gumpo sky

Sunday Big Race Preview: Donga Ilbo Cup At Seoul / Triple Nine Vs. Gumpo Sky At Busan

Big race action returns to Seoul on Sunday in the shape of the Donga Ilbo Cup. However, it’s at Busan where arguably the pick of the action is with a high quality handicap just 25 minutes later.

Triple Nine

President’s Cup winner Triple Nine makes his 2016 debut at Busan on Sunday

The Donga Ilbo Cup is for domestic-bred fillies and mares and has attracted eight entries. Favouritism is likely to be contested by Meni Money, 2nd in last year’s Korean Oaks and Pinot Noir, 2nd in the Jeju Governor’s Cup.

At Busan, the feature class 1 handicap has attracted some of the biggest names at the track. President’s Cup winner Triple Nine takes on Grand Prix runner-up Gumpo Sky and nine other very solid competitors over 2000M. Here is a full run-down of the prospects of each horse in both races:

Donga Ilbo Cup (Listed) (F&M) – Seoul Racecourse – 1800M – February 28, 2016 (16:40)

1. Argo Asset (KOR) [Menifee] 5 (23/4/3/2) BJ Choi – Lim Gi Won
Not especially proven around two turns and was a well beaten 5th behind Smart Time last start. Likely to go forward early and an outside chance of the money.

2. Meni Money (KOR) [Menifee] 4  (15/6/6/1) DK Kim – Moon Se Young
Seoul’s top 3yo filly of last year was 2nd in the Korean Oaks and Nonghyup Chairman’s Cup. 3rd behind Pinot Noir in the Jeju Governor’s Cup on November 15, she could overturn that form here. 4th in her only start so far this year, she will settle behind any early speed.

3. Space Shuttle (KOR) [Menifee] 5 (20/4/0/3) HJ Bae – Jo Jae Ro
An outsider, she was an also-ran in the Jeju Governor’s Cup. A winner over 1800M at class 3 in December, she will need to find plenty here. She will probably go back early and look to close.

4. Pinot Noir (KOR) [Capital Spending] 6 (24/5/7/2) CS Park – Park Eul Woon
2nd in the Jeju Governor’s Cup, two lengths ahead of Meni Money, she is a very solid racemare. She could only manage 6th place in a tough class 1 handicap in December but comes in following a couple of months off and can go well. She has tended to go back of late and attempt to close but there is no guarantee that’s what she’ll do here.

5. Lucky Music (KOR) [Creek Cat] 4 (16/4/2/5) HS Seo – Lee Hyeon Jong
Moreof an outsider, she has decent results at the distance though and was 3rd to Space Shuttle last start when giving her weight. She will probably go forward and could place.

6. X File (KOR) [Exploit] 7 (38/5/3/10) YS Kim – Kim Dong Soo
Comes in following three consecutive 5th place finishes, one of them the jeju Governor’s Cup. Should be looking to improve on that here. Decent speed and will sit behind any early leaders.

7. Smart Time (KOR) [Ft. Stockton] 4 (13/5/3/0) DK Kim – Djordje Perovic
Sixth in the Jeju Governor’s Cup, she followed that up with a win over 1400M and then a 4th at 1800M, both at this class. A probable front-runner, she will be well-backed and is the likely 3rd favourite.

8. Punggwae (KOR) [Ft. Stockton] 5 (14/3/2/2) ST Shim – Yoo Seung Wan
An outsider to finish with, she’s two races into a comeback following six months out. She hasn’t shown a great deal in those. Generally goes back at the start.

Class 1 Handicap – Busan Racecourse – 2000M – February 28, 2016 (17:05)

1. Heba (USA) [Peace Rules] 6 M (37/9/5/3) 56kg SJ Kwon – Song Keong Yun
Queens’ Tour and therefore Champion filly or mare of 2015, the Grand Prix Stakes in December was perhaps a race too far. Nevertheles she was back last month, running 3rd behind Yuseong Dream and she wil be well-backed to at least place. Usually settles in midfield.

2. Dynamic Dash (USA) [Pleasantly Perfect] 4 C (15/7/5/1) 55kg BH Kim – Pasquale Borelli
2nd to Yuseong Dream and ahead of Heba and a couple of others in that 1900M race on January 10th, he was a class 1 winner the time before that. Very talented but there are one or two here who are a bit better. He could find the money.

3. Cheonji Bulpae (AUS) [Bernadini] 7 H (33/11/3/4) 54.5kg BE Kang – Park Jae I (-3)
Took advantage of a low impost to win over 1800M last October. 4th behind Yuseong Dream, Dynamic Dash and Heba last time he will need to find a bit more today. Likely to drop back at the start.

4. Viva Ace (USA) [Macho Uno] 8 G (51/11/14/7) 51kg CY Yoo – Chae Sang Hyun (-1)
A Busan stalwart in his sicth season of racing, he is very capable of picking up minor prize money – he’s done it on two of his last three starts. Sometimes goes forward, sometimes goes back, he won’t win this but 4th or 5th is possible.

5. Nobody Catch Me (USA) [With Distinction] 6 G (25/6/5/2) 54kg JK Min – Lyu Gwang Hee (-3)
Nobody has needed to catch him lately as he has led very few. This one time Mayor’s Cup winner suffers from a rating based on past glories and although the apprentice jockey will alleviate that somewhat, he isn’t in good form. Changed trainers lately and he may well go forward today.

6. Goji Jeongbeol (USA) [Congrats] 5 G (23/5/4/5) 51kg KY Baik – Jin Kyum (-3)
Another who has an apprentice on board and who looks very nicely in here. 2000M is ideal and while others are better, he can go well. He is likely to go back early and look to close.

7. Chogwang (AUS) [Lion Heart] 7 H (36/4/6/5) 54.5kg JK Min – Park Geum Man
Returns to the track for the first time since September. Sauntered through a barrier trial not looking especially impressive last month and he will be an outsider here. Likely to go forward.

8. Cowboy Son (USA) [Cowboy Cal] 5 H (22/10/2/3) 57kg SY Lee – Makoto Okabe
Not generally thought of as being ideal for 2000M although he did once run 3rd at it, it is hard to see him beating the specialists at it, especially carrying 57kg. He’s failed to win prize money on only three occasions but this could be a fourth. In his favour, he has a smart jockey aboard who can help him get the trip.

9. Yuseong Dream (KOR) [Giacomo] 4 C (17/7/1/4) 52kg DS Bang – Kim Dong Young
A really nice looking winner on his very first try at class 1 last month, beating four of his rivals here. One on the up and still very nicely in the handicap. He’s won three in a row and a fourth isn’t impossible. He made all last time and will try to do so again.

10. Gumpo Sky (KOR) [Vicar] 5 H (26/9/8/3) 57kg SJ Kwon – Seo Seung Un
Just beaten a neck in a thrilling end to the Grand Prix Stakes in December, Gum Sky is a proven class and distance winner. Although he beat Triple Nine in the Grand Prix, he suffered a reverse to him at this distance in the President’s Cup at Seoul last October and he is likely to be 2nd favourite here. He will go forward though and Triple Nine will have to come past him.

11. Triple Nine (KOR) [Ecton Park] 4 C (12/7/4/0) 53kg YK Kim – Yoo Hyun Myung
The favourite. 2nd in the Korean Derby and the Minister’s Cup, he won the President’s Cup in October. He couldn’t quite get up the Grand Prix but was only a length and a half behind the winner and it is his debut this year that is anticipated more than almost any other. He will settle just behind the early leaders and he can win.

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Gumpo Sky & Sotong Sidae Take Busan & Seoul Honours

There were two hot favourites for the two big races in Korea on Sunday afternoon and they met with contrasting fortunes with just the one coming home victorious.

That was Gumpo Sky. 2nd in the Minister’s Cup, the final leg of the Korean Triple crown last year and also 2nd in the Gyeongnam Do-Min Ilbo, this time the 4-year-old made no mistake in a Stakes race as he led home a small field of five rivals by half a length in the Busan Ilbo Cup.

Busan Ilbo Cup – Busan Racecourse – 2000M – August 16, 2015

1. Gumpo Sky (KOR) [Vicar – Perfect Storm (Didyme)] – Kim Dong Young – 1.7, 1.2
2. Ildeung Hanghaesa (KOR) [Ecton Park – Saeroun Bulpae (Northern Afleet)] – 1.4
3. Goliath Marine (KOR) [Volponi – Queenie Bee (Geri)] – Jo Sung Gon
Distances: 0.5 lengths / 3 lengths
Also Ran: 4. Baekgyeong (KOR) 5. Jungang Haeju (KOR) 6. No Peers (KOR)

At Seoul it was a different story for Brig in the Sports Chosun Cup. The even-money favourite faltered when exiting the gate and although he recovered to look right in contention turning for him, he had nothing left in the home straight and faded to last.

That left 20/1 shot Sotong Sidae to get the best of a tight finish, flying home from last to first in the home straight under Park Byeong Yun to win by half a length from the mare Cheonnyeon Dongan. It was the 4-year-old gelding’s 7th career win from 27 starts but his 6th from his past 10.

Sports Chosun Cup – Seoul Racecourse – 2000M – August 16, 2015

1. Sotong Sidae (KOR) [Gold Money – Myeonggauihuye (Black Minnaloushe)] – Park Byeong Yun – 20.8, 2.6
2. Cheonnyeon Dongan (KOR) [Ecton Park – Honeycakes (Hennessy)] – Lee Chan Ho – 1.7
3. Haemaru (KOR) [Vicar – Forest Flower (Timber Country)] – Choi Bum Hyun – 2.2
Distances: 0.5 lengths/0.5 lengths
Also Ran: 4. Gumanseok (KOR) 5. Pinot Noir (KOR) 6. Heukgisa (KOR) 7. Magic Dancer (KOR) 8. Brig (KOR)

Gumpo Sky Rockets To Down Cinderella Man & Gyeongbudaero

Some of the best horses in training in Korea met at Busan Racecourse yesterday and at the end of 1800M, it was Gumpo Sky who came out on top, having led from gate-to-wire to defeat Cinderella Man and Gyeongbudaero.

It was Gyeongbudaero, President’s Cup and Grand Prix Stakes winner – and also top rated in Korea and top weight in the handicap – who was sent off as slight favourite of seven for the Class 1 race. US import Spring Gnarly was slightly favoured over Cinderella Man for 2nd favourite.

When the race got going, however, it would be the 4th choice in the market, Gumpo Sky, who would go into an early lead. And under jockey Kim Dong Young, it would be one he would never relinquish, running on for victory by just over two lengths.

Cinderella Man, having his first outing under the care of Bart Rice, was a fast finishing 2nd, just edging out Gyeongbudaero who had to settle for 3rd.

With the victory, Gumpo Sky moved onto 8 wins from 21 starts. He’s only failed to make at least the minor prize money on two occasions; his two trips to Seoul last Year for the Korean Derby and the President’s Cup. Cinderella Man will no doubt be back as too will Gyeongbudaero, who may just be feeling the top weight he gets in these handicaps – yesterday he was giving 5.5kg to Gumpo Sky and 5kg to Cinderella Man

Class 1 – Busan Racecourse – 1800M – May 31, 2015

1. Gumpo Sky (KOR) [Vicar – Perfect Storm (Didyme)] – Kim Dong Young – 6.5, 3.4
2. Cinderella Man (KOR) [Southern Image – Tiza Fast Kat (Tiznow)] – Jo Sung Gon – 2.0
3. Gyeongbudaero (KOR) [Menifee – Princess Lanique (Cherokee Run)] – Choi Si Dae – 1.4
Distances: 2.5 lengths/0.75 lengths
Also Ran: 4. Spring Gnarly (USA) 5. Useung Radar (USA) 6. Nobody Catch Me (USA) 7. Ghost Whisper (KOR)

The top-class clash at Busan, despite being a little short on numbers, certainly contrasted with the main event at Seoul. That’s to take nothing away from Chief Red Can (Fantasticat) though, who saw a burst of speed around the home turn take him from 9th to 1st and then storm away from the field to record a nine-length win in the 2000M Class 1 feature under jockey Park Eul Woon.

For some time it has been routine for Busan’s feature race to eclipse Seoul’s with the strength and depth in the class 1 ranks on the south coast being currently superior to that of the capital. Permanent transfers between the two are now allowed, however, and a few have been moved up to Seoul. Among class 1 horses, Road To Prince and Challanhan Useung have already run – unsuccessfully – while the biggest name among them, Magic Dancer, remains spelled.

Further down the ranks, however, Red Vic (Creek Cat) became the first transfer from Busan to find the Seoul winner’s circle when he won race 8 on Saturday. It came at the end of a week when Seoul Racecourse stable-hands were protesting the proposal to allow foreign track riders to work in the capital – something that has been hugely successful at Busan.

Next weekend, Busan horses will be in the capital for the Ttukseom Cup. New York Blue, Heba, Ms. Margaux and Golden Lass are currently slated to make the trip while among Seoul horses is the tantalizing prospect of Joy Lucky finally returning from injury. However, all eyes will be on Japanese raider Esmeraldina. The first JRA horse to run in Korea arrived in Seoul late last Wednesday and is, by all accounts, doing well.

Success Story Living Up To His Name At Busan

Naming a racehorse can be a tricky thing. We have in Korea an “Unbeatable”, who is anything but, an “Always Winner” who has a win rate of 4% and a “Derby Winner” about whom the less said about the better. We do though now have Success Story who maintained his unbeaten record for 2015 with a solid victory in the feature race at Busan on Sunday, his 9th victory from 14 career starts.

It was Success Story’s first try at 2000M since two unsuccessful attempts at the distance in the Minister’s and President’s Cups at Seoul last autumn. Both times his front-running style had come unstuck in the closing stages.

Following three consecutive wins at 1400M, 1600M and 1800M, Success Story (Peace Rules) was sent off as slight favourite over Gumpo Sky and Nobody Catch Me, the latter being last year’s Busan Metropolitan Stakes winner making his first appearance since the Grand Prix. This time Success Story would not be caught.

As usual jockey Jo Sung Gon took Success Story out in front, however, the expected challenges never materialised and his victory by almost three lengths was surprisingly comfortable. 23/1 outsider Eongmangdori, under Nozi Tomizawa, finished the quickest to grab 2nd place with Gumpo Sky a further five back in 3rd. Nobody Catch Me faded to last.

Success Story didn’t win any of the three-year-old Classics last year but with Cheongnyong Bisang usually injured, Queen’s Blade sinking into obscurity in the USA and only Minister’s Cup winner Never Seen Before still running well, he is the top horse to come out of his crop (as a gelding, Hangangui Gijeok couldn’t run in the classics last year).

As is the norm these days, the racing at Seoul was low-key although although there was plenty of excitement. Saturday’s class 1 ended in a three-way photo finish with Mirae Yeongung (Aragorn) getting the better of and earn his 10th win from 16 starts in the process. Sunday’s feature saw a first class 1 win for US import Cheonma (Langfuhr).

Weekend Preview

It’s Magic Dancer vs Gumpo Sky in the feature contest of another busy weekend of racing in Korea

Magic Dancer and Joe Fujii go in Busan's Sunday feature

Magic Dancer and Joe Fujii go in Busan’s Sunday feature

Fields are a little on the short-side at Busan on Friday but there is still plenty of betting interest (click here for full race by race preview) and it could be another good day for the foreign connection with Joe Fujii and Masa Tanaka both on fancied mounts while trainer Peter Wolsley sends out the banker of the day in the shape of Lucky Gangja in race 5.

On Sunday on the south coast, Joe Fujii will partner Magic Dancer as top weight in the feature handicap, taking on one of last year’s top three-year-olds in the shape of Gumpo Sky.

There are competitive cards too at Seoul on both Saturday and Sunday with the capital’s only class 1 event of the weekend being Sunday’s finale.

It’s set to be a reaonably mild weekend, so come racing!

Click here for full racecards from the KRA but here’s what’s happening when and where:

Friday January 9
Busan Racecourse: 11 races from 11:40 to 18:00
Jeju Racecourse: 9 races from 13:20 to 17:20

Saturday January 10
Seoul Racecourse: 12 races from 10:50 to 18:00
Jeju Racecourse: 9 races from 12:20 to 17:10

Sunday January 11
Seoul Racecourse: 11 races from 10:50 to 18:00
Busan Racecourse: 6 races from 12:45 to 17:00

Brilliant Never Seen Before Wins Minister’s Cup For Peter Wolsley

Never Seen Before, a 26/1 outsider, produced the run of his life at Seoul Racecourse this afternoon to win the Minister’s Cup – the final leg of the 2014 Korean Triple Crown – and hand Australian trainer Peter Wolsley the biggest win of his Korean career.

Never Seen Before and Lee Hee Cheon win the Minister's Cup

Never Seen Before and Lee Hee Cheon win the Minister’s Cup

Unsurprisingly, it was the Korean Derby and Oaks winning filly Queen’s Blade who was sent off as the solid favourite for the 10 furlong test, with plenty of support too for fellow Busan raiders Gumpo Sky and Success Story.

It was the latter of these, Success Story who set the early pace under Jo Sung Gon, bounding out of gate 15 and going across to take the lead into the first corner. He would maintain it for much of the race, with Queen’s Blade, under You Hyun Myung for the first time in the absence of regular jockey Kim Yong Geun, in close attendance throughout.

Meanwhile, Never Seen Before sat patiently in the front half of the field with plenty of cover. As they swung for home it looked like Queen’s Blade was ready to strike as Success Story went to the rail. The Derby and Oaks winner though had nothing. Instead, Gumpo Sky and outsider Ganghae came through the middle while Never Seen Before came around to fight out the finish.

By the furlong pole, Success Story and Ganghae had been seen off and it was a straight duel between Gumpo Sky and Never Seen Before, the outsider finally getting in front 50 metres from the finish and pulling away for a half-length win. Ganghae ran on gamely for 3rd with Success Story 4th and Queen’s Blade a further 4-lengths back in 5th.

Never Seen Before moves on to five wins from ten starts. There looks to be more to come too from Gumpo Sky while Ganghae was a revelation in 3rd.

For winning jockey Lee Hee Cheon, it was unquestionably the pinnacle of a tough career to date. Wolsley is far too much of a diplomat to say so but it is likely that Lee was at best 2nd or maybe 3rd choice for the ride after stable jockey Jo Sung Gon opted to go elsewhere and You Hyun Myung got the ride on Queen’s Blade.

Lee, who 8 years since turning professional still has only 92 winners to his name, gave the colt the perfect ride. Those of us – including this blog – who doubted his ability to close out a tight finish when the pressure is on, were emphatically put in our place. He was superb.

As for the trainer, over the years we’ve written plenty about Peter Wolsley. The 51-year-old Aussie arrived in Korea in late 2007 (coincidentally around the same time this blog started) and endured an extremely rough first couple of years at first, taking charge of the “breakdown barn” – the horses no-one else wanted to train.

Slowly but surely, he started getting winners and when there are winners, suddenly there are more owners and more – and better – horses. His stable is now firmly established as second only to the Kim Young Kwan machine in terms of winners. What had been missing until recently were the big ones.

Old favourite Khaosan won Wolsley his first Group race back in September 2011, although it was by virtue of being promoted from 2nd after Cheonnyeon Daero was disqualified. Late last year, Secret Whisper took the Gyeongnam Governor’s Cup by a head to land what would be Wolsley’s biggest victory until today.

In many ways, Wolsley is the exception that proves the rule. It is extremely difficult for foreigners to make a go of things in Korean racing and his achievements standing out so much only emphasize this. But his success is no accident. Seven years of sheer hard work against all odds paid off in full today and he deserves every plaudit.

The bars of Gimhae will need to be fully stocked with Martini Rosso and Coca Cola tonight.

Minister’s Cup (KOR G2) – Seoul Racecourse – 2000M – October 5, 2014

1. Never Seen Before (KOR) [Ecton Park – Gwangyeolhan (Stormin Fever)] – Lee Hee Cheon – 26.0, 4.1
2. Gumpo Sky (KOR) [Vicar – Perfect Storm (Didyme)] – Choi Si Dae – 1.7
3. Ganghae (KOR) [Didyme – Ocelot (Catrail)] – Choi Bum Hyun – 10.4
Distances: 0.5 lengths/2.5 lengths
Also Ran: 4. Success Story 5. Queen’s Blade 6. Ildeung Hanghaesa 7. K Man 8. Jeongsang Bima 9. Wild Rush 10. Cheongnyong Bisang 11. Winner’s Marine 12. Nubi Queen 13. Major Star 14. Super Legend NR. Super Lucky

Beolmaui Kkum Blasts Back At Busan

With Seoul having taken its annual summer vacation this past weekend, all eyes were on Busan as the only venue for thoroughbred racing on the peninsula. And for Beolmaui Kkum, it was a welcome return to form after a long absence.

Beolmaui Kkum, seen here at the Grand Prix in Seoul, returned to form at Busan on Saturday (Pic: Ross Holburt)

Beolmaui Kkum, seen here at the Grand Prix in Seoul, returned to form at Busan on Saturday (Pic: Ross Holburt)

Touted as a potential star at the end of last season having won 7 of his 10 starts, Beolmaui Kkum (Put It Back) led the way in the Grand Prix Stakes at Seoul in December before fading in the home straight to end up near the back. This would be repeated on two starts at the beginning of this year before he was given close to six months off.

Returning to the track in Saturday’s feature race, punters clearly hadn’t forgotton about him, sending him off as 3rd favourite in the 1900M class 1 handicap.

As he tends to do, Beolmaui Kkum went straight to the front but this time had plenty left when jockey Lee Hee Cheon asked him for an effort in the home straight and he cruised away from his rivals to record a 5-length victory.

Beolmaui Kkum’s return to form was welcome in what had been looking a rather stale group of class 1 horses at both Seoul and Busan. Over the weekend, however, enough up-and-coming imports put in solid enough performances to suggest that we have plenty to look forward to over the coming months.

On Saturday, there were two such stand-out performances. First, Australian colt Gumpo Daeseung (Shaft) made it 4 wins from 5 starts in a class 2 race over 1400M. He had to work for it though. Late to the gate after being re-shoed, Gumpo Daeseung was tracked all the way to the line by 2nd-favourite Uregachi, just holding on to win by a nose.

At a lower class, there was far less stress for US gelding Spring Gnarly (Master Command), who was guided to a 3-length win by apprentice rider Chae Sang Hyun and now moves onto 3 wins from 5 starts.

Sunday’s marathon 15-race card saw another import put in an impressive performance as Mujinjang (Silver Train) strolled to his 6th win in 7 career starts, claiming the class 2 race 14 by two lengths.

On the domestic fron there were encouraging performances too. Derby also-ran Gumpo Sky (Vicar) offered further proof that his disappoiting run in the Classic at Seoul was an aberration, by strolling to a 7-length victory in Saturday’s class 2 race 6. One race earlier, Peter Wolsley’s Never Seen Before (Ecton Park), who didn’t even make it to the Derby, was similarly impressive in deconstructing a similar class 2 field by the same 7-length margin.

Both are now likely to be pointed towards the final leg of the Triple Crown, the Minister’s Cup at Seoul in October.

Next week, action returns to Seoul and it is International Exchange race weekend.
Although there is no International Jockey Challenge this year (due to the Asia Challenge Cup being run later in the month which will include 6 visiting jockeys), there will still be plenty to look forward to. Full previews up soon.