“I think he could hear me screaming at the finish line” said Joe Dallao after watching – energetically – his horse Noble Warrior get the best of a tight finish to race 6 at Busan on Friday afternoon. It was the American’s first winner as an owner in Korea.
Joe Dallao is a long-time resident of Korea and took a possibly unique route into thoroughbreds by way of pigeon racing. Believe it or not, the birds have a Studbook and Dallao, from his Ilsan base, turns out to be one of the foremost pigeon racers on the peninsula. A few years ago Dallao, an executive at an American company in Seoul, decided to look beyond the loft and turned his attention to racing. He first took an interest in racehorses in his native United States with Barry Irwin’s Team Valor and at the same time started to investigate the possibility of owning in his adoptive country.
The trouble was that foreigners – even those living in the country – were unable to own racehorses. Dallao lobbied and lobbied and finally in 2014, as the KRA put its internationalization program into action, a small number of foreigners were permitted to own. Joe Dallao was in the first group to be granted a license.
Teaming up with South African trainer Bart Rice, Dallao bought two horses last year. They were a Whywhywhy filly called Majestic Beauty and a Biwa Shinseiki gelding named Noble Warrior. Both took a long time to get ready with Noble Warrior running just once as a 2-year-old and Majestic Beauty not at all.
Bart Rice – who is in sparkling form these days and will send his horse Triple Five to Singapore for the KRA Trophy later this month – got them right though and Majestic Beauty has shown promise with a 4th and a 2nd in two starts over the past couple of months. Noble Warrior meanwhile began placing and has been getting better as the distances have lengthened. Today, on his second start at class 5 and his second at a mile; benefiting from a slight weight advantage and a ground saving ride by You Hyun Myung, he got it spot on. Noble Warrior hit the front at the top of the stretch and gamely battled on to win by half a length. It was his 7th career start.
Joe Dallao was active at the Jeju sales again this Spring and then plans to import a horse from the US later in the year. Whatever they achieve and no matter what Noble Warrior goes on to do from here, no doubt today will have been special.