Busan Metropolitan City Stakes: Full Preview

The “Summer Grand Prix” is upon us. 15 horses will go to post at Busan on Sunday for what is the fast becoming the most prestigious race of the summer months in Korea, the Busan Metropolitan City Mayor’s Cup.

Who will follow Tough Win as the Busam Metrpolitan winner? (KRA)

Who will follow Tough Win as the Busam Metrpolitan winner? (KRA)

The Cup – known as the Busan Metropolitan for short – has been Open to horses from both Busan and Seoul since 2009 and has been won by such big name horses as Tough Win (twice), Yeonseung Daero and Dangdae Bulpae. There will be a new name in the winner’s circle this year, however.

Here’s full look at the runners and riders:

Busan Metropolitan City – Busan Racecourse – 2000M – Sunday July 20, 17:15

1. Indian Blue (USA) [Henny Hughes – Gambler’s Passion (Prospector’s Gamble)] 4 F (17/5/4/4) – Ikuyasu Kurakane (Seoul)
A really good filly, she was 4th in the Grand Prix in Seoul last December but was well beaten behind Gamdonguibada at Busan in the KNN Cup. The fastest closer in the field, if Gamdonguibada and the other front-runners go too quickly, too soon, she could have a chance.

2. Gamdonguibada (USA) [Werblin – Radyla (Country Pine)] 4 M (19/11/3/3) – Masakazu Tanaka (Busan)
She’s won the first two legs of the Queens’ Tour in imperious style in her last two outings and neither facing the makes nor the step back up in distance will hold any fears here. The 2012 Grand Prix winner is a top quality filly. Lost to Heba at this distance in January when giving away 9kg – that shouldn’t happen here. Huge opportunity for Masa Tanaka replacing the injured Joe Fujii in the saddle.

3. Hwanggeumjijon (USA) [Medallist – Milady Sadie (Meadow Monster)] 5 G (22/2/2/3) – Kim Gui Bae (Seoul)
Nothing to recommend here. His two wins came on his first two starts two years ago. Has never actually made it to regular class 1 racing and he was 12th in this race last year. Connections clearly enjoy the day out at Busan.

4. Chogwang (AUS) [Lion Heart – Colonial Dancer (Pleasant Colony)] 5 H (23/3/5/3) – Kim Hyun Joong (Busan)
A really good-looking 8-length winner last time out at this distance against class 1 horses at odds of nearly 30/1. Unlikely to repeat here but expect him to be challenging for the lead early.

5. Russian To Win (USA) [Mayakovsky – Aristie (Loustrous Bid)] 4 C (14/3/0/1) – Yoon Tae Hyuk (Seoul)
Another from Seoul who’s here for the day out. Was a decent prospect at one time but never really recovered form after a 6-moth layoff last year. Has never graduated from class 2 although usually runs in class 1 company and generally doesn’t do very well. No chance.

6. Bichui Wangja (USA) [Roman Ruler – Quiet Delight (Grindstone)] 4 C (16/6/5/2) – Shin Hyoung Chul (Seoul)
Has two class 1 wins to his name this year and is by no means a bad horse. Likes to come from just off the pace and while he is quick, it’s questionable whether he’ll have enough speed to go past the front-runners here or hold off the likes of Indian Blue late on. Outside chance of a place.

7. Cheongchun Bulpae (KOR) [Milwaukee Brew – Placid Star (Placid Fund)] 5 G (23/12/2/2) – Jo Sung Gon (Busan)
The first of two for trainer Peter Wolsley. He comes into the race off the back of two consecutive wins at this distance against class 1 Korean bred horses. He’ll face tougher opposition here but is quick enough to compete. Likes to be towards to front early on and then stays on the straight.

8. Star Bolt (USA) [Fusaichi Pegasus – D’Oro Doll (Touch Gold)] 4 F (20/3/6/1) – Park Geum Man (Busan)
Third behind Gamdonguibada in the KNN Cup last time out and will probably be aiming for a similar finish here. Likely to be close to the pacesetters early on but it is questionable whether she will have enough speed to get past them in the home straight. A Place bet.

9. Dynamic Jilju (USA) [Forestry – Beat Your Feet (Dixieland Band)] 3 C (15/5/2/1) – Choi Si Dae (Busan)
Hasn’t won in four class 1 starts but has finished in the money on each occasion, second place in the Gukje Sinmun being the highlight. Will expect to challenge for a similar position again. Another who sits just off the lead early on and another who may not be quite quick enough when it counts.

10. Cheonji Bulpae (AUS) [Bernardini – Purrfection (Tale Of The Cat)] 5 H (21/10/0/3) – Kim Yong Geun (Busan)
Peter Wolsley’s second entrant was 3rd in the Grand Prix last December and then won his first two starts of 2014 before showing up out of sorts in his most recent two. When he wins, it’s from a spot just behind the leaders, generally hitting the front early in the home straight. There will be plenty of competition for that position but on his day, Cheonji Bulpae can compete with this field.

11. Nobody Catch Me (USA) [With Distinction – Nana’s Babe (Allen’s Prospect)] 4 G (15/4/4/2) – Yang Young Nam (Busan)
Despite his name, trainer Kim Young Kwan’s second entry doesn’t usually lead from the front and then hope no-one catches him. Beaten 7-lengths last time out by resurgent stable-mate Magic Dancer, he still comes in here not without a chance. Tough to see him winning but should be challenging at the business end of the race.

12. Cowboy Son (USA) [Cowboy Cal – Nosmallacheivement (Smart Strike)] 3 C (10/8/1/1) – You Hyun Myung (Busan)
The biggest earner to date worldwide for his sire, Cowboy Son is so far only proven up to 1500 metres. He undoubtedly has the fastest sprint in the race but whether he can do that after an extra two and a half furlongs is the big question here. Definitely has class, but will he stay? The dark-horse of the field.

13. Mari Daemul (USA) [Go For Gin – Token Beauty (Gold Token)] 5 H (26/9/4/3) – Ham Wan Sik (Seoul)
The somewhat surprising winner of the KRA Cup Classic last autumn has been in reasonable form this year and comes into the race following a win over 1800 metres last month. Generally comes from off the pace and if he runs to his best, can compete.

14. Heba (USA) 4 F [Peace Rules – Sue’s Temper (Temperence Hill)] (21/6/4/1) – Jeong Dong Cheol (Busan)
Scored a win over Gamdonguibada back in January although she had a huge weight advantage that day which she doesn’t have here. Has been in indifferent form since then and will need to step up significantly to compete. Another who will most likely try to come out of the pack as they enter the home straight.

15. Sangnyu (USA) [Borken Vow – Midtown Miss (Yes It’s True)] 5 M (23/5/3/3) – Jang Chuyoul (Seoul)
Was 9th on her last start which was at Busan in the KNN Cup. Hasn’t won for a year and while she has a quick finish, it is highly unlikely to be quick enough to trouble the favourites here.

Gamdonguibada Crushes KNN Cup Field

Gamdonguibada, New York Blue and Star Bolt were the quickest out of the gate – Joy Lucky was the slowest. And over the course of a mile nothing changed as Gamdonguibada proved a class apart from the rest, cruising to the 2nd leg of the Queens’ Tour at Busan this afternoon.

Gamdonguibada leads New York Blue in the home straight (screengrab - better picture to follow)

Gamdonguibada leads New York Blue in the home straight (screengrab – better picture to follow)

Sent off the odds-on favourite after her dominant display in the Ttukseom Cup and with Joe Fujii back in the saddle, 2012 Grand Prix Stakes winner Gamdonguibada didn’t for a single stride look like getting beaten.

She traded 1st place a couple of times with the young up-and-comer New York Blue but once they were in the home straight, 15 fillies and mares appeared to go backwards while Gamdonguibada strode away from them. The margin on the line was 11 lengths. It could have been 111.

Behind her New York Blue stayed on well for second under Masa Tanaka to make it a Japanese jockey 1-2. Star Bolt also stayed on for 3rd, a place ahead of 170/1 outsider Silver Classic.

Indian Blue was the best of the visitors from Seoul, picking up the last money spot of 5th on another dismal day for the capital contingent. Joy Lucky, so impressive two weeks ago at Seoul, could manage ni better than 15th in running and eventually finished last.

Gamdonguibada moves onto 11 wins from 19 starts, 5 of those wins coming in Stakes races. The Queens’ Tour reconvenes at Busan in October. She is likely to be heavy favourite to add the final leg to her collection too.

It’s yet another Stakes win for the remarkable Kim Young Kwan, fresh from training another filly, Queen’s Blade to win the Derby last month. For Joe Fujii meanwhile, it’s a 5th Korean Stakes win and his 128th overall in the country.

KNN Cup – Busan Race Park – 1600M – June 8, 2014

1. Gamdonguibada (USA) [Werblin – Radyla (Country Pine)] – Kanichiro Fujii – 1.6, 1.2
2. New York Blue (USA) [Candy Ride – Aim For The Moon (Deputy Minister)] – Masakazu Tanaka – 2.5
3. Star Bolt (USA) [Fusaichi Pegaus – Do’Oro Doll (Touch Gold)] – Kim Dong Young – 3.3

Distances: 11 lengths/3 lengths
Also ran: 4. Silver Classic (USA) 5. Indian Blue (USA) 6. Heba (USA) 7. Shining Future (KOR) 8. Black Dia (KOR) 9. Sangnyu (USA) 10 Nulpurunchongnyong (KOR) 11. Seungni Laser (KOR) 12. Chiming Vicar (KOR) 13. Kalma (USA) 14. Baedari Yeongung (KOR) 15. Seungbu Sinhwa (USA) 16. Joy Lucky (KOR)

The KNN Cup: Full Preview

The top fillies and mares on the peninsula are in Busan this weekend for the KNN Cup, the 2nd-leg of the 2014 Queens’ Tour.

Gamdonguibada won the Ttukseom Cup, the first leg of the Queens' Tour

Gamdonguibada won the Ttukseom Cup, the first leg of the Queens’ Tour

Ttukseom Cup winner Gamdonguibada will renew hostilities with Indian Blue and Joy Lucky as a full field of 16 takes on the mile-long test.

Scroll down for a full preview but first, here’s what’s happening when and where on this holiday weekend:

Friday June 6
Busan Race Park: 10 races from 13:00 to 19:00
Jeju Race Park: 9 races from 13:25 to 17:40

Saturday June 7
Seoul Race Park: 11 races from 10:50 to 18:00
Jeju Race Park: 9 races from 12:20 to 17:10

Sunday June 8
Seoul Race Park: 11 races from 10:50 to 18:00
Busan Race Park: 6 races from 12:45 to 17:05

KNN Cup – Busan Race Park – 1600M – June 8, 2014

1. Baedari Yeongung (KOR) [Yehudi – Recondite (Silver Deputy)] 5 (31/5/2/4) – You Hyun Myung (Busan)
She wins from the front and will likely look to get there early. It’s been a long time since she’s done so successfully though and on recent form is very unconvincing.

2. Shining Future (KOR) [Silver Train – Juliet’s Kiss (Kissin Kris)] 5 (24/4/3/2) – Darryll Holland (Busan)
She was 6th in the Ttukseom Cup and that would appear to be the extent of her ambitions here as well. The booking of Holland is a bonus but even so, a place seems her best hope.

3. New York Blue (USA) [Candy Ride – Aim For The Moon (Deputy Minister)] 3 (9/4/3/0) – Masakazu Tanaka (Busan)
The only 3-year-old in the field, she was a smart winner over 1400M last up. She has the speed and looks like she can go further but company of this calibre may be a little too much too soon.

4. Gamdonguibada (USA) [Werblin – Radyla (Country Pine)] 5 (18/10/3/3) – Kanichiro Fujii (Busan)
Exceptionally impressive leading from gate to wire in the Ttukseom Cup, she’s not been seen on the track since except for a race trial in early May – exactly the same prep she did for the Ttukseom. Joe Fujii, who won the Grand Prix on her, returns to the saddle and she’ll be tough to oppose.

5. Star Bolt (USA) [Fusaichi Pegasus – D’Oro Doll (Touch Gold)] 4 (19/3/6/0) – Kim Dong Young (Busan)
4th in the Gukje Sinmun Cup last month, she usually goes close but rarely wins. That’s likely to be the same here.

6. Chiming Vicar (KOR) [Vicar – Chiming In (Fasliyev)] 5 (25/6/2/1) – Park Sang Woo (Seoul)
Came from just off the pace to grab a class 2 victory in March but was poor last time out on her class 1 debut. Likely to find the going similarly tough here.

7. Silver Classic (USA) [Chapel Royal – Psychic Friend (Star De Naskra)] 5 (24/4/3/2) – Choi Si Dae (Busan)
Was 10th first up after a long layoff last month. Desperately needed the run but is unlikely to have come on well enough to challenge here.

8. Nulpurunchongnyong (KOR) [Master Command – Sea Button (Sea Of Secrets)] 4 (12/5/4/0) – Jun Duck Yong (Seoul)
A nice looking filly who comes into the race in good form. She likes to start slow and then pick them off in the straight with good late speed. Could be a threat although this is by far the toughest field she’s faced.

9. Heba (USA) [Peace Rules – Sue’s Temper (Temperence Hill)] 4 (20/6/4/1) – Jo Sung Gon (Busan)
She has two class 1 wins to her name and was 4th in the Ttukseom Cup. She’s not been seen since – indeed her only other run this year was a nothing to write home about 5th – but is a contender here. She’s won from the front and from clsoing late

10. Indian Blue (USA) [Henny Hughes – Gambler’s Passion (Prospectors Gamble)] 4 (16/5/4/4) – Ikuyasu Kurakane (Seoul)
2nd in the Ttukseom Cup, she came back out and won last time over a tough class 1 field. She’ll be looking to go past the frontrunners in the home straight but can’t give Gamdonguibada such a head start this time. A chance.

11. Kalma (USA) [Dehere – Leeward Passage (Captain Bodgit)] 5 (20/4/1/3) – Kim Hyun Joong (Busan)
Bart Rice lets Kalma take her chance again but there’s little in her recent form to suggest she has any chance here. She’s only monied once in 6 tries at class 1.

12. Joy Lucky (KOR) [Vicar – Proper Gun (Prosper Fager)] 4 (14/10/1/0) – Moon Jung Kyun (Seoul)
2nd to Secret Whisper on her only previous visit to Busan but was poor in the Ttukseom Cup. She bounced back to win the Owners’ Trophy in April and was an impressive class 1 winner last month. She’ll be at the front but can she hold off Gamdonguibada? The suspended Seo Seung Un is replaced by moon Jung Kyun in the saddle.

13. Seungni Laser (KOR) [Menifee – First Base (Grand Slam)] 4 (12/7/0/0) – Kim Yong Geun (Busan)
Bart Rice’s better chance is an intriguing prospect who comes into the race off the back of 4 straight wins. Likes to close from just off the pace but is untried at a mile. Her only starts at 1500M have met with failure there is a question mark as to whether she will stay – but that was last year under a different trainer. If she does stay, she’ll be dangerous, especially if the leaders race themselves out of contention.

14. Black Dia (KOR) [Vicar – Blossom Again (Awesome Again)] 5 (25/5/4/1) – Song Keong Yun (Busan)
A closer who has quietly made her way to class 1. A mile has proved slightly beyond her to date and this could be her weakness here too.

15. Seungbu Sinhwa (USA) [Bluegrass Cat – Island Rhythm (Skip Trial)] 4 (19/0/3/4) – Park Si Cheon (Seoul)
Never won and as she is yet to graduate from class 3, that’s not likely to change here.

16. Sangnyu (USA) [Broken Vow – Midtown Miss (Yes It’s True)] 5 (22/5/3/3) – Bang Choon Sik (Seoul)
Well established at class 1 and another who has an outside chance to close late for a place if the pacesetters blow themselves out early.

No Joy For Seoul As Gamdonguibada Lands Ttukseom Cup

Gamdonguibada made all to win the Ttukseom Cup, the first leg of the 2014 Queens’ Tour, at Seoul Race Park this afternoon.

Gamdonguibada in the Seoul Winners Circle

Gamdonguibada in the Seoul Winners Circle

Joy Lucky was sent off as the heavy favourite and joined the 2012 Grand Prix Stakes winner Gamdonguibada in setting the early running. Meanwhile another big fancy, Indian Blue missed the break and found herself 10 lengths adrift just seconds into the race.

With few challengers asserting themselves behind, it looked like the stage was set for Gamdonguibada and Joy Lucky to duel all the way to the line. Instead, however, the Korean-bred filly faded, allowing Gamdonguibada an unchallenged 7-length victory.

Behind, Indian Blue flew home under Ikuyasu Kurakane to snatch an unlikely 2nd and leave connections with a real case of what might have been had she not given herself too much to do at the start. Grand Teukgeup, who had always been close to the front stayed on well for 3rd, just ahead of Heba and the spent Joy Lucky.

Big race jockey: Lim Sung Sil

Big race jockey: Lim Sung Sil

It was another top quality training performance from Busan’s Kim Young Kwan, his instructions to jockey Lim Sung Sil to go to the front and engage Joy Lucky early paying off spectacularly.

Trainer Kim and jockey Lim have now won the past three big Seoul Stakes races – with Indie Band in the President’s Cup and Grand Prix Stakes and then Gamdonguibada today. Kim’s horses ensure that Busan continues to dominate Seoul in the big races – in addition to those recent wins, he also trains the winners of the latest renewals of the Derby, Oaks and KNN Cup.

For Gamdonguibada, it was a 10th win from 18 starts and her 4th in Stakes races. A $31,000 purchase from the Ocala Spring 2-Year-olds in Training sale in April 2011, she’s now won $1.3Million in prize money.

The Ttukseom Cup (KOR G3) – Seoul Race Park – 1400M – March 16, 2014

1. Gamdongibada (USA) [Werblin – Radyla (Country Pine)] – Lim Sung Sil – 3.7, 1.4
2. Indian Blue (USA) [Henny Hughes – Gambler’s Passion (Prospector’s Gamble)] – Ikuyasu Kurakane – 1.6
3. Grand Teukgeup (KOR) [Menifee – Saratoga Campaign (Mt. Livermore)] – Jeong Dong Cheol – 4.5

Distances: 7 lengths/Neck
Also ran: 4. Heba (USA) 5. Joy Lucky (KOR) 6. Shining Future (KOR) 7. Star Bolt (USA) 8. Kalma (USA) 9. My Day (KOR) 10. Sun Blade (NZ) 11. Jangmi Eondeok (USA) 12. Xicar (AUS) 13. Seungbu Sinhwa (USA)

Ttukseom Cup – Full Preview

It’s the biggest race of the season so far as the Queen’s Tour gets underway in the shape of the Ttukseom Cup at Seoul this Sunday.

Joy Lucky heads the Ttukseom Cup field (Pic: KRA)

Joy Lucky heads the Ttukseom Cup field (Pic: KRA)

While Fly Top Queen misses the race due to coming down with colic, 13 will line up for the 7-furlong test which is the first in a three-race series to determine the nation’s top filly or mare.

Chief among them is Joy Lucky, 2nd in the final leg of the Tour last yea, but she has plenty to do if she’s going to get this year’s campaign off to a winning start with 2012 Grand Prix Stakes winner Gamdonguibada among those out to stop her.

It’s quite a puzzle. Here’s a full run-down of the field:

The Ttukseom Cup (KOR G3) – Seoul Race Park – 1400M – March 16, 2014

1. Indian Blue (USA) [Henny Hughes – Gambler’s Passion (Prospector’s Gamble)] 4 (14/4/3/4) – Ikuyasu Kurakane
4th in the Grand Prix Stakes last December over 2300 metres, she dropped down to this distance to pull off a victory over Japan/Korea Challenge winner Watts Village last month. With good late speed, she is one of those best placed to take on Joy Lucky in the closing stages.

2. Gamdonguibada (USA) [Werblin – Radyla (Country Pine) 5 (17/9/3/3) – Lim Sung Sil (Busan)
The 2012 Grand Prix Stakes Champion drops down to 7 furlongs for the first time since finishing 2nd in this race a full two years ago. She had an indifferent 2013 but finished 2nd on her season debut in January. She’s race-trialed over 5 furlongs twice since then and must be considered one of the favourites.

3. Star Bolt (USA) [Fusaichi Pegasus – D’Oro Doll (Touch Gold)] 4 (16/3/5/0) – Park Geum Man
Has a great turn of pace as shown when she finished 2nd in the GCTC Trophy, having been 10th inside the home-straight. Has a tendency to leave herself just a little too much to do but drops down to 1400 metres for the first time in a year – the last time she tried this distance, she led from gate to wire – albeit against greatly inferior opposition

4. Xicar (AUS) [Written Tycoon – Grand Jewel (Brocco)] 5 (24/4/3/1) – Jang Chu Youl
Very promising when she first came onto the scene, Xicar has suffered a number of injury setbacks. She finally made her class 1 debut last month and finished a very good 3rd over this distance. It would be a big surprise if she could improve on that here but has an outside chance of matching it.

5. My Day (KOR) [Touch Gold – Smart Advice (Smart Strike)] 4 (18/8/3/1) – Ham Wan Sik
A three-time winner at class 1, this diminutive looking filly has to be given respect. Dropping down to this distance for the first time in over a year, she is one who could cause problems at the business end of the race.

6. Joy Lucky (KOR) [Vicar – Proper Gun (Prosper Fager)] 4 (11/8/1/0) – Seo Seung Un
The favourite and for good reason. If she runs to her potential it is hard to see her getting beaten. Second to Secret Whisper in the final leg of the Queen’s Tour last year in Busan, she has an excellent chance of going one better this time.

7. Seungbu Sinhwa (USA) [Bluegrass Cat – Island Rhythm (Skip Trial)] 4 (18/0/3/4) – Kim Ok Sung
Has never won a race. And won’t win this one. Shes not usually far off and has taken home a paycheck from 12 of her 18 starts but, never having run at a higher level than class 3, she’ll be hard pushed to do that here.

8. Sun Blade (NZ) [Coat’s Choice – Wella (Zabeel) 3 (8/4/1/1) – Kim Yong Geun
Trainer Kim Young Kwan usually brings two up for the big races and Sun Blade looks like his 2nd-string here after Gamdonguibada. However, while she is untried at this level, she is quick and has plenty of potential as well as a 2 kilo advantage on the rest. Could be seen toward the front early and jockey Kim Yong Geun is in very good form after returning from a lengthy suspension.

9. Grand Teukgeup (KOR) [Menifee – Saratoga Campaign (Mt. Livermore)] 5 (26/9/4/2) – Jeong Dong Cheol (Busan)
Regular jockey Darryll Holland has stayed back in Busan so Jeong Dong Cheol gets his chance on last year’s runner-up. She likes to be up with the pace and won handily over a class 1 field at this distance in January but was disappointing in the Busan Ilbo Cup last up which causes concern here. Can’t be ruled out but the question is whether she is fast enough to go past the likes of Joy Lucky in the final furlong. On form, she’s not.

10. Heba (USA) [Peace Rules – Sue’s Temper (Temperence Hill)] 4 (19/6/4/1) – Masakazu Tanaka (Busan)
Burst onto the class 1 scene with a pair of wins at the turn of the year including over Gamdonguibada – albeit with a 9kg weight advantage. She drops down to a distance that she’s never won at but if the favourites fail to perform, she could be one to take advantage.

11. Shining Future (KOR) [Silver Train – Juliet’s Kiss (Kissin Kris)] 5 (23/4/3/2) – Kim Do Hyun (Busan)
Closed well to win over this distance in late December and was just beaten a nose last time out after also coming from off the pace. Likely to find the front-runners too quick and too resilient for her to repeat the feat here.

12. Kalma (USA) [Dehere – Leeward Passage (Captain Bodgit)] 5 (18/4/1/3) – Yang Young Nam (Busan)
That she has joined the stable of Bart Rice, who has had a great start to his training career at Busan, is the only thing in Kalma’s favour here. The South African trainer has won with 4 of his 18 starters to date but it would be a huge surprise if Kalma provided the fifth here.

13. Jangmi Eondeok (USA) [Midnight Lute – Sea Gift (A.P. Indy)] 4 (10/3/4/1) – Moon Se Young
Really struggled on her class 1 debut last month and she will appreciate the drop down in distance. Likely to be seen towards the front of the field, she’ll not be favourite but with moon Se Young up, she’ll not be without her backers and is not without a chance of placing.

Weekend Preview: Fly Top Queen, Gamdonguibada Headline At Seoul & Busan

The weekend’s racing got underway at Busan today but there’s still plenty to keep us occupied on Saturday and Sunday.

Fly Top Queen is back home and will be favourite to get her fifth straight win on Korean...sand

Fly Top Queen is back home and will be favourite to get her fifth straight win on Korean…sand

Fly Top Queen (Henny Hughes) is the most expensive racehorse ever imported to Korea. She won all 4 of her domestic starts last year before heading to Tokyo to take part in the 2nd-leg of the Korea vs Japan Challenge at Ohi in November.

She didn’t quite live up to expectations that night, but she’s back in Korea now and will be the heavy favourite to get back to winning ways in race 10 at Seoul on Saturday, a class 2 test over 1700 metres.

Sunday at Busan sees a quick return to action for Gamdonguibada (Werblin). The 2012 Grand Prix Stakes winner failed to successfully defend her title in Seoul last month and has a tough ask on her season-debut as a 5-year-old, carrying over 60kg in the class 1 race 6.

The ever-reliable Lion Santa and Viva Ace are among those she’ll be giving weight to in the 10-furlong feature race.

Both Gamdonguibada and Fly Top Queen will have new jockeys this weekend with Lim Sung Sil and Cho Kyoung Ho replacing the suspended pair of Joe Fujii and Park Tae Jong.

Here’s what’s happening when and where:

Saturday January 11
Seoul Race Park: 12 races from 11:00 to 18:00
Jeju Race Park: 9 races from 12:30 to 17:30

Sunday January 12
Seoul Race Park: 11 races from 11:00 to 18:00
Busan Race Park: 6 races from 12:50 to 17:30

Busan Metropolitan Stakes: Full Preview

A full-field of 16, including 2 previous winners, will line up for the Busan Metropolitan City Mayor’s Stakes at Busan this Sunday.

Dangdae Bulpae and Jo Sung Gon will look for a 2nd consecutive Busan Metropolitan

Dangdae Bulpae and Jo Sung Gon will look for a 2nd consecutive Busan Metropolitan

The race is sometimes known as the “summer Grand Prix” bringing as it does, the best horses from both Seoul and Busan together in a way that only the season-ending Grand Prix Stakes usually does.

This year, though, Seoul disappoints. Granted, they may well have the winner in the shape of 2010 victor Tough Win but apart from him, all the leading contenders are from the host track. Last year’s champion Dangdae Bulpae returns after a 5 month lay-off while Grand Prix winner Gamdonguibada also takes her chance.

Australian trainer Peter Wolsley, closing in on 200 Korean wins saddles, 2 runners while Darryll Holland, Joe Fujii, Masakazu Tanaka and Yukio Abe al have rides. Here is a full run-down of the runners and riders (Name [Pedigree] Age, Sex, (Runs/1/2/3) – Jockey (Home track):

Busan Metropolitan City Mayor’s Stakes (KOR GIII) – Busan Race Park – 2000M – Sunday July 28 – 16:40

1. Call Me Tiger (NZ) [One Cool Cat – Hairini (Zabeel)] 6 H (27/4/2/2) – Lee Dong Kug (Seoul)
Hasn’t really made the grade at Class 1 and is without a win in 2 years. Won’t change here.

2. Viva Ace (USA) [Macho Uno – Dancing Lake (Meadowlake)] 5 G (25/11/7/2) – Song Keong Yun (Busan)
Very solid horse who was 2nd to Beolmaui Kkum and ahead of Gamdonguibada in the Gukje Sinmun Cup last start. Knows where the winning line is and could cause problems. Worth looking at if he seems neglected in the betting market.

3. Wild Myeongun (USA) [D’Wildcat – Start Applauding (Jump Start)] 4 C (15/7/4/2) – Lim Sung Sil (Busan)
Big taent who has only been out of the money once. A rather disappointing 4th last time out behind weaker rivals than he’ll face here and is without a win in three. Will have backers though.

4. Lion Santa (USA) [Lion Heart – Santa Fe Strip (Phone Trick)] 5 H (19/11/1/2) – Jo Chang Wook (Busan)
Was injured for 6 months after this race last year. He won his return and has hit the money on his 4 subsequent starts. It is hard to recommend him at 2000 metres though.

5. Prince Kingdom (USA) [Roar Of The Tiger – Special Wife (Husband)] 5 G (22/9/4/1) – You Hyun Myung (Busan)
Was in cracking form at the tail-end of 2012 but has struggled to repeat this year. A place is not beyond him but a win seems unlikely.

6. Tough Win (USA) [Yonaguska – Maggie May’s Sword] 6 G (28/21/2/1) – Cho Kyoung Ho (Seoul)
The Boss. He won this race as a 3-year old in 2010 but disappointed in 2011 and 2012. Lost his Grand Prix title last December but has three easy wins behind him this year. He will top many people’s tickets.

7. Murangae (USA) [Sun River – Merrill Gold (Gold Fever)] 4 G (24/1/6/4) – Yukio Abe (Seoul)
You’d think 26 year veteran trainer Ji Yong Cheol would have better things to do on a Sunday afternoon than take Murangae to Busan. His only win was only three starts ago but while he seems a late-developer who runs very consistently, he gets consistently beaten and that won’t change here.

8. Cheongchun Bulpae (KOR) [Milwaukee Brew – Placid Star (Placid Fund)] 4 G (14/8/1/1) – Chae Gyu Jun (Busan)
One of 2 entries in the race by Aussie trainer Peter Wolsley. He has 2 wins from 3 starts to his name at class 1 (including one behind stablemate Ghost Whisper). He is second-string here but Wolsley doesn’t enter his horses where they can’t challenge for money.

9. Blueband Mama (USA) [Purge – Meadowbryte (Meadowlake)] 5 M (27/3/4/2) – Park Si Cheon (Seoul)
Foinavon in the Grand National, Mine That Bird in the Kentucky Derby. Those 2 would be nothing compared with Blueband Mama winning this race.

10 Wonderful Namhae (KOR) [Vicar – Make That Call (Glow)] 4 C (19/9/2/2) – Tanaka Masakazu (Busan)
A well-beaten 2nd behind Ghost Whisper last time but has plenty of talent. Probably 3 or 4 will be too quick for him here.

11. Dangdae Bulpae (KOR) [Biwa Shinseiki – Indeed My Dear (Alydeed)] 6 H (29/19/2/2) – Jo Sung Gon (Busan)
A 3-time President’s Cup winner, holder of the record for most Stakes races won in Korea, arguably the best horse Korea has ever produced and the defending champion. The problem is that he hasn’t run since February due to injury and was touch and go to make it to the start line here. Comfortably won his race trial earlier this month. If he is in form though, at 2000 metres, he is very difficult to beat.

12. Gamdonguibada (USA) [Werblin – Radyla (Country Pine)] 4 F (13/8/2/3) – Kanichiro Fujii (Busan)
Champion racehorse of 2012 by virtue of winning the Grand Prix Stakes at Seoul last December, she started this year a pair of routine victories before turning in an out of sorts 3rd behind Beolmaui Kkum last time out. You can’t be out of sorts in this kind of company and if she runs to her best, she has every chance.

13. Hwanggeumjijon (USA) [Medallist – Milady Sadie (Meadow Monster)] 4 G (12/2/1/3) – Kim Gui Bae (Seoul)
Forget Foinavon and Mine That Bird, we’re into Buster Douglas over Mike Tyson territory if Hwanggeumjijon wins this. His jockey, Kim Gui Bae, has been riding for 34 years. In that time he has ridden just 299 winners. This will not be number 300.

14. Eongmandori (USA) [Purim – Allbow (Rainbow Blues)] 4 C (18/4/4/2) – Kim Dong Young (Busan)
2nd behind Wild Myeongun on his class 1 debut last time out after 2 smart wins at class 2. Is an improving type but looks a little outclassed here.

15. Beolmaui Kkum (USA) [Put It Back – Wild Dixie Gal (Wild Event)] 3 C – Choi Si Dae (Busan)
The wildcard. Full brother to Seoul-based Stakes winning filly Kkakjaengi, he beat three of his rivals here to win the Gukje Sinmun Cup last start with Gamdonguibada among those defeated. That was his frist try at class 1 and, while he’s never gone 2000 metres, there’s no reason to think he won’t get it. A potential star.

16. Ghost Whisper (KOR) [Gotham City – Emmy’s Lullaby] 5 G – Darryll Holland (Busan)
Collapsed with heat exhaustion after this race last year and was given the rest of the year off. In wonderful form at the moment though winning his last 3 outings. Must be given respect and if things go his way, under Darryll Holland, he has the ability to pull off what would be the biggest win of trainer Peter Wolsley’s career.

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)

Weekend Round-Up: The New Troika?

Tough Win, Gamdonguibada and Feel So Good All Win

Racing might be traditionally a very conservative sport off the track, but change can come very quickly on it. A year ago, what the racing media here dubbed the “troika”; Grand Prix Champion Tough Win and the 2 horses that finished closest to him in that December 2011 showdown, Mister Park and Smarty Moonhak were set to dominate racing on the peninsula for the forseeable future.

Joe Fujii and Gamdonguibada win the Grand Prix Stakes (KRA)

Joe Fujii and Gamdonguibada win the Grand Prix Stakes (KRA)

However, within a matter of months, 3 had become 1 as first, tragically, Mister Park (Ecton Park) suffered a fatal injury in a race and then, less sad but still devastating racing-wise, Smarty Moonhak (Smarty Jones) was diagnosed with tendinitis and hasn’t raced since.

Only Tough Win (Yonaguska) remains and now, there are signs that he could be part of a new “troika” forming. All were in action this past weekend.

Gamdonguibada (Werblin) a 4-year old American bred filly took Tough Win’s Grand Prix crown off him at the end of last season. She started this year in good form and continued it at Busan last Friday, winning the 1900 metre feature handicap in convincing fashion from Prince Kingdom (Roar Of The Tiger) and Viva Ace (Macho Uno). It was her 4th straight victory and her 8th in total from 12 career starts.

Feel So Good: 3 from 3

Feel So Good: 3 from 3

One horse yet to taste defeat yet – at least not in Korea – is Feel So Good (Ft.Stockton).

The 4-year old spent a year training in the United States and won a race at Calder last autumn. He made his 3rd Korean appearance at Seoul on Sunday afternoon and, despite moving up in class again, scored his 3rd very easy victory by 9 full lengths.

Feel So Good is now just 2 races away from qualifying for the elite level where he should finally come up against horses capable of testing him.

Tough Win

Tough Win

Gamdonguibada is one of those who could test him although being based at different tracks, their opportunities to meet will be limited. One he will likely face sooner is Tough Win. While Feel So Good is a Korean bred and therefore can avoid running against foreign bred horses, the temptation to put him in against the best will be hard to resist.

And Tough Win showed that at Seoul at least, he still he is the best in Sunday’s feature race at Seoul with a routine victory over a class 1 field.

The prospect of Tough Win, Gamdonguibada and Feel So Good racing each other, joined perhaps by the likes of last year’s Derby winner Jigeum I Sungan is what makes racing so fascinating. Hopefully all will stay sound.

Next Sunday, the process of finding this year’s 3-year old champion begins with the KRA Cup Mile – the Korean 2000 Guineas – the first leg of the 2013 Triple Crown, at Busan. We begin our build-up to the big race this Wednesday.

Weekend Preview: Gamdonguibada, Tough Win, Feel So Good

Grand Prix Stakes champion Gamdonguibada (Werblin) makes her 2nd appearance of 2013 as she heads the field in the feature race at Busan this Friday.

Grand Prix Stakes winner Gamdonguibada makes a rare Friday afternoon appearance

Grand Prix Stakes winner Gamdonguibada makes a rare Friday afternoon appearance

The 4-year old filly should have too much quality for the likes of Viva Ace (Macho Uno) and Prince Kingdom (Roar Of The Tiger) in the 1900 metre handicap. which is the final race at Busan on Friday afternoon.

At Seoul, the pick of the action is on Sunday. Tough Win (Yonaguska), the 2011 Grand Prix winner headlines the feature race – which is also the last of the day – in which he faces a couple of dangers, including the well handicapped Aussie up and comer Sydney Jewelry (Lion Heart) and the exceptionally poorly handicapped KRA Cup Classic winner Sing Sing Cat (D’Wildcat), but should come out on top.

Earlier on Sunday, however, a horse who should eventually be meeting Tough Win will be on show. Feel So Good (Ft.Stockton) has won both his races in Korea since returning from a successful spell in the United States and will be the overwhelming favourite to continue his steady progression up the ranks as he faces class 3 opposition over 1800 metres in race 9.

Here’s what’s happening when and where:

Friday March 29

Busan Race Park: 11 races from 12:00 to 18:00
Jeju Race Park: 9 races from 13:30 to 17:30

Saturday March 30

Seoul Race Park: 12 races from 11:00 to 17:40
Jeju Race Park: 9 races from 12:30 to 17:20

Sunday March 31

Seoul Race Park: 11 races from 11:00 to 18:00
Busan Race Park: 6 races from 12:50 to 17:00