Month: May 2014

Sports Chosun Cup – Full Preview

Sunday sees Stakes racing return to Seoul and while the Sports Chosun Cup isn’t the biggest race on the calendar, it certainly offers some good punting.

Feel So Good - likely favourite in the Sports Chosun

Feel So Good – likely favourite in the Sports Chosun

Feel So Good is likely to be the heavy favourite but he’s not invincible and there are plenty in the field of 13 capable of pulling off the win – or at least finishing in the top three.

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

Sports Chosun Cup – Seoul Race Park – 1800M – June 1, 2014 – 16:35

1. Corner Stone [Ingrandire – Kurenai Moyuru (Merry Nice)] C 4 (17/4/1/3) – Moon Se Young
Moon Se Young steps in for the suspended Seo Seung Un aboard this colt who was a smart winner over the distance last time out when he closed from 7th for the win in the home straight. He’s back after 3 months off and won’t be favourite but he has a chance.

2. Wahaha [Ft.Stockton – Yeppeun Keum (Hurricane Sky)] G 5 (30/2/4/6) – Shinichi Terachi
Very little to recommend here, it’s over 2 years since Wahaha has won and that won’t change.

3. Spending To Me [Capital Spending – Ma Fille (Belong To Me)] M 5 (29/3/5/1) – Park Eul Woon
Third over the distance last time out, beaten 2 lengths by Corner Stone having hit the front in the final furlong. Likes to come from the back but perhaps not quite at this distance. Outside chance of another place.

4. El Campeon [Menifee – Here Comes Meme (Kipper Kelly)] G 5 (29/3/4/5) – Ikuyasu Kurakane
Consistently in the money if not consistently winning, El Campeon was beaten into 3rd by Feel So Good and My Energy last time out but he’s closer who can stay and has plenty of speed. He can’t be overlooked.

5. Nongbon Sarang [The Groom Is Red – Agua Azalita (Pine Bluff)] F 4 (16/2/3/5) – Jang Chu Youl
Won over 1700 metres at class 3 before finishing well beaten by Feel So Good in that race last month. Will need to improve here to challenge for a place.

6. My Energy [Vicar – Ich Bien (Jade Hunter) H 6 (48/4/3/2) – Yoo Seung Wan
Second to Feel So Good – by 9 lengths – last time and ahead of El Campeon, who he also beat in April. It would be a surprise to see him win here though.

7. Citius [Revere – Daecheonpung (Fiercely) C 4 (14/4/1/1) – Lee Sang Hyeok
Good win over the distance at class 3 last time. Likes to be just off the pace and if the closers fail to get into gear, he may well steal a place.

8. Geumseongi [Pico Central – Cat Beluga (Hennessy)] C 4 (16/3/6/1) – Cho Kyoung Ho
Has plenty of speed and comes off the back of two solid 2nd place finishes. Another 2nd is more likely than a win but if he must be in with a chance.

9. Feel So Good [Ft.Stockton – Courting Dreams (Eastover Court)] G 5 (10/5/0/0) – Ham Wan Sik
A winner at Calder in Florida in 2012, he’s blown hot and cold since coming home. He was certainly hot last time out, winning over the distance – and over several of this field – by 9 lengths. If he runs like that again here, then of course he wins.

10. Citadel [Sakura Seeking – Tropic (Danehill)] G 5 (25/2/6/4) – Kim Ok Sung
Another who has the ability to make a nuisance of himself. Good win over 1900 metres in March but followed it up by being well beaten last month. Difficult to receommend but again difficult to ignore for a quinella at good odds.

11. Pinot Noir [Capital Spending – Neungnyeokchungman (Pacific Bounty) F 4 (11/3/4/1) – Park Hyun Woo
Put in a decent run when 2nd at this distance last time out in March. She was ahead of Feel So Good that day and while she’ll not be favoured to repeat it, she’ll be in a lot of quinellas. Likes to be close to the pace and should stay on.

12. Dewma [Forest Camp – Wild Cat Strike (Wild Again)] F 4 (11/3/4/1) – Lee Chan Ho
Lee Shin Young’s second string is likely to try to hit the front early. Staying there will be quite another matter though.

13. Dae Ung [Pico Central – Myeongseo Gongju (Carry The Flag)] C 4 (7/4/2/0) – Choi Bum Hyun
The wildcard of the field. Hasn’t run since taking a narrow win over 1700 metres last November, he strolled comfortably through a trial in April. This should be too much too soon but some may be tempted by the likely good odds on him.

Sunday June 1
Seoul Race Park: 11 races from 10:50 to 18:00 with a performance by Girl’s Day at 3.45!!
Busan Race Park: 6 races from 12:45 to 17:00

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Weekend Preview: Twinkle Twinkle!

May becomes June and summer racing begins in earnest with a full set of cards around the peninsula this weekend.

Girl's Day will be performing during racing at Seoul on Sunday

Girl’s Day will be performing during racing at Seoul on Sunday

And there’s no surer way to know its summer than the reappearance of K-Pop girl groups at Seoul Racecourse. Girl’s Day get us underway with a short performance on the Stakes race presentation stage at 3:45pm. It’s going to be very busy!

They’ll not be the only ones on the stage this weekend as they’ll be on just before the Sports Chosun Cup gets underway. Feel So Good will attempt to get his first Stakes win as he takes on 12 others in the 9 furlong Stakes event.

At Busan, the pick of the action sees Cheonji Bulpae takes on Magic Dancer in Sunday’s feature. Jo Sung Gon takes over on Cheonji Bulpae in place of the suspended Darryll Holland.

Here’s what’s happening when and where:

Friday May 30
Busan Race Park: 10 races from 13:00 to 19:00
Jeju Race Park: 9 races from 13:25 to 17:40

Saturday May 31
Seoul Race Park: 11 races from 10:50 to 18:00
Jeju Race Park: 9 races from 12:30 to 17:30

Sunday June 1
Seoul Race Park: 11 races from 10:50 to 18:00
Busan Race Park: 6 races from 12:45 to 17:00

Filly Queen’s Blade Romps to Korean Derby Victory

A Triple Crown may on the cards in the United States but any hope we may have had of getting our own in Korea this year vanished in the Seoul sunshine this afternoon as filly Queen’s Blade crushed all-comers in the Korean Derby.

Kim Yong Geun and Queen's Blade Cross the line as Derby winners (Pic: Ross Holburt)

Kim Yong Geun and Queen’s Blade Cross the line as Derby winners (Pic: Ross Holburt)

Most morning lines had KRA Cup Mile winner Cheongnyeong Bisang down as the likely winner so it was mildly surprising to see punters send Queens Blade, who had finished 5th in that race, off as the slight favourite for this, the 2nd leg of the Triple Crown.

They were very quickly vindicated. Raon Morris, 4th in that Cup Mile in Busan last month, set the pace but Queen’s Blade went right with him. Cheongnyong Bisang tried to close in the home straight but he had too much to do. Queen’s Blade was out of sight.

Queen's Blade in the Derby Winner's Circle (Pic: Ross Holburt)

Queen’s Blade in the Derby Winner’s Circle (Pic: Ross Holburt)

The distance on the line was 10 lengths. It may as well have been 20 such was her superiority today. Jeongsang Bima, a 40/1 outsider, was the only one who did close semi-successfully, coming home 2nd while Raon Morris stayed on for 3rd, one place ahead of Cheongnyong Bisang.

Peter Wolsley’s Jungle Jim managed an unlikely 5th but it was a generally depressing race for the foreign contingent; Darryll Holland the highest finisher among the 5 foreign jockeys in the race, coming 6th on Wild Rush.

Connections get a cake in the VIP room after a Stakes win, trainer Kim Young Kwan is on the right of the picture (Pic: Ross Holburt)

Connections get a cake in the VIP room after a Stakes win, trainer Kim Young Kwan is on the right of the picture (Pic: Ross Holburt)

Queen’s Blade is a half-sister to 2008 Korean Oaks winner Jeolho Chance and was today recording her 5th win from 9 career starts. She looks set to be heavy favourite to follow her big sister in the Oaks in Busan in August.

For jockey Kim Yong Geun, it was just a second Stakes race win and his first Classic. For the remarkable trainer Kim Young Kwan, however, it was a third Korean Derby win. All three of those have been with fillies with today’s win adding to those of Sangseung Ilro in 2009 and Speedy First a year ago.

Another winner's circle pose (Pic: Ross Holburt)

Another winner’s circle pose (Pic: Ross Holburt)

It’s also another classic win for Busan means the southern track leads Seoul by 4 Derby victories to 3 since competition between the two began in 2008.

While Queen’s Blade and the other fillies today have the Oaks to attend to, the rest of the best of the 3-year-old crop won’t reassemble until the final leg of the Triple Crown, the Minister’s Cup at Seoul in October. How many of today’s field make it there is open to debate.

Nothing else in sight. Kim Yong Geun and Queen's Blade win the 2014 Korean Derby (Pic: Ross Holburt)

Nothing else in sight. Kim Yong Geun and Queen’s Blade win the 2014 Korean Derby (Pic: Ross Holburt)

A number of high-profile names didn’t make it into the starting gate today. Gilbert, who placed 2nd in the Cup Mile and the promising Yeonggwanguichampion both suffered injuries after the Cup Mile. Meanwhile Peter Wolsley’s best 3-year-old Never Seen Before failed his barrier trial last week and wasn’t allowed to run.

So dominant was Queen’s Blade today though that it is unlikely any of those three would have come any closer to her than the fourteen she left strung across the track in her wake today. The Queen from Busan, Queen’s Blade is our 2014 Korean Derby Champion.

Korean Derby (KOR G1) – Seoul Race Park – 1800M – May 18, 2014

1. Queen’s Blade (KOR) [Menifee – Harboring (Boston Harbor)] – Kim Yong Geun
2. Jeongsang Bima (KOR) [Forest Camp – Smokegetenyoureyes (Smokester)] – Ham Wan Sik
3. Raon Morris (KOR) [Yankee Victor – Thunder By Night (Thunder Gulch)] – Moon Se Young
Distances: 10 lengths / 0.5 lengths
Also Ran: 4. Cheongnyong Bisang 5. Jungle Jim 6. Wild Rush 7. Royal Impact 8. Namdo Trio 9. Gumpo Sky 10. Gangchi 11. Cupid Girl 12. Clean Up Speed 13. Pureun Geotap 14. Jangsan Horangi 15. Super Rider

Bichui Jeongsang Gives Ikuyasu Kurakane JRA Trophy Win

Bichui Jeongsang swept to a comprehensive win in the JRA Trophy at Seoul Racecourse today, giving Ikuyasu Kurakane a victory in the race sponsored by his home nation’s racing authority.

Bichui Jeongsang and Ikuyasu Kurakane win the JRA Trophy (Pic: Ross Holburt)

Bichui Jeongsang and Ikuyasu Kurakane win the JRA Trophy (Pic: Ross Holburt)

With the well-fancied Yeondu having been scratched, punter made Bichui Jeongsang the slight favourite in the race which, with its 23rd edition, is the longest running exchange race in Korea.

Kurakane landed a treble on the day (Pic: Ross Holburt)

Kurakane landed a treble on the day (Pic: Ross Holburt)

13/1 chance Ssangdu Bima set the pace for much of the 7-furlong race but Kurakane always had Bichui Jeongsang handy and once he hit the front with a furlong remaining, he was the only likely winner.

Seo Seung Un, who rides the favourite in the Korean Derby tomorrow, closed very quickly on Clean Up Speed, passing 5 horses in the final furlong to grab 2nd place, while Aussie-bred filly Marica stayed on for 3rd.

A three-year-old filly, Bichui Jeongsang was a $30,000 purchase at Fasig Tipton’s Mid-Atlantic Two-Year-Olds in Training sale last May. This was her fifth start and her sixth win. Although as an import, she is ineligible for the Oaks, if she can go on to stay around two turns, she could have a big part to play later on in the season.

For jockey Kurakane, it was not only a big race win, it was also his third triumph of the day. Ikuyasu is renowned for grinding out a big volume of winners but chances in feature races are less common – his last Stakes win came in his first spell at Seoul in 2007. He is 2nd only to Moon Se Young in the 2014 Jockey Premiership.

JRA Trophy – Seoul Race Park – 1400M – May 17, 2014

1. Bichui Jeongsang (USA) [Wildcat Heir – Persimmon Honey (Colonial Affair)] – Ikuyasu Kurakane – 3.3, 1.5
2. Clean Up Joy (USA) [Purge – Greta’s Joy (Joyeaux Danseur)] – Seo Seung Un – 3.2
3. Marica (AUS) [Reset – Teneales Pearl (Redoubte’s Choice)] – Jang Chuyoul – 3.4

Distances: 3 lengths / 2 lengths
Also Ran: 4. Samjeong Tiger (USA) 5. Ssangdu Bima (USA) 6. Foolish Scip (USA) 7. Dorgon (USA) 8. Lion Galloper (AUS) 9. Incheonui Seungni (KOR) 10. Daerugui Byeol (USA) 11. Zentenary (Choi Bum Hyun) 12. Royal Review (USA) 13. Strong Wind (NZ) Scratched: Yeondu (USA)

The JRA Trophy Presentation part (Pic: Ross Holburt)

The JRA Trophy Presentation part (Pic: Ross Holburt)

Racing returns to Seoul on Sunday with the Korean Derby. Ikuyasu Kurakane rides Clean Up Speed, who is not without a chance.

K-Triple Crown 2014: Korean Derby 2014 – The Runners & Riders

A field of 15 will contest the 17th Korean Derby at Seoul Race Park this coming Sunday.

If we're going to have a Triple Crown winner this year, it will be Cheongnyong Bisang (KRA)

If we’re going to have a Triple Crown winner this year, it will be Cheongnyong Bisang (KRA)

Cheongnyong Bisang took the first leg of the Triple Crown, the KRA Cup Mile at Busan last month and he returns to his home track to seek to take out the second jewel.

An unprecedented 5 foreign jockeys have rides in the race. Korean racing stalwarts Joe Fujii, Masa Tanaka, Ikuyasu Kurakane and Darryll Holland are joined by newcomer Shinichi Terachi. With trainers Peter Wolsley and Bart Rice both saddling runners, it is set to be the most international running of the Derby to date.

Below is a full run-down of the runners and riders but first here’s what’s happening around Korea this weekend:

Friday May 16
Busan Race Park: 10 races from 13:00 to 19:00
Jeju Race Park: 9 races from 13:25 to 17:40

Saturday May 17
Seoul Race Park: 11 races from 10:50 to 18:00 including the JRA Trophy at 17:00
Jeju Race Park: 9 races from 12:30 to 17:15

Sunday May 18
Seoul Race Park: 11 races from 10:50 to 18:00 including the Korean Derby at 16:40
Busan Race Park: 6 races from 12:45 to 17:05

The JRA are in town on Saturday for their annual trophy race and there are some good ones going in that. Our main focus though is the Derby and here is a full run down of the runners with [Pedigree} (Starts/1/2/3) (Trainer) – Jockey (Home Track):

The Korean Derby (KOR G1) – Seoul Race Park – 1800M – May 18, 2014

1. Raon Morris [Yankee Victor – Thunder By Night (Thunder Gulch)] (7/3/1/1) (Lee Shin Young) – Moon Se Young (Seoul)
Set the pace for much of the Cup Mile and ran on well to finish 4th at generous odds. He has every chance of improving here and if he gets the lead and others have a bad trip, he just might keep it.

2. Gangchi [Volponi – Regal Heir (Regal Intention)] (10/3/1/1) (Bart Rice) – Masakazu Tanaka (Busan)
Bart Rice is the new star of the Busan trainer colony and he saddles his first Korean Derby runner here. Gangchi made little impact in the Cup Mile and will need to show a lot of improvement to challenge here.

3. Jeongsang Bima [Forest Camp – Smokegetenyoureyes (Smokester)] (9/2/3/2) (Park Hui Cheol) – Ham Wan Sik (Seoul)
A winner over the distance, albeit at class 4, he has a nice turn of foot and likes to come from just behind the leaders. Could be worth a place interest.

4. Jangsan Horangi [Forest Camp – Steal The Show (Cat Thief)] (5/2/2/1) (Kim Jeom Oh) – Oh Kyoung Hoan (Seoul)
Lightly raced and untried at further than 1400M and hasn’t won at higher than class 5. Has plenty of promise and has never finished worse than 3rd but is difficult to recommend here.

5. Wild Rush [Forest Camp – Wisconsin Girl (Smart Strike)] (7/2/3/2) (Kim Young Kwan) – Darryll Holland (Busan)
Won a minor event on Cup Mile day and yet to go further than a mile. Kim Young Kwan doesn’t bring horses to Seoul unless he has high expectations though and with Darryll Holland on board, punters will take note.

6. Gumpo Sky [Vicar – Perfect Storm (Didyme)] (8/3/2/2) (Kwan Seung Joo) – Jeong Dong Cheol (Busan)
Comes into the race in excellent form with two consecutive wins behind him, the most recent of which was just 2 weeks ago over a mile. Expect him to be close to any early pace, he’ll need to show a bit more speed than he has to date in the home straight to challenge.

7. Jungle Jim [Peace Rules – Diamond Stephanie (Lucky Lionel)] (5/2/1/1) (Peter Wolsley) – You Hyun Myung (Busan)
Peter Wosley is searching for his first winner at Seoul and while this colt is not without claims, he will have to improve to win this. Rallied well for 2nd over a mile last start and if he comes on here, he could cause problems at the business end of the race.

8. Queen’s Blade [Menifee – Harboring (Boston Harbor)] (8/4/3/0) (Kim Young Kwan) – Kim Yong Geun (Busan)
Sent off as the odds-on favourite in the Cup Mile, she finished a disappointing 5th having shown briefly at the front with a furlong to run. The half-sister to 2008 Oaks winner Jeolho Chance will have plenty of backers to put things right here. Kim Young Kwan will no doubt have fixed her final furlong but will others have come on more?

9. Royal Impact [Cielo Gold – Skeemo (Meadowlake)] (8/2/3/0) (Kim Byung Hak) – Song Keong Yun (Busan)
The closer never closed in the Cup Mile, staying in 11th position the whole way around. Needs others to run poorly to have a chance.

10. Super Rider [Ft.Stockton – Poyeon (Road Of War)] (9/1/0/1) (Choi Yong Goo) – Shinichi Terachi (Seoul)
Little to recommend this one-time winner who is yet to start at further than 7 furlongs. Japanese jockey Shinichi Terachi gets a first Derby ride in just his 2nd week in Korea.

11. Clean Up Speed [Pico Central – Rich Emotions (Rizzi)] (7/4/1/0) (Seo In Seok) – Ikuyasu Kurakane (Seoul)
The Oaks may be a more realistic target for this filly but she’s a frontrunner with a quick finish who’s beaten colts before. These may be a bit too good though. Was in great form until a disappointing 5th last time out.

12. Namdo Trio [Didyme – Tapas (Sky Classic)] (10/2/4/1) (Baik Kwang Yeol) – Kanichiro Fujii (Busan)
The surprise package of the Cup Mile, he closed very strongly to land third. Joe Fujii rode Speedy First to win this race last year and while he’ll not be favourite to win here, heis not without a chance.

13. Cheongnyong Bisang [Volponi – Miss Alwuhush (Alwuhush)] (8/5/0/0) (Kim Jeom Oh) – Seo Seung Un (Seoul)
The Cup Mile winner and favourite. He was superb in Busan last month and if he repeats that form, he wins. Cheongnyeong Bisang’s defeats have come when he’s had a poor trip and Seo Seung Un is going to have to work very hard to get him into his favoured position from gate 13.

14. Cupid Girl [Vicar – Sheza Hot Dish (Rubiano)] (9/4/0/1) (Park Jae Woo) – Cho Kyoung Ho (Seoul)
A decent filly but another for who the Oaks is a more likely target. A creditable 8th in the Cup Mile, a similar position here seems achievable.

15. Pureun Geotap [Menifee – Charmin Strike (Smart Strike)] (9/2/2/3) (Ji Yong Cheol) – Lee Chan Ho (Seoul)
Had an abortive attempt on the Cup Mile but otherwise has form at this distance, winning a slowly run race here in March. This will be tougher though.

Surprise As Major King To Run In Pimlico Special

War Admiral, Seabiscuit, Tom Fool, Real Quiet, Cigar, Skip Away. That’s the kind of company that Major King will make a rather unlikely attempt to join when he lines up for the Pimlico Special this coming Friday.

Pimlico Special bound: Major King

Pimlico Special bound: Major King

The 4-year-old Korean classic winner has been in the United States since January and although his only start to date ended in a dismal defeat at Pimlico last month, he has somewhat bizarrely been entered for the Group 3 race which will be run over 1900 metres.

He’ll be among a field of nine which contains five graded Stakes winners including Revolutionary, who was narrowly beaten by Will Take Charge in April’s Oaklawn Handicap and was 3rd in last year’s Kentucky Derby.

Brisnet notes that “several runners enter the Special in career peak form”

Major King [Pico Central – Still Golden (Gold Fever)] does not. The winner of 6 of his 12 starts in Korea, including the Minister’s Cup, the final leg of the Korean Triple Crown. He finished the season indifferently, well beaten in the President’s Cup and then 3rd in a Busan handicap.

At that point, he needed a lay-off and despite being shipped half-way around the world, he got a rest from racing and he can be forgiven his one poor start Stateside so far.

His wins have come from the front and he likes to set the pace. However, even an at peak-form Major King would be overmatched here and the 50/1 morning line odds – naturally the outsider of the nine – look rather miserly.

The best we can hope for is that he isn’t embarrassed. Either way, he will become the first Korean bred horse to run in an American Graded Stakes race.

Gangnam Camp Runs Second At Gulfstream

Korean-bred colt Gangnam Camp sprang a surprise on the Gulfstream Park dirt on Saturday, grabbing second place in a 6-furlong Maiden Claimer.

Gangnam Camp before his trip to the US (KRA)

Gangnam Camp before his trip to the US (KRA)

His previous 4 starts had all been underwhelming but, under jockey Arny Fernandez, Gangnam Camp – who was the longest shot on the board – closed strongly to get within a length of winner Lucky Valor at the line.

Gangnam Camp (Forest Camp) is one of three Korean bred horses who have been in the United States since February last year.

They were due to be shipped back to Korea this month to be resold but after Saturday’s performance, there is a possibility it may be put back a month to give Gangnam Camp another crack at recording a win.

It’s the best run so far from any of the three. Better Than You (Ft.Stockton) is 0 for 3 while Seoul Bullet (Peace Rules) has one 3rd place finish from his 4 starts to date and managed to get claimed along the way.

Here’s the Equibase Chart of the race.