Month: December 2012

2012 Breeding Round-Up: Menifee is Leading Sire in Korea

Menifee has been crowned Leading Sire in Korea for 2012. The 15-year old, who had three crops of foals running this year saw his progeny amass nearly $3Million more than closest rival and the stallion who beat him last year by a matter of just a few thousand dollars, Exploit.

Leading Sire in Korea: Menifee (KRA)

Leading Sire in Korea: Menifee (KRA)

Menifee, who underwent potentially life-saving surgery earlier this year, was also by far and away the Leading Sire of two-year olds and looks set to comfortably retain his general sire title next year.

For the second straight year, Vicar finished in third place while Forest Camp was a new entrant to the top ten in fourth. Volponi improved to fifth ahead of former Leading Sire Creek Cat.

Eight of the top ten sires are US bred with Japan’s Ingrandire, who was responsible for Korean Derby winner Jigeum I Sungan and Brazil’s Pico Central the only non-Americans scoring highly. The highest non-Korean based sire in the list was Werblin, whose filly Gamdonguibada won the Grand Prix Stakes, Korea’s most prestigious race in December. He was in 20th place, one ahead of Chapel Royal, who was himself imported to Korea a month ago.

Chapel Royal was one of a number of relatively well-known sires who made their way to Korea this year and will be expected to feature in this list in future. Among others were Sharp Humor and Rock Hard Ten. Already here and covering more mares than any other stallion in the past year is One Cool Cat while Officer, Whywhywhy and Aussie Delago Brom are not far behind. The Korean breeding industry is going from strength to strength.

Sadly we lost a number of stallions during 2012. Areumdaun Jilju was a top racehorse in Korea but sadly passed away before he had the opportunity to prove himself at Stud as did Gold Money. Creek Cat, who died in March, was leading sire in 2010 while Didyme, who took the crown three times consecutively from 2007 to 2009 succumbed to illness only last week (full obituary to follow). The wonderful world-travelling racehorse Running Stag was lost in June while Social Charter passed in September.

Leading General Sires in Korea 2012

1. Menifee (USA) [Harlan] – 6,927,782 (742/126 – 17%) – Gyeongbudaero
2. Exploit (USA) [Storm Cat] – 4,037,501 (942/67 – 7.1%) – Singgeureounachim
3. Vicar (USA) [Wild Again] – 3,792,051 (582/78 – 13.4%) – Wonderful Namhae
4. Forest Camp (USA) [Deputy Minister] – 3,570,626 (563/86 – 15.3%) – Cheoneun
5. Volponi (USA) [Cryptoclearance] – 3,054,200 (769/62 – 8.1%) – Royal Active
6. Creek Cat (USA) [Storm Cat] – 2,950,704 (550/57 – 10/4%) – Tongjesa
7. Ingrandire (JPN) [White Muzzle] – 2,750,101 (419/51 – 12.2%) – Jigeum I Sungan
8. Pico Central (BRZ) [Spend A Buck] – 2,502,101 (378/58 – 15.3%) – Alpha Myeongjang
9. Ft. Stockton (USA) [Cure The Blues] – 2,234,095 (543/42 – 7.7%) – Cheonun
10. Concept Win (USA) [Manila] – 2,217,618 (518/45 – 8.7%) – King Fighting

Yeonseung Daero Closes Out 2012 At Busan

Murphy Bows Out / Kim Yong Geun Stood-Down

If every horse in Korea was campaigned in the same way that Yeonseung Daero has been, the standard of the nation’s thoroughbred may just be a little bit higher.

Yeonseung Daero - (Pic: KRA)

Yeonseung Daero – (Pic: KRA)

The six-year old has won over US$ 1.5Million in prize money but it would surely have been higher were he not to almost always be put in against imported horses. You don’t have to be very good to win a race restricted to Korean bred entrants, however, the prize money is higher so there is little point going up against the (rather average but better trained) imports.

Of course, Yeonseung Daero’s owner can afford the luxury of being a sportsman – he has owned a string of top Korean horses including this year’s KRA Cup Mile winner Gyeongbudaero – and he doesn’t do it with all of them. Nevertheless, Yeonseung Daero’s career has been a joy to watch. Since completing his three-year old season, Yeonseung Daero has very rarely run in domestic company and he has more than held his own.

He had been without a win – without evene finishing in the money – since triumphing in the Listed Busan Ilbo Cup way back in February. However, today, Yeonseung Daero (Creek Cat) was right back in form, swooping late to deny three-year old US colt Grand Distinction (With Distinction) in the final few strides of the first of Busan’s co-feature race with Haengbok Dream (Lammtarra) also in close-attendance in third.

Yeonseung Daero has now won 17 of his 46 career starts. No doubt he’ll continue to compete in 2013.

Closing day for 2012 at Busan saw what was for the track, an unrecedented 14 race card. It was also the last day training in Korea for American Joe Murphy. His horse Atanarjuat was scratched out of the finale, so his last runner was filly Uddukseon, who finished 7th of 14 in race 10.

A 50/1 outsider finishing in the middle of the field perhaps describes Murphy’s time at Busan perfectly although to be fair to the trainer, he has had very little ammunition in his barn during his two years here nor has he had the original amount of time he understood he would have – and felt was required – to turn things around.

There was also more depressing news off the track as it emerged that Busan’s newly crowned Champion Jockey Kim Young Geun has been stood down pending investigation into possible breaches of racing’s integrity rules. More on this, and on Murphy’s last day, later this week.

A mixed ending to the year then. We don’t have to wait long to get going again though. Racing returns next weekend, with the feature being the New Year’s Commemorative Stakes at Seoul.

Weekend Preview: Busan & Jeju Only

There’s no racing in Seoul as Busan takes centre stage on the last weekend of 2012. Just like last week, the only racing in Korea on Friday is the ponies on Jeju Island as Busan runs a short 6 race card on Saturday and then a bumper 14 race program on Sunday.

Busan Racecourse can be a lonely place, but it's the only place to be for thoroughbred racing in Korea this weekend

Busan Racecourse can be a lonely place, but it’s the only place to be for thoroughbred racing in Korea this weekend

A few of Busan’s bigger names will be on show across the weekend. 2008 Korean Derby winner Ebony Storm, still going strong as a seven-year old, goes on Saturday, while multiple Stakes winner Yeonseung Daero makes an appearance in one of Sunday’s co-features. A host of up and coming tw-year olds, both Korean-bred and imported, will also be on show both days.

This weekend also sees American trainer Joe Murphy bow out of Korea after a challenging two years. Murphy will saddle his last runner when six-year old Atanarjuat goes in Sunday’s last race.

Friday December 28

Jeju Race Park: 12 races from 12:00 to 18:00

Saturday December 29

Busan Race Park: 6 races from 12:30 to 17:30
Jeju Race Park: 8 races from 11:00 to 17:00

Sunday December 30

Busan Race Park: 14 races from 11:00 to 17:50

Former Seoul & Busan Jockey Yoshi Aoki Has Died Aged 35

Sad news out of Japan this evening with local sports media reporting that jockey Yoshiyuki Aoki, who had two stints riding in South Korea, was found dead at his home in Yokohama earlier today.

According to the Japanese Daily Sports Online, Police believe Aoki took his own life. He was 35.

Yoshi Aoki 1977-2012

Yoshi Aoki 1977-2012

A JRA licensed jockey, Aoki rode 106 winners in Japan since his 1995 debut. He first came to Korea in 2009, spending three months riding at Seoul Race Park.

He returned to the peninsula in autumn 2010, this time to Busan where he was much more successful, landing 21 winners from 165 rides in six months on the south coast, many of them partnering with trainer Peter Wolsley.

Shortly before he was due to return to Japan in order to renew his JRA license in April 2011, Aoki suffered a bad fall at Busan which brought his time in Korea to an early end.

With his distinctive Godolphin-esque blue silks, Aoki was well liked by racing fans during his time here.

(ht @uk_maniax)

Seoul Round Up: Unexpected Victory while Curlin’s First Korean Runner Wins Again

Seoul Race Park wrapped up its 2012 program today with a bumper fourteen race card which saw a shock in the feature race and also some potential emerging talent for next year finding their way to the winner’s circle.

Open Wide: Byeokdu, son of Curlin, won for the second time in four starts

Open Wide: Byeokdu, son of Curlin, won for the second time in four starts

Being the first horse by US champion Curlin to find his way to Korea, there was always going to be plenty of attention on two-year old colt Byeokdu (Curlin – Vague Notion).

After finishing fourth in his first two starts, he pulled himself together and became a winner last time out and today, he made it two wins in a row.

Under Jo In Kwen, Byeokdu looked to be having a difficult time finding a gap as the field entered the home straight, however, after finally freeing himself with a furlong to run, he cruised into the lead and over the line with a length and a half in hand. He will be one to watch in 2013.

Seoul’s final feature race of the year had an unexpected result. Favourites Tongjesa, Ace Galloper and Magnifique were beaten as 40/1 outsider Victory (Osumi Jet) came down the outside of the track to surprise everyone. Ace Galloper managed second place but the other favourites were nowhere as 50/1 Cheot Insang rounded out the placings.

Victory. a five-year old gelding now has 6 wins from his 32 race career. This was his first at class 1.

The long shots weren’t finished there. In the track’s final race of the year, 102/1 chance Cheonguntaehu (Capital Spending) pulled off a remarkably convincing win ahead of 13 rivals. It was only the second win of the five-year old mare’s 31 starts, her only previous success coming in November 2010. That day she was ridden by Lee Keum Joo; today it was another female jockey, Yoo Mi Ra who rode her, scoring just the 6th win of her own career.

Connections of Horse Of The Year Jigeum I Sungan (left) and Champion Jockey Moon Se Young (second from right) collect their awards

Connections of Horse Of The Year Jigeum I Sungan (left) and Champion Jockey Moon Se Young (second from right) collect their awards

Despite the sub-zero temperatures and biting wind,
a short ceremony was held to give out Horse and Jockey of the Year awards. Korean Derby and Minister’s Cup winner Jigeum I Sungan (Ingrandire) took the Horse Of The Year honours while Moon Se Young, champion jockey by a record margin and with a record number of winners was awarded Jockey Of The Year.

Next weekend, Busan takes centre stage as it hosts its final meeting of the year. Racing returns to Seoul on January 5th when the Herald Business New Year’s Commemorative Stakes will be the feature.

Closing Day 2012 - Seoul Racecourse, December 23

Closing Day 2012 – Seoul Racecourse, December 23

Calder Winner Feel So Good Takes 12 Length Victory on Korean Debut

Feel So Good, who in September this year became the first ever Korean bred horse to win a race in the United States, breezed to a 12 length win in his Korean debut at Seoul Race Park on Saturday.

The three-year old gelding was far too good for a class 5 field over seven furlongs in freezing conditions, taking the lead with a furlong and a half to run and easily stretching away.

Feel So Good (Ft.Stockton – Courting Dreams (Eastover Court)] was bred in Korea but was shipped to Ocala in Florida as a yearling to undergo early training as part of an experiment by the Korea Racing Authority who remain perplexed at how locally bred horses – despite a host of good stallions in Korea these days – still regularly get beaten by cheap imports with inferior blood lines.

Feel So Good’s training culminated with victory in a race at Calder Racecourse this September. Immediately after his win, the gelding was returned to Korea where he was sold by the KRA to a private owner for 291,000,000 won (about $260,000)- a record for a Korean bred horse.

He’s become the first high-profile addition to the stable of Korea’s first female trainer, Lee Shin Young and is likely to be a contender for the nation’s biggest Stakes races in 2013.

Sunday 23 December

Seoul Race Park: 14 races from 11:00 to 17:50

Weekend Preview: Seoul & Jeju Only

Busan is the first of the tracks to take a week off for the holidays but that still leaves thoroughbreds at Seoul and ponies on Jeju for the Korean punting public to get stuck into this weekend.

As the sole track running on Friday, Jeju plays host to 12 races, both run on Sunday while Seoul is the lone attraction on Sunday with 14 races – the track’s maximum – on offer.

Ace Galloper won the KRA Cup Classic last year - he headlines Sunday's marathon card at Seoul

Ace Galloper won the KRA Cup Classic last year – he headlines Sunday’s marathon card at Seoul

There’s not really a lot to tie-up this weekend. All Stakes races are behind us and Moon Se Young has the champion jockey title sewn up. Likewise, Menifee is leading sire by an unprecedentedly huge margin.

Saturday’s card at Seoul is not especially inspiring. Aside from the Korean debut of Feel So Good, the first Korean bred horse to win in the us, there are a lot of two-year olds will be on display although the feature race is a low-key class 2 handicap. Sunday’s marathon card holds a bit more promise. Ace Galloper (Chapel Royal) head the field for a class 1 handicap.

The big five-year old. who has won 17 of his 29 starts, is without a victory since the summer and is up against a competitive looking field that includes prolific winners Magnifique (Menifee) and Tongjesa (Creek Cat).

It’s going to be another bitterly cold weekend but the sun will be out. Here’s what’s happening when and where:

Friday December 21

Jeju Race Park: 12 races from 12:00 to 18:00

Saturday December 22

Seoul Race Park: 11 races from 11:00 to 17:40
Jeju Race Park: 6 races from 12:20 to 16:10

Sunday December 23

Seoul Race Park: 14 races from 11:00 to 17:50

Weekend Round-Up: Watts Village Beaten at Seoul / Khaosan Wins for Wolsley at Busan

With all the Stakes races scheduled for 2012 now behind us, there were no big prizes on offer but still plenty of interesting action across the weekend.

Chilly but bright - Seoul Racecourse, December 16, 2012

Chilly but bright – Seoul Racecourse, December 16, 2012

On Saturday, two-year old US import Watts Village (Forestry), winner of last month’s TJK Trophy went looking ofr his fifth straight victory at Seoul Race Park. Although sent off heavy favourite for the 1900 metre handicap, it wasn’t to be as he fell to defeat for the first time, Gwanggaetoham (Mizzen Mast), a year his senior taking the honours.

Having won the TJK Trophy, the same race that Smarty Moonhak won last year, there had been plenty of hype surrounding Watts Village. His third place yesterday suggests that while he is not the finished article, there is plenty of promise for next year.

At Seoul today there were upsets in both co-feature races. Haedongcheonwang (West Acre), odds-on favourite for the first of these, a class 1 handicap over 1800 metres, could only manage fifth place as 11/1 Cheonha Daeseung (Broken Vow) romped to a four-length win. In the finale, a rare class 1 sprint over 1300 metres there was an even bigger shock as 70/1 outsider Yeongung Icheon (Concept Win) just got up on the line to win by a neck.

Aussie trainer Peter Wolsley with Khaosan, who won today

Aussie trainer Peter Wolsley with Khaosan, who won today

There was a similar margin of victory at Busan as Peter Wolsley’s old battler Khaosan (Sunday Well) engaged in a final furlong tussle with last year’s Minister’s Cup winner Dongseo Jeongbeol (Vicar).

It went right to the wire but under Jo Sung Gon, Khaosan just got victory on the nod. If the winning post had been a stride sooner or a stride later, the result would have gone the other way but it didn’t and the records will show an eighth win for the seven-year old.

The win was Khaosan’s first since he won the Owners’ Cup last year on appeal and incredibly, his first by actually crossing the line in first place since April 2010. Khaosan is not a fast horse but he is tough and sound – he’s run fourteen times this year – and thrives on the Busan sand. His win today takes his career earnings up to nearly US$800,000.

In the other feature at Busan, Canadian bred 27/1 shot Ilgeumbit (Don Eduardo) was the surprisingly comfortable winner, giving young apprentice jockey Kim Hyun Joong the biggest victory of his career to date.

To conclude, a story of another apprentice. At Seoul this afternoon, Ahn Hyo Ri rode the eighth and ninth winners of her career before finding herself unceremoniously thrown off her mount inside the gate before race 8. There were a nervous few moments as she was carried away from the scene. She got up and walked into the ambulance herself but it was a reminder of both the highs that jockeys can experience along with the dangers they face.

Next weekend, Busan takes a break but there is racing as usual at Seoul and Jeju.

Weekend Preview

Joe Fujii might have won the Grand Prix last week but that doesn't stop him neing suspended this week

Joe Fujii might have won the Grand Prix last week but that doesn’t stop him being suspended this week

This weekend always has something of an after the Lord Mayor’s Show feel of things. While Gamdonguibada’s last gasp victory in the Grand Prix Stakes at Seoul last Sunday was the end of season showpiece, Korean racing never really stops and all three of Seoul, Busan and Jeju host cards this weekend.

While the feature races are on Sunday, unbeaten two-year old Watts Village (Forestry) is in action at Seoul on Saturday, looking to finish his juvenile year with his fifth straight win. The TJK Trophy winner should have too much for his rivals over 1900 metres, however, Sunday’s class 1 handicaps at both Seoul and Busan look competitive.

Here’s what’s happening when and where:

Friday December 14

Busan Race Park: 11 races from 11:50 to 18:00
Jeju Race Park: 9 races from 13:30 to 17:30

Saturday December 15

Seoul Race Park: 12 races from 11:00 to 17:40
Jeju Race Park: 9 races from 12:20 to 17:10

Sunday December 16

Seoul Race Park: 11 races from 11:00 to 17:50
Busan Race Park: 6 races from 12:15 to 16:35

Gamdonguibada And Joe Fujii Land Historic Grand Prix Stakes Win

Gamdonguibada became the first filly for twelve years and Joe Fujii the first ever foreign jockey to win the nation’s most prestigious race, the Grand Prix Stakes at Seoul Race Park this afternoon.

Joe Fujii and Gamdonguibada win the Grand Prix Stakes (KRA)

Joe Fujii and Gamdonguibada win the Grand Prix Stakes (KRA)

In weak sunshine on a bitterly cold day in the Korean capital, the three-year old US-bred Ganmdonguibada, already champion filly & mare of 2012 after her win in the Gyeongnam Governor’s Cup, became overall champion racehorse of the year as, under a brilliantly timed ride from Japanese jockey Fujii, she edged out outsider Useung Touch and three-time President’s Cup winner Dangdae Bulpae by a neck on the line.

Gamdonguibada gets the better of Useung Touch and Dangdae Bulpae

Gamdonguibada gets the better of Useung Touch and Dangdae Bulpae

Tough Win had been sent off as slight favourite but while the defending champion looked to be well placed coming into the final straight, his challenge faded around the furlong pole as he eventually finished in fifth. Other reasonably well-fancied horses Nolbu Manse and Smoking Gun were never able to get properly involved while Oh Kyoung Hoan left his challenge on the fast-finishing Jumong slightly too late.

It was left therefore to second favourite Dangdae Bulpae to battle it out with Useung Touch and Gamdonguibada for the victory. Dangdae Bulpae was the first to go, beaten with 100 metres to run but 2011 Korean Oaks winner Useung Touch was stubborn until the very end as Fujii coaxed one last effort from Gamdonguibada to take the prize.

Gamdonguibada and Joe Fujii in the Grand Prix Winner's Circle

Gamdonguibada and Joe Fujii in the Grand Prix Winner’s Circle

Gamdonguibada [Werblin – Radyla (Country Pine)] was a $31,000 purchase from the Ocala Spring sale of Two-year olds in training last year has won 6 of her 10 career start. Three of them have come in Stakes races; the Gukje Sinmun in April, the Gyeongnam Governor’s Cup in early November, which saw her take overall victory in the “Queens’ Tour” to become champion filly & mare for the year and now, the biggest of the lot today. She’s earned just shy of $1 Million in prize money.

As for her jockey, Kanichiro “Joe” Fujii debuted in May this year and has ridden 30 winners from 207 rides. He partnered Gamdonguibada to her Governor’s Cup win last month to claim his first Korean Stakes triumph and was in top form to get her home today.

Unusually for visiting riders who win races, Fujii seems popular with the other jockeys – Jo Sung Gon was among the first to congratulate him after the race – and, while he will now have to sit out the rest of the season due to an eight-day ban, it is to be hoped he’ll have his license extended in the New Year.

So Gamdonguibada becomes only the fourth filly – and the first since Cheolgeoun Party – to win the Grand Prix Stakes. With Useung Touch in second, it made for an exacta paying out at 1400/1. Only three-years old, we have plenty more to look forward to from our Champion Racehorse of 2012.

Grand Prix Stakes (KOR G1) – Seoul Race Park – 2300M – Sunday December 9, 2012

1. Gamdonguibada (USA) [Werblin – Radyla (Country Pine)] – Kanichiro Fujii – 21.7, 3.9
2. Useung Touch (KOR) [Menifee – Jenny Tudor (Gulch)] – Lim Sung Sil – 20.6
3. Dangdae Bulpae (KOR) [Biwa Shinseiki – Indeed My Dear (Alydeed)] – 1.5

Distances: Neck/0.75 lengths
Also Ran: 4. Jumong (USA) 5. Tough Win (USA) 6. Nolbu Manse (USA) 7. Seungniuihamseong (KOR) 8. Sing Sing Cat (USA) 9. Smoking Gun (USA) 10. Sydney Jewelry (AUS) 11. Sangnyu (USA) 12. Nobel Pokpung (KOR) 13. Tamna Hwangje (USA)