Breeding

Stallion Update: Menifee On Top Again / Thunder Moccasin, Hansen Impress / Cielo Gold Passes

With over half the season gone, it’s time to update the leading sire race and as usual Menifee is out in front, leading Ecton Park and the late Sharp Humor at the top of the General Standings.

Menifee 4

Menifee (Pic: Ross Holburt/Korea Racing Authority)

It’s in the other catefories where we potentially see the furture starting to take shape though, with Hansen and Pegasus Farm’s Thunder Moccasin currently 3rd and 4th in the Leading Sire of 3-year-olds list. Both are second-crop sires in Korea as is Testa Matta, who is also stating to show well.

Stallion list

We get asked a lot about Take Charge Indy – so here is a picture of him taken in May. His first Korean crop is set to hit the track in a couple of years.

Take Charge Indy 2

Take Charge Indy (Pic: Ross Holburt/Korea Racing Authority)

As ever, the English language Korean Stud Book has information on all racing and breeding horses in Korea: http://studbook.kra.co.kr/neweng/main.jsp

There is one obituary to announce. Cielo Gold [Conquistador Cielo – Private Light (Private Account] died at the Jangsu Stud Farm on July 25th. The cause is listed as “sudden death” (heart attack).

As a racehorse, Cielo Gold dead-heated with Star Dabbler in what was at the time a controversial 2006 Indiana Derby at Hoosier Park (Simon Pure, also in Korea now, ran in that race too). Even Cielo Gold’s trainer thought he had been beaten. The same year, he finised 2nd in the West Viginia Derby at Mountaineer.

Cielo Gold spent a decade in Korea and generated a solid return each year from a modest book of mares. His chief earner so far is the recently retired Royal Impact.

Advertisements

Afleet Again, 2011 Breeders’ Cup Marathon Winner, Has Died

Afleet Again, longest shot on the board when winning the Breeders’ Cup Marathon at Churchill Downs in 2011, has died at Stud in Korea. The 11-year-old was struck down with colic and passed away on April 12th. 

Afleet Again [Afleet Alex – Lucky Again (Wild Again)] won one race as a juvenile, over 1700M, at Philadelphia Park and won again at the same track at the start of his three-year-old campaign in February 2010 before going on to score in the Withers Stakes at Aqueduct later that Spring.

Although he managed some decent placings, Afleet Again wouldn’t win again for the rest of that season or during the first ten months of his four-year-old campaign and arrived at Churchill Downs for the Marathon as the 41/1 outsider. Under jockey Cornelio Velasquez, Afleet Again came down the outside to win handily from Birdrun and Giant Oak.

He ran once more a month later, finishing 4th of 6 in the Valedictory Stakes at Woodbine before being retired and sold to Korean interests.

In Korea, Afleet Again stood privately at a place called “Happy Farm”, which is home to a band of broodmares and a couple of others stallions including Australian-bred Delago Brom. Among his two crops that have so far made the track, Afleet Again is yet to get any real stars but a good proportion of his progeny have been winners and in line with expectations in terms of the quality of mare he received.

J.S. Hold, First Korean Triple Crown Winner, Has Died

J.S. Hold, who in 2007 won the first ever Korean Triple Crown, has died. The 14-year-old passed away on January 6th from complications of colic on Jeju Island, where he had been living since his retirement in 2008. 

J.S Hold

J.S. Hold 2004-2018. Here winning the Minister’s Cup in 2007 (Pic: KRA)

J.S. Hold [Ft. Stockton – Hwansangjiljoo (Passetreul)] made his debut on Minister’s Cup day in October 2006 in the very first race on the card, a juvenile allowance over five furlongs. He finished 4th, a full fifteen lengths behind the winner Ganghomyeongjang. Although already, by Korean standards of the time, a physically impressive specimen, there were few indications that J.S. Hold would never be beaten again. His and Ganghomyeongjang had unfinished business.

The first win arrived a month later in a similar juvenile contest. Third in the betting, J.S. Hold went straight to the front this time and never looked back, winning by an eye-catching fourteen lengths. Another facile victory in December, this time a six-length score over Gi Ra Seong and Top Point, both of whom would go on to be multiple winners themselves, saw J.S. Hold head into 2007 as one of the favourites for the new Triple Crown.

The Triple Crown series, intended to bring more of a sporting aspect into racing in Korea, would take two existing contests on the calendar, the Ttukseom Cup and Minister’s Cup and make them into races for three-year-old domestic bred horses, joining the Korean Derby, which would be in its tenth year, as a Triple Crown.

By the time they got to the first race, the Ttukseom Cup over 1400M in April, J.S. Hold was hot favourite having added a further three easy victories between January and March up to the Derby distance of 1800M by a combined twenty-four lengths. It was evident, this was no normal Korean racehorse.

Second-favourite for the Ttukseom was Ganghomyeongjang, who since defeating J.S. Hold on what was both of their debuts, had managed to avoid him while accruing three more victories of his own. It was a mismatch. Moon Jung Kyun on J.S. Hold allowed Ganghomyeongjang to lead from the gate but went past him at the top of the stretch and eased away to a seven-length win.

The Korean Derby followed in May and it was expected to be a formality. It was but the manner of it was still astonishing. J.S. Hold left the field in the back straight and cantered home uncontested with the margin on the line eleven lengths. Ganghomyeongjang had to settle for 4th with Natural Nine and Namchonuijijon – who would both go on to have long and successful careers, in 2nd and 3rd.

With the Triple Crown being modeled at that time on the British version rather than the American, the final leg wasn’t until October, almost five months after the Derby. Accordingly, J.S. Hold was sent out in July against older horses. Chief among them Myeongmun Gamun, who would go on to win the President’s Cup twice, and Secret Weapon also firmly established in the Seoul elite. Punters sent J.S. Hold off as the odds-on favourite and he duly delivered. striking the front two furlongs out and romping away to win by five lengths.

It was then, however, that J.S. Hold, until now reasonably sound, began to experience leg problems which added to a nagging, if not serious, eye issue. Plans for a further prep race for the Minister’s Cup were shelved and it became touch and go as to whether he would make the big race itself. He made it and despite his problems being well-documented, began as long odds-on favourite, such was his perceived superiority. This time it wasn’t so straightforward.

The pace in the 2000M race was set, as expected by Ganghomyeongjang with J.S. Hold slowly away but improving up the back to move up into 2nd place at the top of the stretch but with still four-lengths to make up. This time though he didn’t cruise past Ganghomyeongjang as if he wasn’t there. This time Ganghomyeongjang was still very much there. Still there as they passed the furlong pole and still there at the 100M. J.S Hold was game though. With Ganghomyeongjang all out, Moon Jung Kyun found just a little more and the Ttukseom Cup and Derby winner finally got his nose in front just 30 metres from the line. He crossed it almost a length in front and history was made. J.S. Hold had won the Triple Crown.

He wasn’t fit though and his trainer later admitted that he probably shouldn’t have run. One month after the race, J.S. Hold was diagnosed with tendinitis and accordingly didn’t run in the President’s Cup (won by Myeongmun Gamun, who he had so easily defeated), or the Grand Prix, In fact, he never ran again, In June of 2008, he passed a qualifying trial and was entered in a Class 1 handicap but he never made it to the final declaration stage. In October of 2008, almost exactly one year after his great triumph, J.S. Hold returned to Seoul Racecourse on a race day to be officially retired. He and jockey Moon Jung Kyun cantering down the home straight and through the finish line to the exceptionally rare sound of warm applause from the assembled ranks of usually cynical punters (the full ceremony can be watched at this link).

What would happen to J.S. Hold began a welcome discussion into the care of retired racehorses in Korea. Prior to his retirement ceremony it was noted that with little interest in using Korean bred stallions – even a Triple Crown winner – for breeding, his future may not be secure and a minor uproar ensued in the local racing media. Guarantees were swiftly made for him by his owner, which were honoured, and he lived his remaining years in retirement on Jeju Island, covering a few mares each year until succumbing to illness at a sadly still relatively young age.  A handful of his progeny are racing today. The discussion that was started has  continued to the point where, almost ten years later, things still have a long way to go to be perfect and, like other places, horses’ post-racing fates still depend on what their owners can or will do for them, but the days of having to automatically fear the worst, are over.

J.S Hold 2

If I may conclude by being self-indulgent for a paragraph or three, J.S. Hold was the horse who got me into Korean racing. By the time of his Triple Crown, I had been living in Seoul for a couple of years and visited the racecourse every few weeks for a recreational punt but while admiring the gleaming facilities, I wasn’t especially impressed by the racing itself and preferred to spend most weekends watching football and getting my racing fix by punting on races back home.

Then J.S. Hold came along. I happened to be at the track during one of his prep races for the Ttukseom Cup and noticed that this was a very different beast to the usual lot. This was, to put it bluntly, a racehorse – something I might have seen at Newmarket (or at least Yarmouth). A few months later I was with a group of friends (yes, I did have some) on Minister’s Cup day and the moment he went past Ganghomyeongjang in the final strides was the moment I was hooked. This was racing – this was sport. A couple of weeks later I started this blog, the header image of which is still a picture taken that day.

J.S. Hold wasn’t the first superstar Korean-bred racehorse and in the years since others have come through, notably his successor in winning the new Triple Crown, Power Blade. But J.S. Hold was special and he won’t be forgotten.

Menifee Leading Sire In Korea For Sixth Straight Year

Menifee has once more dominated the Leading Sire in Korea ranks. Grand Prix Stakes winner Power Blade was once again Menifee’s leading money earner as his progeny won almost double that of nearest rival Ecton Park. It was also an encouraging year for Hansen, whose first Korean crop of juveniles hit the track.

Menifee

Menifee, Korea’s leading sire, again

2017 Korea Leading General Sire (Money earned in 1000 Korean Won units – Chief Money Earner)

1. Menifee (USA) 8,973,350 – Power Blade
2. Ecton Park (USA) 5,272,610 – Triple Nine
3. Officer (USA) 4,074,930 – World Sun
4. Vicar (USA) 3,977,090 – Phantom Blade
5. Peace Rules (USA) 3,861,780 – Success Story
6. Forest Camp (USA) 3,627,530 – Raon Magic
7. Sharp Humor (USA) 3,583,880 – Golden Gate
8. Colors Flying (USA) 2,744,590 – Yeonggwanguihunter
9. Exploit (USA) 2,340,220 – Singgeureoun Gom
10. Ingrandire (JPN) 2,322,860 – Geombit Gangja
11. One Cool Cat (USA) 12. Whywhywhy (USA) 13. Chapel Royal (USA) 14. Rock Hard Ten (USA) 15. Cowboy Cal (USA) 16. Didyme (USA) 17. Hawk Wing (USA) 18. Simon Pure (USA) 19. Hansen (USA) 20. Pico Central (BRZ)

As ever Menifee was way out in front in terms of Starters, Winners, Strike Rate and Money Earned. He is covering progressively fewer each year (64 in 2017) as he nears retirement but he’ll up around the top for a few more years yet. Even without Power Blade’s 1.2 Billion Won in earnings, he was still significantly ahead of his nearest rival. This year, that was Isidore Farm’s Ecton Park, sire of Triple Nine while Officer jumped up from 7th to 3rd. Vicar and Peace Rules in 4th and 5th finished in exactly the same positons they did last year while Forest Camp dropped from 2nd to 6th.

For the second year running, Cowboy Cal was the highest placed stallion from outside of Korea  – he is now in Korea himself but all his runners were sired in the USA. Further down the list, Hansen entered the top twenty for the first time, which leads us to:

2017 Leading Sire of 2-Year-Olds in Korea

1. Menifee (USA) 1,369,930 – Choinma
2. Hansen (USA) 1,140,100 – Sinui Myeongryeong
3. Ecton Park (USA) 868,870 – Ecton Blade
4. Thunder Moccasin (USA) 829,580 – Yeongcheon Derby
5. Old Fashioned (USA) 550,640 – P.K. Party

Hansen actually had one more 2-year-old than Menifee make it to the track with 10 of his 33 winning at least once to Menifee’s imperious 18 from 32. Ecton Park has produced another solid crop while Pegasus Farm’s Thunder Moccasin got off to an excellent start in 4th place. Old Fashioned is now in Korea but his 5th place still relied totally on imports or those imported in-utero. Since coming to Korea Old Fashioned has already covered well in excess of 200 mares and he looks set to be a major player in years to come.

Accordingly Hansen and Thunder Moccasin were 1st and 2nd on the Leading First-Crop Sire list with the remianing top five being filled out by the Nokwon Farm based trio of Eurosilver, Testa Matta and Spicule.

Seven stallions were imported into Korea for breeding purposes in 2017, all from the United States. They are Afleet Express, Archarcharch, Modern Cowboy, Purge, Take Charge Indy, Tizway and With Distinction. With the exception of Take Charge Indy, who is owned by the Korea Racing Authority, all are standing privately.

Sadly some stallions did pass away during 2017. The most well-known was Whywhywhy who succumbed to complications arising from a debilitating back injury in September aged 17. Pensioned stallions who passed on during the year were Psychobabble and Silent Warrior, aged 26 and 25 respectively and Wheelaway, who was 20.

 

Obituary: Whywhywhy (2000-2017)

Sad news from the farms as American bred stallion Whywhywhy has passed away aged 17. 

On the racecourse, Whywhywhy [Mr. Greeley – Thorough Fair (Quiet American)] was a stand-out juvenile. Trained by Patrick Biancone, he won three of five races in his two-year-old season in 2002 including the G1 Futurity Stakes at Belmont Park as well as the G3 Flash Stakes at the same track and the G2 Sanford Stakes at Saratoga. He only ran four times as a three-year-old, not picking up any further wins and he was retired midway through 2003.

Whywhywhy proved reasonably successful at stud, siring nine Stakes winners in the USA with the best known being 2007 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf winner Nownownow after which he was standing for a fee of $10,000 at Gainseway Farm. This had dropped to $3,500 by the time he was purchased by Korean interests in 2011. In Korea, he stood privately at Challenger Farm on Jeju Island.

He didn’t sire any superstars in Korea but was producing very solid horses with a win rate comparable to the top sires in the country. He was 13th on the Leading General sire list in 2016 and currently lies in 12th in this year’s table with all eleven stallions ahead of him having had more runners.

Whywhywhy hadn’t covered for the past two seasons due to a leg injury but given his early popularity, it was hoped that he would return to duties. According to the farm where he stood, he had suffered from debilitating back problems for a number of years and it was complications arising from this that led to his early death which occurred on September 1st. A fuller report has been requested.

The loss of Whywhywhy is probably the highest profile in Korea this year but follows the deaths of two pensioned stallions who were prominent in the early development of the Korean breeding industry in the late 1990s, Psychobabble (Carleon) passing in March at the age of 26 and Silent Warrior (Nashwan) in February at age 25.

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.

Korea Owned J.S. Choice Set For BC Juvenile Turf

It looks like J.S. Choice will run in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf this coming Friday. The Todd Pletcher trained colt is owned by none other than the Korea Racing Authority Stud Farm.

I’m not going to claim this news sets the pulse racing to any great extent although the Korea Racing Authority and the racing media in Korea seem to be quite excited about it and there will be a sizable Korean contingent at Santa Anita to watch him. However, ultimately he’s an American horse, who has never set hoof in Korea, trained by an American trainer running in an American race ridden and will be ridden by an American jockey (Kent Desormeaux).

That’s not his fault though and he looks to be a promising horse. J.S. Choice has raced three times so far and having been 5th on his debut at Saratoga in August, he came back out at the same track to win at the second time of asking on September 5. He was then entered for the Group 3 Pilgrim Stakes at Belmont on October 1st and ran 2nd (albeit quite well beaten by Oscar Performance who also runs on Friday) and this has proven enough to allow him to take his chance at Santa Anita.

The experiment is not without merit and is not purely a vanity project. The idea is that he was purchased in the sales having been selected for potential value by the KRA’s “K-Nicks” database and then sent to a top American trainer. He will do his racing in the United States and will then be retired for Stud duties in Korea. Interestingly, he has done his racing on Turf and with the KRA serious about installing a turf track at Seoul – something that would arguably be the biggest development in racing history here and on which work has already begun – stallions who have demonstrated ability on the surface are going to be required and the Authority, Korean horsemen and also punters will all need to become familiar with racing on a surface that was meant to be raced on.

J.S. Choice [Congrats – Oil Empress (Empire Maker)] is named with a nod to 2007 Korean Triple Crown winner J.S. Hold. He runs in the Group 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf at Santa Anita on Friday November 4th with an expected morning line of 20/1. I haven’t quite decided if I’ll be setting my alarm for what will be early Saturday Seoul time, but I do really hope he does well.