Month: May 2012

Queen Beats Ace As Favourites Fold

Ruby Queen Bests Ace Galloper At Seoul / Joe Murphy Trains Outsider Atanarjuat To Stun Useung Touch At Busan

It was a day of upsets in the feature races at Seoul and Busan today. On the south coast, what was billed as a match-race between Useung Touch and Geumdda was crashed by a 42/1 outsider, while in the capital Ace Galloper couldn’t overcome a severe weight disadvantage as he went down to Ruby Queen.

Ace Galloper is nowhere to be seen as Ruby Queen and Boo Min Ho sprint to victory at Seoul

Despite carrying 61kg, Ace Galloper (Chapel Royal) was still strongly fancied to snap a streak of two consecutive second places in Seoul’s feature handicap. However, Ruby Queen (Badge Of Silver) took an early lead and proceeded to make all under jockey Boo Min Ho. Ace Galloper looked poised to challenge as they entered the home straight, but he although he left the rest of the field behind, he never looked like making an impact on Ruby Queen’s lead and the filly held on for a comfortable two-length win.

Ace Galloper, winner of last year’s KRA Cup Classic and Seoul’s top-ranked domestic bred horse, now has three second place finishes in a row. On the plus side, Ruby Queen won’ be getting nine kilos off him again any time soon.

Down at Busan there was an ever bigger surprise. The clash between 2011 Korean Oaks winner Useung Touch (Menifee) and the three-year old filly Geumdda (Officer), who had only been beaten once in seven starts, was one that punters had been looking forward to all year. In the end, it was something of a disappointment.

Although it was clear from early on that Geumdda was having an off-day, Useung Touch at least looked to be doing the business authoritatively as she led the field in the home straight. However, that reckoned without little-known Joe Murphy trainee Atarnarjuat (Graeme Hall), who flew home down the rail to take a shock two-length win at odds of 42/1.

Six-years old, Atarnarjuat was scoring just his fourth win from thirty-one starts and his first since May 2010. For American trainer Joe Murphy it was a second class 1 win of 2012. For jockey Park Geum Man, it was the perfect preparation for his trip to Seoul next weekend where he will ride the favourite, Gyeongbudaero, in the Korean Derby.

* In other news, jockey Kim Cheol Ho has received a six month ban for his ride on filly Indian Hopper in race 8 at Seoul on Saturday. The filly was slow leaving the gate and lost touch with the field. She recovered a little but she finished ten lengths adrift of the next to last horse home. Although there was no evidence that he deliberately slowed the filly, Stewards did not accept his explanation that he was concerned as to her welfare in the early stages (the vet check came back fine). He’ll get his license back on November 13.

Here’s the video, judge for yourself. He breaks – slowly – from gate 2:

Weekend Preview

Useung Touch vs Geumdda at Busan / Ace Galloper at Seoul

The Korea Racing Authority has been in the news this week for its financial acumen in the movie industry, or otherwise, but there’s little time to dwell on that as we’re just a week away from the Korean Derby!

While there’s no Stakes action on the peninsula this weekend, there’s plenty to keep us occupied.

Useung Touch faces Geumdda at Busan

At Busan, Sunday sees a battle of the fillies as 2011 Oaks winner Useung Touch (Menifee) faces Geumdda (Officer), a three-year old with 6 wins from 7 starts.

Conceived in the US (although both her sire and dam are now in Korea), Geumdda is ineligible for the Triple Crown races but looks a force to be reckoned with at distances of up to a mile. At 1500M, this should be a good race.

At Seoul, while Saturday’s card is perhaps the weakest for many months, there is a class 1 feature race on Sunday. Ace Galloper (Chapel Royal) heads an eleven-strong field over 1700 metres.

It is set to be a beautiful weekend. Here’s what’s happening when and where:

Friday May 11

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

Saturday May 12

Seoul Race Park: 12 races from 11:00 to 17:40
Jeju Race Park: 9 races from 12:20 to 17:00

Sunday May 13

Seoul Race Park: 10 races from 11:00 to 17:40
Busan Race Park: 6 races from 12:15 to 16:40

Gamdonguibada Lands The Gukje Sinmun Cup While Smarty Moonhak Keeps On Winning At Seoul

The only filly and one of just three three-year-olds in a field of thirteen, Gamdonguibada (Werblin) announced her arrival in Korean racing in fine fashion by winning the Gukje Sinmun Cup at Busan this afternoon.

Coming into the race off the back of a fine second place in the Ttukseom Cup at Seoul, Gamdonguibada was sent off the 5/1 third-favourite behind last year’s winner Lion Santa (Lion Heart) who entered the race not only as defending champion, but also with a record of 10 wins from 12 career starts.

Today never looked likely to be win number 11 for Lion Santa though. After getting caught out of position on the final turn, the four-year old offered nothing in the sprint and finished a shocking second from last.

Up at the business end of the race, Gamdonguibada, always well-placed, came with a fast run down the rail to overhaul long-time leader Prince Kingdom (Roar Of The Tiger) in the final furlong and stretched out to a two-length win. Aussie import Jeonseong Sidae (Stromberg Carlson) was third.

With the win, Gamdonguibada, a $31,000 purchase from Ocala last year, has cemented her position as the top three-year old import at Busan so far this season.

Gukje Sinmun Cup – Busan Race Park – May 6, 2012

1. Gamdonguibada (USA) [Werblin – Radyla (Country Pine)] – Kim Yong Geun – 5.7, 2.0
2. Prince Kingdom (USA) [Roar Of The Tiger – Special Wife (Husband)] – You Hyun Myoung – 3.6
3. Jeonseong Sidae (AUS) [Stromberg Carlson – Jessie’s Journey (Crown Jester)] – Choi Si Dae – 1.8

Distances: 2 lengths/0.5 lengths
Also Ran: 4. Sand Hi (USA) 5. Gulf Grouper (USA) 6. Admiral Reigart (USA) 7. Dangdae Champ (NZ) 8. Full Forest (USA) 9. Seonnyang Yongsa (AUS) 10. Jungwon Jepae (AUS) 11. Yeonseung Daero (KOR) 12. Lion Santa (USA) 13. Killian’s Tiger (USA)

On a bright but blustery day in Seoul the main attraction was, of course, Smarty Moonhak (Smarty Jones). The three-year-old was making his fourth appearance of the year and, having been sent off at odds of 1/9, he made light of his 61kg impost and short work of thirteen rivals to win the 2000 metre handicap by nine lengths.

On The Turn: The only time the field were level with Smarty Moonhak was in the paddock

The general feeling among the track is that if his rematch with Tough Win, the horse who beat him in the Grand Prix in December was to take place at level weights tomorrow, the older horse may still just about have the advantage.

Given an extra month or two, if Smarty Moonhak continues with his current development, there will be no contest. Smarty Moonhak moves onto 8 wins from 10 career starts.

We’re just two weeks away from the Korean Derby. Unfortunately, Smarty Moonhak, as an import, will not be allowed to compete. On Kentucky Derby weekend, many have questioned whether a horse of his talent would have been better served being shipped back to the US to take his chances on the Derby trail.

In reality, the time he spent in Korea being trained for Korean racing would have put him at a massive disadvantage compared with his native contemporaries. He is naturally very gifted and, had he stayed home, who knows what may have happened. Of course, we can ask that question about any horse who goes anywhere. As it is, it’s unlikely we’ll ever be seeing Smarty Moonhak able to compete internationally.

Weekend Preview: Weighty Task for Smarty Moonhak / Gukje Sinmun Stakes at Busan

Smarty Set To Extend Winning Streak At Seoul / Lion Santa Defends Gukje Sinmun At Busan

Smarty Moonhak (Smarty Jones) makes his fourth appearance of 2012 at Seoul Race Park this coming Sunday and the three-year-old phenom will need to be strong as he will carry 61Kg over 2000 metres in the feature handicap.

Smarty Goes Again: Smarty Moonhak runs on Sunday

Regardless of the weight, he still shouldn’t have much trouble seeing off the 13 horses who will challenge him. The best class 1’s have stayed away leaving Jewang Tansaeng (Petionville) the next highest rated in the race.

Few will bet against Smarty Moonhak extending his record to 8 wins from 10 starts, nor against jockey Moon Jung Kyun once more not needing to use his stick, as he builds up for his eventual showdown with Grand Prix champion Tough Win.

Down at Busan there is Stakes action on Sunday in the shape of the Gukje Sinmun Cup. This time last year, Lion Santa (Lion Heart) won this race to maintain his then unbeaten record and have people talk about him in the same way that they talk about Smarty Moonhak now.

It didn’t quite work out though and he proved to be beatable. However, he’s only lost twice in twelve career starts and has every right to be favourite here. The evergreen Yeonseung Daero (Creek Cat) will be out to stop him as will proven winners Full Forest (Full Mandate), Dangdae Champ (Falkirk) and Jeonseong Sidae (Stromberg Carlson).

Yeonseung Daero – out to beat Lion Santa in the Gukje Sinmun

It should be a cracking race. Yukio Abe is suspended this weekend, but both Gerrit Schlechter and Narazaki Kosuke have rides in the big race.

Schlechter, who has 10 rides across the weekend will ride venerable old-stager Admiral Reigart (General Royal) while Kosuke (who has 13 rides) gets the mount on the in-form Sand Hi (Stormy Atlantic) who, on recent form, must be in with as chance.

Here’s what’s happening when and where on what is set to be a beautiful weekend in Korea:

Friday May 4

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

Saturday May 5

Seoul Race Park: 12 races from 11:00 to 17:40
Jeju Race Park: 9 races from 12:20 to 17:00

Sunday May 6

Seoul Race Park: 10 races from 11:00 to 17:45 – Smarty Moonhak will race at 17:15.
Busan Race Park: 6 races from 12:15 to 16:45 including the Gujke Sinmun Stakes at 15:50

Chun Chang Ki, Classic Winning Jockey & Stakes Winning Trainer, 1966-2012

It has been announced that Chun Chang Ki, a multiple Classic winning jockey and a Stakes winning trainer, died on Wednesday May 2 at the age of 46. Chun had fought a long battle with cancer.

Chun Chang Ki, 1966-2012 (KRA)

Chun Chang Ki turned professional in the Spring of 1987 at the old Seoul Racecourse at Ttukseom. Although a solid rider in the nineties, in was in the early 2000’s that Chun went on to establish himself as one of the top jockeys in Korea. In a five-year period between 2002 and 2007, he won every big race going.

Among 21 Stakes wins he won the Grand Prix once (Bohamian Butler in 2002), the Korean Derby once (Saebyeok Dongja in 2005) and the Ttukseom Cup three times (Bukcheon in 2003 and Star Wood in 2005 and 2006). However, it is his partnership with two of Korea’s most famous horses, that many racing fans will remember him for.

The grey half siblings Baekgwang and Baekpa are arguably the most popular Korean horses ever. In 2006, Chun guided the colt Baekgwang to victories in the Donga Ilbo Cup and the Minister’s Cup, the third leg of the Korean Triple Crown. A year later he rode half-sister Baekpa to the Sports Seoul Trophy and then, most famously, to the Korean Oaks. It was the jockey’s third triumph in the fillies’ classic.

In early 2008 Chun was first diagnosed with lung cancer. He fought the disease vigorously and while he had to give up his twenty-year jockey career, by 2009 he had recovered sufficiently to take up the trainer’s license that he had earlier qualified for.

Chun Chang Ki wins the 2007 Korean Oaks on Baekpa (KRA)

Chun’s second career showed every sign of being as successful as his first. Building up a barn of 22 horses, he had sent out 46 winners since saddling his first runner in 2009 with his greatest success coming in the 2011 Munhwa Ilbo Stakes with filly Legal Lady.

Another filly of his, Cheoneun, is a possible runner in the Korean Derby later this month and is likely a major contender for the Korean Oaks. Sadly, the cancer never let go and the widely respected Chun will not see if she can repeat Baekpa’s feat.

Chun Chang Ki is survived by his wife and two children.