Dongbanui Gangja

Multiple Stakes Winner Tough Win Retired Aged 9

After a career spanning more than six years and featuring 24 wins and over 2 Billion Won in prize money, Tough Win has been retired. His retirement ceremony took place at Seoul Racecourse last Saturday afternoon.

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Tough Win in the winner’s circle at his retirement ceremony at Seoul Racecourse

Tough Win [Yonaguska – Maggie May’s Sword (Sword Dance)] was purchased for $12,000 at the Ocala 2-year-old sale in June 2009. and arrived in Korea the following month.

He made his racecourse debut that November, being sent off as third-favourite for a class 4 event over 1200M. He won by 16 lengths. The victories quickly piled up and Tough Win was very soon established as the hottest 3-year-old in the country. So it was in July of 2010, unbeaten in 7 starts that he traveled down to Busan to take on his toughest assignment to date, the Busan Mayor’s Cup and a showdown with Dongbanui Gangja.

Dongbanui Gangja (Broken Vow) came in following 12 consecutive wins stretching back almost two years and which included two victories in the Grand Prix Stakes. He was sent off as favourite. Tough Win sat handy early under regular jockey Cho Kyoung Ho while Dongbanui Gangja, with Moon Se Young on board for the first and only time, was away patiently. The older horse improved up to 4th as they began to straighten up and it looked like we were in for quite the finale. We were, but not the one we expected. Dongbanui Gangja spooked and ran wide, ruining his chance leaving Tough Win to get the better of a furious battle with Yeonseung Daero and Vicar Love, winning by a neck on the line.

Dongbanui Gangja’s antics meant for unfinished business between the pair and accordingly, they met again in October in the KRA Cup Classic at Seoul. Dongbanui Gangja ran well that day but lacked his usual spark, lugging 63kg around, and he finished a well beaten 2nd as Tough Win prevailed by five lengths.

So Tough Win was a perfect 9 for 9 heading into the season finale, the Grand Prix Stakes in December of 2010. Tough Win was the even-money favourite, slightly ahead of Dongbanui Gangja, who was looking for an unprecedented third consecutive triumph in the race. It was not to be for either of them as another 3-year-old, Mister Park, up from Busan, upset the favourites to record his 11th straight win on his way to what would become a record-breaking 17 consecutive victories.

Tough Win Grand Prix

Tough Win beat Mister Park and Smarty Moonhak to win the Grand Prix Stakes in 2011 (KRA)

Revenge for Tough Win on Mister Park would come a year later. 2011 started off in mixed fashion, Carrying a very high weight in handicaps, Tough Win suffered a couple of defeats – including one at the hands of a 51kg carrying Dongbanui Gangja – as well as victories before heading south to defend his Mayor’s Cup at Busan in July. It all went wrong as he engaged in an early speed battle with Dangdae Bulpae that scuppered both of their chances leaving the previous year’s runner-up Yeonseung Daero to narrowly defeat Dongbanui Gangja.

The rest of the year would be flawless, however. Three runs and three wins culminated in the Grand Prix Stakes in December when he finally ended Mister Park’s unbeaten record. The precocious 2-year-old Smarty Moonhak was 3rd.  The three of them – quickly dubbed the “Troika” by the Korean racing media – should have been competing with each other in the big races for the foreseeable future. Little is foreseeable in racing, however, and within a few short months, Mister Park’s story would end in tragedy and Smarty Moonhak would be suffering from tendinitis that he would not recover from. The rigors of racing an unrelenting schedule on a hard track took their toll, making Tough Win’s longevity even more remarkable.

He wouldn’t be able to retain the Grand Prix in 2012. finishing 5th behind the emerging filly Gamdonguibada after a year in which none of his 4 wins arrived in Stakes company. He and Smarty Moonhak did face each other in the Busan Mayor’s Cup in July but Tough Win had an off-day, finishing 4th, while Dangdae Bulpae defeated Smarty Moonhak for the win.

Tough Win began 2013 in fine style though, winning three races in the Spring before travelling to Busan once more to take on the Busan Mayor’s Cup for the fourth time. It would end in triumph, as he ran away from Beolmaui Kkum and Dangdae Bulpae in the closing stages to win by nearly three lengths on the line. He followed it up with a 4th place in the SBS Korea/Japan Goodwill Cup in September but the injuries started to mount up – indeed, Tough Win’s Studbook entry lists 621 veterinary visits during his career.

Tough Win Busan Met 2013

Tough Win claiming his 2nd Busan Mayor’s Cup in 2013 (KRA)

Tough Win only ran three times in 2014, each time without success and it looked like all those hard races had caught up with him. Remarkably though at the beginning of 2015 he came back and with a new running style – dropping all the way to the back from the gate, conserving energy and then picking off his rivals in the home straight -he returned to the winner’s circle that January. He promptly came out and repeated the feat in February. Those victories – wins number 23 and 24  – would prove to be the Indian summer of his career and following six subsequent unsuccessful starts, he was finally retired. His last race was in March this year.

Maggie May’s Sword herself was imported to Korea in late 2010 although she only produced one foal who made it to the races prior to her death in May 2012.

In Mister Park’s obituary, it was noted that the lot of a gelding can be to keep on running until the injuries and general wear and tear finally take over. Unfortunately this was true in Tough Win’s case with his retirement coming perhaps a year later than it should but he bows out in good health and is to be sent for re-training as a riding horse. We will be watching carefully. Subsidy, one of the most important racehorses of the past two decades here was to be retrained too but quickly disappeared without trace after retirement. There’s no reason to suggest that will happen to Tough Win. It had better not. With his, for want of a better word, toughness, those wins and his sheer longevity, he retires as one of the greats of Korean racing.

Seoul Bids Farewell To Moody Dongbanui Gangja While Indian Blue Romps To Segye Ilbo Victory

Dongbanui Gangja Retirement Ceremony / Segye Ilbo Stakes / Treble For Fujii At Busan

Dongbanui Gangja was in typically combative mood as he passed into Korean racing history with a retirement ceremony at Seoul Race Park this afternoon.

Dongbanui Gangja was in mischievous mood at Seoul Race Park

Dongbanui Gangja was in mischeivous mood at Seoul Race Park

The 8-year-old looked as though he’d rather be anywhere else than the Seoul Race Park winner’s circle that he graced so many times over the years after big race wins.

Although eventually coaxed into posing for photographs for the hundreds of well-wishers who crowded around, he made clear his displeasure by bucking and kicking his way through a canter down the home-straight accompanied by a track pony.

For jockey Choi Bum Hyun it must have been a reminder of the grief and the brilliance he got from Dongbanui Gangja as the pair won back-to-back Grand Prix Stakes and an Owners’ Cup among 20 career victories. Yet when he lost, he tended to do it in style with some monumental displays of petulance over the years costing him victories.

He will be greatly missed. Dongbanui Gangja [Broken Vow – Maremaid (Storm Bird)], who was bought for $20,000 at OBS in 2007 retired with career earnings of $1.3 Million. He will go to stud at a private farm on Jeju Island.

On the track, Indian Blue produced an impressive come-from-behind run to sweep to a convincing victory in the Segye Ilbo Cup.

Indian Blue and Yoo Seung Wan, both in the Stakes winner's circle for the first time

Indian Blue and Yoo Seung Wan, both in the Stakes winner’s ciircle for the first time

The 7 furlong race, one of few big races specifically for foreign-bred fillies and mares, saw 3-year-old Indian Blue (Henny Hughes) make up 11 places in the penultimate furlong before stretching away to win by 8 lengths from Dashing Platinum (Macho Uno) and Pureun Miso (Malibu Moon).

Indian Blue, a $26,000 purchase from Fasig Tipton last May, now has 3 wins from 6 starts and has never finished worse than 3rd.

Segye Ilbo Cup – Seoul Race Park – 1400M – February 17, 2013

1. Indian Blue (USA) [Henny Hughes – Gamblers Passion (Prospectors Gamble)] – Yoo Seung Wan – 2.2, 1.2
2. Dashing Platinum (USA) [Macho Uno – Forbidden Kiss (Tocuh Gold)] – Lee Hyeok – 3.0
3. Pureun Miso (USA) [Malibu Moon – Marina De Chavon (Exploit)] – Jun Duck Yong – 2.0

Distances: 8 lengths / 0.5 lengths
Also Ran: 4. January Queen (KOR) 5. Seocheonha (NZ) 6. Daehwahap (USA) 7. Big Power (USA) 8. Raonjena (USA) 9. A Wanted Affair (USA) 10. Yaho Dolphins (USA) 11. Golden Socks (USA) 12. Winner Trophy (USA) 13. Silent Dashing (USA) NR: Happy Dancer (USA)

* At Busan it was a great day for Joe Fujii. Since finishing 2012 on a high with his Grand Prix Stakes win on Gamdonguibada, the Japanese jockey has had a quiet start to 2013 with suspension ruling him out of the first few meetings.

It all came right today, however, as Fujii notched up a treble, all for trainer Kim Young Kwan. First up was filly Raon Bally (Pico Central) in race 3, quickly followed by Raon Boss (Pico Central) for the same owner in race 4. His final triumph came in race 6 on Myeongun Jewang (Forest Camp).

Narazaki Kosuke was also among the winners today meaning 4 out of the 6 races on the card at Busan were won by Japanese riders.

Next week sees the first Stakes action of the year at Busan in the shape of the Busan Ilbo Cup. Dangdae Bulpae and Gyeongbudaero are set to be among a very strong field.

Dongbanui Gangja, Double Grand Prix Stakes Winner, Has Been Retired

A year after his last start, US bred champion Dongbanui Gangja [Broken Vow-Maremaid (Storm Bird)] has been formally retired aged 8. He is a two-time winner of the Grand Prix Stakes, Korea’s most prestigious race, claiming victories in 2008 and 2009. He also won the Owners’ Association Trophy as he racked up 20 wins from 35 lifetime starts.

Dongbanui Gangja and Choi Bum Hyun (Pic: KRA)

Dongbanui Gangja and Choi Bum Hyun (Pic: KRA)

A $20,000 purchase from the OBS Spring Sale of Two-Year-Olds in Training in April 2007, Dongbanui Gangja has a solid but start to his racing career, winning 3 times from 6 starts as a 2-year old. He continued to develop as a 3-year old culminating in his first Grand Prix win in December 2008 beating 2007 winner Bally Brae by 4 lengths.

Dongbanui Gangja

Dongbanui Gangja

That was the 3rd win in a sequence of 12 consecutive triumphs that saw him become the first horse to simultaneously hold the Grand Prix Stakes and Owners’ Association Trophy. He successfully defended his Grand Prix title in December 2009 with a dominant 6 length win.

His remarkable run of victories finally came to an end on his first trip to Busan for the Metropolitan City Mayor’s Cup in July 2010. Billed as the first showdown between Dongbanui Gangja and the young upstart import Tough Win (Yonaguska), Dongbanui Gangja ran inexplicibly wide on the final turn eliminating himself from contention.

This began a period of several races where he became very difficult to control including in that year’s Grand Prix when he could only manage 7th place behind Mister Park.

2011 saw a return to some kind of form and he managed a creditable 2nd place on his return to the Busan Metropolitan as well as picking up 2 big handicap wins. Like all successful imported horses, however, it was becoming harder and harder to find races for him due to the handicapper. On what proved to be his final outing, in February 2012, he carried 62kg. Despite that impost, he won.

One of the most successful horses ever to race in Korea, a retirement ceremoney for Dongbanui Gangja, at which the horse will be present, will be held in the winner’s circle at Seoul Race Park this coming Sunday, February 17.

Bally Brae, Former Horse Of The Year and Grand Prix Winner, Retired Aged 10 As Little Sister Breaks Maiden

Last Saturday at Seoul may hae drawn most attention for a jockey picking up a 6 month ban for a foolish ride, however, amongst the winners of 12 relatively low-key races, there was one notable filly, who broke her maiden at the fifth attempt.

Global Bally [Forest Camp-Political Bluff (Unaccounted For)] took victory in race 3 by a length and a half at odds of 6/1. She is the half-sister of Bally Brae, Korea’s Horse Of The Year in 2006 and Grand Prix Stakes winner in 2007 and her win came one month after the 10-year-old finished 9th in what would be his final ever outing at Seoul Race Park.

Bally Brae and Moon Se Young win the 2007 Grand Prix Stakes (KRA)

The American bred Bally Brae [Yarrow Brae – Political Bluff (Unaccounted For)] is one of a few horses, Subsidy, Luna, Baekgwang, Baekpa who established themselves both as a champion racehorse and as a firm fan-favourite.

Imported in January 2006 after being (so the story goes) spotted in the US by Hong Dae You, then a jockey. His debut, with Hong in the saddle, was a winning one and began a run of four straight wins culminating in triumph in the 2006 Selangor Turf Club Trophy. A pair of Stakes runner-up finishes later and he found himself lining up for the Grand Prix Stakes at the end of the 2006 season. He wouldn’t win, leading most of the way before finishing second to Flying Cat (Western Cat).

It was in 2006 that he began the rivalry for which he will be most remembered. Bally Brae and Subsidy (Mr. Prospector) traded big handicap wins with each other throughout that year and 2007 – Subsidy getting the better of their most memorable battle. It was Bally Brae, however, now with Hong Dae You as trainer and Moon Se Young in the saddle, who claimed the biggest win of his career in the 2007 Grand Prix, with Subsidy four lengths adrift.

Bally Brae would continue to be the top horse on the peninsula in 2008. However, he was being restricted by a high handicap mark and defeat to Dongbanui Gangja (Broken Vow) in that year’s Grand Prix heralded the start of the changing of the guard. Two wins and a second place to start 2009 showed that there was still plenty of life left in the now seven-year old, but an injury then began to cause him problems. Although he recovered quickly, he never quite regained his old speed.

Despite this, he started 2010 with three straight wins. Inevitably this put his handicap mark back up and, over the next two years, while he regularly finished in the money, he would only score one more win. In another symbolic changing of the guard, earlier this year, both he and Dongbanui Gangja finished more than 10 lengths adrift of the new star, Smarty Moonhak (Smarty Jones).

His owners had pledged to retire him if he became uncompetitive and, after running ninth on April 14th, it was announced that he would not race again. Instead, he has been sent to the Korea Horse Affairs High School – a specialist school in Jeolla Province, run by the KRA which, in addition to the standard school curriculum, equips students with the skills they need to go on to work in the racing and equestrian industries. There he will have the status of “Visiting Professor” and, still race fit, will be ridden by the next generation of aspiring jockeys.

Bally Brae and Hong Dae You, first his jockey, then his trainer (KRA)

Bally Brae’s dam, Political Bluff, was imported to Korea in 2007. It is common practice for the KRA to buy the dams of good imported racehorses. the dams of Dongbanui Gangja and Tough Win have both arrived in Korea in recent years.

As for Global Bally, trained by Hong Dae You and ridden by Moon Se Young, she has a long way to go to emulate her big brother. With that first win under her belt though, she is finally on her way.

* Bally Brae’s great rival Subsidy was retired in 2010. Retrained as a riding horse, he sadly died in a paddock accident earlier this year.

Old Favourites Take Big Prizes At Seoul & Busan

Yeonseung Daero grabbed victory in the Busan Ilbo Stakes while in the capital, two-time Grand Prix winner Dongbanui Gangja made light work of the top weight of 62kg to win the feature race.

Yeonseung Daero - Second Stakes win (Pic: KRA)

On the south coast, Yeonseung Daero (Creek Cat) was sent off favourite for the mile-long Listed Stakes race – Busan’s first of 2012.

And reunited with jockey Jo Chang Wook for the first time since placing fourth in the Minister’s Cup in 2009, the six-year old was always well-placed, entering the home straight in third and then comfortable seeing off the challenge of Dongseo Jeongbeol (Vicar) and Mulbora (Fiercely) by a full three lengths.

Peter Wolsley’s Khaosan was fifth while Joe Murphy’s Udeumji ran to form in finishing a lowly ninth.

Fifth behind Sangseung Ilro in the 2009 Korean Derby, Yeonseung Daero has gone on to become the most consistent performer of that particular crop of runners. A money-winner in ten Stakes races over his career, today was just his second win at the Listed level, his first coming in last year’s Busan Metropolitan at the expense of Tough Win and Dangdae Bulpae.

His overall win record would surely have been higher than the sixteen from forty starts were it not for the fact that his connections – who also own recently retired 2010 Derby winner Cheonnyeon Daero – took the decision when he reached four-years-old, to only run him against foreign-bred opposition or in Stakes races.

It’s a move that meant not only did he have to carry less weight than he would otherwise have done, has also made for far more competitive races and it is unfortunate that more owners don’t do this with their best Korean bred horses.

Busan Ilbo Cup – Busan Race Park – 1600M – Sunday Feb 26, 2012

1. Yeonseung Daero (KOR) [Creek Cat-Sensationalkris (Cryptoclearance)] – Jo Chang Wook – 3.7, 1.6
2. Dongseo Jeongbeol (KOR) [Vicar-Rendezvous Bay (Wonderloaf)] – Song Keong Yun – 1.6
3. Mulbora (KOR) [Fiercely-Winning Design (Beau’s Eagle)] – 4.6

Distances: 3 lengths/Neck
Also Ran: 4. Haneului Chubok 5. Khaosan 6. Isidae Gangja 7. Perfect Made 8. Gamun Daejangun 9. Udeumji 10. Bada Jewang 11. Dongbangmiin 12. Champion Belt 13. Choego Yeongung

Up at Seoul, there was a familiar figure in the winner’s circle after the feature race. Dongbanui Gangja (Broken Vow) beat out a competitive field to win by half a length from Necromancer (Air Eminem), Captain Cugat (King Cugat) and pre-race favourite Kkakjaengi (Put It Back).

The pacifiers may make him look like a wasp, but Dongbanui Gangja looks back to his old-self

The former double Grand Prix champion and Horse Of The Year was giving at least four kilos to all of his rivals and was coming in to the race off the back of a ten-length humbling at the hands of young phenom Smarty Moonhak in his last outing.

The Dongbanui Gangja we saw on the track today though – and in fairness last time too – was a much more disciplined one than in the past.

He may not seem to have the same kind of explosive finish he had in the past but neither does he go wandering out wide giving himself far more ground to cover than any of his rivals. Today, after Choi Bum Hyun made his characteristic move around the field on Dongbanui Gangja in the back straight, he got on the rail and stayed there until the finish.

It’s good to have him back although with Kkakjaengi disappointing, it looks as though the search goes on to find a horse to join Tough Win and Mister Park as the only credible challengers to Smarty Moonhak this year.

Triple Seven’s Luck Back In

He’s a Ttukseom Cup winner and is the most successful runner by his late sire The Groom Is Red. And today, Triple Seven was back in the winner’s circle at Seoul Race Park after scoring an upset win in the afternoon’s feature handicap.

Triple Seven & Choi Bum Hyun return to the winner's circle for the first time for nearly a year

Starting as a 14/1 outsider behind favourite High Point, currently ranked behind only Ace Galloper in terms of domestic bred horses in the capital, Triple Seven was always close to the front as the field set a very slow pace in the 1900 metre race.

While Suseong TX, Money Teukgeup and Cheot Insang all took part in a closely fought finish, High Point was nowhere to be seen and eventually finished last but one as Triple Seven took victory by a length and a half.

The victory took Triple Seven past the One Billion Won prize money mark and was his thirteenth win from thirty-five career starts. It was his first start since September last year and the extended break appears to have him back looking something like the horse he was two years ago. He’ll not be in the Ttukseom Cup this year – it’s now for fillies and mares only – but whatever race he starts next, he won’t be 14/1 again.

In other races, it was a big day for apprentice jockey Lee Hyeok. The 25-year-old (these days Korean jockeys have to complete their education and then study full-time at the KRA jockey academy before they can get a license – the majority of new jockeys are in their mid-20’s) landed the first double of his career to get his fourth and fifth winners since debuting last summer.

Later in the day, he suffered his first in-race fall as Kwaegamhaengjin appeared to break down on the second corner in race 9. Lee was sent tumbling and was narrowly missed by horses coming through behind him. Remarkably after being treated on the track for five minutes, he was able to walk away.

Kwaegamhaengjin

Kwaegamhaengjin [Newsprint-Yeonseung Kwaegam (Real Quiet)] sadly was not so lucky. The four-year-old was starting for the twelfth time and had two wins and three second places to his name. Those two wins had come in his last three outings and he was looking set for a successful season.

A few years ago, a horse would break down and the vet would be nowhere to be seen. In some ways it is a sign of how far racing here has come that today the horse was being attended to as quickly as the fallen jockey; just seconds after it happened.

The most difficult moment in racing has been made as humane and dignified as it has been anywhere. Nevertheless, every time it happens is once too often. The track may have had nothing to do with Kwaegamhaengjin’s fate, but the breakdown rate is still too high. It is surely time to get rid of this sand.

Racing returns to Seoul on Sunday with Dongbanui Gangja
and Kkakjaengi fighting it out in the feature race. Down at Busan, it is the first Stakes race of the season and Yeonseung Daero is set to be favourite for the Busan Ilbo Cup.

Sunday February 26

Seoul Race Park: 11 races from 11:00 to 17:50
Busan Race Park: 8 races from 11:50 to 16:50 including the Busan Ilbo Cup at 15:55

Weekend Preview: Busan Ilbo Cup

Champion Belt, Yeonseung Daero, Dongseo Jeongbeol In First Busan Stakes Of 2012 / Dongbanui Gangja Headlines Seoul

Busan Race Park sees its first Stakes race action of the year on Sunday as thirteen of the track’s best Korean bred older horses line-up for the Busan Ilbo Cup.

Yeonseung Daero - Tough Test in Busan Ilbo Cup

Last year’s Minister’s Cup winner Dongseo Jeonbeol, Busan Metropolitan winner Yeonseung Daero and the current top-rated (without Mister Park) Korean horse at Busan, Champion Belt will all line up for the Mile-Long rrace.

There is foreign interest too as both Peter Wolsley and Joe Murphy have runners. Wolsley saddles Khaosan, who won the Owners’ Cup last year, while Murphy sends out Udeumji, who is without a win since last May but as such, finds himself bottom of the handicap. Meanwhile, Japanese jockey Akane Yamamoto will ride another outsider, Choego Yeongung.

Up at Seoul, Saturday sees former stakes-winners High Point and Triple Seven among the runners in the feature race while on Sunday former double-Grand Prix victor Dongbanui Gangja headlines the main event.

The former champion was handed a comprehensive drubbing by Smarty Moonhak last month and will have to carry top weight of 62Kg in the 2000M handicap. Top filly Kkakjaengi also goes in a full field of fourteen as do a pair of relative newcomers to class 1 level Celebrate Tonight and Mass Media’s Tea.

On the classic trail, we’ll be mostly looking out for colt Nobel Pokpung in race 11 at Busan on Friday and filly Dolpung Jilju in race 9 at Seoul on Saturday.

Here’s what’s happening where and when on what looks set to be another chilly weekend:

Friday February 24

Busan Race Park: 11 races from 11:30 to 18:00
Jeju Race Park: 9 races from 13:30 to 17:30

Saturday Febrary 25

Seoul Race Park: 12 races from 11:00 to 17:20
Jeju Race Park: 9 races from 12:20 to 17:20

Sunday February 26

Seoul Race Park: 11 races from 11:00 to 17:50
Busan Race Park: 8 races from 11:50 to 16:50 including the Busan Ilbo Cup at 15:55.