Joy Lucky

Gamdonguibada Crushes KNN Cup Field

Gamdonguibada, New York Blue and Star Bolt were the quickest out of the gate – Joy Lucky was the slowest. And over the course of a mile nothing changed as Gamdonguibada proved a class apart from the rest, cruising to the 2nd leg of the Queens’ Tour at Busan this afternoon.

Gamdonguibada leads New York Blue in the home straight (screengrab - better picture to follow)

Gamdonguibada leads New York Blue in the home straight (screengrab – better picture to follow)

Sent off the odds-on favourite after her dominant display in the Ttukseom Cup and with Joe Fujii back in the saddle, 2012 Grand Prix Stakes winner Gamdonguibada didn’t for a single stride look like getting beaten.

She traded 1st place a couple of times with the young up-and-comer New York Blue but once they were in the home straight, 15 fillies and mares appeared to go backwards while Gamdonguibada strode away from them. The margin on the line was 11 lengths. It could have been 111.

Behind her New York Blue stayed on well for second under Masa Tanaka to make it a Japanese jockey 1-2. Star Bolt also stayed on for 3rd, a place ahead of 170/1 outsider Silver Classic.

Indian Blue was the best of the visitors from Seoul, picking up the last money spot of 5th on another dismal day for the capital contingent. Joy Lucky, so impressive two weeks ago at Seoul, could manage ni better than 15th in running and eventually finished last.

Gamdonguibada moves onto 11 wins from 19 starts, 5 of those wins coming in Stakes races. The Queens’ Tour reconvenes at Busan in October. She is likely to be heavy favourite to add the final leg to her collection too.

It’s yet another Stakes win for the remarkable Kim Young Kwan, fresh from training another filly, Queen’s Blade to win the Derby last month. For Joe Fujii meanwhile, it’s a 5th Korean Stakes win and his 128th overall in the country.

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

1. Gamdonguibada (USA) [Werblin – Radyla (Country Pine)] – Kanichiro Fujii – 1.6, 1.2
2. New York Blue (USA) [Candy Ride – Aim For The Moon (Deputy Minister)] – Masakazu Tanaka – 2.5
3. Star Bolt (USA) [Fusaichi Pegaus – Do’Oro Doll (Touch Gold)] – Kim Dong Young – 3.3

Distances: 11 lengths/3 lengths
Also ran: 4. Silver Classic (USA) 5. Indian Blue (USA) 6. Heba (USA) 7. Shining Future (KOR) 8. Black Dia (KOR) 9. Sangnyu (USA) 10 Nulpurunchongnyong (KOR) 11. Seungni Laser (KOR) 12. Chiming Vicar (KOR) 13. Kalma (USA) 14. Baedari Yeongung (KOR) 15. Seungbu Sinhwa (USA) 16. Joy Lucky (KOR)

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.

Joy Lucky and Oreuse Claim Stakes Wins as Indie Band Returns Off-Key

Joy Lucky bounced back from her Ttukseom Cup disappointment to win the Owners’ Association Trophy at Seoul on Sunday but there was neither joy nor luck at Busan for Grand Prix winner Indie Band as he slumped to 3rd while Oreuse took the honours in the Gukje Sinmun Cup.

Seo Seung Un looks around to see if he and Joy Lucky have won the Owners' Trophy (KRA)

Seo Seung Un looks around to see if he and Joy Lucky have won the Owners’ Trophy (KRA)

Despite her Ttukseom trouncing Joy Lucky was sent off the odds-on favourite for the Owners’ Trophy, a race which had been re-arranged from its original schedule two weeks ago.

Featuring prominently throughout, Seo Seung Un had the 4-year-old filly track the pace-setting Brig before hitting the front with a furlong to run in the 1400 metre race.

Despite looking vulnerable on the run-in, shew as able to hold off the fast finishing Cheonnyeon Dongan and Gwanggyo Bisang, who dueled in the rails, to record her 9th victory in 13 starts.

Owners’ Cup – Seoul Race Park – 1400M – May 4, 2014

1. Joy Lucky (KOR) [Vicar – Proper Gun (Prosper Fager)] – Seo Seung Un – 1.5, 1.1
2. Cheonnyeon Dongan (KOR) [Ecton Park – Honeycakes (Hennessy)] – Ikyuasu Kurakane – 1.5
3. Gwanggyo Bisang (KOR) [Menifee – Touch Upon (Touch Gold)] – 1.4
Distances: Head/0.5 lengths
Also Ran: 4. Brig 5. Seoul Jeongsang 6. K Tap 7. Full Step 8. Reigns Cat 9. Jjak Kkung DQ: New And Best

Down at Busan, Indie Band ws making his first start since completing the President’s Cup/Grand Prix Stakes double at Seoul last year.

Indie Band was sent off as a narrow favourite ahead of Peter Wolsley’s Cheonji Bulpae but it was the unheralded Oreuse who bounded into an early lead and never looked back, the 5-year-old US import scoring a wire-to-wire victory.

Indie Band closed strongly in the home-straight but could only manage third place, a nose behind Dynamic Jilju and a full three lengths adrift of the winner.

Oreuse has been consistent rather than spectacular in winning 12 of his 26 starts to date. Thought of as being able to excel up to a mile, this was only his 2nd attempt at going an extra furlong. No doubt if he tries again, he’ll not be sent off at 11/1

Gukje Sinmun Cup – Busan Race Park – 1800M – May 4, 2014

1. Oreuse (USA) [Smoke Glacken – Heavenly Splendor (Point Given)] – Kim Dong Young – 11.3, 3.0
2. Dynamic Jilju (USA) [Forestry – Beat Your Feet (Dixieland Band)] – Choi Si Dae – 5.2
3. Indie Band (KOR) [Ecton Park – Plie (Dixieland Band)] – You Hyun Myung – 1.4
Distances: 3 lengths/Nose
Also ran: 4. Star Bolt (USA) 5. Ghost Whisper (KOR) 6. Cheonji Bulpae (AUS) 7. Strictly Two Step (USA) 8. Sand Hi (USA) 9. Magic Dancer (KOR) 10. Yereobunuiyeowang (JPN)

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)

Ttukseom Cup – Full Preview

It’s the biggest race of the season so far as the Queen’s Tour gets underway in the shape of the Ttukseom Cup at Seoul this Sunday.

Joy Lucky heads the Ttukseom Cup field (Pic: KRA)

Joy Lucky heads the Ttukseom Cup field (Pic: KRA)

While Fly Top Queen misses the race due to coming down with colic, 13 will line up for the 7-furlong test which is the first in a three-race series to determine the nation’s top filly or mare.

Chief among them is Joy Lucky, 2nd in the final leg of the Tour last yea, but she has plenty to do if she’s going to get this year’s campaign off to a winning start with 2012 Grand Prix Stakes winner Gamdonguibada among those out to stop her.

It’s quite a puzzle. Here’s a full run-down of the field:

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

1. Indian Blue (USA) [Henny Hughes – Gambler’s Passion (Prospector’s Gamble)] 4 (14/4/3/4) – Ikuyasu Kurakane
4th in the Grand Prix Stakes last December over 2300 metres, she dropped down to this distance to pull off a victory over Japan/Korea Challenge winner Watts Village last month. With good late speed, she is one of those best placed to take on Joy Lucky in the closing stages.

2. Gamdonguibada (USA) [Werblin – Radyla (Country Pine) 5 (17/9/3/3) – Lim Sung Sil (Busan)
The 2012 Grand Prix Stakes Champion drops down to 7 furlongs for the first time since finishing 2nd in this race a full two years ago. She had an indifferent 2013 but finished 2nd on her season debut in January. She’s race-trialed over 5 furlongs twice since then and must be considered one of the favourites.

3. Star Bolt (USA) [Fusaichi Pegasus – D’Oro Doll (Touch Gold)] 4 (16/3/5/0) – Park Geum Man
Has a great turn of pace as shown when she finished 2nd in the GCTC Trophy, having been 10th inside the home-straight. Has a tendency to leave herself just a little too much to do but drops down to 1400 metres for the first time in a year – the last time she tried this distance, she led from gate to wire – albeit against greatly inferior opposition

4. Xicar (AUS) [Written Tycoon – Grand Jewel (Brocco)] 5 (24/4/3/1) – Jang Chu Youl
Very promising when she first came onto the scene, Xicar has suffered a number of injury setbacks. She finally made her class 1 debut last month and finished a very good 3rd over this distance. It would be a big surprise if she could improve on that here but has an outside chance of matching it.

5. My Day (KOR) [Touch Gold – Smart Advice (Smart Strike)] 4 (18/8/3/1) – Ham Wan Sik
A three-time winner at class 1, this diminutive looking filly has to be given respect. Dropping down to this distance for the first time in over a year, she is one who could cause problems at the business end of the race.

6. Joy Lucky (KOR) [Vicar – Proper Gun (Prosper Fager)] 4 (11/8/1/0) – Seo Seung Un
The favourite and for good reason. If she runs to her potential it is hard to see her getting beaten. Second to Secret Whisper in the final leg of the Queen’s Tour last year in Busan, she has an excellent chance of going one better this time.

7. Seungbu Sinhwa (USA) [Bluegrass Cat – Island Rhythm (Skip Trial)] 4 (18/0/3/4) – Kim Ok Sung
Has never won a race. And won’t win this one. Shes not usually far off and has taken home a paycheck from 12 of her 18 starts but, never having run at a higher level than class 3, she’ll be hard pushed to do that here.

8. Sun Blade (NZ) [Coat’s Choice – Wella (Zabeel) 3 (8/4/1/1) – Kim Yong Geun
Trainer Kim Young Kwan usually brings two up for the big races and Sun Blade looks like his 2nd-string here after Gamdonguibada. However, while she is untried at this level, she is quick and has plenty of potential as well as a 2 kilo advantage on the rest. Could be seen toward the front early and jockey Kim Yong Geun is in very good form after returning from a lengthy suspension.

9. Grand Teukgeup (KOR) [Menifee – Saratoga Campaign (Mt. Livermore)] 5 (26/9/4/2) – Jeong Dong Cheol (Busan)
Regular jockey Darryll Holland has stayed back in Busan so Jeong Dong Cheol gets his chance on last year’s runner-up. She likes to be up with the pace and won handily over a class 1 field at this distance in January but was disappointing in the Busan Ilbo Cup last up which causes concern here. Can’t be ruled out but the question is whether she is fast enough to go past the likes of Joy Lucky in the final furlong. On form, she’s not.

10. Heba (USA) [Peace Rules – Sue’s Temper (Temperence Hill)] 4 (19/6/4/1) – Masakazu Tanaka (Busan)
Burst onto the class 1 scene with a pair of wins at the turn of the year including over Gamdonguibada – albeit with a 9kg weight advantage. She drops down to a distance that she’s never won at but if the favourites fail to perform, she could be one to take advantage.

11. Shining Future (KOR) [Silver Train – Juliet’s Kiss (Kissin Kris)] 5 (23/4/3/2) – Kim Do Hyun (Busan)
Closed well to win over this distance in late December and was just beaten a nose last time out after also coming from off the pace. Likely to find the front-runners too quick and too resilient for her to repeat the feat here.

12. Kalma (USA) [Dehere – Leeward Passage (Captain Bodgit)] 5 (18/4/1/3) – Yang Young Nam (Busan)
That she has joined the stable of Bart Rice, who has had a great start to his training career at Busan, is the only thing in Kalma’s favour here. The South African trainer has won with 4 of his 18 starters to date but it would be a huge surprise if Kalma provided the fifth here.

13. Jangmi Eondeok (USA) [Midnight Lute – Sea Gift (A.P. Indy)] 4 (10/3/4/1) – Moon Se Young
Really struggled on her class 1 debut last month and she will appreciate the drop down in distance. Likely to be seen towards the front of the field, she’ll not be favourite but with moon Se Young up, she’ll not be without her backers and is not without a chance of placing.

Joy Lucky Saunters To Seoul Success

Joy Lucky began her 2014 campaign in fine style with an easy gate-to-wire win at Seoul Race Park this afternoon.

Winner Again: Joy Lucky and Seo Seung Un

Winner Again: Joy Lucky and Seo Seung Un

If anything it was too easy with the 7-furlong class 1 race proving little more than a workout for the 4-year-old who ended 2013 as Seoul’s top filly.

Under Seo Seung Un, Joy Lucky took an early lead and settled into a steady pace before sauntering away from her rivals in the home straight to win by a leisurely 9 lengths.

Despite how easy it was, her time was only just over half a second outside the track record for the distance.

Joy Lucky (Ecton Park) now has 8 wins from 11 starts and looks set for a very interesting year. The Queens’ Tour, which begins with the Ttukseom Cup in just over a month’s time, may be on the agenda.

There was no joy for the foreign jockeys at either Seoul or Busan today, but it will still go down as a successful weekend for them. On Friday at Busan, Joe Fujii landed a double while there were also wins for Jerome Lermtye and Masa Tanaka.

Meanwhile in the capital on Saturday, Ikuyasu Kurakane notched a treble, taking him up to 11 wins for the season. The most notable of those victories came on the promising 3-year-old filly Clean Up Speed (Pico Central), who was recording her 3rd win from 5 starts.

It was another wintry weekend in Seoul

It was another wintry weekend in Seoul

Next week sees the return of big race action in the shape of the Segye Ilbo Cup, a Queens’ Tour trial, at Seoul. Joy Lucky doesn’t need to run in it but a host of domestic and imported fillies looking for their pass to compete for the big prizes will be there.

Weekend Preview

We’re back! After a weekend off for the holiday, the first racing in Korea in the Year of the Horse gets underway at Busan on Friday, the beginning of a busy 3 days on the peninsula.

Joy Lucky makes her 2014 debut this weekend(Pic: KRA)

Joy Lucky makes her 2014 debut this weekend(Pic: KRA)

Pick of the action is at Seoul on Sunday where Joy Lucky (Ecton Park), who finished last year as the strongest filly in the country, kicks off her 2014 campaign in the first of co-feature races. She’ll have the likes of Full Moon Party and Magnifique for company as she drops back to 7 furlongs.

Saturday at Seoul sees plenty of up-and-comers on show. 3-year-old US imports Winning Andy (Cowboy Cal) and Hwanggeum Tap (Tiz Wonderful) finished off last year impressively and look like ones to watch this.

On the domestic front, Jangsan Horangi, Call Me Rocket, Geumbit Hwanhui and Clean Up Speed are all worth watching in their respective races on Saturday.

Friday February 7
Busan Race Park: 11 races from 11:40 to 18:00
Jeju Race Park: 9 races from 13:30 to 17:20

Saturday February 8
Seoul Race Park: 12 races from 11:00 to 18:00
Jeju Race Park: 9 races from 12:30 to 17:30

Sunday February 9
Seoul Race Park: 11 races from 11:00 to 18:00
Busan Race Park: 6 races from 12:45 to 17:00

Joy Lucky & Seo Seung Un Strike On Final Day At Seoul

Joy Lucky underscored just why she’s considered the best filly in training at Seoul as she cruised to victory over a field comprised mainly of older colts in the final class 1 action at Seoul of 2013.

Seo Seung Un & Joy Lucky were big winners on closing day at Seoul

Seo Seung Un & Joy Lucky were big winners on closing day at Seoul

And for her jockey Seo Seung Un it was yet another day to remember in what’s been a year to remember as Joy Lucky was one of 5 winners for the 24-year-old.

Despite going up against double-Stakes winner Gwanggyo Bisang and Singgereounachim, who was 4th in the President’s Cup on his most recent outing, Joy Lucky (Vicar) started as favourite and never looked vulnerable or even extended as she breezed to a 7-length win.

Seo Seung Un and Joy Lucky cruise to an easy win

Seo Seung Un and Joy Lucky cruise to an easy win

Having missed the Oaks and, inexplicably, the Minister’s Cup, Joy Lucky was last seen being beaten a nose by Secret Whisper in the Gyeongnam Governor’s Cup, the final leg of the Queens’ Tour.

With 7 wins from 10 starts and with Secret Whisper retired and Derby and Oaks winner Speedy First looking a shadow of her old self, Joy Lucky will start next year’s Queens’ Tour as the firm favourite.

And her jockey may start favourite for the title too. While Moon Se Young has made light of giving everyone else a 3-month head start while he was gallivanting around Macao to win this year’s title, Seo Seung Un has looked unstoppable in recent weeks.

His 5-timer today capping a year that has seen him ride a winner in Japan and get promoted to the really big rides in Korea. With Jo In Kwen out of the picture for the forseeable future (a short stint overseas will be followed by army enlistment), next year is set to be the Seo and Moon show.

Unfortunately, despite the date, there was little in the way of Christmas cheer at Gwacheon today with the recently formed Pari-Mutuel tellers Union going on strike prior to race 1. The Union is seeking to have the tellers, who all work 2-3 days each week on a part-time basis when the track is open, turned into regular employees, receive a pay-rise and be subscribed to the 4 basic insurances that full-time employees are entitled to in Korea.

Raceday operation did not seem to be affected, at least not on course, with the majority of betting being conducted through self-service terminals. However, the atmosphere was uncomfortable and there was very noticeable police presence.

Parading for the last race of the year at a dark and cold Seoul Racecourse

Parading for the last race of the year at a dark and cold Seoul Racecourse

Next it’s Seoul’s turn for a one weekend vacation so it will be down to Busan to round out 2013 for us. The southern track hosts big 14-race cards on both Saturday and Sunday.

Secret Whisper Wins Gyeongnam Governor’s Cup For Aussie Trainer Peter Wolsley

Secret Whisper ran the final furlong of her life to win the Gyeongnam Governor’s Cup, the final leg of the 2013 Queens’ Tour, at Busan Race Park this afternoon.

Secret Whisper and Jo Sung Gon just do enough

Secret Whisper and Jo Sung Gon just do enough

With Korean Derby and Oaks winner Speedy First out of sorts to the extent that she was tailed off in the home straight, it was left to Joy Lucky to throw down the gauntlet to Secret Whisper.

For a time, it looked like she might just run off with the prize. Seoul’s Champion filly took the lead early and battled gamely to keep it the whole way around.

But Secret Whisper was relentless.

Under Busan’s champion jockey Jo Sung Gon, she got into her rhythm at the top of the home straight and pressed and pressed until finally, just yards from the line, she collared Joy Lucky and crossed the line in front by the narrowest of margins.

It’s a 3rd Stakes win – and only a 2nd Group win – for Australian trainer Peter Wolsley. Indeed, it’s the first time that the Melbourne native has saddled a horse who has crossed the line first in a Group race – his previous winner, Khaosan in the 2011 Owners’ Cup, being promoted after an inquiry.

Governor's Cup winner Secret Whisper (KRA)

Governor’s Cup winner Secret Whisper (KRA)

Less well noticed today but still significant was that the win took Wolsley up to 2nd in the 2013 trainers’ Championship with 49 in total. He looks to have every chance to maintain that position to win the race to be 2nd to runaway leader Kim Young Kwan.

Kim has the resources, firepower and influence that have never been available to any trainer in Korea before. He will continue to win the title for as many years as he chooses.

But while Kim is very much the stereotypical modern trainer – primarily a businessman who leaves the day-to-day running of the stables to his staff – Wolsley is a horseman. In the build-up to this race, he rode Secret Whisper himself in trackwork and he still breaks in the 2-year olds that get sent to him. Today the horseman won.

After the race, the camera shy (on this blog we’re still using a picture of him from 5 years ago) and ever-modest Wolsley, instead of talking about his own achievement, preferred to focus on what a good filly the 2nd placed Joy Lucky is.

It’s that self-deprecating character that saw him through his tough first 2 years in Korea. Now finally, he is reaping a well deserved harvest.

As for the Queens’ Tour, the first leg was all the way back in March so it’s hard to say just how much we should trust it in choosing our champion filly & mare of the year. Ttukseom Cup winner Useung Touch was nowhere while KKN Cup winner Yodeongseong didn’t even bother to line-up.

Secret Whisper, bred and owned by Peter Hill’s Pegasus Operation on Jeju Island, has been in Wolsley’s barn her whole career. She could now be in line for a tilt at next month’s Grand Prix Stakes in Seoul, after which there is a potential race abroad before broodmare duties beckon.

Gyeongnam Governor’s Cup (KOR G3) – Busan Race Park – 2000M – November 17, 2013

1. Secret Whisper (KOR) [Sea Of Secrets – Generals Passion (General Meeting)] – Jo Sung Gon – 2.8, 1.4
2. Joy Lucky (KOR) [Vicar – Proper Gun (Prosper Fager)] – Seo Seung Un – 1.7
3. Sangnyu (USA) [Broken Vow – Midtown Miss (Yes It’s True)] – Jang Chu Youl – 2.5

Distances: Head/2.5 lengths
Also Ran: 4. Grand Teukgeup (KOR) 5. Dehere Queen (USA) 6. Choichoro (KOR) 7. Seungniuihamseong (KOR) 8. Imperial Star (KOR) 9. Fine Gongju (KOR) 10. Useung Touch (KOR) 11. Kkon Maru (USA) 12. Silver Classic (USA) DQ. Miracle Wonder (KOR) DQ. Dongseo Daeruk (USA) DQ. Imperial Girl (USA) DQ. Speedy First (KOR).

Winning Jockey: Jo Sung Gon
Winning Owner: Pegasus Stables
Winning Trainer: Peter Wolsley

Joy Lucky Claims Seoul Filly & Mare Crown In Gyeonggi Cup

Joy Lucky emphatically won the Gyeonggi Governor’s Cup at Seoul Race Park this afternoon to be crowned the track’s Champion filly & mare or 2013.

Joy Lucky and Seo Seung Un win the Gyeonggi Governor's Cup (Pic: KRA)

Joy Lucky and Seo Seung Un win the Gyeonggi Governor’s Cup (Pic: KRA)

Joy Lucky came into this race as favourite having been controversially defeated in last month’s Donga Ilbo Cup when she was the victim of accidental interference entering the home straight when looking set to win.

This time jockey Seo Seung Un took no chances as aboard the 3-year-old filly, he tracked the early pace-setter Yeoui Gold throughout the early parts of the race. When the former ran out of steam, there was clear track ahead and nothing capable of launching a challenge.

Joy Lucky flew home to win by 7-lengths with Seo if anything a little too exuberant with his use of the whip in the closing stages when under no pressure at all.

Chowon Yeoje was the well-beaten 2nd while Seungniuihamseong was 3rd. YTN Cup winner Choichoro, with Fausto Durso on board, was net home in 4th.

Joy Lucky has now won 6 of her 8 career starts. Aside from her unlucky defeat last time, her only other reverse came in the Korean Derby when she was a disappointing 9th. After that, connections kept her off the Classic trail and she missed the Korean Oaks and the Minister’s Cup.

However, it is to be hoped that with the Seoul title in the bag, owners will be tempted into trying her luck against the best fillies & mares on the peninsula in the Queens’ Tour final in Busan next month. On this form, she would give them a very good run for their money.

Gyeonggi Governor’s Cup – Seoul Race Park – October 20, 2013

1. Joy Lucky (KOR) [Vicar – Proper Gun (Prosper Fager)] – Seo Seung Un – 2.5, 1.5
2. Chowon Yeoje (KOR) [Forest Camp – Navigation (Big Sur)] – Cho Kyoung Ho – 1.5
3. Seungniuihamseong (KOR) [Vicar – Hug And Kiss (Commander In Chief)] – Moon Se Young – 1.8

Distances: 7 lengths/1.25 lengths – 11 ran

Down at Busan, there was disappointment for Peter Wolsley and Darryll Holland. The Aussie trainer and British jockey had combined last month to win the Gold Circle Trophy with My Winner (Vicar) and the 4-year old was heavily favoured to make it 5 wins in a row in his reappearance in the feature race today.

It wasn’t to be, however, as 11/1 shot Goryeodaejang (Sunday Break) pulled off the upset, My Winner having to settle for 2nd. My key (Macho Uno), the half-brother of Game On Dude, finished in 3rd under Joe Fujii.

Next week Stakes action returns to Seoul again with KRA Cup Classic. Tough Win is expected to headline the field, while at Busan, current Grand Prix champion Gamdonguibada is among those expected to get a a run-out with this year’s edition of the season-ending race less than 2 months away.