Month: December 2013

Breeding Review: Menifee Dominates Leading Sire Race / Pico Central Best Known of 11 Sires To Pass Away in 2013

Menifee retained his Leading Sire crown by a huge margin at the end of a year where his progeny have dominated once again.

Leading Sire in Korea. Again: Menifee (KRA)

Leading Sire in Korea. Again: Menifee (KRA)

Filly Speedy First, who landed a Korean Derby and Oaks double was Menifee’s chief money earner in a year where the Leading sire saw 14.2% of all his starters win.

Forest Camp got the closest to Menifee ahead of Vicar and the late Pico Central. Meanwhile, One Cool Cat just headed Peace Rules in the first-crop sire race. Those latter two will have their first foals reach 3-years-ol in 2014.

Even more competition is on its way. Chapel Royal and Rock Hard Ten covered their first mares in 2013 while the end of the year saw Hansen make his way to Jeju.

Leading General Sires in Korea 2013
Prize Money in Korean won ($1=1055KRW) (Runners/Winners/Starts/Wins) Win %age – Leading Money Earner (Big Race wins)

1. Menifee (USA) 6,985,819,000 (131/67/760/108) 14.2% – Speedy First (Korean Derby/Oaks)
2. Forest Camp (USA) 4,904,203,000 (140/71/874/108) 12.4% – Sting Ray (KRA Cup Mile)
3. Vicar (USA) 4,550,712,000 (104/45/672/75 11.3% – Joy Lucky (Sports Seoul Cup)
4. Pico Central (BRZ) 3,910,888,000 (99/44/605/76) 12.6% – Major King (Minister’s Cup)
5. Volponi (USA) 3,904,000,000 (124/48/872/80) 9.2% – Cheongnyeong Busang (Breeders’ Cup)
6. Creek Cat (USA) 3,270,478,000 (106/46/565/71) 12.6% – High Five
7. Exploit (USA) 3,099,129,000 (124/35/771/57) 7.4% – Singgereounachim
8. Ecton Park (USA) 3,025,779,000 (57/31/342/54) 15.8% – Indie Band (President’s Cup, Grand Prix Stakes)
9. Ingrandire (JPN) 2,378,958,000 (51/14/346/31) 9.0% – Jigeum I Sungan (Owners’ Cup)
10. Yankee Victor (USA) 2,053,560,000 (87/28/504/41) 8.1% – Raon Morris (Gwacheon Mayor’s Cup)

Sadly, we also lost a number of stallions in 2013. Pico Central was the best known among them, but all had their stories. The following registered sires died in 2013:

Dancing Surpass (IRE) – by Dancing Brave. He did his racing in Japan where he also stood at stud before coming to Korea in 2006. Passed away aged 23.

Editor In Chief (USA) – by Kingmambo. Winner of 2 of 4 starts in the US before resuming his racing career in Korea where he won 4 more times. Died in Setember aged 14

Gamun Bobae (USA) – by Silic. A good racer in Korea, passed away from Colic aged 9

Kwaedo Nanma (KOR) – by Didyme. A very good racehorse in Korea with 21 wins and was shaping up to be the best ever domestically bred sire before he died in February aged 15.

Lazer Beam (USA) – by Seeking The Gold. An average racer in the US, he came to Korea in 2001. Had been pensioned after illness for the past 3 years and finally passed away aged 18.

Lethal Instrument (USA) – by Gulch. Winner of 7 races in the US, he came to Korea in 2005. Died aged 17.

Nite Dreamer (CAN) – by El Prado. Earned over $1Million in prize money in the US despite only winning 5 races, a quarter of it coming in the “Cornhuskers Breeders’ Cup” at Prairie Meadows in 1999. His stud career was short and he was pensioned in 2006. He passed away after illness in October aged 18.

Perfect Vision II (USA) – by Storm Cat. Unraced, he came to Korea in 2006. Had been regularly siring winners up until his death, aged 18 in July.

Pico Central (BRZ) – by Spend A Buck. One of the jewels of the Korean breeding program, he sired his first Classic winner Major King, in the same year as his untimely passing aged 14.
Sunny Mountain (KOR) – by Lost Mountain – 5 wins from 12 starts in Korea, he was registered as a stallion but was more a family pet. Died aged 11.

Wanggol (AUS) – by Jet Spur. Won 6 of his 12 starts in Korea. Was retired to stud only this year but fell ill and passed away aged 6 before covering any mares.

Wheels N’Wings (USA) – by Thunder Gulch. A winner of 2 races in the US and 3 in Korea, he had modest success at stud and passed away after illness aged 14 in June.

Record-Breaking Stakes Winner Dangdae Bulpae Retired

Dangdae Bulpae, a three-time winner of the President’s Cup, has been retired.

Dangdae Bulpae in the President's Cup winner's circle - a place he made his own

Dangdae Bulpae in the President’s Cup winner’s circle – a place he made his own

A winner of 19 of his 32 starts, Dangdae Bulpae won a Korean record 10 Stakes victories and amassed a record KRW 2.9 Billion (around US$2.6Million) in prize money. Among those Stakes wins were three consecutive triumphs in Korea’s richest race, the President’s Cup.

By the unfashionable – and generally unsuccessful – Japanese sire Biwa Shinseiki and out of the Alydeed mare Indeed My Dear, Dangdae Bulpae debuted as a 2-year-old in 2009, running a rather inauspicious 5th place over 5-furlongs. He won his next 4 though, which was enough to allow him to take his chance in the 2010 Spring Classics.

Jo Sung Gon reacts as Dangdae Bulpae crosses the finish line (Pic: Newsis)

Jo Sung Gon reacts as Dangdae Bulpae crosses the finish line (Pic: Newsis)

He could only manage 8th in the KRA Cup Mile but on his first trip to Seoul, he was an impressive 3rd in the Korean Derby behind Cheonnyeon Daero. The winner that day would spend most of the rest of his career looking at Dangdae Bulpae’s tail.

Maturing in the autumn, Dangdae Bulpae won the final leg of the Triple Crown, the Minister’s Cup and then landed the first of his President’s Cups.

This set the tone for the next two years and although he had the occasional off-day – neither of his two attempts on the Grand Prix Stakes were successful – he and the late great Mister Park became the dominant Korean bred horses of their era.

He generally came off second-best to Mister Park, including one comical afternoon where the two found themselves facing each other with 1st year apprentice jockeys on their backs as both trainers baulked at the weights they’d been assigned in the handicap.

Most of the time though, things were serious and Dangdae Bulpae was a serious racehorse. While the 2300 metres of the Grand Pix proved out of his distance range, he did win the “Summer Grand Prix”, the Busan Mayor’s Trophy in 2012 in a another golden year that culminated in his 3rd and final President’s Cup triumph.

2013 saw him add another Stakes win – the Busan Ilbo Cup in February – but injury then intervened and it was a very different Dangdae Bulpae who lined up in Seoul last month to try for his 4th President’s Cup. He ran a shadow of his former self and retirement was immediately decided on. Dangdae Bulpae had done quite enough.

Horse racing in Korea although run on the flat, is similar to jumps racing in that its stars can have reasonably long careers on the track. From a sporting point of view, this is an overwhelming positive as we get to follow our favourites for a number of years. From a welfare point of view, it relies heavily on owners doing the right thing by their horses both before and after retirement.

Since I started writing this blog back in 2007, there have been perhaps two big “eras” of Korean racing. The first, from 2007 until mid-2010, was dominated by an American import, Dongbanui Gangja. However, the star of the second, from mid-2010 to the present, was the home-grown Dangdae Bulpae. He’ll be missed but has thoroughly earned his retirement to stud.

Masa Makes Good At Busan

Masa Tanaka landed his biggest Korean win to date as he rode Sand Hi to a comfortable victory in the class 1 feature race at Busan this afternoon.

Masa Tanaka (Pic: Busan Ilbo)

Masa Tanaka (Pic: Busan Ilbo)

It’s been a good year for foreign jockeys at Busan with the remarkable Joe Fujii notching his 100th winner last month and Darryll Holland also regularly scoring.

However, while less heralded, the 29-year-old Tanaka has performed well too and has ridden a steady stream of winners since debuting in June this year.

The Japanese jockey learned how to ride in his homeland but with few opportunities for young riders there, moved to New Zealand in 2005 and ended up staying for 7 years, riding several big winners including the Group 1 Thorndon Mile in 2011 on 16/1 shot Booming.

Not knowing a word of English when he arrived in New Zealand, Tanaka now speaks with a broad Kiwi accent and eager to settle in here, has set about learning some Korean in Busan.

From his 135 rides in Korea to date, Tanaka has 24 winners and 22 2nd places. Despite only being present for half the season, he lies in 11th place in the Busan Championship and earned trips to Seoul to ride in the Minister’s and President’s Cups.

Today, after breaking from the widest of 12 gates, Tanaka kept Sand Hi (Stormy Atlantic) close before going away in the final furlongs to win from 4 lengths. It won’t go down as one of the jockey’s toughest winners and, if he keeps going the way he is, it certainly won’t be his last.

Tanaka and fellow foreign riders Fujii and Jerome Lermyte (Holland is suspended) are back in action at Busan tomorrow in a bumper 13-race card.

Bundling up: Tanaka looked like he was off to rob a bank at Busan today (Pic: Hiromi Kobayashi)

Bundling up: Tanaka looked like he was off to rob a bank at Busan today (Pic: Hiromi Kobayashi)

Weekend Preview: Busan Takes Centre-Stage

Seoul Racecourse takes a weekend off so Busan switches to Saturday and Sunday for the final racedays of 2013.

Busan is the place to be this weekend

Busan is the place to be this weekend

Both days see class 1 action and while Saturday’s feature isn’t exactly one to set pulses beating too fast, Sunday’s sees the Kim Young Kwan trained duo of Road To Prince and Magic Dancer face off over 1900 metres. The 3-year-old Magic Dancer missed the Classics but has amassed 7 wins and 2 second places from his 9 starts to date and is quite a talent.

Meanwhile, the similarly prolific winner Road To Prince will be looking to get back into form after souring a fantastic year with a couple of lacklustre runs of late. Minister’s Cup victor Major King and Peter Wolsley’s Cheongchun Bulpae also go in what should be a decent contest.

In addition to the thoroughbreds at Busan, there are pony racing cards on Jeju Island on Friday and Saturday. Despite there being no live racing in the capital, Seoul Race Park will be open for simulcasting from Friday to Sunday.

Here’s what’s happening when and where:

Friday December 27
Jeju Race Park: 13 races from 11:50 to 18:00

Saturday December 28
Busan Race Park: 10 races from 11:00 to 18:00
Jeju Race Park: 7 races from 11:25 to 16:35

Sunday December 29
Busan Race Park: 14 races from 11:00 to 18:00

Joy Lucky & Seo Seung Un Strike On Final Day At Seoul

Joy Lucky underscored just why she’s considered the best filly in training at Seoul as she cruised to victory over a field comprised mainly of older colts in the final class 1 action at Seoul of 2013.

Seo Seung Un & Joy Lucky were big winners on closing day at Seoul

Seo Seung Un & Joy Lucky were big winners on closing day at Seoul

And for her jockey Seo Seung Un it was yet another day to remember in what’s been a year to remember as Joy Lucky was one of 5 winners for the 24-year-old.

Despite going up against double-Stakes winner Gwanggyo Bisang and Singgereounachim, who was 4th in the President’s Cup on his most recent outing, Joy Lucky (Vicar) started as favourite and never looked vulnerable or even extended as she breezed to a 7-length win.

Seo Seung Un and Joy Lucky cruise to an easy win

Seo Seung Un and Joy Lucky cruise to an easy win

Having missed the Oaks and, inexplicably, the Minister’s Cup, Joy Lucky was last seen being beaten a nose by Secret Whisper in the Gyeongnam Governor’s Cup, the final leg of the Queens’ Tour.

With 7 wins from 10 starts and with Secret Whisper retired and Derby and Oaks winner Speedy First looking a shadow of her old self, Joy Lucky will start next year’s Queens’ Tour as the firm favourite.

And her jockey may start favourite for the title too. While Moon Se Young has made light of giving everyone else a 3-month head start while he was gallivanting around Macao to win this year’s title, Seo Seung Un has looked unstoppable in recent weeks.

His 5-timer today capping a year that has seen him ride a winner in Japan and get promoted to the really big rides in Korea. With Jo In Kwen out of the picture for the forseeable future (a short stint overseas will be followed by army enlistment), next year is set to be the Seo and Moon show.

Unfortunately, despite the date, there was little in the way of Christmas cheer at Gwacheon today with the recently formed Pari-Mutuel tellers Union going on strike prior to race 1. The Union is seeking to have the tellers, who all work 2-3 days each week on a part-time basis when the track is open, turned into regular employees, receive a pay-rise and be subscribed to the 4 basic insurances that full-time employees are entitled to in Korea.

Raceday operation did not seem to be affected, at least not on course, with the majority of betting being conducted through self-service terminals. However, the atmosphere was uncomfortable and there was very noticeable police presence.

Parading for the last race of the year at a dark and cold Seoul Racecourse

Parading for the last race of the year at a dark and cold Seoul Racecourse

Next it’s Seoul’s turn for a one weekend vacation so it will be down to Busan to round out 2013 for us. The southern track hosts big 14-race cards on both Saturday and Sunday.

Weekend Preview: Bumper Cards at Seoul as Busan Takes a Vacation

We might have had the season-ending showpiece Grand Prix Stakes last weekend but racing goes on in Korea.

It was snowing last weekend in Seoul and we could well have a repeat (Pic: Ross Holburt)

It was snowing last weekend in Seoul and we could well have a repeat (Pic: Ross Holburt)

Busan takes a weekend off so Jeju takes centre-stage on Friday while there are lengthy 14-race cards at Seoul on Saturday and Sunday.

The big race is at Seoul on Sunday when champion filly Joy Lucky takes on prolific winner Gwanggyo Bisang in a big handicap over 10 furlongs.

Friday December 20
Jeju Race Park: 13 races from 11:50 to 18:00

Saturday December 21
Seoul Race Park: 14 races from 11:00 to 18:00

Sunday December 22
Seoul Race Park: 14 races from 11:00 to 18:00

Jigeum I Sungan Has Had His Moment

Jigeum I Sungan is set for retirement following his 2nd-place finish to Indie Band in the Grand Prix Stakes last Sunday.

Jigeum I Sungan

Jigeum I Sungan

The 4-year-old colt heads off to Stud with career figures of 13 wins from 25 starts and earnings of over US$1.6 Million.

Champion jockey Moon Se Young rode Jigeum I Sungan in all his big races

Champion jockey Moon Se Young rode Jigeum I Sungan in all his big races

After winning his debut race, Jigeum I Sungan [Ingrandire – Solmaru (Mujaazif)] didn’t return to the winner’s circle until his 8th start, which was his 2nd as a 3-year-old.

He was 5th in the KRA Cup Mile, the first leg of the Triple Crown, but did enough to qualify for the Derby, which he went on to win by a length.

Jigeum I Sungan allows punters to pet him after he won the Jeju Cup. Try doing that with Tough Win or Dongnaui Gangja and they'd have eaten you.

Jigeum I Sungan allows punters to pet him after he won the Jeju Cup. Try doing that with Tough Win or Dongnaui Gangja and they’d have eaten you.

He followed up in the autumn by taking the final jewel of the Crown, the Minister’s Cup, this time by a commanding 4-lengths. A month later he ran 2nd to Dangdae Bulpae in the President’s Cup but to the disappointment of punters, was kept away from the Grand Prix.

It was this year though that he hit his peak. Jigeum I Sungan began 2013 with 6 consecutive wins, among them the Seoul Owners’ Cup and the inaugural Jeju Governor’s Cup.

His run finally came to an end in the Turkey Jockey Club Cup in August although he quickly bounced back from that to record what would turn out to be his last victory in September.

He closed out his career with a 3rd place in the President’s Cup and then finally his 2nd on Sunday, both times behind Indie Band.

Jigeum I Sungan – “This Is The Moment” in English – has been one of the stand-out performers of the last few years in Korean racing and will be missed. He deserves the retirement that he’s been promised.