Race Reviews

Geombit Gangja Wins Sports Chosun 2017

A bit late but catching up on last week’s action, Geombit Gangja won the Sports Chosun Cup at Seoul Racecourse on Sunday afternoon:

Geombit Gangja

Geombit Gangja & Choi Bum Hyun win the Sports Chosun Cup (Pic: KRA)

Geombit Gangja, a four-year-old gelding, was sent off as favourite for the 2000M listed race and having settled at the rear of the field, came through strongly in the closeing stages under jockey Choi Bum Hyun to claim victory. It was another big race win for in-form trainer Song Moon Gil.

Choi Bum Hyun HJY

Singer Hong Jin Young joined in the winner’s circle on one of her regular racecourse appearances (Pic: KRA)

It was Geombit Gangja’s 6th victory on his 15th career start.

Sports Chosun Cup – Seoul Racecourse – 2000M – June 18, 2017

1. Geombit Gangja (KOR) [Ingrandire – Tandia (Two Punch)] – Chi Bum Hyung – 3.3, 1.6
2. Royal Victory (KOR) [Exploit – Guryeongnyeong (Revere)] – Song Jae Chul – 2.0
3. Haetbinna (KOR) [Didyme – Chowonui Kkum (The Groom Is Red)] – Jan Havlik – 10.1
Distances: 1.5 lengths / 2.5 lengths
Also Ran: 4. I Am For You 5. Kawon 6. Yeongnong 7. Gaia Thunder 8. Chowon Gangta 9. Perfect Shine 10. Dongchonui Guy

Silver Wolf Wins Ttukseom Cup While Last-Gasp Doraonpogyeongseon Claims SBS Sports Sprint

Sunday was a big day of Group race action at Seoul and it ended with Silver Wolf taking the Black Type win in the Ttukseom Cup followed by Doraonpogyeongseon getting the best of the tightest of three-way finishes to the SBS Sports Sprint.

Silver Wolf (Orotorio) started as second-favourite for the Group 2 Ttukseom Cup, the first leg of the Queens’ Tour that will decide the year’s champion filly or mare, and she and the one ahead of her in the market, Haeya, turned things into a two-horse race as they entered the straight.

As it turned out, Silver Wolf was just too strong, gaining the upper hand just over half a furlong out and running on to win by two lengths. Gaenari came home in 3rd just ahead of the fast finishing Gold Blue.

Australian bred Silver Wolf was a A$40,000 purchase from the Magic Millions Gold Coast Yearling Sale in 2014. She finished 4th in this race last year and today was making just her second start of 2017. In total it was her 6th win on her 15th career start. It was a first Korean group race victory for Serbian jockey Djordje Perovic and another milestone in his burgeoning partnership with trainer Song Moon Gil (of Clean Up Joy fame).

One race later was the Group 3 SBS Sports Sprint. Punters ignored most local pundits and sent off Japanese visitor Party Dress off as the favourite ahead of 2015 Asia Challenge Cup winner Choegang Schiller and Success Story, who won the first leg of the Sprint Series, the Busan Ilbo Cup, at Busan last month.

It wasn’t to be for the Japanese pair, with neither Party Dress nor Kimon Avalon being involved and coming home in 8th and 12th respectively. Not was it for Success Story who showed early but weakened to 7th. Instead, it was 60/1 outsider Parang Juuibo who looked like he was about to produce a shock upset as having always been close to the speed, he struck the front just over a furlong out and kept on going.

He came so close. Choegang Schiller flew home in pursuit under Perovic on the outside but in between them came Doraonpogyeongseon. The line arrived with all three together but the photo showed the narrowest of narrow wins for the 4-year-old Doraonpogyeongseon.

SBSSprint Photo

Doraonpogyeongseon’s (centre) nose is just in front on the line

The game Parang Juuibo clung on to 2nd ahead of Choegang Schiller. A full four-lengths behind, 90/1 outsider Best Guy brought home the rest.

Doraonpogyeongseon [Kantharos – Smartybegone (Smarty Jones)] was a US$50,000 purchase from the OBS Spring sale of 2-year-olds at Ocala in 2015. It was the four-year-old’s 13th career start and his 7th win. Trained by Min Jang Ki, he’s a stablemate of Success Story. For jockey Ham Wan Sik, it was a successful return to Seoul where he rode Clean Up Joy to win the Grand Prix Stakes last December.

“Doraon” means “Again” or “Return Of” while “Pogyeongseon” was the name of a horse who ran in Korea in the 1980s, winning the Grand Prix Stakes in 1985 and 1986.  That was held at Ttukseom. Maybe someday, there will need to be a Doraon Silver Wolf, or even a Doraon Doraonpogyeongseon.

How they finished:

Ttukseom Cup (KOR G2) 1400M – Seoul Racecourse – June 4, 2017

1. Silver Wolf (AUS) [Orotorio – Ready For More (More Than Ready)] – Djordje Perovic – 4.6, 1.7
2. Haeya (USA) [Flatter – Luxaholic (Macho Uno)] – You Hyun Myung – 1.3
3. Gaenari (CAN) [Philanthropist – Happy To Be Home (Langfuhr)] – Lee Hyeon Jong – 5.2
Distances: 0.75 lengths / 8 lengths
Also Ran: 4. Gold Blue (JPN) 5. Mighty Gem (USA) 6. Indian Star (KOR) 7. Holiday Dream (USA) 8. Supreme Magic (USA) 9. Bear Queen Trophy (USA) 10. Hidden Indian (USA)

SBS Sports Sprint (KOR G3) 1200M – Seoul Racecourse – June 4, 2017

1. Doraonpogyeongseon (USA) [Kantharos – Smartybegone (Smarty Jones)] – Ham Wan Sik – 10.2, 1.8
2. Parang Juuibo (USA) [With Distinction – Spicy Souffle (French Deputy)] – Lee Hyeon Jong – 15.7
3. Choegang Schiller (USA) [Artie Schiller – Changeable (Miswaki)] – Djordje Perovic – 1.5
Distance: Nose / Nose
Also Ran: 4. Best Guy (KOR) 5. Perdido Pomeroy (USA) 6. Dynamic Jilju (USA) 7. Success Story (KOR) 8. Party Dress (JPN) 9. Geuma Rapid (AUS) 10. Always Winner (KOR) 11. Wonder Bolt (USA) 12. Kimon Avalon (JPN) 13. Choegangja (USA)

Champ Line’s Busan Streak Extends To Five

Champ Line saw off a competitive Class 1 field to record his 5th consecutive win at Busan Racecourse on Sunday afternoon. The Thomas Gillespie trainee was prominent throughout and ran on to win the Championship Series event by a comfortable length and a half.

Now a five-year-old, Champ Line [Curlin – Unbridled’s Pride (Unbridled)] debuted back in the summer of 2014. He could only manage 9th on his first outing but immediately proceeded to rack up five straight wins which got him promoted all the way up to class 2. For a time it looked like he had, like so many others, found his level just shy of the elite but then an injury in September 2015 saw him off the track and spelled for nine months.

On his return, Champ Line was moved to Thomas Gillespie and a 2nd place on his first start back was followed up by his sixth victory which saw him promoted to class 1. A 3rd and a 4th followed before he launched into this current streak in December. Sunday’s victory was the eleventh of his career from a total of twenty starts and puts him well clear on top of the Championship Series “Road To the Grand Prix” table.

On the subject of the Championship Series, Seoul’s Sunday feature also qualified and it saw Areumdaundonghaeng, the 2015 YTN Trophy winner, come out on top.

Areumdaundonghaeng (A.P. Warrior) was sent off at odds of 17/1 with Cheonji Storm and Winner Red both favoured but not able to do it as Areumdaundonghaeng beat the always game Winning Andy in a tight finish at the end of 1800M.

Clean Up Joy Takes Care Of Business

Clean Up Joy struck once more in emphatic fashion with an easy win in the Herald Business Cup at Seoul Racecourse on Sunday afternoon.

Pre-race betting suggested that this would be little more than an exceptionally well-paid workout for Clean Up Joy and so it proved as the 2017 Grand Prix Stakes winner took command of the race turning for home and ran on for a four-length win.

Clean Up Joy and stablemate Shamrocker were separated at the finish by Sinjo Daehyeop who ran on for a very solid 2nd place.

The win was Clean Up Joy’s 13th and came on his 23rd start. The six-year-old gelding was a $14,000 purchase from the 2yo sales at Ocala in 2013.  He’s now won approximately $1.5Million in prize money.

Herald Business Cup – Seoul Racecourse – 2000M – April 16, 2017

1. Clean Up Joy (USA) [Purge – Greta’s Joy (Joyeux Danseur) – Djordje Perovic – 1.1, 1.0
2. Sinjo Daehyeop (USA) [Summer Bird – Cupid’s Revenge (Red Ransom)] – Moon Se Young – 2.1
3. Shamrocker (USA) [Dublin – Portera (Lemon Drop Kid)] – Kim Yong Geun – 1.4
Distances: 4 lengths / 6 lengths
Also Ran: 4. Haemaru (KOR) 5. Best Run (USA) 6. Bichui Jeongsang (USA) 7. Strong Road (KOR) 8. Seonbong (KOR) 9. Cheonjeok (USA) 10. Royal Jibbly (USA)

King Of Ace Has A Good Friday At Busan

King Of Ace provided the standout performance on an otherwise low-key Good Friday card at Busan. The three-year-old American import maintained his 100% record with a dominant showing in the class 3 race 9.

Having won his previous two starts by a combined 11-lengths, the Kwan Seung Joo trained colt was always going to be strong favourite for the mile-long test and having assumed command of the race early under jockey Jo Sung Gon, King Of Ace never looked like being beaten, running on to win by a margin of his choosing; 7 lengths in the end.

Pangpang Hero, down in class today was a surprise 2nd while Peter Wolsley’s Cottinpickingood, the mount of Darryll Holland got up for 3rd. They might as well have been running a different race to King Of Ace though, a $50,000 purchase from Fasig Tipton last year, who confirmed his status as one of the Busan track’s hottest properties.

In other races, it was a good day for South African trainer Bart Rice. His gelding Que Sera Sera (Concept Win) provided the banker of the day, comfortably scoring in race 2 under in-form Cypriot jockey Marios Mina. Later on, Fivefold (Ecton Park) got the better of Thomas Gillespie’s Segi Gangja for the second time in race 8. Like King Of Ace, Fivefold is now three for three.

Always Winner All The Way Again

He did it in January in the Segye Ilbo Cup and today in Group company, Always Winner once more got the jump on the field and scored an all the way victory in the Seoul Owners’ Association Trophy.

Always Winner Owners

Always Winner and Park Eul Woon return to scale having won the Seoul Owners’ Association Trophy

Always Winner was sent off as a 20/1 outsider in the Segye Ilbo but hit the front early to beat a decent field that included four who returned to face him again. This time he was a little bit more respected, punters making him the 7/1 fourth choice.

Today under Park Eul-woon, Always Winner once more broke the best and found the front form the gate and once more it was a lead he would not relinquish as he ran on to win by half a length. Coming 2nd was favourite Cheonji Storm who, while expected to be on pace instead went right to the back of the field before flying home down the outside. A few more strides and he would have won – and surely will will plenty later this year.

Best Guy, 2nd in the Segye Ilbo, put in another creditable run in 3rd while Gorgeous Dream returned to some semblance of form in 4th. There was no luck for Brian Dean’s Jangsanjewang, however, who gave it a good go tracking Always Winner early in the race but just couldn’t get home.

Always Winner, a 5-year-old gelding trained by Shim Seung-tae was winning for the 7th time in 24 races.

Owners’ Association Trophy (KOR G3) – Seoul Racecourse – 1200M – March 12, 2017

1. Always Winner (KOR) [Creek Cat – Hallat’Eukgeup (Land Rush)] – Park Eul Woon – 7.8, 2.7
2. Cheonji Storm (KOR) [Admire Don – Great Thought (Empire Maker)] – Kim Yong Geun – 1.5
3. Best Guy (KOR) [Didyme – Madam Winette (Danewin)] – Kim Cheol Ho – 3.4
Distances: 0.5 lengths / 3 lengths – 13 ran

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.