Month: May 2016

Miso Wangja Easily Wins YTN Cup

Miso Wangja was far too good as he dominated his rivals and claimed an 8-length win in the YTN Cup at Seoul Racecourse on Sunday.


Miso Wangja in the YTN Cup Winner’s Circle

The three-year-old US import had won three of six coming into the race but was most recently a surprisingly disapointing 3rd on his first try at Class 2 in April. Punters were happy to give Miso Wangja another chance  on Sunday and sent him off as the strong favourite ahead of nine modest rivals for the 2000M race.

The result never seemed in any doubt. Champion jockey Moon Se Young took Miso Wangja to the lead straight from the gate and there never looked to be any prospect of the colt being caught. The totally separate contest for 2nd place was won by outsider Cheonjeok with Dangsan Daehyeop a further four lengths back in 3rd.

Miso Wangja [Cowboy Cal – Auntie Soph (Valiant Nature)] was a $30,000 purchase from the OBS 2015 Spring Sale of Two-Year-Olds in training.

YTN Cup (Listed) – Seoul Racecourse – 2000M – May 29, 2016

1. Miso Wangja (USA) [Cowboy Cal – Auntie Soph (Valiant Nature)] – Moon Se Young – 1.7, 1.2
2. Cheonjeok (USA) [Shakespeare – Celtic Song (Giant’s Causeway)] – Yoo Seung Wan – 11.6
3. Dangsan Daehyeop (USA) [Indy King – Miss Daisy (Dynaformer)] – Choi Bum Hyun – 1.7
Distances: 8 lengths / 4 lengths
Also Ran: 4. Gwangbok Chilsip (USA) 5. Royal Jibbly (USA) 6. Chasing Dollars (USA) 7. Wanseung Bulpae (USA) 8. Argo Brain (USA) 9. The Ssen Champ (USA) 10. Cheonnyeon Yusan (USA)

Next weekend sees the first leg of the 2016 Queens’ Tour for fillies and mares in the shape of the Ttukseom Cup and also the SBS Korea v Japan Cup, both at Seoul on Sunday June 5. Three Japanese horses arrived at Seoul Racecourse last Friday and will take on a very strong home challenge. Full previews of both races will follow later this week

Busan Friday: Race-By-Race Preview

There’s a competitive card of racing at Busan this Friday afternoon. 10 races from 12:40 to 19:00 and English language racecards can be found here.

Here are race by race notes on the overseas simulcast races:

Race 2: Class 6 / 1000M / Allowance / KRW 20 Million / 13:25 (KST)

Second at this distance at odds in excess of 40/1 last start continuing a trend for improvement in each start so far, (1) BAROGA is the pick to take this. He has been slow away in each of his four races but so long as he is in touch today, he can win. (11) HANNAM DIVA also showed improvement last time and can build on her 3rd place from last month while (3) SAEROUN NA was an encouraging 4th on debut when not fancied at all on April 29th. (2) B.K. ONE and (5) SEORABEOL DOLPUNG are others to watch. (9) FEISTY is a rare debut-maker from Kim Young Kwan’s stable that won’t be very well backed.

Selections (1) Baroga (11) Hannam Diva (3) Saeroun Na (2) B.K. One
Next Best 5, 9, 10, 4
Outsiders 6, 7, 8
Fast Starters 2, 7

Race 3: Class 6 / 1200M / Allowance / KRW 40 Million / 14:10 (KST)

We’ve a whole host of debut-makers in this maiden race but the favourites are going to be the ones with prior racing experience. (8) VICAR HOPE is the pick, and were it not for having drawn the outside gate on debut with a fast one on her inside, she may well have won. Things should be different today. (9) NORTHERN TRACE beat (1) THE WORLD as they race 2nd and 4th over this distance on April 29th; both can go well here with the former once more preferred. (3) JUNGANG YOJEONG was a well beaten 2nd on debut the same day at 1000M. Unfashionable jockey but the extra furlong may be to his advantage. Of the debut-makers, (7) FIGHTER REAT was the fastest in trials although trainer Bart Rice is flying at the moment so (6) MAJESTIC BEAUTY may also be considered.

Selections (8) Vicar Hope (9) Northern Trace (3) Jungang Yojeong (7) Fighter Reat
Next Best 6, 1, 5, 4
Outsiders 2, 10
Fast Starters 8, 9

Race 4: Class 6 / 1300M / Allowance / KRW 20 Million / 15:00 (KST)

One of these is going to finally make the breakthrough today and it looks a nicely open contest. (10) FREE RUNNING looks slight favourite after finishing strongly for 2nd at this distance a month ago beating a couple of these in the process. Both (12) FERNANDO and (4) NOBLE WARRIOR have also beaten plenty of these and both will be looking to build on the 3rd places they achieved on their respective last starts. (2) YEONGUNG CHULGYEOK may not be winning but is capable of finding the money here while (1) TEXAS RUSH was 4th behind Free Running last start and can go well again.

Selections (10) Free Running (4) Noble Warrior (12) Fernando (1) Texas Rush
Next Best 2, 5, 9, 8
Outsiders 3, 6, 7, 11
Fast Starters 1, 5

Race 5: Class 5 / 1300M / Handicap / KRW 40 Million / 15:50 (KST)

(1) BLACK SAPPHIRE is up in class following her maiden win on her second start earlier this month and looks nicely in here to follow-up. It will be tougher for (3) JUNGANG DAERO, who is also up in class after winning for the first time. He’s back from four months off but can be competitive. (4) SUNGANUI BEOPCHIK looks the main danger, narrowly beaten a nose last time and surely with a win in him at this level. (5) GANGHO IRON is yet to win in seventeen but is capable of finding the money with (6) RUN STAR the other one to look out for.

Selections (1) Black Sapphire (4) Sunganui Beopchik (3) Jungang Daero (6) Run Star
Next Best 5, 2
Outsiders 7, 8, 9, 10, 11
Fast Starters 2, 10

Race 6: Class 5 / 1200M / Handicap / KRW 40 Million / 16:40 (KST)

(11) YEONGTO DAEWANG was a six-length winner on debut on April 29th. She’s up in both class and distance but has every chance of making all once more in this all-filly affair. Main danger is (1) DAEHO GANGJA, second in a slow but competitive race at class and distance earlier this month. (9) HANNAM ROOKIE actually beat Daeho Gangja in April and can be considered while (5) UNFLAGGING HEART and (8) ROAN SANTOS look next best.

Selections (11) Yeongto Daewang (1) Daeho Gangja (5) Unflagging Heart (9) Hannam Rookie
Next Best 8, 10
Outsiders 2, 3, 4, 6, 7
Fast Starters 4, 10, 11

Race 7: Class 4 / 1300M / Handicap / KRW 55 Million / 17:20 (KST)

(10) I ONE was a winner on debut on April 3rd and while he goes an extra half furlong today that should only be to his advantage and he should win this. Most likely to take him down is either the domestic-bred filly (9) KWAEHAN MYEONGPUM, who is up in class following a number of near misses or (7) MABEE FLASHY, who was 2nd at 1400M, beating a number of these in the process, earlier this month. (1) AMAZING DAEJI is yet to score in twenty and probably won’t here but can compete for the places as can (12) TOUGH COUNTRY.

Selections (10) I One (9) Kwaehan Myeongpum (7) Mabee Flashy (1) Amazing Daeji
Next Best 12, 3, 11, 4,
Outsiders 2, 5, 6, 8
Fast Starters 1, 6, 9

Race 8: Class 4 / 1400M / Handicap / KRW 55 Million / 18:00 (KST)

(3) EOROK is up in class following back to back victories but while she should be competitive here, she won’t be favourite to complete her hat-trick. That will most likely be (6) FIVE VICTORS who needs to snap a streak of four consecutive 2nd places. Those have all been behind pretty decent horses though – he hasn’t started any of those races as favourite – and this looks his best chance of getting back in the winner’s circle. (7) JIBONG JILJU drops back in distance and can go well with (2) TURBO ENERGY and (4) WINNING NUMBER the others in strong contention.

Selections (6) Five Victors (3) Eorok (2) Turbo Energy (7) Jibong Jilju
Next Best 4, 10, 8, 1
Outsiders 5, 9
Fast Starters 4, 7

Race 9: Class 2 / 1800M / Handicap / KRW 88 Million / 18:30 (KST)

(1) IN THE BACK has finished no worse than 2nd in each of his last nine starts and while up in class and in distance today following victory at a mile, he can keep that run going. Also up in class and also in contention is (3) MORNING DAERO. He too won at a mile last time and he too tries two turns for the first time and looks to have strong claims. The one they need to beat is (6) RISING BRAVO. A class and distance winner on April 22nd, he beat four of these in the process and there’s no reason why he can’t follow up. Those three look above the rest with (8) FURIOUS PARK and (9) ROYAL IMPACT perhaps most likely among the others.

Selections (3) Morning Daero (1) In The Back (6) Rising Bravo (8) Furious Park
Next Best 9, 2, 12, 4
Outsiders 5, 7, 10, 11
Fast Starters 1, 5, 6, 7, 12

Race 10: Class 3 / 1600M / Handicap / KRW 72 Million / 19:00 (KST)

(4) DAEJONGCHEON is still yet to win but comes in following five consecutive 2nd place finishes. He was beaten five-lengths last start by a good winner who has gone on to win again and there is a chance he can finally get it right today. It won’t be easy though and 2nd is a real possibility once more. (1) FURIOUS RUNNER is up in class and distance following a good win at 1200M three weeks ago while (3) BAEKDU was a solid 2nd at class and distance, ahead of a couple of these a month ago and has claims to go one better. (11) IRON TRAIN is another up in class having won at 1800M last month and also holds a win at this distance as does (12) GIANT HOLD. He was 4th behind Daejongcheon last time but the stable is in form and he should go well.

Selections (4) Daejongcheon (1) Furious Runner (12) Giant Hold (3) Baekdu
Next Best 11, 2, 5, 6
Outsiders 7, 8, 9, 10
Fast Starters 2, 4, 6

Park Tae Jong: 2000 Not Out

It had been coming for a long time but when it finally did, at 11:43am last Saturday, something happened at Seoul Racecourse that rarely – if ever – occurs. There was applause. After winning race 3, Park Tae Jong turned his mount around and then trotted back past the winning line to the spontaneous acclaim of the grandstand.  


Punters help Park Tae Jong celebrate 2000 career winners at Seoul Racecourse last Saturday

We’ll get the cynicism out of the way early. Park had just guided Gangho Cheonnyeon, a 1.3 favourite to victory meaning just about every punter present had won their quinella bet; had this happened in race 1 when he was riding a 40/1 chance, the assembled punters may not have been so generous with their praise. It was though, a very warm moment.

In that race; race 3 on Saturday morning, Park Tae Jong became the first Korean jockey to ride 2000 career winners. In worldwide terms that’s a figure that is creditable and noteworthy but not unusual. For a Korean jockey of Park’s generation, it is an achievement that is nothing short of astonishing.

While Korean racing in 2016 still has a long way to go to be internationally competitive, it is worlds away from what it was when Park gained his license aged 22 in April of 1987. Most jockeys in those days would expect to ride for about five years, maybe getting 50-100 winners along the way if they were lucky. In a less than optimal system, many would then become Trainers. Many of them still are.

Additionally, in those days, there was a strict cap on the number of races a jockey could ride in each week. This  was only lifted when some jockeys were permitted to become freelance instead of being retained by a trainer around ten years ago. Even so, there are still only a total of 22-23 races a week that a jockey can ride in and few jockeys ride the full amount.

Park has also managed to make it through 29 years without any integrity run-ins. Famous for going to bed at 9pm every night and eschewing the soju-sloshing ways of some of his former contemporaries, he is one of only four from that era still riding today. However, none of Shin Hyoung Chul, Kim Ok Sung and the still hanging in there, Kim Gui Bae, have come anywhere close to what Park has achieved. Of those SHin has ridden the most winners with 677.

The 2000th winner:

Park Tae Jong’s first Stakes win was on Beoun in the now defunct Mugunghwa Cup in 1992 having already passed 100 career winner the year before. His first Graded race winner, Kev, came in the Ttukseom Cup, also in 1992. Park’s first and so far only Grand Prix Stakes win was in 1995, when he guided Daekyeon to a gate-to-wire eight-length win.

During the 1990s Park would establish himself as the nation’s top jockey, passing 500 winners in 1998 and then in 2000, passing Kim Myung Kuk’s record of 722 winners. Since then he has led the all-time winner’s list without interruption. He’s won three Korean Derby’s, a couple of Owner’s and Minister’s Cups and also the KRA Cup Mile at Busan in 2010.

Park became the first jockey to pass the 1000 winner mark in 2004 – and celebrated by being driven down the home straight in a Porsche – something he would repeat on Saturday only twelve years ago the Porsche was red, this time it was yellow. In common with all Seoul jockeys, Busan’s emergence as the base for the best horses in Korea has limited Park’s opportunities to win the very biggest races as, such as the arrangements the jockeys’ unions have made between themselves, only Busan jockeys may ride Busan horses.

Regardless, on a day to day basis, he remains one of the best in Korea. Park continues to ride winners and currently lies in 4th place in the 2016 Seoul Championship behind only Moon Se Young, Djordje Perovic and Jo Sung Gon.

Park Tae Jong

Park Tae Jong (Pic: Ross Holburt)

When you tell people in Korea that you are interested in horse racing, reactions are mixed. Many will think you are a degenerate gambler beyond redemption. Perhaps they are right. But most when pushed will also have heard of Park Tae Jong. They probably won’t have heard of Moon Se Young. Not yet, anyway.

His achievements may only be domestic in a country that craves international recognition and where a substantial proportion of the population looks down on its own sports leagues and events, but Park Tae Jong still deserves acknowledgement as one of Korea’s finest sportsmen of the past three decades. For a moment last Saturday, that was celebrated.

Park Tae Jong – as of May 2016:

Rides: 13365
1st: 2001
2nd: 1830
3rd: 1531
4th: 1442
5th: 1264

Win Strike Rate: 15.0%
Quinella Strike Rate: 28.7%
Show Strike Rate: 40.1%

Diferent Dimension, Dynamic Jilju Down Triple Nine & Wonder Bolt

Hot favourites went down at both Seoul and Busan this past Sunday. In the capital, Wonder Bolt was beaten by Dynamic Jilju but it was at Busan where the greater shock was, with last year’s President’s Cup winner Triple Nine defeated in a final furlong battle with Diferent Dimension.

Triple Nine (Ecton Park) had won both of his races in 2016 so far, handing Grand Prix Stakes winner Bold Kings his first career defeat in the process. With likely second favourite Doraon Hyeonpyo scratched, Triple Nine was sent off the strong odds-on favourite for the 1800M feature.

Like Bold Kings, Diferent Dimension (Into Mischief) is trained by Peter Wolsley, but unlike his stablemate, he got the ideal trip on what was his first try at class 1. Leading into the home straight under jockey Seo Seung Un, he made the 7.5kg weight advantage count as he held off the challenge of Triple Nine by a neck on the line. Six lengths back the evergreen Viva Ace (Macho Uno) put in another great performance to come home in 3rd.

Diferent Dimension moves onto seven wins from eleven career starts and provided for trainer Wolsley what was no doubt a welcome opportunity to get one over the Kim Young Kwan machine for once.

Half an hour later at Seoul, Wonder Bolt (Desert Warrior) was also sent off at odds-on for a similar class 1 handicap. Things would not go his way, however, as he was ground down in the home straight and passed close to the line by Dynamic Jilju (Forestry). A former Busan-based galloper, Dynamic Jilju, a 10/1 chance, was winning for the first time in the capital.

In other races across the weekend, Brian Dean saddled his second Seoul winner as Ruari O’ Coileain’s Jungl Drummer (Cielo Gold) winning on debut in race 2 on Saturday with Dean Holland on board. Meanwhile Bart Rice’s sparkling May form continued as his filly Load Cell (Ecton Park) won race 2 on Sunday at Busan.

Racing returns this coming weekend with the YTN Cup at Seoul the feature event. A week later will be the first international race of the year, the SBS Korea/Japan Cup – as well as the Ttukseom Cup – at Seoul.

Seoul & Busan Sunday Race-By-Race Preview

It’s a big Sunday of racing in Korea. No Stakes action but plenty going on and some big names will be taking to the track. Triple Nine heads the line-up for the feature race at Busan while Wonder Bolt races at Seoul.

Magic Party Park Tae Jong

Park Tae Jong (seen here a few years ago) rode his 2000th winner yesterday. He ended the day on 2001 and could get more today

There are 11 races at Seoul from 10:50 to 18:00 and 6 at Busan from 13:00 to 17:00. English racecards can be found here. Notes on races which will be simulcasted overseas are below:

Busan Race 1: Class 6 / 1000M / Handicap / KRW 20 Million / 13:00 (KST)

The Kim Young Kwan trained (8) KKOKDAEGI debuts in weak company here and will be expected to make a winning start. He trialed well last week behind a stablemate who won at Busan on Friday and should have too much for this limited set of opposition. (1) OH DAEBAK and (9) BEATBOX look the least bad of the others and could push the favourite close with (5) TAKE AGAIN and (6) BUGYEONG DOLPUNG capable of finding the minor money.

Selections (8) Kkokdaegi (1) Oh Daebak (9) Beatbox (5) Take Again
Next Best 6, 4, 3, 7
Outsiders 2, 10, 11, 12
Fast Starters 3, 4, 6

Seoul Race 5: Class 4 / 1000M / Handicap / KRW 60 Million / 13:25 (KST)

A six-length winner over 1200M on April 24th, (7) KATIE STAR is strongly favoured to follow up here. She made all that day and has every chance of doing so again. (3) GAENARI showed promise in four starts last year and returns to the track for the first time in six month having looked good winning a trial last month and looks to be the main danger along with (8) TIZ KING. He was beaten by Katie Star last time but can be given another chance here. Both the debut-makers (4) BIG ENTRY and (9) LOST IN DRAMA looked good in trials and have chances here with the latter slightly favoured.

Selections (7) Katie Star (3) Gaenari (9) Lost In Drama (8) Tiz King
Next Best 4, 11, 1, 5
Outsiders 2, 6, 10, 12
Fast Starters 5, 6, 7, 8

Seoul Race 6: Class 5 / 1400M / Handicap / KRW 40 Million / 14:10 (KST)

(7) PRETTY BOY has come close in two starts at this level so far and looks nicely in to claim his second win here. He’ll be on the early speed and can make all. There are plenty of dangers though. (8) GWANGYANG DOLPUNG was a narrowly beaten 2nd last start at 1300M and should appreciate the extra half furlong. (1) TWO KAY is up in class following his maiden win last start and will go to the front early. (3) IN BORN CHAMP is another up in class following his maiden and can be considered while (9) BEST QUEEN is the other to look out for.

Selections (7) Pretty Boy (8) Gwangyang Dolpung (3) In Born Champ (1) Two Kay
Next Best 9, 5, 4, 12
Outsiders 2, 6, 10, 11
Fast Starters 1, 3, 7

Busan Race 3: Class 5 / 1200M / Handicap / KRW 40 Million / 14:30 (KST)

Thomas Gillespie’s (2) HANEOLUI JILJU was a class and distance winner by a neck three weeks ago and he’s the pick to strike again. He has a fast start and the others will need to come past him. If any do, the most likely is (8) AREUMDAUN KKUM, who is yet to win but is up in class following a 3rd and two 2nd places from three starts and looks to have potential. (4) BLUE CAT disappointed when favourite at 1400M three weeks ago but she should be better at 1200M today and the Bart Rice stable is bang in-form right now. (6) GANGJA DAERO and (7) PERFECT HUMOR may contest for places.

Selections (2) Haneolui Jilju (4) Blue Cat (8) Areumdaun Kkum (6) Gangja Daero
Next Best 7, 5
Outsiders 1, 3
Fast Starters 2, 4, 8

Seoul Race 7: Class 4 / 1200M / Handicap / KRW 60 Million / 14:55 (KST)

Quite a competitive race this but having been 2nd at class and distance last month, (5) GOLD MUSIC is the pick to go one better this time. He led for most of that race, getting caught close to the line but should get the job done here. (6) HOMERUN MAKER was 2nd in a weak race at the beginning of April and comes in here after seven weeks off. She’ll contest the lead early. (9) GEUMGANGJEGUK enters following back to back 3rds and can match or better. (4) CHARISMA QUEEN and (10) MY HAPPY should both be better back down in distance today.

Selections (5) Gold Music (6) Homerun Maker (9) Geumgangjeguk (4) Charisma Queen
Next Best 10, 1, 2, 7
Outsiders 3, 8
Fast Starters 5, 6, 7, 8

Busan Race 4: Class 4 / 1400M / Handicap / KRW 55 Million / 15:20 (KST)

(1) NO SMALL KOREA was 3rd on debut last month and will be favoured to make the breakthrough today. She didn’t get off to an especially good start in that race but expect her to be on the early speed here. (6) COTTINPICKINGOOD also looks to have a win in him. He was stepped up to 1800M last month and was beaten by, among others (5) QUEEN ELEGANCE. Both can be competitive today. An unexpected winner over 1300M last time, (9) PARTYINTHEDESERT can be respected but will have to improve here. (2) SWEET MYEONGUN and (7) GOLD SKY look best of the rest of a competitive field.

Selections (1) No Small Korea (6) Cottinpickingood (5) Queen Elegance (7) Gold Sky
Next Best 2, 9, 11, 10, 12, 3, 4, 8
Fast Starters 1, 7, 10

Busan Race 5: Class 3 / 1200M / Handicap / KRW 72 Million / 16:10 (KST)

(1) SUPER STORM was 3rd in a strong race at class and distance on April 1st and comes in here ready to win. He was passed in the closing stages by two decent horses in that race and will go forward again. There is a lot of early speed here and a couple of the other fancied ones will be on it. They include (2) SMILE QUEEN and (4) TANK POWER, the latter of whom beat four of these when finishing 4th at 1400M on April 24th. Smile Queen last start was beaten by (8) GANGHO DRIVE and that one, along with (10) MACHU PICCHU look to be the ones to follow if the winner is to come from behind the early front-runners.

Selections (1) Super Storm (2) Smile Queen (4) Tank Power (8) Gangho Drive
Next Best 10, 5, 7, 12
Outsiders 3, 6, 9, 11
Fast Starters 1, 2, 4, 5, 7, 9

Seoul Race 9: Class 3 / 1700M / Handicap / KRW 75 Million / 16:35 (KST)

Any number of these have claims but we’ll make (4) HWANGGEUM SESANG the slight favourite. He was a well beaten 2nd by a good winner at class and distance last start six weeks ago but he is joint-top-rated for a reason and comes in here in the most consistent form. (2) JANGSAN TAEYANG was 2nd over class and distance in February and was a solid 5th over 1800M a month ago and should be competitive here while (3) HONGNAM BULPAE was poor behind Hwanggeum Sesang last time but can be given another chance here. (6) BIG FIVE steps up to two turns for the first time and is likely to try to lead from the gate while (7) READY KHAN races for the first time since victory at 1800M in January and may be considered.

Selections (4) Hwanggeum Sesang (6) Big Five (2) Jangsan Taeyang (7) Ready Khan
Next Best 3, 9, 10
Outsiders 1, 5, 8
Fast Starters 6, 9

Busan Race 6: Class 1 / 1800M / Handicap / KRW 105 Million / 17:00 (KST)

(10) TRIPLE NINE was last year’s Horse of the Year and is two for two in 2016 beating four of his rivals here twice already. He will be favourite for this and is the best horse and while he should win, there are dangers. (3) DORAON HYEONPYO has yet to show that he can really beat the best but he will look to set the pace here and should be at least 2nd. The ever-reliable mare (6) HEBA is one of those beaten twice by Triple Nine this year but will be close again while (2) DARKEST NIGHT has shown the best form of his career this year. (8) DIFERENT DIMENSION is up in class following a four-length win over 1800M a month ago and accordingly is very nicely in the weights here.

Selections (10) Triple Nine (8) Diferent Dimension (3) Doraon Hyeonpyo (6) Heba
Next Best 2, 4, 12, 1
Outsiders 5, 7, 9, 11
Fast Starters 2, 3, 8, 11

Seoul Race 10: Class 1 / 1800M / Handicap / KRW 110 Million / 17:30 (KST)

(7) WONDER BOLT was a four-length winner over 1200M at the beginning of April but is equally capable at 1800 and should come from just behind the early pace to win this. He has a capable apprentice jockey on board. (8) DYNAMIC JILJU and (9) SOTONG SIDAE are the main dangers although (10) BADA JILJU scored a good win at class and distance three weeks ago, albeit in slightly weaker company, and can be considered. (6) UNBEATABLE is anything but unbeatable but is generally capable of finding the money.

Selections (7) Wonder Bolt (9) Sotong Sidae (8) Dynamic Jilju (6) Unbeatable
Next Best 10, 3, 11, 12, 2
Outsiders 1, 4, 5
Fast Starters 2, 3

Seoul Race 11: Class 2 / 1200M / Handicap / KRW 90 Million / 18:00 (KST)

Another competitive race to end with. (5) QUEEN CREEK CAT is up in class after back to back wins at this distance and is the likely favourite. She will try to make all from the gate. Also on the early speed will be (10) YAHO SKY CAT. His two starts so far this year have been in a Listed and Graded race and while they didn’t go well, the company should be much more amenable today. (11) A.P. STAR beat a couple of these when 3rd at class and distance a month ago and can go well again while (3) S ROSE and (6) JANGSANJEWANG are the others to consider. The latter is trained by former Singapore trainer Brian Dean.

Selections (6) Jangsanjewang (5) Queen Creek Cat (10) Yaho Sky Cat (3) S Rose
Next Best 11, 12, 7, 9
Outsiders 1, 2, 4, 8
Fast Starters 1, 5, 6, 10

Aragoni Rides 1st Busan Winner / Rice Stable Continues To Star

He’d come close a few times but Paolo Aragoni bagged his first Korean winner at Busan this afternoon. The Italian jockey partnered Ocean Line to victory in race 5.


Paolo Aragoni and Ocean Line head out (Pic: Ross Holburt)

Aragoni debuted on April 29th and has already ridden in two Graded races, including last week’s Korean Derby at Seoul. He had racked up four 2nd places and three 3rds but the win had ths far proving elsuive. It might have arrived on Dochi in race 4 today but the colt missed the start and while he flew home, he had too much to do.

Instead it was one race later that Aragoni produced a strong finish on 10/1 chance Ocean Line to see off Wish Me Luck and the fast finishing Four Star by a neck on the line. Too strong, felt the Stewards, who fined him 50,000 Won for overuse of the whip.  Aragoni won’t be overly concerned about that. His win arrived on his 16th mount in Korea.

It was another solid day for Bart Rice. The South African trainer has been in outstanding form in May and it would continue in race 2 today.

Supernova Iji (Ecton Park) was racing for the first time in 2015 and under jockey You Hyung Myung, she dominated the all-filly test to win by three lengths over pre-race favourite Pangpang Legend. Rice has sent out twelve runners so far this month and no less than five of them have now returned as winners.

Supernova Iji

Bart Rice’s Supernova Iji and You Hyun Myung go clear at Busan on Friday. The Rice stable is in good form at the moment (Pic: Ross Holburt)

In other races, Dongbang Daero (Curlin) now has three wins from his last four starts following a resounding victory in the 1800M race 9, ending the winning streak of Saengil Gippeum (Parading), who was racing at class 2 for the first time, in the process.

There was something of a surprise in the final race of the day, the 1400M race 10 as the highly thought-of pair of US imports, First Magical (First Dude) and Useung Line (Congrats) both went down as Tariat Tale (Tale Of Ekati) swept home to claim the honours and move on to three wins from five starts.

Earlier, 2014 President’s Cup and Grand Prix Stakes winner Gyeongbudaero’s half broether Wonil Rookie (Forest Camp) secured his fourth win in eight attempts, wininng race 7 by just under a length.

On Saturday, attention shifts to Seoul where Park Tae Jong will have four opportunities to become the first Korean jockey to ride 2000 career winners, beginning in race 1. There are 11 races from 10:50 to 18:00.

Busan Friday: Race-By-Race Preview

All of a sudden we’ve had an early blast of summer on the Korean peninsula this week with temperatures above 30C for the first time this year. There is racing at Seoul on Saturday and Sunday but the action gets underway at Busan on Friday afternoon.

English racecards can be found here. Notes on race 2-10 are here:

Race 2: Class 6 / 1200M / Allowance / KRW 40 Million / 13:25 (KST)

An all-filly affair first-up and (2) PANGPANG LEGEND beat three of these when finishing 2nd in a very similar race on April 22nd and is the pick to go one better this time. Returning for the first time in six months, (4) SUPERNOVA IJI looks to be the main danger while debut-maker (6) SUPER BLADE also looks worth considering. Both came through recent trials in good order. (3) TIME CASTLE, beaten by Pangpang Legend last time and (11) HAEGA TTEUNDA, look best of the rest.

Selections (2) Pangpang Legend (4) Supernova Iji (6) Super Blade (11) Haega Tteunda
Next Best 3, 5, 10, 12
Outsiders 1, 7, 8, 9
Fast Starters 4, 11, 12

Race 3: Class 6 / 1300M / Allowance / KRW 20 Million / 14:10 (KST)

(1) BAEDARI GOSU showed good development in coming 3rd over 1200M on April 29th. She’ll be away slowly but has a strong finish and should appreciate the extra half furlong. She’s the pick. (4) SILENT LAGO and (11) RAON BENTREE have both come close in recent starts and both should do so again. Debut-maker (6) ATHENS showed promise in a trial at the end of last month and this modest company shouldn’t be too intimidating first up – he is from the Kim Young Kwan stable so he will be backed. (9) TAMNA CHEONHA was an improved 3rd last time out and can match that today.

Selections (1) Baedari Gosu (4) Silent Lago (6) Athens (11) Raon Bentree
Next Best 9, 2, 8, 7
Outsiders 3, 5, 10, 12
Fast Starters 3, 5

Race 4: Class 5 / 1300M / Handicap / KRW 40 Million / 15:00 (KST)

(5) INDIAN CHIEF is up in class following his maiden win on his fourth start on April 1st. He’ll go to the front from the gate and has claims once more. He may not be favourite though. (6) SMART MARINE is yet to win but was a very solid 2nd on his first try at this class over 1400M on April 29th and will be well-backed to make the breakthrough. He beat (2) DOCHI by four-lengths that day and that one can also improve while the two “Blues”, (1) RAON BLUE and the experienced (9) MISS BLUE are both likely to be on the early speed and are more than capable at this level.

Selections (5) Indian Chief (6) Smart Marine (2) Dochi (1) Raon Blue
Next Best 9, 7
Outsiders 3, 4, 8
Fast Starters 1, 4, 5, 9

Race 5: Class 5 / 1600M / Handicap / KRW 40 Million / 15:50 (KST)

(6) WISH ME LUCK beat no less than six of these at class and distance on April 15th and can be backed to beat them again. He was 3rd that day and can go even better this time. (8) EUNHA and (5) OCEAN LINE were the two who came closest to him; the latter has gone on to record a 2nd place since and both can be considered here. (4) MR. SPENDING comes in following three consecutive 4th place finishes and should benefit from trying this distance for the first time as indeed should (9) WARRIOR KING. On the other hand, (10) GARAK GONGWON, who finally got his maiden win at the 32nd attempt three weeks ago may not appreciate the extra furlong.

Selections (6) Wish Me Luck (4) Mr. Spending (8) Eunha (5) Ocean Line
Next Best 9, 10, 12, 3, 11
Outsiders 1, 2, 7
Fast Starters 1, 7

Race 6: Class 4 / 1200M / Handicap / KRW 55 Million / 16:40 (KST)

This lot don’t have a huge amount of form against each other but (7) GYERIMUI JILJU beat (4) HOPPANG as the pair raced 2nd and 3rd over 1300M on April 24th and both will be among the top fancies here. (6) NURI BULPAE is a domestic class 4 winner and while he has slightly disappointed in his last two starts, he’s not been too far away and can be given another chance. Kim Young Kwan’s (5) DYNAMIC TANK was 4th on his two starts last summer and finally returns having looked sharp in a trial last weekend. (11) HWANHUIUI BYEOL went too fast too early on his first try at this class last month but back at 1200M today, can go better.

Selections (6) Nuri Bulpae (5) Dynamic Tank (4) Hoppang (7) Gyerimui Jilju
Next Best 11, 8, 12, 2
Outsiders 1, 3, 9, 10
Fast Starters 4, 5, 11

Race 7: Class 4 / 1300M / Handicap / KRW 55 Million / 17:20 (KST)

Another competitive race with a couple of standouts. Gyeongbudaero’s half-brother (2) WONIL ROOKIE has won twice in three starts since returning from eight months and will look to lead from gate to wire here. He has every chance. The main danger is (5) MAGIC LINE, 2nd on his first try at this class last month and nicely in here. (1) SINSEGYE also comes in following a 2nd place last start and should be close again while (7) CHEONHA TONGIL and the up in class (9) KKEUTPAN JILJU are others to look out for.

Selections (2) Wonil Rookie (5) Magic Line (1) Sinsegye (7) Cheonha Tongil
Next Best 9, 10
Outsiders 3, 4, 6, 8
Fast Starters 2, 7, 10

Race 8: Class 3 / 1600M / Handicap / KRW 72 Million / 17:00 (KST)

(3) SANGSEUNG JUNIOR was 3rd on his return from almost nine months out two weeks ago and back up to a mile today, he looks the one to beat. (9) SINCHEON YEOMANG has beaten plenty of these recently and should improve on back to back third-place finishes. His recent form is similar to that of (7) JANGGUNBONG, who will look to lead from the gate and should also be competitive. (4) GLOBAL KING and (6) KKEUTPANNYEOWANG are the others to consider.

Selections (3) Sangseung Junior (9) Sincheon Yeomang (7) Janggungbong (4) Global King
Next Best 6, 1
Outsiders 2, 5, 8
Fast Starters 4, 6, 7

Race 9: Class 2 / 1800M / Handicap / KRW 88 Million / 18:30 (KST)

(5) SAENGIL GIPPEUM is up in class following three straight wins, the most recent being facile triumphs over this distance and he can make it four in a row here. He will try to make all. The main danger is (8) DONGBANG DAERO, who also won twice at this distance at class 3 and was 2nd on his first try at this level five weeks ago, beating (2) WILD BURNING and (9) GHOST BLONDE, both of whom themselves will be fancied to find at least the minor money. The other one to look out for is also up in class. That’s (4) MAIN STAY, just beaten a nose at this distance in a really quick race in March and who comes in fresh after two months off.

Selections (5) Saengil Gippeum (8) Dongbang Daero (4) Main Stay (2) Wild Burning
Next Best 9, 3, 7
Outsiders 1, 6, 10
Fast Starters 4, 5

Race 10: Class 3 / 1400M / Handicap / KRW 72 Million / 18:00 (KST)

Two stand out here and both are up in class. (4) FIRST MAGICAL was a ten-length winner on debut over 1200M last month and will be well-backed to make it two out of two here. He is one of a number who will look to lead from gate. (10) USEUNG LINE is the big danger. He has won two from three so far, last time at class and distance. Those two look significantly superior to the rest but if they are to disappoint then (5) ILLYUCHEON and (2) TARIAT TALE, 3rd and 4th at this class over a mile last time look the ones to take advantage. (3) WINNING HUMOR was beaten ten lengths by First Magical last time but also finds himself up in class today. He should beat a few.

Selections (4) First Magical (10) Useung Line (2) Tariat Tale (5) Illyucheon
Next Best 3, 7, 11, 9
Outsiders 1, 6, 8, 12
Fast Starters 1, 4, 5, 7, 9

Upcoming In Korean Racing: Triple Crown Finale / Oaks / SBS Korea vs Japan / Ttukseom Cup

It’s two down and one to go for Power Blade in his quest to complete the 2016 Korean Triple Crown. The colt won the Korean Derby in fine style in the rain last Sunday to add to his KRA Cup Mile triumph last month and will be back at Seoul in July in order to try to complete the Crown.


All being well, Power Blade will run for the Triple Crown on July 17 (Pic: Ross Holburt)

J.S. Hold won the Triple Crown back in 2007. However, in those days Busan horses were yet to be entered in the series (that would begin the following year) and the first leg was the Ttukseom Cup. Power Blade would therefore be the first horse to sweep the Crown in its current format. The final leg is the Minister’s Cup, which will be run over 2000M on Sunday July 17th.

Ottug Ottugi was 2nd in the Cup Mile in March but didn’t run in the Derby. She may well go in the Minister’s Cup but before that, Power Blade’s stablemate has the fillies’ Classic to take care of. The 1800M Korean Oaks will be run at Busan on June 12th. We could see South African trainer Bart Rice with his first Classic runners as Janggunui Huye and Load Cell are among the seventeen fillies still left in. Seoul is set to continue its dismal record in the Classics accounting as it does for only two of the nominations even at this early stage. Hoseungjibyeok looks the main danger to Ottug Ottugi.

A week before the Oaks, on Sunday June 5th, there is a big afternoon of racing at Seoul which sees the first leg of the Queens’ Tour in the shape of the Ttukseom Cup and also the SBS Korea/Japan Cup, which is the year’s first international race.

Three horses are expected from Japan and they are the usual set of very experienced campaigners. Currently, they are the imposingly-named Dreadnought (Meishi Odo), an 8-year-old gelding with 7 wins from 33 starts, Kimon Avalon (South Vigorous), a 7-year-old horse with 9 from 53 and Best Wish (White Muzzle) a 7-year-old horse who has won just 3 from 58 but has finished in the top three a further 21 times.

The home team will fancy their chances of beating them in the race which will be run over 1200M. Gamdonguibada, Perdido Pomeroy, Tongil Sidae and Bit Blade are among a very strong contingent expected to travel up from Busan while Choegang Schiller, Cheongu, Haemaru and OS Hwadap are among the early entries from Seoul.

Last year a Japanese raider, Esmeraldina, won the Ttukseom Cup. Another Japanese filly, Lalabel (Gold Allure) was initially entered but now won’t make the trip. That leaves it an all Korean-trained affair for the 1400M event which is the first leg in the three-race Queens’ Tour series for fillies and mares 5-years-old and under.

Last year’s Oaks winner Jangpung Parang is among the 21 currently entered as is New York Blue, who was 2nd in this race last year. New York Blue was sent off as favourite for the final leg of last year’s tour but fell when clipping heels on the first turn enabling Heba to claim the race and the overall series. Bichui Jeongsang looks to be the biggest name from the capital still in.

Upcoming Graded/Listed/Special races:

May 29: YTN Cup (Listed) – Seoul
June 4: Selangor Turf Club Trophy (Special) – Seoul
June 4: JRA Trophy (Special) – Seoul
June 4: TJK (Turkey) Cup (Special) – Seoul
June 5: Ttukseom Cup (Group II) – Seoul
June 5: SBS Korea/Japan Cup (Group III) – Seoul
June 12: Korean Oaks (Group II) – Busan
June 19: Sports Chosun Cup (Listed) Seoul
July 3: Busan Metropolitan City Mayor’s Cup (Group III) – Busan
July 17: Minister’s Cup (Group II) – Seoul

Brian Dean Trains First Korean Winner

Brian Dean has started very well. Having put the local trainers on notice by sweeping all the barrier trials a couple of weeks ago, he sent out Jangsan Jewang to 3rd place last week. After another 3rd yesterday, today My Blade became the Australian handler’s first Seoul winner. Dean Holland rode.


My Blade hits the front under Dean Holland (Pic: Ross Holburt)

The race took place an hour after the Korean Derby and most attention was focused on whether Park Tae Jong, riding Horuragi, could get his 2,000th winner as a jockey. Horuragi led from the gate and for much of the race but it was not to be as Holland on My Blade and Moon Se Young on Inbeactive came to challenge down the outside with My Blade prevailing by a head on the line.

It was Brian Dean’s third runner in total and the first foreign trainer ever to be granted a full-time license at Seoul  now has a 33.3% win strike rate and 100% to show. As for the other Aussie Dean, it was Holland’s second winner of the weekend.

Power Blade Powers To Derby Glory

In a monsoon downpour at Seoul, Power Blade added the Korean Derby to his victory in the KRA Cup Mile and heads into the final leg of the Triple Crown with two jewels safely  secured and looking for all the world like he will be the first horse to sweep the crown in its current form.


Power Blade makes it through the rain to win the Korean Derby (Pic: Ross Holburt)

Jockey Kim Yong Geun surprised many and opted to go right to the front out of the gate on Power Blade, having been slightly more leisurely away in previous starts. He was joined by stablemate World Champion along with Tohamsan and Banjiui Jewang. He would see them all off comfortably.

World Champion failed to stay on the fast running track, Tohamsan ran out and unseated his rider on the final turn. The others would stay on and challenges emerged from Zettabyte and Stealth, 4th and 3rd in the Cup Mile. Challenge is too strong a word though as this was always to be Power Blade’s and he romped away to win by three lengths on the line. Zettabyte was 2nd a further six lengths ahead of Stealth.

Winners Glory was Seoul’s best finisher in 4th place with Banjiui Jewang a creditable 5th. It is another Derby for trainer Kim Young Kwan. Few will bet against him completing his first Triple Crown on July 17th.

Korean Derby (KOR G1) – Seoul Racecourse – 1800M – May 15, 2015

1. Power Blade (KOR) [Menifee – Cheonmacheong (Lost Mountain)] – Kim Yong Geun – 1.2, 1.0
2. Zettabyte (KOR) [Menifee – Fight Back (Sakura Seeking)] – Lim Sung Sil – 3.7
3. Stealth (KOR) [Colors Flying – Missed The Tower (Woodman)] – Ikuyasu Kurakane – 2.2
Distances: 3 lengths/6 lengths
Also Ran: 4. Winners Glory 5. Banjiui Jewang 6. Cheonji Storm 7. Siseon Pochak 8. Saeroun Stealth 9. Gongryong 10. Theme Deunggeuk 11. Ever In Ever 12. V Man 13. World Champion 14. Seungniui Chukje DNF: Tohamsan