Month: July 2018

Seoul Saturday: Race-By-Race Preview (July 14)

A familiar face will be in action on Saturday as jockey Masakazu Tanaka returns to Korea to take up an initial four-month engagement at Seoul Racecourse. There are 11 races from 14:00 to 21:00.

Masa Tanaka

Masa Tanaka (Pic: Busan Ilbo)

Now 34, Tanaka, who has spent the majority of his career riding in New Zealand, joined Busan Racecourse in June of 2013 and returned solid results, riding 24 winners in his first seven months up to the end of that year.

2014 was challenging for the Japanese rider, but Tanaka still emerged with 29 winners from 330 rides. It would be in 2015, however, when his persistence paid off and he became acknowledged as one of the top jockeys in the country. He rode 49 winners that season, taking him to 5th place in the jockey championship.

Although he couldn’t secure a Stakes race victory, he landed a 3rd place on New York Blue in the Asia Challenge Cup in 2014 and the following year another 3rd, on Ildeung Hanghaesa in the President’s Cup, at that time Korea’s joint-richest race. He left Busan having ridden 101 winners from 907 rides and returned to New Zealand where he has been riding since.

Tanaka, who this time will be based in Seoul, has four rides in the capital on Saturday but the odds are against him making an immediate winning return although some of the other foreign jockeys at the track should be in the winner’s circle at some stage with Johan Victoire, Manoel Nunes and Antonio Da Silva all on plenty of live mounts.

The day’s feature is a class 2 handicap over 1800M (race 10). Samjung Tapit, Thunder Light and Tosconova Cat, who came home 2nd, 4th and 6th respectively in last month’s TJK Trophy will be among the favourites in an ultra-competitive eleven-runner race.

Race 1: Class 6 (1200M) Allowance / KRW 24 Million

Just seven runners to kick us off with and it’s as weak a maiden as you’ll find. (2) HANIL GANGJA ran reasonably well in three outings around the turn of the year before being taken lame. He returned to training a couple of months ago trialling up in early June in good order and he should have far too much here. He will try to lead from gate to wire although he will be challenged for the early lead by (4) GOODCHOICE, who has show a couple of glimpses across eight outings so far and should be aiming for a career-best finish here. (6) SAND CHAMP has only raced twice so far, and the jockey booking makes one take note here. (5) JEONGMUN Y and (7) SUNSHIN MARINE the others with scope for improvement.

Selections (2) Hanil Gangja (4) Goodchoice (6) Sand Champ (7) Sunshin Marine
Next Best 5, 3, 1
Fast Start 2, 4

Race 2: Class 6 (1000M) Allowance / KRW 24 Million

The second maiden of the day is only marginally stronger than the first. (2) DAESEUNG AGAIN is the clear standout having run 4th and 3rd in his first two starts. He came close to making all last time, just being headed in the closing stages and this time can go all the way. (1) DALLYEORA RAON steps back to the minimum trip following a decent 3rd place 1300M last time. He’s also returning from seventeen weeks out and can go well first-up here. (4) GWANGPOK JUHAENG and (5) SO ARA DAEWANG have both demonstrated progress over their limited starts so far and while for both, this is slightly harder than their latest assignments, both can be competitive.

Selections (2) Daeseung Again (1) Dallyeora Raon (4) Gwangpok Juhaeng (5) So Ara Daewang
Next Best 3, 6
Fast Start 2, 8

Race 3: Class 6 (1000M) Allowance / KRW 60 Million

Japanese jockey Masa Tanaka, who rode 100 winners at Busan in a previous Korean stint, makes his debut as full-time Seoul jockey here but the Japanese rider may have to wait a little longer for his first winner as his mount in this juvenile maiden, (1) CHEONJI GISANG, won’t be among the favourites. That’s not to say the colt did badly in his trial though, but it’s a competitive affair. Three have raced before and of them, (6) CHANGPA was a solid 4th on June 16th, running on nicely and if she has come of for the run, she’ll be the one to beat. Among the first-timers, (7) GUREUM WANGJA and (9) UP LIGHT looked most impressive in trials. The pair of them will likely join Changpa on the early speed and all three should still be involved at the business end. (4) JACOB and (8) RAYMOND are others to keep an eye on and as ever in races like this, watch the market for clues.

Selections (6) Changpa (7) Gureum Wangja (8) Raymond (9) Up Light
Next Best 4, 1, 11
Fast Start 6, 7, 9

Race 4: Class 5 (1000M) Handicap / KRW 40 Million

(1) BODEURAM and (3) WAIT AND SEE are both up in class after maiden wins at the distance last time. Both are from in-form stables and both look to have more to offer at this level with the filly Bodeuram slightly favoured to make the step up faster. Main danger to both is (4) ARGO GALLOPER. He remains a maiden but now has three 3rd place finishes and a 2nd place at this distance. The 2nd came last time out when he was well-beaten by a good winner having led early on but still finished comfortably ahead of the rest and should be a factor here. The experienced (8) PERFECT BIC C was 4th behind Argo Galloper that day but can run closer here. (7) JUNGJEON MAMA returned to racing (more…)

Busan Friday: Race-By-Race Preview (July 13)

It’s Oaks weekend at Busan and while the big race is on Sunday, things get underway with a 10-race Friday card from 14:30 to 21:00. Here are the previews:

Race 1: Class 6 (1200M) Allowance / KRW 24 Million

(4) OCEAN PHOENIX ran a decent race on debut at this distance at the start of June and should come on here with solid claims to win. He’ll settle behind the early leaders and can finish well. (7) ROYAL CLUB started poorly and then suffered in kickback when relatively well-supported last time. He has shown ability though and if he can get away to a good start today, he can go very close. (1) BAEKDU JANGSU offered precisely nothing across his first two outings but was a much-improved 2nd when tried at this distance for the first time four weeks ago and he can build on that here. (3) GIJEOGUIMYEONGSEONG ran very promisingly on debut all the way back last September but only ran once more before being out for nine months. He trialled up well at the end of June and can be backed first-up. There are two debut-makers and of them, (9) GOLD TREE has a top trainer/jockey combination and looked competent in trials.

Selections (4) Ocean Phoenix (7) Royal Club (3) Gijeoguimyeongseong (9) Gold Tree
Next Best 1, 2
Fast Start 2, 3, 7

Race 2: Class 6 (1000M) Allowance / KRW 60 Million

Two-year-old maidens here hence the enhanced prize-money. Just two of them have run before and (7) POWER WINDY is likely to be strong favourite. He ran a very solid 3rd on debut in a similar race three weeks ago and the experience should see him in good stead. He led in that race from the gate and can do so again – without being caught this time. (6) TROPHY COLLECTOR debuted in the same race on June 22nd and while he only beat three home, didn’t run badly after a slow start and he can improve here. Of the first-timers, (5) FRIDAY is from the track’s top stable and is out of a Korean Derby winner and will get some backing. Others impressed a little more in trials though, with (2) SINBIHAN YEOIN and (4) YEONGGWANGUI FIGHT looking most likely.

Selections (7) Power Windy (2) Sinbihan Yeoin (5) Friday (6) Trophy Collector
Next Best 4, 1, 3
Fast Start 1, 7

Race 3: Class 6 (1300M) Allowance / KRW 24 Million

Since returning from five months off in early June, (3) INTERCEPTOR has run well twice, coming 3rd over this distance three weeks ago, beating a couple of these in the process. He’s one of a number with a chance in this competitive contest. (4) THE FACT and (6) HORTENSE too come in off the back of 3rd place finishes on what was their respective second and first starts. Both should be firmly in the frame here. Hortense is likely to be on the early pace along with (7) ROYAL BLUE. Thomas Gillespie’s colt has been close in four of his five starts so far and just missed out by a nose at 1200M on June 1st. He can go well here under a brand-new apprentice, who is claiming 4kg.  (8) MIRACLE ALICE hung outwards throughout her last start but still managed to finish 5th and with manners no doubt better today, she can get closer.

Selections (4) The Fact (3) Interceptor (6) Hortense (8) Miracle Alice
Next Best 7, 9
Fast Start 1, 6, 7, 8

Race 4: Class 6 (1300M) Allowance / KRW 24 Million

After a nondescript trial, (6) VICAR BLADE ran on very nicely for 2nd on debut over 1200M, pushing the talented Christiano all the way to the line. It’s been seventeen long weeks since then, but he returns here surely ready to get his maiden win. He’s not necessarily going to be a fast starter but with the extra half-furlong today, should have too much. (9) PEACE RIDER finished four lengths behind Vicar Blade that day. He’s race three times since and has acquitted himself well each time and can get close once more. Aside from those two, we’re looking for improvers. (10) HWANGGEUM BEOLMA did indeed improve last start, registering a 4th place at this distance in what was arguably a deeper field than this and can aim to at least match today. (2) GEODAEHAN WONSEOK and (5) GOLDUI INYEON should contest the early lead and both are capable of staying involved at the business end of the race.

Selections (6) Vicar Blade (9) Peace Rider (10) Hwanggeum Beolma (2) Geodaehan Wonseok
Next Best 5, 4
Fast Start 2, 5

Race 5: Class 5 (1000M) Handicap / KRW 40 Million

Bart Rice’s (11) CLEVER WILLIE was a five-length winner on what was his second career start – a full nine months after the first – on June 24th. It was at this distance and while he is up in class and will be coming out of the widest gate, he’s very much the one to beat here. (4) DANCING BLAZE was a touch unlucky in running last start four weeks ago but still finished a very creditable 5th, proving he can be competitive at this class and he can build on that here. (5) HAEDONG YEOGEOL remains a maiden after twenty-two attempts but comes in off the back of a 3rd and a 4th in her latest two, both at class and distance (more…)

New Citadel Beaten On Return / Great King Rules At Busan

New Citadel was sent off as odds-on favourite on his return after six months out with a leg injury, but even though expected main rival Shamrocker was a late scratching, the four-year-old could only manage 3rd as Special Runner ran out the winner of Sunday’s Class 1 feature race at Seoul. The winner was ridden by Johan Victoire, completing a treble on the day for the French jockey.

An American import by With Distinction, New Citadel had won six of eleven prior starts in an injury-disrupted career and got closest to superstar Cheongdam Dokki in the KRA Cup Classic last autumn. His latest setback had seen him out since January, but punters believed he would have little difficulty seeing off a small field over 1800M. He was scarcely a factor though as Special Runner saw off the challenge of Wonder Bolt by half a length with New Citadel a further four-lengths adrift.

It was Special Runner’s first try at class 1 and seventh victory in total. For jockey Johan Victoire, it was a third winner on Sunday having earlier partnered Jungle Beat to victory in race 3 for Australian trainer Simon Foster and also guided filly Ecton Sinhwa to an easy win in race 8.

Victoire wasn’t the only foreign jockey to enjoy a successful weekend with Brazilian pair Antonio Da Silva and Manoel Nunes both among the winners at Seoul while Fergus Sweeney continued his impressive strike-rate at Busan. It wasn’t just foreign riders in the winner’s circle either as Irish trainer Thomas Gillespie’s Great King won Busan’s class 1 Sunday feature. The four-year-old Majestic Warrior colt was sent off as 5/1 chance for the 2000M “Road to Group 1” race and struck the front a furlong out to go on to score by a length and a half from Stealth and favourite Captain Force. It was Great King’s sixth career win and 25th of the year for Gillespie who lies joint 3rd in the Busan Trainers’ Premiership.

While New Citadel was unable to return to form at Seoul, on Friday at Busan there was a successful comeback. Ice Marine won last year’s Oaks trial at Busan and was sent off as favourite for the fillies’ Classic. She only finished 7th of 16 that day, returned lame and didn’t race again for almost an entire year. Having made a nondescript comeback on June 8th, she was rated no better than a 16/1 chance for Friday’s competitive Class 2 feature but, under jockey Song Keong Yun she flashed home late on the outside to pip Taeyangui Sinhwa by a neck on the line. If she can maintain that form, Ice Marine may be an interesting addition to the older filly and mare ranks, a division that isn’t especially strong.


This coming weekend, attention turns to the current crop of three-year-old fillies with this year’s Korean Oaks being run at Busan on Sunday.

Seoul & Busan Sunday: Race-By-Race Preview (July 8)

It’s a big day of racing in Korea on Sunday with 11 races at Seoul from 10:45 to 18:00 while at Busan there are 6 races from 12:40 to 17:05. Here are the previews:

New Citadel Korea Racing Authority

New Citadel (foreground) was only narrowly beaten by Cheongdam Dokki when the pair were juveniles. He returns from his latest layoff at Seoul on Sunday (Pic: KRA)

Seoul Race 1: Class 6 (1000M) Allowance / KRW 24 Million

(9) LIVINGSTONE has been getting closer across six starts so far and ran well for 2nd last time out behind a good winner. He can get off to a fast start from the outside gate here and is very much the one to beat. (3) SEUNGRI LIKE has also shown improvement across his latest two and should be the main danger. (1) SCARLET PERFECT and (4) ULTRA MISSILE both have a 3rd in their records although both have put in two disappointing showings since, but they could improve. (7) CHANGSEONG HERO sneaks into the top picks by virtue of the jockey booking.

Selections (9) Livingstone (3) Seungri Like (4) Ultra Missile (1) Scarlet Perfect
Next Best 5, 2
Fast Start 4, 9

Seoul Race 2: Class 6 (1300M) Allowance / KRW 24 Million

Small field but nice and competitive. (1) GWACHEON HERO stepped up to this trip for the first time on June 3rd and ran a solid 3rd place, finishing off well and could go two better this time. (4) MACH SEUNGNI also enters off the back of two good showings at 1300M and 1200M respectively and should be a factor. (5) DAEMYEONG SOLAR moves up to this distance for the first time and it may suit a little better than the 1000M she’s run at before. (7) WHITE FLOWER offered few clues on debut four weeks ago and could improve here. (3) GREEN TEA drops back in distance after some reasonable performances at 1700M and can be a factor.

Selections (1) Gwacheon Hero (4) Mach Seungni (7) White Flower (3) Green Tea
Next Best 5
Fast Start 1

Seoul Race 3: Class 5 (1000M) Handicap / KRW 40 Million

(4) JUNGLE BEAT is yet to win but has been no worse than 3rd across four starts to date and was a good 2nd to the promising Hansen Glory on his first try at this class last time with a couple of the others here well back behind him. Today really should be his day. (3) CHODONG RACE made all to win at class and distance on June 9th. That was his maiden win at the tenth time of asking and a repeat isn’t out of the question. (6) HI EUREKA was 3rd that day and can get close once more. (1) JEONSEOLUI MANYEO and (5) MJ JILJU look best of the rest.

Selections (4) Jungle Beat (3) Chodong Race (1) Jeonseolui Manyeo (5) MJ Jilju
Next Best 6, 2
Fast Start 3, 4, 5

Seoul Race 4: Class 5 (1300M) Handicap / KRW 40 Million

(7) GARA GARA GA was 2nd on his first try at this class back at the end of April and returns here after a couple of months off with strong claims of going one better today. He’ll face a stern challenge from (2) STAR PERFECT, also a class and distance 2nd last start four weeks ago. She remains a maiden after twenty-four attempts but has come close on plenty of occasions and a win isn’t impossible here. Also a maiden after even more attempts, (5) GONSEOL comes in with recent form reading well and could go close while (1) SAEBYEOCK JANGGUN and (6) DUSON WANGJA have chances to improve on indifferent latest efforts – Duson Wangja especially, has already come close in a similar race at the end of May.

Selections (7) Gara Gara Ga (6) Duson Wangja (2) Star Perfect (5) Gonseol
Next Best 1, 8
Fast Start 1, 2

Seoul Race 5: Class 5 (1300M) Handicap / KRW 40 Million

(9) SPECIAL GOLD is up in class having secured her maiden win at this distance last time out, coming from off the pace to run on well. She won’t need to improve too much to be very competitive here. (2) MAY PRINCE got promoted to this level while still a maiden but proved he’s equal to it with a good 3rd on June 9th. He steps up to 1300M for the first time today and can get close again. (8) OPI RIVER was 4th on his first effort at class and distance three weeks ago and can build on that today while (7) DONGSEO GADEUK enters (more…)

Seoul Saturday: Race-By-Race Preview (July 7)

Saturdays from now until the first weekend of September will be afternoon and evening meetings so Saturday racing at Seoul sees 11 races from 14:00 to 21:00. There’s little better than a few early evening refreshments under the Seoul Racecourse lights!

Night Barrier

Racing under the lights!

Race 1: Class 6 (1200M) Allowance / KRW 24 Million

Small field to begin and it’s a weak one at that. However, that means plenty are in the hunt. (2) SPHAERA and (6) SKY STORM look most likely to show some improvement. Both have offered glimpses of some ability across their small amount of starts so far and have a great chance to make their breakthroughs here. Sphaera is likely to get the better start and is slightly favoured. (5) EVERYTHING WIN has looked everything but a winner in her seven outings but managed 5th of 11 in a better race than this in May and can challenge here. (1) BEST BOBAE and (3) DALLYEORA SOKBO others who could improve.

Selections (2) Sphaera (6) Sky Storm (5) Everything Win (3) Dallyeora Sokbo
Next Best 1
Fast Start 2, 7

Race 2: Class 6 (1000M) Allowance / KRW 40 Million

(4) SURFING POINT has been knocking at the door for a while now and though she was beaten four-lengths into 2nd when favourite a month ago, she looks the one to beat in this all-filly contest. (6) CLEAN FLOWER is the main danger having beaten two of these on her way to 2nd at the distance last start and she is likely to be on pace here. The two beaten that day were (9) HALLA DAERO and (2) NEUL SAE ACHIM and both those could improve this time. (7) GOLD SEUTAK races for the nineteenth time today and while she is yet to finish in the top three, she comes in following back to back 4th places and can aim to match here.

Selections (4) Surfing Point (6) Clean Flower (9) Halla Daero (2) Neul Sae Achim
Next Best 7, 5
Fast Start 6, 9

Race 3: Class 6 (1000M) Allowance / KRW 60 Million

For two-year-olds only hence the enhanced prize money. One of the eight has raced before, (2) HANEULEUL DALRIDA, who was well-backed on debut three weeks ago on the strength of a good trial performance. He only managed to finish 8th but should have come on for the run and will be expected to improve here. With that in mind, it is perhaps advisable to take trial performances with a pinch of the proverbial but (1) CLEAN UP TRIO impressed when winning his and will be backed first-up. (6) GOLD PARTY came through a slow heat but looked competent enough while both (7) KING N I and (8) WONDERFUL EVIL also both showed enough to suggest that they can be considered too.

Selections (1) Clean Up Trio (2) Haneuleul Dalrida (8) Wonderful Evil (6) Gold Party
Next Best 7, 5
Fast Start 1, 2, 3

Race 4: Class 5 (1000M) Handicap / KRW 40 Million

(4) MONEY DAERYUK was a four-length winner at the distance on what was just her second start, beating Surfing Point, who we saw in race 2. She’s up in class here but should be on pace from the start and can go close. (2) YAHO STRONG CAT has raced well in each of his latest three, all of them at class and distance. He was only 5th last time but is better drawn to get on pace here and will be a threat. (1) PRIMO was well-beaten by Yaho Strong Cat in April but ran a very solid 2nd at the beginning of June and can go well again. (3) SARYEONI THUNDER and (5) DOUBLE A are others who can be considered for improvement.

Selections (4) Money Daeryuk (2) Yaho Strong Cat (1) Primo (3) Saryeoni Thunder
Next Best 5, 7
Fast Start 2, 4, 7

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

(3) MIR PARK could only manage 3rd when favourite at class and distance on June 2nd, leading for much of the race but weakening late on. She looks to have more wins in her though and can go to the front again here, this time staying on. (8) STRONG MAN seemingly lost his way a little in the spring but showed signs of a return to form when an (more…)

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

Korean racing’s summer schedule begins at Busan on Friday where there are 10 races from 14:30 to 21:00.


Jo In Kwen rode his 500th career winner at Busan last weekend – he could add a dew more this weekend.

Race 1: Class 6 (1000M) Allowance / KRW 24 Million

It took (4) FASHION OF MARINE a long time to get to the track having initially qualified at the beginning of last summer but when he finally made it two weeks ago, he ran well finishing 3rd at this distance having led for part of the race. He can have learned a bit from that and with some more progress today, he can win. He’ll try to lead from the gate and will be challenged by (3) GIPPEUM SARANG. She’s much more experienced and has been getting closer in her latest three starts, running 2nd to the promising Ihyen last time on June 1st and she’ll be a danger here. (1) EUTTEUM CHAMP was further back in that race but can get closer today while. There are two debut-makers and of the pair, (5) CAR TWO looked like he knew what he was doing in trials and can put in a positive showing first-up here.

Selections (4) Fashion Of Marine (3) Gippeum Sarang (5) Car Two (1) Eutteum Champ
Next Best 8, 7
Fast Start 3, 4, 5, 8

Race 2: Class 6 (1000M) Allowance / KRW 60 Million

Unraced two-year-olds competing for boosted prize money here and plenty of potential among them. No fewer than five won their latest trial and the most likely first-up here come from the top two stables at the track. Kim Young Kwan’s (4) GLITTER and Peter Wolsley’s (8) UNION QUEEN both looked competent and comfortably won their heats. Union Queen is likely to go to the front from the gate while Glitter will settle further back, and both should be involved in the finish here. (2) DAEJI CHAMP is also likely to be on the early speed having done the same when winning his heat in a fast time at the start of last month. (3) TOUGH GREEN and (5) WONDERFUL IJI are the other two who enter after doing everything asked of them in trials and both can have claims on some prize-money here.

Selections (8) Union Queen (4) Glitter (2) Daeji Champ (5) Wonderful Iji
Next Best 3, 7
Fast Start 2, 7, 8

Race 3: Class 6 (1200M) Allowance / KRW 24 Million

(4) I’M YOUR STAR ran an improved 2nd at this distance on June 1st. He’d shown some ability prior to that but it was a break-out performance in similar strength company to today and he looks to be the one to beat. (5) HUNTER PARK beat a couple of these on his way to a 2nd place finish of his own three weeks ago over 1000M. It was just his third start and he previously ran well at 1300M. His stable is in form and he should get close. (2) WINNER CINDY is another one who looks to be figuring things out. She led for much of her latest effort at the distance a month ago only to end up in 3rd place and she can at least match that today. (7) BICHUI HAENGJIN hasn’t offered too many clues in two outings to date but ay appreciate the additional distance here. (11) HWANGJE BONSAEK weakened a little late on last time over 1300M and can get closer dropped slightly back in trip today.

Selections (4) I’m Your Star (5) Hunter Park (2) Winner Cindy (11) Hwangje Bonsaek
Next Best 7, 3
Fast Start 2, 5, 11

Race 4: Class 6 (1300M) Allowance / KRW 24 Million

(5) CHEONGDAM BLADE has a 4th and a 3rd from his two starts so far both times running on well but left with a bit too much to day. He’s up slightly in trip today and that may be what he needs to see him home on top for the first time. (1) TEXAS SIDAE has been getting closer across his five outings to date and comes in after back to back 3rd place finishes and should be aiming to at least match those here. (7) WONDERFUL STORY ran a decent 3rd at the distance three weeks ago. That was his first start since January and he can show some more progression here. (4) CHOEGANG STEALTH has been a touch one-paced over his twelve prior efforts but he s never too far away and should have the beating of plenty of these. (10) SWEEP MAN also seems to be finding some consistency and can go close.

Selections (5) Cheongdam Blade (1) Texas Sidae (7) Wonderful Story (4) Choegang Stealth
Next Best 10, 2
Fast Start 3, 5, 10

Race 5: Class 5 (1200M) Handicap / KRW 40 Million

(7) RACHEL was a class and distance winner on June 10th, making all and holding on to score by a nose. The competition today looks slightly stiffer, but a repeat isn’t impossible. (2) NURI ACHIM also come sin off the back of a victory and while he perhaps has a bit more to find, he’s not without a hope on what is a first Busan ride for apprentice jockey Jeong Hyeong Lae. (8) TAGONAN JILJU remains a maiden after seven attempts but has three 2nd places and a 3rd to his name. He was a touch disappointing in 4th last start but (more…)

Four Long Standing Seoul Trainers Retire

Four of the longest-serving trainers at Seoul Racecourse officially gave up their barns last week. Ha Jae Heung, Kim Yang San, Yang Jae Cheol and Jung Ji Eun all reached the mandatory retirement age of 63 in the year leading up to June 30th. 

Trainers Retirement

Three of the four retiring trainers, Ha Jae Heung, Kim Yang Sun and Yang Jae Cheol alng with significant others at a retirement function hosted by their Association (Pic: Seoul Racehorse Trainers’ Association)

All four trainers began their careers at the Ttukseom Racecourse in Seoul, Jung receiving his license in 1982 and Ha, Kim and Yang in 1983.  At the time there was no private ownership of racehorses with all horses being owned by the racing authority so it wasn’t until the 1990s, following the relocation of the racecourse to its current site in Gwacheon that the modern racing calender, complete with Stakes races and big purses began to take shape.

Jung Ji Eun – 8496 starters / 748 winners / 856 2nds / 786 3rds: A filly called Dangdae Jeil (Lucky Ruler) was his best horse of the 1990s, winning 25 of 60 starts between 1995 and 2001 including the Ttukseom Cup in 1997. Fillies would continue to be his specialty as he won the Korean Oaks and then a second Ttukseom Cup in 2001 with Espass (Psychobabble).  His final Stakes win came in 2009 with the filly Top Point (Tom Point) in the KRA Cup Classic.

Ha Jae Heung – 10535/937/1011/1042: Ha trained the winners of a number of listed races but only got the one Graded Stakes victory. It came with his best horse, Saebyeok Dongja (Fiercely), Korean Derby winner in 2005 and who would go on to 10 of his 37 outings. By far the most active of the four at the time of their retirement, he had sent out 20 winners from just over 300 starters in his final year.

Kim Yang Sun – 9088/907/912/908: Kim made his Classic breakthrough with Seonbong Taegam (Road Of War) in the Korean Oaks in 2000 and was champion trainer in 2001, a feat he would repeat in 2009. He will be most remembered though for handling one of the genuine stars of Korean Racing, Dongbanui Gangja (Broken Vow), who he prepared for back-to-back victories in the Grand Prix Stakes in 2008 and 2009.

Yang Jae Cheol – 6877/550/597/598: While Yang wasn’t able to win a Graded Stakes race, he did win the Sports Chosun Cup on two occasions, first with Dol Kyuk (Port Erin) back at Ttukseom in 1991 and then again at Gwacheon in 2002 with Cheonji Kiun (Glorify).

* Also leaving the training ranks last week was Heo Jae Young. The former jockey took out a license in 2012 but the forty-year-old has now decided to pursue a different path in the industry. He trained 53 winners from 1087 starters.

Summer Racing Schedule Begins This Week: Friday/Saturday Afternoon & Evening, Sunday Daytime

Racing in Korea moves on to a summer schedule from this coming weekend. Up until the first weekend of September, Friday racing will be from 2:30pm until 9pm and Saturday from 2pm to 9pm. Sundays will remain on the normal daytime schedule of 10:45am to 6pm. 

Seoul Night

Night racing at Seoul (Pic: KRA)

So from Friday July 6 to Sunday September 2 inclusive:

Fridays: Busan / Jeju – 14:30-21:00
Saturdays: Seoul / Jeju – 14:00-21:00
Sundays: Seoul / Busan – 10:45-18:00

Each of the three tracks will also take one weekend off during this time. Jeju will be off on July 27/28 which means Busan will run an extended card on the Friday and Seoul will run an extended card on the Saturday.

Seoul is off on August 4/5. Jeju will run an extended card on Friday while Busan will run on Saturday and Sunday. That means there will be no international simulcast on the Friday.

Busan takes its weekend off on August 10/12. Jeju again runs an extended Friday card while Seoul does the same on Sunday. Once more that means no international simulcast on the Friday.

Racing under the lights at Seoul on a warm summer’s Saturday evening is quite the experience so do be sure to check it out if you have the chance.


Cheongdam Dokki Marches On In Mayor’s Cup

Cheongdam Dokki ventured outside of Seoul for the first time but the four-year-old made himself right at home on the South-Coast, beating a strong set of rivals to win the Group 3 Busan Mayor’s Cup on Sunday afternoon confirming his status as the top-rated horse in Korea.

Cheongdam Dokki Mayor's Cup Lets Run Park Busan

Cheongdam Dokki & Lim Gi Won winning the Busan Mayor’s Cup (Pic: KRA)

Sent off as the odds-on favourite for the 1800M race, often called the “Summer Grand Prix” such is its usual strength, Cheongdam Dokki broke from the widest gate was unable to get to his favoured position on the lead. That was because King Of Ace got out much the quickest and under Franco Da Silva went on to set the pace. Aboard Cheongdam Dokki, jockey Lim Gi Won was happy enough to let the leader get on with it and settled at the front of the chasing pack with Cheonji Storm and 2nd favourite Triple Nine just behind him.

As the field entered the home straight, King Of Ace began to weaken and Cheongdam Dokki assumed command and while fellow Seoul-raider Cheonji Storm threatened to mount a challenge, Cheongdam Dokki comfortably saw him off in the final furlong to win by three-lengths on the line. Triple Nine, a three-time President’s Cup winner and former Horse of the Year, hit top gear late in the race but could only come home in 3rd place one ahead of last year’s winner I’m Your Father.

It was a breakout performance from Cheonji Storm, who was 6th in the 2016 Korean Derby behind eventual Triple Crown winner Power Blade, and who has matured greatly since missing seven months of last season. Triple Nine, making just his second start of 2018 ran well but was always likely to be too late reaching top speed to challenge Cheongdam Dokki over 1800M.

The win took Cheongdam Dokki, an American import by To Honor And Serve, to 11 wins from 16 career starts and was his second Korean Group race triumph following his victory in last autumn’s Group 2 KRA Cup Classic. He is unbeaten in 2018 with his last defeat coming in December’s Grand Prix Stakes over 2300M. It also gave him a new domestic rating of 130, the highest of any horse since the rating system in its current form began and Cheongdam Dokki is now surely on a path to face the ultimate test in Korean racing – taking on the international visitors in September’s Keeneland Korea Cup.

Busan Mayor’s Cup (KOR G3) – Busan Racecourse – 1800M – July 1, 2018

1. Cheongdam Dokki (USA) [To Honor And Serve – Elusive Gold (Strike The Gold)] –  Lim Gi Won – 1.4, 1.0
2. Cheonji Storm (KOR) [Admire Don – Great Thought (Empire Maker)] – Johan Victoire – 2.9
3. Triple Nine (KOR) [Ecton Park – A Little Poke (Pleasant Tap)] – Lim Sung Sil – 1.5
Distances: 3 lengths / 3 lengths
Also Ran: 4. I’m Your Father (USA) 5. Buhwarui Banseok (USA) 6. Saengil Gippeum (USA) 7. King Of Ace (USA) 8. Dongbang Daero (USA) 9. Champ Line (KOR) 10. Iron Train (USA) 11. World Number One (USA) 12. Cheonjeok (USA) 13. Winner Red (USA)