Ikuyasu Kurakane

Busan Friday Review

A pair of US imports, Tongil Sidae and Dongbang Daero provided the stand-out performances at a chilly but sunny Busan on Friday.

Tongil Sidae (Munnings), racing at a mile for the first time, continued his impressive start to his career recording a strong two-length victory in the class 2 race 10. Always prominent under jockey You Hyun Myung, the three-year-old gelding ran on to record his third victory in five starts.

One race earlier, Dongbang Daero (Curlin), who got his maiden win at the ninth attempt at the end of January, quickly followed up with another, once more at 1800M. Carrying top weight, the four-year-old comfortably held off the challenging of the promising Sinhang (who had previously been narrowly beaten by Tongil Sidae), to claim race 9 by just over a length.

Despite getting beaten on hot favourite Smart Gentleman in race 8, You Hyun Myung was jockey of the day with three winners while it was a mixed day for Ikuyasu Kurakane. The Japanese rider claimed race 1 on 5/1 shot Golden Leo but then got left in the gate in race 7 after the well fancied Raon Santos reared up and ran off without him. Makoto Okabe was also among the winners, partnering perennial placer Seorabeol Gongju to victory over Smart Gentleman in the aforementioned race 8.

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

Sunday March 13
Seoul Racecourse: 11 races from 10:50 to 18:00
Busan Raecourse: 6 races from 13:00 to 17:05

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Busan Friday Review

So how do you make a Seoul horse better? Well if his name is Tapipoint, you move him to Busan. 

The few Seoul horses who have been moved to Busan since switching between the tracks became permitted last year have tended to sink without trace – and in fairness, with a couple of notable exceptions, those who have moved in the opposite direction haven’t exactly been pulling up trees either. Tapipoint (Concorde Point) though has been, for want of a better phrase, on point. He ran 2nd in his first two starts on the south coast and today got it spot-on, winning the class 2 race 10 by three lengths under apprentice jockey Lee Yong Ho.

Favourite for that race had been Emeth. However, the Kim Young Kwan trainee sank without trace in the home straight beating just one home. It wasn’t all bad news for favourite backers though as, on a filthy afternoon, the two bankers obliged. Peter Wolsley’s Golden Kings (Ecton Park) – who is in fact a filly – claimed an easy maiden victory in race 4 under Pasquale Borelli while Dyna’s Dream (Meiner Select) was far too strong in securing his third straight win in race 8.

Bart Rice was also among the winners, saddling race 7 victor Giant Hold (Hold Me Back) but it was Ikuyasu Kurakane who was pick of the foreigners today. The Japanese rode three winners with the pick being the up in class Bohemian (Orientate), a strong winner of the 1800M race 9.

It poured with rain for most of the day and times were quick, with many races being run in near track-record times. Racing returns to Busan on Sunday while on Saturday attention turns to Seoul where there is an eleven-race card which gets under way at 10:50am.

Queen’s Blade Welcomed Home A Winner

After fifteen long months in the Korean racing wilderness, Queen’s Blade, the 2014 Korean Derby and Oaks winning filly, was back in the winner’s circle at Seoul Racecourse this afternoon having triumphed in the Jeju Governor’s Cup.

Queen's Blade in the Jeju Governor's Cup winner's circle

Queen’s Blade in the Jeju Governor’s Cup winner’s circle

Being sent to the USA is generally a career death-knell for a Korean racehorse with connections understandably taking advantage of the inexplicably generous subsidy available for running a Korean Group race winner in the States (you have to do it three times and one of them must be a Stakes race) only when they feel their horse isn’t going to win an equivalent amount at home anymore.

And while Queen’s Blade, unlike another Derby winning filly Speedy First, was at least sound, she wasn’t in race shape in America and duly met with the now familiar humiliation that greets participants in this program. Home, retirement and the breeding shed seemed to await, not the racecourse.

This filly was a little different though and after the three-month spell on the farm that she was long overdue, she returned to work last month, flying through a barrier trial and found herself in the starting gate today.

True, this was not the toughest assignment first up with race-watchers here scratching their heads trying to recall a weaker looking Stakes race which had no upper class or rating limit on its entrants. They put on a decent show though and under a characteristically skilful ride from Japanese jockey Ikuyasu Kurakane, Queen’s Blade battled hard to earn victory by a neck.

Queen’s Blade was always handy and while she and stablemate Bukbeol Sinhwa (a full sister to President’s Cup winner Triple Nine) stayed on, the rest of the early front-runners would fade in the closing stages and it was left to closers Pinot Noir and Meni Money to get the closest to the winner with Pinot Noir, an 18/1 chance, just running out of track in the end.

Queen’s Blade is a half sister to 2008 Korean Oaks winner Jeolho Chance and was recording her first victory since her own Oaks success last August. It was her 8th career win in total from sixteen (Korean) starts. For jockey Ikuyasu Kurakane it was a third Korean Stakes race win while for trainer Kim Young Kwan it was business as usual in the biggest races.

Jeju Governor’s Cup (KOR G3) – Seoul Racecourse – 1400M – November 15, 2015

1. Queen’s Blade (KOR) [Menifee – Harboring (Boston Harbor)] – Ikuyasu Kurakane – 2.9, 1.6
2. Pinot Noir (KOR) [Capital Spending – Neungnyeokchungman (Pacificbounty)] – Park Eul Woon – 2.9
3. Meni Money (KOR) [Menifee – Pocketful Of Money (Running Stag)] – Seo Seung Un – 1.7
Distances: Neck/2 lengths
Also Ran: 4. Bukbeol Sinhwa 5. X File 6. Smart Time 7. Winner’s Marine 8. Indian Star 9. Hwanggembitjijung 10. Jokwang 11. Jibong Sarang 12. Appealing Star 13. Space Shuttle 14. Chongal Gongju 15. Blue Guardian 16. Geumbit Hwanhui

Iku and Jo Sung Gon Dominate At Busan

There isn’t a jockey challenge bet in Korea but if there was, yesterday at Busan it would have been a two-man race with Jo Sung Gon and Ikuyasu Kurakane dominating the Friday afternoon card.

Four winners: Ikuyasu Kurakane (Pic: Hiromi Kobayashi)

Four winners: Ikuyasu Kurakane (Pic: Hiromi Kobayashi)

Of course, punters had seen this coming. With the likes of Kim Yong Geun, Choi Si Dae and Masa Tanaka among eight Busan riders in Seoul for the President’s Cup on Sunday (Union rules say a jockey who has the temerity to go and ride in a big race at the other track isn’t allowed to ride at his or her home track on the same weekend) and You Hyun Myung on the long-term injured list, Jo and Kurakane were really the only Big Beasts of the weighing room in action.

Jo Sung Gon managed to get himself beaten on two favourites but like Kurakane, still emerged with four winners from the eleven-race card.

Highlight of Jo’s winners was perhaps a dominant victory for the young US import Doraonpogyeongseon (Kantharos) the third of his four winners which all arrived consecutively in races 5 to 8. Doraonpogyeongseon, named after a Grand Prix winning horse of the 1990’s, was getting his maiden win on his second start.

Kurakane’s winners arrived in pairs. He rode two-year-old debut-maker My Alice (Limitless Bid) to an eye-catching, albeit hard to judge how good it really was, eleven-length  triumph in race 2 but the highlight was in the final race 11 when he guided two-year-old import Gakbyeolhan (Big Brown) to win by three lengths.

Four winners: Jo Sung Gon

Four winners: Jo Sung Gon

The juvenile Gakbyeolhan was beating seven older horses over a mile on what was just his third career start and looks quite a prospect.

Had there been a jockey challenge and had it been run under Hong Kong rules, Kurakane would have come out as the winner due to riding three 2nd place finishers as well – two of them behind Jo’s winners. Contrastingly Jo, aside from his winners, only got one other into the top three.

While the eight Busan riders in the capital will be riding in the big race on Sunday afternoon, both Jo Sung Gon and Ikuyasu Kurakane have a full book of rides on Busan’s short six-race card on Sunday. It would be very surprising if either failed to add to their weekend total.

Italian Jockey Pasquale Borelli Set For Busan

There is a new foreign jockey in the weighing room at Busan as Pasquale Borelli joins on an initial license that will run until the end of the year.

Pasquale Borelli is set for Busan (Pic: Supplied)

Pasquale Borelli is set for Busan (Pic: Supplied)

The 32-year-old Italian has landed over 900 wins in a professional career that began in 1999, among them victories in 20 Listed races.

Another Italian licensed jockey, Serbia’s Djordje Perovic has met with sustained success at Seoul since joining earlier this year and despite parting company with trainer Lee Shin Young at the end of August, has continued to show his class and bring in the winners.

Also at Seoul, Japanese rider Yuri Takahashi has been quietly making a name for himself. Like Perovic, it took Takahashi a while to build up some momentum following his July debut but in riding his 10th and 11th winners last weekend took him up to the extremely creditable quinella strike rate of 22%.

Borelli joins Busan where among foreign jockeys Masa Tanaka is currently top man, lying in 6th place in the Jockey Championship with 39 winners in 2015 so far. Ikuyasu Kurakane has picked up where he left off since returning to Korea in the summer while Nozi Tomizawa contines to get plenty of rides and lies in 15th place in the table. Noboyuki Oyama finished up his ten-month stint in Korea at the end of September.

Weekend Preview: Ikuyasu Is Back

Hopefully the Busan jockey colony enjoyed their weekend off last week because playtime is over. With it being Seoul’s turn to take a break, the south-coast track takes centre-stage and Ikuyasu Kurakane, Jockey of the Year at Seoul in 2014, is back in Korea and this time is ready to take on Busan.

Did you miss me? (Pic: Hiromi Kobayashi)

Did you miss me? (Pic: Hiromi Kobayashi)

Ikuyasu has four rides on Saturday and ten on Sunday and few would bet against him quickly adding to his 290 Korean winners spread over two previous stints at Seoul and Busan.

It is also a big weekend for Irish trainer Thomas Gillespie who sends out his first Korean runner on Sunday. The very best of luck to him.

Click here for full race cards.

Here’s what’s happening when and where:

Friday July 31
Jeju Racecourse: 14 races from 13:30 to 20:00

Saturday August 1
Busan Racecourse: 8 races from 15:05 to 20:00
Jeju Racecourse: 8 races from 13:00 to 17:10

Sunday August 2
Busan Racecourse: 15 races from 13:00 to 20:00

Lee Yong Ho Winning At Busan While Takahashi Debuts At Seoul

Several new apprentice jockeys have debuted over the past couple of weeks at both Seoul and Busan with a couple of them catching the eye so far. Meanwhile there are comings and goings among the foreign jockey ranks.

Winning already: Apprentice jockey Lee Yong Ho

Winning already: Apprentice jockey Lee Yong Ho

Among the apprentices, the stand-out so far has been 18-year-old Lee Yong Ho who has already ridden 5 winners from his first 29 mounts at Busan. Lee, the youngest jockey to gain a license in Korea for many years, is the younger brother of Seoul rider Lee Chan Ho, who made a similarly impressive start to his career two years ago. The younger Lee had already built quite a reputation for himself before his debut and he has received support from trainers right from his first day.

At Seoul, the best so far has been another Lee; Lee Hyeon Jong. After several near misses the 21-year-old rode his first winner last Saturday and quickly followed up with another. He has only had 13 rides so far but 7 of them have finished in the placings.

Among the other new apprentices, Park Jae I and Jin Kyum, both at Busan, have managed to get 2nd places while Kim Do Jung at Seoul has a 3rd to his name.

Debuting at Seoul last Saturday was Japanese jockey Yuri Takahashi. The 28-year-old, who is affiliated with the Iwate Racing Association, endured a challenging opening weekend with seven rides, none of which had a chance. Hopefully things will get better for him in future weeks in the way they’ve certainly got better for Djordje Perovic. The “Serbian Frankie” rode his 14th Korean winner on Saturday and if he continues riding the way he has been, he looks set to be the first non-Japanese visiting jockey to make a real impact at the notoriously difficult Seoul.

The other foreign rider at Seoul, Jarred Samuel, who has been a popular and positive presence for the past four months, has opted not to renew his contract and will return to South Africa at the end of July. Samuel will be replaced and another foreign rider is expected to arrive at the end of August.

Down at Busan meanwhile, Ikuyasu Kurakane is set for his third Korean stint, having been granted a license once more. Kurakane won the “MVP Award” at Seoul Racecourse last year – an achievemnet that led to the Japanese NAR presenting him with a special prize at their annual “Grand Prix” awards ceremony in February.

Elsewhere, former Busan jockey Joe Fujii is now riding in Hokkaido and landed his first Japanese winner at Mombetsu Racecourse last week.