2000 Belmont Stakes Winner Commendable Has Passed Away

Commendable, the winner of the 2000 Belmont Stakes, has passed away at Stud in Korea after suffering a colic.

Commendable 1997-2014 (KRA)

Commendable 1997-2014 (KRA)

A $575,000 purchase as a yearling, Commendable[Gone West – Bought Twice (In Reality)] won his debut race at Del Mar on August 14, 1999 but despite being identified by his trainer D. Wayne Lukas as being Triple Crown contender, he endured a disappointing start to his 3-year-old career.

Commendable managed to get into the Kentucky Derby but finished 17th of 19 under Edgar Prado as Fusaichi Pegasus took the 126th Run For The Roses.

Commendable didn’t run in the Preakness a fortnight later where Fusaichi Pegasus was defeated by Red Bullet and without a Triple Crown on the line – and Red Bullet skipping the race too – he returned to take his chance in the Belmont on a hot day in New York City in June 2000.

Hitting the front as they turned for home, 18-1 shot Commendable under jockey Pat Day, held off favourite Aptitude to win the final leg of the Triple Crown by just over a length.

That Del Mar debut and the Belmont proved to be his only wins in a 12-race career as Commendable was retired after finishing 2nd to Tiznow in the Super Derby at Louisiana Downs in September of 2000.

After a short stallion carrer in the US, Commendable was brought to Korea in March 2005. He stood at the KRA’s Jeju Stud Farm until 2011 before moving to the new farm on the mainland at Jangsu. While not a sire of Champions, he consistently got winners and was covering mares up until he fell ill.

A two-year-old colt of his out of the Champion Korean racemare Luna is expected to make his debut later this year.

Here’s his Belmont Stakes win:

And his KRA appearance video:

Commendable died on April 10th at the Korea Racing Authority’s Jangsu Stud Farm in Jeolla Province. The official cause of death is listed as “strangulation of small intestine.”

Breeding Review: Menifee Dominates Leading Sire Race / Pico Central Best Known of 11 Sires To Pass Away in 2013

Menifee retained his Leading Sire crown by a huge margin at the end of a year where his progeny have dominated once again.

Leading Sire in Korea. Again: Menifee (KRA)

Leading Sire in Korea. Again: Menifee (KRA)

Filly Speedy First, who landed a Korean Derby and Oaks double was Menifee’s chief money earner in a year where the Leading sire saw 14.2% of all his starters win.

Forest Camp got the closest to Menifee ahead of Vicar and the late Pico Central. Meanwhile, One Cool Cat just headed Peace Rules in the first-crop sire race. Those latter two will have their first foals reach 3-years-ol in 2014.

Even more competition is on its way. Chapel Royal and Rock Hard Ten covered their first mares in 2013 while the end of the year saw Hansen make his way to Jeju.

Leading General Sires in Korea 2013
Prize Money in Korean won ($1=1055KRW) (Runners/Winners/Starts/Wins) Win %age – Leading Money Earner (Big Race wins)

1. Menifee (USA) 6,985,819,000 (131/67/760/108) 14.2% – Speedy First (Korean Derby/Oaks)
2. Forest Camp (USA) 4,904,203,000 (140/71/874/108) 12.4% – Sting Ray (KRA Cup Mile)
3. Vicar (USA) 4,550,712,000 (104/45/672/75 11.3% – Joy Lucky (Sports Seoul Cup)
4. Pico Central (BRZ) 3,910,888,000 (99/44/605/76) 12.6% – Major King (Minister’s Cup)
5. Volponi (USA) 3,904,000,000 (124/48/872/80) 9.2% – Cheongnyeong Busang (Breeders’ Cup)
6. Creek Cat (USA) 3,270,478,000 (106/46/565/71) 12.6% – High Five
7. Exploit (USA) 3,099,129,000 (124/35/771/57) 7.4% – Singgereounachim
8. Ecton Park (USA) 3,025,779,000 (57/31/342/54) 15.8% – Indie Band (President’s Cup, Grand Prix Stakes)
9. Ingrandire (JPN) 2,378,958,000 (51/14/346/31) 9.0% – Jigeum I Sungan (Owners’ Cup)
10. Yankee Victor (USA) 2,053,560,000 (87/28/504/41) 8.1% – Raon Morris (Gwacheon Mayor’s Cup)

Sadly, we also lost a number of stallions in 2013. Pico Central was the best known among them, but all had their stories. The following registered sires died in 2013:

Dancing Surpass (IRE) – by Dancing Brave. He did his racing in Japan where he also stood at stud before coming to Korea in 2006. Passed away aged 23.

Editor In Chief (USA) – by Kingmambo. Winner of 2 of 4 starts in the US before resuming his racing career in Korea where he won 4 more times. Died in Setember aged 14

Gamun Bobae (USA) – by Silic. A good racer in Korea, passed away from Colic aged 9

Kwaedo Nanma (KOR) – by Didyme. A very good racehorse in Korea with 21 wins and was shaping up to be the best ever domestically bred sire before he died in February aged 15.

Lazer Beam (USA) – by Seeking The Gold. An average racer in the US, he came to Korea in 2001. Had been pensioned after illness for the past 3 years and finally passed away aged 18.

Lethal Instrument (USA) – by Gulch. Winner of 7 races in the US, he came to Korea in 2005. Died aged 17.

Nite Dreamer (CAN) – by El Prado. Earned over $1Million in prize money in the US despite only winning 5 races, a quarter of it coming in the “Cornhuskers Breeders’ Cup” at Prairie Meadows in 1999. His stud career was short and he was pensioned in 2006. He passed away after illness in October aged 18.

Perfect Vision II (USA) – by Storm Cat. Unraced, he came to Korea in 2006. Had been regularly siring winners up until his death, aged 18 in July.

Pico Central (BRZ) – by Spend A Buck. One of the jewels of the Korean breeding program, he sired his first Classic winner Major King, in the same year as his untimely passing aged 14.
Sunny Mountain (KOR) – by Lost Mountain – 5 wins from 12 starts in Korea, he was registered as a stallion but was more a family pet. Died aged 11.

Wanggol (AUS) – by Jet Spur. Won 6 of his 12 starts in Korea. Was retired to stud only this year but fell ill and passed away aged 6 before covering any mares.

Wheels N’Wings (USA) – by Thunder Gulch. A winner of 2 races in the US and 3 in Korea, he had modest success at stud and passed away after illness aged 14 in June.

Concept Win, 3-time Leading Sire in Korea, Has Passed Away Aged 23

Concept Win, one of the most important stallions in the development of the Korean breeding industry over the last decade, has passed away.

Concept Win: 1990-2013

Concept Win: 1990-2013

The 23-year-old dislocated a hip and, having failed to respond to treatment, was euthanized at the Jangsu Stud Farm in Jeolla Province last month.

The winner of 9 races from 30 starts in the USA – all in California – from 1992 to 1996, Concept Win [Manila – Conveniently (In Reality)] was imported to Korea in 1997.

Best known for his fillies, Concept Win sired Luna, one of the best-known racehorses in Korea during the past decade and whose exploits were turned into a movie.

However, his best was perhaps Sangseung Ilro, who won the KRA Cup Mile and Korean Derby in 2009 while finishing 2nd in the Oaks and 3rd in the Minister’s Cup. She went on to win the KNN Cup the following year, a race which another Concept Win filly, Yongduseong, won this year.

He sired good colts too. Among them was Namchonuijijon, Ttukseom Cup winner in 2007.

Concept Win was Leading General Sire in Korea in 3 consecutive years from 2004 to 2006 and finished among the top 5 on 6 other occasions.

Fly Top Queen Wins Easily On Debut

Fly Top Queen may have kept us waiting for over a year but the most expensive racehorse ever to be imported to Korean didn’t disappoint when she finally made her debut at Seoul Race Park today.

While the morning tip-sheets were sceptical, punters sent Fly Top Queen off as the odds-on favourite and it was the punters who were proved correct as the 3-year-old filly led from gate to wire for a 5-length win.

Fly Top Queen [Henny Hughes – Cape Discovery (Cape Town)] was a $225,000 purchase out of the Ocala Spring Sale last April, shortly after the KRA lifted the $70,000 limit that Korean buyers were previously restricted to spending on imported fillies.

Weekend Preview: Fly Top Queen Set To Finally Debut

Almost a year to the day since she first arrived at Seoul Racecourse, Fly Top Queen is set to make her racing debut this Saturday.

Fly Top Queen with trainer Choi Bong Ju (left) and owner Oh Ho Kuk (right), the most expensive racehorse in Korean racing history, debuts this weekend

Fly Top Queen with trainer Choi Bong Ju (left) and owner Oh Ho Kuk (right), the most expensive racehorse in Korean racing history, debuts this weekend

The filly became the most expensive racehorse every imported to Korea when owner Oh Ho Kuck paid $225,000 for her at the OBS Spring Sales in Florida last April.

Horses don’t know how much money has changed hands for them though and Fly Top Queen has been injured ever since she arrived, suffering with lymphatic problems. She race-trialed once last year and qualified but never made it to race day while she was withdrawn from another trial this March. Early last month she had another go and comfortably won her heat. Now finally, she will line up in race 2 on Saturday, class 4 race for fillies over 1200 metres. She will be favourite.

It is a big weekend for fillies at Seoul as on Sunday the track hosts its major Oaks trial, the Sports Seoul Cup. That only 9 fillies will take their chance suggests that Seoul owners are not exactly relishing the prospect of a trip down to Busan next month to face Derby winner Speedy First in the fillies’ Classic.

There are some decent entrants though. Joy Lucky’s only defeat to date was in the Derby while Cheonnyeon Dongan was showing great promise before running into problems in the KRA Cup Mile. The useful looking Dewma and Jumbo Speed will also be there.

Busan’s feature race is also on Sunday as prolific winners Dongteuja and Tamna Ace face each other over 2000 metres.

Here’s what’s happening when and where:

Friday June 21

Busan Race Park: 10 races from 11:50 to 18:00
Jeju Race Park: 9 races from 13:10 to 17:30

Saturday June 22

Seoul Race Park: 11 races from 11:00 to 17:40
Jeju Race Park: 9 races from 12:30 to 17:20

Sunday June 23

Seoul Race Park: 11 races from 11:00 to 18:00 including the Sports Seoul Cup at 16:35
Busan Race Park: 6 races from 12:50 to 17:05

K Pop Becomes 1st Korean Export Winner in Malaysia

K Pop (Vicar) came home on top in race 5 at the Penang Turf Club in Malaysia last Saturday to become the first Korean bred horse to win a race in that country and in the process record an important milestone for the Korean breeding industry.

Journey Ends in Winner's Circle - K Pop on his way to export in 2011 (KRA)

Journey Ends in Winner’s Circle – K Pop on his way to export in 2011 (KRA)

A 4-year old gelding, K Pop was one of three horses exported from Korea to Malaysia in 2011. They were followed by six more in 2012. K Pop was making his 5th start and had one previous 2nd place finish to his name before last Saturday’s win. His time was 4 seconds quicker than the Seoul Racecourse record for the same distance of 1700 metres although it was on turf.

The KRA began its breeding program in the early 1990’s, however, the three sent to Malaysia in 2011 were the first to be commercially exported. The KRA has set a target of 50 horses per year to be exported by 2020, primarily to Macau and Malaysia, however the long-term goal is to break into the potentially huge market of the gargantuan neighbour to the West of the Korean peninsula.

Last year, Feel So Good (Ft.Stockton) became the first Korean bred horse to win a race in the United States. However, like a number of Korean horses each year, he had been sent there for training purposes and was brought home shortly afterwards.

K Pop is different and many involved in the breeding industry here will have been celebrating his win. As for K Pop himself, he celebrated breaking his maiden by promptly dumping his apprentice jockey onto the track as soon as they crossed the line.

Brazilian Multiple US Stakes Winner Pico Central Has Passed Away

Pico Central, who won the Met Mile at Belmont in 2004, has passed away at Stud in South Korea.

Although the exact cause of death is yet to be confirmed by the Korea Racing Authority, it is understood that the 13-year-old, who had been in Korea since 2007, died after suffering a paddock accident last week.

Pico Central (BRZ) 1999-2013

Pico Central (BRZ) 1999-2013

Pico Central [Spend A Buck – Sheila Purple (Purple Mountain)] started his racing career in his home country of Brazil. He won 4 races at Gavea Racecourse in Rio De Janeiro and was crowned champion Brazilian sprinter before being bought by prominent American owner Gary A. Tanaka. Moved to the US for his 4-year-old season, Pico Central won his first 4 races in the States in 2004 including two Group 1’s, the Carter Handicap at Aqueduct and the Metropolitan Handicap at Belmont Park.

Later that year, he returned to Belmont and was triumphant in another Group 1, the Vosburgh Stakes which would prove to be his last win. As a 5-year-old, he ran once in Dubai and was retired after finishing in last place in the Bing Crosby Handicap at Del Mar in July 2005.

Purchased by the Korea Racing Authority in late 2007, Pico Central was sent to the KRA Jeju Stud Farm on Jeju Island where, apart from a spell on the mainland at Jangsu, he would remain for the rest of his life.

At the time of his death, Pico Central was one of the most in-demand sires in Korea and was set to cover a full book of mares (which in Korea is about 70) this year. The first stallion import from the Buckpasser line, his loss is a major blow to the breeding program.

With only 2 crops of racing age, he finished 8th in the Leading General Sires list in 2012. Of those two crops, he has had most success with sprinters, the Busan based Alpha Myeongjang being the most successful in terms of prize money so far. He has several horses on the Korean Triple Crown trail this year.

Here is Pico Central winning the 2004 Vosburgh Stakes:

(ht: @gorillawanggo)

Three Korean Colts Head To USA For Training And Racing

Three young Korean colts flew to the United States this week as the Korea Racing Authority (KRA) continues in its efforts to improve the competitiveness of domestically bred racehorses.

The 2-year olds will spend most of the year in Ocala training and if all goes well racing, before eventually returning to Korea.

Better Than You (KRA)

Better Than You (KRA)

Last year, Feel So Good (Ft.Stockton) became the first Korean bred horse to win a race in the United States after as he triumphed at Calder Racecourse on his third start after spending 15 months in Florida.

He returned to Korea immediately after his win and won his first race in his homeland very easily.

Busan trainer Kim Young Kwan was tasked with selecting the most promising candidates for the project and he chose 3 colts.

They are Seoul Bullet [Peace Rules – Wild Guess (Wild Rush)], Gangnam Camp [Forest Camp – Gimoa (Land Rush)] and Better Than You [Ft.Stockton-Gochiryeong (Proud And True)].

Seoul Bullet (KRA)

Seoul Bullet (KRA)

All were bred by the KRA and would have gone through the 2-year-old sales this spring. Instead, they will be sold to private owners on their return to the states and if they race, will run in the KRA’s colours.

Korea started sending horses to the US in 2008. They chose an experienced racehorse, Pick Me Up (Time Star), and sent him to Fair Hill for three months during which he race three times. It did not go well with Pick Me Up heavily beaten in each outing.

Gangnam Camp (KRA)

Gangnam Camp (KRA)

The following year it was the turn of Baekpa (Revere), winner of the 2007 Korean Oaks. She too failed to make an impact.

Following these two disappointments and facing criticism at home from Korean racing fans (who pointed out that you need only look at the times run in Korea compared to those elsewhere to judge what the current standard of racing was), it was decided that a different approach was needed.

A small number of horses have since been sent to Ocala including Winner Force (Lost Mountain) and Powerful Korea (Distilled), both of whom have become winners on their return. Feel So Good is, however, the star pupil and allowed the KRA’s Ko Byoung Un to utter the memorable quote that “…maybe we found out the problem is not the horse”.

"Hey? This doesn't look like the way to Prestige Class...this is Korean Air, right?" (KRA)

“Hey? This doesn’t look like the way to Prestige Class…this is Korean Air, right?” (KRA)

Seoul Bullet, Gangnam Camp and Better Than You flew Korean Air Cargo from Incheon to JFK Airport in New York on February 13. Whatever happens while they are away, we can definitely be assured that the problem will not be the horse.

Didyme, Five-Time Leading Sire In Korea, Has Died Aged 22

Didyme, the most successful sire in Korean racing history, passed away last month. He was 22.

Didyme 1990 - 2012 (Picture: KRA)

Didyme 1990 – 2012 (Picture: KRA)

The stallion, who had been suffering from circulatory issues, died on December 22 after developing blood-clots while receiving treatment for leg abrasions at the KRA Stud Farm on Jeju Island. He had been in Korea for nearly 18 years.

American bred, Didyme [Dixieland Band – Soundings (Mr. Prospector)] started his racing career in France, winning his debut race at Maisons-Lafitte in July 1992. Two weeks later, he won the Group 2 Prix Robert Papin at the same track. He made just two further appearances that year in France and then spent a year away from the racetrack.

When he next appeared, it was in the USA and he would spend the remainder of his racing career in California, picking up two wins at Santa Anita before being retired after a 3rd place finish in the Morvich Handicap in November 1994. A month later, he arrived in Korea.

Didyme’s first foals hit the racetrack in 1998 and that crop led him to the Leading Sire of Three-Year-Olds in 1999. His first Leading General Sire title followed in 2000 and he went on to win four more times, most recently in 2009.

Among his progeny were Korean Derby winner Mupae Gangja and Oaks winner Jeolho Chance. He also sired Areumdaun Jilju, who won 19 out of 32 lifetime starts and the multiple Stakes winning Kwaedo Nanma who has himself gone on to become one of very few Korean bred stallions to be successful at Stud.

The Leading sire of two-year olds in 2011, the best of that crop, Nobel Pokpung, went on to finish 2nd in the Korean Derby.

A fixture in Korean racing for nearly two decades and a horse who has played a huge role in the development of Korean racing, Didyme will be greatly missed.

Here is a video of Didyme at Stud:

2012 Breeding Round-Up: Menifee is Leading Sire in Korea

Menifee has been crowned Leading Sire in Korea for 2012. The 15-year old, who had three crops of foals running this year saw his progeny amass nearly $3Million more than closest rival and the stallion who beat him last year by a matter of just a few thousand dollars, Exploit.

Leading Sire in Korea: Menifee (KRA)

Leading Sire in Korea: Menifee (KRA)

Menifee, who underwent potentially life-saving surgery earlier this year, was also by far and away the Leading Sire of two-year olds and looks set to comfortably retain his general sire title next year.

For the second straight year, Vicar finished in third place while Forest Camp was a new entrant to the top ten in fourth. Volponi improved to fifth ahead of former Leading Sire Creek Cat.

Eight of the top ten sires are US bred with Japan’s Ingrandire, who was responsible for Korean Derby winner Jigeum I Sungan and Brazil’s Pico Central the only non-Americans scoring highly. The highest non-Korean based sire in the list was Werblin, whose filly Gamdonguibada won the Grand Prix Stakes, Korea’s most prestigious race in December. He was in 20th place, one ahead of Chapel Royal, who was himself imported to Korea a month ago.

Chapel Royal was one of a number of relatively well-known sires who made their way to Korea this year and will be expected to feature in this list in future. Among others were Sharp Humor and Rock Hard Ten. Already here and covering more mares than any other stallion in the past year is One Cool Cat while Officer, Whywhywhy and Aussie Delago Brom are not far behind. The Korean breeding industry is going from strength to strength.

Sadly we lost a number of stallions during 2012. Areumdaun Jilju was a top racehorse in Korea but sadly passed away before he had the opportunity to prove himself at Stud as did Gold Money. Creek Cat, who died in March, was leading sire in 2010 while Didyme, who took the crown three times consecutively from 2007 to 2009 succumbed to illness only last week (full obituary to follow). The wonderful world-travelling racehorse Running Stag was lost in June while Social Charter passed in September.

Leading General Sires in Korea 2012

1. Menifee (USA) [Harlan] – 6,927,782 (742/126 – 17%) – Gyeongbudaero
2. Exploit (USA) [Storm Cat] – 4,037,501 (942/67 – 7.1%) – Singgeureounachim
3. Vicar (USA) [Wild Again] – 3,792,051 (582/78 – 13.4%) – Wonderful Namhae
4. Forest Camp (USA) [Deputy Minister] – 3,570,626 (563/86 – 15.3%) – Cheoneun
5. Volponi (USA) [Cryptoclearance] – 3,054,200 (769/62 – 8.1%) – Royal Active
6. Creek Cat (USA) [Storm Cat] – 2,950,704 (550/57 – 10/4%) – Tongjesa
7. Ingrandire (JPN) [White Muzzle] – 2,750,101 (419/51 – 12.2%) – Jigeum I Sungan
8. Pico Central (BRZ) [Spend A Buck] – 2,502,101 (378/58 – 15.3%) – Alpha Myeongjang
9. Ft. Stockton (USA) [Cure The Blues] – 2,234,095 (543/42 – 7.7%) – Cheonun
10. Concept Win (USA) [Manila] – 2,217,618 (518/45 – 8.7%) – King Fighting