Month: January 2017

“Championship Series” Kicks Off With Wins For Champ Line & Gumanseok

Champ Line and Gumanseok both made the most of light weights to win the respective class 1 features at Busan and Seoul on Sunday afternoon and put early points on the board in the new Championship Series.

Champ Line (Curlin) was sent off as the odds-on favourite for Busan’s 1800M feature. Always prominent under Seo Seung Un and carrying 6.5kg less than stablemate and 2nd-favourite Dynamic Dash, he comfortably saw off the challenge of Emeth (Rothesay) when the two went clear in the home straight, running on to win by an eased down two lengths. It was an 8th win in 17 starts for the Thomas Gillespie trained 5-year-old and his second at class 1.

At Seoul, the conditions were the same for the feature race with Sambong and Bichui Jeongsang being sent off as the top two in the market. The latter barely featured under the 58kg top weight but Sambong was one of six horses who got close to the eventual winner in what was a thrilling finish.

That winner would be the 8-year-old Gumanseok (Vicar), making his 51st start and carrying just 51kg with apprentice Ha Jung Hun on board. Just over a length separated the first seven home but three quarters of that was Gumanseok’s winning margin as once he got on top with half a furlong remaining, never looked like being beaten.

It was a 12th career victory for Gumanseok who won a pair of Listed races back in 2013 and has been a consistently reliable performer ever since. Today he took his earnings just shy of 1 Billion Won. It also put him on top, along with Champ Line of the “Championship Series”.

The Championship Series is a new feature of the racing calendar in 2017. The idea is that a number of races throughout the year are to be designated as “Championship Series” races. Points will be awarded for finishing in 1st, 2nd or 3rd places in those races. A league table will be maintained and those horses with the highest points will qualify to run in the two big end-of-season races, the President’s Cup (Korean bred only) and the Grand Prix Stakes. This qualification process will replace the “Arima Kinen” style public vote which has been in recent years to decide on the participants for the Grand Prix as the declining numbers of actual voters (barely a thousand in 2016), has made the voting somewhat less than fit for purpose and risks deserving horses missing out.

Whether Champ Line or Gumanseok will end the year deserving or not remains to be seen but it should maintain the interest over the coming months.

*In other news, all four high profile jockeys who have relocated tracks for 2017 found themselves in the winners’ circle. At Busan, Jo Sung Gon quickly picked up where he left off riding for Peter Wolsley as the pair combined for two winners on Friday while Jo In Kwen was successful on a rank outsider in the penultimate race on the same day. Grand Prix Stakes winning jockey Ham Wan Sik broke his Busan duck on Sunday. Meanwhile, the only jockey to go the other way was Kim Yong Geun and the Triple Crown winning jockey rode a double in Seoul on Saturday.

Racing returns to Korea next Friday at Busan. Before that though, attention switches to Dubai where Power Blade and Diferent Dimension could well line up against each other over a mile in Thursday’s Carnival meeting at Meydan.

Mirko Sanna Rides 1st Korean Winner

Mirko Sanna began his Korean stint at Busan on Friday and it didn’t take the Italian licensed jockey long to get off the mark as he guided 20/1 chance B.K. Park to victory at Busan on Sunday afternoon.

The 32-year-old Sanna, who had previously ridden in Europe, Malaysia and Canada, made the breakthrough on what was 12th Korean ride. He took B.K Park right back at the start of the 1300M Busan race 4 and closed well to beat odds on favourite Great King by just over a length on the line.

Busan Friday: Race-By-Race Preview (January 6)

The 2017 racing season gets underway at Busan on Friday (full fixture list to follow shortly) and with the Jeju ponies taking a rest this weekend, there is a busy day in store with 13 races from 11:40 to 18:00. 

Italian jockey Mirko Sanna makes his Korean debut and has plenty of rides. English race cards are here. Races 4-13 will be simulcast overseas, notes on those races are below:

Key
Fast Starters: Expected fastest starters today
Start-200M: Fastest average time for Start-200M (most recent 6 starts)
200M-Finish: Fastest average time for 200M-Finish (most recent 6 starts)

Race 4: Class 6 / 1300M / Allowance / KRW 20 Million / 13:30 

Three starts to date and (1) GOLDEN TROPHY is surely not far away from getting a first win. He beat (3) JIBONG YEONGUNG three weeks ago as the pair raced 4th and 6th over this distance. Golden Trophy was favourite that day and this time can justify it. Inside gate may be to his advantage. Jibong Yeongung can get close to him again but (9) CAPI RUN looks the most interesting rival. Mirko Sanna has a decent book of rides on his first day in Korea and this colt keeps coming home in 4th place. If Sanna can get him to the front early, it could be better today. He was beaten last time by (11) SEONGGONG PLAN and that one can’t be ignored either.

Selections: (1) Golden Trophy (9) Capi Run (11) Seonggong Plan (3) Jibong Yeongung
Next Best: 2, 4, 8
Rating: –
Fast Starters: 1, 9, 11
Start-200M: 11, 8, 9, 1, 10
200M-Finish: 4, 11, 1, 7, 5 (more…)

Menifee Heads All US Top Ten Leading Sires In Korea For 2016

For the fifth year running, Menifee claimed the Leading General Sire in Korea title in 2016. The 20-year-old stallion headed an all American-bred top ten with his progeny winning nearly double the amount of prize-money than nearest rival, Forest Camp.

Menifee

Menifee is Korea’s leading sire once again

2016 Korea Leading General Sire (Money earned in 1000 Korean Won units – Chief Money Earner)

1. Menifee (USA) 7,927,060 – Power Blade
2. Forest Camp (USA) 4,229,230 – Ottug Ottugi
3. Ecton Park (USA) 4,199,740 – Triple Nine
4. Vicar (USA) 3, 636,710 – Haemaru
5. Peace Rules (USA) 3,439,700 – Success Story
6. Colors Flying (USA) 3,373,000 – Touch Flying
7. Officer (USA) 3,248,690 – Ice Marine
8. Didyme (USA) 3,196,550 – Hoseungjibyeok
9. Sharp Humor (USA) 2,846,480 – Gorgeous Dream
10. Exploit (USA) 2,758,910 – Dixie Ploit
11. One Cool Cat (USA) 12. Creek Cat (USA) 13. Whywhywhy (USA) 14. Volponi (USA) 15. Pico Central (BRZ) 16. Hawk Wing (USA) 17. Cielo Gold (USA) 18. Cowboy Cal (USA) 19. Ingrandire (JPN) 20. Capital Spending (USA)

Menifee continued to dominate. Even without Triple Crown  winner Power Blade, who contributed nearly 1.5Billion Won to his total, he still had more runners, more starters and more winners than any other Korea based stallion and while he is now covering fewer, it’s inevitable that he’ll be on top for at least a further year. Forest Camp rose six places on 2015 with Oaks winner Ottug Ottugi his chief earner for the second year running. Colors Flying and the late Sharp Humor entered the top ten for the first time while two more who have passed away in recent years, Creek Cat and Pico Central, dropped out. The latter was the top non-US bred on the list. The highest placed stallion not standing in Korea was Cowboy Cal in 18th place. That’s been put right though as Cowboy Cal landed in Korea on December 29th and is currently in quarantine having been purchased by local interests.

2016 Korea Leading Sire of 2-year-olds

1. Menifee (USA) – Final Boss
2. Officer (USA) – Ice Marine
3. Sharp Humor (USA) – Europa
4. Chapel Royal (USA) – Wonder Wall
5. Ecton Park (USA) – American Power
6. Forest Camp (USA) 7. Exploit (USA) 8. Vicar (USA) 9. Ingrandire (JPN) 10. Whywhywhy (USA)

Menifee was also leading sire of 2-year-olds with his colt Final Boss winning both the Gwacheon Mayor’s Cup and Breeders’ Cup to be crowned champion juvenile. Newcomer Chapel Royal posted strong figures. Sharp Humor sadly passed away over a year ago and his final full crop is set to hit the track in 2017.

2016 Korea Leading First-Crop Sires

1. Chapel Royal (USA)
2. Simon Pure (USA)
3. Rock Hard Ten (USA)
4. Symphony Sonata (KOR)
5. Raconteur (USA)

Only five first-crop sires managed to deliver a winner and only Chapel Royal delivered significant numbers in terms of runners and winners. Last year’s first-crop winner Strike Again finished in 24th place in this year’s General List, however, he only has very small crops racing at the moment. His unexpected success in this category in 2015 led him to cover 72 mares in 2016 – an almost five-fold increase on 2015 and only four fewer than Menifee – so he may well rise in future years.

Seven-Timer Satoshi Shines & Holland Returns With A Double

The 2016 season wrapped-up at Busan on Saturday and it was a great end to the year for much of the foreign contingent at the south coast track. The returning Darryll Holland landed a double for Peter Wolsley and Bart Rice while Thomas Gillespie trained a double and Francisco Da Silva rode a winner. Star of the show though was Japanese rider Yonekura Satoshi who ended up in the winner’s circle on no fewer than 7 occasions on the 15 race card.

Holland, who resumed regular riding at Busan on Friday following a two and a half year absence, got off the mark on Sunday in race 4, guiding Peter Wolsley’s Secret Marine (Sea Of Secrets), a 5/1 chance, to a seven length win. Holland would go on to win the day’s feature race, a valuable test for three-year-olds, on Bart Rice’s Buhwarui Banseok (Tizway), who beat Korean Oaks winner Ottug Ottugi by two-lengths. The victory – and a later one for Wonil Gangja (Cowboy Cal) in race 15, the final race of the year – capped a superb year for the Rice stable which has seen him finish in 5th place in the Trainer Premiership. Only Kim Young Kwan and Peter Wolsley had a better strike-rate and a top-three finish is surely on the agenda in 2017 for the South African handler.

Da Silva’s win was on the promising Shunsuke Yoshida owned colt Wonder Wall (Chapel Royal) in race 8 while the Gillespie-trained winner of race 7, Party Again (Singing Saint), was one of four victories on the day that took jockey Seo Seung Un to joint-1st in the Jockey Premiership on 104 wins for the year, level with You Hyun Myung. The weighing room is about to become a lot more competitive with Seoul jockeys Ham Wan Sik, Jo In Kwen and former Busan champion jockey, Jo Sung Gon, all set to ride full time at the track from January with only Kim Yong Geun headed in the opposite direction to the capital.

No-one finished the year in better form though than Yonekura Satoshi, who put on a sparkling display on Saturday. The highlight of his seven wins in the valuable 2-year-old race when he guided US import Drop The Beat (Mad Flatter) to a comfortable win over five rivals. He also teamed up with Thomas Gillespie to get 7/1 chance Great Song (Songangaprayer) home in race 14.

His closing day heroics meant Satoshi ended the year on 39 winners for 5th place in the standings. With a top line-up of overseas jockeys and now, possibly for the first time at Busan, some real depth in the domestic jockey ranks too, the first few months of 2017 are set to be an exciting time.