Day: May 26, 2016

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%