Blue Chipper

Blue Chipper En-Route to LA & Planned Breeders’ Cup Start

Blue Chipper flew out of Incheon Airport late on Monday evening en-route to Santa Anita and a planned start in the delightfully named Big Ass Fans Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1) at Santa Anita on November 2. If all goes to plan, he will be the first Korea-trained runner to participate in a Breeders’ Cup race.

Blue Chipper Owners Cup

Blue Chipper (Pic: KRA)

Having traveled up from Busan last week, Blue Chipper spent four days in pre-export quarantine in the International Isolation Stables at Seoul Racecourse (the same ones that the international horses are stabled in during the Korea Cup & Sprint) before departing from nearby Incheon Airport at 11:50pm on Monday evening, scheduled to arrive at LAX on Monday evening US time.

Blue Chipper [Tiznow – Dixie City (Dixie Union)] was bred in Kentucky by Diamond A Racing Corp. He was selected and purchased at Keeneland by Busan-based trainer Bart Rice on behalf of owner Choi Byeong-bu. Now he’s a four-year-old gelding who has won seven of his eight lifetime starts. He was a four-length winner on debut as a juvenile at Busan in September 2017, trained by Rice.

He then suffered what is to date his only defeat when last in the Gyeongnam Do Min Ilbo Cup, Busan’s top race for imported two-year-olds. Blue Chipper ran once more that year, returning to winning ways with a three-length score on New Year’s Ever over 1200M.

Blue Chipper did not race again for more than a year with a number of setbacks meaning he spent almost his entire three-year-old year spelled, with only occasional trips to the racetrack to trial. He finally returned to action in April of 2019, now in trainer Kim Young-kwan’s stable, and picked up where he left off, scoring by thirteen-lengths over 1200M.

That win was followed up by two more with a combined winning margin of eighteen lengths before Blue Chipper tackled a Korean Graded race for the first time, the Busan Owners’ Cup (KOR G3) at the end of July. It was his first try at a mile but that didn’t trouble him as he romped away from a high class field to win by ten-lengths in track-record time.

International weekend was up next at Seoul and Blue Chipper was sent to the 1 Billion Won Keeneland Korea Sprint (KOR G1) back down at 1200M. Despite being drawn in gate 13, he was sent off as favourite and duly made it to the pace early. He would eventually shake off local rival Gaon Champ and run on to win by a length and a half becoming the first locally-trained horse to win the Korea Sprint.

Seemingly out of challenges in Korea for the time being, and with connections aware that he was registered for the Breeders’ Cup as a weanling, Blue Chipper will now be taken overseas and will move back up to a mile for his biggest challenge. If he adapts to the Santa Anita dirt, he’s not to be taken lightly.

Having had positive experiences with international jockeys on Korean horses at the Dubai World Cup Carnival, the decision was made to engage a Santa Anita-based rider and Flavien Prat, who won the race on Battle Of Midway in 2017, has accepted the ride.

How good is Blue Chipper? We don’t yet know and that’s basically why he is going. What we do know is that Bart found a good one that day at Keeneland and a number of seasoned observers of Korean racing have told this blog that he is the best horse they have seen run in Korea. While they are very different types of horse, that includes the Dubai star, Dolkong.

He will be up against it at Santa Anita. The dirt is very different to the sand he has experienced in Korea – although his sire, Tiznow, and damsire Dixie Union, did finish 1st and 2nd at Santa Anita in the Affirmed Handicap back in 2000. Then there is the obvious medication issue – there are no plans for Blue Chipper to run on lasix. That’s all without taking into account his opponents, among whom is expected to be Omaha Beach and Mr. Money. All through his brief career so far, Blue Chipper has stepped up.

Weekend Round-Up: Juvenile Series, Wonderful Fly Beaten, Foreign Successes

The 2019 Juvenile Series got underway on Sunday with Seoul and Busan both hosting their opening legs. The two tracks have separate 1st and 2nd legs before coming together for the finale at Busan on the first Sunday in December.

Both the Gold Circle Trophy at Busan and the Munhwa Ilbo Cup at Seoul had heavy pre-race favourites, but only one of those obliged with Save The World cruising to an easy victory on the South Coast. The Menifee colt moved onto three wins from three starts with an untroubled six-length score.

At Seoul, however, odds-on chance Choegang Team came up short as Roller Blade (Officer), who Choegang Team beat by six-lengths the last time they met, responding the better under pressure under jockey Kim Yong Geun, and running on to win by almost three lengths.

But never mind about next year’s three-year-olds, we still don’t have a clear picture about who’s the best of the current crop. Things were no clearer by the end of Sunday when Korean Derby winner Wonderful Fly and runner-up Myeongpum Chukje faced each other again over the Derby distance of 1800M at class 2 level in the concluding race 11.

At the top of the stretch, the pair of them were four-lengths clear of the rest and looked set to duel to the line. Could we finally get some idea as to who was the best locally bred three-year-old, at least in Seoul? No. Both capitulated in the stretch run leaving filly Clear Geom (Clear Attempt) to run through and claim the spoils.

Clear Geom was the surprise winner of the Gyeonggi Governor’s Cup, the final leg of the “Triple Tiara” to decide Champion filly back in June. In that race, she ran down the previously unbeaten Dia Road, who finally returned to the track for the first time since that day in a successful effort over 1400M on Saturday. In a division with no standout, Clear Geom perhaps now has as much claim as any to be considered the best of them.

As for the foreign contingent, Richard Oliver partnered Hwaranguichampion to victory in race 4 at Busan on Friday, while Bart Rice’s talented Adios Charlie colt Ssonsal registered his third victory from seven starts in race 10. The Rice Stable followed up on Sunday with another promising one, Good Dancer, who registered his fourth win from eight attempts, in race 2.

Ioannis Poullis was also among the winners on Sunday, keeping his partnership with top trainer Kim Young-kwan going for at least another week by winning race 3 on Power Touch. The Nokwon Farm bred colt is the first foal to make the track out of former Champion filly Useung Touch. One race later it wasn’t such a good result for Peter Wolsley’s Mr. Afleet, with the colt, stepped up to 1800M as he sought a fifth win on his sixth start, unable to run down B.K. Gambol – a filly he was giving 5kg to – coming up short by a head.

Possibly the biggest foreign success of the weekend though belonged to Richard Oliver, who closed out Sunday’s card riding Core Blade to a battling win over 1400M at class 1. The filly – who back in January was the British jockey’s first ride at Busan – held off a resurgent Hello Venus to take the line by a head. Core Blade’s dam Soseono is half-sister to Subsidy, who was one of the top horses in Seoul in the early 2000s.

Alan Munro and Antonio Da Silva both rode winners at Seoul over the weekend while new French trainer Tony Castenheira saw his first Korean runner, Choegang Singi, run a good 2nd in Sunday’s race 5. Castenheira opened his stable last month and currently has nine horses under his charge.

Finally, it’s well done to Lee Dong-jin, who is the latest jockey to shed his apprentice claim. Lee rode two winners on Saturday’s Seoul card to take his career tally to 40 and in the process lose his final kilogram allowance. Lee, who debuted in 2017 has a strike rate of approximately 7% from 560 mounts. He’s proven adept at positioning horses and is strong in the finish so a promising career could beckon.

Coming up this weekend, it’s a Korea Cup rematch as Moonhak Chief makes a quick return to the track to once again face Cheongdam Dokki and Dolkong in Sunday’s KRA Cup Classic.

We also expect to get confirmation of whether Korea Sprint winner Blue Chipper is going to ship to Santa Anita for a potential tilt at the Breeders’ Cup Mile – he’s already listed as a potential starter, along with Ambassadorial – the UK-trained runner who performed so well for 3rd in the Korea Cup. Right now, the odds are that he will.

Sensational Blue Chipper Smashes Mile Record On Way To Owners’ Cup Romp

Blue Chipper announced his arrival in the elite tier of Korean and then some as he left a Group 3 field trailing in the distance in the Owners’ Cup at Busan Racecourse this afternoon, demolishing the previous track record for the mile by over a full second for good measure.

Blue Chipper debuted back in September of 2017 but would only race twice more over the next fifteen months as a succession of injuries kept him off the track. However, since returning in April this year, he’s managed to stay fit and reeled three dominant wins, moving up to class 1 along the way.

Those victories led him to be sent off as favourite for the Owners’ Cup, ahead of defending champion Doraonpogyeongseon and Ace Korea. Ultimately it was no contest.

Away well, Blue Chipper showed immediately at the front of the field and while he didn’t start to extend until they came off the turn, once he did, the others were unable to match and the final margin of ten-lengths on the line could have been significantly further had jockey You Hyun-Myung so desired.

Blue Chipper’s stablemate Baengmunbaekdap pipped King Of Glory for a distance 2nd.

Blue Chipper now moves on to 6 wins from 7 starts. Today was his first crack at a mile and so long as he stays sound, he now must surely be a big prospect for either the Korea Cup or Korea Sprint at Seoul in early September.