Month: September 2015

Heba Wins KNN Cup After Jockey You Hyun Myung Falls From New York Blue

Heba ran off with a three-length win in the KNN Cup, the second leg of the 2015 Queens Tour at Busan Racecourse this afternoon. However, that came after You Hyun Myung, on hot favourite New York Blue, was one of two riders unseated midway through the race.

The incident came as the field began the long turn for home. Winner’s Marine, under Ikuyasu Kurakane shifted in slightly causing Heba to check and clip heels with New York Blue, resulting in jockey You going over the top. Lee Hyeok would also be unseated from Who’s Perfect. Lee was relatively unharmed, however, You was taken to hospital with leg and back injuries.

Heba comfortably beat the rest of the field with Seoul visitor Hay Queen running second and Korean Oaks winner Jangpung Parang taking third. Winner’s Marine, who came home in fifth place was disqualified with jockey Kurakane receiving a four-day ban.

A five-year-old mare, Heba was third in this year’s Busan Mayor’s Cup and today recorded her 8th career win from 34 lifetime starts.

KNN Cup – Busan Racecourse – 1600M – September 20, 2015

1. Heba (USA) [Peace Rules – Sue’s Temper (Temperence Hill)] – Song Keong Yun – 15.7, 2.1
2. Hay Queen (USA) [Hold Me Back – Jack’s Touch (Touch Gold)] – Seo Seung Un – 4.0
3. Jangpung Parang (KOR) [Creek Cat – Ascend The Throne (Silver Charm)] – Kim Yong Geun – 2.2
Distances: 3 lengths / 3 lengths
Also Ran: 4. Super Surf (USA) 5. Halla Chukje (USA) 6. Ms. Margaux (USA) 7. Bear Queen Trophy (USA) 8. Seungbu Sinhwa (USA) 9. Hwanggeumbitjijunghae (KOR) 10. Nauryz (USA)
DNF: New York Blue (USA) Who’s Perfect (USA)
DQ: Winner’s Marine

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KRA Is Recruiting Overseas Trainers

The Korea Racing Authority is currently seeking qualified and experienced applicants to join its professional thoroughbred Trainer ranks.

The stables at Busan

The stables at Busan

Applicants must have a minimum of three years’ experience and currently hold a valid trainer’s license in a Part 1 or Part II racing country. In addition to other criteria which will enable them to set up their business in Korea, trainers must also have a minimum 8% win or 15% quinella strike-rate or have trained more than 1000 career winners.

Click here for detailed information and here for the application form. For more information or to apply, please contact Natalia Lee at the Korea Racing Authority on: natalia@kra.co.kr

It’s a tough assignment requiring more than just training skill as Korea is by no means the easiest place to adapt to for professionals working in any field, even for those with a lot of experience. The small number of trainers currently working in the country will certainly attest to this and the challenges they have had to overcome. However, the potential rewards for those who can make a go of it, are great.

Weekend Race Times – KNN Cup

It’s the final weekend of racing before the short Korean Thanksgiving break and it’s a big one with the KNN Cup, the second leg of the 2015 “Queens Tour” for fillies and mares at Busan on Sunday.

The big race of the weekend is at Busan

The big race of the weekend is at Busan

You can generally judge the chances of the horses who travel to the other track by the jockey who goes with them and with Seoul’s champion jockey Moon Se Young giving up a weekend’s prize money at Seoul to ride Bear Queen Trophy in the KNN Cup, the filly who has won three of her four races so far, must be considered.

Korean Oaks winner Jangpung Parang will go as will New York Blue, 2nd behind Japanese-raider Esmeraldina in the first leg of the tour, the Ttukseom Cup at Seoul in June. In total, thirteen will line up for the race, which will be run over 1600M.

English language race cards for all this weekend’d meetings are available here

Here’s what’s happening when and where:

Friday September 18
Busan Racecourse: 12 races from 12:50 to 19:00
Jeju Racecourse: 9 races from 13:15 to 17:25

Saturday September 19
Seoul Racecourse: 14 races from 10:50 to 18:00
Jeju Racecourse: 9 races from 12:20 to 17:20

Sunday September 20
Seoul Racecourse: 10 races from 10:50 to 18:00
Busan Racecourse: 6 races from 12:45 to 17:30

Watts Village, 2013 Ohi Interaction Cup Winner, Has Died

Watts Village, who became the first Korea-trained horse to win a race overseas, died late last month.

Watts Village winning the 2013 Interaction Cup in Japan (Pic: keiba.co.jp)

Watts Village winning the 2013 Interaction Cup in Japan (Pic: keiba.co.jp)

The 5-year-old passed away of a neurological disease just days before the Asia Challenge Cup, a race in which he had been expected to run.

Watts Village [Forestry – Edey’s Village (Silver Deputy)] was a $20,000 purchase from the 2012 Ocala Spring sale of two-year-olds in training and arrived in Korea in June of that year.

Watts Village 2010-2015

Watts Village 2010-2015

He debuted in August of that year with a victory and would also win his next three starts, including the TJK Trophy in November. He wouldn’t win again until July 2013 and then went on to finish 2nd behind Tosen Archer in the Korea-Japan Goodwill Trophy in September.

He then won a quick race over six-furlongs in October which encouraged connections to take their chance in the Interaction Cup at Ohi Racecourse in Tokyo on November 26. While most Korean hopes were pinned on Fly Top Queen, the most expensive horse ever imported to the country and at that time, still unbeaten, a Korean win seemed unlikely.

However, under jockey Seo Seung Un, Watts Village was gunned out of the gate and into an early lead. He would not give it up. Although the field came back to him, he just managed to hold on, sparking raucous celebrations among the visiting Korean contingent and securing his place in Korean racing folklore.

There was a feeling among some close to the horse that his exertions in Japan had taken a lot out of him and despite having been invited to race in Dubai the following spring, connections declined and kept him at home. Indeed, he only raced five times in 2014, with a solitary victory.

Watts Village and Moon Se Young in the Munhwa Ilbo Cup winner's circle. It turned out to be his last race (Pic: KRA)

Watts Village and Moon Se Young in the Munhwa Ilbo Cup winner’s circle. It turned out to be his last race (Pic: KRA)

Given another lengthy spell, he came back for a tilt at this year’s Asia Challenge Cup, which would be run over his favoured six furlongs. After an encouraging 2nd place on his re-appearance after six months off, he easily won the Munhwa Ilbo Cup in July, Seoul’s official trial for the Challenge Cup. Sadly that turned out to be his final race.

Watts Village ran a total of 19 times with 8 wins, 5 seconds and 2 thirds.

Weekend Race Times

With just a couple of weekends to go before the short Chuseok break, the fields are big and its juveniles who take centre-stage in feature races at Seoul and Busan on Sunday.

Apropos of nothing, here is a picture of some cheerleaders from the Asia Challenge Cup (Pic: Ross Holburt)

Apropos of nothing, here is a picture of some cheerleaders from the Asia Challenge Cup (Pic: Ross Holburt)

The two 1200M races are part of a beefed up program of races exclusive to two-year-olds in the build-up to the “Breeders’ Cup” at the end of November and are for those horses bought at this year’s domestic sales. Seoul’s race sees a debut for Golden Vascar, the first Korean based horse to be owned by Katsumi Yoshida.

Full racecards in English are available here

Here’s what’s happening when and where:

Friday September 11
Busan Racecourse: 11 races from 12:50 to 19:00
Jeju Racecourse: 9 races from 13:15 to 17:25

Saturday September 12
Seoul Racecourse: 12 races from 10:50 to 18:00
Jeju Racecourse: 9 races from 12:20 to 17:30

Sunday September 13
Seoul Racecourse: 11 races from 10:50 to 18:00
Busan Racecourse: 6 races from 12:45 to 17:00

Visiting Hansen – And Other Thoughts On The Korean Breeding Industry

Over the past few years Korea has become, if not a major player, at least significantly involved in the world bloodstock industry. That has resulted in a number of reasonably well-known stallions, principally from the United States, finding themselves in Korea. So what happens to them here?

Hansen at the KRA Jeju Stud Farm

Hansen at the KRA Jeju Stud Farm

The KRA began a domestic breeding industry in the 1990’s. Like most decisions here, it was done with realpolitik in mind. As a monopoly and a public company, the KRA is subject to the whims of the government of the day and as a result, needs to make itself as vital as possible to the nation.

That doesn’t just mean betting revenue – a casino with its mindless games of chance can do that – it also means jobs and support for the rural economy, something that had been neglected in Korea’s rush to development in the late 20th century.

The early breeding industry was haphazard. While the government was behind the idea, it simply gave subsidies for farmers to start breeding racehorses but offered no practical support as to actually how to breed racehorses. It was left to private farms such as Isidore to lead the way in bringing over foreign talent to oversee the breeding program.

Menifee, Korea's leading sire, walks in the rain

Menifee, Korea’s leading sire, walks in the rain

The KRA also set up its own Stud Farms, on Jeju Island and also at Jangsu on the mainland. At its peak, it stood about 30 stallions but has gradually been encouraging private farms to take over and now does not automatically replace pensioned or passed away stallions. It now only purchases marquee names; Hansen and Tiz Wonderful being recent examples.

Hansen's box at the Stud Farm - he was out in the paddock at the time

Hansen’s box at the Stud Farm – he was out in the paddock at the time

The KRA’s Jeju Stud Farm is nothing short of a five-star hotel for stallions. When not servicing mares, the select few are housed in spacious boxes or in their own private paddocks. On a recent Monday, only leading sire in Korea Menifee was in his box.

Hansen was not in his box. Nice nameplate, though

Hansen was not in his box. Nice nameplate, though

Now 19-years-old, Menifee has been in Korea since 2006. That’s about as long as me but I have a feeling Menifee understands Korean better than I do. His handler (wearing a Hansen baseball cap) calls his name and in Korean, asks him to come out of his box and stand to attention – which he does. He is perfectly happy to trot up and down outside in the pouring rain while the French TV crew (who I have tagged along with as designated um….drinker) filmed him.

Tiz Wonderful would not come up to say hello. Nice paddock though

Tiz Wonderful would not come up to say hello. Nice paddock though

The rest of the stallions are outside in their private paddocks where they spend most of their time. Walking out of the stables and into a typically idyllic Jeju scene, even three paddocks over, one horse stands out. Of course he is the easiest to recognize but he is also the only one who is standing right at the very edge of his paddock, waiting for visitors. He cranes his neck to see who might be approaching and jumps about to attract their attention.

Hansen is a remarkably sociable stallion. The day has been stormy and Hansen has been rolling in the mud. He looks more like a bedraggled pony than a Gotham Stakes and Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner but he puts his head through the railings to be petted. “Do you remember me?” the lady from Equidia asks, “I met you at Churchill Downs four years ago”.

He probably doesn’t but he makes a good show of it, allowing himself to be absolutely fawned over, even by the hitherto alpha-male French cameraman who has only vaguely heard of him but who turns into a simpering fanboy in his presence. Like everybody else. “Hansen loves people and everybody loves him” explains the Stud Farm manager – who is still wearing the cap with Hansen’s name on it

Tiz Wonderful and Forest Camp – the latter a notably shy stallion who has been kicked about by more than a few mares in his time – would not be distracted from their grazing but One Cool Cat was friendly while Hawk Wing seemed positively delighted to hear some English spoken to him.

The KRA Jeju Stud Farm is the best known stallion station on Jeju but it is deliberately drawing down its influence. Ecton Park stands at Isidore Farm, a place which has over the years played a huge role in the development of agriculture in general as well as racing on Jeju. Colors Flying is at Taeyoung Farm while the likes of Whywhywhy, Simon Pure and new star Strike Again also stand privately.

Facilities at some private farms such as Isidore and Pegasus are first rate. Others are developing. At Triple Crown Farm, we visit the resting place of Mister Park, who won 17 consecutive races, including the 2010 Grand Prix Stakes. Right next to him, mares and yearlings are in high spirits.

KRA training centre in Jeju

KRA training centre in Jeju

The final stop on what is now a hungover tour of the island (“I love my job, but not today” says the cameraman after an introduction to Halla-San Soju in Seogwipo the previous evening) is Nokwon Farm. This farm received international attention a couple of years ago as the home of Worldly Pleasure, dam of American champion Game On Dude. Of course, once Game On Dude became successful, Worldly Pleasure was on a plane to Shadai but Nokwon remains one of Korea’s top private farms.

Nokwon is owned by the former Chairman of the Seoul Racehorse Owners’ Association, Chi Dae Sub. Mr Chi is surprisingly in residence and in welcoming mood when we drop by uninvited last Tuesday. He was still smarting over Ham Wan Sik’s ride on his horse Forty Cure in the Selangor Turf Club Trophy last Saturday. Ham stood up in the irons and seemingly started celebrating despite being beaten a full length by Moon Se Young on Raon Morris on the line. “I wanted to kill him” was Mr Chi’s succinct post-mortem on the race.

Eurosilver at Nokwon Farm

Eurosilver at Nokwon Farm

We tour the farm on the back of a souped-up golf buggy, driven by Mr Chi. Clinging on to the roof, it was better than an Everland roller-coaster. Nokwon stands several stallions, including the Japanese racehorse Testa Matta and the US import Eurosilver. The farm has developed a very efficient system for exercising yearlings and sees itself as a prototype for the development for Korean-run farms on Jeju.

Chi Dae Sub has been one of the few supporters of the KRA’s internationalization program among Korean breeders (which is presumably why we were taken to his farm) who almost unanimously opposed the new rating system that ended separate class 1 and class 2 races for Korean and imported horses. “Bring them all on. Nobody thought that Koreans could make cars or televisions or mobile phones, but we did” he said “The KRA says we are 10 or 20 years away, I say we can do it in 5; Let’s race them”.

Racehorses are not mobile phones but the likes of Isidore with Rock Band and Triple Nine this past weekend have shown that the quality is coming. Choegang Schiller winning the Asia Challenge Cup, albeit not Korean-bred, demonstrates that Korean trained racehorses can compete at a good level. We have an awful long way to go. But from breeding shed to winning post, Korean racing is doing what it can to go in the right direction.

Watch out once Hansen’s progeny make it to the track.

Follow all horses racing or breeding in Korea through the Korean StudBook.

For anyone who finds themselves on Jeju Island, the KRA Stud Farm is happy to welcome visitors.

Rock Band Plays Winning Encore In Owners’ Cup

In what turned out to be a repeat of the Minister’s Cup, Rock Band led home stablemate Triple Nine and Korean Derby winner Yeongcheon Ace to score a commanding victory in the Owners’ Cup at Busan on Sunday afternoon.

Rock Band wins the Minister's Cup (Pic: Hiromi Kobayashi)

Rock Band wins the Minister’s Cup (Pic: Hiromi Kobayashi)

In the final leg of the Triple Crown at Seoul in July, Triple Nine had been sent off as the odds-on favourite with Rock Band fourth in the market. With Triple Nine, 2nd in the Derby and the Minister’s Cup, having finally got a Stakes race win in the Gyeongnam Do-Min Ilbo Cup in August, he was favourite again ahead of Success Story and with Rock Band third choice.

Rock Band in the Owners' Cup winner's circle (Pic: Hiromi Kobayashi)

Rock Band in the Owners’ Cup winner’s circle (Pic: Hiromi Kobayashi)

Once more, Rock Band made a mockery of that. Success Story, showed the way early on but Rock Band was always very handy and took things up entering the home straight. From then on the result was never in doubt.

Under jockey Kim Yong Geun, Rock Band ran on to win by just under two lengths with Triple Nine and Yeongcheon Ace chasing him home to complete an identical 1-2-3 to that in Seoul in July.

Jockey, Trainer and Breeder (Pic: Hiromi Kobayashi)

Jockey, Trainer and Breeder (Pic: Hiromi Kobayashi)

It was Rock Band’s 6th win from 7 career starts, his only defeat coming when he got a dreadful trip in his first try around two-turns in June.

A full-brother of Indie Band, the 2013 President’s Cup and Grand Prix Stakes winner, Rock Band didn’t race as a 2-year-old but now looks the pick of his crop. Hopefully, he will return to Seoul to attempt to emulate big brother in the President’s Cup later this autumn.

It was another solid performance by Triple Nine in 2nd. He has now raced 10 times with 6 wins and 4 second places. He too is trained by Kim Young Kwan, Busan’s top trainer and just like the winner, is by Ecton Park. The 1-2 was another triumph for Isidore Farm, where Ecton Park stands

Owners’ Cup – Busan Racecourse – 1600M – September 6, 2015

1. Rock Band (KOR) [Ecton Park – Plie (Dixieland Band)] – Kim Yong Geun – 6.4, 3.1
2. Triple Nine (KOR) [Ecton Park – A Little Poke (Pleasant Tap)] – Lim Sung Sil – 1.5
3. Yeongcheon Ace (KOR) [Menifee – Dixie Avenger (Dixie Union)] – Choi Si Dae
Distances: 1.75 lengths/3 lengths
Also Ran: 4. Ildeung Hanghaesa 5. Doraon Hyeonpyo 6. Success Story 7. Gumpo Sky

* Elsewhere over the weekend, the Seoul Racecourse track-record for 1700M fell for the third time this year. The capital’s track – quicker than ever in recent months – was racing extremely fast following a storm on Saturday morning. Perfect Clone (Exploit), having broker the Korean-bred record for five furlongs earlier in the day before Special Joy (Kitten’s Joy), under Djordje Perovic, took a second off the previous best set by New White Socks in July, in winning the 1700M race 9