Grand Niner

Weekend Preview: The Korean Derby – Runners And Riders

Full Field Of Fourteen For Classic / JRA Trophy Heads Supporting Card

It’s the big one! The 15th Korean Derby is at Seoul Race Park this Sunday when Gyeongbudaero will seek to claim the second jewel in the 2012 Triple Crown following his victory in last month’s KRA Cup Mile. It won’t be easy. Good Time, Viva Cat and Cheoneun are among several with solid claims in what looks a competitive race. See below for a full run-down of the field.

Gyeongbudaero, seen here winning the KRA Cup Mile, heads the Korean Derby field (Pic:KRA)

It’s a big weekend of racing. It’s become a tradition that the feature race on the Saturday before the Derby is the JRA Trophy and this year is no exception as US import Grand Niner puts his unbeaten record on the line. Meanwhile at Busan, another unbeaten import Smoking Gun, headlines Sunday’s feature race. Other than that though, on what is set to be a beautiful weekend, it’s all about the Derby.

Here’s what’s happening when and where and then scroll down a little further for the Derby field:

Friday May 18

Busan Race Park: 10 races from 12:00 to 18:00
Jeju Race Park: 9 races from 13:30 to 17:30

Saturday May 19

Seoul Race Park: 12 races from 11:00 to 17:45 including the JRA Trophy at 16:40
Jeju Race Park: 9 races from 12:20 to 17:10 including the Jeju Owners’ Association Trophy at 14:45

Sunday May 20

Seoul Race Park: 10 races from 11:00 to 17:45 including The Korean Derby at 16:15
Busan Race Park: 6 races from 12:15 to 16:45

The Derby brings together nine fillies and five colts. Eight are from Seoul while six have travelled up from Busan. Here is a full list of the runners and riders, with pedigrees and race records:

The Korean Derby (KOR.G1) – Seoul Race Park – 1800M – May 20, 2012 – 16:15

1. Dream Tower (KOR) [Forest Camp-Hurricane Warning (Thunder Gulch (9/4/2/1) – Kim Yong Geun (Busan)
The most expensive horse of his generation at the two-year old sales last year, he was second to Gyeongbudaero in the KRA Cup Mile after leading for most of the way. In with a chance but will need to improve if he is going to reverse that result.

2. Good Time (KOR) [Yehudi-A Little Poke (Pleasant Tap)] (9/3/3/0) – Chae Gyu Jun (Busan)
Champion Juvenile of 2011, he was favourite going into the Cup Mile but was a disappointing fifth. He should like the step up in distance though having beaten Gyeongbudaero oer 1800M in March. Will hae plenty of supporters.

3. Grand Teukgeup (KOR) [Menifee-Saratoga Campaign (Mt.Livermore)] Filly (8/5/1/0) – Jo Sung Gon (Busan)
The filly skipped the Cup Mile and, while she’ll be more fancied for the Oaks, she could be an outside bet here. The distance will be no problem and she won smartly over a mile last time out. That Jo Sung Gon comes to Seoul to ride her is also strongly in her favour – Jo stays home unless he thinks he’s going to win.

4. Gyeongbudaero (KOR) [Menifee-Princess Lanique (Cherokee Run)] (9/5/2/0) – Choi Si Dae (Busan)
After his impressive KRA Cup Mile win he has to be favourite, but he is vulnerable as he disappointed on his only previous outing at 1800M. He’s improved since then though and if he’s on form, he’ll be very difficult to beat.

5. Cheoneun (KOR) [Forest Camp-Naha (Silver Buck)] Filly (10/6/1/0) – Lee Dong Kug (Seoul)
She’s been frustrating this year. Dreadful in the Cup Mile but then very impressive when winning a class 2 race at Seoul at the end of last month. Indeed, KRA Cup Mile apart, she is the only runner to have won at such a level so far. The distance is perfect for her, but which Cheoneun will show up?

6. Powerful Miss G (KOR) [Revere-Miss Geology (Jade Hunter)] Filly (7/1/3/1) – Kim Young Jin
A late entry and little to recommend her. Out of her depth here.

7. Pico Bout It (KOR) [Pico Central-Bee Quick About It (Rizzi)] (7/2/3/1) – Ji Ha Ju (Seoul)
A colt that has slipped in under the radar this year. He was a solid second over 1700 metres last time out although the horse who beat him, Cheonseung, is hardly a world-beater. His time was quick that day but he’ll need to find more to be competitive here.

8. Mega Tsunami (KOR) [Cielo Gold-Asia II (Sky Classic)] (10/1/4/3) – Shin Hyoung Chul (Seoul)
Another outsider, he knows how to be involved in the business-end of races although this is likely to be too tough an ask.

9. Jjak Kkung (KOR) [Forest Camp-Fab Four (Yes It’s True)] Filly (6/3/0/3) – Lee Sang Hyeok (Seoul)
An encouraging third in her first attempt around two-turns last time out but in much weaker company. One for the Oaks.

10. Viva Cat (KOR) [Creek Cat-Babaria (Engagement)] (7/5/0/0) – Cho Kyoung Ho (Seoul)
Fourth in the Cup Mile after two very impressive wins at Seoul. Back on his home track, he should be able to give Gyeongbudaero plenty to think about and under Cho Kyoung Ho, he’s a genuine contender.

11. Jigeum I Sungan (KOR) [Ingrandire-Solmaru (Mujaazif)] (10/3/4/1) – Moon Se Young (Seoul)
A horse who has been getting better with every run, he was fifth in the Cup Mile. Could offer some value and he should go close. Certainly has the best name in the race.

12. Pillip (KOR) [Pico Central-Dancing Dot (Durgam)] (9/3/2/2) – Yukio Abe (Busan)
Surprise second place oer the distance at class 2 last time out saw him get his passage here. Yukio Abe rode him that day and accompanies him to Seoul. An outsider to keep an eye on.

13. Nobel Pokpung (KOR) [Didyme-Shar Baby (Talinum)] (8/3/2/1) – Narazaki Kosuke (Busan)
Second to Geumdda over a mile last time out and has won over this distance. He’ll benefit from having Narazaki Kosuke in the saddle.

14. Dolpung Jilju (KOR) [Didyme-Alder Gulch (Gulch)] Filly (9/3/1/1) – Kim Hae Sun (Seoul)
Won the Gwacheon Mayor’s Cup last autumn but hasn’t trained on well this year. Eleventh in the Cup Mile and it would be a surprise if she was to be able to compete here. Jockey Kim Hae Sun will become the first female rider to contest the Korean Derby.

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Oaks Winner Back In Touch

Useung Touch Makes Successful Return At Busan / Grand Niner Wins Again / Lee Ah Na, Kim Hae Sun Double At Seoul

Useung Touch returned to action for the first time in five months and last year’s Korean Oaks winner didn’t disappoint as she got the best of a stretch duel with older horse Quantum to win the feature race at Busan this afternoon.

The outstanding Korean filly of last year, Useung Touch (Menifee) finished second in both the Korean Derby and in the final classic of the season, the Minister’s Cup.

Despite her last appearance having been in the President’s Cup at Seoul last November, punters were confident enough in her ability to send her off second favourite behind Quantum (Ecton Park), a later-starting five-year old who had won six of his nine starts to date, in the 1400 metre feature race.

It would be those two who would battle it out over the final furlong with Useung Touch just managing to get her nose in front at the right time to claim victory by a head.

Useung Touch now has six wins from her twelve career starts and could be an interesting addition to the big summer handicaps.

Lee Ah Na returns to scale after landing the second of her two winners at Seoul today

Up at Seoul there was a little bit of history as two female jockeys landed doubles for what was, as far as anybody at the track could remember, the first time ever.

First year apprentice Lee Ah Na won race 1 on racecallers’ nightmare I Love You (Chief Pete) before following up with a fine ride on Cheonseung (Chief Pete) to claim race 6 and take her career tally to ten winners.

This means that she has ridden out the first of her weight allowances and from now on will only be able to claim 3Kg.

Earlier this year, Kim Hae Sun rode out her allowance completely – the quickest Korean woman ever to do so. Naturally, things have been a little tougher since, but she has continued to consistently ride winners. Today she got two more, first on Miracle Party (Biwa Shinseiki) in race 2 (for Korea’s only female trainer, Lee Shin Young) and then in the last on Cheopgyeong (Vicar).

Kim and Lee are at the forefront of the new wave of very good young riders at Seoul (so far it’s not been repeated so much at Busan) and look on course to become the first Korean women to really break through to challenge the top riders for the top rides.

While the official feature race at Seoul was won by favourite Khanui Huye (The Groom Is Red) most eyes were on race 9 and the fourth appearance for the as yet unbeaten US import Grand Niner (Any Given Saturday).

He’s still unbeaten. Under Oh Kyoung Hoan, he led from gate to wire and while the jockey did chosse to give him some reminders in the home straight, he recorded a relatively comfortable two length win.

Runner-up was in the 1900 metre race was Es Four (Smarty Jones). There is currently only one other horse by Smarty Jones running in Korea and while Smarty Moonhak’s connections will not be overly intimidated by what they saw today, if Grand Niner continues to improve, he will be competing at the highest level very soon.

* South African Gerrit Schlechter was unable to land a winner on his first weekend of riding at Busan, however, Japanese newcomer Yukio Abe was on target, guiding Lunar Spike (Malibu Moon) to a battling victory in race 3.

* Busan’s co-feature race went the way of US four-year old Viva Ace (Macho Uno) – his eigth win in sixteen starts.

Weekend Preview

Useung Touch Is Back / Jumong Carries Big Weight At Seoul / Grand Niner Bids For Fourth Win

It’s set to be the warmest weekend of the year so far and we’ve got plenty to keep us occupied across the peninsula.

Oaks Winner: Useung Touch is back at Busan this weekend

South African jockey Gerrit Schlechter will make his Busan debut on Friday and has a promising book of rides across the weekend including on Peter Wolsley’s Pnata Rhei (Stormy Atlantic) in Sunday’s feature.

That race sees 2011 Korean Oaks winner Useung Touch (Menifee) make her first appearance of the season while the impressive late developer Quantum (Ecton Park) is among a host of well-known names being dropped back for a a rare chance to race for a big prize over 6 furlongs.

Up at Seoul, there are class 1 tests on both Saturday and Sunday. Saturday’s looks more interesting with top weight Jumong (Johar) heading a reasonably challenging field that includes one-time Grand Prix Stakes runner-up Larrycat (Fantasticat) as well as the now past his best former Grand Prix winner Bally Brae (Yarrow Brae).

On Sunday at Seoul, plenty of eyes will be on US import Grand Niner (Any Given Saturday) who will be bidding to make it four wins from four starts in race 9.

Meanwhile down on Jeju Island, the ponies have one of their biggest races of the year in the shape of the Halla Ilbo Cup on Saturday afternoon.

Here’s what’s happening when and where:

Friday April 13

Busan Race Park: 10 races from 12:00 to 18:00
Jeju Race Park: 9 races from 13:30 to 17:30

Saturday April 14

Seoul Race Park: 12 races from 11:00 to 17:40
Jeju Race Park: 9 races from 12:20 to 17:10

Sunday April 15

Seoul Race Park: 10 races from 11:00 to 17:40
Busan Race Park: 6 races from 12:15 to 16:40

Weekend Round-Up

Onsaemiro ran the race of her life at Busan this afternoon. Unfortunately, it will be her last. The four-year old was sent off as the 6/1 joint second favourite behind odds-on Tamna Ace (Thunder Gulch) who was bidding for an 11th win out of 15 starts in the track’s feature race.

Tamna Ace was never a factor though as Kim Yong Geun took Onsaemiro straight to the front and they never looked back taking a two-length win from Tough Tiger and Winning Perfect with Tamna Ace in fourth.

However, after the line disaster struck. Her foreleg gave way, and jockey Kim was on the ground. Although she managed to pull herself up and attempt to follow the rest of the field back to scale, the damage was obvious.

Onsaemiro [Harlan’s Holiday-Regal Heir (Regal Intention)] had 5 wins and 5 second places from 17 career starts, taking part in 2 Stakes races. Today was her first win at the elite Class 1 level.

Yacheonsaryeongbu was a winner at Seoul today

Up at Seoul, the feature race of a low-key afternoon ended in a narrow victory for four-year old Yacheonsaryeongbu (Vicar) who was recording his 6th win on his 14th start.

Performance of the day, however, goes to US import Grand Niner (Any Given Saturday) who looked very comfortable on his first attempt at racing around two turns as he eased to a five length victory in race 8.

The three-year old has now won all 3 of his starts without needing to try very hard.

Earlier on back at Busan, there was another impressive performance from a three-year old import as filly Gamdonguibada (Werblin) recorded a 12 length victory over a mile. It was her 4th win from 5 starts and, while it was only at class 3, things look good for the future.

* Yesterday at Seoul, four-year old Magnifique (Menifee) returned to form in the feature race. He was kept off the Classic trail last year but spent the autumn racking up successive victories before flopping when favourite in his season debut last month when he finished out of the money for the only time in his career so far.

Yesterday there were no problems though as he recorded victory by a length and a half over Andy’s Runner.

Grand Niner is not exactly stretched as he saunters to victory at Seoul this afternoon