Three jockeys and one racing official were arrested on Tuesday as part of the ongoing investigation into corruption in Korean Sport. All three jockeys had been riding in Pony races on Jeju Island.
The Prosecution alleges that the jockeys (who despite having earlier been banned and named by the KRA can, due to the Proseuction action, no longer be identified) accepted money, jewellery and “high-performance cars” from an organised crime syndicate in deals brokered by a “Kim” in exchange for providing inside information and, on occasion, slowing down horses in races.
The KRA official, a 37 year-old male identified only by his family name of “Jeong” was arrested for allegedly assisting the three.
Over the past year, professional football, baseball, volleyball and motor-boat racing have all been found to be in the grip of organised gambling rings manipulating results. Racing, with its explicit gambling component, has long suffered these scandals.
In football, the allegedly fixed results occurred mainly in the “Rush & Cash Cup”, a midweek tournament contested mainly by K-League teams’ Reserve teams, away from the scrutiny of television cameras and involving players not making very much money.
Similarly, the Pony racing on Jeju Island is conducted for much smaller prize-money than thoroughbred racing on the mainland and legal gambling handle is low and as a result, there is the possibilty for manipulations to go unnoticed.
Having said that, one high-profile Seoul jockey has been suspended for the past six months pending investigation into his conduct.
Racing in Korea has extremely strict rules with regards to inside information – to the extent that this blog is extremely careful when communicating with jockeys, trainers and officials – let alone in terms of fixing races. One or two jockeys get struck-off each year for offences that in other jurisdictions would receive a far more lenient punishment.
Given that the well-supported and Chaebol backed K-League was under the threat of closure earlier this year, the latest revelations are something that racing, already considered a pariah sport by many in Korea, can ill-afford.
* The story made the main nightly SBS TV News, complete with library footage from the track that is at least a decade old: http://lbshaka.tistory.com/997