Month: May 2015

The Korean Derby 2015: The Final Preview

The 18th running of the Korean Derby takes place at Seoul Racecourse on Sunday afternoon. Eight horses from Busan, including the KRA Cup Mile winner Rafale take on five from Seoul in the second leg of the 2015 Korean Triple Crown.

Queen's Blade won last year's Derby. Who will succeed her in 2015? (Pic: Ross Holburt)

Queen’s Blade won last year’s Derby. Who will succeed her in 2015? (Pic: Ross Holburt)

If you’ve never been before, get down to Seoul Racecourse for this one. Although the Derby is the feature, it is one of ten races with the first at 10:50 and the last at 18:00. The Keeneland Cup is another big race on the day while K-Pop is provided by “Mamamoo”.

Here is a full run-down of the field (Name [Pedigree] (Starts/1st/2nd/3rd) – Jockey):

The Korean Derby (KOR G1) – Seoul Racecourse – 1800M – May 17, 2015 (16:55)

1. Yeonggwanguitaepung [Menifee – Grand Pass (Grand Slam)] (9/3/2/2) – Masakazu Tanaka
A really quick finisher, he flew home in the Cup Mile to just be edged into 4th. He is a winner over 1800M already and is likely to go to the back early and try to close. Trainer Kim Young Kwan won the Derby in 2009, 2013 and 2014 and there is a real chance here of Masa Tanaka becoming the second foreign jockey to win the race.

2. Daegunhwang [Menifee – Lusi Pond (Elusive Quality)] (6/5/1/0) – Seo Seung Un
Seoul’s great hope. After a second place on his debut, he’s won five in a row generally from the front and without coming under any real pressure. He should be close to the early pace and is going to finally be subjected to a stern examination here. So far there is nothing to suggest he isn’t up to it and failure to at least place will be very disappointing.

3. New White Socks [Secret Weapon – Wonder Queen (Canadian Silver)] (7/5/0/0) – Moon Se Young
Another highly promising one from Seoul. He was a winner over 1700M last time out in a decent time beating both Seonbong and Smart Time in the process. He has raced close to the front on most starts – although he has had little to stop him doing that, has plenty of potential and may sneak into the money. Jockey Moon Se Young won the Derby in 2012 on Jigeum I Sungan while trainer Lee Shin Young would become the first female Derby winner.

4. Doraon Hyeonpyo [Colors Flying – Kilcoe Castle (Gone West)] (7/5/2/0) – Kim Dong Young
He and Rafale exchanged Champion Juvenile races last year and he was then overhauled in the closing stages of the Cup Mile by the same horse having hit the front three furlongs out. He won a slow mile race the time before that but hasn’t been tried at this distance. He will probably try to take the early initiative and with the home straight at Seoul generally being less taxing than at Busan, he may well hold on.

5. Triple Nine [Ecton Park – A Little Poke (Pleasant Tap)] (5/4/1/0) – Oh Kyoung Hoan
The second string from the Kim Young Kwan stable didn’t run in the Cup Mile but comes in here after four consecutive wins, the most recent two of which were over a mile. He also has a quick finish and will try to come from just off the pace. Jockey Oh Kyoung Hoan, now based at Busan, won the Derby on Gwangyajeil in 2011.

6. Yeongcheon Ace [Menifee – Dixie Avenger (Dixie Union)] (8/3/3/2) – Choi Si Dae
Along with Yeonggwanguitaepung, this is the other noted closer in the race. He came from off the pace to finish 3rd in the Cup Mile and has never been worse than 3rd in eight career starts. The distance won’t be a problem – he beat Rafale over 1900M in March and he must be strongly considered. Jockey Choi Si Dae won last year’s President’s Cup and Grand Prix at Seoul but is yet to win the Derby.

7. Sanggam Mama [Peace Rules – Miss Merit (Old Trieste)] (5/3/1/1) – Park Eul Woon
He has plenty of speed, putting in some really quick times but is yet to be tried at further than 1400M. As such, others will be favoured although he did beat Seonbong over 1300M earlier this year. His only shot is perhaps to go out quickly and try to hold on so expect to see his jockey try to get to the front before the first turn. Park Eul Woon is yet to win a Graded race.

8. Yeongung Bolt [Colors Flying – Haneul Gisang (Duality)] (7/3/1/1) – Song Keong Yun
One of two fillies in the race, she didn’t run in the Cup mile and her saddle slipped on her only try at further than 1400M so far. She won at that distance last month and is likely to try to take up a position just behind the early leaders. She won’t be among the favourites as the others are far more proven but it is worth noting that fillies do have an excellent record in this race and have won the last two renewals.

9. Mac And Cheese [Menifee – Squared (Posse)] (8/5/0/1) – Kanichiro Fujii
Well-fancied for the Cup Mile, he was a real disappointment, never getting into the right position and never travelling well ending 8th of 11. He had been an impressive winner over the same distance the time before A disappointment in the Cup Mile, running 8th of 11 when well-fancied, he had been an impressive winner over the same distance the time before. If he can get to the front entering the home straight, he has a chance but he won’t be among the favourites this time. Joe Fujii won the 2013 Derby on Speedy First.

10. Rafale [Colors Flying – Dongbang Cheogo (Al Naba)] (8/5/2/0) – You Hyun Myung
The KRA Cup Mile winner will no doubt have plenty of support in the Derby too. He won a class 2 race at this distance in January although Doraon Hyeonpyo beat him on his only previous visit to Seoul and he also finished behind Yeongcheon Ace over 1900M in March. Others were finishing faster in the Cup Mile but he got the job done. He won’t want to lead but neither will he want to be too far away and if he finds a run in the home straight, he can win this. You Hyun Myung is yet to win the Derby but he has won the Grand Prix Stakes at Seoul.

11. Smart Time [Ft. Stockton – Charon (Jade Robbery)] (6/3/2/0) – Ham Wan Sik
The other filly in the race, she will one of the rank outsiders.A filly, she will be an outsider here. She was second to her talented stablemate Meni Money in the Sports Seoul Cup but was 4th on her only try around two turns so far with both New White Socks and Seonbong beating her and this will be a tough ask.

12. Yuseong Fighting [Didyme – Maggies Prayer (Songandaprayer)] (7/4/0/1) – Lee Hee Cheon
He led for much of the Cup Mile but didn’t stay on, fading to 6th. Going an extra furlong today, the distance will again be the primary negative against him as he gives every impression of being a sprinter. He will probably go forward again as he’s certainly not going to win by coming from the back, but he will be a long shot. Jockey Lee Hee Cheon’s biggest win came at Seoul last October on Never Seen Before in the Minister’s Cup

13. Seonbong [Duality – Megabuck Gal (Montbrook)] (7/3/2/1) – Lee Joon Chel
He was just beaten a neck by New White Socks last time out over 1700M having led at one stage. He will probably settle in the middle of the pack and should stay on. He will not be among the favourites but is certainly capable of putting in a good performance. Jockey Lee Joon Chel’s biggest win to date came in the Owners’ Cup in March this year.

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Derby Weekend Preview

The Korean capital is bathed in sunshine as one of the biggest weekends of racing of the year gets underway. The Korean Derby will be run at 4:55pm on Sunday afternoon and we will have a full, runner-by-runner preview later today. For now, here’s what’s happening over the next couple of days.

Mamamoo will be at the Korean Derby

Mamamoo will be at the Korean Derby

Click Here For Full Race Cards

Saturday May 16
Seoul Racecourse: 12 races from 10:50 to 18:00: As has become tradition in Korea, the feature race on the eve of the Derby is the JRA Trophy. Restricted to fillies and mares, the strong favourite is likely to be Jangmi Eondeok, who was a class 2 winner on her only appearance of 2015 so far. Moon Se Young will ride.
Jeju Racecourse: 9 races from 12:20 to 17:20

Sunday May 17
Seoul Racecourse: 10 races from 10:50 to 18:00: It’s the big one. KRA Cup Mile winner Rafale heads a strong raiding party from Busan seeking to race off with the brightest jewel in the Triple Crown. Full preview will be right here later today. In addition to the Derby, a strong class 1 field will line up for the 1st Keeneland Cup while K-Pop group “Mamamoo” will also be in attendance.
Busan Racecourse: 6 races from 12:45 to 17:30

All Smiles For 500-up Kim Ok Sung As Sing Sing Cat Rolls Back The Years

It’s taken him 28 years but Kim Ok Sung grinned his way to his 500th career winner at Seoul Racecourse on Saturday and fittingly he did it aboard one of the grand old campaigners of the track, as Sing Sing Cat returned to the winner’s circle for the first time since 2013.

Kim Ok Sung...500-up

Kim Ok Sung…500-up

It doesn’t sound hugely impressive but in actual fact it is. For many of those 28 years, Kim Ok Sung was, like every other jockey, restricted to five rides per week. He is one of very few jockeys of his generation who have managed to last more than ten years in the saddle in a fast changing racing environment where the young jockeys are far better trained than those who went before. He is 6th on the all-time winner’s list.

If you had to choose a jockey to spend an evening on the soju with, it would probably be Kim Ok Sung. If you had to choose a jockey to bet your mortgage on in a race, it probably wouldn’t be Kim Ok Sung. Popular with punters with his man of the people routine and his ability to always be quick with a quip in retort to a heckle in the parade ring he has, to put it diplomatically, sailed close to the wind with the Stewards on a number of occasions.

Yet somehow, he always manages to come out the other side and Saturday’s 500th win was typical. Riding 50/1 shot Sing Sing Cat, Ok Sung unexpectedly gunned him out of the gate into the lead and essentially pulled down the pants of the rest of the field who never got back on terms, the jockey punching the air as he and his mount crossed the line still a full 5 lengths clear of the rest. Champion jockey Moon Se Young was the first to congratulate him.

Kim Ok Sung is nicknamed the “Smile Jockey” due to his ever-present Cheshire Cat grin. His biggest win was all the way back in 1996 when he won the Grand Prix Stakes on Hula Mingo. The grin was widened on Sunday when he rode winner number 501.

A mention is due of Sing Sing Cat (D’Wildcat) too. He was a 50/1 winner on Saturday but back in 2012 he stunned Tough Win to claim victory in the KRA Cup Classic. A regular money winner since, the 7-year-old was recording his 12th win on his 41st start.

Down at Busan, top-rated horse in the land Beolmaui Kkum slumped to his second consecutive defeat. This time it was Cowboy Son (Cowboy Cal) who won Busan’s Sunday feature race with Oreuse (Smoke Glacken) returning from a year out running 2nd and beating Beolmaui Kkum into 3rd.

Now attention shifts to the Korean Derby. We are just five days away!

Remembering Fausto Durso

The Korean racing community was one of several around the world to be saddened to learn of the death of jockey Fausto Durso in Brazil on Saturday.

Fausto Durso: 1974-2015

Fausto Durso: 1974-2015

Durso first came to Korea to ride in the Seoul International Jockey Challenge in August 2013, winning the feature race of the event, the YTN Cup, on Choichoro. He immediately applied for a short-term license, which was approved. He returned to Korea in October that year and rode five more winners during a three-month stay over the winter of 2013-2014.

Having turned professional aged 18 and ridden 700 winners in his native Brazil, Fausto Durso moved to Asia and competed in the 2013 Jockey Challenge as a representative of the Macau Jockey Club.

It was in that jurisdiction where he had his biggest successes, riding 600 winners and winning many of the biggest races as well as twice being crowned champion jockey. Durso also had stints in Dubai, Malaysia and most recently, in Mauritius.

Fausto Durso winning the YTN Cup at Seoul Racecourse in 2013 (Pic: Ross Holburt)

Fausto Durso winning the YTN Cup at Seoul Racecourse in 2013 (Pic: Ross Holburt)

Like many foreign riders who come to Seoul, Durso didn’t get as many opportunities as he would have liked but regularly made the most of what he had to work with, achieving a very high place percentage over his 165 rides.

Fausto Durso is remembered by those who knew him here as being friendly, hard-working and a very talented jockey.

According to local media reports, Durso died following an altercation outside his parents’ house in Senador Firmino. He was 40 years old. Thoughts are with his family and friends.

The JRA is Coming! Ttukseom Cup Attracts Two Raiders From Japan’s Premier Racing Circuit

Primary nominations were made this Friday for June’s Ttukseom Cup and the stand-out names among the 22 early entries are two Japanese-trained horses. If they run, they will be the first horses from the Japan Racing Association to run in Korea and also become the first overseas-trained horses to run in a regular Korean Open Stakes race.

Esmeraldina

Esmeraldina

Four Korean Stakes races have this year been designated as open to overseas-trained runners this year and it’s the two from Japan who have stepped up to take on the challenge.

The Ttukseom Cup, which will take place on Sunday June 7, is a 1400M race open to fillies and mares and is the first leg of the “Queens’ Tour”. US-bred Esmeraldina and Japan-bred Robe de Soie are both experienced runners in the JRA.

Esmeraldina [Harlan’s Holiday – Tasha’s Star (Spanish Steps)] is a four-year-old who has won three of her eight races to date. She won her only start as a 2-year-old at Tokyo Racecourse in November of 2013 before starting 2014 successfully with a victory at Nakayama before finishing 3rd in the Group 2 Hochi Hai Fillies’ Revue, a Japanese 1000 Guineas Trial, at Hanshin last March.

Her biggest prize was earned through victory in an NAR/JRA Exchange race at Kawasaki, the Kanto Oaks, in June with Craig Williams in the saddle. Since then she’s raced just three times without success, most recently at Nakayama on April 19 this year. Her best (and only) time recorded over the Ttukseom Cup distance of 1400M is 1:22.5 – inside El Padrino’s Seoul Racecourse track record – and was recorded on turf.

Robe de Soie

Robe de Soie

Robe de Soie [Special Week – Velvet Robe (Gone West)] is also a four-year-old. She has four wins from nine career starts. A winner on her debut at Chukyo, she went on to win the Yamaboushi Sho at Hanshin in September 2013. As a three-year-old, she was an also-ran behind Esmeraldina in the Kanto Oaks but would finish the year with back-to-back wins at Hanshin and Kyoto.

She was 7th on her most recent start at Hanshin on April 4. Her best time over 1400M is 1:23.3 on dirt. A dedicated sprinter to the all-rounder Esmeraldina, Robe de Soie comes in here with the more imposing recent form while Esmeraldina has won far more prize-money over her career. It is likely we will see some familiar jockeys riding both of them.

And it’s prize-money that they come here looking for and that is what makes this race so significant. The Korea/Japan Goodwill Cup in 2013 and last year’s Asia Challenge Cup were both invitational races meaning that the hosts picked up the bill. Win or lose, they couldn’t actually lose. In an Open race that isn’t the case and connections will be paying a substantial proportion of the costs involved in bringing their horses to the race.

The Asia Challenge Cup, which will also feature horses from Singapore and possibly Dubai, remains an invitational and on that weekend in August there will be two further races open to overseas-trained runners; the Singapore Turf Club Trophy and the KRA Cup Classic, as the internationalization program for Korean racing continues to gather momentum.

Korean connections have decided to meet the challenge head-on. In Primary nominations for the Ttukseom Cup, there were a total of 20 domestic entries; 10 from Busan and 10 from Seoul and includes most of the best fillies and mares in the country. We’ll have much more on the race over the next few weeks.

Weekend Race Times

We’re just a week away from the Derby but there is still plenty of action on the peninsula this weekend.

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Jo Sung Gon, who got his 600th career winner last weekend, will be in action at Busan (Pic: Hiromi Kobayashi)

CLICK HERE FOR FULL RACE CARDS

Here’s what’s happening when and where:

Friday May 8
Busan Racecourse: 10 races from 12:50 to 19:00
Jeju Racecourse: 9 races from 13:15 to 17:35

Saturday May 9
Seoul Racecourse: 11 races from 10:50 to 18:00
Jeju Racecourse: 9 races from 12:20 to 17:10

Sunday May 10
Seoul Racecourse: 11 races from 10:50 to 18:00
Busan Racecourse: 6 races from 12:45 to 17:00

Korean Derby 2015 – First Preview

One of the biggest days of the year is almost upon us. The 2015 Korean Derby will be run at Seoul Racecourse on Sunday May 17. The Grand Prix has the prestige while the new Asia Challenge Cup has the international visitors but the Derby is still the Derby.

image

Speedy First won the Korean Derby and Oaks a couple of years ago

Eight are scheduled to make the trip up from Busan headed of course by Rafale. He won the first leg of the Triple Crown, the KRA Cup Mile (Korean 2000 Guineas) at his home track last month.

The horses who finished 2nd to 4th in the Cup Mile will also be there. Connections of Doraon Hyeonpyo, Yeongcheon Ace and Yeonggwanguitaepung will be hoping that the additional furlong of the Derby will make all the difference.

Unlike for the Cup Mile last month, Seoul looks set to at least provide a challenge for the visitors with the exciting Daegunhwang perhaps best placed to keep the silverware in the capital. Two fillies are entered; Smart Time from Seoul and Yeongung Bolt (she of saddle-slipping fame) from Busan.

Here is a full run down of the 13 in at this stage, listed in order of prize money won over the past six months (Runs/1st/2nd/3rd):

The Korean Derby (KOR G1) – Seoul Racecourse – 1800M – Sunday May 17, 2015

Rafale [Colors Flying – Dongbang Cheogo (Al Naba)] (8/5/2/0)
The KRA Cup Mile winner will no doubt have plenty of support in the Derby too. He won a class 2 race at this distance in January. Others were finishing faster in the Cup Mile but he got the job done. He won’t necessarily want to lead but he will want to be close.

Doraon Hyeonpyo [Colors Flying – Kilcoe Castle (Gone West)] (7/5/2/0)
Last year’s champion juvenile was overhauled in the closing stages of the Cup Mile by Rafale having hit the front three furlongs out. He won a slow mile race the time before that but hasn’t been tried at this distance.

Daegunhwang [Menifee – Lusi Pond (Elusive Quality)] (6/5/1/0)
Seoul’s great hope. After a second on his debut, he’s won five in a row generally from the front and without coming under any real pressure. It is going to be very interesting to see what he can do when subjected to a proper examination.

Yeongcheon Ace [Menifee – Dixie Avenger (Dixie Union)] (8/3/3/2)
This one likes to come from off the pace which he did to run third in the Cup Mile. Has never been worse than 3rd in eight career starts and will have no trouble with the distance.

New White Socks [Secret Weapon – Wonder Queen (Canadian Silver)] (7/5/0/0)
Another highly promising one from Seoul. He was a winner over 1700M last time out in a decent time and has plenty of potential.

Mac And Cheese [Menifee – Squared (Posse)] (8/5/0/1)
A disappointment in the Cup Mile, running 8th of 11 when well-fancied, he had been an impressive winner over the same distance the time before. He’ll get another chance here.

Triple Nine [Ecton Park – A Little Poke (Pleasant Tap)] (5/4/1/0)
He didn’t go in the Cjup Mile but comes in here after four consecutive wins, the most recent two of which were over a mile. A very quick finisher, he is from the Kim Young Kwan stable.

Yeonggwanguitaepung [Menifee – Grand Pass (Grand Slam)] (9/3/2/2)
This is another quick finisher, he flew home in the Cup Mile to just be edged into 4th, he was a winner over 1800M the time before and has a real chance here.

Smart Time [Ft. Stockton – Charon (Jade Robbery)] (6/3/2/0)
A filly, she will be an outsider here. Second in the Sports Seoul Cup but 4th on her only try around two turns so far, this will be a tough ask.

Yeongung Bolt [Colors Flying – Haneul Gisang (Duality)] (7/3/1/1)
The other filly, her saddle slipped on her only try at a mile so far. She returned to win over 1400M. Likely to be showing towards the front early but she probably won’t be among the favourites. Fillies do have an excellent record in this race recently though.

Seonbong [Duality – Megabuck Gal (Montbrook)] (7/3/2/1)
Just beaten a neck by New White Socks last time out over 1700M, he was leading at one stage and is certainly capable of putting in a good performance.

Yuseong Fighting [Didyme – Maggies Prayer (Songandaprayer)] (7/4/0/1)
He showed the way for much of the Cup Mile but didn’t stay on, fading to 6th. The distance will again be the big question mark here.

Sanggam Mama [Peace Rules – Miss Merit (Old Trieste)] (5/3/1/1)
Plenty of speed, putting in some really quick times but is yet to be tried at further than 1400M. As such, others will be favoured.

We will have another detailed preview once final declarations have been made, jockey bookings have been confirmed and all horses have arrived in Seoul. This has the makings of a very interesting Derby.