Between 1954 and 1988, Seoul Racecourse was located on the north bank of the River Han, when Seoul Forest now stands. Once a year, Korean racing honours its history with the running of the Ttukseom Cup. For the second year running, this year’s edition acts as the first leg of the Queens’ Tour, a series of races to decide Korea’s Champion filly or mare.
Royale Embrace and You Hyun Myung win last year’s Ttukseom Cup, the first leg of the Queens’ Tour (Pic: Ilgan Sports)
Traditionally in Korea, fillies race against colts, however, in order to improve the domestic breeding stock, the KRA has been trying over the past few years to improve the incentive to owners to import top quality fillies to race and then go on to the breeding shed.
The Queens’ Tour is part of that and offers tests over a variety of distances starting with the 7 furlongs of the Ttukseom Cup. Last year’s overall winner, US bred Gamdonguibada (Werblin) went on to beat the colts in the season-ending Grand Prix Stakes to become Champion Racehorse of Korea.
History will be made whatever happens on Sunday as, for the first time since racing moved to Gwacheon after the Seoul Olympics, 16 horses will line up in the race. This year, the upper limit for starters has been raised from 14 to 16 in Stakes races. Here’s a run down of all the runners and riders (Name [Pedigree] (Starts/1st/2nd/3rd) – Jockey (Home Track)):
Ttukseom Cup (KOR G3) – Seoul Race Park – 1400M – March 17, 2013 (16:35)
1. Chowonuibyeol (USA) [Rockport Harbor – Arctic’s Angel (Artax)] (13/3/3/2) – Jo In Kwen (Seoul)
Little recent form to go on as the last race she completed was the final leg of last year’s Queens’ Tour and that didn’t go well. She does like this distance though and while not a favourite, can’t be completely discounted.
2. Dongteuja (KOR) [Broken Vow – Maremaid (Storm Bird)] (13/7/0/3) – Kanichiro Fujii (Busan)
The half-sister of one of Korea’s best ever racehorses, the two-time Grand Prix Stakes winner Dongbanui Gangja, Dongteuja won her first 6 races and looked to be a superstar. Since then, she has found things tougher but began 2013 with a win. In Joe Fujii she has the best jockey in the race on board and has to be shown respect in the betting.
3. Sangseung Geotap (USA) [Indian Charlie – Mirta (Theatrical)] (25/7/2/1) – Lim Sung Sil (Busan)
A Stakes winner in the KNN Cup last year but has struggled recently. The drop down to 1400M should suit but she is up against it here.
4. Ruby Queen (KOR) [Badge Of Silver – Rubyana (Rubiano)] (20/7/6/3) – Ham Wan Sik (Seoul)
Proven at the top level, if she is on her game, she will be a strong contender and should be involved at the business end of the race.
5. Kkakjaengi (USA) [Put It Back – Wild Dixie Gal (Wild Again)] (19/6/4/4) – Shin Hyoung Chul (Seoul)
It’s quite remarkable that this mare hasn’t won since 2011. Still, she has only been out of the money twice in her 19 races and she will be in the money here. Whether that is in first place is another matter but, against only fillies and over 7 furlongs, this multiple Stakes winner has a good chance.
6. Imperial Girl (USA) [Imperialsm – Wallena (Wallenda)] (26/3/2/4) – Choi Bum Hyun (Seoul)
Winner of the Selangor Turf Club Trophy in 2011, she struggled in the Queens’ Tour last year but was a surprisng 2nd to Tough Win on her 2013 debut. In that race, she beat a number of good horses, including Kkakjaengi, and therefore must be considered.
7. Blueband Mama (USA) [Purge – Meadow Bryte (Meadowlake)] (24/3/4/2) – Kim Ok Sung (Seoul)
A wildly inconsistant mare, her last win was at this distance and she could surprise. She’ll not be fancied to come close though.
8. Darani (USA) [Saarland – Dusty’s Legacy (Golden Missile)] (28/3/6/5) – Jo Chang Wook (Busan)
Stablemate of Sangseung Geotap and probably second string from that barn. However, she was second in the final leg of the Queens’ Tour last year and the step down to 1400M will be interesting. Don’t write her off.
9. Useung Touch (KOR) [Menifee – Jenny Tudor (Gulch)] (20/6/7/2) – Choi Si Dae (Busan)
2011 Korean Oaks winner and 2nd in the Korean Derby in the same year, she pulled off a remarkable second place in the Grand Prix Stakes last December. She will have a lot of supporters and would be a very popular winner.
10. Grand Teukgeup (KOR) [Menifee – Saratoga Campaign (Mt.Livermore)] (16/7/2/1) – Chae Gyu Jun (Busan)
Unusually for a horse with 16 races under her belt, she’s never been tried over 1400M. She has a class 1 win under her belt and has a chance here.
11. Dangdae Jeonseung (CAN) [Put It Back – Diamond Heirloom (Pembroke)] (14/4/1/1) – Lee Sang Hyeok (Seoul)
A rare Canadian bred in Korea, she has never lost over this distance. Form since reaching class 1 has not exactly been exceptional but it may not need to be to be in with a chance here.
12. Empire World (USA) [Empire Maker – Salty You (Salt Lake)] (18/5/2/3) – Kim Eu Soo (Busan)
A mare who has risen up the ranks very much under the radar, she has an impressive record of finishing inside the money. Could spring a surprise.
13. Indian Blue (USA) [Henny Hughes – Gamblers Passion (Prospector’s Gamble)] (6/3/2/1) – Cho Kyoung Ho (Seoul)
The only 3-year-old in the race, she won the Segye Ilbo Cup last month over course and distance and as a result, will likely be favourite.
14. Royale Embrace (USA) [Chapel Royal – Embracing Krissy (Kissin Kris)] (23/7/4/2) – You Hyun Myung (Busan)
Last year’s winner, 1400M is her favourite and she will relish being back on the gentler Seoul track. Consistent at the distance, she could pull off another surprise.
15. Seungnuiuihamseong (KOR) [Vicar – Hug And Kiss (Commander In Chief)] – Seo Seung Un (Seoul)
A consistent performer last year winning the Gyeonggi Governor’s Cup before holding her own against the colts in the President’s Cup and finishing an in no way disgraceful 7th in the Grand Prix Stakes, she has every chance of doing well here.
16. Sangnyu (USA) [Broken Vow – Midtown Miss (Yes It’s True)] – Park Tae Jong (Seoul)
A class 1 winner and a filly who is getting better as she gets older. A real chance.
Gyongmaman’s verdict: Filly races in Korea are extremely difficult to handicap and therefore there is a big temptation to go for Indian Blue who did the business over course and distance last month. Sangnyu beat better class opposition though and Dongteuja has class. Dongteuja will be on Gyongmaman’s coupon with Kkakjaengi, Dangdae Jeonsung, Sangnyu and Royale Embrace also featuring.
Friday March 15
Busan Race Park: 11 races from 12:00 to 18:00
Jeju Race Park: 9 races from 13:30 to 17:30
Saturday March 16
Seoul Race Park: 12 races from 11:00 to 17:40
Jeju Race Park: 9 races from 12:30 to 17:20
Sunday March 17
Seoul Race Park: 11 races from 11:00 to 18:00
Busan Race Park: 6 races from 12:50 to 17:05