Blue Chipper

Round-Up: Blue Chipper & Tiz Plan Beaten, Jangsu Sales Results, 2020 Losses, Jeju Selections for Friday May 7

Both Blue Chipper and Tiz Plan met their matches at Busan and Seoul last weekend. While both were beaten by good horses, it was more the weight advantage they were giving away that saw the two (literal) heavyweights trail home 2nd in their respective features on Sunday.

With minimal income entering into the industry for more than a year now, there are currently no Listed or Stakes races races for the top horses to compete in. That means they need to take part in handicaps where they will, naturally be giving a lot of weight away. Blue Chipper conceded 9kg to the up and coming Doctor Carson (Hansen), who continued to burnish his reputation as he defeated the champion by a length over 1200M

It was a similar story at Seoul for Tiz Plan. He too was game but was unable to match the finish of Brigadier General (Tapit), an Australian-bred five-year-old, who came past him in the closing stages to score by three-quarters of a length. Both Blue Chipper and Tiz Plan received 2nd place prize money of 15 Million Won ((US$13,317), a far cry from what they would have expected to have been competing for in normal times.

The grim state of affairs was apparent Jangsu Breeze-up sale last week, one of the main Juvenile sales to take place on the mainland, where business was sluggish. Just thirteen of the fifty-three lots offered reached the minimum reserve price of 10 Million Won. Overall it was a slight improvement on last year but well down on the same sale two years ago in terms of numbers sold and in average price, with purchasers uncertain if and when their horses will ever be able to run.

The Testa Matta colt (Pic from screengrab of the sale feed)

The sale-topper was a colt by Testa Matta and out of the Giant’s Causeway mare Coulis De Fraises., bred by Nokwon Farm and bought for 60 Million Won by owner Park Cheol-geun. He fetched almost double the next best, an Old Fashioned filly out of Revereduction (by Revere).

Meanwhile, local media has been reporting that financial figures for Korean “Public” (i.e. government run) companies for 2020 are out and they are, to put it mildly, not good. The Korea Racing Authority swung from a 144.9 Billion Won (US$128.8 Million) profit in 2019 to a 436.8 Billion Korean (US$338.3 Million) loss in 2020 caused by a total collapse in wagering revenue after February. The loss surpassed that even of the Incheon Airport Corporation whose own Covid crisis saw a loss of 423 Billion Won last year.

Racing has been kept going at reduced prize money levels by using “Emergency Reserve” funds, However, local media has reported that these will be finally exhausted in July. Barring something unexpected happening, there seems little prospect on restrictions on attendance at the racecourses and off track betting sites being lifted to an extent that would allow a break-even point to be reached any time soon so it appears the only hope of saving the industry in any recognizable form lies in the legalization of online sales of betting tickets.

Racing continues though so let’s turn attention to the weekend where we will have the same schedule as recent weeks. Jeju will run a pony race meeting on Friday while Seoul and Busan will run thoroughbred-meets on both Saturday and Sunday. The only betting outlets open will be those in Jeju, Daegu, Gwangju, Changwon and Cheonan (advance reservation by My Card app required). Here are some selections for Friday’s Jeju Pony meeting:

Race 1: 7, 6, 2, 8

Race 2: 3, 8, 1, 4

Race 3: 5, 3, 9, 10

Race 4: 9, 6, 2, 4

Race 5: 8, 4, 7, 6

Race 6: 7, 2, 3, 9

Race 7: 7, 1, 12, 8

Race 8: 2, 11, 4, 8

Race 9: 7, 3, 8, 5

Race 10: 12, 3, 9, 2

Race 11: 12, 2, 3, 5

Race 12: 7, 1, 10, 9

Seoul & Busan Sunday: Blue Chipper, Tiz Plan – Race-By-Race Preview (May 2)

Two of the biggest names in Korea racing will be in action on Sunday. Blue Chipper headlines Busan’s 6 race card (from 12:50 to 17:00) while Tiz Plan goes in the feature at Seoul (10 races from 10:45 to 18:00). Both meetings will be staged behind closed doors although betting outlets at Jeju, Daegu, Changwon, Cheonan and Gwangju are open to pre-booked punters. Here are the previews:

Blue Chipper, seen here in another era, goes on Sunday

Seoul Race 1: Class 6 (1200M) Allowance / KRW 22 Million

Fourteen maidens go around here. (5) CHOEGANG JANGSAN is the first foal out of 2014 Korean Derby and Oaks winning filly Queen’s Blade. He wasn’t ready when he first trialed in January, after which he was gelded. He then put in a more assured and workmanlike performance when having another go in a good time two weeks ago. He should go well first-up in modest company. (2) MORNING FLASH was well back in the field last start before running on well late for 7th. He was wide the time before but ran on resolutely for a close 3rd. He draws well here and is worth some thought. (6) BANGTAN YEOGEOL has shown improvement across three starts so far, running on strong last time and looks a placing hope while (13) KOREA GIJEOK too has hinted at ability and while he may need some luck in running, shouldn’t be dismissed. (11) HOUYHNHM another in the placing frame.

Selections(5) Choegang Jangsan (2) Morning Flash (6) Bantan Yeogeol (11) Houyhnhnm
Next Best13, 10
Fast Start1, 5, 7, 9

Seoul Race 2: Class 6 (1300M) Allowance / KRW 22 Million

Fillies only here. (4) LEAD VOCAL was a winner at her last start in fine style when she led on a very wet track. She led by a large margin and while it was cut, she drops back in trip today which could suit even more and she is a real chance. (1) RUBICON has finally drawn a decent gate. She’s had to deal with wide draws in three of her starts so far and last time overcame gate 14 to work home strong for 2nd place. She has very solid claims of making her breakthrough today. (12) CHOEGANG BLACK ran a great race on a wet track on debut. She drew in the car park and slightly fly-jumped on exiting the barrier but still ran on for 2nd. The draw doesn’t help her much again but the experience might. (8) MISS ELITE is constant at this class and distance and while she doesn’t leap off the page as a winner she has enough form to suggest a place line. (5) CHEONGDAM TANK drops back in trip after a god 2nd over 1400M last start and should also be in the calculations.

Selections(4) Lead Vocal (1) Rubicon (12) Choegang Black (8) Miss Elite
Next Best5, 3
Fast Start1, 3, 10, 13

Seoul Race 3: Class 5 (1400M) Handicap / KRW 28 Million

Three standouts here. (1) WINNER IS WELL has own both starts so far and comes in having bolted up last start when handy early and then wide and fighting his jockey because he wanted to go faster. The lightly-raced five-year-old steps up to 1400M and can settle handy here with strong claims to make it three in a row. (5) K N MENIQUEEN got her maiden win two starts back and might have won last time as well had the barriers been reversed with the ultimate winner. She ran on well for 2nd and while up in class and trip today, has plenty going for her. So too does (6) BIG RIVER. She ran a nice 2nd last start when on pace at class and distance beaten only by the very promising Winner Templar. She will run on strong here. (10) MANSE is never far away at the finish and looks like he has another win in him at some stage. If he can settle a bit closer to the action today, he should be in the frame.

Selections(1) Winner Is Well (5) K N Meniqueen (6) Big River (10) Manse
Next Best11, 9
Fast Start3, 4, 5, 11

Busan Race 1: Class 6 (1200M) Allowance / KRW 22 Million

Fillies only to kick off the Busan card. There is going to be a strong favourite in (10) GOLD LUCK. She’s run on strong for 2nd in both her latest two starts, beaten by reasonable winners on both occasions and recording by some margin the best pair of times of any of these for the distance. She can settle handy again and should be winning. The rest of them all need to step up. (13) USEUNG GANGJA was 6th behind Gold Luck last start following on from a 5th on debut. She’s been improving at the line on both occasions and can be aiming to place here. (3) MACH ROAD hasn’t done too much wring in two outings to date and like Useung Gangja has been finishing off her races well. She draws well here and can be competitive. Draw a line through the latest effort of (9) WONDERFUL SMILE. She got sent back to trial after it and she looked decent enough when requalifying two weeks ago. There are two first-time starters and of the pair, (5) IRON GIRL looks best equipped first-up following a positive trial.

Selections(10) Gold Luck (13) Useung Gangja (5) Iron Girl (9) Wonderful Smile
Next Best3, 8
Fast Start2, 10, 13, 14

Seoul Race 4: Class 4 (1400M) Handicap / KRW 35 Million

(5) LOVELY K shapes up as a real contender here following a good win on a very wet track on March 28th. She raced handily and ran on late indicating the extra furlong will be no trouble. (4) ANYANG OXEN has serious claims of his own. He loves the 1400M, getting his solitary win at it two starts back and then beating a couple of these at the end of March running a super time on an admittedly fast track. He has a better barrier today as he likes to be close to the pace and with any luck at all, he will be right in the finish. (1) EAGLE EAGLE is still a maiden but has shown good consistency in his recent appearances. He likes to lead and the inside draw should help him in that aspect and he must be considered for at least another place. (13) MOONHAK DREAM ran 4th behind Anyang Oxen on March 28th. He is another maiden but the Gemologist colt has also been a consistent placegetter at shorter distances and looks a fair shout for some money again. (14) JANGSAN TANK perhaps best of the rest.

Selections(5) Lovely K (4) Anyang Oxen (1) Eagle Eagle (13) Moonhak Dream
Next Best14, 11
Fast Start1, 4, 5, 13

Busan Race 2: Class 6 (1300M) Allowance / KRW 22 Million

Competitive race. (2) NEW FIRE is probably a worthy favourite with a 4th and a 3rd from his first two efforts at 1000M and 1400M respectively. He beat three of today’s rivals last time coming from midfield to run 3rd to Mr. Indie and he can make his breakthrough today. (5) CHOEGANG LIGER remains a maiden after eleven attempts but is rarely far away and he has been very consistent of late. He was 4th behind New Fire last start from a wide draw and is tactically versatile so will probably sit handy here and run on. (4) FIRST CHANCE has shown promise in his first two outings, acquitting himself well in decent looking company and he can continue to make progress today, most likely from on the pace. (12) SHINING HILL and (13) SKY MORE are others who should come into the calculations.

Selections(2) New Fire (5) Choegang Liger (13) Sky More (12) Shining Hill
Next Best4, 6
Fast Start1, 2, 4, 13

Seoul Race 5: Class 4 (1400M) Handicap / KRW 35 Million

We can draw a line through the latest effort of (8) HEUNGROK DAEBU at what proved a too much too soon 1800M. Instead, we’ll focus on his class and distance victory two starts back in a good time. That win had been coming and he can return to successful ways today. (5) BULGULUI RUNNER also needs his last start disregarded. In his case he was badly hampered at the start so we will look to his prior win at this distance. Although he has run on strong in his latest two, he seems to get better results when in a handy position and he’s well drawn to do that today. This isn’t an especially strong race so (9) QUANTUM JUMP is another who can be forgiven his latest. He has since trialed up well and is worthy of another chance here. (4) DANGCHAN SERYEOK and (6) LIONETTE are others in the hunt.

Selections(8) Heungrok Daebu (5) Bulgului Runer (9) Quantum Jump (4) Dangchan Seryeok
Next Best6, 14
Fast Start8, 11, 12, 14

Busan Race 3: Class 6 (1600M) Allowance / KRW 22 Million

(2) LUCKY BREAK was a last start winner at class and distance with a prominent run form a wide draw. While that win came from nowhere, she warrants respect here and nothing else in the field has matched the time at the distance that she recorded so a repeat isn’t impossible. We’ll take her on though with (4) YEONGWON POWER. He too had an uptick in form when stepped up to a mile last start when 2nd to Haenam Hammer, coming from well off the pace. Expect similar tactics today and he could be too strong late on. (8) MAJOR FORCE has run on well a couple of times, hinting that he might take to running at this distance well and should be aiming for a career best finish so far here. (5) GOLD MAGIC another in the placing frame in what can be described as a modest affair.

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Blue Chipper Back On Top At Busan

Blue Chipper returned to the winner’s circle at long last at Busan Racecourse on Sunday afternoon as Korea’s 2019 Breeders’ Cup hero registered an effortless class 1 win over seven-furlongs.

With the Covid-induced financial crisis still biting, Sunday’s Busan feature was contested for a 1st prize of just KRW 24 Million (US$21,400). Nevertheless, in addition to Blue Chipper the race also attracted the likes of Ssonsal, the up-and-coming sprinter who came in off the back of four consecutive wins, as well as multiple winner King Of Glory and Dubai World Cup Carnival alumnus Today among a full field of fourteen.

None stood a chance as under jockey Djordje Perovic and coming out of gate five, Blue Chipper quickly assumed command of the race, before motoring away from the field in the home straight. Ssonsal, who had to overcome the widest draw, got closest, finishing three-lengths in arrears.

It’s been a long way back for Blue Chipper, who last tasted victory in the Korea Sprint (KOR G1) at Seoul Racecourse in September of 2019. Knowing that he held a Breeders’ Cup nomination, connections then opted to take a chance on him in the Big Ass Fans Breeders’ Cup First Mile at Santa Anita where, under an enterprising Flavien Prat ride, Blue Chipper finished 3rd behind Spun To Run and Omaha Beach.

Blue Chipper was then pointed at the Dubai World Cup Carnival and a tilt at the Goldolphin Mile. Disaster struck, however, when on arrival he was found to have travel sickness, the complications of which ruled him out of competing at Meydan.  By the time he was passed fit to fly, he returned to a Korea where racing, with no legal remote betting, was amid the still ongoing Covid crisis.

Having returned to training in December – and moved to trainer Min Jang-ki’s stable – Blue Chipper was given a low-key return to racing in February in a race which had no legal betting markets either at home or overseas. Going over a mile he showed at the front early but visibly tired in the final furlong ultimately ending up in 5th. He came out of that race in good order though and the improvement was there for all to see on Sunday.  

Where to next is the million-dollar (hopefully not the 24 Million Won) question for Blue Chipper. Now six-years-old, the Tiznow gelding seems unlikely to travel again given the risks involved and with no confirmed Stakes schedule for Korea as the pandemic continues to squeeze prizemoney, it may be some time before he even gest to face the likes of Seoul-based rising-star Eoma Eoma in Korea.

Other News

Jockey Kim Hye-sun rode her first winner back since returning from maternity leave just a week ago. The thirty-two-year-old, who is married to fellow jockey Park Jae-I, partnered Haeundae Bada to victory in race 1 at Busan on Sunday.  It was career victory number 284 for Kim, who is the most successful female thoroughbred jockey in Korean history. She rode Jejui Haneul to victory in the Korean Oaks in 2017.

In the three-year-old ranks, Winner’s Man returned to winning ways at Busan on Saturday. The Musket Man colt was beaten by the very good Golden Winner on his first try around the Korean Derby distance of 1800M last month and while he suffered another scare this time around, he had enough about him to hold off long-shot Man Of Top by a head at class 3 level for his first success around two turns. Winner’s Man now has a record of five wins and two runner-up finishes from seven starts.

Sunday Seoul & Busan: Race-By-Race Preview (April 4)

Blue Chipper was 5th on his return to racing after more than a year out. The 2019 Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile 3rd place-getter is in action again at Busan on Sunday tackling 1400M in the feature race on the south coast. There are 6 races at Busan from 12:05 to 17:00 and 10 at Seoul from 10:45 to 18:00. Both meetings will be held behind closed doors. Here are the previews:

Blue Chipper goes at Busan on Sunday (Pic: KRA)

Seoul Race 1: Class 6 (1200M) Allowance / KRW 22 Million

(9) MORNING HILL was an impressive winner first up on February 28th making all in a fast time. He stretches out to 1200M today but if he has come on at all from that performance, he will take some beating here. The main danger is set to be a first-time starter. (4) YES I CAN trialed well, running on strong for 2nd place in his heat in a competitive time. The 1200M should suit and he can go well. (11) BORAQUEEN has fair form over her three outings to date. She led last time before battling on for 5th and is likely to improve off that run. (10) MODERN GOLD drifted well back in the field on his first start but got himself together to come home quite well and could sneak into a place. (2) YEONGWANUI HAENGJIN hasn’t pulled up many trees in two starts so far but previously showed some speed in a trial and the engagement of a top jockey today suggests improvement is expected.

Selections(9) Morning Hill (4) Yes I Can (11) Boraqueen (10) Modern Gold
Next Best2, 1
Fast Start1, 2, 9, 11

Seoul Race 2: Class 6 (1200M) Allowance / KRW 22 Million

There’s not a whole lot of exposed form here so (7) TEUKGWON might be the one to go for. He’s only raced twice and was a good 4th on debut before being on pace on his first attempt at 1200M back in January and battling on for 5th. He’s had a couple of months off since and should be right in the thick of things today. (3) SINUI ADEUL was in a handy position on his latest start before being hampered and losing ground. Disregard that and instead go on his two 4th places prior to that and he comes into contention. Also in contention is (4) THUNDER K. He has hinted at some ability and races for the first time since November having trialed well. The apprentice claim and the good draw put him in the calculations. (8) ROSEDAY MARINE is also in the hunt as is solitary debut-maker (9) BEOWULF.

Selections(7) Teukgwon (3) Sinui Adeul (4) Thunder K (8) Roseday Marine
Next Best9, 6
Fast Start3, 4, 6, 8

Seoul Race 3: Class 6 (1300M) Allowance / KRW 22 Million

Fillies only here and there are two previous winners among them. (9) YULONG STAR was a good winner two starts back at 1200M before running a good 4th last start when worked hard to get on the pace before battling on gamely. An apprentice claim takes 3kg off his back and puts him right in the mix. (8) JOYFUL K came home 5th in the same race having been quite wide before making good ground late. She won at 1200M last November and is at least worthy of a place line today. The one they both need to beat is (2) SARYEONI QUEEN. She recorded a 3rd and a 2nd in two starts last summer and while she hasn’t raced since August, she trialed adequately enough in February and has every chance first-up from a great draw to lead. (3) MISS ELITE and (7) NONGBON RAK are others in at least the placing frame.

Selections(2) Saryeoni Queen (9) Yulong Star (8) Joyful K (3) Miss Elite
Next Best7
Fast Start2, 7, 8, 9

Busan Race 1: Class 6 (1200M) Allowance / KRW 22 Million

Fillies get the Busan card underway and there’s going to be a warm favourite. (3) FLAT BABE came close to making all on debut over 1400M back in January, just getting overhauled in the closing stages by Looking Cat. Back in trip today but well drawn and with Perovic remaining aboard, she looks hard to beat. Draw a line through the latest effort of (4) HAEUNDAE BADA. She’s been back to trial since and her previous efforts suggest she should be aiming to place here. Similarly, (6) CHONGMA HWANGHU and (7) ENOUGH both hinted at ability on debut to the extent that we can overlook their respective latest showings and give them another chance here. There are five first-time starters and (1) MAGIC HILL and (11) AREUMDAUN GAMDONG both looked competent enough in trials.

Selections(3) Flat Babe (4) Haeundae Bada (1) Magic Hill (6) Cheonhma Hwanghu
Next Best7, 11
Fast Start1, 3, 6, 14

Seoul Race 4: Class 6 (1400M) Allowance / KRW 22 Million

(1) ULTRA KING come sin off a good 3rd place at start number four when after showing good speed, he led a similar field for a time and fought on well. From the inside gate he should get an easier run today and is the one to beat. (3) BRAVO MAY came home in 4th place in that races continuing his record of always being there or thereabouts. That should be maintained today although once more he is likely to find one or two too quick. (4) CURRERECUS has the form to be in the finish. He beat three of these on his way to 2nd place in a good time over 1400M last start and with a good draw today, he is worth considering. (6) OFFICER COMMANDING was 5th but close to the winner last start in a good time at the distance. She also has a 2nd over 1300M and is firmly in today’s frame. (8) ROYAL YEONGGWANG the best of the rest.

Selections(1) Ultra King (4) Currerecus (3) Bravo May (6) Officer Commanding
Next Best8, 2
Fast Start1, 2, 8, 10

Busan Race 2: Class 6 (1300M) Allowance / KRW 22 Million

(11) WILD BLUE is the one to beat here. He has two 2nd place finishes and a 4th from his three outings so far, running on strong in each. He steps up slightly in trip which should be to his benefit and if Perovic can find a handy spot for him, he should be too strong. (14) GREAT GO remains winless but has been consistent across her eight outings to date. She led for much of the way around last start before running 2nd over 1400M and while the widest gate isn’t ideal, she can overcome it to go close. (5) PICTURE JASPER ran a good 3rd on debut, running on strong over 1000M and looks poised to build on that today. (9) FIRST WIND is the only prior winner in the field and while his latest two have been a touch disappointing, he shouldn’t be overlooked. (13) KING BID another in the hunt.

Selections(11) Wild Blue (5) Picture Jasper (14) Great Go (9) First Wind
Next Best13, 12
Fast Start3, 9, 11, 13

Seoul Race 5: Class 5 (1200M) Handicap / KRW 28 Million

(1) CATCH CHARM is a winner of two from two so far and is yet to see the rear of another horse at any time in her racing career. She is up in class here but she has won at this distance already and the inside barrier and Moon Se Young up again make her hard to beat. (2) STAR WARS is similarly up in class here, in his case following a win and two runner-up finishes. He comes down in the weights as well which should help his placing claims. Also with significant claims, at least on a place is (7) SEO E BEONJJEOK. He has won at this distance and was a close 2nd last start when handy but wide. She’s not been worse than 5th in her four outings and she should at least maintain that record. (4) GIVEN RUNNER and (9) SUN OF STORM are others with solid placing claims.

Selections(1) Catch Charm (2) Star Wars (7) Seo E Beonjjeok (9) Sun Of Storm
Next Best4, 13
Fast Start1, 6, 12, 14

Busan Race 3: Class 6 (1600M) Allowance / KRW 22 Million

(9) DUMUSAN was a last start winner, breaking through at start number five. His form prior to that had only been fair but fair is enough to go on top in this modest contest. He’s generally slow away but has a nice turn of foot and so long as he doesn’t give them too much of a head start, should have too much. (11) WONDERFUL SECRET ran 4th behind Dumusan last start, sticking to task well. He’ll try to get to the front here and should still be around at the business end of the race. (7) CHEONGDAM DRIVE has a couple of 3rd place finishes to his name and that’s enough to put him in the placing frame again today with the likes of (5) DIVINE QUEEN and (6) BABEL STAR also capable of picking up a minor cheque.

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Eoma Eoma Super at Seoul but Blue Chipper Upset on Busan Return

Eoma Eoma began 2021 the way he left off in 2020 with an easy Class 1 win over 1400M at Seoul, but Blue Chipper could only manage 5th place in his long awaited return to action at Busan as Mr. Afleet took out the feature race on the south coast.

Seoul’s feature class 1 event was essentially a Group race run under handicap conditions over 1400M. With Morfhis having taken out the SBS Sports Sprint last summer as well as a pair of full prize-money class 1 races, his rating had risen to the extent that he had to carry 60kg as was giving away 8kg to all of his prominent rivals.

Morfhis was game coming through late as usual to finish in 4th place, but he was always going to struggle to catch Eoma Eoma who, under Moon Se Young, led from gate to wire to score by three-lengths from Do Kki Blade in 2nd and Jjang Kong in 3rd.

For Eoma Eoma it is now six wins from eight starts and punters and fans alike will be desperately hoping that circumstances will allow he and Morfhis – along with the likes of East Jet – to clash at level weights for a big prize at some point this year.

At Busan, Blue Chipper was making his return to racing for the first time since running 3rd in the 2019 Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile at Santa Anita.

It wasn’t to be for the now six-year-old who missed all of his five-year-old season after getting travel sickness on the way to the Dubai World Cup Carnival. Blue Chipper led out of the gate in the Mile-long Busan feature, which like the races at Seoul, was being contested for reduced prize-money, but started to tread water once they entered the home straight.

Mr. Afleet, trained by Peter Wolsley and ridden by Seo Seung-un, went on to win the race by four-lengths from Core Blade.

For Blue Chipper, who missed his planned final gallop earlier in the week due to heavy rain, a mile was always going to be a tough ask first up and so long as he pulls up without any issues, perhaps little should be read into his performance. There will hopefully be bigger things to come for him later in the year.

Blue Chipper Returns To Racing On Friday

After fifteen months off the track, Blue Chipper will return to racing on Friday afternoon at Busan Racecourse. The now six-year-old hasn’t competed since finishing 3rd behind Spun To Run and Omaha Beach in the 2019 Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile at Santa Anita.

Blue Chipper returns to action at Busan on Friday

It’s all very different to how his homecoming was supposed to be as Blue Chipper lines up the favourite in what is a strong class 1 race handicap over a mile but which, due to the straightened circumstances that Korean racing finds itself in due to the Covid-19 pandemic putting a stop to legal betting, can only offer a KRW 28 Million (US$25,000) to the winner.

After his 3rd place in the Breeders Cup Dirt Mile, Blue Chipper returned briefly to Korea before being shipped to Dubai for a campaign at the 2020 World Cup Carnival. Calamity struck on arrival though with Blue Chipper diagnosed with shipping fever, something he would fail to shake off to the extent that he could race. It was June until he could get a flight back to Korea and after a spell at the Jansgu Farm, he returned to training just in time to see the pandemic halt local racing again.

Blue Chipper trialed up nicely in January and having had plenty of setbacks across his career, is accustomed to producing first-up. He is the track record holder over a mile at Busan and even if not 100% race ready, will be expected to dispatch a field containing the dangerous Doraonpogyeongseon, World Power and Mr. Afleet. Now in the stable of Min Jang-ki, he will be ridden by Serbian jockey Djordje Perovic.

No Stakes or Graded races have yet been confirmed this year in Korea but providing Blue Chipper comes through this test in good shape, it is thought likely that the Korea Cup , should it go ahead in September, would be the ultimate aim. He is not expected to be asked to travel overseas again.

The race is the concluding race 10 at Busan on Friday and is scheduled to jump at 3.20pm Korean time. The international simulcast will be from Seoul throughout February so the race will not be screened live either inside or outside of Korea. However, the race video will be uploaded within ten minutes of the conclusion of the race at the KRA’s official website and the “KRBC Race” YouTube channel.

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.