Month: June 2016

Coming Up In July: Evening Racing / Busan Mayor’s Cup / Triple Crown Finale / KRA Trophy At Kranji

Evening racing begins this weekend and will run throughout July and August on Fridays and Saturdays. A busy July also sees the Busan Mayor’s Cup – the biggest race of summer – as well as Power Blade potentially looking to complete the Triple Crown in the Minister’s Cup and three Korean horses heading to Singapore for the KRA Trophy at Kranji.


Evening racing begins this weekend

The first “evening” meeting will be at Busan this Friday. On Fridays, the first race at Busan will be at 2.30pm and the last at 9pm. Saturdays at Seoul will get underway at 2pm with the final race at 9pm. Sundays this year will remain at their usual time with the first race at Seoul at 10:50am and the last at 6pm. While the initial evening season runs until the end of August it may well be extended this year into September and October.

On the track, the month starts with the big one, the Busan Metropolitan City Mayor’s Cup, generally billed as the “Summer Grand Prix”. This year’s edition is at Busan this coming Sunday, July 3rd and a high quality field look set to take part including some strong candidates from Seoul. We will have the full line-up here this afternoon and a full preview of the race on Saturday. Last year’s winner Gamdonguibada, Triple Nine, Bold Kings, Clean Up Joy, Clean Up Cheonha and Success Story are all currently entered.

On Sunday 17th, attention will turn to Seoul and the final leg of the Triple Crown in the shape of the Minister’s Cup. Power Blade was the facile winner of the KRA Cup Mile and Korean Derby and should he make the starting gate, he will be strong favourite to become the first horse to sweep all three legs of the Crown in its current form. Stablemate and Korean Oaks winner Ottug Ottugi is also among ten entrants at this stage.

The final Group race of the month will be the KNN Cup at Busan on July 24th. It’s the 2nd leg of the Queens’ Tour which decides the champion filly or mare of the year. The first leg, the Ttukseom Cup, was won by Bichui Jeongsang at Seoul at the beginning of June.

In other news, the KRA Trophy will be run at Kranji Racecourse in Singapore on July 24th and for the second year running, Korea-trained horses will be taking part in the 1200M sprint. The three horses looking likely to travel are Parang Juuibo (With Distinction) and Always Winner (Creek Cat) from Seoul and Triple Five (Girolamo) from Busan. The optimistically named Always Winner won the JRA Trophy at Seoul earlier in June while the Bart Rice trained Triple Five is an up and comer who has won three of six outings to date. Baksuchyeo and Jingyeogui Geojang are others entered.

The KRA Trophy is part of the “Korea Festival” that takes place at Kranji that weekend.

Dean Holland Wraps Up Korean Sojourn

Dean Holland’s stint riding in Korea is over for now. The Australian jockey completed his four month license at the weekend and has opted to return home.


Dean Hollasnd at Seoul (Pic: Ross Holburt)

During his time here, Holland rode 10 winners from 128 rides with a quinella strike-rate of 15% – a creditable figure given that he rode so few favourites. His final ride was a 2nd place on Jangsanjewang in race 11 on Sunday while his last winner was the previous day, when he guided Muhudaese to victory by a nose with a perfectly timed run in race 9.

Both those rides were for Brian Dean and in the latter half of his time here, Holland built up an effective partnership with the first foreign trainer to be licensed at Seoul. Half of all runners that Brian Dean has sent out so far have finished in the first three and Dean Holland has played a significant role in achieving that. Likewise the emergence of the trainer – who this time next year will surely be the top trainer in the capital – ensured Holland successfully completed his four months.

Holland worked hard and gained the respect of most trainers and jockeys in Seoul with a professional attitude and good results, which is exactly what is asked of foreign riders here and he was a good ambassador for Australian racing. Off the track he developed an unexplained affinity for the Seoul LG Twins baseball team; Holland’s win-rate is probably better than theirs.

Holland’s final winner at Seoul:

Holland’s departure leaves Imran Chisty as the only active foreign jockey currently at Seoul. Djordje Perovic remains licensed.

Busan Friday: Race-By-Race Preview (June 24)

Ten races at Busan on Friday afternoon get the weekend action underway. The first is at 12:40 and the last at 19:00. Racing will return to Busan on Sunday while Seoul hosts cards on Saturday and Sunday.

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

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

(9) ROAD TO SUCC ESS looks on the path to a maiden victory. Thomas Gillespie’s filly has shown the most promise among those with experience here and will be favourite to get it right. Of those other experienced ones, (3) MACHO MYEONGUN and (10) HUIMANG PARADE look most likely to improve while among the four debut-makers, (2) DANCING BLAZE and (8) CHEONGCHUN CHAMP look the most likely.

Selections (9) Road To Success (10) Huimang Parade (2) Dancing Blaze (8) Cheongchun Champ
Next Best 3, 5, 1, 4
Outsiders 6, 7, 11, 12
Fast Starters 3, 8, 9

Race 3: Class 6 / 1300M / Allowance / KRW 40 Million / 14:10 (KST)

An improved 2nd last start and finishing strongly, (5) THE WORLD is the pick to strike here with the extra half furlong likely to suit. (9) GABO STAR, who showed promise in three starts around the turn of the year and looked very sharp in a trial two weeks ago , is set to be the main danger while (7) FLORIDA WAY and (8) SEORABEOL DOLPUNG both try this distance for the first time having shown some talent at 1000M. (3) GORYEOUI KKUM has already tried 1300M three times and can improve on the 5th he managed last time out.

Selections (5) The World (9) Gabo Star (3) Goryeoui Kkum (8) Seorabeol Dolpung
Next Best 7, 4
Outsiders 1, 2, 6
Fast Starters 3, 9

Race 4: Class 6 / 1300M / Allowance / KRW 40 Million / 15:00 (KST)

(2) TEXAS RUSH was 2nd when sent off as favourite over this distance at the end of last month and will be fancied once more to put it right in this all-filly affair (1) HWANGGEUM GEOTAP actually beat Texas Rush when racing 2nd back in March at 1200M. She has been off since then and while she didn’t go especially well in a trail earlier this month, she looks like the main danger. (3) GREAT PEARL beat three of these when finishing 2nd in a weak contest in May and while inconsistent, can be involved here while (8) DORAON GASOKDO and (9) OH DAEBAK look best of the rest.

Selections (2) Texas Rush (1) Hwanggeum Geotap (3) Great Pearl (9) Oh Daebak
Next Best 8, 12, 10, 11
Outsiders 4, 5, 6, 7
Fast Starters 1, 12

Race 5: Class 5 / 1200M / Handicap / KW 40 Million / 15:50 (KST)

(2) VICAR HOPE is up in class following her maiden win at the end of last month and if she can get an early lead today – and from gate 2 she has every chance – then she could very well make it two in a row today. (11) JANTEUGAREU is the main danger. He’s shown a good turn of foot in three starts to date and has plenty more wins in him. (10) YEONSEUNG GONGJU scored a decent 2nd at class and distance last time out, beating (1) HANNAM ROOKIE in the process. The latter can go better today. (8) GANGJA DAERO is yet to win in 35 career starts but is more than capable of finding the money at this level.

Selections (2) Vicar Hope (11) Janteugareu (1) Hannam Rookie (10) Yeonseung Gongju
Next Best 8, 7, 4, 3
Outsiders 5, 6, 9
Fast Starters 2, 3, 4, 9

Race 6: Class 5 / 1300M / Handicap / KRW 40 Million / 16:40 (KST)

After a comfortable win on debut in May, (7) KKOKDAEGI was a disappointing 4th when favourite on his reappearance two weeks ago. If he can get off to a better start today, he will be dangerous and could well be favourite again. (11) FREE RUNNING is up in class following his maiden victory (beating Texas Rush who we saw in race 4) at this distance last time. He likes to come from well off the pace and could go well again. (10) MAJOR SLAM, who beat Free Running back in April, has achieved back to back 4th places in two starts at this class and can match or better that here. (8) CHOA, who beat Major Slam last time out and (3) SMART MARINE are others to consider.

Selections (7) Kkokdaegi (11) Free Running (10) Major Slam (8) Choa
Next Best 3, 2, 1
Outsiders 4, 5, 6, 9
Fast Starters 1, 5, 7, 8

Race 7: Class 4 / 1400M / Handicap / KRW 55 Million / 17:20 (KST)

(7) WONIL BULPAE beat three of these when running 2nd on debut at class and distance in May. He was scratched when likely to be favourite three weeks ago and is to be strongly considered here. (5) FIVE VICTORS may better be known as five runners-up as he has finished 2nd in each of his last five starts. He will be backed again though and 2nd should be a minimum requirement today. (2) KWAEHAN MYEONGPUM and (3) SWEET MYEONGUN are both capable of finding the money at this level. The former is Korean bred as is the up in class (11) IMPASSIONED MARINE, a four-length winner over 1300M three weeks ago and who looks very nicely in here.

Selections (7) Wonil Bulpae (5) Five Victors (11) Impassioned Marine (2) Kwaehan Myeongpum
Next Best 3, 4, 12, 10
Outsiders 1, 6, 8, 9
Fast Starters 1

Race 8: Class 3 / 1800M / Handicap / KRW 72 Million / 18:00 (KST)

(5) BUHWARUI BANSEOK beat (8) MIRACLE IJI by half a length as the pair of them finished 2nd and 3rd in a decent race at class and distance on May 15th and they both have strong claims here with the former favoured once more. Six of the others faced each other over a mile on May 27th. (2) IRON TRAIN finished the best of them in 3rd place and he must be respected having previously won at this distance. (1) DAEJONGCHEON was 4th that day and is another who has performed at this distance in the past while (7) GIANT HOLD, 5th in that race and a stablemate of Buhwarui Banseok is another to consider.

Selections (5) Buhwarui Banseok (1) Daejongcheon (2) Iron Train (8) Miracle Iji
Next Best 7, 6, 3
Outsiders 4, 9, 10
Fast Starters 1, 2, 5, 6

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

This race is being held in honour of jockey You Hyun Myung’s recent 700th career winner. The man himself doesn’t have a ride in the race but if he did, he would perhaps choose to be on (3) MORNING DAERO. Following a pair of wins, he was beaten into 4th by (1) FURIOUS PARK and (5) CHOEGANGIJI when seven of these faced each other at class and distance on May 27th but looks very nicely in here to overturn that form. Those other two should run well once more while (9) BAEKDU is up in class following a win at a mile last month. His previous try at this distance didn’t go well but he can be given another chance here. (4) SEONGSAN PAECEHONG looks best of the rest.

Selections (3) Morning Daero (1) Furious Park (5) Choegangiji (9) Baekdu
Next Best 4, 11, 6
Outsiders 2, 7, 8, 10
Fast Starters 4, 7

Race 10: Class 4 / 1300M / Handicap / KRW 55 Million / 19:00 (SIN)

(7) WONIL ROOKIE comes in following back to back wins at this class, most recently beating two of these at this distance on May 20th. He has to be respected, however, he is carrying significantly more weight today and that may be a factor. (1) BLUE STORM is up in class following an eye-catching win over this distance on May 29th, he will look to lead from the gate and will be well backed. (9) ACE MARINE beat (3) EOROK by half a length as the pair raced 3rd and 4th over 1400M on May 27th and they may also be considered here.

Selections (1) Blue Storm (7) Wonil Rookie (3) Eorok (9) Ace Marine
Next Best 8, 2
Outsiders 4, 5, 6
Fast Starters 1, 9

Multiple Stakes Winner Tough Win Retired Aged 9

After a career spanning more than six years and featuring 24 wins and over 2 Billion Won in prize money, Tough Win has been retired. His retirement ceremony took place at Seoul Racecourse last Saturday afternoon.


Tough Win in the winner’s circle at his retirement ceremony at Seoul Racecourse

Tough Win [Yonaguska – Maggie May’s Sword (Sword Dance)] was purchased for $12,000 at the Ocala 2-year-old sale in June 2009. and arrived in Korea the following month.

He made his racecourse debut that November, being sent off as third-favourite for a class 4 event over 1200M. He won by 16 lengths. The victories quickly piled up and Tough Win was very soon established as the hottest 3-year-old in the country. So it was in July of 2010, unbeaten in 7 starts that he traveled down to Busan to take on his toughest assignment to date, the Busan Mayor’s Cup and a showdown with Dongbanui Gangja.

Dongbanui Gangja (Broken Vow) came in following 12 consecutive wins stretching back almost two years and which included two victories in the Grand Prix Stakes. He was sent off as favourite. Tough Win sat handy early under regular jockey Cho Kyoung Ho while Dongbanui Gangja, with Moon Se Young on board for the first and only time, was away patiently. The older horse improved up to 4th as they began to straighten up and it looked like we were in for quite the finale. We were, but not the one we expected. Dongbanui Gangja spooked and ran wide, ruining his chance leaving Tough Win to get the better of a furious battle with Yeonseung Daero and Vicar Love, winning by a neck on the line.

Dongbanui Gangja’s antics meant for unfinished business between the pair and accordingly, they met again in October in the KRA Cup Classic at Seoul. Dongbanui Gangja ran well that day but lacked his usual spark, lugging 63kg around, and he finished a well beaten 2nd as Tough Win prevailed by five lengths.

So Tough Win was a perfect 9 for 9 heading into the season finale, the Grand Prix Stakes in December of 2010. Tough Win was the even-money favourite, slightly ahead of Dongbanui Gangja, who was looking for an unprecedented third consecutive triumph in the race. It was not to be for either of them as another 3-year-old, Mister Park, up from Busan, upset the favourites to record his 11th straight win on his way to what would become a record-breaking 17 consecutive victories.

Tough Win Grand Prix

Tough Win beat Mister Park and Smarty Moonhak to win the Grand Prix Stakes in 2011 (KRA)

Revenge for Tough Win on Mister Park would come a year later. 2011 started off in mixed fashion, Carrying a very high weight in handicaps, Tough Win suffered a couple of defeats – including one at the hands of a 51kg carrying Dongbanui Gangja – as well as victories before heading south to defend his Mayor’s Cup at Busan in July. It all went wrong as he engaged in an early speed battle with Dangdae Bulpae that scuppered both of their chances leaving the previous year’s runner-up Yeonseung Daero to narrowly defeat Dongbanui Gangja.

The rest of the year would be flawless, however. Three runs and three wins culminated in the Grand Prix Stakes in December when he finally ended Mister Park’s unbeaten record. The precocious 2-year-old Smarty Moonhak was 3rd.  The three of them – quickly dubbed the “Troika” by the Korean racing media – should have been competing with each other in the big races for the foreseeable future. Little is foreseeable in racing, however, and within a few short months, Mister Park’s story would end in tragedy and Smarty Moonhak would be suffering from tendinitis that he would not recover from. The rigors of racing an unrelenting schedule on a hard track took their toll, making Tough Win’s longevity even more remarkable.

He wouldn’t be able to retain the Grand Prix in 2012. finishing 5th behind the emerging filly Gamdonguibada after a year in which none of his 4 wins arrived in Stakes company. He and Smarty Moonhak did face each other in the Busan Mayor’s Cup in July but Tough Win had an off-day, finishing 4th, while Dangdae Bulpae defeated Smarty Moonhak for the win.

Tough Win began 2013 in fine style though, winning three races in the Spring before travelling to Busan once more to take on the Busan Mayor’s Cup for the fourth time. It would end in triumph, as he ran away from Beolmaui Kkum and Dangdae Bulpae in the closing stages to win by nearly three lengths on the line. He followed it up with a 4th place in the SBS Korea/Japan Goodwill Cup in September but the injuries started to mount up – indeed, Tough Win’s Studbook entry lists 621 veterinary visits during his career.

Tough Win Busan Met 2013

Tough Win claiming his 2nd Busan Mayor’s Cup in 2013 (KRA)

Tough Win only ran three times in 2014, each time without success and it looked like all those hard races had caught up with him. Remarkably though at the beginning of 2015 he came back and with a new running style – dropping all the way to the back from the gate, conserving energy and then picking off his rivals in the home straight -he returned to the winner’s circle that January. He promptly came out and repeated the feat in February. Those victories – wins number 23 and 24  – would prove to be the Indian summer of his career and following six subsequent unsuccessful starts, he was finally retired. His last race was in March this year.

Maggie May’s Sword herself was imported to Korea in late 2010 although she only produced one foal who made it to the races prior to her death in May 2012.

In Mister Park’s obituary, it was noted that the lot of a gelding can be to keep on running until the injuries and general wear and tear finally take over. Unfortunately this was true in Tough Win’s case with his retirement coming perhaps a year later than it should but he bows out in good health and is to be sent for re-training as a riding horse. We will be watching carefully. Subsidy, one of the most important racehorses of the past two decades here was to be retrained too but quickly disappeared without trace after retirement. There’s no reason to suggest that will happen to Tough Win. It had better not. With his, for want of a better word, toughness, those wins and his sheer longevity, he retires as one of the greats of Korean racing.

Prosecution Charges Several In Racing Integrity Probe

Racing was featured on most of the main news outlets in Korea on Thursday morning and not for positive reasons with a number of people, including trainers and jockeys, being indicted by the prosecution in a long-running investigation into corruption and race-fixing.

Most of the charges date back to incidents alleged to have taken place in 2010-2011. The suspects cannot be named for legal reasons but according to JTBC, they include jockeys from Jeju Island as well as three retired jockeys and two trainers from Seoul. Those in question who were still license-holders had been suspended since the allegations first came to light some months ago.

Also indicted were individuals identified as “brokers” and the suspected operator of an illegal betting operation. Most media reports this morning outlined that the prosecution continues to investigate possible links with organised crime. Here is the link to JTBC TV’s report.

JTBC and KBS1 News illustrated their reports with several video examples of horses allegedly being deliberately stopped by jockeys in pony races on Jeju Island in 2010.

Sun Strong Too Strong In Sports Chosun / Punters Land Big Tierce Wins

Sun Strong ran out the winner of the Listed Sports Chosun Cup at Seoul Racecourse this past Sunday, another big race winner for the track’s Champion jockey Moon Se Young. 

Sun Strong, a 4-year-old colt, was sent off as the pre-race favourite and got the better of Gasokbulpae, 2nd favourite and early pace-setter, in the closing stages.

Sports Chosun Cup (Listed) – Seoul Racecourse – June 19, 2016

1. Sun Strong (KOR) [Volponi – Strategic Reward (Bold Revenue)] – Moon Se Young – 2.8, 1.5
2. Gasokbulpae (KOR) [Psychobabble – Honey Bee (Pro For Sure)] – Kim Hye Sun – 1.8
3. Super Tank (KOR) [Gold Money – Make Mine Minnie (Honor And Glory)] – Yoo Seung Wan – 1.7
Distances: 0.75 lengths / 2 lengths
Also Ran: 4. Cosmos King 5. Haetbinna 6. Special Star 7. Kaeon 8. Taesan Cheonji 9. Gangja 10. Forever Daemul 11. Argo Asset

Sun Strong, a 4-year-old colt, was sent off as the pre-race favourite and got the better of Gasokbulpae, 2nd favourite and early pace-setter, in the closing stages.

In other news, the new tierce (trifecta) pool has made quite an impact already since its introduction last week. Despite only being available on the mobile betting platform, it has quickly become the fourth most popular pool behind quinella, trio and exacta.

On Sunday, the pool saw it’s first big dividend winner as Thomas Gillespie’s Lion Park, a 70/1 chance led home a top three in race 1 at Busan that yielded a return of 20,601.6. A total of 35 punters successfully picked the winning combination; three of them wagering 1,000 won while the rest staked amounts between 100 and 500 won.

Those three, who placed their bets at three different off track locations in Seoul and Gyeonggi Province, turned their 1,000 won into 16,059,500 won (after tax).

The tierce pool will remain restricted to mobile betting only for the time being but is expected to receive a general launch later in the year.

Sunday Preview (June 19)

Full cards at both Seoul and BUsan today with the Listed Sports Chosun Cup the feature race. There are 11 races at Seoul from 10:50 to 18:00 along with 6 at Busan from 13:00 to 17:05.

English racecards are available here

Three races are available for betting on the TAB in Australia, including the Sports Chosun Cup. See below for brief notes on them:

Seoul Race 8: Class 3 / 1300M / Handicap / KRW 75 Million / 15:45 (KST)

Hot favourite here is (7) GOREOUS DREAM. He’s won four from five so far and is up in class following an emphatic six-length win over 1200M on May 7th. He tries an extra half furlong for the first time but should have far too much for this field and will most likely lead from gate to wire once more. A proven money winner at this level (6) HORURAGI looks to have the best chance of stopping the favourite. She beat (4) GEUMSUNI EOMJI when the pair raced 3rd and 5th over 1400M last month. Horuragi will also be on the early speed. Coin from just behind will be (5) BOLT SIGN, who is up in class following a good win at this distance at the end of May and should be competitive here. (2) LITTLE BROWN is best of the rest.

Selections (7) Goreous Dream (6) Horuragi (5) Bolt Sign (2) Little Brown
Next Best 4, 8
Outsiders 1, 3
Fast Starters 2, 6, 7, 8

Seoul Race 9: Class Open (R80&Down) – The Sports Chosun Cup / 2000M / Weight for Age / KRW 200 Million / 16:40 (KST)

Having beaten three of these when making all to win by a neck over 1800M on May 21st, (2) GASOKBULPAE is favoured to strike once more on his first try at 2000M. He’s won six of ten so far and still looks to have scope for more development. (6) COSMOS KING returned from a five month absence to run 3rd at 1800M in May and should have come on for it. He’s quick with a strong finish. Champion jockey Moon Se Young takes the ride on (5) SUN STRONG, who races for the first time since beating a couple of these in April. He looked sharp in a trial last week and can be considered. (1) SPECIAL STAR and (9) SUPER TANK, both beaten by Gasokbulpae in May, are others who can go close.

Selections (2) Gasokbulpae (6) Cosmos King (5) Sun Strong (9) Super Tank
Next Best 1, 10, 3, 11, 8
Outsiders 4, 7
Fast Starters 2

Seoul Race 10: Class 4 / 1700M / Handicap / KRW 60 Million / 17:30 (KST)

Competitive event this and (1) RAON BOLAVEN can improve on a couple of slightly disappointing outings and get back to winning ways following a seven-week break. (6) GWANGYANG DOLPUNG is up in class and also in distance following a two-length win over 1400M a month ago and looks the main danger. Both of those will look to come from behind the early speed which is likely to be set by (3) TOUR MIDAS, 2nd at class and distance last start and capable of going well here. (2) MAGIC QUEEN and (7) DAEWANGSIN – the latter beat Raon Bolaven at long odds at the end of April – are others to take into account.

Selections (1) Raon Bolaven (6) Gwangyang Dolpung (3) Tour Midas (2) Magic Queen
Next Best 8, 7, 4
Outsiders 5, 9
Fast Starters 3, 7, 9