Month: May 2013

Charming Girl Enters Record Books With 96th Consecutive Defeat

On Sunday afternoon at Seoul Race Park, Charming Girl was saddled up, led around the paddock and cantered down to the start of race 6, a 7-furlong class 4 event for Korean-bred horses. Then, just as had happened on all of the 95 previous times she had gone through this process, she entered the starting gate, ran as fast as she could and was beaten.

Charming Girl with owner Byun Young Nam after her 96th defeat. Jockey Yoo Mi Ra, who has ridden her 76 times, looks on (KRA)

Charming Girl with owner Byun Young Nam after her 96th defeat. Jockey Yoo Mi Ra, who has ridden her 76 times, looks on

In finishing 9th of 11 and taking that sequence to 96, Charming Girl broke the Korean record for longest consecutive losing streak. The previous holder of this dubious honour was a New Zealand bred gelding named Dang Naru (Ivory Hunter), who went through his whole career of 95 runs without a victory between 1995 and 2000.

Dang Naru did, however, manage to record one 2nd place finish. Charming Girl’s best finish is 3rd, a position she has achieved on eight occasions.

Charming Girl [Pacific Bounty – Tweddles (Golden Juggler)] made her racecourse debut in January 2008, finishing 10th of 12. She would perform in similar fashion for much of the year, until in October, she broke into the money for the first time, with a 3rd place finish over 6 furlongs. Two months earlier, she had been ridden for the first time by newly qualified apprentice jockey Yoo Mi Ra. Yoo has since ridden her on a further 75 occasions which works out as almost exactly 10% of her total rides to date. It is no coincidence that her win ratio is one of the lowest of all jockeys at Seoul.

Indeed, just as Yoo Mi Ra’s figures do not necessarily do her justice, so Charming Girl is not a terrible racehorse. However, under Korea’s strict class rating system, horses who are talented to a certain extent but reach their limit, have nowhere to go. Once a horse goes up on class, they can never be dropped down again. Over the course of her career, Charming Girl has managed to amass enough prize money – around US $50,000 to date – to be promoted first to class 5 and then to class 4 where she remains. Not fast enough to win, but never able to return to a lower level where she might be competitive.

It is a system that does provide extra security for betting integrity and for ensuring that the majority of uncompetitive horses are retired but it is also one that leaves many racehorses facing an uncertain future once they have reached a level where it is impossible for them to win.

Charming Girl crosses the line at the end of her 96th defeat

Charming Girl crosses the line at the end of her 96th defeat

Charming Girl won’t have any problems. Her owner Byun Young Nam thinks the world of her and has announced his intention to keep running her so long as she is sound – and with no injuries or illness in five years, she perhaps is the soundest horse at the track – with a comfortable retirement to look forward too. Byun was on hand in the unsaddling enclosure after Sunday’s race to welcome his mare back and to pose for pictures.

In Korea especially where purses are high but ownership isn’t something to show off in polite society, racing is about winning. Charming Girl’s career has been about anything other than winning. In 2011, with 60 defeats already under her belt she, alongside the vastly more successful mare Luna, who nearly died aged 2 before coming back from injury to win several Stakes races, was featured in a campaign to promote ownership. The message owner Byun was passing on was that you don’t have to win to have fun.

If every horse was like Charming Girl, we wouldn’t have much of a sport, however, having been a popular fixture of the Seoul track for the past 5 years, she deserved her moment in the spotlight on Sunday. She should break the 100 by the end of summer.

Jigeum I Sungan Cruises To Sports Kyunghyang Trophy

Jigeum I Sungan landed his 5th straight win – and his 11th in total – routing a class 1 field at Seoul Race Park this afternoon.

Jigeum I Sungan and Moon Se Young return as winners again

Jigeum I Sungan and Moon Se Young return as winners again

The 2012 Korean Derby winner was sent off as the long odds-on favourite for the Sports Kyunghyang Trophy, a 1900 metre handicap. While jockey Moon Se Young was patient, once he pulled the trigger with 300 metres to go, Jigeum I Sungan slipped away from the field, cantering over the line 10 lengths of his nearest rival.

The 4-year old Jigeum I Sungan (Ingrandire) is unbeaten since losing to Dangdae Bulpae in the President’s Cup last November. Among Korean bred horses, only the 6-year-old Dangdae Bulpae is currently ranked higher and another meeting between the two would be very interesting.

* Next week, Stakes action returns to Seoul in the shape of the Sports Chosun Cup. Feel So Good, who was among those crushed by Jigeum I Sungan in the Owners Association Trophy last month, is set to be given an opportunity to show that his performance that day was a one-off and to start to live up to the expectations that many people had of the first Korean bred horse to win a race in the United States.

Weekend Preview

Just a week after Speedy First won the 2013 Korean Derby, last year’s winner Jigeum I Sungan, headlines the action at Seoul Race Park, while on Jeju Island, the ponies have their own Derby.

Jigeum I Sungan and Moon Se Young go again on Sunday

Jigeum I Sungan and Moon Se Young go again on Sunday

Jigeum I Sungan (Ingrandire) added another Stakes crown, the Owners’ Association Trophy, to his big-race haul last time out and, despite being top-weight by some considerable margin, will be heavy favourite to win in slightly more modest company in Sunday’s feature handicap.

Down at Busan, another former Derby winner, Ebony Storm (Buster’s Daydream), the evergreen winner of the 2008 edition is also in action. He’ll be nowhere near favourite but the 8-year old is not without a hope in the 7-furlong main-event. Last year’s KRA Cup mile winner Gyeongbudaero (Menifee) heads the field.

Derby winning jockey Joe Fujii returns to his home-track of Busan and has 10 rides across the weekend. The other foreign riders at the track aren’t getting quite the same support, however, with Ureshi Katsunori and Darryll Holland having just 3 and 2 mounts respectively.

Up at Seoul, however, it is a very busy weekend for Ikuyasu Kurakane, who rides 17 while even the ever-relaxed Yukio Abe will get on 9.

Meanwhile, down on Jeju Island, it is Derby Day! The KRA Jeju-Bred Derby is a new event on the calendar (or rather, an old Stakes race re-packaged as a Derby for 3-year olds) and brings together 10 of the most promising ponies running at the track. I’ll not pretend to know anything about the form but I do know that a month ago, practically the same field ran over the same 5-furlong distance in a race called the “Seongsan Ilchul” (hereafter called the “Jeju Guineas”) and it was won by a gelding called Sanjeongmuhan by a neck.

Sanjeongmuhan comes into the Derby with 6 wins from 9 starts. The race is number 5 on a 9-race card on Saturday at Jeju and will be simulcasted live to Seoul Race Park.

Here’s what’s happening when and where:

Friday May 24

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

Saturday May 25

Seoul Race Park: 11 races from 11:00 to 17:40
Jeju Race Park: 9 races from 12:30 to 17:40 including the KRA Jeju Derby at 15:15

Sunday May 26

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

Here’s what’s happening when and where.

Joe Fujii Wins The Korean Derby On Filly Speedy First

Speedy First romped away with the Korean Derby this afternoon, ending the Triple Crown hopes of pre-race favourite and KRA Cup Mile winner Sting Ray and became the first filly since Sangseung Ilro in 2009 to win the biggest race of all. Her jockey, Joe Fujii became the first foreign rider to win the Derby

Speedy First and Joe Fujii in the Korean Derby Winner's Circle

Speedy First and Joe Fujii in the Korean Derby Winner’s Circle

Speedy First (Menifee) came in to the race off 4 consecutive wins and was sent off the 4/1 second favourite behind Sting Ray (Forest Camp), who punters had backed into odds-on.

Outsiders Heungnyong Bisang (Ft.Stockton) and Titan (Creek Cat) made the early pace but the pack was bunched tightly together as they entered the final corner. Turning into the home straight they fanned out across the track but it still looked anyone’s race until Joe Fujii got to work on Speedy First a furlong and a half out. The pair sped away from the rest and never looked back.

The margin of victory on the line was 2 lengths with 47/1 chance Unhae (Ingrandire) finishing 2nd and Major King (Pico Central) 3rd. Sting Ray never looked likely to add the second jewel in the Triple Crown to the first and trailed home 6th.

Aussie trainer Peter Wolsley’s Amell’s Atom (Menifee) picked up some prize money by finishing 5th, however, there was disappointment for British jockey Darryll Holland who ended in 12th place on Fantastic Jazz (Menifee). Lee Shin Young, the first female trainer to have a runner in the Derby, saw both her entrants struggle with Titan in 13th and Awesome Tiger (Exploit) disqualified.

Speedy First goes clear

Speedy First goes clear

For jockey Joe Fujii
, it was the 60th winner of what has been a quite remarkable 11 months in Korea. The 29-year old won the Grand Prix Stakes on another filly, Gamdonguibada, last December becoming the first foreign jockey to do so and today he completed a unique double by achieving the distinction of being the first foreigner to win the Derby. He has now won 2 out Korea’s 3 richest races.

Fujii’s license was recently extended until September and his reputation among punters is such that he is well on the way to taking on Toshio Uchida’s title of the most popular Japanese man in Korea.

Speedy First’s win also firmly cemented Busan trainer Kim Young Kwan as the nation’s best. This was his 2nd Derby, following Sangseung Ilro’s 2009 triumph. In more general terms, Busan horses once again got the better of their Seoul counterparts in a big race.

Before the Derby, punters were treated to the charms of Sistar. currently K-Pop's top girl group (Pic: @SeoulBhoy)

Before the Derby, punters were treated to the charms of Sistar. currently K-Pop’s top girl group (Pic: @zstokes)

So just a few hours after a Triple Crown hope went down in the US in the shape of Orb, so Sting Ray’s hopes of emulating J.S.Hold in Korea have gone. Never mind, today we saw a new star emerge on to the scene.

Speedy First will automatically become favourite for the Korean Oaks, which will be held at Busan in August and then if all goes well, we should see her back at Seoul in October when the cream of this year’s generation reconvene for the Minister’s Cup, the final leg of the Triple Crown. There is a lot to look forward to.

Korean Derby (KOR G1) – Seoul Race Park – 1800M – May 19, 2013

1. Speedy First (KOR) [Menifee – Speedy Deedy (Victory Gallop)] – Kanichiro (Joe) Fujii – 5.1, 1.7
2. Unhae (KOR) [Ingrandire – Silver Meteor (Creator)] – Lee Sang Hyeok – 6.5
3. Major King (KOR) [Pico Central – Still Golden (Gold Fever)]

Distances: 2 lengths/175 lengths
Also Ran: 4. Brig 5. Amell’s Atom 6. Sting Ray 7. Last Mudae 8. High Five 9. Joy Lucky 10. K Tap 11. Suseong BR 12. Fantastic Jazz 13. Titan 14. Yapung 15 Heungnyong Bisang DQ: Awesome Tiger

37/1 Remember Bulpae Shock Winner of Japan Trophy

Remember Bulpae, a 37/1 outsider, came through with a fast late run to win the Japan Racing Association Trophy at Seoul Race Park this afternoon.

Remember Bulpae Waits in the JRA Trophy Winner's Circle

Remember Bulpae Waits in the JRA Trophy Winner’s Circle

Remember Bulpae (After Market), an $11,000 purchase from Ocala last Spring, came into the race with 2 wins from his previous 6 starts but wasn’t given much chance against such highly thought of young imports as Dongbanjaui Gijeok (Half Ours), who was sent off as favourite.

Indeed it was Dongbanjaui Gijeok, along with Pureun Miso (Malibu Moon) who set a fast pace out of the gate and looked likely to contest the finish between them until Jo In Kwen brought Remember Bulpae down the outside to sweep past them within metres of the line.

Japan Racing Association Trophy – Seoul Race Park – 1200M – May 18, 2013

1. Remember Bulpae (USA) [After Market – Arrested Dreams (Dehere)] – Jo In Kwen – 37.9, 10.6
2. Pureun Miso (USA) [Malibu Moon – Marina Da Chavon (Exploit)] – Jun Duck Young – 2.5
3. Dongbanjaui Gijeok (USA) [Half Ours – Feisty Cherokee (Cherokee Run)] – Choi Bum Hyun – 1.4

Distances: 0.5 lengths / 1 length
Also ran: 4. Wonder Bolt (USA) 5. Happy Dancer (USA) 6. Hwanggeumjijon (USA) 7. Jeongsang Maru (USA) 8. Yeoui Gold (KOR) 9. Argo Prince (USA) 10. Jeilgosu (AUS) 11. Sudden Fortune (USA) 12. Shannon Memories (USA) 13. Yaho Dolphins (USA) 14. No Fear Man (USA)

* The JRA Trophy is always held the day before the Korean Derby and this year there is another link between the two races. Straight Cash, dam of KRA Cup Mile winner and likely Derby favourite Sting Ray, won the JRA Trophy in 2005.

Korean Derby 2013: The Runners And Riders

It’s a massive weekend of racing at Seoul. The JRA Trophy gets things underway on Saturday afternoon and then on Sunday, it’s the big one.

Sting Ray and Kim Dong Young win the KRA Cup Mile - They are the Derby faovurites (KRA)

Sting Ray and Kim Dong Young win the KRA Cup Mile – They are the Derby faovurites (KRA)

A full field of 16 will line up for the Korean Derby. They are headed by KRA Cup Mile winner Sting Ray, who travels up to the capital looking to win the second-leg of the 2013 Triple Crown.

Three foreign jockeys have rides. Yukio Abe doesn’t look to have much chance on Last Mudae but Joe Fujii on Speedy First and Darryll Holland on Fantastic Jazz both look to have claims. Meanwhile, Australian trainer Peter Wolsley seeks to win his first Korean Classic race with Amell’s Atom.

With more wins behind them as a group than any previous Korean Derby, it is set to be a very interesting race. K-Pop girl group Sistar will be on hand to provide pre-race entertainment.

Saturday May 18
Seoul Race Park: 11 races from 11:00 to 17:45 including the JRA Trophy at 16:40
Jeju Race Park: 9 races from 12:30 to 17:20

Sunday May 19
Seoul Race Park: 11 races from 11:00 to 18:00 including the Korean Derby at 16:35
Busan Race Park: 6 races from 12:50 to 17:05

Here’s the full list of runners and riders with pedigrees, race records and trainer:

Korean Derby (KOR G1) – Seoul Race Park – 1800M – May 19, 2013 – 16:35

1. Awesome Tiger [Exploit – Variety Lady (Variety Road)] (7/4/1/0) Lee Shin Young – Cho Kyoung Ho
Promising colt who won at class 3 over the distance last time out although will need to find more improvement still here. One of a pair of runners giving Korea’s first female trainer Lee Shin Young her first Derby entrants.

2. Joy Lucky [Vicar – Proper Gun (Prosper Fager)] (3/3/0/0) – Park Yoon Gyu – Seo Seung Un
Only debuting in February, there is still something of an unknown quantity about her, however, everything she’s been asked to do she has done very well including a win over the distance at class 4 last start.

3. Sting Ray [Forest Camp – Straight Cash (Straight Man)] (9/4/4/1) – Kim Jae Sub – Kim Dong Young
The KRA Cup Mile winner and therefore the likely favourite especially as the increased distance will also be in his favour – he’s already won over 1900 metres. If he runs anything like his best, he will be very difficult to beat.

4. Yapung [Menifee – Wild Life (Wild Again)] (10/3/2/1) – Kim Sang Suk – Chae Gyu Jun
Last year’s champion Juvenile has shown little this term. He was heavily beaten in the Cup Mile and there is little to recommend him here.

5. Suseong BR [Volponi – Storm Cat’s Kitten (Irish River)] (8/3/2/1) – Park Jong Kon – Shin Hyoung Chul
A well-beaten 3rd behind Brig last time out and it’s hard to suggest backing him to reverse that. Has consistently placed but in weaker company.

6. Heungnyong Bisang [Ft.Stockton – Miss Alwahush (Alwahush)] (11/4/1/1) – Kim Jeom Oh – Jo In Kwen
Over the winter he was one of the Derby favourites but while he began the year with a class 4 win over the distance, he form has dipped culminating in a poor run in the Cup Mile. Will need a lot of improvement if he is to compete here.

7. Brig [Menifee – Delicias (Deputy Minister)] (8/5/1/0) An Byung Ki – Moon Se Young
The mount of last year’s winning jockey Moon Se Young skipped the Cup Mile and comes into the race with back to back class 3 wins over the distance to his name. He won’t be favourite but he has a chance.

8. Unhae [Ingrandire – Silver Meteor (Creator)] (7/3/1/2) Park Byoung Il – Lee Sang Hyeok
Another who comes into the race after consecutive wins at 1800 metres albeit at a slightly lower lever. A place may be the most realistic hope.

9. High Five [Creek Cat – Nams Gulch (Gulch) (10/4/1/1) Oh Moon Sik – Choi Si Dae
Has won at Busan over 1800 metres in a fast time. Stepped up to class 2 last time and was finished a creditable, if uninspring, 3rd. Not one of the favourites but could cause some problems.

10. Titan [Creek Cat – Shar Baby (Talinum)] (8/3/3/2) Lee Shin Young – Ham Wan Sik
One of few in the field to have made it up to class 2, Lee Shin Young’s second runner is a half-brother of last year’s Derby runner-up Nobel Pokpung. He hasn’t actually won at higher than class 4. Always there or thereabouts, he usually finds one or two just a little bit quicker and that will probably be the case here too.

11. K Tap [Menifee – Summit Party (Ecton Park)] (6/4/1/1) Bae Sae Sun – Park Tae Jong
Like favourite Sting Ray, K Tap’s dam also won the JRA Trophy. K Tap himself hasn’t yet run as a 3-year old, his last appearance being his 2nd place in the Breeders’ Cup last November. Prior to the he won the Gwacheon Mayor’s Stakes. He was very talented as a 2-year-old but it is difficult to back him after such a long lay-off when there are so many capable opponents.

12. Major King [Pico Central – Still Golden (Gold Fever)] (6/4/1/1) Kim Sang Suk – You Hyun Myung
He was 3rd over the distance in a class 2 race last time ending a run of 4 consecutive wins. A real talent, he has a strong chance to give his sire Pico Central a Derby win in the year of his untimely death.

13. Speedy First [Menifee – Speedy Deedy (Victory Gallop)] (5/4/0/1) Kim Young Kwan – Kanichiro Fujii
Cracking little filly who has won her last 4 starts. Untested at distances greater than 1500 metres, the Oaks in August may be a more realistic target, however, while a win may be asking too much, she shouldn’t be discounted.

14. Last Mudae [The Groom Is Red – White Aloa (White Muzzle)] (13/1/4/1) Ji Yong Cheol – Yukio Abe
Still at class 4 after 13 starts, there seems little to suggest that he is going to rectify that here.

15. Amell’s Atom [Menifee – Amell (Boston Harbor)] (10/4/3/0) Peter Wolsley – Jo Sung Gon
4th in the KRA Cup Mile, he dead-heated for victory in his last start. A talented horse, he has an outside chance of giving Aussie Peter Wolsley his first Derby winner. Champion jockey Jo Sung Gon gives up a weekend of rides at Busan to partner him, which is a good sign.

16. Fantastic Jazz [Menifee – Sorority Jazz (Dixieland Band)] (7/4/0/3) Kim Young Kwan – Darryll Holland
3rd in the KRA Cup Mile, the half-brother of 2008 Korean Derby winner Ebony Storm has since been moved from Peter Wolsley’s stable to that of Kim Young Kwan. Hasn’t won at further than 1300 metres but looks to have a lot more to give. Darryll Holland, who was second on Raon Boss in the KRA Cup Mile, gets his 1st Korean Derby ride.

The Korean Derby: All The Winners So Far

The Korean Derby, which will be run at Seoul Race Park this coming Sunday is a relatively recent addition to the Korean racing year.

Except for an enforced stoppage during the Korean War, racing has been running on the peninsula continuously since the 1920’s but while those early years saw horses racing each other, it wasn’t exactly the kind of horseracing we’re familiar with today. Many horses weren’t even thoroughbred and there was little point in having a Derby for three-year olds.

Jigeum I Sungan was the 2012 Korean Derby winner (KRA)

Jigeum I Sungan was the 2012 Korean Derby winner (KRA)

The establishment of a domestic thoroughbred breeding industry and the introduction of the private ownership of race-horses – and therefore prize money – changed all of that. The late 1980’s and early 1990s saw the creation of big Stakes races and, with the breeding industry reaching some maturity, finally in 1998, the Derby was run for the first time. In 2007, the Korean Triple Crown Series was inaugurated with the Ttukseom Cup, Derby and Minister’s Cup making up the three Classic races. Indeed, in that first year, J.S. Hold took the lot.

The following year, as the first set of foals sent to Busan after the track’s opening in 2005 reached maturity, the KRA Cup Mile at the Southern track was re-designated as the “Korean Guineas” and replaced the Ttukseom Cup as the first jewel in the crown. The filly Sangseung Ilro won the first two legs in 2009 and Jigeum I Sungan won the Derby and Minister’s Cup last year, but no horse has yet won all three under the new set-up.

In the fifteen editions of the Derby run so far, nine colts and five fillies have taken the prize which for its first three years was run over just seven furlongs before moving up to its current nine in 2001. When the first crop of foals to be sent to race exclusively at Busan reached three-years of age in 2008, the Derby – and other major Stakes races – became open to horses from both Seoul and Busan. Since then, raiders from the South have won three out of five times and in KRA Cup Mile winner Sting Ray, have the favourite for this year’s edition.

Here are all the winners with pedigree and jockey:

2012: Jigeum I Sungan [Ingrandire – Solmaru (Mujaazif)] – Moon Se Young – A horse who as just got better and better since winning the Derby at generous odds a year ago. He went on to win the Minister’s Cup, the final leg of the Trip Crown in October before coming back as a 4-year old to win the Owners’ Cup last month.

2011: Gwangyajeil [Vicar – Hurricane Havoc (Jade Robbery)] – Oh Kyoung Hoan – He skipped the KRA Cup Mile and went straight to the Derby. It paid off as he was an easy winner. Injury meant he only ran twice more and was retired to Stud at the end of his three-year old season. Bred by the late Im Sang Yun, who also bred J.S. Hold.

2010: Cheonnyeon Daero [Creek Cat – Doneitmyway (Northern Flagship)] – Park Geum Man – Money Car, winner of the KRA Cup Mile was sent off the favourite but got sucked into a speed duel with the sprinter Seonbongbulpae in the early stages. Still, the favourite had a considerable lead entering the final furlong. He was spent though, and Cheonnyeon Daero, a 30/1 shot, chased him down and caught him on the line. Money Car was never the same again and only ran once more. Cheonnyeon Daero went on to finish second in the Minister’s Cup – the final leg of the Triple Crown. A horse with a bad case of seond-itis – he finished 2nd 14 times during his career, he was retired in early 2012 and will go to Stud.

2009: Sangseung Ilro [Concept Win – Ms. Whiskey (Whiskey Wisdom)] – Jo Sung Gon
– The filly, a shock winner of the KRA Cup Mile a month earlier made it two in a row for Busan. She couldn’t maintain her form over the whole year, however, and went down to a shock defeat in the Oaks in August before returning for a creditable third in the Minister’s Cup, the third and final leg of the Triple Crown in October. Went on to win two more Stakes races as a four-year old before being retired from racing in January 2011 for broodmare duties.

2008: Ebony Storm [Buster’s Daydream – Sorority Jazz (Dixieland Band)] – Shim Seung Tae – Two years ago was the first time that Busan’s best three-year olds were invited up to Seoul to contest the Derby and it was one of those visitors, Ebony Storm, the longest shot on the board, who took victory in a monsoon downpour. Ebony Storm is still running as an 8-year old, specialising in distances of up to a mile and his half-brother Fantastic Jazz is among this year’s hopefuls.

2007: J.S. Hold [Ft. Stockton – Hwangsangjiljoo (Passetreul)] – Moon Jung Kyun – Widely considered the best Korean bred horse ever. J.S. Hold landed the inaugural Triple Crown injuring himself in the final race and not returning to the track. He retired with nine wins from ten starts and is now at Stud.

2006: Baengnokjeong [Slew O’Green – Lesu Run (Proper Reality)] – Hwang Soon Do – The rank outsider at over 80-1 on Derby day, Baengnokjeong was at the time, the longest priced horse to win the Derby.

2005: Saebyeok Dongja [Fiercely – Cheongpa (The Rodgers Four)] – Chun Chang Ki – Raced on at the top-level for three more years. His jockey, Chun Chang Ki became a trainer and sadly passed away of cancer in 2012.

2004: Mupae Gangja [Didyme – A Heun A Hop Kan (Kinsky)] – Kim Hyo Seob – One of the top colts of this decade, Mupae Gangja won ten of his sixteen races including the Chairman’s Trophy and Minister’s Cup along with the Derby in 2004.

2003: Habidongju [Silent Warrior – Kahwa (Zoffany)] – Park Tae Jong – The last filly to win until Sangseung Ilro in 2009.

2002: Haeam Janggun [Didyme – Ronde (Toast The Champ)] – Lim Dae Gyu – Ronde foaled her second Derby winner in as many years with this filly who won eight of her fourteen races and gave the late Lim Dae Gyu a Derby victory.

2001: Haetpit Maeul [Mujaazif – Ronde (Toast The Champ)] – Ji Ha Ju – Starting a run of three consecutive years of filly triumphs was Haetpit Maeul. Now a broodmare with some success.

2000: Haekdol’pung [Lost Mountain – Swift Diplomacy (Nice Pirate)] – Park Tae Jong – Korea’s most successful ever jockey got his second straight Derby win on the favourite. It was tight though, with Haekdol’pung getting the verdict in a three-way photograph. Sire Lost Mountain died in 2009.

1999: Manseokkkeun [Fiercely – Komplication (Kris. S)] – Park Tae Jong – Yes, he really did have three consecutive ‘k’s in his name. Park Tae Jong got the first of his three Derby winners on the colt whose sire, Fiercely, died in 2009.

1998: Useung Yegam [Happy Jazz Band – Man Jang Dae()] – Song Seok Hen – Nine of the 14 runners in the first Derby were fillies and the favourite Useung Yegam, whose dam wasn’t even in the studbook, took the honours by a length.

* This post is a slightly updated version of the one posted in corresponding Derby build-ups over the past couple of years.

Road To Prince Drives On At Busan

The final weekend of racing before the Korean Derby saw low-key cards at both Seoul and Busan although there were one or two notable performances.

Even as Best Captain made it 3 from 3, lots of minds were on next week at Seoul today

Lots of minds were on next week at Seoul today

Win of the day went to Road To Prince (Pico Central) in the feature race at Busan. The 4-year old colt recorded his 8th victory in 12 starts with a crushing 9-length win over Tamna Ace (Thunder Gulch) under Joe Fujii. A late-starter, Road To Prince didn’t run as 2-year old but is turning into a very fine racehorse.

Seoul’s feature race was a less than exciting affair but saw a first class 1 win for filly Chowon Yeoje (Forest Camp). She led home Super Rich (Osumi Jet) and favourite Special Win (Tahamkke) by just over a length at the end of the 10 furlong handicap.

Earlier in the day, there was a maiden win for 3-year old US import Jijonui Sinsegi (Leroidesanimaux). The colt made his only previous start last year before getting injured but was on good form today taking the 6-furlong race 5 by a considerable margin.

Also impressive was locally bred colt Best Captain (Revere-Onethindime) who remains unbeaten after landing his 3rd victory in race 8. It’s too late for the Derby but, if he continues to show this kind of development, he may well be a contender come the final leg of the Triple Crown in October.

Now, however, attention focuses on next week’s Korean Derby.
KRA Cup Mile winner Sting Ray (Forest Camp) will be travelling up from Busan and will be the likely favourite to take his second Classic of the year. We start the build-up very soon.

K Pop Becomes 1st Korean Export Winner in Malaysia

K Pop (Vicar) came home on top in race 5 at the Penang Turf Club in Malaysia last Saturday to become the first Korean bred horse to win a race in that country and in the process record an important milestone for the Korean breeding industry.

Journey Ends in Winner's Circle - K Pop on his way to export in 2011 (KRA)

Journey Ends in Winner’s Circle – K Pop on his way to export in 2011 (KRA)

A 4-year old gelding, K Pop was one of three horses exported from Korea to Malaysia in 2011. They were followed by six more in 2012. K Pop was making his 5th start and had one previous 2nd place finish to his name before last Saturday’s win. His time was 4 seconds quicker than the Seoul Racecourse record for the same distance of 1700 metres although it was on turf.

The KRA began its breeding program in the early 1990’s, however, the three sent to Malaysia in 2011 were the first to be commercially exported. The KRA has set a target of 50 horses per year to be exported by 2020, primarily to Macau and Malaysia, however the long-term goal is to break into the potentially huge market of the gargantuan neighbour to the West of the Korean peninsula.

Last year, Feel So Good (Ft.Stockton) became the first Korean bred horse to win a race in the United States. However, like a number of Korean horses each year, he had been sent there for training purposes and was brought home shortly afterwards.

K Pop is different and many involved in the breeding industry here will have been celebrating his win. As for K Pop himself, he celebrated breaking his maiden by promptly dumping his apprentice jockey onto the track as soon as they crossed the line.

Weekend Preview

We’re just a week away from the Korean Derby so it’s a pretty quiet weekend of racing in store for us across the peninsula.

Springtime in Seoul

Springtime in Seoul

As has been the case for the past couple of weeks, Busan sees perhaps the best of the action. Tamna Ace (Thunder Gulch), with 10 wins from his 15 career starts, headlines Sunday’s feature race. He’ll be up against Road To Prince (Pico Central) who has 7 from 11, in the 1600 metre handicap.

At Seoul, the weekend’s feature race is the very last on Sunday although while an interesting betting test, it’s not likely to set any pulses racing from a sporting point of view.

Overseas jockeys Darryll Holland, Joe Fujii and Ureshi Katsunori have plenty of rides and chances across the weekend at Busan while Ikuyasu Kurakane also has opportunities to get among the winners at Seoul.

One jockey who won’t be in contention, however, is Park Geum Man. The 2010 Derby winning rider has picked up a 3-month ban for a ride last Friday.

Here’s what’s happening when and where:

Friday May 10

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

Saturday May 11

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

Sunday May 12

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