Race Reviews

Seven-Timer Satoshi Shines & Holland Returns With A Double

The 2016 season wrapped-up at Busan on Saturday and it was a great end to the year for much of the foreign contingent at the south coast track. The returning Darryll Holland landed a double for Peter Wolsley and Bart Rice while Thomas Gillespie trained a double and Francisco Da Silva rode a winner. Star of the show though was Japanese rider Yonekura Satoshi who ended up in the winner’s circle on no fewer than 7 occasions on the 15 race card.

Holland, who resumed regular riding at Busan on Friday following a two and a half year absence, got off the mark on Sunday in race 4, guiding Peter Wolsley’s Secret Marine (Sea Of Secrets), a 5/1 chance, to a seven length win. Holland would go on to win the day’s feature race, a valuable test for three-year-olds, on Bart Rice’s Buhwarui Banseok (Tizway), who beat Korean Oaks winner Ottug Ottugi by two-lengths. The victory – and a later one for Wonil Gangja (Cowboy Cal) in race 15, the final race of the year – capped a superb year for the Rice stable which has seen him finish in 5th place in the Trainer Premiership. Only Kim Young Kwan and Peter Wolsley had a better strike-rate and a top-three finish is surely on the agenda in 2017 for the South African handler.

Da Silva’s win was on the promising Shunsuke Yoshida owned colt Wonder Wall (Chapel Royal) in race 8 while the Gillespie-trained winner of race 7, Party Again (Singing Saint), was one of four victories on the day that took jockey Seo Seung Un to joint-1st in the Jockey Premiership on 104 wins for the year, level with You Hyun Myung. The weighing room is about to become a lot more competitive with Seoul jockeys Ham Wan Sik, Jo In Kwen and former Busan champion jockey, Jo Sung Gon, all set to ride full time at the track from January with only Kim Yong Geun headed in the opposite direction to the capital.

No-one finished the year in better form though than Yonekura Satoshi, who put on a sparkling display on Saturday. The highlight of his seven wins in the valuable 2-year-old race when he guided US import Drop The Beat (Mad Flatter) to a comfortable win over five rivals. He also teamed up with Thomas Gillespie to get 7/1 chance Great Song (Songangaprayer) home in race 14.

His closing day heroics meant Satoshi ended the year on 39 winners for 5th place in the standings. With a top line-up of overseas jockeys and now, possibly for the first time at Busan, some real depth in the domestic jockey ranks too, the first few months of 2017 are set to be an exciting time.

Clean Up Joy Wins The 2016 Grand Prix Stakes

Clean Up Joy downed Triple Nine and Power Blade to win the 2016 Korea Grand Prix Stakes at Seoul Racecourse on Sunday afternoon.

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Clean Up Joy & Ham Wan Sik win the 35th Grand Prix Stakes (Pic: KRA)

Two-time President’s Cup winner Triple Nine was sent off as the odds-on favourite with Clean Up Joy splitting him and his stablemate, Triple Crown winner Power Blade, in the betting market.

And while Beolmaui Kkum set the early pace he was surprisingly joined at the front right away by Clean Up Joy – generally a bad starter but here away very keenly from the outside gate. This was bad news for the field with the most proven stayer in the race already at the front.

Clean Up Joy looked strong all the way around. Just as in the Korea Cup, Beolmaui Kkum’s race was over early and it was left to Triple Nine and Power Blade to give chase in the home straight. However, Clean Up Joy was away. His five-length advantage at the top of the stretch was down to under two on the line but jockey Ham Wan Sik had time to ease up and pose for the cameras as they passed the line.

Triple Nine was 2nd, besting Power Blade for the third time in a row before they both head to Dubai later this week. Goliath Marine ran a huge race in 4th while the ever honest Heba came home an excellent 5th.

Clean Up Joy (Purge) is a 5-year-old gelding. He was  $14,000 purchase from the OBS June 2013 Two-Year-Old sales. The Grand Prix was his 11th win on his 21st career start and took him to career earnings of over US$1.25Million. It was a career highlught win for both trainer Song Moon Gil and jockey Ham Wan Sik.

It also saw the Grand Prix being won by a horse trained at Seoul for the first time since Tough Win’s triumph in 2011 and means that whatever happens, the traditional season-ending finale will be run in the capital once more next year.

Grand Prix (KOR G1) – Seoul Racecourse – 2300M – Dec 18, 2016

1. Clean Up Joy (USA) [Purge – Greta’s Joy (Joyeaux Danseur)] – Ham Wan Sik – 5.5. 1.7
2. Triple Nine (KOR) [Ecton Park – A Little Poke (Pleasant Tap)] – Seo Seung Un – 1.0
3. Power Blade (KOR) [Menifee – Cheonmacheong (Lost Mountain)] – Kim Yong Geun – 2.1
Distances: 1.25 lengths / 5 lengths
Also Ran: 4. Goliath Marine (KOR) 5. Heba (USA) 6. CLean Up Cheonha (USA) 7. Success Story (KOR) 8. Dongbang Daero (USA) 9. Unbeatable (USA) 10. Speace Port (USA) 11. Gumpo Sky (KOR) 12. Halla Chukje (USA) 13. Cheonjeok (USA) 14. Winner Red (USA) 15. Muhudaeje (USA) 16. Beolmaui Kkum (USA)

Tough Night In Tokyo

It was another chastening night in the dirt for Korean runners in Tokyo as Bichui Wangja and Ubaki were unable to make an impact in the 4th running of the Interaction Cup at Ohi Racecourse on Tuesday evening.

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The parade ring was about as good as it got (Pic: KRA)

Since Watts Village won the inaugural running of the race in 2013, things haven’t been easy for the Korean contingent in Tokyo each autumn in the same way that it has been tough for the NAR runners who travel to Seoul for the Korean-based leg of the challenge each year.

This time around, Korean hopes took an early blow when Oreuse, the top-rated among the three who travelled, pulled up lame at trackwork on Monday morning and had to be scratched. That left Ubaki and Bichui Wangja flying the flag and Japanese punters sent them off as 8th and 10th in the betting respectively for the 1200M test over Ohi’s right-handed course.

After a long delay while Satono Diplomat was scratched, market-leader Looks That Kill (Wildcat Heir) set the early pace and along with Gaudy (Precious Cafe) put several lengths into the field in the early stages as the Korean pair, having drawn outside gates, struggled to get into the early prominent positions required.

Those two on the early speed would lead all the way but it would be Gaudy, under veteran jockey Fumio Matoba who would get up eight on the line to snatch victory.  Bichui Wangja and Ubaki  trailed home towards the rear of the field.

Gaudy, an 8-year-old horse, was 5th in the betting and was winning for the 9th time on his 58th career start. As for Matoba, the “Emperor of Ohi” was winning a 2nd Japan/Korea race, having claimed the very first one, the 2013 SBS Goodwill Cup at Seoul aboard Tosen Archer. Now pushing 60-years-old, Matoba’s style is not one that gets taught in the world’s jockey academies these but once in full flight, it can be very effective at Ohi.

There’s no disgrace on the ones who went and gave it a go and while the results over the past couple of years have been a touch disappointing, the exchange remains a valuable one, giving trainers and grooms (although this year not jockeys) experience of taking horses overseas to race, something that is vital to the long term development of Korean racing.

The Interaction Cup concludes overseas racing for Korean horses this year. Next up is the Dubai World Cup Carnival in the New Year. Success Story, who did so well at the Carnival last year, won’t be returning but a number of top names have applied for stable allocation.

 

Triple Nine Bests Power Blade To Retain President’s Cup

Triple Nine pulled clear of stablemate and Triple Crown Power Blade to convincingly retain his President’s Cup title at Seoul Racecourse on Sunday afternoon.

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Triple Nine wins the President’s Cup (Pic: Alex Cairns/The Winning Post)

Triple Nine had previously got the best of Power Blade by four lengths as the pair ran 3rd and 4th behind Japan’s Chrysolite in September’s Billion Won Korea Cup and while the circumstances of that race were rather unusual, punters sent the older colt, who convincingly beat Rock Band in last year’s race, as the slight favourite with Success Story the only other one of the ten-strong field to be backed to any extent.

Success Story would, as ever, show the way in the 2000M race, Korea’s equal-richest, along with the Derby, that is restricted to locally bred horses. Racing for the first time since being gelded, the 5-year-old brought the field along with Power Blade right on pace beside him while Triple Nine, under Seo Seung Un for the first time, settled in his usual midfield position.

Jockey Seo asked Triple Nine to improve as they rounded the final turn and the 4-year-old effortlessly glided up alongside the leaders. Into the home straight and Success Story was the first to fall out of contention leaving the stablemates to go stride for stride until the furling pole. Entering the closing stages, however, Power Blade’s challenge wilted and Triple Nine pulled clear to win by a commanding five lengths on the line. Success Story was a further four back in 3rd.

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Triple Nine waiting to be brought out for the post-race presentation (Pic: Alex Cairns/The Winning Post)

In yet another assertion of the southern-track’s superiority when it comes to quality,  Busan horses accounted for the first five place-getters with Baedari Bobae running 4th and Zettabyte, 2nd in both of the final two legs of the Triple Crown coming home in 5th.

The victory was Triple Nine’s 11th in 19 career starts to date. He has never finished any worse than 4th. Neither has Power Blade and the pair of them are both potential entries for the Dubai World Cup Carnival in the New Year although it is possible the Grand Prix Stakes next month could be the agenda for one or both of them. For jockey Seo Seung Un it was a first Korean Group 1 winner. For trainer Kim Young Kwan, it was a 10th.

The President’s Cup (KOR G1) – Seoul Racecourse – 2000M – November 13, 2016

1. Triple Nine (KOR) [Ecton Park – A Little Poke (Pleasant Tap)] – Seo Seung Un – 1.8, 1.0
2. Power Blade (KOR) [Menifee – Cheonmacheong (Lost Mountain)] – Kim Yong Geun – 1.1
3. Success Story (KOR) [Peace Rules – Power Pack (Lil’s Lad)] – You Hyun Myung – 1.7
Distances: 5 lengths / 4 lenghs
Also Ran: 4. Baedari Bobae 5. Zettabyte 6. Cheonji Storm 7 .Sotong Sidae 8. Pinot Noir 9. Top Fighter 10. Impetus NR: Brig

Because You’re Goreous!

I’m still trying to work out if it was deliberate or simply a mistake when its name was added to the English registry. One tends to think it is the latter as it is very clearly written as “Gorgeous Dream” in Korean. And his dam is called Hey Gorgeous. Goreous or Gorgeous, the colt was simply too good in the Nonghyup Chairman’s Trophy at Seoul on Sunday afternoon.

It’s certainly not the first time there have been some slight mis-translations. While some are deliberate such as Diferent Dimension (something to do with Katy Perry, according to his breeder) plenty aren’t. 2010 Derby hopeful Northern Ace ran as “Nothern Ace” for his first few outings (unbeaten heading into the Derby he suffered a career-ending injury in the race) while Raon Rouis, who also ran yesterday, suffers a case of the common r&l confusion.

Ultimately it doesn’t matter but we could be seeing a lot more of Goreous Dream in the coming months. Sent off as the heavy favourite for yesterday’s Trophy, he grabbed the early initiative under champion jockey Moon Se Young and never looked like relinquishing it as he cruised to a four-length win in the 1200M sprint.

Goreous Dream [Sharp Humor – Hey Gorgeous (Cherokee Run)] is a three-year old colt. He missed out on getting into the Korea Sprint in September with others selected ahead of him but came out that day and won in a different race and yesterday recorded his eight win in nine starts. He looks to have good potential and while he hasn’t yet been tested, he surely will shortly as he is now established at class 1.

However, he is also exactly the kind of front-running sprinter that the KRA will be looking to enter in the Dubai World Cup Carnival meeting early next year. He is probably the most serious contender from Seoul and he has enterprising connections. It could happen.

Most of the Dubai contenders are likely to come from Busan and Sunday’s feature race on the South coast was won by Dongbang Daero (Curlin). The four-year-old US import beat Beolmaui Kkum and Heba by three lengths for his first class 1 success.

Power Blade Pushed But Prevails On Busan Homecoming

Down in Australia on Saturday, only two showed up to face the phenom that is Winx. Korean Triple Crown winner Power Blade didn’t quite command that amount of respect on his return to his home track of Busan on Sunday but he came close with only four rivals venturing out against him – one of them a stablemate – in the Kookje Sinmun Cup.

In fairness, this has never been hugely supported race, despite its hefty prize money – boosted even further this year – but the whole day was very much billed as the Power Blade celebration day. This would be the first time the Busan-trained colt had races at his home track since winning the first jewel of the Triple Crown, the KRA Cup Mile, all the way back in April.

Since then, Power Blade has gone on to romp both the Derby and the Minister’s Cup, becoming the first horse to sweep the K-Triple Crown in its current format and then, despite looking as flat as a pancake in the build-up, registered a hugely creditable 4th place in the Korea Cup at Seoul last month.

A jaunt around seven furlongs at Busan was never going to be too taxing but Power Blade’s neighbour from a few boxes down in Kim Young Kwan’s barn is an interesting talent himself. As a juvenile, Seoul Bullet was part of the KRA’s “maybe the horse isn’t the problem” program, which involved sending Korean-bred horses overseas for early training and racing. He went to Florida where he actually managed to get claimed out of a race at Gulfstream Park (the KRA claimed him back the next time he was entered) and recorded one 3rd from 4 outings.

On his return from Korea Seoul Bullet joined some of the other returnees in proving that no, the Korean-bred horse isn’t the problem, winning 6 out 6 starts, including the 2015 Gold Circle Trophy ahead of a young Macheon Bolt, before injury intervened. He would be off for more than a year and finally returned in inauspicious fashion in August.

Today was expected to be better for Seoul Bullet. It was. Under Seo Seung Un, he hot the front three furlongs out to get first run in the straight. Kim Yong Geun quickly brought Power Blade alongside and for a moment the battle was joined. Power Blade quickly got the best of it and Kim’s whip use was sparing, the Triple Crown winner always in command but only winning by half a length on the line.

So Seoul Bullet is back as a force in the Busan ranks but Power Blade retains his star status.  A good day all round. A journey back to Seoul for the President’s Cup next month is possible but his stable has an embarrassment of riches for that race including Triple Nine, who bested Power Blade to finish 3rd in the Korea Cup. By virtue of their in-the-money finishes in the Cup, both Power Blade and Triple Nine can receive international ratings enabling them to be considered for the Dubai World Cup Carnival and there is no denying it would be wonderful to see a fit Korean Triple Crown winner lining up at Meydan in the New Year.

For now though, Power Blade is back home.

Horses Return Home Following Korea Cup & Sprint

On Wednesday, the final overseas-trained horses left Seoul Racecourse to return to their respective homes across the globe, bringing the final curtain down on the inaugural running of the Keeneland Korea Cup & Sprint. 

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Super Jockey & Karis Teeton ease to victory in the Sprint (Pic: Ross Holburt for KRA)

It’s been a welcome novelty for Korean racing to be so widely reported elsewhere so we’ll not run through the results again. Super Jockey’s effortless win in the Sprint was the highlight with a real international quality horse putting in an international quality performance in a race which would have pleased the Hong Kong punters who made him favourite in the Jockey Club pools despite him gong off the $8.50 third choice in Korea.

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Teeton & Super Jockey return to scale (Pic: Ross Holburt for KRA)

There was a huge performance too in the Sprint by Macheon Bolt. The Peter Wolsley trained gelding flew home for 2nd under Lee Hee Cheon and should connections so desire, has to be a strong candidate for Korea’s representative in the Japan-Korea Sprint at Ohi in November or for the Dubai World Cup Carnival early next year. Wild Dude and Super Winner, favourite and 2nd-favourite respectively, struggled but Korea’a pre-race big hope, Perdido Pomeroy, came home a decent 4th having been on speed most of the way around.

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Team Hong Kong

The Cup was a slightly strange affair. After early pace-setter Beolmaui Kkum faded even earlier than expected, the two Japanese horses simply ran away from the field. Chrysolite, a quality horse, was the easy winner ahead of Kurino Star O. Three seconds and 16-lengths behind the winner, Triple Nine got up for 3rd ahead of stablemate and Korean Triple Crown winner Power Blade. Despite the margin of victory, the time was still outside Power Blade’s track record on a wet track in the Korean Derby earlier this year.

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Chrysolite & Joe Fujii returning to scale (Pic: Ross Holburt for KRA)

Famous Mark, for France, got up for an excellent 5th place but the UK’s Solar Deity was slow out of the gate and came home in 10th place.

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The Korea Cup held aloft 

Overall, it was an excellent weekend and we’ll have more on the follow-up over the next couple of weeks.