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.
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.
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 [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)