarty Moonhak vs Dongbanui Gangja vs Larrycat, Dangdae Bulpae vs Yeonseung Daero & Ace Galloper vs Top Point

A very Happy Year Of The Dragon to all punters out there. Gyongmaman spent the break “watching football” in Thailand and generally avoiding all things racing, but things are back to normal this weekend and for the first time in 2012, we’re getting some heavyweight clashes at both Seoul and Busan.

Smarty Moonhak (KRA)

If he’d won the Grand Prix, there was a good chance he’d have been sent to the US to try his hand on the Kentucky Derby trail. Lucky for us in Korea that Smarty Moonhak (Smarty Jones) finished third and he makes his three-year-old debut in Saturday’s feature at Seoul.

In a mouth-watering main-event, he’s up against two-time Grand Prix winner Dongbanui Gangja (Broken Vow) as well as the horse who finished second in the race in 2010, Larrycat (Fantasticat).

The young Smarty Moonhak should relish the 2000 metre distance and could make full use of the four kilo weight advantage he has over the now seven-year old Dongbanui Gangja.

A day later at Seoul there’s another clash of track’s top level stars as KRA Cup Classic winner Ace Galloper (Chapel Royal) makes his 2012 debut, headlining the feature race going up against Champion Mare of 2011, Top Point (Tom Cruiser).

Down at Busan, the feature event of the weekend sees two Korean-bred horses crashing an event for foreign-breds as double President’s Cup winner Dangdae Bulpae (Biwa Shinseiki) takes on old rival Yeonseung Daero (Creek Cat) over 1800 metres.

Dangdae Bulpae

They have plenty to keep them company too as prolific Aussie three-year-old Jeonseong Sidae (Stromberg Carlson), the evergreen Mighty Hero (Buddha) – who’s now left Peter Wolsley’s barn – and the well-handicapped but dangerous Viva Ace (Macho Uno) join them.

It should be a cracking race.

On Friday at Busan, Minister’s Cup winner Dongseo Jeongbeol (Vicar) looks for his second win of the year already as he heads the feature race. Winning Perfect (Doyen) and 2008 Derby winner Ebony Storm (Buster’s Daydream) will be among those looking to stop him as will be Joe Murphy’s very well-handicapped Deep Desire (Jump Start) and the in-form Bada Jewang (Social Charter).

The past few days have been some of the coldest of winter so far, however, the forecast for the weekend is bright. Temperatures should be into positive territory and the sun is set to shine. Come Racing!

Here’s what’s happening when and where:

Friday January 27

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

Saturday January 28

Seoul Race Park: 12 races from 11:10 to 17:30
Jeju Race Park: 9 races from 12:30 to 17:10

Sunday January 29

Seoul Race Park: 11 races from 11:10 to 18:00
Busan Race Park: 7 races from 12:30 to 17:00

Retiring Cheonnyeon Daero Honoured At Busan

Derby Winner Was Chief Rival To Dangdae Bulpae

Cheonnyeon Daero, winner of the 2010 Korean Derby, was honoured with a retirement ceremony at Busan Race Park this afternoon. Such a ceremony is a rare occurrence in Korea racing and an honour only afforded to Classic or multiple Stakes winners.

Cheonnyeon Daero wins the 2010 Derby (Pic: Ross Holburt)

While his Derby win was impressive, Cheonnyeon Daero [Creek Cat-Doneitmyway (Northern Flagship)] will perhaps be remembered more for what he nearly won – and his rivalry with the horse that usually beat him – rather than for what he did win. Of his 28 starts, he only won 7 times but finished second on a remarkable 14 occasions, including the President’s, Minister’s, and Ttukseom Cups, plus the KNN and the Owners’ Trophies, with Dangdae Bulpae the horse beating him in all but the latter.

Cheonnyeon Daero

The rivalry between Dangdae Bulpae and Cheonnyeon Daero has been one of Korean racing’s most enduring features over the past two years. They faced each other seven times, always in Stakes races with Dangdae Bulpae getting the better of his rival on five occasions.

However, when they started out as three-year olds it was different. Cheonnyeon Daero finished third in the KRA Cup Mile, the opening leg of the Triple Crown yet was still sent off as a 28/1 outsider behind favourite Money Car. We all know what happened next as Money Car got sucked into an early speed duel with the sprinter Seonbongbulpae and tired in the home straight, allowing Cheonnyeon Daero to catch and pass him in the final few strides. Dangdae Bulpae was back in third.

Nemesis: Dangdae Bulpae and Jo Sung Gon

Park Geum Man rode him that day and would go on to partner him in all but one of his seventeen subsequent starts. Australian trainer Peter Wolsley, who acted as Park’s mentor, told the Korea Times that even though it was for a different trainer, Park’s Derby win was his proudest moment in Korean racing.

By the time the third-leg of the Crown rolled around, the Minister’s Cup in October, the tables had turned. Dangdae Bulpae was the sixth length winner and Cheonnyeon Daero’s time in his shadow had begun.

After the Derby, Cheonnyeon Daero only won four more times but he was consistently placed, most often second. He actually crossed the line first in the Owners’ Trophy last September, only to be demoted to second. In a strange twist, the horse that Cheonnyeon Daero interfered with was the Peter Wolsley trained Khaosan. Khaosan’s promotion gave Park’s mentor his first Korean Stakes win.

Cheonnyeon Daero’s final race was the Grand Prix Stakes at Seoul in December, after the decision had already been made to retire him. For the first and only time in his career, he finished outside the money. He will be retired to Stud.

Cheonnyeon Daero’s Derby:

Top Sire Menifee Undergoes Surgery

The Korea Racing Authority (KRA) has announced that Menifee, one of the star Stallions of the Korean breeding program, underwent a two-hour operation on January 12 and had two stones removed from his urinary tract.

Menifee (KRA)

The sixteen-year old had been displaying symptoms of a Urinary Tract Infection since mid-December. According to the Korean Racing Journal, the KRA consulted with overseas specialists before deciding upon the surgery and flew in two Equine Vets from the USA to take part in the operation at the KRA Stud Farm on Jeju Island.

Initial signs are that the operation was successful and, smooth recovery permitting, Menifee is tentatively scheduled to begin covering mares in late April.

Menifee [Harlan-Anne Campbell (Storm Cat)] finished second in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes in 1999. A $3,000,000 purchase by the KRA in 2006, he finished second in the Leading Sire list in 2011, despite only having two crops of foals on the race track. His chief-earner, filly Useung Touch, won the Korean Oaks.

Weekend Preview

Busan Race Park gets its season underway on Friday as all three tracks in Korea run a program this weekend before all three take an immediate break for Lunar New Year.

And it’s at Busan where the biggest names are appearing. Minister’s Cup winner Dongseo Jeongbeol heads the field in Friday’s feature where he’s joined by prolific winners Mulbora and Tamna Hero, as well as Peter Wolsley’s old-stager Khaosan.

On Sunday, Champion Belt takes on a full field of foreign bred horses in the feature while earlier in the card, the unbeaten three-year old filly Geumdda will be bidding to take her record to five wins from five starts.

Seoul is reasonably low-key this weekend with the most valuable race being a class 1 sprint handicap on Saturday afternoon. Meanwhile on Sunday, promising Australian filly Xicar begins her three-year old career looking for a third win in what will be her sixth start in the afternoon’s feature.

Here’s what’s happening when and where on what should be a chilly but dry weekend across the peninsula:

Friday January 13

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

Saturday January 14

Seoul Race Park: 12 races from 11:10 to 17:30
Jeju Race Park: 9 races from 12:30 to 17:10

Sunday January 15

Seoul Race Park: 11 races from 11:10 to 18:00
Busan Race Park: 7 races from 12:30 to 17:00