Month: July 2019

Jo Sung Gon: 1982-2019

Jo Sung Gon, five-time Champion Jockey at Busan and one of the top Korean riders of his generation, has died. He was 37.

Dangdae Bulpae Jo SUng Gon

Jo Sung Gon and Dangdae Bulpae after another President’s Cup win

Jo was found in his car by staff at the Busan Racecourse in the early hours of Tuesday morning. His death is not being treated as suspicious.

Debuting in 2005 at around the same time Busan Racecourse opened, Jo Sung Gon quickly built up a reputation as a fine young rider and one of the new track’s potential stars. His first big race win came in the 2009 Korean Derby on the filly Sangseung Ilro and in the same year he won what would be the first of five South Coast Jockey Championships.

Jo Sung Gon

Jo Sung Gon 1982-2019

The second of those Championships followed a year later and it was that same year, 2010, when he first became acquainted with the horse he will likely be most remembered for, Dangdae Bulpae.

Having won the Minister’s Cup, the final leg of the Triple Crown in October 2010, a month later Dangdae Bulpae and Jo Sung Gon won the first of what would be three President’s Cups.

With Dangdae Bulpae, Jo also won the Ttukseom Cup and KNN Cup in 2011, the Busan Mayor’s Cup and Owners’ Cup in 2012 and the Busan Ilbo Cup in 2013. He would finish as Champion Jockey in each of those seasons.

As his career developed, Jo Sung Gon developed a strong partnership with trainer Peter Wolsley, the pair combining to win the Gyeongnam Governor’s Cup with Secret Whisper in 2013 and then in 2015, in what for both would be a career-high, the Grand Prix Stakes with Bold Kings.

A three-year-old, Bold Kings had only raced six times prior to the Grand Prix, Korea’s most prestigious race, and despite having won all of them, was sent off as a 6/1 third-favourite behind Clean Up Joy and fellow youngster Triple Nine.

Under a tremendous ride by Jo Sung Gon, Bold Kings stole a couple of lengths entering the home straight to strike the front and then held off a slew of late challenges to win by a neck on the line in what is still regarded by many as having been the most exciting finish to a Grand Prix.

Always keen for new challenges – earlier in his career he had spent time riding in Macau – Jo Sung Gon spent the 2016 season in Seoul where he partnered Bichui Jeongsang to victory in the Ttukseom Cup.

That would be his final Group winner although after returning to Busan and reuniting with Wolsley, he guided Ace Korea to victory in the Listed Kookje Sinmun in November 2018.

An excellent jockey who was still at the peak of his powers, as well as a friendly and personable character, Jo Sung Gon will be missed. Thoughts are with his family, friends and colleagues.

Rides: 5588
Wins: 874
Group 1 wins: 5
Other Group Wins: 8
Champion Jockey (Busan): 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013

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Seoul & Busan Sunday: Race-By-Race Preview (July 7)

There’s a big day of racing on Sunday with 11 races at Seoul from 10:45 to 18:00 and 6 races at Busan from 12:40 to 17:05. Here are the previews fro Seoul with Busan selections below:

Moon Se Young 3

Moon Se Young is back from suspension on Sunday and is likely to be among the winners

Race 1: Class 6 (1300M) Allowance / KRW 24 Million

Eight maidens line up in the first at Seoul over the 1300m. here appears to be a lack of speed engaged which looks to suit (3) NALARA HILL. The Seo In-Seok trained filly ran well last time out when second to Raon Khan over the six furlongs. The 1300m should be ideal for her and punters should expect Moon Sung-Hyeok to work forward on her early. (7) BAEKSAEK GWANGCHAE has been tried several times over the 1300m and has placed on multiple occasions. The grey colt is not the fastest away but if Kim Hyo-Jung can position him in the first half he will be one of the main players. (8) WONDERFUL PANGPANG showed early speed last time out. If the Chapel Royal filly can bounce out of the gates quick once again she may be able to hold on for a cheque. (5) CHEONJI AEGA is having her second race start in this race. Look for improvement.

Selections (3) Nalara Hill (7) Baeksak Gwangchae (8) Wonderful Pangpang (5) Cheonji Aega
Next Best 2, 1
Fast Start 3, 8

Race 2: Class 5 (1300M) Handicap / KRW 40 Million

Leading rider Kim Yong-Geun looks to have a peach of a ride in the second. The lightly raced (6) O.K. DAY is having his fifth start in this assignment and looks hard to roll based on his recent form. The First Samurai colt went down less than a length las time out when running a handy time for this class on a dry track. Expect a positive ride and the four-year-old to be hard to reel in. (5) IL MARE has finished in the top four on four occasions from six starts. Alan Munro was rubbed out last time he went around but was aboard two starts back when the colt saluted. The Eurosilver three-year-old is another that likes to sit on speed. (2) ENDURANCE looks the best of the remainder after finishing second behind Barameul Geurida last time out. He was beaten a comfortable seven lengths on a wet track but has shown enough early on in his career to suggest he can figure. (7) FLYING JOY looks the best of the rest albeit a twenty start maiden.

Selections (6) O.K. Day (5) Il Mare (2) Endurance (7) Flying Joy
Next Best 9, 3
Fast Start 5m 7

Race 3: Class 6 (1000M) 2yo Allowance / KRW 60 Million

We get to see another batch of two-year-olds having their first start in the third event on the card. Trial times (taking into account track conditions) are normally a very good guide to these events and there looks to be a couple of sharp ones in this event. (12) COMPLETE KINGDOM ran 1.01.8 on a good track in his 1000m trial which is just short of a second quicker than the remainder of the field in their respective trials. What made the trial even more impressive was the Colors Flying colt was not asked for entirely. He looks hard to beat. (8) CHOEGANG TEAM won his trial in good fashion. Moon Se-Young will partner the chestnut for his first run after a solid 1.02.8 trial mid-June. (5) RAON BEST MAN is another trial winner who overcame a wide draw in the trial. He will need to improve on that trial which is not out of the question. The owners seem to get some handy types. (9) LEGEND WIN ran a fair time on a rain affected track and should be kept safe in your novelty bets.

Selections (12) Complete Kingdom (8) Choegang Team (5) Raon Best Man (9) Legend Win
Next Best 10, 2
Fast Start 12, 9

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

Another short course event will take place in the fourth with ten gallopers lining up at Class 5 level. (10) GEOM HYANG has improved at each of her starts since having her first run in February. The Clear Attempt filly blew them away last time out when leading throughout and going on to win by five lengths. (8) UTGE HAEJULGE is another that has been consistent early on in his career. The three-year-old won well last time out when winning by a massive eight lengths. Clear Geom ran a faster time on similar track conditions and therefore gets the nod over him. (5) ANYANG LEOPARD comes out of the same race as Utge Haejulge when finishing second. The four-year-old filly will carry just 51kg. (7) DRAGON BOAT was slightly disappointing last time out but can bounce back to a top four finish.

Selections (10) Geom Hyang (8) Utge Haejulge (5) Anyang Leopard (7) Dragon Boat
Next Best 3, 1, 2
Fast Start 2, 3, 7, 8

Race 5: Class 6 (1300M) Allowance / KRW 24 Million

We found the form in the fifth harder to assess than a Mongolian camel race. (1) CHEONJI POKPUNG looks a main chance with Moon Se-Young being legged aboard. The three-year-old has just two top three finishes from eight starts but that form reads well in this race. (3) RECENT DREAM finished midfield last time out over the 1000m when hitting the line fairly. She will appreciate the step up to the 1300m with a bit more experience on her side. (6) HYEONGMA PUBU is second up after finishing well back last time out. Expect improvement with the run under her belt. (8) GAGANA is another that that may improve in a rather uninspiring race.

Selections (1) Cheonji Pokpung (3) Recent Dream (6) Hyeongma Pubu (8) Gagana
Next Best 4, 5
Fast Start 4

Race 6: Class 5 (1700M) Allowance / KRW 40 Million

The sixth on the card has a field of ten and for the first time today, we’re going over the two turns. (6) SLING STONE looks one of the main chances engaged in a wide-open affair. He has been consistent in his seven starts to date and looks one that will appreciate the step up to the 1700m after hitting the line strong last time out. Look for Moon Se-Young to position the Raconteur three-year-old closer to the speed in this assignment. (4) RAON KHAN was a strong three length winner last time out over the 1200m. This is a significant step up but the son of Officer settled nicely last time out and should be considered an each-way chance. (5) ROYAL TANK is another that showed a reasonable turn of foot last time out when coming from last on the turn to finish fourth (more…)

Seoul Saturday: Race-By-Race Preview (July 6)

Saturday sees 10 races at Seoul with the first summer schedule of the year in the capital. The 1st race is at 14:30 and the last at 21:00:


Twilight at Seoul

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

A modest maiden to begin with. A couple have shown promise so far and (6) SINBU has as good a chance as any of making his breakthrough. He has disappointed punters before but if he can get to the lead, this could be his day. (4) NEOSEONG BYOKROK comes in off two 3rd places and a 4th from his latest three outings and he too should be there or thereabout. An apprentice jockey takes off some weight today and that could make the difference. (11) RAON JOY was a much improved 3rd last start and can build on that despite today’s draw not being ideal. (10) RED SUN is a half-brother to the very good Royal Ruby and didn’t do too much wrong on debut over 1200M a month ago. (8) STUNNING AGAIN looks best of the rest.

Selections (4) Neoseong Byokrok (6) Sinbu (10) Red Sun (11) Raon Joy
Next Best 8, 2
Fast Start 1, 5, 6, 10

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

Another maiden with not a whole lot of depth. (4) VALLEY QUEEN was away well last time and while she ended up in 3rd place, showed enough to suggest she has a win in her. She’s well drawn to lead again and if she does, she can go all the way this time. (9) SILVER DRAGON reacted badly to a bump coming out of the gate on debut back at the end of April. Top jockey Kim Yong-geun stays aboard for her return and improvement looks possible today. (3) KOREA DAEJANGBU has been knocking on the door of the places across six attempts so far. He was slow away last start so if he fixes that he should be looking at a best finish to date today. (12) KINGLY struggled over 1200M last start but could be better back at the minimum today. (2) JEONGDONG SARANG looks best of the rest.

Selections (4) Valley Queen (9) Silver Dragon (3) Korea Daejangbu (12) Kingly
Next Best 2, 6
Fast Start 1, 4, 12

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

A small field of maidens tackling the 1300M. It’s been a challenging couple of months for Simon Foster but a winner last week suggests some light at the end of the tunnel and (5) COILRO can make it a bit brighter with victory here. He got a heavy bump at the start last time when he finished 4th, but with a clean start today and with Alan Munro piloting, he has a big chance. The main danger is (2) COMPLETE MOTION. He was 3rd – albeit well beaten by a very good winner who’s already gone on to score at a higher level – last start at this distance and can build on that here. (8) TOUR DIA improved to a career-best 3rd last start and can continue to progress here under an in-form apprentice jockey. (6) DAEGIRI, up in trip for the first time, looks best of the rest.

Selections (5) Coilro (2) Complete Motion (8) Tour Dia (6) Daegiri
Next Best 1
Fast Start 3

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

(2) FLYING BULLET made all to comfortably get her maiden win over this distance last start. She’s up in class today but well drawn to get to the front early once more and under a very light weight, has strong claims to repeat. (6) CRAZY Q was a more surprising maiden winner on her latest outing and perhaps has a bit more to find but can still be competitive. (1) BANJIUI HAMSEONG had a poor day at the office last start but was in decent form prior to that and is worth another go today. (7) NAEGA KKEUTPANWANG and (3) HUIMANG STAR came home 3rd and 4th respectively with just half a length between them when they raced each other at class and distance on June 8th and both should be aiming for the places here. (5) WINT SEVEN ran a promising 5th last time out at 1200M, with the margins narrow. He ran on strongly and the extra half furlong today can be in his favour.

Selections (2) Flying Bullet (3) Huimang Star (1) Banjiui Hamseong (5) Wint Seven
Next Best 7, 6
Fast Start 1, 3, 4

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

(8) ROLLER BLADE won the first juvenile race of the year three weeks ago in style. For his second assignment, he is up in class, distance and is taking on older horses already. But the manner of his victory suggest he will be able to take all three in his stride and win again against a less than intimidating set of rivals. (7) PRIME QUEEN only managed (more…)

Busan Friday: Race-By-Race Preview (July 5)

The summer season gets underway at Busan today with 9 races from 14:30 to 21:00. Here are the previews:

Busan Illumina

Busan Nights

Race 1: Class 6 (1000M) Allowance / KRW 60 Million

Eight previously unraced juveniles make their racecourse debuts here. Catching the eye in the pedigree stakes is (7) TOP DAY. He’s the second foal out of 2013 Korean Derby winning filly Speedy First to make the track and the other one, Friday, is a winner of three from seven. Top Day trialed the fastest of these, albeit on a muddy track and is with top trainer Kim Young-kwan, so all signs point to him being a strong favourite. (4) YEONGSEONG BRAVO offered some hints of ability when further back in the same trial on June 8th and looks one of the most likely to challenge here. (5) MARK ONE and (8) YEONGWON DYNAMO are others who showed promise in their respective heats and could go well.

Selections (7) Top Day (5) Mark One (8) Yeongwon Dynamo (4) Yeongseong Bravo
Next Best 3, 1
Fast Start 1, 7, 8

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

(5) HIDDEN BOY has made steady progress across five starts so far, culminating in 2nd place over this distance on June 7th with a couple of his rivals here back down the track behind him. Lim Sung-sil partners him for the third time and today could be breakthrough day. (6) GRAND JILJU was sent up to a mile in late May and struggled to the extent that he was forced back to trial. He looked sharp when winning his heat in mid-June and back at 1300M today, he should be a different prospect. (4) WILD GUY improved considerably last start and can continue to make progress today. (3) ACRA and (9) BORYEONG HWANHO, the latter possibly appreciating the step up in trip, others to look out for.

Selections (5) Hidden Boy (6) Grand Jilju (3) Acra (4) Wild Guy
Next Best 9, 11
Fast Start 4, 6, 11

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

(4) STOLEN BEAUTY ran 3rd ahead of a couple of these over 1000M on June 14th. Bart Rice’s filly has looked to have been figuring things out in her last couple of starts and she steps up in distance for the first time today with a good chance of going very close, likely looking to lead all the way. (8) ZET KING was a slightly disappointing 4th when favourite over this distance three weeks ago. He previously has a 2nd place at this trip, albeit in muddy conditions, and can be given another chance on him here – Lee Hyo-sik, who rode him in his best finish to date, returns to the ride. (7) WONDERFUL SUPAH has shown some aptitude for this trip and can be in the palcing hunt while (10) RINGING FLYING has come home in 4th place in four of her last five outings – she could very well finish in the same position today.

Selections (4) Stolen Beauty (8) Zet King (7) Wonderful Supah (10) Ringing Flying
Next Best 1, 5
Fast Start 4, 6, 10

Race 4: Class 6 (1600M) Allowance / KRW 24 Million

(1) AMOR FATI ran on very nicely indeed on debut over 1300M. Well back early, he ended up in 2nd place and the step up to a mile today looks set to suit. That’s true too for (4) DONGBANG NARAE, who finished off well for 2nd last start over 1300M and also stretches out in trip today for the first time. Both those will look to come from off the pace while the likely early leader is (5) ETERNAL TRON, whose best performance so far by some margin came at this distance in early May. It’s hard to see anything challenging him for the early lead so the only question is how well he stays on. (2) SUPER GREAT also ran creditably on his first attempt at the mile last start and can build on the 5th place he managed. (8) SILVER BEST is another trying the distance for the first time and who could slide into some minor money.

Selections (1) Amor Fati (4) Dongbang Narae (5) Eternal Tron (2) Super Great
Next Best 8, 6
Fast Start 5

Race 5: Class 4 (1600M) Allowance / KRW 60 Million

(10) TRUE VALOR won three in a row in fine fashion between March and May enabling him to take his chance in the Minister’s Cup, the final leg of the Triple Crown, at Seoul three weeks ago. He was 7th over the 2000M that day, but back in trip here and back in more amenable company, he’s the one to beat. The main danger is (2) POWER AMAZING. He is yet to win at this class but comes in following a decent 2nd over this distance last time out and is well drawn to get to his preferred position at the head of the pack. (3) WHITE POINT finished 2nd behind True Valor over 1800M on May 3rd at lengthy odds and while inconsistent, could be a threat again today. (5) VEGA KHAN and the up in class last start winner (7) TEXAS SIDAE are others in at least the placing hunt.

Selections (10) True Valor (2) Power Amazing (7) Texas Sidae (3) White Point
Next Best 5, 9
Fast Start 1, 2, 10

Race 6: Class 5 (1200M) Handicap / KRW 40 Million

(9) WONDERFUL TALE returned from seven months out to win well over 1000M on May 31st. She’s up in class and in distance here but neither should be too much of a concern and she can win again, likely trying to lead all the way. She’ll be joined on the early speed by (8) NEOLBEUN GOEUL, who similarly returned from a lengthy spell out to record his maiden win four weeks ago and comes up in both class and trip today with potential for more. (10) FINE TRUMPET was sent back to trial after being very reluctant to go to the barrier when a hot favourite over 1300M three weeks ago. He won the resulting heat and can be given another chance here. So too can (11) SUCHEOJAKJU, who was scarcely involved over 1000M two weeks ago but is better than that and can aim for the places here. (1) PERFECT ACE is another up in class following a maiden win on his latest start. Today’s assignment is considerably stiffer but he can be competitive.

Selections (9) Wonderful Tale (10) Fine Trumpet (8) Neolbeun Goeul (1) Perfect Ace
Next Best 11, 5
Fast Start 8, 9, 10

Race 7: Class 4 (1300M) Handicap / KRW 60 Million

(2) ULTRA POWER comes in having made all to win by five-lengths at this distance on June 2nd. He’s up in class today but is accordingly very nicely weighted and with Seo Seung-un aboard again, can win again. (5) CHEONNYEONUIJILJU ran 5th behind unexpected winner (9) MYEONGSIN POWER on June 2nd. Thomas Gillespie’s colt is yet to win in nine attempts but has run 2nd on no fewer than five occasions and should be in at least the placing hunt again. (4) CEEYOUDOWNTHETRACK began his career very promisingly and while he seemed to have a bit of a wobble in March and April, he showed signs of returning to form with a 4th place last start and should figure here. (7) SUPER GOLD made a promising return from a lengthy absence at the end of May and is another who can go close. There is one debut-maker and with (1) SYDNEY MANGCHI being trained by Kim Young-kwan and having done nothing wrong in his trial, he has every chance of going well first-up. Watch the market for additional clues about him.

Selections (2) Ultra Power (4) Ceeyoudownthetrack (5) Cheonnyeonuijilju (1) Sydney Mangchi
Next Best 7, 9
Fast Start 2, 5, 8

Race 8: Class 3 (1800M) Allowance / KRW 75 Million

(3) TOHAM ACE comes in here having won his latest three in an extremely pleasing manner. That’s sent him up to class 3 for the first time here and he’s also asked to stretch out to the 1800M for the first time. Both should be within his capability though and he looks the one to beat. It took (6) FIRST VICTORY a little while to figure things out but he’s won three of his seven to make it up to this class today. Crucially, he has experience of winning at this distance too and he’s a danger here. (1) FRIDAY has just gone off the boil a little in his latest two but returns after six weeks off and can be given another chance. (5) ALPHA RUNNER and (8) STORM GOLD are others whose respective latest appearances don’t reflect their true ability and they may go better here.

Selections (3) Toham Ace (6) First Victory (1) Friday (8) Storm Gold
Next Best 5, 4
Fast Start 1, 3, 5, 8

Race 9: Class 2 (1600M) Handicap / KRW 90 Million

(10) A PURE GOOD MAN beat four of these on his way to a two-length win over 1400M on May 19th. He carries an additional 3.5kg today but he’s won over this distance under similar in the past and he looks the one to beat again. (1) YES PERFECT is a winner of three from seven so far and comes on off a close 3rd place, less than a length behind the winner, in a similar race to this on June 9th. He was on pace for much of that race and should be again here with solid claims of going close. (2) CHERRY VANQUISH was an also-ran in the Ttukseom Cup over 1400M at Seoul last month but was a good class 3 winner prior to that. She tries the mile for the first time and is under a nice light weight. (12) MAKING SEUNGNI and (5) THUNDER FLY finished 4th and 5th behind A Pure Good Man last time out with just a nose separating them. Both should be competing for the places today.

Selections (10) A Pure Good Man (2) Cherry Vanquish (1) Yes Perfect (5) Thunder Fly
Next Best 12, 9
Fast Start 1, 4, 8, 10

Summer Racing Schedule To Begin Friday

The 2019 Summer Racing program begins this weekend with Friday and Saturday cards set to begin mid afternoon and end at 9pm. Sunday racing will continue to follow its usual program.

Night Barrier

Floodlight racing returns this weekend

During July and August the racing schedule will typically be as follows:


Busan: 9 races from 14:30 to 21:00
Jeju: 9 races from 14:55 to 20:45


Seoul: 10 races from 14:50 to 21:00
Jeju: 8 races from 14:00 to 17:45


Seoul: 11 races from 10:45 to 18:00
Busan: 6 races from 12:40 to 17:05

There are exceptions though as during this period, each track will take one weekend off with the other two tracks picking up the slack with additional races. Jeju will be off on the final weekend of July meaning that on Friday July 26th, there will be a 14-race card at Busan and on Saturday July 27th, a 15-race card at Seoul.

Seoul will take the first weekend in August off and Busan the 2nd week meaning that on Friday 2nd and Friday 9th August, there will be no thoroughbred racing in Korea as Jeju will be the only track in operation.

Dolkong Back In Korea And Back On Top In Mayor’s Cup

Dolkong returned in sensational style last Sunday, storming home late to win the Busan Mayor’s Cup (KOR G2), his first race back in Korea since his Dubai World Cup Carnival heroics earlier this year.

The five-year-old only returned to full training earlier this month but having looked well when winning a trial in Seoul last week, Dolkong was able to travel to Busan to take his chance in the race that’s often referred to as the “Summer Grand Prix”

And take his chance he did, as Dolkong, sent off as second-favourite, produced a final furlong burst to deny YTN Cup winner Moonhak Chief another big race win.

Pre-race favourite was Cheongdam Dokki, so disappointing in the YTN last month, blew his chances at the start, stumbling and almost falling as he exited the gate – he would recover but was never a factor.

It was left to World Day to set the early pace and the four-year-old led the field into the home straight.

Once World Day was headed by stablemate New Legend, with Moonhak Chief in close attendance before Dolkong showed the acceleration that saw him win the Listed Curlin Handicap at Meydan and passed them all to win with just under a length in hand.

It was Dolkong’s first start for trainer Bae Dae-Sun and he was partnered for the first time by Johan Victoire, the French jockey scoring his biggest success in Korean racing to date.

Next assignment for Dolkong is expected to be the International G3 Korea Cup at Seoul on Sunday September 8.