Cheonnyeon Daero

Korean Derby D-4: All The Winners So Far

Gyeongbudaero Bidding To Become 15th Winner Of Korea Classic

The Korean Derby, which will be run at Seoul Race Park this coming Sunday is a relatively recent addition to the Korean racing year. Except for an enforced stoppage during the Korean War, racing has been running on the peninsula continuously since the 1920’s but while those early years saw horses racing each other, it wasn’t exactly the kind of horseracing we’re familiar with today. Many horses weren’t even thoroughbred and there was little point in having a Derby for three-year olds.

Gwangyajeil in the Korean Derby Winner’s Circle. His owner and breeder, the late Im Sang Yun (left) also bred Triple Crown winner J.S.Hold

The establishment of a domestic thoroughbred breeding industry and the introduction of the private ownership of race-horses – and therefore prize money – led to the creation of big Stakes races in the late 1980’s and early 1990s, Finally in 1998, the Derby was run for the first time. In 2007, the Korean Triple Crown Series with inaugurated with the Ttukseom Cup, Derby and Minister’s Cup making up the three Classic races. Indeed, in that first year, J.S. Hold took the lot. The following year, the KRA Cup Mile at Busan replaced the Ttukseom Cup as the first jewel in the crown and, while Sangseung Ilro won the first two legs in 2009, no horse has since swept all three.

In the fourteen editions run so far, nine colts and five fillies have taken the prize which for its first three years was run over just seven furlongs before moving up to its current nine in 2001. When the first crop of foals to be sent to race exclusively at Busan reached three-years of age in 2008, the Derby – and other major Stakes races – became open to horses from both Seoul and Busan. Since then, raiders from the South have won three out of four times and in Gyeongbudaero, have the favourite for this year’s edition.

Here are all the winners with pedigree and jockey:

2011: Gwangyajeil [Vicar – Hurricane Havoc (Jade Robbery)] – Oh Kyoung Hoan – He skipped the KRA Cup Mile and went straight to the Derby. It paid off as he was an easy winner. Injury meant he only ran twice more and was retired to Stud at the end of his three-year old season. Bred by the late Im Sang Yun, who also bred J.S. Hold.

2010: Cheonnyeon Daero [Creek Cat – Doneitmyway (Northern Flagship)] – Park Geum Man – Money Car, winner of the KRA Cup Mile was sent off the favourite but got sucked into a speed duel with the sprinter Seonbongbulpae in the early stages. Still, the favourite had a considerable lead entering the final furlong. He was spent though, and Cheonnyeon Daero, a 30/1 shot, chased him down and caught him on the line. Money Car was never the same again and only ran once more. Cheonnyeon Daero went on to finish second in the Minister’s Cup – the final leg of the Triple Crown. A horse with a bad case of seond-itis – he finished 2nd 14 times during his career, he was retired in early 2012 and will go to Stud.

2009: Sangseung Ilro [Concept Win – Ms. Whiskey (Whiskey Wisdom)] – Jo Sung Gon
– The filly, a shock winner of the KRA Cup Mile a month earlier made it two in a row for Busan. She couldn’t maintain her form over the whole year, however, and went down to a shock defeat in the Oaks in August before returning for a creditable third in the Minister’s Cup, the third and final leg of the Triple Crown in October. Went on to win two more Stakes races as a four-year old before being retired from racing in January 2011 for broodmare duties. She has been bred to Menifee.

2008: Ebony Storm [Buster’s Daydream – Sorority Jazz (Dixieland Band)] – Shim Seung Tae – Two years ago was the first time that Busan’s best three-year olds were invited up to Seoul to contest the Derby and it was one of those visitors, Ebony Storm, the longest shot on the board, who took victory in a monsoon downpour. Ebony Storm is still running as a seven-year old, specialising in distances of up to a mile.

2007: J.S. Hold [Ft. Stockton – Hwangsangjiljoo (Passetreul)] – Moon Jung Kyun – Widely considered the best Korean bred horse ever. J.S. Hold landed the inaugural Triple Crown injuring himself in the final race and not returning to the track. He retired with nine wins from ten starts and is now at Stud.

2006: Baengnokjeong [Slew O’Green – Lesu Run (Proper Reality)] – Hwang Soon Do – The rank outsider at over 80-1 on Derby day, Baengnokjeong was at the time, the longest priced horse to win the Derby.

2005: Saebyeok Dongja [Fiercely – Cheongpa (The Rodgers Four)] – Chun Chang Ki – Raced on at the top-level for three more years. His jockey, Chun Chang Ki became a trainer and sadly lost his fight against cancer earlier this month.

2004: Mupae Gangja [Didyme – A Heun A Hop Kan (Kinsky)] – Kim Hyo Seob – One of the top colts of this decade, Mupae Gangja won ten of his sixteen races including the Chairman’s Trophy and Minister’s Cup along with the Derby in 2004.

2003: Habidongju [Silent Warrior – Kahwa (Zoffany)] – Park Tae Jong – The last filly to win until Sangseung Ilro in 2009.

2002: Haeam Janggun [Didyme – Ronde (Toast The Champ)] – Lim Dae Gyu – Ronde foaled her second Derby winner in as many years with this filly who won eight of her fourteen races and gave the late Lim Dae Gyu a Derby victory.

2001: Haetpit Maeul [Mujaazif – Ronde (Toast The Champ)] – Ji Ha Ju – Starting a run of three consecutive years of filly triumphs was Haetpit Maeul. Now a broodmare with some success.

2000: Haekdol’pung [Lost Mountain – Swift Diplomacy (Nice Pirate)] – Park Tae Jong – Korea’s most successful ever jockey got his second straight Derby win on the favourite. It was tight though, with Haekdol’pung getting the verdict in a three-way photograph. Sire Lost Mountain died in 2009.

1999: Manseokkkeun [Fiercely – Komplication (Kris. S)] – Park Tae Jong – Yes, he really did have three consecutive ‘k’s in his name. Park Tae Jong got the first of his three Derby winners on the colt whose sire, Fiercely, died in 2009.

1998: Useung Yegam [Happy Jazz Band – Man Jang Dae()] – Song Seok Hen – Nine of the 14 runners in the first Derby were fillies and the favourite Useung Yegam, whose dam wasn’t even in the studbook, took the honours by a length.

* For more videos see Fallight’s YouTube page. This post is a slightly updated version of the one posted in corresponding Derby build-ups over the past couple of years.

Creek Cat, Former Leading Sire in Korea, Dies Aged 15

Creek Cat [Storm Cat-Vivano (Island Whirl)], Leading Sire in Korea in 2010 and fourth on the list in 2011, has died. The fifteen year old stallion suffered a sudden heart-attack at Evergreen Farm on Jeju Island on March 12.

Creek Cat - 1997-2002 (Pic: KRA)

Unraced but well-bred, Creek Cat was sold from Kentucky to Korea for an undisclosed fee as a three-year old in 2000.

Joining the then-newly established Korean breeding program, he would go on to become an extraordinarily consistent producer of quality racehorses for the next ten years.

He sired a Korean Derby winner, Cheonnyeon Daero, who in 2010, helped him to the top of the Leading Sire list for the first and to date, only time. Other notable gets include the multiple Stakes winner Yeonseung Daero and 2010 Champion filly Love Cat.

Creek Cat is well represented on this year’s Triple Crown trail, with his colt Viva Cat one of the most highly rated three-year olds on the peninsula.

These days, as Korean buyers can import big names such as Vicar, Menifee, Forest Camp, One Cool Cat and Officer seemingly at will, there are fewer opportunities for untested sires in Korea. However, with the KRA eager to see a successful Korean born stallion, it is possible that Creek Cat’s line may live on. While a number of his fillies have become broodmares, Cheonnyeon Daero entered Stud this year.

Whatever happens, Creek Cat has had a major influence on horse racing in Korea over the past decade. He will be missed.

Cheonnyeon Daero wins the 2010 Korean Derby (Pic: Ross Holburt)

Retiring Cheonnyeon Daero Honoured At Busan

Derby Winner Was Chief Rival To Dangdae Bulpae

Cheonnyeon Daero, winner of the 2010 Korean Derby, was honoured with a retirement ceremony at Busan Race Park this afternoon. Such a ceremony is a rare occurrence in Korea racing and an honour only afforded to Classic or multiple Stakes winners.

Cheonnyeon Daero wins the 2010 Derby (Pic: Ross Holburt)

While his Derby win was impressive, Cheonnyeon Daero [Creek Cat-Doneitmyway (Northern Flagship)] will perhaps be remembered more for what he nearly won – and his rivalry with the horse that usually beat him – rather than for what he did win. Of his 28 starts, he only won 7 times but finished second on a remarkable 14 occasions, including the President’s, Minister’s, and Ttukseom Cups, plus the KNN and the Owners’ Trophies, with Dangdae Bulpae the horse beating him in all but the latter.

Cheonnyeon Daero

The rivalry between Dangdae Bulpae and Cheonnyeon Daero has been one of Korean racing’s most enduring features over the past two years. They faced each other seven times, always in Stakes races with Dangdae Bulpae getting the better of his rival on five occasions.

However, when they started out as three-year olds it was different. Cheonnyeon Daero finished third in the KRA Cup Mile, the opening leg of the Triple Crown yet was still sent off as a 28/1 outsider behind favourite Money Car. We all know what happened next as Money Car got sucked into an early speed duel with the sprinter Seonbongbulpae and tired in the home straight, allowing Cheonnyeon Daero to catch and pass him in the final few strides. Dangdae Bulpae was back in third.

Nemesis: Dangdae Bulpae and Jo Sung Gon

Park Geum Man rode him that day and would go on to partner him in all but one of his seventeen subsequent starts. Australian trainer Peter Wolsley, who acted as Park’s mentor, told the Korea Times that even though it was for a different trainer, Park’s Derby win was his proudest moment in Korean racing.

By the time the third-leg of the Crown rolled around, the Minister’s Cup in October, the tables had turned. Dangdae Bulpae was the sixth length winner and Cheonnyeon Daero’s time in his shadow had begun.

After the Derby, Cheonnyeon Daero only won four more times but he was consistently placed, most often second. He actually crossed the line first in the Owners’ Trophy last September, only to be demoted to second. In a strange twist, the horse that Cheonnyeon Daero interfered with was the Peter Wolsley trained Khaosan. Khaosan’s promotion gave Park’s mentor his first Korean Stakes win.

Cheonnyeon Daero’s final race was the Grand Prix Stakes at Seoul in December, after the decision had already been made to retire him. For the first and only time in his career, he finished outside the money. He will be retired to Stud.

Cheonnyeon Daero’s Derby: