Menifee Leading Sire In Korea For Sixth Straight Year

Menifee has once more dominated the Leading Sire in Korea ranks. Grand Prix Stakes winner Power Blade was once again Menifee’s leading money earner as his progeny won almost double that of nearest rival Ecton Park. It was also an encouraging year for Hansen, whose first Korean crop of juveniles hit the track.


Menifee, Korea’s leading sire, again

2017 Korea Leading General Sire (Money earned in 1000 Korean Won units – Chief Money Earner)

1. Menifee (USA) 8,973,350 – Power Blade
2. Ecton Park (USA) 5,272,610 – Triple Nine
3. Officer (USA) 4,074,930 – World Sun
4. Vicar (USA) 3,977,090 – Phantom Blade
5. Peace Rules (USA) 3,861,780 – Success Story
6. Forest Camp (USA) 3,627,530 – Raon Magic
7. Sharp Humor (USA) 3,583,880 – Golden Gate
8. Colors Flying (USA) 2,744,590 – Yeonggwanguihunter
9. Exploit (USA) 2,340,220 – Singgeureoun Gom
10. Ingrandire (JPN) 2,322,860 – Geombit Gangja
11. One Cool Cat (USA) 12. Whywhywhy (USA) 13. Chapel Royal (USA) 14. Rock Hard Ten (USA) 15. Cowboy Cal (USA) 16. Didyme (USA) 17. Hawk Wing (USA) 18. Simon Pure (USA) 19. Hansen (USA) 20. Pico Central (BRZ)

As ever Menifee was way out in front in terms of Starters, Winners, Strike Rate and Money Earned. He is covering progressively fewer each year (64 in 2017) as he nears retirement but he’ll up around the top for a few more years yet. Even without Power Blade’s 1.2 Billion Won in earnings, he was still significantly ahead of his nearest rival. This year, that was Isidore Farm’s Ecton Park, sire of Triple Nine while Officer jumped up from 7th to 3rd. Vicar and Peace Rules in 4th and 5th finished in exactly the same positons they did last year while Forest Camp dropped from 2nd to 6th.

For the second year running, Cowboy Cal was the highest placed stallion from outside of Korea  – he is now in Korea himself but all his runners were sired in the USA. Further down the list, Hansen entered the top twenty for the first time, which leads us to:

2017 Leading Sire of 2-Year-Olds in Korea

1. Menifee (USA) 1,369,930 – Choinma
2. Hansen (USA) 1,140,100 – Sinui Myeongryeong
3. Ecton Park (USA) 868,870 – Ecton Blade
4. Thunder Moccasin (USA) 829,580 – Yeongcheon Derby
5. Old Fashioned (USA) 550,640 – P.K. Party

Hansen actually had one more 2-year-old than Menifee make it to the track with 10 of his 33 winning at least once to Menifee’s imperious 18 from 32. Ecton Park has produced another solid crop while Pegasus Farm’s Thunder Moccasin got off to an excellent start in 4th place. Old Fashioned is now in Korea but his 5th place still relied totally on imports or those imported in-utero. Since coming to Korea Old Fashioned has already covered well in excess of 200 mares and he looks set to be a major player in years to come.

Accordingly Hansen and Thunder Moccasin were 1st and 2nd on the Leading First-Crop Sire list with the remianing top five being filled out by the Nokwon Farm based trio of Eurosilver, Testa Matta and Spicule.

Seven stallions were imported into Korea for breeding purposes in 2017, all from the United States. They are Afleet Express, Archarcharch, Modern Cowboy, Purge, Take Charge Indy, Tizway and With Distinction. With the exception of Take Charge Indy, who is owned by the Korea Racing Authority, all are standing privately.

Sadly some stallions did pass away during 2017. The most well-known was Whywhywhy who succumbed to complications arising from a debilitating back injury in September aged 17. Pensioned stallions who passed on during the year were Psychobabble and Silent Warrior, aged 26 and 25 respectively and Wheelaway, who was 20.



Visiting Hansen – And Other Thoughts On The Korean Breeding Industry

Over the past few years Korea has become, if not a major player, at least significantly involved in the world bloodstock industry. That has resulted in a number of reasonably well-known stallions, principally from the United States, finding themselves in Korea. So what happens to them here?

Hansen at the KRA Jeju Stud Farm

Hansen at the KRA Jeju Stud Farm

The KRA began a domestic breeding industry in the 1990’s. Like most decisions here, it was done with realpolitik in mind. As a monopoly and a public company, the KRA is subject to the whims of the government of the day and as a result, needs to make itself as vital as possible to the nation.

That doesn’t just mean betting revenue – a casino with its mindless games of chance can do that – it also means jobs and support for the rural economy, something that had been neglected in Korea’s rush to development in the late 20th century.

The early breeding industry was haphazard. While the government was behind the idea, it simply gave subsidies for farmers to start breeding racehorses but offered no practical support as to actually how to breed racehorses. It was left to private farms such as Isidore to lead the way in bringing over foreign talent to oversee the breeding program.

Menifee, Korea's leading sire, walks in the rain

Menifee, Korea’s leading sire, walks in the rain

The KRA also set up its own Stud Farms, on Jeju Island and also at Jangsu on the mainland. At its peak, it stood about 30 stallions but has gradually been encouraging private farms to take over and now does not automatically replace pensioned or passed away stallions. It now only purchases marquee names; Hansen and Tiz Wonderful being recent examples.

Hansen's box at the Stud Farm - he was out in the paddock at the time

Hansen’s box at the Stud Farm – he was out in the paddock at the time

The KRA’s Jeju Stud Farm is nothing short of a five-star hotel for stallions. When not servicing mares, the select few are housed in spacious boxes or in their own private paddocks. On a recent Monday, only leading sire in Korea Menifee was in his box.

Hansen was not in his box. Nice nameplate, though

Hansen was not in his box. Nice nameplate, though

Now 19-years-old, Menifee has been in Korea since 2006. That’s about as long as me but I have a feeling Menifee understands Korean better than I do. His handler (wearing a Hansen baseball cap) calls his name and in Korean, asks him to come out of his box and stand to attention – which he does. He is perfectly happy to trot up and down outside in the pouring rain while the French TV crew (who I have tagged along with as designated um….drinker) filmed him.

Tiz Wonderful would not come up to say hello. Nice paddock though

Tiz Wonderful would not come up to say hello. Nice paddock though

The rest of the stallions are outside in their private paddocks where they spend most of their time. Walking out of the stables and into a typically idyllic Jeju scene, even three paddocks over, one horse stands out. Of course he is the easiest to recognize but he is also the only one who is standing right at the very edge of his paddock, waiting for visitors. He cranes his neck to see who might be approaching and jumps about to attract their attention.

Hansen is a remarkably sociable stallion. The day has been stormy and Hansen has been rolling in the mud. He looks more like a bedraggled pony than a Gotham Stakes and Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner but he puts his head through the railings to be petted. “Do you remember me?” the lady from Equidia asks, “I met you at Churchill Downs four years ago”.

He probably doesn’t but he makes a good show of it, allowing himself to be absolutely fawned over, even by the hitherto alpha-male French cameraman who has only vaguely heard of him but who turns into a simpering fanboy in his presence. Like everybody else. “Hansen loves people and everybody loves him” explains the Stud Farm manager – who is still wearing the cap with Hansen’s name on it

Tiz Wonderful and Forest Camp – the latter a notably shy stallion who has been kicked about by more than a few mares in his time – would not be distracted from their grazing but One Cool Cat was friendly while Hawk Wing seemed positively delighted to hear some English spoken to him.

The KRA Jeju Stud Farm is the best known stallion station on Jeju but it is deliberately drawing down its influence. Ecton Park stands at Isidore Farm, a place which has over the years played a huge role in the development of agriculture in general as well as racing on Jeju. Colors Flying is at Taeyoung Farm while the likes of Whywhywhy, Simon Pure and new star Strike Again also stand privately.

Facilities at some private farms such as Isidore and Pegasus are first rate. Others are developing. At Triple Crown Farm, we visit the resting place of Mister Park, who won 17 consecutive races, including the 2010 Grand Prix Stakes. Right next to him, mares and yearlings are in high spirits.

KRA training centre in Jeju

KRA training centre in Jeju

The final stop on what is now a hungover tour of the island (“I love my job, but not today” says the cameraman after an introduction to Halla-San Soju in Seogwipo the previous evening) is Nokwon Farm. This farm received international attention a couple of years ago as the home of Worldly Pleasure, dam of American champion Game On Dude. Of course, once Game On Dude became successful, Worldly Pleasure was on a plane to Shadai but Nokwon remains one of Korea’s top private farms.

Nokwon is owned by the former Chairman of the Seoul Racehorse Owners’ Association, Chi Dae Sub. Mr Chi is surprisingly in residence and in welcoming mood when we drop by uninvited last Tuesday. He was still smarting over Ham Wan Sik’s ride on his horse Forty Cure in the Selangor Turf Club Trophy last Saturday. Ham stood up in the irons and seemingly started celebrating despite being beaten a full length by Moon Se Young on Raon Morris on the line. “I wanted to kill him” was Mr Chi’s succinct post-mortem on the race.

Eurosilver at Nokwon Farm

Eurosilver at Nokwon Farm

We tour the farm on the back of a souped-up golf buggy, driven by Mr Chi. Clinging on to the roof, it was better than an Everland roller-coaster. Nokwon stands several stallions, including the Japanese racehorse Testa Matta and the US import Eurosilver. The farm has developed a very efficient system for exercising yearlings and sees itself as a prototype for the development for Korean-run farms on Jeju.

Chi Dae Sub has been one of the few supporters of the KRA’s internationalization program among Korean breeders (which is presumably why we were taken to his farm) who almost unanimously opposed the new rating system that ended separate class 1 and class 2 races for Korean and imported horses. “Bring them all on. Nobody thought that Koreans could make cars or televisions or mobile phones, but we did” he said “The KRA says we are 10 or 20 years away, I say we can do it in 5; Let’s race them”.

Racehorses are not mobile phones but the likes of Isidore with Rock Band and Triple Nine this past weekend have shown that the quality is coming. Choegang Schiller winning the Asia Challenge Cup, albeit not Korean-bred, demonstrates that Korean trained racehorses can compete at a good level. We have an awful long way to go. But from breeding shed to winning post, Korean racing is doing what it can to go in the right direction.

Watch out once Hansen’s progeny make it to the track.

Follow all horses racing or breeding in Korea through the Korean StudBook.

For anyone who finds themselves on Jeju Island, the KRA Stud Farm is happy to welcome visitors.

2014 Review: Menifee Dominates Leading Sire Ranks Again

For the third consecutive year, Menifee was Leading Sire in Korea in 2014. This time it was by a record margin as his son Gyeongbudaero completed a late season President’s Cup and Grand Prix Stakes to take his sire’s earnings to nearly double that of next best, Forest Camp.

Menifee is Leading Sire once again (Pic: Malsarang)

Menifee is Leading Sire once again (Pic: Malsarang)

The table was very similar to last year’s with the only new entrant to the top ten being Peace Rules in 9th, who saw a remarkable 21% of all his starters win. He replaced Japanese sire Ingrandire, who dropped down to 17th after his best horse, Jigeum I Sungan, was retired at the end of 2013.

Leading General Sire in Korea 2014
Name – Earnings in 1000KRW – (Runners/Winner/Starts/Wins) Win% – Chief Earner

1. Menifee (USA) – 8,265,181 – (145/79/901/146) 16.2% – Gyeongbudaero
2. Forest Camp (USA) – 4,700,535 – (147/53/926/83) 9.0% – Magic Dancer
3. Vicar (USA) – 4,428,950 – (102/47/697/78) 11.6% – Gumpo Sky
4. Creek Cat (USA) – 3,301,666 – (124/44/675/78) 11.6% – Jungang Cheonhae
5. Pico Central (BRZ) – 3,098,159 – (113/39/641/61) 9.5% – Road To Prince
6. Volponi (USA) – 3,065,538 – (111/32/728/52) 7.1% – Cheongnyong Bisang
7. Didyme (USA) – 3,062,492 – (90/33/554/59) 10.6% – Hangangui Gijeok
8. Ecton Park (USA) – 3,044,083 – (85/37/516/63) 12.2% – Never Seen Before
9. Peace Rules (USA) – 2,924,780 – (67/35/365/78) 21.4% – Geumbit Hwanhui
10. Exploit (USA) – 2,843,528 – (107/36/711/51) 7.2% – Impetus
11. One Cool Cat (USA) 12. Yankee Victor (USA) 13. Ft.Stockton (USA) 14. Hawk Wing (USA) 15. Revere (IRE) 16. Capital Spending (USA) 17. Ingrandire (JPN) 18. Duality (USA) 19. Henny Hughes* (USA) 20. The Groom Is Red (USA)
* Very popular these days with Korean importers, Henny Hughes is the only non-Korea based sire to make the top 20

There is likely to be a shake-up next year though. While Menifee, as leading sire of two-year olds as well, is likely to keep his crown for a fourth year, top sires Creek Cat, Didyme and Pico Central have all passed away in the past two years and will gradually drop off the list.

Meanwhile Colors Flying has made an immediate impact with his first crop of two-year-olds hitting the track in 2014.

Leading Sire of Two-Year-Olds in Korea 2014
Name – Earnings in 1000KRW – (Runners/Winner/Starts/Wins) Win% – Chief Earner

1. Menifee (USA) – 920,575 – (38/22/123/32) 26.0% – Summit Myeongun
2. Colors Flying (USA) – 698,904 – (32/9/89/15) 16.9% – Doraon Hyeonpyo
3. Creek Cat (USA) – 567,884 – (34/11/108/19) 17.6% – Dream Queen
4. Forest Camp (USA) – 441,882 – (30/11/80/17) 21.3% – Yesuri Myeongun
5. Didyme (USA) – 363,080 – (25/5/78/10) 12.8% – Yuseong Fighting

Looking further into the future, Hansen covered 83 mares in his first season standing in Korea while 2014’s big money purchase, Tiz Wonderful, arrived on Jeju Island in November.

Sadly some stallions are no longer with us. Here is a list of foreign born sires who passed away in Korea this year:

Commendable (USA) [Gone West] (see obituary here)
Revere (IRE) (Dancing Brave] (Obituary to follow in January)
Al Naba (USA) [Mr. Prospector]
Field Asuka (USA) [Forty Niner]
Enlisted (USA) [Our Emblem]
Big Swing (USA) [Dixieland Band]
Happy Jazz Band (USA) [Dixieland Band]
Turbulent Storm (USA) [Storm Creek]

Weekend Preview: Juvenile Cups At Seoul & Busan

Juveniles take centre-stage this weekend as both Seoul and Busan hold their respective Championship races for 2-year-olds. The best performers in each race will then meet in Seoul next month to decide the peninsula’s overall best up-and-coming young horse.

The weather has been beautiful this week and should remain so over the weekend for the Champion Juvenile races

The weather has been beautiful this week and should remain so over the weekend for the Champion Juvenile races

As has been the case for the past few years, Busan looks to have the edge in terms of quality. A total of 14 runners – 7 colts and 7 fillies – will line up for the Gyeongnam Sinmun Cup on Sunday afternoon, only 2 of whom are yet to win. Yeonggwanguichampion and Cheonha Ullim have perhaps been the most impressive coming into the race but anything could happen in what looks a very competitive field.

Up at Seoul just 8 colts and 2 fillies will take their chance in Saturday’s Gwacheon Mayor’s Cup. Nubi Queen, Cheonwang Dungi and Raon Morris have been the stand-out performers among them so far.

In the week that it was announced that US 2011 Breeders’ Cup winner Hansen would be coming to Korea, there is plenty of diversity among the stallions represented in both races, unlike the Menifee and Forest Camp dominance of the past 2 years. Freshman sires here One Cool Cat and Peace Rules both have runners in Korean Stakes races for the first time.

The weekend’s other race of note is the last at Seoul on Saturday as Fly Top Queen (Henny Hughes) makes her 4th appearance. The 3-year-old filly – Korea’s most expensive ever imported racehorse – has won her first three races in dismissive fashion and will be heavily favoured to make it 4. If all goes to plan, she will travel to Tokyo next month to represent Korea in the 2nd leg of the Korea vs Japan Challenge races.

Down on Jeju, Saturday’s short 5-race pony card forms part of the Jeju Horse Festival and includes the Jeju Open and Jeju Classic, the track’s 2 richest races of the year.

Here’s what’s happening when and where:

Friday October 11

Busan Race Park: 13 races from 12:00 to 18:00

Saturday October 12

Seoul Race Park: 11 races from 11:00 to 18:00 including the Gwacheon Mayor’s Cup at 16:30
Jeju Race Park: 5 races from 12:20 to 16:00

Sunday October 13

Seoul Race Park: 13 races from 11:00 to 18:00
Busan Race Park: 4 races from 12:50 to 15:20 including the Gyeongnam Sinmun Cup at 14:30