Indian Blue

Beolmaui Kkum Heads January Ratings

Beolmaui Kkum remains the top-rated horse in Korea being pushed up one point following his Class 1 victory on Sunday. The latest Korean ratings, which were published on Monday, has the US-bred 5-year-old one point ahead of Grand Prix Stakes winner Gyeongbudaero.

Gyeongbudaero's Grand Prix Stakes win wasn't quite enough to see him to the top of the ratings. He is though, the top Korean bred horse  (Pic: Ross Holburt)

Gyeongbudaero’s Grand Prix Stakes win wasn’t quite enough to see him to the top of the ratings. He is though, the top Korean bred horse (Pic: Ross Holburt)

Wonder Bolt is Seoul’s top horse and is up two points following his Grand Prix Stakes win although he was scratched from his scheduled start on Sunday. He is now 7 points clear of his nearest rival in the capital. New entrants at the top of the list at Seoul include Clean Up Joy, who was 4th in the Grand Prix Stakes, while at Busan Success Story comes in following two dominant victories over the past month.

Dropping off the list is Indian Blue, who has been retired ready for the 2015 breeding season.

Seoul Top 30
Busan Top 30

For the first time the ratings, which are for domestic use only and are not intended to be compared to international ones, have been expanded to include all horses down to class 5. The ratings are one of a number of changes which have not been universally popular among some stakeholders – principally trainers. For now though, while there will always be disagreements between connections, punters and the handicappers, they are if nothing else, providing a talking point.

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The KNN Cup: Full Preview

The top fillies and mares on the peninsula are in Busan this weekend for the KNN Cup, the 2nd-leg of the 2014 Queens’ Tour.

Gamdonguibada won the Ttukseom Cup, the first leg of the Queens' Tour

Gamdonguibada won the Ttukseom Cup, the first leg of the Queens’ Tour

Ttukseom Cup winner Gamdonguibada will renew hostilities with Indian Blue and Joy Lucky as a full field of 16 takes on the mile-long test.

Scroll down for a full preview but first, here’s what’s happening when and where on this holiday weekend:

Friday June 6
Busan Race Park: 10 races from 13:00 to 19:00
Jeju Race Park: 9 races from 13:25 to 17:40

Saturday June 7
Seoul Race Park: 11 races from 10:50 to 18:00
Jeju Race Park: 9 races from 12:20 to 17:10

Sunday June 8
Seoul Race Park: 11 races from 10:50 to 18:00
Busan Race Park: 6 races from 12:45 to 17:05

KNN Cup – Busan Race Park – 1600M – June 8, 2014

1. Baedari Yeongung (KOR) [Yehudi – Recondite (Silver Deputy)] 5 (31/5/2/4) – You Hyun Myung (Busan)
She wins from the front and will likely look to get there early. It’s been a long time since she’s done so successfully though and on recent form is very unconvincing.

2. Shining Future (KOR) [Silver Train – Juliet’s Kiss (Kissin Kris)] 5 (24/4/3/2) – Darryll Holland (Busan)
She was 6th in the Ttukseom Cup and that would appear to be the extent of her ambitions here as well. The booking of Holland is a bonus but even so, a place seems her best hope.

3. New York Blue (USA) [Candy Ride – Aim For The Moon (Deputy Minister)] 3 (9/4/3/0) – Masakazu Tanaka (Busan)
The only 3-year-old in the field, she was a smart winner over 1400M last up. She has the speed and looks like she can go further but company of this calibre may be a little too much too soon.

4. Gamdonguibada (USA) [Werblin – Radyla (Country Pine)] 5 (18/10/3/3) – Kanichiro Fujii (Busan)
Exceptionally impressive leading from gate to wire in the Ttukseom Cup, she’s not been seen on the track since except for a race trial in early May – exactly the same prep she did for the Ttukseom. Joe Fujii, who won the Grand Prix on her, returns to the saddle and she’ll be tough to oppose.

5. Star Bolt (USA) [Fusaichi Pegasus – D’Oro Doll (Touch Gold)] 4 (19/3/6/0) – Kim Dong Young (Busan)
4th in the Gukje Sinmun Cup last month, she usually goes close but rarely wins. That’s likely to be the same here.

6. Chiming Vicar (KOR) [Vicar – Chiming In (Fasliyev)] 5 (25/6/2/1) – Park Sang Woo (Seoul)
Came from just off the pace to grab a class 2 victory in March but was poor last time out on her class 1 debut. Likely to find the going similarly tough here.

7. Silver Classic (USA) [Chapel Royal – Psychic Friend (Star De Naskra)] 5 (24/4/3/2) – Choi Si Dae (Busan)
Was 10th first up after a long layoff last month. Desperately needed the run but is unlikely to have come on well enough to challenge here.

8. Nulpurunchongnyong (KOR) [Master Command – Sea Button (Sea Of Secrets)] 4 (12/5/4/0) – Jun Duck Yong (Seoul)
A nice looking filly who comes into the race in good form. She likes to start slow and then pick them off in the straight with good late speed. Could be a threat although this is by far the toughest field she’s faced.

9. Heba (USA) [Peace Rules – Sue’s Temper (Temperence Hill)] 4 (20/6/4/1) – Jo Sung Gon (Busan)
She has two class 1 wins to her name and was 4th in the Ttukseom Cup. She’s not been seen since – indeed her only other run this year was a nothing to write home about 5th – but is a contender here. She’s won from the front and from clsoing late

10. Indian Blue (USA) [Henny Hughes – Gambler’s Passion (Prospectors Gamble)] 4 (16/5/4/4) – Ikuyasu Kurakane (Seoul)
2nd in the Ttukseom Cup, she came back out and won last time over a tough class 1 field. She’ll be looking to go past the frontrunners in the home straight but can’t give Gamdonguibada such a head start this time. A chance.

11. Kalma (USA) [Dehere – Leeward Passage (Captain Bodgit)] 5 (20/4/1/3) – Kim Hyun Joong (Busan)
Bart Rice lets Kalma take her chance again but there’s little in her recent form to suggest she has any chance here. She’s only monied once in 6 tries at class 1.

12. Joy Lucky (KOR) [Vicar – Proper Gun (Prosper Fager)] 4 (14/10/1/0) – Moon Jung Kyun (Seoul)
2nd to Secret Whisper on her only previous visit to Busan but was poor in the Ttukseom Cup. She bounced back to win the Owners’ Trophy in April and was an impressive class 1 winner last month. She’ll be at the front but can she hold off Gamdonguibada? The suspended Seo Seung Un is replaced by moon Jung Kyun in the saddle.

13. Seungni Laser (KOR) [Menifee – First Base (Grand Slam)] 4 (12/7/0/0) – Kim Yong Geun (Busan)
Bart Rice’s better chance is an intriguing prospect who comes into the race off the back of 4 straight wins. Likes to close from just off the pace but is untried at a mile. Her only starts at 1500M have met with failure there is a question mark as to whether she will stay – but that was last year under a different trainer. If she does stay, she’ll be dangerous, especially if the leaders race themselves out of contention.

14. Black Dia (KOR) [Vicar – Blossom Again (Awesome Again)] 5 (25/5/4/1) – Song Keong Yun (Busan)
A closer who has quietly made her way to class 1. A mile has proved slightly beyond her to date and this could be her weakness here too.

15. Seungbu Sinhwa (USA) [Bluegrass Cat – Island Rhythm (Skip Trial)] 4 (19/0/3/4) – Park Si Cheon (Seoul)
Never won and as she is yet to graduate from class 3, that’s not likely to change here.

16. Sangnyu (USA) [Broken Vow – Midtown Miss (Yes It’s True)] 5 (22/5/3/3) – Bang Choon Sik (Seoul)
Well established at class 1 and another who has an outside chance to close late for a place if the pacesetters blow themselves out early.

Indian Blue Closes To Sports Donga Success

Indian Blue lived up to her reputation as one of Seoul’s top horses over any distance as she walked off with the Sports Donga Cup this afternoon.

Indian Blue and Ikuyasu Kurakane return as winners of the Sports Donga

Indian Blue and Ikuyasu Kurakane return as winners of the Sports Donga

Remarkably, the 4-year-old Indian Blue (Henny Hughes) had won only 4 of her 15 starts coming into today’s race. However, a 3rd and a 2nd in consecutive Ttukseom Cups, a 2nd in the KRA Cup Classic and a 4th in the Grand Prix Stakes meant the raw statistics didn’t really tell the full story.

Add in a sprint victory over Watts Village, Korea’s “Hero of Ohi” and it was no surprise that punters sent her off the short-priced favourite in a field of 14 for the Sports Donga.

She didn’t disappoint. Under Ikuyasu Kurakane, Indian Blue was inevitably the fastest of a group of closers who took charge in the home straight. Hitting the front with a furlong to run – early by her standards, Indian Blue was pushed all the way by Wonder Bolt but never looked in serious danger.

In third place there was a welcome return to form for 2012 KRA Cup Classic winner Sing Sing Cat but the highly though of pair of Double Shining and Kentucky Galloper disappointed.

Going forward, there are plenty of options for Indian Blue. The remaining legs of the Queens’ Tour will be attractive but so will a the Busan Metropolitan in July. Further on, a second tilt at the Korea vs Japan Goodwill race in August – with its prospect of an international rating and subsequent trip to Dubai – should be on the agenda.

Down at Busan, the JRA Kokura Racecourse Trophy was the main event. And while at Seoul it was one of the up-and-comers taking the plaudits, this race went to one of the elder statesmen of the sand as 8-year-old Full Forest (Full Mandate) took victory by a length.

Debuting in 2008, Full Forest was making his 58th start and recorded his first win since Janaury 2012 – and only his 7th in all. Over the years he’s had many jockeys – including the tragic pair of Park Jin Hee and Yoshi Aoki – but today it was the turn of Kim Yong Geun, who made the race his 4th win of the afternoon.

A fine ride it was too as he guided Full Forest into contention as they entered the home straight before passing long-time leader Star Bolt inside the final furlong to win going away.

Next weekend, Stakes action returns to Seoul in the form of the Seoul Owners’ Association Trophy.

No Joy For Seoul As Gamdonguibada Lands Ttukseom Cup

Gamdonguibada made all to win the Ttukseom Cup, the first leg of the 2014 Queens’ Tour, at Seoul Race Park this afternoon.

Gamdonguibada in the Seoul Winners Circle

Gamdonguibada in the Seoul Winners Circle

Joy Lucky was sent off as the heavy favourite and joined the 2012 Grand Prix Stakes winner Gamdonguibada in setting the early running. Meanwhile another big fancy, Indian Blue missed the break and found herself 10 lengths adrift just seconds into the race.

With few challengers asserting themselves behind, it looked like the stage was set for Gamdonguibada and Joy Lucky to duel all the way to the line. Instead, however, the Korean-bred filly faded, allowing Gamdonguibada an unchallenged 7-length victory.

Behind, Indian Blue flew home under Ikuyasu Kurakane to snatch an unlikely 2nd and leave connections with a real case of what might have been had she not given herself too much to do at the start. Grand Teukgeup, who had always been close to the front stayed on well for 3rd, just ahead of Heba and the spent Joy Lucky.

Big race jockey: Lim Sung Sil

Big race jockey: Lim Sung Sil

It was another top quality training performance from Busan’s Kim Young Kwan, his instructions to jockey Lim Sung Sil to go to the front and engage Joy Lucky early paying off spectacularly.

Trainer Kim and jockey Lim have now won the past three big Seoul Stakes races – with Indie Band in the President’s Cup and Grand Prix Stakes and then Gamdonguibada today. Kim’s horses ensure that Busan continues to dominate Seoul in the big races – in addition to those recent wins, he also trains the winners of the latest renewals of the Derby, Oaks and KNN Cup.

For Gamdonguibada, it was a 10th win from 18 starts and her 4th in Stakes races. A $31,000 purchase from the Ocala Spring 2-Year-olds in Training sale in April 2011, she’s now won $1.3Million in prize money.

The Ttukseom Cup (KOR G3) – Seoul Race Park – 1400M – March 16, 2014

1. Gamdongibada (USA) [Werblin – Radyla (Country Pine)] – Lim Sung Sil – 3.7, 1.4
2. Indian Blue (USA) [Henny Hughes – Gambler’s Passion (Prospector’s Gamble)] – Ikuyasu Kurakane – 1.6
3. Grand Teukgeup (KOR) [Menifee – Saratoga Campaign (Mt. Livermore)] – Jeong Dong Cheol – 4.5

Distances: 7 lengths/Neck
Also ran: 4. Heba (USA) 5. Joy Lucky (KOR) 6. Shining Future (KOR) 7. Star Bolt (USA) 8. Kalma (USA) 9. My Day (KOR) 10. Sun Blade (NZ) 11. Jangmi Eondeok (USA) 12. Xicar (AUS) 13. Seungbu Sinhwa (USA)

Indian Blues For Watts Village

Watts Village scored an unforgettable victory in Tokyo last November but found himself brought back down to Earth this afternoon as he was handed a defeat on his season re-appearance at Seoul Race Park.

Indian Blue & Ikuyasu Kurakane

Indian Blue & Ikuyasu Kurakane (Pic: Ross Holburt)

And it was a horse ridden by a Japanese jockey that did for him as Ikuyasu Kurakane guided Indian Blue (Henny Hughes), 4th in the Grand Prix Stakes last month, to victory by a length.

On board Watts Village, Seo Seung Un tried to repeat the same tactic that served him so well in the Japanese capital and headed straight for the front. By contrast, Kurakane took Indian Blue right to the back.

There was a key difference this afternoon though as they were racing over 7 furlongs as opposed to 6 in Tokyo and this time Watts Village just couldn’t hold on. Once Indian Blue got into the gear in the home straight, it was just a matter of time and she swept by inside the final 50 metres.

Indian Blue was recording just her 4th win in 14 starts, however, she’s only been outside the money on 2 occasions and has shown she can claim prizes at distances ranging from 1000-2300 metres. It seems the best is still to come for her. As for Watts Village, now that a trip to Dubai is off the table, he’ll be back. He still looks very difficult to beat at sprint distances.

Despite being beaten on Watts Village, the day was by no means a write-off for Seo Seung Un. One race earlier, the jockey guided filly Cheonnyeon Dongan (Ecton Park) to a comfortable victory in the first of the 2 co-feature races.

Now entering her 4-year-old season, Cheonnyeon Dongan was 4th in last year’s Korean Oaks but followed it up with back-to-back Stakes wins in the Dong-a Ilbo Trophy and NACF Chairman’s Cup. Today made for her 3rd straight win and her first against class 1 mixed company.

Down at Busan, it was another successful day for Darryll Holland. The British jockey now lies in joint 1st-place with Joe Fujii in the Busan Jockey Championship after victory on promising US import K Teryus (Not For Love) in race 5. Holland is yet to draw a blank at a single meeting in 2014.

Holland couldn’t score in the feature race though (not having a ride in it didn’t help) as Choi Si Dae guided High Five (Creek Cat) to a 3-length victory from My Key (Macho Uno).

Next weekend is the last before racing takes a short break for the lunar New Year holiday. As such, a number of big names are expected to be in action, especially at Busan where beaten Grand Prix runners Beolmaui Kkum and Gyeongbudaero are entered.

Tough Win Tamed As Mari Daemul Wins KRA Cup Classic

Tough Win’s attempt to reclaim the KRA Cup Classic crown that he last won as a 3-year-old in 2010 fell flat as Mari Daemul ran out a convincing winner at Seoul Race Park this afternoon.

Mari Daemul waits in the KRA Cup Classic winner's circle

Mari Daemul waits in the KRA Cup Classic winner’s circle

Finishing in 6th place, it was only the second time in his 31-race career to date that Tough Win returned without any prize-money. Sent off the odds-on favourite, he seemed ideally placed, just behind the leaders, as the field turned for home.

In the home-straight though, the 2-time Busan Metropolitan winner could find nothing while Mari Daemul, who had been in 2nd place throughout, sprinted into a clear lead and comfortably held off late closers Indian Blue and Bichui Wangja.

Mari Daemul, a $5,500 from Fasig Tipton’s mid-Atlantic Mixed sale in December 2010, was recording his 7th win from 20 career starts and his first in a Stakes race. He now must be considered a potential entrant in the season-ending Grand Prix Stakes. Regardless of today’s lacklustre effort, Tough Win will probably be there too.

KRA Cup Classic (KOR G3) – Seoul Race Park – 2000M – October 27, 2013

1. Mari Daemul (USA) [Go For Gin – Token Beauty (Gold Token)] – Shin Hyung Chul – 13.4, 2.4
2. Indian Blue (USA) [Henny Hughes – Gamblers Passion (Prospectors Gamble)] – Ikuyasu Kurakane – 1.4
3. Bichui Wangja (USA) [Roman Ruler – Quiet Delight (Grindstone)] – Seo Seung Un – 1.6

Distances: 2.5 lengths/Nose – 12 ran

Untouchable! Useung Touch Romps To Ttukseom Cup Triumph

Useung Touch struck the first blow in the race to become Champion filly & mare of 2013 by cruising to a remarkable 7-length victory in the Ttukseom Cup, the first leg of the 2013 Queens’ Tour, at Seoul Race Park Sunday.

Hold On! Connections and jockey Choi Si Dae struggle to hold Useung Touch in the Ttukseom Cup winner's circle

Hold On! Connections and jockey Choi Si Dae struggle to hold Useung Tocuh in the Ttukseom Cup winner’s circle

Now 5-years-old, the 2011 Korean Oaks winner Useung Touch (Menifee)announced her return to form with shock 2nd place finish to Gamdounguibada in the Grand Prix Stakes in December. Today, re-united with jockey Choi Si Dae for the first time since she was a 3-year-old and dropping down to 7 furlongs, she was sent off as second-favourite behind Segye Ilbo Cup winner Indian Blue.

Always travelling well, Useung Touch hit the front with just over a furlong to run and powered away from the field, still stretching her lead on the line. Fellow Korean bred filly Grand Teukgeup (Menifee), 3rd in last year’s Oaks was closest to her in 2nd, while Indian Blue’s effort was too little and far too late as she finished in 3rd.

Useung Touch now has 7 wins from her 21 starts with 7 2nd place finishes and prize money of over 1 Billion Korean Won. A star of the 2011 Triple Crown trail, in addition to winning the Oaks, she was 2nd in the Derby and Minister’s Cup. While she only recorded one win in 2012, she’s now firmly established back among the Korean racing elite.

It’s another triumph for Korea’s top stallion Menifee. In siring the 1st and 2nd home, he extends his lead at the top of the Leading Sire race with more than double the prize money of his closest rival.

Ttukseom Cup (KOR G3) – Seoul Race Park – 1400M – March 17, 2013

1. Useung Touch (KOR) [Menifee – Jenny Tudor (Gulch)] – Choi Si Dae – 3.2, 1.4
2. Grand Teukgeup (KOR) [Menifee-Saratoga Campaign (Mt. Livermore)] – Chae Gyu Jun – 3.6
3. Indian Blue (USA) [Henny Hughes – Gamblers Passion (Prospector’s Gamble)] – Cho Kyoung Ho – 1.5

Distances: 7 lengths / 0.75 lengths
Also Ran: 4. Sangnyu (USA) 5. Empire World (USA) 6. Darani (USA) 7. Seungniuihamseong (KOR) 8. Dongteuja (KOR) 9. Dangdae Jeonseung (CAN) 10. Imperial Girl (USA) 11. Kkakjaengi (USA) 12. Sangseung Geotap (USA) 13. Ruby Queen (KOR) 14. Royale Embrace (USA) 15. Chowonuibyeol (USA) 16. Blueband Mama (USA)

* There is Listed race action at Seoul next weekend. 2012 Korean Derby winner Jigeum I Sungan (Ingrandire) heads the entrants for the Sports Donga Cup.