Beolmaui Kkum

Beolmaui Kkum Heads January Ratings

Beolmaui Kkum remains the top-rated horse in Korea being pushed up one point following his Class 1 victory on Sunday. The latest Korean ratings, which were published on Monday, has the US-bred 5-year-old one point ahead of Grand Prix Stakes winner Gyeongbudaero.

Gyeongbudaero's Grand Prix Stakes win wasn't quite enough to see him to the top of the ratings. He is though, the top Korean bred horse  (Pic: Ross Holburt)

Gyeongbudaero’s Grand Prix Stakes win wasn’t quite enough to see him to the top of the ratings. He is though, the top Korean bred horse (Pic: Ross Holburt)

Wonder Bolt is Seoul’s top horse and is up two points following his Grand Prix Stakes win although he was scratched from his scheduled start on Sunday. He is now 7 points clear of his nearest rival in the capital. New entrants at the top of the list at Seoul include Clean Up Joy, who was 4th in the Grand Prix Stakes, while at Busan Success Story comes in following two dominant victories over the past month.

Dropping off the list is Indian Blue, who has been retired ready for the 2015 breeding season.

Seoul Top 30
Busan Top 30

For the first time the ratings, which are for domestic use only and are not intended to be compared to international ones, have been expanded to include all horses down to class 5. The ratings are one of a number of changes which have not been universally popular among some stakeholders – principally trainers. For now though, while there will always be disagreements between connections, punters and the handicappers, they are if nothing else, providing a talking point.

Round-Up: Beolmaui Kkum, Success Story, Rafale Impressive Winners / Japanese Riders Going Strong / Opposition To KRA’s Race Plan

While Seoul’s top horse, Wonder Bolt, was scratched from what was supposed to be his 2015 debut in the capital on Sunday, down at Busan there were some strong performances last weekend.

Beolmaui Kkum was a winner on Sunday (Pic: Ross Holburt)

Beolmaui Kkum was a winner on Sunday (Pic: Ross Holburt)

Beolmaui Kkum (Put It Back), who for the second year running, couldn’t quite get it done in the Season-ending Grand Prix Stakes a month ago, returned to Busan and returned to the winner’s enclosure on Sunday afternoon. The 5-year-old carried top weight of 60kg for the 1900M Class 1 race, a full 8kg more than the other nine runners, but that didn’t stop him leading from gate-to-wire, running on for a two length victory, his 12th from 18th career starts.

Another who disappointed on his visits to Seoul last year was Success Story. A late arrival on the Triple Crown trail, he was 4th in the Minister’s Cup and last October and then a disappointing 10th in the President’s Cup a month later. Both those races were run over 2000M but on his return to Busan in December, he blitzed a class 2 field by a full seventeen lengths at 1400M. On Friday, Success Story (Peace Rules) was stepped up to a mile on what was his first try at a class 1 handicap.

And the results were impressive. Jockey Jo Sung Gon took the 4-year-old to the front right out of the gate and the pair stayed there for a very easy 8-length win. Success Story is going to be one to watch out for this year, possibly, with his sprinting credentials as they are, for such event as the Asia Challenge Cup.

There was also interest at Busan last Friday for this year’s Triple Crown. Rafale (Colors Flying), 2nd in the Breeders’ Cup race at Seoul at the end of November, made his own 2015 debut and his first attempt on the Derby distance of 1800M. It was a successful one with the colt streaking away for a 7-length win on the line. Rafale joins Doraon Hyeonpyo at Busan and Cosmos King at Seoul as having made very impressive first tries around two-turns and this year’s 3-year-old crop looks to be shaping up very nicely ahead of the first leg of the Crown, the KRA Cup Mile at Busan on April 5.

In other news, the Japanese jockey contingent continues to go strong. Ikuyasu Kurakane looks set to ride winners right until the bitter end at Seoul. The 2014 Jockey of the Year rode another two on Sunday. At Busan, Joe Fujii continues to be his consistent self, guiding 4/1 chance Battle Master to victory on Sunday while Masa Tanaka’s strong start to the year shows no signs of abating.

Tanaka ride two more winners across the weekend, first on Nobel Shinhwa (Ecton Park) on Friday and then on Sunday on Triple Nine (Ecton Park). The latter was a 5-length win on a favourite for Busan’s top trainer Kim Young Kwan. Even though he managed to pick up a ban as well, that kind of result bodes extremely well for Tanaka. He lies in 5th in the Jockey Championship with 5 winners from 23 mounts, just behind Fujii who is in 3rd with 6 from 33.

On the political front, the Korea Racing Authority’s new race plan for 2015, which has embraced a new rating system, a revamped Stakes calendar and permission for foreign ownership of racehorses, is being resisted by a coalition of breeders, owners and trainers. While such a disparate group is never, within itself, going to have the same priorities, one thing they do appear to agree on was that they were not consulted in the way they would have liked. There are interesting times ahead in the next few weeks

Weekend Preview – Wonder Bolt, Beolmaui Kkum Headline At Seoul & Busan

It’s been a mild week across the peninsula and the almost spring-like conditions are set to continue for what’s going to be a busy weekend of racing in Korea.

Wonder Bolt is the star attraction at Seoul this weekend (Pic: Elan959)

Wonder Bolt is the star attraction at Seoul this weekend (Pic: Elan959)

At Busan, there are class 1 races on both Friday and Sunday. Friday’s card sees Success Story, fresh from a 17-length triumph last month, make his first bid for a big class 1 handicap as he takes on Road To Prince, My Winner and Challanhan Useung over a mile. Also on Friday, Rafale, the south-coast track’s champion juvenile, makes the first start of his 3-year-old campaign and his first attempt on the Korean Derby distance of 1800M.

On Sunday, Korea’s joint-top rated horse Beolmaui Kkum will be in action in the feature race. He’ll carry a full 8kg more than his rivals, who include Mujinjang, who has won 6 of his 7 starts and returns to action after over 4 months in the sidelines.

Seoul also sees its top-rated horse in action with Wonder Bolt headlining the feature race on Sunday afternoon. Just like Beolmaui Kkum, he’ll be giving 8kg to his rivals, but has every chance of overcoming it in the 1800M handicap.

Full racecards for the whole weekend are available at the KRA website. Here’s what’s happening when and where:

Friday January 16
Busan Racecourse: 11 races from 11:40 to 18:00 (races 4-11 simulcast to Singapore – race by race preview here)
Jeju Racecourse: 9 races from 13:20 to 17:20

Saturday January 17
Seoul Racecourse: 12 races from 10:50 to 18:00
Jeju Racecourse: 9 races from 12:20 to 17:10

Sunday January 18
Seoul Racecourse: 11 races from 10:50 to 18:00
Busan Racecourse: 6 races from 12:45 to 17:00

The Grand Prix Stakes 2014: Full Preview

It’s time for the big one. The 33rd Grand Prix Stakes will be run at Seoul Racecourse this coming Sunday.

Beolmaui Kkum, seen here at last year's Grand Prix, returns as favourite this year (Pic: Ross Holburt)

Beolmaui Kkum, seen here at last year’s Grand Prix, returns as favourite this year (Pic: Ross Holburt)

Despite the injury-enforced absence of defending champion Indie Band, the race still looks to be one of high quality. And while last year’s event was the first ever Korean race to be broadcast live overseas, this year’s edition breaks new ground too with European punters able to bet on the race with the French PMU.

Beolmaui Kkum is likely to start as the strong favourite for the 2nd year running with jockey Lee Hee Cheon, who won the Minister’s Cup at Seoul in October given the chance of a lifetime to reach his 100th career winner in style with Choi Si Dae retained for Gyeongbudaero.

Last year, Beolmaui Kkum faded badly in the home straight but is in great from this time around and will be hard to beat. Magic Dancer may challenge Beolmaui Kkum for the lead and has every chance of staying on whereas likely to come from further behind are Cheonji Bulpae and Nobody Catch Me, both of whom have claims.

Gyeongbudaero won the President’s Cup on this track a month ago but may find the this a little bit too much while Wonder Bolt has improved plenty since his 5th in the race last year despite being more renowned as a sprinter. Ghost Whisper is game but may find himself overmatched here while Clean Up Joy and Samjeong Jewang have plenty of potential and are the wildcards.

Here is a full run-down of the field:

Grand Prix Stakes (KOREA GROUP I) – Seoul Racecourse – 2300M – Sunday December 14, 2014 (16:40)

Name [Pedigree] Age/Sex (Lifetime Starts/1st/2nd/3rd) – Korean rating – Jockey (Home Track)

1. Clean Up Joy (USA) [Purge – Greta’s Joy (Joyeux Danseur)] – 3yo colt – (8/3/4/0) – 110 – Ham Wan Sik (Seoul)
One of the up and coming talents at Seoul, following a 6th place finish on his debut, he hasn’t finished worse than 2nd in seven subsequent starts, usually coming from just off the pace to close strongly. A winner over 1800M last time out in what was his first attempt racing around two-turns promoted him to class 1, but he faces by far his toughest race to date.

2. Beolmaui Kkum (USA) [Put It Back – Wild Dixie Gal (Wild Event)] – 4yo colt – (17/11/3/0) – 132 – Lee Hee Cheon (Busan)
Twelve months ago, he started as the favourite for this race and led the field into the home straight before fading disappointingly to 13th. He had five months off earlier in 2014 and since returning, he’s won all four of his starts. He will be the favourite again, having broken the Busan track record over 2200M on his last start and he will probably lead again. This should be his year.

3. Wonder Bolt (USA) [Desert Warrior – Little Champ (Great Gladiator)] – 4yo colt – (21/6/8/1) – 127 – Lee Chan Ho (Seoul)
The highest rated horse in training at Seoul, Wonder Bolt was 5th in this race last year. He has spent much of the year racing at shorter distances, finishing 2nd behind Singapore’s champion sprinter El Padrino in the Asia Challenge Cup in August. A very comfortable winner over 1700M last month, he is very quick and will have some supporters for the Grand Prix.

4. Rush Forth (USA) [Rush Bay – Fourth Quest (Norquestor)] – 4yo gelding – (15/4/3/3) – 117 – Kim Ok Sung (Seoul)
He was 2nd behind Samjeong Jewang in the KRA Cup Classic over 2000M on his last start in October, only beaten a nose and finishing the quicker of the two horses. He should like the distance but is yet to find the winner’s circle at class 1 level – his last victory was all the way back in February – and he is unlikely to find it in this race.

5. Major King (KOR) [Pico Central – Still Golden (Gold Fever)] – 4yo colt – (16/7/3/3) – 119 – Jo Chang Wook (Busan)
The winner of one of the Korean Triple Crown races last year, he spent the first half of 2014 in the United States. He was unsuccessful there and returned to Korea in August. He has raced four times since, winning once over 2000M. He is a very capable competitor but will probably find a few too quick for him.

6. Samjeong Jewang (USA) [Patriot Act – Ms. Sadira (Dixieland Heat)] – 3yo gelding – (9/6/0/2) – 117 – Ikuyasu Kurakane (Seoul)
A narrow win over Rush Forth in the KRA Cup Classic in October was the fourth consecutive victory for this up and coming gelding. He likes to come from slightly off the pace and he has a strong finish. He’s going to need a very strong one in this company but is certainly not without hope. Three-year-olds have won the two most recent editions of this race.

7. Cheonji Bulpae (AUS) [Bernardini – Purrfection (Tale Of The Cat)] – 5yo horse – (24/10/3/3) – 126 – Jo Sung Gon (Busan)
Now from the stable of Peter Wolsley at Busan, Cheonji Bulpae was an impressive 3rd in this race last year. He’s only won two of his seven starts in 2014 but has usually been close and has been carrying some big weights in handicaps. While he won’t be favourite, he has every chance of coming close again.

8. Magic Dancer (KOR) [Forest Camp – Wildly Magic (Peterhof)] – 4yo colt – (17/10/4/1) – 126 – Kanichiro Fujii (Busan)
Trained by Kim Young Kwan at Busan, Magic Dancer is a proven winner at Seoul Racecourse, having won the Jeju Governor’s Cup over 2000M in June this year. He finished 3rd behind Gyeongbudaero in the President’s Cup last month and should have no problems with the distance. Jockey Joe Fujii is the only foreign rider to have won the Grand Prix and what tactics he employs could be the key to this race.

9. Gyeongbudaero (KOR) [Menifee – Princess Lanique (Cherokee Run)] – 5yo horse – (27/10/6/7) – 129 – Choi Si Dae (Busan)
The highest-rated domestic bred horse in Korea, Gyeongbudaero finished 6th in this race last year. He has only run three times in 2014 but the most recent of those saw him land the biggest victory of his career, the President’s Cup, over 2000M at Seoul Racecourse last month. In 2013, the President’s Cup winner went on to win the Grand Prix and while Gyeongbudaero won’t be favourite, he can never be ruled out.

10. Nobody Catch Me (USA) [With Distinction – Nana’s Babe (Allen’s Prospect)] – 4yo gelding – (17/6/4/2) – 131 – Kim Yong Geun (Busan)
He was a convincing winner of the Busan Metropolitan Stakes – known as the “Summer Grand Prix” – in July at odds of over 50/1, beating a number of his rivals here. He’s only run once since then and that too ended in a win, carrying 60kg around 1900M and still winning by 5-lengths and breaking the track record in the process. One of two contenders from the stable of Busan’s top trainer Kim Young Kwan, he has a chance.

11. Unbeatable (USA) [Eddington – Baxter Hall (Rahy)] – 4yo colt – (27/5/5/6) – 116 – Park Tae Jong (Seoul)
A distance specialist, Unbeatable won the most recent of very few races to be run over 2300M at Seoul last month, holding off several rivals in a tight finish. He’ll definitely stay on but that race was run at a pace significantly slower than any recent runnings of the Grand Prix and while he was quick at the finish, this is a significant step up in quality.

12. Ghost Whisper (KOR) [Gotham City – Emmy’s Lullaby (Unbridled’s Song)] – 6yo gelding – (27/14/4/3) – 128 – Masakazu Tanaka (Busan)
A very game horse and with plenty of talent too, he’s won four of his last six starts, usually from the front and broke the Busan track record for 1800M in October. Trained by Australian Peter Wolsley, he’s never without a chance although the distance and the caliber of opposition may be just a little too much for him here.

13. Jangmi Eondeok (USA) [Midnight Lute – Sea Gift (A.P. Indy)] – 4yo filly – (14/3/4/1) – 107 – Moon Se Young (Seoul)
The only filly in the race, she is likely to be the longest shot on the board. She’s only raced five times in 2014 with a best finish of 5th and she came home in 6th place in a Stakes race restricted to fillies and mares at Busan last month. As a result, even with the champion jockey on board, she is overmatched here.

Selections: (2) Beolmaui Kkum (7) Cheonji Bulpae (8) Magic Dancer (10) Nobody Catch Me

Beolmaui Kkum Blasts Back At Busan

With Seoul having taken its annual summer vacation this past weekend, all eyes were on Busan as the only venue for thoroughbred racing on the peninsula. And for Beolmaui Kkum, it was a welcome return to form after a long absence.

Beolmaui Kkum, seen here at the Grand Prix in Seoul, returned to form at Busan on Saturday (Pic: Ross Holburt)

Beolmaui Kkum, seen here at the Grand Prix in Seoul, returned to form at Busan on Saturday (Pic: Ross Holburt)

Touted as a potential star at the end of last season having won 7 of his 10 starts, Beolmaui Kkum (Put It Back) led the way in the Grand Prix Stakes at Seoul in December before fading in the home straight to end up near the back. This would be repeated on two starts at the beginning of this year before he was given close to six months off.

Returning to the track in Saturday’s feature race, punters clearly hadn’t forgotton about him, sending him off as 3rd favourite in the 1900M class 1 handicap.

As he tends to do, Beolmaui Kkum went straight to the front but this time had plenty left when jockey Lee Hee Cheon asked him for an effort in the home straight and he cruised away from his rivals to record a 5-length victory.

Beolmaui Kkum’s return to form was welcome in what had been looking a rather stale group of class 1 horses at both Seoul and Busan. Over the weekend, however, enough up-and-coming imports put in solid enough performances to suggest that we have plenty to look forward to over the coming months.

On Saturday, there were two such stand-out performances. First, Australian colt Gumpo Daeseung (Shaft) made it 4 wins from 5 starts in a class 2 race over 1400M. He had to work for it though. Late to the gate after being re-shoed, Gumpo Daeseung was tracked all the way to the line by 2nd-favourite Uregachi, just holding on to win by a nose.

At a lower class, there was far less stress for US gelding Spring Gnarly (Master Command), who was guided to a 3-length win by apprentice rider Chae Sang Hyun and now moves onto 3 wins from 5 starts.

Sunday’s marathon 15-race card saw another import put in an impressive performance as Mujinjang (Silver Train) strolled to his 6th win in 7 career starts, claiming the class 2 race 14 by two lengths.

On the domestic fron there were encouraging performances too. Derby also-ran Gumpo Sky (Vicar) offered further proof that his disappoiting run in the Classic at Seoul was an aberration, by strolling to a 7-length victory in Saturday’s class 2 race 6. One race earlier, Peter Wolsley’s Never Seen Before (Ecton Park), who didn’t even make it to the Derby, was similarly impressive in deconstructing a similar class 2 field by the same 7-length margin.

Both are now likely to be pointed towards the final leg of the Triple Crown, the Minister’s Cup at Seoul in October.

Next week, action returns to Seoul and it is International Exchange race weekend.
Although there is no International Jockey Challenge this year (due to the Asia Challenge Cup being run later in the month which will include 6 visiting jockeys), there will still be plenty to look forward to. Full previews up soon.

Tough Win Takes Busan Metropolitan

Tough Win asserted his authority over Korean racing with hard-fought but eventually emphatic win in the Busan Metropolitan City Mayor’s Stakes this afternoon.

Tough Win and Cho Kyoung Ho take the Busan Metropolitan (Pic: KRA)

Tough Win and Cho Kyoung Ho take the Busan Metropolitan (Pic: KRA)

The 2010 winner started 2/1 favourite and was always well positioned before getting the better of young up and comer Beolmaui Kkum and defending champion Dangdae Bulpae in the home straight. Only the absent Jiguem I Sungan currently has any claims on him at Seoul and he dispatched Busan’s finest with ease today.

Running 2nd, Beolmaui Kkum showed that he has talent and can stay a reasonable distance too. He will be one to watch for the rest of the season. As for Dangdae Bulpae, there were many doubts as to the fitness of the defending champion, who came into the race off a 6-month lay-off. While he couldn’t beat Tough Win, a 3rd place finish is extremely creditable and suggests we haven’t seen the last of the 3-time President’s Cup winner.

A disappointment was Gamdounguibada. The filly was the one who relived Tough Win of his Grand Prix Stakes title at Seoul last December and she was well-backed to repeat the feat here. Instead of challenging Tough Win, however, she finished 11th which makes for 2 poor runs in a row.

Now 6 years old, Tough Win recorded his 22nd career victory and is unbeaten in all 4 starts this year. The Busan Metropolitan is often referred to as the “Summer Grand Prix”. After today, by the time the real “Grand Prix” comes around in December, Tough Win will most likely be favourite to regain that title as well.

Busan Metropolitan City Mayor’s Stakes – Busan Race Park – 2000M – Sunday July 28, 2013

1. Tough Win (USA) [Yonaguska – Maggie May’s Sword (Sword Dance)] – Cho Kyoung Ho – 3.0, 1.3
2. Beolmaui Kkum (USA) [Put It Back – Wild Dixie Gal (Wild Event)] – Choi Si Dae – 1.8
3. Dangdae Bulpae (KOR) [Biwa Shinseiki – Indeed My Dear (Alydeed)] – Jo Sung Gon – 3.7

Distances: 2.5 lengths/4 lengths
Also Ran: 4. Lion Santa (USA) 5. Viva Ace (USA) 6. Eongmandori (USA) 7. Ghost Whisper (KOR) 8. Prince Kingdom (USA) 9. Murangae (USA) 10. Choengchun Bulpae (KOR) 11. Gamdonguibada (USA) 12. Hwanggeumjijon (USA) 13. Wild Myeongun (USA) 14. Call Me Tiger (NZ) DQ: Blueband Mama (USA) DQ: Wonderful Namhae (KOR

Beolmaui Kkum Beats Gamdonguibada in Gukje Sinmun Stakes

There was a surprise of sorts at Busan Race Park this afternoon as Beolmaui Kkum handed a comprehensive defeat to Gamdonguibada to win the Gujke Sinmun Stakes.

With three-time President’s Cup winner Dangdae Bulpae (Biwa Shinseiki) a late scratching after being found lame this morning, Grand Prix Stakes winning filly Gamdonguibada (Werblin) was left as the overwhelming favourite in what was now just a seven-horse race.

However, it was 3-year old US import Beolmaui Kkum (Put It Back) who despite veering wide coming out of the stalls, took the honors in emphatic style, leading from gate to wire and crossing the line a full 5 lengths clear of the field.

Gamdounguibada couldn’t even manage second as the always game Viva Ace (Macho Uno) put in another strong performance.

Beolmaui Kkum is a full-brother of multiple Korean Stakes winner Kkakjaengi. He was bought for just $20,000 at the 2011 Fasig Tipton Kentucky Fall Yearlings sale.

In his 8 runs to date, he has won 6 of them and finished 2nd in the other 2, banking over 300 Million won in the process. He was expected to be challenging for top honours at some point this year but not this early.

Gukje Sinmun Stakes – Busan Race Park – 1800M – May 5, 2013

1. Beolmaui Kkum (USA) [Put It Back – Wild Dixie Gal (Wild Event)] – Choi Si Dae – 6.3, 1.5
2. Viva Ace (USA) [Macho Uno – Dancing Lake (Meadowlake) – Seong Keong Yun – 1.6
3. Gamdonguibada (USA) [Werblin – Radyla (Country Pine)] – Kanichiro Fujii

Distances: 5 lengths/0.5 lengths
Also Ran: 4. Prince Kingdom (USA) 5. Dehere Queen (USA) 6. New Record (NZ) 7. Isidae Gangja (KOR). NR: Dangdae Bulpae (KOR)