The newest of the three tracks in Korea, Busan Gyeongnam Racecourse Park – to give it its full name – opened in 2005. Seen as the more forward thinking and international minded of the two thoroughbred tracks, horses based at Busan have found great success in recent years when competing against their counterparts from Seoul
As of 2012, Busan holds live racing on Fridays and Sundays. There are 9-10 races on Fridays from 12pm-6pm (with simulcasting from Jeju) and 6 races on Sundays from 12:30pm to 5pm (with simulcasting from Seoul). The track is also open every Saturday to show live simulcasting from Seoul.
Busan Racecourse is not quite as easy as Seoul to get to if you don’t have a car – but it is very possible!
Located west of Busan and Southwest of Gimhae Airport, it is accessible by taxi or by bus. The KRA runs free shuttle buses to the racecourse on racedays (and also on Saturdays when the track is open for simulcasting) from the following locations in Busan and the surrounding towns and cities:
Hadan Station (Busan Subway Line 1) Exit 1: From 10:00 and then roughly every 30 minutes. The last return shuttle bus leaves the racecourse 30 minutes after the last race (if arriving in Busan by KTX train into Busan Station, this is the best way to get there).
Jurye Station (Busan Subway Line 2) Exit 8: From 10:00 and then roughly every 30 minutes. The last return shuttle bus leaves the racecourse 30 minutes after the last race.
Gangseo-gu Office Station (Busan Subway Line 3) Exit 5: From 9:50 then at 10 and 50 past the hour. The last return bus leaves the racecourse 30 minutes after the last race.
Gimhae Arts & Sports Centre: From 9:50 then at 10 and 50 past the hour. The last return bus leaves the racecourse 30 minutes after the last race.
Jangyu (Gimhae West Police Station): On the hour from 10:00 to 12:00. The last return bus leaves the racecourse shortly after the last race.
Masan/Changwon/Jinhae: Bus leaves Masan Station at 10:00 and calls at Changwon Terminal at 10:10, Namsan Bus Terminal at 10:20 and Jinhae Lotte Mart at 10:40. A second bus departs Masan at 12:00 calling at the same stops. The return leaves 30 minutes after the last race. (on Saturdays the bus leaves at 9:30).
Ulsan: There is one bus on Fridays and Sundays at 10:00 and on Saturdays at 9:30. The bus leaves from Ulsan Sihwa Bus Terminal. The return is 30 minutes after the last race.
Geoje Island: One bus departs Geoje D-Cube Department Store at 10am on Fridays and Sundays and 9:30 am on Saturdays. It returns 30 minutes after the last race.
* All shuttle bus schedules may change without notice. If you take a shuttle bus to the racecourse, as soon as you arrive, please make sure to check the return time of the shuttle bus with the information desk on the 1st floor of the grandstand.
Taxis: From Gimhae International Airport, a taxi will cost between 15,000-20,000 won. For the return, there is a taxi stand at the racecourse although unfortunately few drivers use it – instead many drivers will be parked around the parking lot and on being approached, will quote a price for a destination. Reasonable prices are 20,000 for the airport and 30,000 for the city – although if you are going to Busan city, a free shuttle bus is preferable.
The Track & Facilities
There are three oval tracks at Busan, although only two are used for races, as well as a chute for 1000M races. Unlike Seoul, the track configuration allows Mile races. There is a family park and a lake in the infield and a “Ponyland” petting area on the Grandstand side. The one Grandstand is a smaller version of the “Luckyville” grandstand at Seoul and can comfortably accommodate 15,000 punters. The track capacity is set at 32,000. There is plenty of seating both outside and inside. A designated betting window is available for foreign visitors on the third floor with English language assistance if necessary. The track is very spacious on Fridays but can get crowded on Sundays. As with Seoul, if you are a serious punter by all means stay in the same place all day and focus on betting. For everyone else, it’s well worth exploring the park.
As at Seoul, there is plenty of catering around the track. Most of the best options are located in the main Grandstand. Unlike at Seoul, where the aim is to get you out of the restaurant as soon as possible, all restaurants at Busan have TVs tuned to the live race feed. Here are some of the options:
Popeyes (1st floor): Fast food franchise selling reasonably priced though uninspiring meals. Quick service and clean. Unless you’re on the most depressing of diets, make sure you choose the Cajun fries and not the Corn Salad when they ask. Recommended: Well, whatever you like…chicken burger, hamburger. It’s all the same and all costs between 4,000-6,000 won.
Chinese Restaurant (2nd floor): Serves Korean style Chinese food. the Jajangmyun (Black bean noodles) is adequate at 5,000 won
Food Court (3rd floor): This is the main restaurant at the track and serves a mixture of Korean Chinese and Western foods. This is the best place to come if you want Korean food (the western is not especially western – go to Popeyes if you want “western”). Recommended: The Korean Chongsik at 5,000 won (though it varies day-to-day in both price and quality)
Ediya Coffee & Book Cafe (2nd floor): While up at Seoul we drink coffee out of a vending machine, the sophisticates at Busan have a branch of the popular coffee chain where they can sip white chocolate vanilla iced lattes while reading a book instead of the form.
There is a GS25 Convenience Store on each level of the Grandstand. Outside and in the infield there are Family Mart Convenience Stores.
Busan hosts the first leg of the Korean Triple Crown, the KRA Cup Mile – also known informally as the “Korean 2000 Guineas” on the first Sunday of April. In July, the Busan Metropolitan brings some of Seoul’s best imported horses down. The Korean Oaks, in August, has also been run at Busan since 2008.