Month: November 2013

Weekend Preview: The “Breeders’ Cup” – Juvenile Championship To Be Decided at Seoul

The best 2-year olds from Seoul and Busan meet for the first time this Sunday in the Breeders’ Cup, the nation’s championship Juvenile race

Winter time in Seoul: It's been cold this week but it's set for a warmer weekend

Winter time in Seoul: It’s been cold this week but it’s set for a warmer weekend

Raon Morris and Jungang Gongju won Seoul and Busan’s respective big 2-year-old races back in October and they are joined by 14 others as they step up a furlong to compete for the overall title of Champion 2-year-old.

Seven fillies take their chance and two of them, Art Nouveau and Geumbit Hwanhui. Meanwhile two foreign jockeys from Busan will be in town. Joe Fujii partners Queen’s Blade – which means it is to be watched very carefully – while Jerome Lermyte makes his capital debut on Namdo Trio.

Here’s the full field (Name [Sire] Sex (Starts/1/2/3) – Jockey (Home track):

Breeders’ Cup – Seoul Race Park – 1400M – December 1, 2013 – 15:45

1. Gangchi [Volponi] C (5/2/0/1) – Lim Sung Sil (Busan)
2. Art Nouveau [Menifee] F (2/2/0/0) – Cho Kyoung Ho (Seoul)
3. Sangseung Janggun [One Cool Cat] C (6/2/1/0) – Park Geum Man (Busan)
4. Raon Morris [Yankee Victor] C (4/3/1/0) – Moon Se Young (Seoul)
5. Queen’s Blade [Menifee] F (4/2/2/0) – Kanichiro Fujii
6. Cheonwang Dungi [Didyme] C (5/2/2/0) – Shin Hyoung Chul
7. Yeonggwanguichampion [Menifee] C (3/2/0/1) – Song Keong Yun (Busan)
8. Nubi Queen [Menifee] F (5/2/1/0) – Jo In Kwen (Seoul)
9. Korea Hunter [One Cool Cat] C (6/0/3/1) – Mun Jung Won (Busan)
10. Secret Garden [Archer City Slew] F (5/2/0/1) – Kim Young Min (Busan)
11. Geumbit Hwanhui [Peace Rules] F (2/2/0/0) – Jang Chu Youl (Seoul)
12. Forever Daemul [Exploit] C (4/2/0/2) – Park Tae Jong (Seoul)
13. Cheongnyong Bisang [Volponi] C (4/2/0/0) – Seo Seung Un (Seoul)
14. Namdo Trio [Didyme] C (4/1/2/0) – Jerome Lermyte (Busan)
15. Pureun Geotap [Menifee] F (5/1/1/1) – Lee Chan Ho (Seoul)
16. Jungang Gongju [Menifee] F (4/2/2/0) – Choi Si Dae (Busan)

Here’s what’s happening when and where this weekend:

Friday November 29
Busan Race Park: 11 races from 11:50 to 18:00
Jeju Race Park: 9 races from 13:10 to 17:40

Saturday November 30
Seoul Race Park: 11 races from 11:00 to 18:00
Jeju Race Park: 9 races from 12:20 to 17:10

Sunday December 1
Seoul Race Park: 11 races from 11:00 to 18:00 including the Breeders’ Cup at 15:45
Busan Race Park: 6 races from 12:50 to 17:00

Grand Prix Voting Results: Jigeum I Sungan, Beolmaui Kkum Top Poll

The results of the public vote for invitations to the Grand Prix Stakes at Seoul Race Park on December 15 were published today.

Popular: Jigeum I Sungan

Popular: Jigeum I Sungan

Like Japan’s “Arima Kinen” the public gets to choose which horses they want to see run in the season-ending showpiece. This year 42 horses – 21 each from Seoul and Busan – were on the ballot with the top 8 from each track getting the first invites to fill the maximum field size of 16.

Connections are still under no obligation to run but it is expected that most will. 2012 Korean Derby winner Jigeum I Sungan topped the Seoul vote with Smarty Moonhak, 3rd in the race as a 2-year-old in 2011, just behind him. That year’s Grand Prix winner Tough Win was the public’s 3rd choice.

At Busan, Gukje Sinmun winner Beolmaui Kkum headed the poll with recent President’s Cup winner Indie Band in 2nd place ahead of Gyeongbudaero. 2012 Grand Prix winner Gamdonguibada was 4th in the Busan vote.

Peter Wolsley’s Governor’s cup heroine Secret Whisper is sure of a run, having come in 5th but the Aussie trainer’s other hope, Cheongchun Bulpae is missing out at the moment.

Here’s a list of the top 10 vote-getters at each track with their 2013 Stakes race wins (if any) listed:

Seoul Top 10

1. Jigeum I Sungan (KOR) – Seoul Owners’ Cup, Jeju Governor’s Cup
2. Smarty Moonhak (USA)
3. Tough Win (USA) – Busan Metropolitan Stakes
4. Mari Daemul (USA) – KRA Cup Classic
5. Indian Blue (USA) – Segye Ilbo Cup
6. Gippeun Sesang (CAN)
7. Murangae (USA)
8=. Mr. Rocky (KOR)
9=. Berongi (USA)

Busan Top 10

1. Beolmaui Kkum (USA) – Gukje Sinmun Cup
2. Indie Band (KOR) – President’s Cup, Gyeongnam DoMin Ilbo Cup
3. Gyeongbudaero (KOR) – Busan Owners’ Cup
4. Gamdonguibada (USA)
5. Secret Whisper (KOR) – Gyeongnam Governor’s Cup
6. Useung Touch (KOR) – Ttukseom Cup
7. Cheonji Bulpae (AUS)
8. Lion Santa (USA)
9. Cheongchun Bulpae (KOR)
10. Nuri Choegang (USA)

Brilliant Watts Village Makes History Winning Japan-Korea Cup In Tokyo

In what was arguably the finest ever race run by a Korean-trained racehorse, Watts Village won the Japan-Korea Interaction Cup at Ohi Racecourse in Tokyo tonight.

Watts Village Conquers Ohi (Pic:

Watts Village Conquers Ohi (Pic:

After coming so close to winning the first leg of the Korea vs Japan challenge in Seoul back in September, Watts Village made no mistake this time as, under Seo Seung Un, he led from gate-to-wire to record a famous victory in the Japanese capital.

It was a perfectly timed ride from Seo. Watts Village took an early lead and maintained it as his challengers massed behind. In the final furlong they pressed and pressed. The pressure was relentless and they came so close to sweeping by but gamely, gallantly, Watts Village held on.

Miyasan Cutie and Kogyo Douglas came closest to him, finishing an oh-so-close 2nd and 3rd.

Japan-Korea Interaction Cup – Ohi Racecourse – 1200M – November 26, 2013

1. Watts Village (USA) [Forestry – Edey’s Village (Silver Deputy)] – Seo Seung Un
2. Miyasan Cutie (JPN) [Kurofune – Innocent Nymph (Hector Protector)] – Daisuke Mashima
3. Kogyo Douglas (JPN) [Sterling Rose – Amore Pegasus (Mejiro Ryan)] – Takehiro Kashiwagi

Distances: Neck/1 length – 14 ran

In a race that was always to be dictated by early speed, the other Korean challengers Fly Top Queen and Full Moon Party gave what they could but were found wanting. Watts Village nailed it.

A three-year-old colt, Watts Village (Forestry) had, by virtue of his runner-up position to Tosen Archer in Seoul in September, already achieved an official rating of 100.

This qualified him to run in Dubai this winter. Connections had not been sure whether to take the offer up but now, with him already having passed Japanese quarantine, he might just go for it.

Nobody thought it could happen but tonight Korean trained racehorses went to Japan and against all odds – literally – one of them won. Korean horse-racing took a huge step forward tonight.

Japan Vs Korea – The “Interaction Cup” Full Preview

Japan bested Korea in Seoul back in September. Revenge is the name of the game when three Korea-trained horses line up at Ohi on Tuesday night in the “Japan Korea Interaction Cup”.

Fumio Matoba and Tosen Archer in the SBS Korea Vs Japan Cup Winner's Circle at Seoul in September

Fumio Matoba and Tosen Archer in the SBS Korea Vs Japan Cup Winner’s Circle at Seoul in September

While Tosen Archer, winner of that race in Seoul, tries to repeat his victory, Korea is this time represented by unbeaten filly Fly Top Queen, the nation’s most expensive import.

Watts Village, who was turned over in the final strides at Seoul, also takes his chance again while the visiting challenge is completed by top sprinter Full Moon Party.

They will face a home team that is dominated by speed. Indeed it seems that whoever gets to the first corner in front, will have an excellent chance of holding on. The Korea contingent need to make sure that it is them.

Here’s a full run down of the field with Name [Pedigree] Sex Age Home Track (Starts/1/2/3) – Jockey

Japan-Korea Interaction Cup – Ohi Racecourse – 1200M – November 26, 2013 – 20:15

1. Miyasan Cutie (JPN) [Kurofune – Innocent Nymph (Hector Protector)] M 5 Ohi (18/9/2/0) – Daisuke Mashima
Good figures but has only run 4 times this year and not since August. Is likely to be close to favourite but will need to run to her best to win.

2. Full Moon Party (KOR) [Vicar – Platinum Wildcat (Forest Wildcat)] F 4 Seoul (17/7/0/3) – Jo In Kwen
The only Korean-bred entry among the Korea raiders, she’s also the least fancied although she beat a host of big names in the TJK Trophy in August. Needs to get to the first corner first; if she does, anything can happen – if she doesn’t she’ll be well-beaten.

3. Saint March (JPN) [Durandal – Art Roman (Russian Roubles)] H 5 Ohi (23/7/9/3) – Norifumi Mikamoto
3 wins from 5 starts this year and looks like he will like the drop back to 6 furlongs. In form and a real chance.

4. Fly Top Queen (USA) [Henny Hughes – Cape Discovery (Cape Town)] F 3 Seoul (4/4/0/0) – Park Tae Jong
She’s Korea’s most expensive ever import and she’s never been beaten but so far she’s yet to face very much at all. Has travelled well and is said to be relishing the chance to run clockwise at Ohi. Most observers (including this one) are convinced she would have won the 1st leg in Seoul had she run. If she leads into the home straight, she wins.

5. Breeze Flavor (JPN) [Forty Niner – Memorable Green (Night Shift)] H 6 Urawa (27/10/3/0) – Kenichi Shigeta
While almost all of his wins have come oveer this distance, he’s been in dreadful form this year. No reason to think that will change here.

6. Watts Village (USA) [Forestry – Edey’s Village (Silver Deputy)] C 3 Seoul (12/6/2/1) – Seo Seung Un
Second to Tosen Archer in Seoul, he has every chance of beating him here – the only trouble is that Tosen Archer probably won’t be winning either. Like so many in this race, if he gets a good run early, he has a chance. If he doesn’t, he will fade.

7. Gaudy (JPN) [Precious Cafe – x (Sumano Daido)] H 5 Ohi (27/6/7/5) – Ryo Akamine
His dam’s name might not appear in the Studbook but he certainly has some speed. Again, he needs to be at the front early to show.

8. Adolescence (JPN) [Falbrav – Spring a Mine (Taysu Tsuyoshi)] H 6 Ohi (62/3/4/10) – Narazaki Kousuke
His jockey rode successfully at Busan for a year. He’s not got much chance of being successful here as Adolescence falls very much into the category of “old stager”. He’ll not be embarrassed but he’ll not be competing for the win either.

9. Final Score (JPN) [Fusaichi Pegasus – Final Destination (O’Reilly)] H 8 Ohi (41/6/7/4) – Takayuki Yano
He ran in the 1st leg at Seoul and finished 6th. It would be a surprise if he finished any higher here.

10. Kogyo Douglas (JPN) [Sterling Rose – Amore Pegasus (Mejiro Ryan)] H 6 Ohi (23/10/5/1) – Takihiro Kashiwagi
A horse who is always there or thereabouts and could be again. Without a win in almost 2 years but he always goes close. Tough to recommend him to win but he’ll not be going home without some money.

11. Tosen Archer (JPN) [Barathea – Interruption (Zafonic)] (48/5/2/5) H 9 Ohi – Fumio Matoba
He won the 1st leg in Seoul due to an inspired ride by 57-year-old jockey Fumio Matoba. It won’t happen here. Ohi’s track doesn’t lend itself to closers in the way that Seoul’s does and the rest of the field will be wise to him. Must be given respect though.

12. Auxerrois (USA) [Awesome Again – Sixtyone Margaux (Cozzene)] G 7 Funabashi (31/5/4/3) – Taito Mori
A physically very impressive specimen, Auxerrois is without a win or a place since January 2012 and his recent form suggest he will not be in contention.

13. Murakan Panther (JPN) [Admire Max – Spring Diana (Merry Nice)] F 4 Kawasaki (20/5/9/1) – Hironori Sato
Won three races in a row at Ohi this summer and must be in with a chance. Was only 6th last time out but with a drop to 6 furlomgs, he could bounce back.

14. Yasaka Fine (JPN) [Black Tuxedo – Nobo Mama (Nihon Pillow Winner)] H 7 Ohi (38/8/8/3) – Jun Aritoshi
Difficult to recommend a horse that hasn’t won since 2010 so we’ll not be doing that here. Yasaka Fine has put in some creditable performances recently but will not be coming close in this one.

Plenty of information on the race from the excellent Japan Racing News

On race day, live video can be viewed here. click “ライブ映像”

Thanks to uk_maniax for translations.

Joe Fujii Ton-Up At Busan

Joe Fujii became just the third ever foreign rider to reach 100 winners in Korea as he completed a double at Busan Racecourse this afternoon.

100-up : Joe Fujii

100-up : Joe Fujii

The Japanese jockey’s milestone came in race 11 as he partnered 4/1 chance Heba (Peace Rules) to victory.

That win – his second of the day – enabled Fujii to join his fellow countrymen Ikuyasu Kurakane and Toshio Uchida as century-getters in Korea.

His 100 includes some of Korea’s biggest races. He won the Grand Prix Stakes on Gamdonguibada last year and followed up with a Korean Derby and Korean Oaks double on Speedy First in 2013.

Joe – “Kanichiro” – Fujii has never ridden in his homeland of Japan, having travelled to Australia as a teenager to train as a jockey.

He narrowly missed out in the JRA exam this year and Japan’s loss is Korea’s gain as he continues to be the most in-demand jockey at Busan.

A highly professional rider, Fujii is also a highly likeable character who is a real student of horse racing.

One of very few foreign riders to have studied racing in Korea in detail before making the move here, he’s managed to not only become number 1 to Korea’s top trainer Kim Young Kwan, but also to achieve the almost impossible – to be liked by the local jockeys (although of course they would still love to see him depart).

His diligence has been reaping rewards with winners ever since he arrived and there’s no sign of it stopping.

French Jockey Jerome Lermyte Debuts At Busan Friday

There’s another addition to the foreign jockey ranks at Busan as French rider Jerome Lermyte makes his Korean debut on Friday.

Jerome Lermyte gets his Korean pose on (Pic: KRA)

Jerome Lermyte gets his Korean pose on (Pic: KRA)

The 24-year-old Lermyte may be young but he’s certainly well-travelled.

He started as an apprentice in France in 2005 and in his homeland he’s won several decent races including three “Tierce Cups”, the Derby de Lyon, the Grand Prix De Lyon and the Derby D’Angers.

Lermyte’s career also took him to Germany, Mauritius, the USA, Qatar and Kuwait before spending 2 years in Macau. Earlier this year, he had a stint riding in Western Australia.

With Ureshi Katsunori departing, Lermyte joins the Japanese pair of Joe Fujii and Masa Tanaka and Britain’s Darryll Holland as Busan’s overseas riders. Japan’s Ikuyasu Kurakane and Brazil’s Fausto Durso are the only foreign riders at Seoul.

Lermyte, who has a racing weight of 51kg, will have his first ride on Lethal Yeowang in Race 6 on Friday.

Fly Top Queen, Watts Village, Full Moon Party Settle In At Ohi

After spending a week at a quarantine facility 200km north of the Japanese capital, Fly Top Queen, Watts Village and Full Moon Party have finally arrived at Ohi Racecourse in Tokyo.

Morning trackwork at Ohi (Pic: Ryu Seung Ho/KRA)

Morning trackwork at Ohi (Pic: Ryu Seung Ho/KRA)

The trio have made the trip across the East Sea to take part in the 2nd leg of the Korea vs Japan Challenge at Ohi next Tuesday evening.

Watts Village in his new box at Ohi (Pic: Ryu Seung Ho/KRA)

Watts Village in his new box at Ohi (Pic: Ryu Seung Ho/KRA)

We’ll have a full preview of the race next Monday. In the meantime, check out our Facebook page for more pictures.

Korean Horses Arrive Safely In Japan

The three horses who will represent Korea in the second leg of the Korea vs Japan Challenge, have been in trackwork since touching down on Japanese soil last week.

The horses arrived by Korean Air last Thursday

The horses arrived by Korean Air last Thursday

After a stable-to-stable trip of 16 hours, Fly Top Queen, Watts Village and Full Moon Party arrived at the NAR Education Centre at Nasu, about 200km north of Tokyo where there is a quarantine facility.

Into the light: Trackwork at Nasu (Pic: KRA)

Into the light: Trackwork at Nasu (Pic: KRA)

All three horses travelled well and will soon relocate to Ohi Racecourse in Tokyo, where the race will take place next Tuesday evening (November 26). We’ll have more of the build up over the coming days. See Facebook for more pictures.

Secret Whisper Wins Gyeongnam Governor’s Cup For Aussie Trainer Peter Wolsley

Secret Whisper ran the final furlong of her life to win the Gyeongnam Governor’s Cup, the final leg of the 2013 Queens’ Tour, at Busan Race Park this afternoon.

Secret Whisper and Jo Sung Gon just do enough

Secret Whisper and Jo Sung Gon just do enough

With Korean Derby and Oaks winner Speedy First out of sorts to the extent that she was tailed off in the home straight, it was left to Joy Lucky to throw down the gauntlet to Secret Whisper.

For a time, it looked like she might just run off with the prize. Seoul’s Champion filly took the lead early and battled gamely to keep it the whole way around.

But Secret Whisper was relentless.

Under Busan’s champion jockey Jo Sung Gon, she got into her rhythm at the top of the home straight and pressed and pressed until finally, just yards from the line, she collared Joy Lucky and crossed the line in front by the narrowest of margins.

It’s a 3rd Stakes win – and only a 2nd Group win – for Australian trainer Peter Wolsley. Indeed, it’s the first time that the Melbourne native has saddled a horse who has crossed the line first in a Group race – his previous winner, Khaosan in the 2011 Owners’ Cup, being promoted after an inquiry.

Governor's Cup winner Secret Whisper (KRA)

Governor’s Cup winner Secret Whisper (KRA)

Less well noticed today but still significant was that the win took Wolsley up to 2nd in the 2013 trainers’ Championship with 49 in total. He looks to have every chance to maintain that position to win the race to be 2nd to runaway leader Kim Young Kwan.

Kim has the resources, firepower and influence that have never been available to any trainer in Korea before. He will continue to win the title for as many years as he chooses.

But while Kim is very much the stereotypical modern trainer – primarily a businessman who leaves the day-to-day running of the stables to his staff – Wolsley is a horseman. In the build-up to this race, he rode Secret Whisper himself in trackwork and he still breaks in the 2-year olds that get sent to him. Today the horseman won.

After the race, the camera shy (on this blog we’re still using a picture of him from 5 years ago) and ever-modest Wolsley, instead of talking about his own achievement, preferred to focus on what a good filly the 2nd placed Joy Lucky is.

It’s that self-deprecating character that saw him through his tough first 2 years in Korea. Now finally, he is reaping a well deserved harvest.

As for the Queens’ Tour, the first leg was all the way back in March so it’s hard to say just how much we should trust it in choosing our champion filly & mare of the year. Ttukseom Cup winner Useung Touch was nowhere while KKN Cup winner Yodeongseong didn’t even bother to line-up.

Secret Whisper, bred and owned by Peter Hill’s Pegasus Operation on Jeju Island, has been in Wolsley’s barn her whole career. She could now be in line for a tilt at next month’s Grand Prix Stakes in Seoul, after which there is a potential race abroad before broodmare duties beckon.

Gyeongnam Governor’s Cup (KOR G3) – Busan Race Park – 2000M – November 17, 2013

1. Secret Whisper (KOR) [Sea Of Secrets – Generals Passion (General Meeting)] – Jo Sung Gon – 2.8, 1.4
2. Joy Lucky (KOR) [Vicar – Proper Gun (Prosper Fager)] – Seo Seung Un – 1.7
3. Sangnyu (USA) [Broken Vow – Midtown Miss (Yes It’s True)] – Jang Chu Youl – 2.5

Distances: Head/2.5 lengths
Also Ran: 4. Grand Teukgeup (KOR) 5. Dehere Queen (USA) 6. Choichoro (KOR) 7. Seungniuihamseong (KOR) 8. Imperial Star (KOR) 9. Fine Gongju (KOR) 10. Useung Touch (KOR) 11. Kkon Maru (USA) 12. Silver Classic (USA) DQ. Miracle Wonder (KOR) DQ. Dongseo Daeruk (USA) DQ. Imperial Girl (USA) DQ. Speedy First (KOR).

Winning Jockey: Jo Sung Gon
Winning Owner: Pegasus Stables
Winning Trainer: Peter Wolsley

Smarty Moonhak Back Where He Belongs At Last

The fears of those of us who suspected that Smarty Moonhak would never again be competitive in the top-tier of Korean racing were allayed in fine fashion as the 4-year-old colt produced a burst of late speed to win the feature race at Seoul Race Park this afternoon.

Moon Se Young is delighted with Smarty Moonhak in this screengrab from Seoul Racecourse today

Moon Se Young is delighted with Smarty Moonhak in this screengrab from Seoul Racecourse today

Making his second start since being away from the track for over a year with tendonitis, Smarty Moonhak (Smarty Jones) was made a warm favourite for the 6-furlong event that saw up-and-comer Samjeong Bulpae make his first class 1 appearance.

The latter made the early running but the final furlong was all about Smarty Moonhak as, under Moon Se Young, the former phenom, who finished 3rd in the Grand Prix Stakes aged just 2, swept by to win by half a length from Dongbanjaui Gijeok.

It’s still early days in his return. This was by no means an especially strong class 1 event and it remains to be seen how he will take to the longer distances he will need to cover if he is to start competing for big Stakes prizes again. For now though, Smarty Moonhak is back.

Class 1 (Open) – Seoul Race Park – 1200M – November 17, 2013

1. Smarty Moonhak (USA) [Smarty Jones – Madeira M’Dear (Black Tie Affair)] – Moon Se Young – 2.9, 1.3
2. Dongbanjaui Gijeok (USA) [Half Ours – Feisty Cherokee (Cherokee Run)] – Choi Bum Hyun – 1.4
3. Dangdae Jeonseung (CAN) [Put It Back – Diamond Heirloom (Pembroke)] – Lee Sang Hyeok – 2.3

Distances: 0.5 lengths/0.5 lengths – 11 ran