Month: February 2019

Seo Seung Un Returns From National Service – Jang Chuyoul Departs

Seo Seung Un has completed his compulsory national service and the jockey – one of Korea’s leading riders before his departure – will return to action at Busan Racecourse this Friday.

Cheongnyong Bisang2

Cheongnyong Bisang wininng the KRA Cup Mile in 2014 under Seo Seung Un (Pic: KRA)

Seo burst onto the scene in 2011, riding a pair of winners on his very first day’s racing before proceeding to ride out his allowance in double-quick time. In early 2012, Seo spent time in the United States riding at winner at Charles Town and that summer went on to represent Korea at the 2012 Asia Young Guns Jockey Challenge in Macau, finishing 3rd.

He rode his first Korea Group race winners in 2013 and the same year played a part in Korean racing history when he travelled to Ohi Racecourse and rode Watts Village to a 30/1 victory in the Japan/Korea Interaction Cup – the first Korea-trained horse to win a race overseas. In 2016, he switched base from Seoul to Busan but would return to the capital to partner Triple Nine to glory in the G1 President’s Cup that November.

Seo’s return means there are now six Korean jockeys currently away on service, including top Seoul rider Jang Chuyoul, who enlisted at the end of January and won’t return until late 2020.

The others currently serving and their anticipated return dates are as follows:

Seoul

Park Hyun Woo – June 2020
Song Jae Chul – August 2019
Lee Hyeon Jong – July 2019

Busan

Lee Yong Ho – April 2019
Chae Sang Hyun – July 2019

Former Busan Jockey Kanichiro Joe Fujii Gains JRA License

It’s always nice to see various alumni of Korean racing around the world doing well and this week began with the news that Kanichiro (Joe) Fujii, who rode full-time at Busan from 2012 to 2014 and has been a frequent return visitor since, has achieved his long-standing ambition of passing the JRA Jockey’s License exams and as a result, can now enter the elite tier of Japanese racing. 

Fujii Gamdonguibada

Joe Fujii won the Grand Prix Stakes on Gamdonguibada in 2012 (Pic: KRA)

Fujii had attempted the brutally difficult selection process five times previously, however, there was a big sign that it was going to be different on this occasion when it emerged last November that he had been the only candidate to have passed the fiendish written examination – the stage that ended for now the JRA hopes of Joao Moreira. Having successfully completed the rest of the tests, Fujii will be able to start riding full time in the JRA in March.

Fujii was born in Nara, Japan, but went to Australia at the age of 15 to try to become a jockey. He debuted in 2001 and spent the next five years riding mainly in New South Wales, finishing 2nd in the State’s Apprentice Jockey race in 2006.  In 2007, he spent nine months riding in Singapore before embarking on a tour of Europe and the United States, during which he rode work at Chantilly and Belmont Park before returning to Australia.

He made the switch to Korea in 2012 and quickly became successful, winning that year’s Grand Prix Stakes on Gamdonguibada before completing a Derby/Oaks double on filly Speedy First in 2013. With almost 150 Korean winners to his name, he bowed out of Busan in late 2014 riding on the local NAR circuit in Japan as well as back in Australia again.

Fujii has, however, become something of a go-to jockey for Japanese trainers sending horses to Korea for the international races. He returned to Seoul in 2015 to partner Esmeraldina to victory in the Ttukseom Cup and then Chrysolite in the inaugural Korea Cup the following year. While those two were by far and away the best horses in their respective races, Fujii’s local knowledge came into play in 2018 when he produced an aggressive ride to win the Korea Sprint on Moanin. Now a fully-fledged JRA jockey, it would be no surprise were Japanese connections to opt for his services once more on international weekend in Seoul this September.

Ace Korea & Buhwarui Banseok Out To Better Dubai Debuts On Thursday

We’ve had a couple of weeks off but the late nights begin again on Thursday for Korean racing fans as Ace Korea and Buhwarui Banseok run at Meydan for the second time, with both looking to improve having made stuttering starts to their Dubai World Cup Carnival campaigns.

It’s a stiff ask once more for Buhwarui Banseok as he goes up against a slew of Godolphin runners at 2410M. He wasn’t a factor on his Meydan debut over 2000M on January 17th, however, that’s not to say he ran badly. He picked up momentum late on and ran on through the line pleasingly enough on what was his first ever race on turf. That experience, coupled with the additional distance – half a furlong further then the longest races in Korea – may help and sneaking in at the bottom of the handicap, he gets to carry a nice light weight. Richard Mullen will ride.

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Mike De Kock’s Astronomer carries top weight. Previously trained by Aiden O’Brien, he was a winner of four consecutive races in Ireland last year before running 2nd in the Old Rowley Cup Handicap at Newmarket but had a hard time on his first try at Meydan a month ago. The seven Godolphin representatives are sure to be dangerous in what is a very tricky contest.

As for Ace Korea, the start will be important. The colt has generally been a very good starter but in his final race in Korea, the Listed Kookje News Cup, he stumbled coming out of the gate. It didn’t matter that day as he was far too good but over 1200M on the dirt in Dubai, giving rivals any kind of head-start is generally terminal, as it proved to be on his Carnival bow on opening night last month. He’s had a month to fix that and and if he gets away well this time, he should be more than competitive – although he will have to overcome the widest gate. Fabrice Veron will be aboard.

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Turkish star Good Curry, a winner of 15 of 22 starts at home carries top weight ahead of Steve Asmussen’s Switzerland, who ran 6th on his Carnival debut last month. Victory Wave will likely be dangerous for Godolphin although likely favourite is Lavaspin, who has been very consistent across six starts so far and is unbeaten in two outings at Meydan, both of which were at this distance, albeit in non-Carnival races.

The races are numbers 6 and 7 on Thursday night’s Carnival program and are scheduled to begin at 2.25am and 3am respecitively on Friday morning Korea time. See www.emiratesracing.com for more information.

KRA’s Knicks Go Kicks Off Three-Year-Old Campaign At Tampa Bay Downs Saturday

KRA Stud Farm’s colt Knicks Go will make his three-year-old debut this Saturday (US time) with Road To Kentucky Derby points on the line when he takes on an anticipated nine rivals in the Grade III Sam F. Davis Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs.

KN Chairman

Knicks Go at the Breeders’ Cup with the KRA Chairman

Knicks Go was a shock 70/1 winner of the G1 Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity at Keeneland last October but confirmed his ability a month later when running 2nd to Game Winner in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile – this time at odds of 40/1 – at Churchill Downs.

Trainer Ben Colebrook has a number of KRA-owned horses in his string and Knicks Go was among those moved to Tampa Bay Downs for the winter and early Spring. He’s been working well, breezing 5-furlongs the fastest of 39 in his main work at the end of January.

The Sam F. Davis is run over approximately 1700M and previous winners include Any Given Saturday, who now stands at Stud in Korea. The winner will receive 10 Kentucky Derby points with 2nd to 4th earning 4, 2 and 1 respectively.

Knicks Go will carry top-weight in the contest, which will be race 11 on the program at Tampa Bay, going to post at 5.25pm local Florida time (7.25am Sunday morning Korean time). It is set to be a stiff test which features two other Graded Stakes winners,  Five Star General and Well Defined also taking their chance. Regular jockey Albin Jiminez will ride Knicks Go.

A colt by Paynter, Knicks Go is part of the “K-Nicks” program which uses a genome analysis developed by the KRA to identify yearlings with the potential to go on to become stallions. He was purchased for $87,000.

Silver Wolf Storms Through Slop To Win Donga Ilbo Trophy Again

Silver Wolf successfully retained her Donga Ilbo Trophy title on Sunday, overcoming a game Cheongsu Yeogeol in a back and forth stretch duel at a soaking wet Seoul Racecourse.

Silver Wolf 2019 Donga Ilbo

Silver Wolf won the Donga Ilbo Trophy again

The former Champion Filly/Mare was sent off at a shade worse than even money for the 1800M Listed event that she won a year ago with Gyeongnam Governor’s Cup winner Sky Bay second in the market ahead of the overall 2018 Queens’ Tour winner Cheongsu Yeogeol.

All three of the big players were ridden patiently early on over a fast track that one race previously had seen US import Covergirl Justice set a new track record for 1300M. Patience was necessary as the pair of Tour Rose and New Partner set a furious pace that inevitably caught up with them once the line was in sight.

That left Moon Se Young on Cheongsu Yeogeol making the first move, but Silver Wolf was right there with here. The pair came together, and battle was joined. Yoo Seung-wan’s mount got in front but Cheongsu Yeogeol pegged her back and even led into the final furlong. Ultimately though, the older mare was too strong and jockey Yoo even had time to celebrate as his mount crossed the line just under a length on top.

Silver Wolf was a $40,000 yearling purchase from the 2014 Magic Millions Gold Coast Sale but has now taken her earnings to in excess of US$1.7Million. Arguably the best Australian horse imported into Korean racing ever – at least with racing in its modern format – she’s confirmed her place atop the filly and mare ranks. Last year she followed up her win here by going to Busan and beating Power Blade in the Busan Ilbo Cup. If she is taken on the sprinting route again, a repeat isn’t impossible.

Seoul & Busan Sunday: Donga Ilbo Trophy Day Race-By-Race Preview (February 3)

One of Korea’s all-time great race-mares kicks off her 2019 season on Sunday afternoon and Silver Wolf, never one to be shielded from a challenge, will face stern examination as she seeks to defend her Donga Ilbo Trophy title over 1800M at Seoul Racecourse (11 races from 10:45 to 18:00. Busan: 6 races from 12:40 to 17:05).

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Silver Wolf is back (Pic: KRA)

An Australian-bred by Oratorio, Silver Wolf was purchased as for $40,000 at the Magic Millions Gold Coast Sale in 2014. She’s since gone on to amass over US$1.5Million in prize money and in 2017 swept all three legs of the Queens’ Tour to be named Champion Filly/Mare. Competent at any distance, after winning this race last year, she went to Busan and defeated Power Blade over 1200M in the Busan Ilbo Cup.

The rest of 2018 was challenging for Silver Wolf as she plied her trade only in elite company and was 2nd to Ace Korea in the Kookje News Trophy, again at Busan in November. She’ll be favourite to retain the Donga Ilbo but it won’t be easy given the presence of a number of up and coming fillies looking to usurp her.

Chief among the pretenders is Sky Bay. Lee Shin Young’s American import by Adios Charlie is a winner of five of her nine starts so far and concluded her three-year-old campaign by winning the final leg of the Queens’ Tour, the Gyeongnam Governor’s Cup, over 2000M, at Busan in November. That victory gave handler Lee the distinction of becoming the first female trainer to saddle a Group race winner in Korea. Sky Bay will carry 3kg less than the reigning champion could well be getting better.

The overall winner of last year’s Queens’ Tour (which Silver Wolf, being aged six, wasn’t eligible for) was Cheongsu Yeogeol. She ran 4th in the Gyeongnam Governor’s Cup on what was her first try at more than a mile and while beating Silver Wolf may be beyond her, she returns here too and can challenge for a place. The same is true for that day’s runner-up Seouri Byeol, who won the Gyeonggi Governor’s Cup at this distance at Seoul in September.

Here is the race by race for Seoul with Busan Selections below:

Race 1: Class 6 (1000M) Allowance / KRW 40 Million

Three-year-old maidens to kick things off with just five of the twelve having raced before. Two of those have showed some ability, however, with (12) CHEON GOE SEONG and (9) ACE TRIPLE coming home 2nd and 3rd respectively when they raced each other at this distance on January 5. Both showed enough that day to suggest they can be fighting it out for top honours this time. The other three didn’t offer much with (11) SUNSHINE LADY perhaps most likely to improve. As for the first-timers, (6) FLOWER ROAD and (8) FEDERAL CAT looked the most promising – although that’s all relative here, really – in trials and are likely to be backed first up.

Selections (12) Cheon Goe Seong (9) Ace Triple (8) Federal Cat (6) Flower Road
Next Best 11, 4
Fast Start 4, 9, 11

Race 2: Class 6 (1300M) Allowance / KRW 40 Million

(2) CLEAN UP TRIO was an improved 2nd in what looked a slightly stiffer test than this three weeks ago. He led until the closing stages that day and should be on pace again from the start with solid claims to go one better this time. (11) SPEED HEUKRYONG has shown improvement across three starts so far and beat a couple of these on his way to 4th place at 1000M a month ago. He looks ready to step back up in trip today and should be a danger. (7) WHITE VELVET too has shown signs of figuring things out recently and can go close – he’ll likely join Clean Up Trio on the early speed. (6) BLUE MEGA ELLA did nothing wrong on debut while (12) INCHEON LION also looks to have scope to improve.

Selections (2) Clean Up Trio (11) Speed Heukryeong (7) White Velvet (12) Incheon Lion
Next Best 6, 8
Fast Start 2, 7

Race 3: Class 5 (1300M) Handicap / KRW 60 Million

(2) MAMMA ROMA has shown steady progress across four starts so far and got her reward when scoring over this distance on January 6th. She’s up in class today but could well continue her development and she’s the pick to win here in this all-filly handicap. Runner-up that day was (3) GREEN SARANG and she too comes up in class. She’s still a maiden but she should be competitive at this level. Greater danger may come from elsewhere, though. (4) HEUNG KKAEBI was a winner on debut last September and comes in having finished off last year with a close at hand 4th place in a similar race to this. With some improvement, she’ll be right in the mix to win this. (8) STAR LIST was a class and distance winner four weeks ago and while carrying additional weight today, must be similarly respected. (11) BETTINA is up in class following her maiden win last month and while she perhaps has a bit more to find, isn’t out of it either.

Selections (2) Mamma Roma (4) Heung Kkaebi (8) Star List (3) Green Sarang
Next Best 11, 9
Fast Start 1, 7

Race 4: Class 5 (1700M) Handicap / KRW 40 Million

It’s hard to look past (8) BI PYEONG here. He’s won just the one time from four starts so far but comes in having run a very good 2nd place to Gaon Force on his first try at this distance on January 5th. He looks to be bound for a higher level than this and should win. Plenty of other useful looking types here as well. (4) DONG JAK ran out a six-length winner over 1300M three weeks ago and is up in class and distance today with potential to get better still. (5) GEUMA ZENITH was a rather optimistic entrant in last November’s Nonghyup Trophy and while that went about as well as expected, he proved his ability by winning in December. He too comes up in class and distance and can improve. (3) BARAM KING and (6) NANGMAN STAR both have experience of this level and can be competitive.

Selections (8) Bi Pyeong (5) Geuma Zenith (4) Dong Jak (3) Baram King
Next Best 6, 9
Fast Start 4, 9

Race 5: Class 4 (1700M) Allowance / KRW 60 Million

(3) GAON FORCE has won his latest two in good fashion (beating Bi Pyeong from race 4 last time out), the latest a front-running win on his first try at this distance. Up in class today, he’s nicely in here and can win again. It’s a good race though. (11) MONEY POCKET is also rapidly moving up the classes. She’s won two from three so far and while she stretches out in trip today, there look to be more to come. (1) SPEED HWANGNYONG is another who tries this distance for the first time. He’s already proven himself competitive at this level with a 3rd and a 4th from two attempts at it so far and he should be close again. The placing claims go deep with (2) HAPPY MAUNTAIN, (9) STRONG CAPTAIN and (12) SPEED YEONGUNG all firmly in the frame.

Selections (3) Gaon Force (11) Money Pocket (1) Speed Hwangnyong (12) Speed Yeongung
Next Best 2, 9
Fast Start 3, 4, 6, 10

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

(2) DOKDO YA is up in class following his maiden win at this distance on December 15th. The 3rd place-getter that day won well last weekend so that form has taken a bit of a (more…)

Seoul Saturday: Race-By-Race Preview (February 2)

There is a big 13-race card at Seoul on Saturday with racing from 10:45 to 18:00. Here are the previews: 

(단신2) 출발 참관 프로그램 (2)

Race 1: Class 6 (1000M) Allowance / KRW 40 Million

Maidens to begin with and both (2) PRIMA NIKE and (9) IL MARE have made promising starts to their careers, both registering a 3rd and a 4th from their opening two races. Both should be away to fast starts here and can dispute this between them with Prima Nike marginally preferred at this stage. (11) WINNER CROWN put in a creditable 5th on debut four weeks ago and should be looking to improve here. There are six first-time starters and among them, (8) JIOBANA and (12) BAEKSANG look the most promising.

Selections (2) Prima Nike (9) Il Mare (11) Winner Crown (8) Jiobana
Next Best 12, 4
Fast Start 2, 4, 7, 8

Race 2: Class 6 (1300M) Allowance / KRW 40 Million

Maiden fillies here. (7) BANGTANMA has hinted at having plenty of ability and comes in following an admittedly well-beaten 2nd place at the distance just before Christmas. She’s well drawn to get on pace and it could be her day. (9) NEW PARADIGM has already beaten Bangtanma and actually beat three of these on her way to 4th place at this distance on January 6th. That continued her promising start to her career and she should be going close here. The three who she beat last time look to be the best other prospects here. (5) WONDERFUL MARIA, (10) SSOARAUTS and (12) LOVE RACE all have potential to improve.

Selections (7) Bangtanma (9) New Paradigm (5) Wonderful Maria (10) Ssoarauts
Next Best 12, 3
Fast Start 2, 5, 7

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

(3) SLING STONE has a 5th and a pair of 4th place finishes from three outings so far. Moon Se Young takes over in the saddle, he’s drawn well to lead, and he can win here. (12) VICAR BRACING is another who has impressed so far. He beat a couple of these on his way to 3rd place at this distance just prior to Christmas and while the widest gate may not be ideal, he can overcome it. (10) WHITE FLOWER has been knocking at the door for a while now and should be close again. (2) SEUNGRI LIKE and (7) GEOTAP are others who should be in the hunt.

Selections (3) Sling Stone (12) Vicar Bracing (10) White Flower (2) Seungri Like
Next Best 7, 11
Fast Start 3, 11

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

(1) BROWN ROSE was promoted to this level winless and while that remains the case, she showed she’s competitive at it with a solid 2md place at this distance in December. She won’t need to improve much to go one better here. (8) WINT SEVEN struggled when sent up to 1300M on his first try at this level but was much better when dropped back to this trip last time, finishing 4th in what was possibly a slightly stronger race than this. (3) BLUE FIRE too demonstrated he can be competitive at this level with an in no way disgraced 5th place three weeks ago and he can build on it here. (6) EOMJI YEOWANG shouldn’t be too far away while (9) KAILLUM YEOJE looks best of the rest.

Selections (1) Brown Rose (8) Wint Seven (3) Blue Fire (6) Eomji Yeowang
Next Best 9, 12
Fast Start 2, 3, 9, 10

Race 5: Class 6 (1300M) Allowance / KRW 40 Million

(3) PRIVATE MAN ran 2nd to the promising Dokdo Ya at this distance back in December. That led him to be sent off as favourite on his reappearance three weeks ago and while he only managed to finish 5th, he’s worth another chance today. If he comes up short once more, (2) CHEONNYEONUI BARAM could be the one to take advantage. He has two 4ths and a 3rd from his latest three and should have more improvement in him. (9) JANGSAN FLY races fro the first time since beaten Private Man on his way to 2nd place at this distance back in November and he warrants respect here. (4) YEOKDAE CHOEGO and (8) CHEONNYEON HAPPY are others who can be considered.

Selections (3) Private Man (2) Cheonnyeonui Baram (9) Jangsan Fly (4) Yeokdae Choego
Next Best 8, 1
Fast Start 2, 8, 10, 11

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

(4) FLYING JOY drops back in trip having had his recent assignments all at 1700M. He enters with his recent form reading well and the distance change may be what he needs to finally make the breakthrough. (8) ROAD MAN is another who remains a maiden but who has been getting closer, culminating in a 2nd place at this distance last start. He can (more…)