Month: January 2013

Weekend Preview: Tough Win, Gyeongbudaero Set For Season Debuts

We didn’t have to wait too long for the big boys to come out the barn and onto the track this year as several of the country’s most well-known horses make their 2013 debuts this weekend.

Tough Win is back

Tough Win is back

Chief among them is Tough Win (Yonaguska). Now a 6-year old, he failed to successfully defend his Grand Prix Stakes title last month but should really be back to winning ways on Sunday at Seoul.

He will, however, be giving 4 kilos to Nolbu Manse (Simon Pure), who also disappointed in the Grand Prix but is a Stakes winner and did finish ahead of Tough Win in the KRA Cup Classic. What should be an entertaining race over 1800 metres is one of co-features at Seoul on Sunday.

The other co-feature sees a return to the track after 6 months of rest for former Champion Filly & Mare Top Point (Tom Cruiser). The 9-year-old will need to be close to her old best though to beat a competitive field of 14 in a handicap which, like its partner feature, will also be run over 1800 metres.

Taking on the foreigners: Gyeongbudaero (Pic: KRA)

Taking on the foreigners: Gyeongbudaero (Pic: KRA)

Down at Busan, Gyeongbudaero (Menifee) is the first of last year’s Classic winners to make his 4-year-old debut. The KRA Cup Mile winner will take on a field of imported horses including consistent winner Viva Ace (Macho Uno).

Owner Jang Kwang Hwa also owns Yeonseung Daero and took a very similar approach with him when he reached 4 years old.

Korean bred horses receive a weight allowance when running against imports and, while Yeonseung Daero has won nowhere near the number of races he would most likely have done had he just raced his compatriots, he has had more than his fair share of success and his career has been a delight to watch. Hopefully we are in for more of the same with Gyeongbudaero.

Here’s what’s happening when and where:

Friday January 11

Busan Race Park: 11 races from 12:00 to 18:00
Jeju Race Park: 9 races from 13:30 to 17:30

Saturday January 12

Seoul Race Park: 12 races from 11:00 to 17:40
Jeju Race Park: 9 races from 12:30 to 17:20

Sunday January 13

Seoul Race Park: 11 races from 11:00 to 18:00
Busan Race Park: 6 races from 12:50 to 17:00

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Didyme, Five-Time Leading Sire In Korea, Has Died Aged 22

Didyme, the most successful sire in Korean racing history, passed away last month. He was 22.

Didyme 1990 - 2012 (Picture: KRA)

Didyme 1990 – 2012 (Picture: KRA)

The stallion, who had been suffering from circulatory issues, died on December 22 after developing blood-clots while receiving treatment for leg abrasions at the KRA Stud Farm on Jeju Island. He had been in Korea for nearly 18 years.

American bred, Didyme [Dixieland Band – Soundings (Mr. Prospector)] started his racing career in France, winning his debut race at Maisons-Lafitte in July 1992. Two weeks later, he won the Group 2 Prix Robert Papin at the same track. He made just two further appearances that year in France and then spent a year away from the racetrack.

When he next appeared, it was in the USA and he would spend the remainder of his racing career in California, picking up two wins at Santa Anita before being retired after a 3rd place finish in the Morvich Handicap in November 1994. A month later, he arrived in Korea.

Didyme’s first foals hit the racetrack in 1998 and that crop led him to the Leading Sire of Three-Year-Olds in 1999. His first Leading General Sire title followed in 2000 and he went on to win four more times, most recently in 2009.

Among his progeny were Korean Derby winner Mupae Gangja and Oaks winner Jeolho Chance. He also sired Areumdaun Jilju, who won 19 out of 32 lifetime starts and the multiple Stakes winning Kwaedo Nanma who has himself gone on to become one of very few Korean bred stallions to be successful at Stud.

The Leading sire of two-year olds in 2011, the best of that crop, Nobel Pokpung, went on to finish 2nd in the Korean Derby.

A fixture in Korean racing for nearly two decades and a horse who has played a huge role in the development of Korean racing, Didyme will be greatly missed.

Here is a video of Didyme at Stud:

Weekend Round-up: Global Fusion Takes New Year Stakes While Moon Se Young Rides First Winner in Macau

The first Stakes race of 2013 was run at Seoul Race Park on Saturday afternoon and it went the way of 3/1 joint second-favourite Global Fusion (Menifee).

Global Fusion and Cho Kyong Ho return after winning the New Year Stakes

Global Fusion and Cho Kyong Ho return after winning the New Year Stakes

Yaho Pilseung (Exploit) was sent off as favourite but, despite jockey Choi Bum Hyun’s frantic efforts, refused to break when the gates opened, leaving himself with 20 length to make up on the field – much to the chagrin of punters. In his absence at the business end of the race, Global Fusion, who was always well-placed, got the better of Naejangsan (Menifee) in the final furlong.

Global Fusion (Menifee-Morning Red Sky) is a 4-year-old colt and moves onto 6 wins from 12 starts, qualifying for class 1 races in the process. For jockey Cho Kyoung Ho, it was a welcome return to big race form after a disappointing end to 2012.

Another jockey enjoying a good start to 2013 was Yukio Abe. The Japanese rider has had a challenging time getting rides since moving to Seoul midway through last year after a successful stint at Busan. He’s begun the year well though, landing a double on Saturday first through Sudden Fortune (Latent Heat) in race 5 and then on Appealing Jeil (Exploit) in race 13.

Winning: Seo Seung Un

Winning: Seo Seung Un

The best start of all, however, was made by Seo Seung Un. The second year jockey ride four winners across the weekend and, along with Jo In Kwen, looks set to make Champion Jockey Moon Se Young work very hard if he is to retain his title.

They will certainly have a chance to gain a big lead as Moon is spending the early part of the season riding in Macau. On Saturday, Moon rode his first winner there, partnering 22/1 chance Mr. Excellency to victory over 1200 metres on turf. As well as Moon, Boo Min Ho is also riding on a short-term license in Macau but is yet to score after 5 ides.

* One notable result from Busan on Friday was a second consecutive win for 3-year-old gelding My Key (Macho-Uno-Worldly Pleasure). The half-brother of US champion Game On Dude broke his maiden last time out by 10 lengths and on Friday, despite stepping up in class, was a 7 length winner in race 6.

Busan’s Sunday feature race was won by another horse with a famous sibling – in Korean terms anyway. Dongteuja (Montbrook-Maremaid) is the half-sister of two-time Grand Prix winner Dongbanui Gangja. She was the 3 length winner of the 1800 metre contest to record her 7th victory from 12 starts.

Weekend Preview / 2013 Fixtures

The first racing of the year in Korea gets underway this weekend with an unusual set of cards. As Jeju Island takes the week off, Busan will host 12 races on Friday and 5 on Sunday while Seoul run 14 on Saturday and 10 on Sunday.

Still a lot of snow on the ground as 2013 begins

Still a lot of snow on the ground as 2013 begins

The big race of the weekend is the New Year’s Commemorative Stakes at Seoul on Saturday afternoon. The 1800 metre race sees Sand Jjang (Forest Camp) with 5 wins from 6 starts head a competitive looking field of 13.

On Friday at Busan, My Key (Macho Uno), half-brother to Game On Dude, makes his first appearance since breaking his maiden a month ago. He steps up in class in race 6. Busan’s feature races of the weekend are on Sunday with a pair of class 1 handicaps.

It’s been a bone-numbingly cold week on the Korean peninsula with temperatures averaging around -14C since Christmas. However, while it is still set to be below freezing throughout the weekend, it shouldn’t be quite as bad as it has been.

Here’s what’s happening when and where:

Friday January 4

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

Saturday January 5

Seoul Race Park: 14 races from 11:00 to 17:45

Sunday January 6

Seoul Race Park: 10 races from 11:00 to 17:50
Busan Race Park: 5 races from 12:50 to 16:50

* A few people have been in touch asking about 2013 race fixtures. They have been published and I’ll be updating the fixture list as soon as I get a chance. In the meantime, the calendar can be downloaded direct from the KRA website for Seoul and for Busan.