Breeding

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.

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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.

Japan-Raced Stallions Biwa Shinseiki & Eagle Cafe Have Died

Biwa Shinseiki, sire of three-time President’s Cup winner Dangdae Bulpae, has died aged 18. The Japanese-bred stallion was standing privately in Korea. Eagle Cafe, winner of the NHK Mile in 2000 and Japan Cup Dirt in 2002, also passed away on Jeju Island in September.

Dangdae Bulpae Jo SUng Gon

Biwa Shinseiki’s best was Dangdae Bulpae, seen here on one of his three visits to the President’s Cup winner’s circle

Bred by Hayata Farms, Biwa Shinseiki [Forty Niner – Oceana (Northern Dancer)] was a very good racehorse in Japan landing 10 wins, 7 places and 8 shows from a total of 33 starts in a career lasting from 2001 until 2004. Those wins included two big Stakes races as well as five consecutive victories between May and December in 2002.

That winning streak came to an end when he was 2nd in that year’s Tokyo Daishoten at Ohi, a race in which he would finish 3rd in 2003. Also in 2003, he was 2nd in the February Stakes, one of the few Grade 1 races in Japan to be run on dirt. Usually run over a mile at Tokyo Racecourse, in 2003 it was held at Nakayama over 1800M.

Due to its dirt and its distance, the February Stakes is a popular race among Korean breeders with past winners Meisei Opera (1999), Admire Don (2004) and most recently Testa Matta (2012) all going on to stand at stud in Korea. Following a racing career in which he earned in excess of 370 Million Japanese  Yen, Biwa Shinseiki was purchased by Korean interests in 2005 to stand at Pureun Farm.

For a privately standing sire, he got plenty of mares but it was in his very first season at Stud, in 2006, when he covered the Alydeed mare Indeed My Dear. She had produced some very average racehorses beforehand but the resulting foal would become one of the best horses Korea has seen.

Dangdae Bulpae would win 19 of his 32 races between 2009 and 2013. He was quite a late-developer as a three-year-old only managing 3rd in the 2010 Korean Derby but he won the final leg of the Triple Crown, the Minister’s Cup, in October and a month later returned to Seoul the following month to claim Korea’s joint-richest race, the President’s Cup, something he would go on to do for the following two years.

Dangdae Bulpae’s exploits helped Biwa Shinseiki to 8th place on the Leading Sire list on 2010, to 10th in 2011 and 12th in 2012. None of his other foals would be anything like as good although he produced many winners even if few made it up to class 1 level. Biwa Shinseiki died on September 28. Cause of death is yet to be officially confirmed.

Also passing away in September was Nokwon Farm’s Eagle Cafe (Gulch), another horse who raced in Japan. He was the winner of just five races, however, they included the NHK Mile Cup at Tokyo in 2000 and then in 2002, the Japan Cup Dirt (now known as the Champion’s Cup) under Frankie Dettori.

Eagle Cafe [Gulch – Net Dancer (Nureyev)] was bred in the US but trained in Japan. He also raced in Dubai and France. He came to Korea to stand at Nokwon – a farm with close Japanese ties – in 2011 but covered few mares and was to all intents and purposes retired in 2014. His gelding Honey Butter Nino is the first Korea-based horse in training for Japanese owner Shigeo Kadono. Eagle Cafe died from colic aged 19 on September 30.

Colonel John Headed to Korea

It’s been reported in the US this morning that Colonel John is to be the latest addition to the Stallion ranks in Korea. He’s been purchased by the Korean Thoroughbred Breeders Association and will stand in 2017 on Jeju Island.

Colonel John [Tiznow – Sweet Damsel (Turkoman)] won the Santa Anita Derby and the Travers Stakes in 2008 and had been standing for $7,500 at WinStar Farm. He currently lies in 33rd place on the Leading sire list for 2016.

Colonel John has had a number of his progeny run in Korea with the most successful of them having being imported in-utero.

His four-year-old filly Queen’s Champion and three-year-old gelding Baekdu are both prolific winners who have made it up to class 1 level at Seoul while his gelding Call Me Rocket won six of his twelve starts in a seven-month period in 2013 before having to be retired with an injury (he is now a riding horse at Haenam Equestrian Club).

The 11-year-old will enter quarantine shortly. He’ll be an interesting addition.

Vicar, 1999 Florida Derby Winner & Sire of Korean Classic Winners, has Died

Vicar has died, aged 20, at the KRA Jeju Stud Farm. The cause of death, as per the Korean Studbook, has been recorded as a “throat obstruction”. He passed away on January 24th. 

Vicar

Vicar 1996-2016

Vicar [Wild Again – Escrow Agent (El Gran Senor)] was a solid racehorse in the United States. Handled by Hall of Fame trainer Carl Nafzger, Vicar won 4 of 17 outings including victories in what was then the Grade I  Fountain of Youth Stakes and the Florida Derby, both at Gulfstream Park, in 1999.

He would go on to compete in the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes and the Breeders’ Cup Sprint later that year without success and wouldn’t actually win another race before retirement in mid-July of 2000 having won in excess of $800,000.

Vicar didn’t meet with a huge amount of success at Stud in the United States and was sold to the Korea Racing Authority in 2006. He would prove to be a good match for the Korean breeding program. Covering for the first time in 2007, his first foals hit the track in 2010 when he was 5th on the Leading Sire of Two-Year-Olds list. In each of the next four years, he would end up in 3rd place on the General Sire list.

In 2011, he got winners of two legs of the Triple Crown with Gwangyajeil winning the Korean Derby and Dongseo Jeongbeol the Minister’s Cup. Wonderful Namhae and the filly Joy Lucky would be his chief earners over the next two years before Gumpo Sky, 2nd in last year’s Grand Prix Stakes, took over in 2014 and 2015.

He would finish in 5th in terms of Leading Sire in 2015 and while it is very early days he already lies in 2nd place in the 2016 list after his Gumanseok returned to class 1 winning form in January.

Here is his appearance video, taken in Jeju Island shortly after his arrival in 2007:

 

2015 Review: Leading Sires

Menifee is the Leading Sire in Korea for the 4th year running. It wasn’t quite as one-sided as last year but he still earned $2 Million more than closest challenger, Ecton Park. Menifee stands in good stead for the future too as he also comfortably claimed the Leading Sire of Two-Year-Olds title. Strike Again is Leading First Crop Sire.

Menifee

Menifee, Korea’s leading sire, walks in the rain

Siring the Derby winner as well as significantly more winners than any other sire, Menifee is, for the 4th year running, the Leading Sire. He is quite the phenom here in Korea and will be hot favourite to win next year too, simply by weight of numbers. There will, however, be a change below soon with both Didyme and Creek Cat, mainstays of the Korean breeding program, having passed away recently.

Leading General Sire

Name, Earnings ‘000 KRW (Runners/Winners/Starts/Wins) Winning % (Chief Earner)

1. Menifee (USA) 7,680,833 (144/74/921/124) 13.5% (Yeongcheon Ace)
2. Ecton Park (USA) 5,447,012 (92/37/574/75) 13.1% (Triple Nine)
3. Creek Cat (USA) 3,810,773 (99/43/647/67) 10.4% (Jangpung Parang)
4. Didyme (USA) 3,519,796 (90/36/554/68) 12.3% (Best Guy)
5. Vicar (USA) 3,515,249 (106/36/609/55) 9.0% (Gumpo Sky)
6. Peace Rules (USA) 3,404,896 (76/32/508/57) 11.2% (Heba)
7. Forest Camp (USA) 3,307,403 (135/40/809/61) 7.5% (Ottug Ottugi)
8. Pico Central (BRZ) 3,161,609 (98/44/639/69) 10.8% (Daepungnyeon)
9. Volponi (USA) 3,035,469 (88/36/674/56) 8.3% (Goldholic)
10. Exploit (USA) 2,582,665 (114/43/714/53) 7.4% (Lion Star)
11. Colors Flying (USA) 12. Ft. Stockton (USA) 13. Hawk Wing (USA) 14. Officer (USA) 15. One Cool Cat (USA) 16. Biwa Shinseiki (JPN) 17. Capital Spending (USA) 18. Revere (IRE) 19. Cielo Gold (USA) 20. Admire Don (JPN)

Menifee is also leading sire of two-year-olds. Colors Flying has been producing foals which really run well on the sand tracks of Korea and will be featuring highly on the general sire list from next year while freshman Strike Again also signals intention here. There also needs to be a word for Cowboy Cal. It’s unusual for a non-Korean based sire to appear on these lists but from nine two-year-old runners, he has got six winners:

Leading Sire of Two-Year-Olds

1. Menifee (USA) 896,150 (23/10/69/17) 24.6% (Power Blade)
2. Forest Camp (USA) 641,100 (29/10/80/17) 21.3% (Ottug Ottugi)
3. Colors Flying (USA) 468,300 (26/8/79/13) 16.5% (Baedari Bobae)
4. Strike Again (USA) 387,100 (13/3/35/7) 20.0% (Winners Glory)
5. One Cool Cat (USA) 352,950 (26/7/65/8) 12.3% (Major Winner)
6. Didyme (USA) 335,050 (19/6/50/7) 14.0% (Seomgwangi)
7. Sharp Humor (USA) 334,800 (35/8/73/10) 13.7% (Pokpung Sinhwa)
8. Vicar (USA) 300,300 (23/5/53/6) 11.3% (Sidaeuiyeowang)
9. Cowboy Cal (USA) 293,100 (9/6/30/7) 23.3% (Miso Wangja)
10. Pico Central (BRZ) 277,950 (15/4/40/4) 10.0% (Waikiki)

The Korean breeding program suffered a sad setback with the loss of Sharp Humor. The stallion reportedly suffered fatal injuries while rearing up during a thunderstorm and slipping. Sharp Humor is second on the First-Crop sire list behind Strike Again.

Leading First-Crop Sires

1. Strike Again (USA) 387,100 (13/3/35/7) 20.0% (Winners Glory)
2. Sharp Humor (USA) 334,800 (35/8/73/10) 13.7% (Pokpung Sinhwa)
3. Whywhywhy (USA) 200,000 (25/4/71/5) 7.0% (Doctor Why)
4. Delago Brom (AUS) 72,350 (7/3/24/3) 12.5% (Delago Dream)
5. Stromberg Carlson (AUS) 57,850 (2/1/8/1) 12.5% (Short Stop)

Visiting Hansen – And Other Thoughts On The Korean Breeding Industry

Over the past few years Korea has become, if not a major player, at least significantly involved in the world bloodstock industry. That has resulted in a number of reasonably well-known stallions, principally from the United States, finding themselves in Korea. So what happens to them here?

Hansen at the KRA Jeju Stud Farm

Hansen at the KRA Jeju Stud Farm

The KRA began a domestic breeding industry in the 1990’s. Like most decisions here, it was done with realpolitik in mind. As a monopoly and a public company, the KRA is subject to the whims of the government of the day and as a result, needs to make itself as vital as possible to the nation.

That doesn’t just mean betting revenue – a casino with its mindless games of chance can do that – it also means jobs and support for the rural economy, something that had been neglected in Korea’s rush to development in the late 20th century.

The early breeding industry was haphazard. While the government was behind the idea, it simply gave subsidies for farmers to start breeding racehorses but offered no practical support as to actually how to breed racehorses. It was left to private farms such as Isidore to lead the way in bringing over foreign talent to oversee the breeding program.

Menifee, Korea's leading sire, walks in the rain

Menifee, Korea’s leading sire, walks in the rain

The KRA also set up its own Stud Farms, on Jeju Island and also at Jangsu on the mainland. At its peak, it stood about 30 stallions but has gradually been encouraging private farms to take over and now does not automatically replace pensioned or passed away stallions. It now only purchases marquee names; Hansen and Tiz Wonderful being recent examples.

Hansen's box at the Stud Farm - he was out in the paddock at the time

Hansen’s box at the Stud Farm – he was out in the paddock at the time

The KRA’s Jeju Stud Farm is nothing short of a five-star hotel for stallions. When not servicing mares, the select few are housed in spacious boxes or in their own private paddocks. On a recent Monday, only leading sire in Korea Menifee was in his box.

Hansen was not in his box. Nice nameplate, though

Hansen was not in his box. Nice nameplate, though

Now 19-years-old, Menifee has been in Korea since 2006. That’s about as long as me but I have a feeling Menifee understands Korean better than I do. His handler (wearing a Hansen baseball cap) calls his name and in Korean, asks him to come out of his box and stand to attention – which he does. He is perfectly happy to trot up and down outside in the pouring rain while the French TV crew (who I have tagged along with as designated um….drinker) filmed him.

Tiz Wonderful would not come up to say hello. Nice paddock though

Tiz Wonderful would not come up to say hello. Nice paddock though

The rest of the stallions are outside in their private paddocks where they spend most of their time. Walking out of the stables and into a typically idyllic Jeju scene, even three paddocks over, one horse stands out. Of course he is the easiest to recognize but he is also the only one who is standing right at the very edge of his paddock, waiting for visitors. He cranes his neck to see who might be approaching and jumps about to attract their attention.

Hansen is a remarkably sociable stallion. The day has been stormy and Hansen has been rolling in the mud. He looks more like a bedraggled pony than a Gotham Stakes and Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner but he puts his head through the railings to be petted. “Do you remember me?” the lady from Equidia asks, “I met you at Churchill Downs four years ago”.

He probably doesn’t but he makes a good show of it, allowing himself to be absolutely fawned over, even by the hitherto alpha-male French cameraman who has only vaguely heard of him but who turns into a simpering fanboy in his presence. Like everybody else. “Hansen loves people and everybody loves him” explains the Stud Farm manager – who is still wearing the cap with Hansen’s name on it

Tiz Wonderful and Forest Camp – the latter a notably shy stallion who has been kicked about by more than a few mares in his time – would not be distracted from their grazing but One Cool Cat was friendly while Hawk Wing seemed positively delighted to hear some English spoken to him.

The KRA Jeju Stud Farm is the best known stallion station on Jeju but it is deliberately drawing down its influence. Ecton Park stands at Isidore Farm, a place which has over the years played a huge role in the development of agriculture in general as well as racing on Jeju. Colors Flying is at Taeyoung Farm while the likes of Whywhywhy, Simon Pure and new star Strike Again also stand privately.

Facilities at some private farms such as Isidore and Pegasus are first rate. Others are developing. At Triple Crown Farm, we visit the resting place of Mister Park, who won 17 consecutive races, including the 2010 Grand Prix Stakes. Right next to him, mares and yearlings are in high spirits.

KRA training centre in Jeju

KRA training centre in Jeju

The final stop on what is now a hungover tour of the island (“I love my job, but not today” says the cameraman after an introduction to Halla-San Soju in Seogwipo the previous evening) is Nokwon Farm. This farm received international attention a couple of years ago as the home of Worldly Pleasure, dam of American champion Game On Dude. Of course, once Game On Dude became successful, Worldly Pleasure was on a plane to Shadai but Nokwon remains one of Korea’s top private farms.

Nokwon is owned by the former Chairman of the Seoul Racehorse Owners’ Association, Chi Dae Sub. Mr Chi is surprisingly in residence and in welcoming mood when we drop by uninvited last Tuesday. He was still smarting over Ham Wan Sik’s ride on his horse Forty Cure in the Selangor Turf Club Trophy last Saturday. Ham stood up in the irons and seemingly started celebrating despite being beaten a full length by Moon Se Young on Raon Morris on the line. “I wanted to kill him” was Mr Chi’s succinct post-mortem on the race.

Eurosilver at Nokwon Farm

Eurosilver at Nokwon Farm

We tour the farm on the back of a souped-up golf buggy, driven by Mr Chi. Clinging on to the roof, it was better than an Everland roller-coaster. Nokwon stands several stallions, including the Japanese racehorse Testa Matta and the US import Eurosilver. The farm has developed a very efficient system for exercising yearlings and sees itself as a prototype for the development for Korean-run farms on Jeju.

Chi Dae Sub has been one of the few supporters of the KRA’s internationalization program among Korean breeders (which is presumably why we were taken to his farm) who almost unanimously opposed the new rating system that ended separate class 1 and class 2 races for Korean and imported horses. “Bring them all on. Nobody thought that Koreans could make cars or televisions or mobile phones, but we did” he said “The KRA says we are 10 or 20 years away, I say we can do it in 5; Let’s race them”.

Racehorses are not mobile phones but the likes of Isidore with Rock Band and Triple Nine this past weekend have shown that the quality is coming. Choegang Schiller winning the Asia Challenge Cup, albeit not Korean-bred, demonstrates that Korean trained racehorses can compete at a good level. We have an awful long way to go. But from breeding shed to winning post, Korean racing is doing what it can to go in the right direction.

Watch out once Hansen’s progeny make it to the track.

Follow all horses racing or breeding in Korea through the Korean StudBook.

For anyone who finds themselves on Jeju Island, the KRA Stud Farm is happy to welcome visitors.