Day: June 23, 2016

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

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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.

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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.