Month: April 2013

Ttukseom Cup Champion Keeps Her Winning Touch

Useung Touch, winner of last month’s Ttukseom Cup in Seoul returned to action at her home track of Busan this afternoon with some style as she defeated a field full of imported horses to win the first of co-main events.

Useung Touch

Useung Touch

The 2011 Korean Oaks winner had a solid if unspectacular 4-year old season last year, always managing a money-winning finish but generally finding one or two too quick for her.

However, her year ended with a big jump up in performance when she finished 2nd to another filly, Gamdonguibada in the Grand Prix Stakes.

Returning to the capital she dominated the Ttukeseom Cup, the first leg of the “Queens’ Tour” that will decide Korea’s champion filly and mare.

Today, Useung Touch (Menifee) was sent off the hot favourite, despite being one of only three Korean-bred runners in the mile-long race. In the end, she fought out a tough finish with US-bred colt Wild Myeongun (D’Wildcat), getting the better of him by just over a half a length on the line. The rest of the field trailed in a full eleven lengths behind the leading pair.

Useung Touch now has 8 wins from 22 starts – but with a further 7 seconds and 2 thirds to her name and over 1 Billion won in prize money in the bank, she currently just edges Gamdonguibada (who has 8 wins but from just 12 starts) as the most successful filly or mare on the peninsula right now. Jockey Choi SI Dae felt he should have won the Grand Prix when Useung Touch started at 100/1. A rematch between the two could be very interesting.

In the other co-feature at Busan, 4-1 chance Baekho Janggun (Pico Central) took a narrow win by a neck from Peter Wolsley’s old-stager Khaosan (Sunday Well). Wolsley also saddled the 3rd horse home, Ghost Whisper (Gotham City).

Meanwhile, earlier in the day, Japanese jockey Joe Fujii continued his excellent form. He landed races 1 and 2 to take his tally to the weekend for 6. Fujii’s countryman Ureshi Katsunori was also on the board again but Darryll Holland’s best finish was the second on Wild Myeongun.

Also at Busan, My Key (Macho Uno), a half-brother to US champion Game On Dude, recorded his 3rd career win on his 7th start. He won the 1500 metre race 4 by a comfortable 5 lengths.

Up at Seoul, the feature race also went to a filly. 2012 Nonghyup Chairman’s Stakes winner Speedus (Menifee) found her way back to the winner’s circle for the first time in 2013 with a 2-length victory in the 1800 metre main event.

Next week, Busan is the focus again with a small but top class field set to compete for the Gukje Sinmun Cup. Three-time President’s Cup winner Dangdae Bulpae (Biwa Shinseiki) and the afore-mentioned Gamdonguibada (Werblin) are among those currently set to run.

Four-Timer For Form Man Fujii at Busan

Joe Fujii was on top form at Busan this afternoon, taking 4 winners on a day when the entire on-track foreign contingent scored victories.

Four-timer : Joe Fujii

Four-timer : Joe Fujii

Fujii’s winners came in race 4 on Sinheung Gangpung (Yankee Victor) followed by race 6 on First Touch (Volponi).

He completed his treble in race 7 on Miss Quick (Menifee) and wrapped things up with his fourth in race 9 on Yeonseung Gangho (Simon Pure).

It was the Japanese rider’s biggest one-day haul since arriving in Busan in May last year and takes him to 54 winners in all. 24 of these have come in 2013 and he now lies in 3rd in the Jockey Championship.

Fujii’s stint in Korea has been so far – controversial 9-day ban for a slow start aside – a great success including winning the nation’s most prestigious race, the Grand Prix Stakes at Seoul last December.

He studied Korean racing in detail before arriving on the peninsula and his committed approach continues to win admirers. Just the previous evening, Briton Darryll Holland, who began riding at Busan in March had been praising the 30 year-old Fujii through Twitter:

Holland himself was in the winner’s circle today although not necessarily in the manner he would have liked, dead-heating in the feature race on hot favourite Amell’s Atom (Menifee) with 2nd favourite Sand World (Star Dabbler). Amell’s Atom gave Peter Wolsley his 3rd success of the day, following up wins in race 1 with Strong Rain (Turbulent Storm) and race 8 with Heukdancer (Vicar).

To complete a good day for the foreigners on the south coast, Fujii’s countryman Ureshi Katsunori also grabbed a winner, taking race 3 on Plein Soleil (Exploit).

Weekend Preview

Another one of those low-key weekends between big races but plenty to keep us occupied over the next three days.

It can be lonely at Busan Race Park - but it has the best racing in Korea this weekend

It can be lonely at Busan Race Park – but it has the best racing in Korea this weekend

While the Derby contenders are mainly keeping their powder dry before the big race at Seoul on May 19, there are a few possibles going this weekend. Peter Wolsley’s Amell’s Atom (Menifee), 4th in the KRA Cup Mile, will be in action at Busan on Friday, racing alongside Global Gangja (Pico Central) who put in a less than impressive performance in the first leg of the Triple Crown.

At Seoul, Cheonha Jeongbuk (J Be K), with 4 wins from 5 starts is an action on Saturday. He’s ineligible for the Classics but will be well worth watching as he moves up to class 3 over 1800 metres.

The pick of the action is at Busan on Sunday with a pair of class 1 tests. Ttukseom Cup winner Useung Touch (Menifee) faces foreign opposition in the first of these. Yeonggwanguijehyun (Rockport Harbor) and Wild Myeongun (D’Wildcat) are likely to give her plenty to think about.

In the second co-feature, Peter Wolsley saddles both his old-stager Khaosan (Sunday Well) and one-time stable star Ghost Whisper (Gotham City) in a competitive looking 2000 metre handicap. One-time Classic winner Dongseo Jeongbeol (Vicar) will be among those providing stiff competition.

Here’s what’s happening when and where:

Friday April 26

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

Saturday April 27

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

Sunday April 28

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

Racehorse and Car Shown Up by University Runner in Seoul Novelty Race

Seoul Race Park’s novelty race on Owners’ Cup day between an athlete, a racehorse and an off-road Sports buggy, ended in an unexpected win for the human.

Gyeongbuk University student Lee Jae Ha on his way to beating a horse and a car at Seoul Race Park on Sunday.

Gyeongbuk University student Lee Jae Ha on his way to beating a horse and a car at Seoul Race Park on Sunday.

Gyongbuk University student Lee Jae Ha, who started the handicap race at the furlong pole, could have had his feet up with a big cigar by the time the slow starting buggy crossed the line in second, trailing a sandstorm in its wake, with the horse back in third. Lee, running on a length of matting that was stretched for 200 metres over the deep sand of the home straight, finished the race in 25.43 seconds.

The buggy completed its 450 metres in 26.32 seconds while the racehorse, an 8-year-old mare called Blessed (The Groom Is Red) took 28.43 seconds to complete 400 metres having been very slow out of the gate. Jockey Lee Gi Hweoi rode the mare who was actually retired from racing in 2010 and has been retrained as a recreational horse so perhaps wasn’t in peak race condition.

Throughout the day, punters had been able to “vote” on which they thought would win with all those correctly picking the human (significantly fewer than those who went for the other two options) being entered into a prize draw.

The event was part of the KRA’s push to get more people into the track and coincided with a special “Beginners and Couples Zone” opening on the first floor of the grandstand. More on that shortly.

Dominant Jigeum I Sungan Owns Seoul

Feel So Good Fades as Derby Winner Adds Owners’ Trophy to Collection

Jigeum I Sungan stormed to a dominant victory in the Owners’ Association Trophy at Seoul Race Park this afternoon in the process cementing his place as the top Korean-bred horse at the track and handing a first defeat on Korean soil to Feel So Good.

Jigeum I Sungan and Moon Se Young win the Owners' Cup

Jigeum I Sungan and Moon Se Young win the Owners’ Cup

The 2012 Korean Derby winner, Jigeum I Sungan (Ingrandire) has shown improvement with every run and today was no exception. Despite dropping back to 1400 metres and facing Feel So Good (Ft.Stockton), the first Korean-bred horse to win a race in the United States and who had won his first 3 Korean starts without breaking into a gallop, Jigeum I Sungan was sent off the heavy favourite.

Jigeum I Sungan and Moon Se Young Return

Jigeum I Sungan and Moon Se Young Return

While Feel So Good was quick out of the gate and into an early lead there was never a stage when the result looked in doubt.

As they entered the home straight, Moon Se Young brought Jigeum I Sungan around the outside of the field and into contention while Kim Ok Sung got no response from Feel So Good.

After that it was just a matter of how much he would win by, jockey Moon spending most of the final furlong contemplating how he would pose for the cameras on the finish line.

7 lengths was the ultimate margin. Behind him, two rank outsiders got the closest. New And Best (Trick Of Fate) was guided into 2nd by Japanese jockey Yukio Abe at odds of well over 200/1 while coming in third was 125/1 Jeumeundeungi (War Zone). Feel So Good trailed over the line in 10th and was later found to be lame in his left foreleg.

Jigeum I Sungan now has 10 wins from 19 career starts – with 8 of those wins coming in his most recent 11 starts. The last horse to beat him was Dangdae Bulpae as the Busan superstar romped to his 3rd consecutive President’s Cup last November. Next time the face each other, the younger horse should be much more competitive.

Winning jockey Moon Se Young spent the first 3 months of this year riding in Macau, notching 7 winners. The 2012 Champion has given his rivals a big head start but, having grabbed 5 winners over the course of the weekend and 10 in total since returning, it would be a brave man who’d bet against him grinding his rivals down over the rest of the season.

Japanese jockey Yukio Abe (right), who rode New And Best to a shock 2nd place, congratulates winner Moon Se Young

Japanese jockey Yukio Abe (right), who rode New And Best to a shock 2nd place, congratulates winner Moon Se Young

He had missed 3 wins on this horse while in Macau but Moon showed his delight on being back on him with the kind of celebration he used to reserve for his former favourite mount, Bally Brae.

Bally Brae became one of the best horses of his decade. If Jigeum I Sungan – his name means “This Is The Moment” – keeps up this form, it is very possible he may end up remembered as one of the best of his.

Owners’ Association Trophy (KOR GIII) – Seoul Race Park – 1400M – April 21, 2013

1. Jigeum I Sungan (KOR) [Ingrandire – Solmaru (Mujaazif)] – Moon Se Young – 1.6, 1.0
2. New And Best (KOR) [Trick Of Fate – Yongunch’Eon (Phizam)] – Yukio Abe – 24.3
3. Jeumeundeungi (KOR) [War Zone – Taraxacum (Meadowlake)] – Lee Joon Chel – 20.4

Distances: 7 lengths/1.25 lengths
Also Ran: 4. Geuma Champ 5. Special Win 6. Global Fusion 7. Jangbi Sarang 8. Sobaengnyeong 9. Yeongung Icheon 10. Feel So Good 11. Yacheonsaryeongbu

Owners’ Cup: Feel So Good vs Jigeum I Sungan

Feel So Good, who became the first ever Korean bred horse to win a race in the United States, steps up to Stakes level this weekend and runs smack bang into 2012 Korean Derby winner Jigeum I Sungan in the Owners’ Association Trophy at Seoul Race Park this Sunday.

Feel So Good: 3 from 3, faces Jigeum I Sungan in the Owners' Trophy

Feel So Good: 3 from 3, faces Jigeum I Sungan in the Owners’ Trophy

It is a mouth-watering clash. Jigeum I Sungan has appeared to get better and better since his Derby triumph nearly a year ago while Feel So Good hasn’t been troubled in his three Korean starts to date. Both colts are 4-years-old and while Jigeum I Sungam definitely prefers lengthier challenges, it is still set to be a great occasion.

Here is the full list of runners and riders:

Owners’ Association Trophy – Seoul Race Park – 1400M – April 21, 2013

1. Sobaengnyeong (KOR) [War Zone-Sobaeksu (Mr. Adorable)] 6 G (23/5/3/2) – Park Tae Jong
2. Feel So Good (KOR) [Ft. Stockton-Courting Dreams (Eastover Court)] 4 G (3/3/0/0) – Kim Ok Sung
3. Special Win (KOR) [Tahamkke-Wellbeing Cat (Creek Cat)] 5 H (24/9/4/1) – Kim Hae Sun
4. Jeumeundeungi (KOR) [War Zone-Taraxacum (Meadowlake)] 6 H (31/5/4/2) – Lee Joon Chel
5. Jangbi Sarang (KOR) [Distilled-Kissin Kim (Our Michael)] 7 G (41/5/6/4) – Choi Bum Hyun
6. Geuma Champ (KOR) [Vicar-Stormcloudrising (Stormy Atlantic)] 5 H (21/7/6/4) – Ham Wan Sik
7. Global Fusion (KOR) [Menifee-Morning Red Sky (Chisos)] 4 C (16/6/1/1) – Cho Kyoung Ho
8. Yeongung Icheon (KOR) [Concept Win-Saratogasplash (Wild Again)] 5 H (23/6/4/3) – Moon Jung Kyun
9. Jigeum I Sungan (KOR) [Ingrandire-Solmaru (Mujaazif)] 4 C (18/9/6/1) – Moon Se Young
10. New And Best (KOR) [Trick Of Fate-Yeongeonch-eon (Phizam)] 6 H (43/4/5/2) – Yukio Abe
11. Yajeonsaryeongbu (KOR) [Vicar-Zabella (Zabeel)] 5 H (22/7/1/0) – Ikuyasu Kurakane

Seoul Plans Car vs Horse vs Athlete Race For Owners’ Cup Day

Sunday sees the Seoul Owners’ Association Trophy take centre stage with current hottest property in Korean racing Feel So Good likely to make his Stakes racing debut.

Man Vs Horse Vs Machine at Seoul

Man Vs Horse Vs Machine at Seoul

On the same afternoon, however, the KRA has decided to host a slightly different contest in the shape of a horse vs car vs runner race.

The horse will be an 8-year old mare called Blessed (The Groom Is Red), who won 2 of her 30 starts before being retired and retrained as a riding horse in 2010. She will start at the 2 furlong pole along with a “Premium SUV”. Given a furlong’s head-start will be 22-year-old athlete Lee Jae Ha of Gyeongbuk University.

The KRA isn’t offering betting on the event but instead is inviting people to “vote” on its website for who they think will win with all successful votes being entered into a prize draw (which sounds suspiciously similar to the way legal “gambling” on Chinese horse races happens). With the stunt being given some coverage in local media and being held on a weekend where the cherry blossoms are likely to be out around the track, the KRA hopes to get more casual racegoers along.

Weekend Preview

Two Japanese jockeys will be making their debuts this weekend as Ureshi Katsunori has his first Korean ride at Busan on Friday while Ikuyasu Kurakane, one of the most successful foreign jockeys in Korea has returned to the peninsula after a 4 year absence and will ride at Seoul on Saturday.

It’s set to be quite a low-key weekend of racing sadnwiched as it is between last week’s KRA CUp Mile and next week’s Owners’ Cup but nevertheless, there should be plenty to keep punters interested. Here’s what’s happening when and where:

Friday April 12

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

Saturday April 13

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

Sunday April 14

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

Sting Ray Saunters to Victory in KRA Cup Mile

Sting Ray, the odds-on favourite, swept to a convincing victory in the KRA Cup Mile at Busan Race Park this afternoon.

Sting Ray and Kim Dong Young win the KRA Cup Mile

Sting Ray and Kim Dong Young win the KRA Cup Mile

The race, known informally as the Korean 2000 Guineas, was the first leg of the 2013 Korean Triple Crown.

Sting Ray (Forest Camp), who came into the race off the back of 2 consecutive impressive wins was always travelling well under Kim Dong Young as Harley (Menifee) set the early pace. As they entered the home straight and spread across the track, Sting Ray hit the front and never looked like being caught as he stretched away for a 4-length win.

Raon Boss (Pico Central) showed that his last outing, where he finished 13 of 14 was an aberration by finishing a strong second, giving British jockey Darryll Holland a great result in his first Korean Classic race.

The Peter Wolsley trained Fantastic Jazz (Menifee) was a close 3rd. Wolsley’s other-runner, the slightly better fancied Amell’s Atom (Menifee) finished 4th.

Sting Ray is a half-brother of 2012 Korean Oaks winner Rising Glory, through their dam Straight Cash. Straight Cash herself was a top class filly who ran in Korea and won the 2005 JRA Trophy race. With 2 Classic winners, she has already established herself as among the top broodmares too.

The result was another disappointment for Seoul based trainers as Busan-trained horses dominated the placings. Rapide Bullet (Revere), back in 5th, was the best placed finisher from the capital. It’s difficult to see how this is going to be reversed when the country’s top three-year olds reconvene in Seoul on May 19th for the Korean Derby.

Sting Ray has already won at 1900 metres – further than the Derby distance and looks like he’s only going to get better.

KRA Cup Mile (KOR GII) – Busan Race Park – 1600M – April 7, 2013

1. Sting Ray (KOR) [Forest Camp – Straight Cash (Straight Man)] – Kim Dong Young
2. Raon Boss (KOR) [Pico Central – Ivy’s Jewel Stone (Forestry)] – Darryll Holland
3. Fantastic Jazz (KOR) [Menifee – Sorority Jazz (Dixieland Band)] – Park Geum Man

Distances: 4 lengths/1.75 lengths
Also Ran: 4. Amell’s Atom 5. Rapide Bullet 6. Rising joy 7. like The Sun 8. Last Mudae 9. Yapung 10. Heungnyeong Bisang 11. Cheonneyon Dongan 12. Global Gangja 13. Harley 14. Ruby Canter.
Scratched: Pureun Energy, Energy Cell

Race video to follow.

KRA Cup Mile – Full Run-Down Of The Field For K-Triple Crown 1st Leg

The first leg of the 2013 Korean Triple Crown the KRA Cup Mile – known informally as the Korean 2000 Guineas – will be contested at Busan Race Park this coming Sunday.

Gyeongudaero won last year's KRA Cup Mile. 16 seek to emulate him this Sunday

Gyeongudaero won last year’s KRA Cup Mile. 16 seek to emulate him this Sunday

A full field of 16 will contend the season’s opening Classic race with 9 horses from host track Busan being joined by 7 from Seoul. Among them are 3 fillies whose connections will be hoping they can emulate 2009 winner Sangseung Ilro, who went on to win the Derby.

It’s potentially a big year for the foreign contingent at Busan. While only domestic bred horses are allowed to compete in Korean Triple Crown races, on the jockey and trainer front, hopes are high.

Since its inception in 2005, 3 jockeys from overseas have won this race; Garry Baker of Australia and Eiki Nishimura and Toshio Uchida of Japan. This year Japan’s Joe Fujii and Britain’s Darryll Holland both have fancied rides.

Meanwhile, on the training front, Australia’s Peter Wolsley saddles two runners in Fantastic Jazz and Amell’s Atom who are both in with a chance.

The big race is under orders at 16:15 on Sunday afternoon and is the highlight of a 6-race card at Busan. The race will also be screened live during the 11 race card at Seoul Race Park. There will be live tweeting on the day at and a full report plus race video on the blog in the evening.

Here is the full run-down of runners and riders – with pedigrees and race records (Runs/1/2/3):

KRA Cup Mile (KOR GII) – Busan Race Park – 1600M – April 7, 16:15

1. Rapide Bullet [Revere – Breadknife (Hansel)] (8/4/1/1) – Jo In Kwen (Seoul)
One of Seoul’s stronger challengers, he comes in off the back of two wins. Seoul’s current top jockey comes down to ride him.

2. Like The Sun [Forest Camp – Binnara (Fiercely)] (7/2/1/0) – Kim Young Jin (Seoul).
Has found it difficult in recent races – he’s only beaten class 5 opposition. The distance should suit but he’ll be an outsider.

3. Pureun Energy [Menifee – Cheongsan Ilho (General Nediym)] Filly (7/3/2/0) – Kanichiro Fujii (Busan)
She was Busan’s champion Juvenile last year and gas a class 3 win over course and distance in the bank this term. Struggled over further last time but must be given respect and has a good jockey on board.

4. Yapung [Menifee – Wild Life (Wild Again)] (9/3/2/1) – Kim Eu Soo (Busan)
Won the Breeders’ Cup at Seoul to become Korea’s overall champion Juvenile in November but hasn’t pushed on quite as much as some others. Finished 3rd to Pureun Energy over this distance and will have to improve to reverse that form.

5. Ruby Canter [Volponi – Crystal Decanter (Encosta De Lago)] Filly (6/2/0/2) – Lee Geum Joo (Seoul)
Difficult to find much in her favour. She looks a decent sprinter and held her own when finishing 4th against a modest field over 1800 metres last time out but she should find many quicker than her here.

6. Last Mudae [The Groom Is Red – White Aloa (White Muzzle)] (11/1/3/1) – Lee Dong Kug (Seoul)
Another one with slim claims. His only victory was at class 5 over 1300 metres back in January and he’s struggled since.

7. Cheonnyeon Dongan [Ecton Park – Honeycakes (Hennessy)] Filly (6/3/0/2) – Oh Kyoung Hoan (Seoul)
Smart victory over 1700 metres last time out at Seoul means she takes her chance here. Winning might be a stretch but she has a good chance of being involved at the business end of the race.

8. Fantastic Jazz [Menifee – Sorority Jazz (Dixieland Band)] (6/4/0/2) – Park Geum Man (Busan)
The first of 2 Peter Wolsley trained runners, this would perhaps count as marginally the second string if only because he’s run just once this year and is untried at further than 1300 metres. Third in the Breeders’ Cup and still lots of potential. Half-brother of 2008 Korean Derby winner Ebony Storm.

9. Amell’s Atom [Menifee – Amell (Boston Harbor)] (8/3/3/0) – Jo Sung Gon (Busan)
Peter Wolsley’s other runner has a win over course and distance last time and was 2nd to Raon Boss the time before that. Stable jockey Jo Sung Gon rides and he has a big chance.

10. Raon Boss [Pico Central – Ivy’s Jewel Stone (Forestry)] (6/4/1/0) – Darryll Holland (Busan)
The long-time favourite for this race put in a shocker of a performance a fortnight ago when he finished last but one over the distance. So long as that was just an off-day, Darryll Holland has a big chance of riding a winner in his first Korean Classic.

11. Rising Joy [Forest Camp – Joy Ride (Future Quest)] (10/4/2/1) – Lim Sung Sil (Busan)
Very nice looking colt with a class 3 win over 1500 metres and a class 2 3rd place over 1800. Regular jockey Jo Sung Gon is retained on Amell’s Atom but this one still has a good chance.

12. Harley [Menifee – Stolen Miss (Miswaki)] (9/4/2/2) – Song Keong Yun (Busan)
A class 2 winner who is yet to go more than 1400 metres. If he gets the extra furlong, he has very good claims. Holds a victory over Sting Ray.

13. Sting Ray [Forest Camp – Straight Cash (Straight Man)] (8/3/4/1) – Kim Dong Young
Half brother to last year’s Korean Oaks winner Rising Glory, he has perhaps the most impressive recent form in the race. Super consistent and his class 2 win over 1900 metres last time – and class 3 over 1500 metres the previous – means he will be on the top of a lot of people’s tickets.

14. Heungnyong Bisang [Ft.Stockton – Miss Alwushush (Alwuhush)] (10/4/1/1) – Kim Hae Sun (Seoul)
Has been in good consistent form winning or placing over the Derby distance of 1800 metres. Should enjoy dropping down a furlong and Should be in contention. Will probably find one or two quicker.

15. Energy Cell [Unaccountedlea – Cobratime (Cobra King)] (8/3/1/0) – Seo Seung Un (Seoul)
Has won 3 out of his lat 4 although he hasn’t beaten much in the process. Possible value one to watch.

16. Global Gangja [Pico Central – Gosokcheol (Big Sur)] (9/4/1/0) – Choi Si Dae (Busan)
A little inconsistent of late but has a win over this distance as well as a second place to Pureun Energy. Choi Si Dae knows how to win the big races and he will have his backers.