Month: July 2013

Tough Win Takes Busan Metropolitan

Tough Win asserted his authority over Korean racing with hard-fought but eventually emphatic win in the Busan Metropolitan City Mayor’s Stakes this afternoon.

Tough Win and Cho Kyoung Ho take the Busan Metropolitan (Pic: KRA)

Tough Win and Cho Kyoung Ho take the Busan Metropolitan (Pic: KRA)

The 2010 winner started 2/1 favourite and was always well positioned before getting the better of young up and comer Beolmaui Kkum and defending champion Dangdae Bulpae in the home straight. Only the absent Jiguem I Sungan currently has any claims on him at Seoul and he dispatched Busan’s finest with ease today.

Running 2nd, Beolmaui Kkum showed that he has talent and can stay a reasonable distance too. He will be one to watch for the rest of the season. As for Dangdae Bulpae, there were many doubts as to the fitness of the defending champion, who came into the race off a 6-month lay-off. While he couldn’t beat Tough Win, a 3rd place finish is extremely creditable and suggests we haven’t seen the last of the 3-time President’s Cup winner.

A disappointment was Gamdounguibada. The filly was the one who relived Tough Win of his Grand Prix Stakes title at Seoul last December and she was well-backed to repeat the feat here. Instead of challenging Tough Win, however, she finished 11th which makes for 2 poor runs in a row.

Now 6 years old, Tough Win recorded his 22nd career victory and is unbeaten in all 4 starts this year. The Busan Metropolitan is often referred to as the “Summer Grand Prix”. After today, by the time the real “Grand Prix” comes around in December, Tough Win will most likely be favourite to regain that title as well.

Busan Metropolitan City Mayor’s Stakes – Busan Race Park – 2000M – Sunday July 28, 2013

1. Tough Win (USA) [Yonaguska – Maggie May’s Sword (Sword Dance)] – Cho Kyoung Ho – 3.0, 1.3
2. Beolmaui Kkum (USA) [Put It Back – Wild Dixie Gal (Wild Event)] – Choi Si Dae – 1.8
3. Dangdae Bulpae (KOR) [Biwa Shinseiki – Indeed My Dear (Alydeed)] – Jo Sung Gon – 3.7

Distances: 2.5 lengths/4 lengths
Also Ran: 4. Lion Santa (USA) 5. Viva Ace (USA) 6. Eongmandori (USA) 7. Ghost Whisper (KOR) 8. Prince Kingdom (USA) 9. Murangae (USA) 10. Choengchun Bulpae (KOR) 11. Gamdonguibada (USA) 12. Hwanggeumjijon (USA) 13. Wild Myeongun (USA) 14. Call Me Tiger (NZ) DQ: Blueband Mama (USA) DQ: Wonderful Namhae (KOR

Busan Metropolitan Stakes: Full Preview

A full-field of 16, including 2 previous winners, will line up for the Busan Metropolitan City Mayor’s Stakes at Busan this Sunday.

Dangdae Bulpae and Jo Sung Gon will look for a 2nd consecutive Busan Metropolitan

Dangdae Bulpae and Jo Sung Gon will look for a 2nd consecutive Busan Metropolitan

The race is sometimes known as the “summer Grand Prix” bringing as it does, the best horses from both Seoul and Busan together in a way that only the season-ending Grand Prix Stakes usually does.

This year, though, Seoul disappoints. Granted, they may well have the winner in the shape of 2010 victor Tough Win but apart from him, all the leading contenders are from the host track. Last year’s champion Dangdae Bulpae returns after a 5 month lay-off while Grand Prix winner Gamdonguibada also takes her chance.

Australian trainer Peter Wolsley, closing in on 200 Korean wins saddles, 2 runners while Darryll Holland, Joe Fujii, Masakazu Tanaka and Yukio Abe al have rides. Here is a full run-down of the runners and riders (Name [Pedigree] Age, Sex, (Runs/1/2/3) – Jockey (Home track):

Busan Metropolitan City Mayor’s Stakes (KOR GIII) – Busan Race Park – 2000M – Sunday July 28 – 16:40

1. Call Me Tiger (NZ) [One Cool Cat – Hairini (Zabeel)] 6 H (27/4/2/2) – Lee Dong Kug (Seoul)
Hasn’t really made the grade at Class 1 and is without a win in 2 years. Won’t change here.

2. Viva Ace (USA) [Macho Uno – Dancing Lake (Meadowlake)] 5 G (25/11/7/2) – Song Keong Yun (Busan)
Very solid horse who was 2nd to Beolmaui Kkum and ahead of Gamdonguibada in the Gukje Sinmun Cup last start. Knows where the winning line is and could cause problems. Worth looking at if he seems neglected in the betting market.

3. Wild Myeongun (USA) [D’Wildcat – Start Applauding (Jump Start)] 4 C (15/7/4/2) – Lim Sung Sil (Busan)
Big taent who has only been out of the money once. A rather disappointing 4th last time out behind weaker rivals than he’ll face here and is without a win in three. Will have backers though.

4. Lion Santa (USA) [Lion Heart – Santa Fe Strip (Phone Trick)] 5 H (19/11/1/2) – Jo Chang Wook (Busan)
Was injured for 6 months after this race last year. He won his return and has hit the money on his 4 subsequent starts. It is hard to recommend him at 2000 metres though.

5. Prince Kingdom (USA) [Roar Of The Tiger – Special Wife (Husband)] 5 G (22/9/4/1) – You Hyun Myung (Busan)
Was in cracking form at the tail-end of 2012 but has struggled to repeat this year. A place is not beyond him but a win seems unlikely.

6. Tough Win (USA) [Yonaguska – Maggie May’s Sword] 6 G (28/21/2/1) – Cho Kyoung Ho (Seoul)
The Boss. He won this race as a 3-year old in 2010 but disappointed in 2011 and 2012. Lost his Grand Prix title last December but has three easy wins behind him this year. He will top many people’s tickets.

7. Murangae (USA) [Sun River – Merrill Gold (Gold Fever)] 4 G (24/1/6/4) – Yukio Abe (Seoul)
You’d think 26 year veteran trainer Ji Yong Cheol would have better things to do on a Sunday afternoon than take Murangae to Busan. His only win was only three starts ago but while he seems a late-developer who runs very consistently, he gets consistently beaten and that won’t change here.

8. Cheongchun Bulpae (KOR) [Milwaukee Brew – Placid Star (Placid Fund)] 4 G (14/8/1/1) – Chae Gyu Jun (Busan)
One of 2 entries in the race by Aussie trainer Peter Wolsley. He has 2 wins from 3 starts to his name at class 1 (including one behind stablemate Ghost Whisper). He is second-string here but Wolsley doesn’t enter his horses where they can’t challenge for money.

9. Blueband Mama (USA) [Purge – Meadowbryte (Meadowlake)] 5 M (27/3/4/2) – Park Si Cheon (Seoul)
Foinavon in the Grand National, Mine That Bird in the Kentucky Derby. Those 2 would be nothing compared with Blueband Mama winning this race.

10 Wonderful Namhae (KOR) [Vicar – Make That Call (Glow)] 4 C (19/9/2/2) – Tanaka Masakazu (Busan)
A well-beaten 2nd behind Ghost Whisper last time but has plenty of talent. Probably 3 or 4 will be too quick for him here.

11. Dangdae Bulpae (KOR) [Biwa Shinseiki – Indeed My Dear (Alydeed)] 6 H (29/19/2/2) – Jo Sung Gon (Busan)
A 3-time President’s Cup winner, holder of the record for most Stakes races won in Korea, arguably the best horse Korea has ever produced and the defending champion. The problem is that he hasn’t run since February due to injury and was touch and go to make it to the start line here. Comfortably won his race trial earlier this month. If he is in form though, at 2000 metres, he is very difficult to beat.

12. Gamdonguibada (USA) [Werblin – Radyla (Country Pine)] 4 F (13/8/2/3) – Kanichiro Fujii (Busan)
Champion racehorse of 2012 by virtue of winning the Grand Prix Stakes at Seoul last December, she started this year a pair of routine victories before turning in an out of sorts 3rd behind Beolmaui Kkum last time out. You can’t be out of sorts in this kind of company and if she runs to her best, she has every chance.

13. Hwanggeumjijon (USA) [Medallist – Milady Sadie (Meadow Monster)] 4 G (12/2/1/3) – Kim Gui Bae (Seoul)
Forget Foinavon and Mine That Bird, we’re into Buster Douglas over Mike Tyson territory if Hwanggeumjijon wins this. His jockey, Kim Gui Bae, has been riding for 34 years. In that time he has ridden just 299 winners. This will not be number 300.

14. Eongmandori (USA) [Purim – Allbow (Rainbow Blues)] 4 C (18/4/4/2) – Kim Dong Young (Busan)
2nd behind Wild Myeongun on his class 1 debut last time out after 2 smart wins at class 2. Is an improving type but looks a little outclassed here.

15. Beolmaui Kkum (USA) [Put It Back – Wild Dixie Gal (Wild Event)] 3 C – Choi Si Dae (Busan)
The wildcard. Full brother to Seoul-based Stakes winning filly Kkakjaengi, he beat three of his rivals here to win the Gukje Sinmun Cup last start with Gamdonguibada among those defeated. That was his frist try at class 1 and, while he’s never gone 2000 metres, there’s no reason to think he won’t get it. A potential star.

16. Ghost Whisper (KOR) [Gotham City – Emmy’s Lullaby] 5 G – Darryll Holland (Busan)
Collapsed with heat exhaustion after this race last year and was given the rest of the year off. In wonderful form at the moment though winning his last 3 outings. Must be given respect and if things go his way, under Darryll Holland, he has the ability to pull off what would be the biggest win of trainer Peter Wolsley’s career.

Worth The Wait? Fly Top Queen Wins Again

Fly Top Queen, the most expensive racehorse ever imported into Korea, made her second racecourse appearance and coasted to her second easy win at Seoul Race Park this afternoon.

Fly Top Queen coasts to victory at Seoul

Fly Top Queen coasts to victory at Seoul

The 3-year old filly was sent of the long odds-on favourite for the class 4 race over 6 furlongs and jockey Park Tae Jong never moved as he guided Fly Top Queen to a 6-length triumph.

Fly Top Queen [Henny Hughes – Cape Discovery (Cape Town)] was imported to Korea last year after being bought for $225,000 at Ocala. Suffering setback after setback she finally made it to the racecourse a month ago. So far, she’s been worth the wait.

Weekend Race Times

We start a couple of hours later this weekend. It’s not really evening racing (due to the ongoing supposedly precarious power supply situation in Korea we’re missing out on that this year) but it does give us a little bit more of a lie-in the mornings. Here’s what’s happening when and where:

Friday July 19

Busan Race Park: 10 races from 14:20 to 19:40
Jeju Race Park: 9 races from 14:15 to 18:10

Saturday July 20

Seoul Race Park: 12 races from 13:00 to 19:40
Jeju Race Park: 9 races from 13:30 to 18:10

Sunday July 21

Seoul Race Park: 10 races from 13:00 to 19:40
Busan Race Park: 6 races from 13:25 to 17:40

Smarty Moonhak Returns To Training

Almost a year after being diagnosed with tendinitis, Smarty Moonhak, the phenom who took Korean racing by storm as a 2-year old in 2011, has quietly been returned to Seoul Race Park to resume training after his treatment was deemed a success.

Back: Smarty Moonhak (Pic: KRA)

Back: Smarty Moonhak (Pic: KRA)

Smarty Moonhak [Smarty Jones – Madeira M’Dear (Black Tie Affair)], a bargain $14,000 purchase at the 2010 Keeneland September Yearling sale, was beaten on his debut but went on to record 4 straight crushing victories against older opposition culminating in a 10-length win in the Turkey Jockey Club Trophy in November 2011.

This earned him an unexpected nomination to the season ending 2300 metre Grand Prix Stakes – the first 2-year old ever to receive one – in which he ran 3rd behind Tough Win and Mister Park.

He started his 3-year old season in imperious form winning four class 1 races with his by now customary ease before travelling to Busan for the “Summer Grand Prix”, the Busan Metropolitan City Mayor’s Stakes.

On a sweltering night on the south coast and sent off the odds-on favourite, Smarty Moonhak found himself beaten by Dangdae Bulpae, a horse who by that time was already winner of more Stakes races than any other in Korea.

Recovery: Smarty Moonhak with owner Ha Jun Hwan (Pic: KRA)

Recovery: Smarty Moonhak with owner Ha Jun Hwan (Pic: Sports Hankook)

While a slight disappointment, it was no disgrace. However, a week after the race it was confirmed that tendinitis had been detected. Coming just weeks after the tragic death of his Grand Prix rival Mister Park, it was a heavy blow for racing.

Between spells of treatment, Smarty Moonhak recuperated at Taepyeong Farm, the same place he had stayed when first imported to Korea. He returned to Seoul Race Park on July 4 and is now in the care of trainer Park Hui Cheol, his previous handler Ko Ok Bong having retired during his absence.

Reaction to his return has been mixed. There is happiness that the treatment has been successful but also a certain amount of acknowledgement that past experience tells us that Smarty Moonhak may not be the same horse he was before.

There have been instances of horses returning after long lay-offs. Baekgwang (The Groom Is Red) had 2 year-long absences, receiving a similar kind of stem-cell treatment during the second one. He returned – and won a class 1 race – but was retired shortly after.

Then there have been those who have returned to the track but never made it to racing. J.S Hold (Ft. Stockton) was injured as he won the final leg of the 2007 Korean Triple Crown. He returned to training nearly a year later but never made it onto the course.

While he has been seen on the track in the mornings, Smarty Moonhak is yet to put in a timed-work. His next step is to be entered for a race-trial so he can re-qualify to race. Then and only then can he be entered for real.

Connections have assured racing fans that they wouldn’t have brought him back if it wasn’t safe to do so and he will be returned to Taepyeong to begin his Stud career if anything changes. He won’t race unless they are convinced he will do himself justice.

Welcome back, Smarty Moonhak. Be safe.

Watch: Smarty Moonhak as a 2-year old destroying a field of older horses in the TJK Trophy in 2011:

Gwanggyo Bisang & Park Tae Jong Win Munhwa Ilbo Cup

Gwanggyo Bisang, a 3-year-old gelding, cruised to victory in the Munhwa Ilbo Cup at Seoul Race Park today.

Gwanggyo Bisang and Park Tae Jong in the Munhwa Ilbo Cup Winner's Circle

Gwanggyo Bisang and Park Tae Jong in the Munhwa Ilbo Cup Winner’s Circle

Geldings are ineligible for the 3-year-old Classics. If they were, Gwanggyo Bisang (Menifee) would surely have been a leading contender. He came into the race today with 5 wins from 6 starts at a variety of distances and, after sitting towards the back of the field during th early stages, he made short work of passing the whole lot to win by just under 3 lengths. K Tap (Menifee), a Derby also-ran was 2nd with the promising Heukgisa (A.P.Dancer) in 3rd.

It won’t be long until we see Gwanggyo Bisang in class 1 action and his is a name to look out for later in the year.

While it was a first visit to the Stakes winner’s circle for Gwanggyo Bisang, for his jockey it was anything but. Park Tae Jong has won more races than any other rider in Korean history – he’s closing in on 2,000 – and is one of only 3 jockeys still riding who first qualified for their license at the old Ttukseom Racecourse.

The 47-year-old Park’s first Stakes win came in the now discontinued Mugunghwa Cup in 1992 and with the exception of the Oaks, has won every big race in Korea. He may win a few more on Gwanggyo Bisang.

Munhwa Ilbo Cup – Seoul Race Park – 1400M – July 14, 2013

1. Gwanggyo Bisang (KOR) [Menifee – Touch Upon (Touch Gold)] – Park Tae Jong – 4.5, 1.9
2. K Tap (KOR) [Menifee – Summit Party (Ecton Park)] – Moon Se Young – 2.4
3. Heukgisa (KOR) [A.P. Dancer – Mansumugang (Half Term)] – Cho Kyoung Ho – 1.9

Distances: 2.5 lengths/Neck – 14 ran

* Next week sees the start of what is perhaps the highlight of the Korean racing year – four weeks of evening racing. During that time, the first race at Seoul will be around 2pm with the last around 9pm.

Weekend Race Times

No Stakes races this weekend but still plenty of action across Korea. Might be best to bring an umbrella though. Here’s what’s happening when and where:

Friday July 12

Busan Race Park: 10 races from 11:50 to 18:00
Jeju Race Park: 9 races from 13:10 to 17:30

Saturday July 13

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

Sunday July 14

Seoul Race Park: 11 races from 11:00 to 18:00
Busan Race Park: 6 races from 12:50 to 17:10

Indie Band Takes DoMin Ilbo As Speedy First Goes Solo

Indie Band landed a commanding victory in the Gyeongnam DoMin Ilbo Stakes at Busan today but the story of the race was in the opening few seconds as Korean Derby winner and hot favourite Speedy First unseated her rider Joe Fujii after being interfered with.

Speedy First (Menifee) broke quickly but after only 100 metres, was cut off by Daejiuibit on his outside, on whom jockey Jo Chan Hoon had momentarily lost control. With nowhere to go, Fujii ended up on the track.

This left the way clear for Indie Band (Ecton Park), stablemate of Speedy First, to ease to a 4-length win from Major King (Pico Central).

It was a 5th win from 8 starts for the promising 3-year old colt Indie Band who has to now be in contention for big prizes this autumn, principally the Minister’s Cup when he should come up against Speedy First again. For jockey Lim Sung Sil, it was a 2nd big race win in as many months after taking victory in the KNN Cup on Yongduseong a few weeks ago.

As for Speedy First, she reportedly suffered no ill-effects from her unsupervised gallop around Gimhae and remains on course for the Korean Oaks next month.

Gyeongnam DoMin Ilbo Stakes – Busan Race Park – 1800M – July 7, 2013

1. Indie Band (KOR) [Ecton Park – Plie (Dixieland Band)] – Lim Sung Sil – 5.4, 1.6
2. Major King (KOR) [Pico Central – Still Golden (Gold Fever)] – You Hyun Myung – 1.5
3. High Five (KOR) [Creek Cat – Nam’s Gulch (Gulch)] – Choi SI Dae – 3.1

Distances: 4 lengths/2.5 lengths – 10 ran

Also suffering no ill-effects was her jockey. Joe Fujii cleaned off the sand and 45 minutes later got on board another star of the Kim Young Kwan training-machine Tamna Hwangje to win the class 1 finale over a mile with ease. Tamna Hwangje (Montbrook) was recording his 11th win from 22 starts and despite carrying 62kg is looking unbeatable at anything up to a mile.

Up at Seoul it was a relatively low-key day of racing. The feature race was won by Gumanseok (Vicar), who despite only being sent off at 8/1, followed up his success in last month’s Sports Chosun Cup with a solid class 1 win over 1800 metres.

Weekend Race Times

Derby winning filly Speedy First is the weekend headliner, making her first appearance at her home track of Busan since winning the biggest race of all in Seoul back in May. Joe Fujii will partner her as she lines up for the Gyeongnam Do-Min Ilbo Stakes on Sunday afternoon.

Back: Derby winner Speedy First

Back: Derby winner Speedy First

There is also an interesting looking feature race at Busan on Friday as KRA Cup Mile winner and beaten Derby favourite Sting Ray also makes his racecourse return. He faces established stars Wonderful Namhae (with Fujii on board), filly Dongteuja and Peter Wolsley’s Ghost Whisper, which will be ridden by Darryll Holland.

We’ll have a full preview of the big Sunday race over the next couple of days, in the meantime, here is what’s happening when and where over the weekend:

Friday July 5
Busan Race Park: 10 races from 11:50 to 18:00
Jeju Race Park: 8 races from 13:10 to 17:00

Saturday July 6
Seoul Race Park: 11 races from 11:00 to 17:40
Jeju Race Park: 8 races from 12:30 to 16:55

Sunday July 7
Seoul Race Park: 11 races from 11:00 to 18:00
Busan Race Park: 6 races from 12:50 to 17:05