Month: May 2015

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)

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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.

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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.

Djordje Perovic Ready For Seoul Test

Another new foreign jockey has arrived in Korea. Djordje Perovic has been granted a license to ride at Seoul Racecourse from May 1 and looks set to get his first rides next weekend.

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Djordje Perovic, seen here in the JRA, joins Seoul this month (Pic: supplied by jockey)

A native of Serbia, the experienced Perovic is licensed in Italy and has won races in nine countries since debuting as a 17-year-old in 1997. He is a 7-time “Jockey of the Year” in Serbia and holds the distinction of “Best Sportsman of the City of Kragujevac” which isn’t something we can all put on our resume.

Perovic has won Group races in Italy, Serbia, Croatia, Slovakia and Austria as well as Jockey Premierships at the San Rossore and Visarno tracks in Italy. Most recently he held a short term JRA license in Japan where he rode three winners.

In total, Perovic arrives in Korea with 827 career wins. He joins Jarred Samuel as the only two foreign jockeys riding at Seoul and it is a tough environment in which to be.

Samuel has been working very hard but is yet to make a breakthrough in the three weekends he’s been riding – he’s ridden in 40 races so far but he’s not been given a single one with any kind of chance.

Perovic knows it’s not going to be easy and is well aware that while several foreign jockeys have had success at Busan, only Ikuyasu Kurakane has truly been able to crack Seoul. He arrived in the Korean capital on Wednesday and has stated he is excited about the challenge. We wish him well.

Here he is in action in Japan:

And here in Italy:

Holiday Weekend Race Times

Some lucky people have secured five day weekends. Fortunately that doesn’t apply to the racing community so on what is set to be a beautiful weekend – it is May, after all – there’s plenty to keep us occupied.

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No finer place than Seoul Racecourse on a holiday weekend. Except Busan Racecourse

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Here’s what’s happening when and where:

Friday May 1
Busan Racecourse: 11 races from 12:50 to 19:00
Jeju Racecourse: 9 races from 13:15 to 17:35

Saturday May 2
Seoul Racecourse: 11 races from 10:50 to 18:00
Jeju Racecourse: 9 races from 12:20 to 17:10

Sunday May 3
Seoul Racecourse: 11 races from 10:50 to 18:00
Busan Racecourse: 6 races from 12:45 to 17:00