Racing Reviews

Kim Hye Sun Becomes 1st Female Rider To Win Korean Classic as Jejui Haneul Stuns in The Oaks

There was a thrilling finish to the Korean Oaks at Busan this afternoon and at the end of it, plenty of Korean racing history was made. Kim Hye Sun became the first Korean female jockey to win a Group race while Masteru Mizutani became the first foreign owner to do the same as 56/1 outsider Jejui Haneul pulled off a shock win

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Jejui Haneul (near side) bests Bright Star in the Korean Oaks (Pic: Hiromi Kobayashi)

Jejui Haneul was unfancied but was never likely to be a no-hoper having been one of the few in the field that had already performed creditably around two turns. However hers and all others chances were boosted when pre-race favourite Ice Marine blundered on exiting the gate, putting herself at a huge disadvantage before the race had even got going.

She never really recovered from that and things looked set up for 2nd and 3rd in the betting, Uju Star and Bright Star to dispute the finish. They reckoned without Jejui Haneul, who flew home on the stands-side under Kim Hye Sun to pip Bright Star by a head on the live. Longest shot on the board, the 183/1 chance Teukbyeol Star got up for an even unlikelier 3rd and almost break the tote system with an unprecedented tierce pool dividend.

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Jejui Haneul and Kim Hye Sun in the Korean Oaks winner’s circle (Pic: Hiromi Kobayashi)

Since debuting in 2009, Kim Hye Sun has already established herself as the most successful Korean female rider of all time, the Oaks being her 225th win from just shy of 3000 mounts. No Korean woman had ever won a Group race though, much less one of the Classics. There were tears in the post race interview but 30 minutes later, Kim was back out and riding in the day’s finale.

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Kim Hye Sun after winning the Korean Oaks (Pic: Hiromi Kobayashi)

It was a great ride and while time will tell how good this current crop of fillies is, it was another win for Seoul. The capital track has now won three out of four encounters involving this year’s three-year-olds. That’s something we didn’t think we’d be seeing anytime soon.

Korean Oaks (KOR G2) – Busan Racecourse – 1800M – June 11, 2017

1. Jejui Haneul (KOR) [Raconteur – Isanghwa (Didyme)] – Kim Hye Sun -56.0, 14.4
2. Bright Star (KOR) [Menifee – L Vicar (Vicar)] – Francisco Da Silva – 2.7
3. Teukbyeol Star (KOR) [Air Shady – Teukbyeolhwanhui (White Muzzle)] – Lee Hae Dong – 29.4
Distances: Head / 2 lengths
Also Ran: 4. Uju Star 5. Yesangbaek Seung 6. Queen’s Queen 7. Ice Marine 8. Yongwangdam 9. Daeho Chukje 10. Take Four Meals 11. Morning Baramse 12. Goldstar Hills 13. Ecton Bulpae 14. Sun Smart 15. Gasok Champion 16. Happy Gongju

International Weekend: Saturday Review

Korean racing’s first international weekend of 2017 got underway on Saturday and while the main events are tomorrow, there was plenty of action in the three exchange races and it was two young US imports who produced the stand-out performances.

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Dolkong & Djordje Perovic return to scale after winning the Turkey Cup

First was the China Horse Industry Association Trophy and it resulted in a gate to wire victory for filly Kiliui Yeowang (Adios Charlie). The filly, a $33,000 purchase from the OBS June Sales last year maintained her 100% on what was her 3rd start, seeing off the challenge of Spirit Of Hansen by just over a length.

Next up was the Selangor Turf Club Trophy which despite only attracting a field of eight generated plenty of betting interest. Ultimately, the 1800 contest would come down to a photo finish which saw the slight betting favourite The Queen Silver (Officer) win by a head.

The Queen Silver is a five-year-old mare and was winning for the 6th time on her 25th start. Kim Dong Soo rode.

The final exchange race was with the Turkey Jockey Club and this year, to mark 60 years of diplomatic relations between Turkey and South Korea, the race was this year simply called the “Turkey Cup”. It also produced the performance of the day by three-year-old US import Dolkong.

Dolkong (Afleet Alex) was a $35,000 purchase as a two-year-old and had won two of his five starts prior to today, setting some impressive times along the way. Today was impressive too as Dolkong shook off the attentions of favourite Cheongdam Dokki with a furlong to run and cruised clear to win by four lengths on the line. He’ll be one to watch later this year.

Sunday sees a double helping of Group race action with the Ttukseom Cup and the SBS Sports Sprint.

King Of Ace Makes It Four From Five

King Of Ace is one of the hottest properties in Korean racing right now and after his more than creditable 3rd place in last month’s Busan Ilbo Cup, he got back to winning ways in Friday’s feature at Busan.

King Of Ace [Malibu Moon – Cintarosa (Grand Slam)] was a $50,000 purchase from Fasig Tipton last November and didn’t debut until this February. He won his first three races with considerable ease, impressing to the extent that he was allowed to take his chance against some of the best sprinters in the country in the Busan Ilbo Cup, the first leg of the Sprint Series, on May 7th.

While Success Story and (just about) Seoul Bullet got the better of him that day, he beat a whole host of big names in running 3rd. Instead of going to the second leg of the Series, Sunday’s SBS Sprint in Seoul, King Of Ace was instead bumped up to 1800M for Friday’s class 2 Busan feature.

King Of Ace didn’t have it all his own way but was able to kick clear in the final furlong and hold off Triple Nine’s little sister Black Sapphire, to who he was giving 5kg away, by just under a length. He’s now won four from five.

Easy For Clean Up Joy In YTN Cup

It always looked a mismatch and so it proved as Clean Up Joy effortlessly won the YTN Cup at Seoul Racecourse on Sunday afternoon.

Ultimately it was an exceptionally well-paid workout for the 2016 Grand Prix Stakes winner who moves on to three for three this year, without being seriously tested in any of them.

This time, as expected, the only semblance of a challenge came from stablemate Shamrocker, whose jockey Kim Yong Geun pulled off a rather audacious move around the field in the back-straight to come to challenge Clean Up Joy. The two then moved well clear of the rest of the field before Clean Up Joy pulled away with a furlong to go and won with plenty in hand.

Clean Up Joy moves onto 14 wins from 24 starts and five consecutively. There’s little to challenge him at Seoul.

YTN Cup – Seoul Racecourse – 2000M – May 28, 2017

1. Clean Up Joy (USA) [Purge – Greta’s Joy (Joyeux Danseur)] – Djordje Perovic – 1.1, 1.0
2. Shamrocker (USA) [Dublin – Portera (Lemon Drop Kid)] – Kim Yong Geun – 1.2
3. Clean Up Cheonha (USA) [El Corredor – Loh Callado (More Than Ready)] – Lee Hyeok – 3.9
Distances: 4 lengths/11 lengths
Also Ran: 4. Sotong Sidae (KOR) 5. Unbeatable (USA) 6. Cheonjeok (USA) 7. Bichui Jeongsang (USA) 8. Winner Red (USA) 9. Argo Brain (USA) 10. Hwanggeumbiyul (USA) 11. Samjeong Jeguk (USA)

At Busan, Bart Rice and Darryll Holland combined to land the big race of the day, a Championship Series event over 2000M with Buhwarui Banseok.

Buhwarui Banseok (Tizway-Aim For The Moon) is a four-year-old colt who was winning for 6th time in 15 starts and scoring his second triumph at class 1.

Tohamsan, Sinjo Daehyeop Take Busan & Seoul Features

Tohamsan put in a commanding performance to claim victory in the feature race at Busan on Sunday afternoon, beating pre-race favourite I’m Your Father by four-lengths to record his first class 1 win.

Tohamsan (Kwaedo Nanma), who slipped and fell on the soaking wet Seoul track in last year’s Korean Derby, recovered from that to win three more times before the end of the season and be promoted to class 1 for the New Year. After three indifferent performances, he pushed the highly rated Doraon Pogyeongseon all the way over 1400M a month ago and today made all, leaving David Miller’s stable-star I’m Your Father, trailing. It was Tohamsan’s 8th win on his 15th start.

At Seoul, the main event had a much tighter finish and it was US import Sinjo Daehyeop (Summer Bird) who just did enough to take the honours and win by a nose. 2nd in the Herald Business Cup last monh, Sinjo Daehyeop was, just like Tohamsan, recording his first class 1 success.

Overseas this afternoon, Korean champion jockey Moon Se Young was in action at Kranji and while he remains yet to ride his first Singapore winner, he came close, guiding unfancied No Smoking Jeff to 2nd place in race 7 to add to a 3rd and a 4th he had achieved earlier on the card.

Banjiui Jewang Wins Again At Busan

Banjiui Jewang took the honours in a dramatic finish to the feature race at Busan on Friday. Peter Wolsley’s 4-year-old got the best of a tight four-way finish to the 1200M Sprint.

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Banjiui Jewang just gets up (Pic: Ross Holburt)

Having won four of his first five starts – the only loss being a 2nd place to Power Blade in the 2015 Breeders’ Cup, Banjiui Jewang (Ecton Park) was seen as one of the leading contenders on the 2016 Classic trail. It wasn’t to be though. 7th in the KRA Cup Mile and 5th in the Derby was followed by a series of setbacks that saw him miss the final six months of the season.

He finally returned this January and while it seemed he’d lost his old form completely, he perked up with a 2nd place in early April. That was followed up two weeks later by a win – his first for 14 months – which led him to be favourite for Friday’s race. Under Jo Sung Gon, Banjiui Jewang hugged the rail throughout and just got up to defeat the fast finishing Triple Party by a nose.

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Mujeok Wonderful & Marios Mina were easy winners (Pic: Ross Holburt)

One race earlier in race 9, Thomas Gillespie’s Mujeok Wonderful (Tiz Wonderful) sauntered to a 7-length win under Cypriot jockey Marios Mina. It was a second win in four starts for the US import. Also in the winner’s circle was Francisco Da Silva; he partnered Pink Blade to victory in race 7.

*Later in the evening over in Singapore, Moon Se Young had his first rides at Kranji. As expected his three mounts (two scheduled and one additional spare), didn’t trouble the placings.

Saturday racing in Korea is at Seoul with 11 races from 10:45 to 18:00. On Sunday, Seoul hass 11 races from 10:45 to 18:00 while Busan runs 6 from 12:40 to 17:05. 

Final Boss Wins The 2017 Korean Derby

Final Boss came wide and late but ended up scoring a remarkably convincing victory in the Korean Derby at Seoul Racecourse on Sunday afternoon.

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All alone, Final Boss and Choi Bum Hyun win The Korean Derby (Pic: Ross Holburt)

Out of sorts in the Cup Mile at Busan last month and at the back of the field for much of the Derby, last year’s Champion Juvenile Final Boss came through very late and very wide to claim victory. Royal Ruby was 2nd with American Power just pipping Cup Mile winner Indian King to repeat his Cup Mile 3rd place.

Royal Ruby was sent off as the slight favourite. The Peter Wolsey trainee had come desperately close to catching Indian King in the Cup Mile and punters clearly felt that Sunday’s extra furlong would suit. It was not to be once more. Nor would it be for Indian King himself who despite being pushed slightly wide on the first turn, rallied well and raced prominently to end in 4th.

It was the unconventional stretch run of Final Boss that was the story. He was last as they sighted the line just over two furlongs out. On the race video, you can’t see him until they are within a furlong on the finish. By this time he is front having shifted all the way over to the stands-side rail. Generally, horses that do that lose. And get sent back to trial to improve their manners. Final Boss just ran on and on and had three lengths on Royal Ruby on the line.

Korean Derby (KOR G1) – Seoul Racecourse – 1800M – May 14, 2017

1. Final Boss (KOR) [Menifee-Sinsok Dolpa (Lindo Shaver)] – Choi Bum Hyun – 6.6, 2.0
2. Royal Ruby (KOR) [Chapel Royal – Red Ruby (Yehudi)] – Jo Sung Gon – 1.3
3. American Power (KOR) [Ecton Park – White Angelica (Quiet American) – Francisco Da Silva 1.5
Distances: 3 lengths / 1.25 lengths
Also Ran: 4. Indian King 5. Adele Ace 6. Taeyangui Sinhwa 7. Daeho Sidae 8. Muhan Yeoljeong 9. Jangsan Power 10. Lion Rock

Final Boss [Menifee – Sinsok Dolpa (Lindo Shaver)] provided his sire, Menifee, with his 5th consecutive Korean Derby winner. His dam, Sinsok Dolpa, ran 23 times in Korea for 2 wins. She was bred in Japan. Final Boss is her 4th foal to make the track with two of the other three having been winners. She has a two-year-old Rock Hard Ten filly called Raise Me Up set to begin racing this year and a yearling by 2012 Korean Derby winner Jigeum I Sungan (the last non-Menifee to win the Derby).

Jigeum I Sungan was also saddled by trainer Ji Yong Cheol. That colt would go on to claim the Minister’s Cup, the final leg of the Triple Crown, as well and Final Boss is now surely favourite to go on to repeat that feat. Ji has been training since 1986 and has won plenty of big races. Jigeum I Sungan has been his best so far but Final Boss looks very exciting – especially if he can learn to run in a straight line.

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Final Boss with connections in the Derby winner’s circle (Pic: Ross Holburt)

For jockey Choi Bum Hyun, it was a first Derby. The 38-year-old won the Grand Prix twice on Dongbanui Gangja in 2008 and 2009 but this was his first success in any of the three-year-old classics.

So Seoul wins the Derby for the first time since 2012 and only the third time since Busan horses began competing in 2008. The best of the three-year-old crop will reconvene in Seoul on July 16th for the Minister’s Cup, the final leg of the Triple Crown. Before that, the fillies Classic – the Korean Oaks – is at Busan on June 11th.