Weekend Preview: Sixteen Line-Up For Ttukseom Cup

Between 1954 and 1988, Seoul Racecourse was located on the north bank of the River Han, when Seoul Forest now stands. Once a year, Korean racing honours its history with the running of the Ttukseom Cup. For the second year running, this year’s edition acts as the first leg of the Queens’ Tour, a series of races to decide Korea’s Champion filly or mare.

Royale Embrace and You Hyun Myung win last year's Ttukseom Cup, the first leg of the Queens' Tour (Pic: Ilgan Sports)

Royale Embrace and You Hyun Myung win last year’s Ttukseom Cup, the first leg of the Queens’ Tour (Pic: Ilgan Sports)

Traditionally in Korea, fillies race against colts, however, in order to improve the domestic breeding stock, the KRA has been trying over the past few years to improve the incentive to owners to import top quality fillies to race and then go on to the breeding shed.

The Queens’ Tour is part of that and offers tests over a variety of distances starting with the 7 furlongs of the Ttukseom Cup. Last year’s overall winner, US bred Gamdonguibada (Werblin) went on to beat the colts in the season-ending Grand Prix Stakes to become Champion Racehorse of Korea.

History will be made whatever happens on Sunday as, for the first time since racing moved to Gwacheon after the Seoul Olympics, 16 horses will line up in the race. This year, the upper limit for starters has been raised from 14 to 16 in Stakes races. Here’s a run down of all the runners and riders (Name [Pedigree] (Starts/1st/2nd/3rd) – Jockey (Home Track)):

Ttukseom Cup (KOR G3) – Seoul Race Park – 1400M – March 17, 2013 (16:35)

1. Chowonuibyeol (USA) [Rockport Harbor – Arctic’s Angel (Artax)] (13/3/3/2) – Jo In Kwen (Seoul)
Little recent form to go on as the last race she completed was the final leg of last year’s Queens’ Tour and that didn’t go well. She does like this distance though and while not a favourite, can’t be completely discounted.

2. Dongteuja (KOR) [Broken Vow – Maremaid (Storm Bird)] (13/7/0/3) – Kanichiro Fujii (Busan)
The half-sister of one of Korea’s best ever racehorses, the two-time Grand Prix Stakes winner Dongbanui Gangja, Dongteuja won her first 6 races and looked to be a superstar. Since then, she has found things tougher but began 2013 with a win. In Joe Fujii she has the best jockey in the race on board and has to be shown respect in the betting.

3. Sangseung Geotap (USA) [Indian Charlie – Mirta (Theatrical)] (25/7/2/1) – Lim Sung Sil (Busan)
A Stakes winner in the KNN Cup last year but has struggled recently. The drop down to 1400M should suit but she is up against it here.

4. Ruby Queen (KOR) [Badge Of Silver – Rubyana (Rubiano)] (20/7/6/3) – Ham Wan Sik (Seoul)
Proven at the top level, if she is on her game, she will be a strong contender and should be involved at the business end of the race.

5. Kkakjaengi (USA) [Put It Back – Wild Dixie Gal (Wild Again)] (19/6/4/4) – Shin Hyoung Chul (Seoul)
It’s quite remarkable that this mare hasn’t won since 2011. Still, she has only been out of the money twice in her 19 races and she will be in the money here. Whether that is in first place is another matter but, against only fillies and over 7 furlongs, this multiple Stakes winner has a good chance.

6. Imperial Girl (USA) [Imperialsm – Wallena (Wallenda)] (26/3/2/4) – Choi Bum Hyun (Seoul)
Winner of the Selangor Turf Club Trophy in 2011, she struggled in the Queens’ Tour last year but was a surprisng 2nd to Tough Win on her 2013 debut. In that race, she beat a number of good horses, including Kkakjaengi, and therefore must be considered.

7. Blueband Mama (USA) [Purge – Meadow Bryte (Meadowlake)] (24/3/4/2) – Kim Ok Sung (Seoul)
A wildly inconsistant mare, her last win was at this distance and she could surprise. She’ll not be fancied to come close though.

8. Darani (USA) [Saarland – Dusty’s Legacy (Golden Missile)] (28/3/6/5) – Jo Chang Wook (Busan)
Stablemate of Sangseung Geotap and probably second string from that barn. However, she was second in the final leg of the Queens’ Tour last year and the step down to 1400M will be interesting. Don’t write her off.

9. Useung Touch (KOR) [Menifee – Jenny Tudor (Gulch)] (20/6/7/2) – Choi Si Dae (Busan)
2011 Korean Oaks winner and 2nd in the Korean Derby in the same year, she pulled off a remarkable second place in the Grand Prix Stakes last December. She will have a lot of supporters and would be a very popular winner.

10. Grand Teukgeup (KOR) [Menifee – Saratoga Campaign (Mt.Livermore)] (16/7/2/1) – Chae Gyu Jun (Busan)
Unusually for a horse with 16 races under her belt, she’s never been tried over 1400M. She has a class 1 win under her belt and has a chance here.

11. Dangdae Jeonseung (CAN) [Put It Back – Diamond Heirloom (Pembroke)] (14/4/1/1) – Lee Sang Hyeok (Seoul)
A rare Canadian bred in Korea, she has never lost over this distance. Form since reaching class 1 has not exactly been exceptional but it may not need to be to be in with a chance here.

12. Empire World (USA) [Empire Maker – Salty You (Salt Lake)] (18/5/2/3) – Kim Eu Soo (Busan)
A mare who has risen up the ranks very much under the radar, she has an impressive record of finishing inside the money. Could spring a surprise.

13. Indian Blue (USA) [Henny Hughes – Gamblers Passion (Prospector’s Gamble)] (6/3/2/1) – Cho Kyoung Ho (Seoul)
The only 3-year-old in the race, she won the Segye Ilbo Cup last month over course and distance and as a result, will likely be favourite.

14. Royale Embrace (USA) [Chapel Royal – Embracing Krissy (Kissin Kris)] (23/7/4/2) – You Hyun Myung (Busan)
Last year’s winner, 1400M is her favourite and she will relish being back on the gentler Seoul track. Consistent at the distance, she could pull off another surprise.

15. Seungnuiuihamseong (KOR) [Vicar – Hug And Kiss (Commander In Chief)] – Seo Seung Un (Seoul)
A consistent performer last year winning the Gyeonggi Governor’s Cup before holding her own against the colts in the President’s Cup and finishing an in no way disgraceful 7th in the Grand Prix Stakes, she has every chance of doing well here.

16. Sangnyu (USA) [Broken Vow – Midtown Miss (Yes It’s True)] – Park Tae Jong (Seoul)
A class 1 winner and a filly who is getting better as she gets older. A real chance.

Gyongmaman’s verdict: Filly races in Korea are extremely difficult to handicap and therefore there is a big temptation to go for Indian Blue who did the business over course and distance last month. Sangnyu beat better class opposition though and Dongteuja has class. Dongteuja will be on Gyongmaman’s coupon with Kkakjaengi, Dangdae Jeonsung, Sangnyu and Royale Embrace also featuring.

Friday March 15

Busan Race Park: 11 races from 12:00 to 18:00
Jeju Race Park: 9 races from 13:30 to 17:30

Saturday March 16

Seoul Race Park: 12 races from 11:00 to 17:40
Jeju Race Park: 9 races from 12:30 to 17:20

Sunday March 17

Seoul Race Park: 11 races from 11:00 to 18:00
Busan Race Park: 6 races from 12:50 to 17:05

Embraceable You! You Hyun Myung and Royale Embrace Win Ttukseom Cup

She’d shown great promise as a two-year old but then slumped into mediocrity at three. However, today at Seoul, Royale Embrace (Chapel Royal) finally came good by winning the Ttukseom Cup.

Royale Embrace and You Hyun Myung win the Ttukseom Cup (Pic: Ilgan Sports)

Sent off at 17/1, Royale Embrace was taken into an early lead by jockey You Hyun Myung for the seven furlong Stakes event which this year is the first in the three-race “Queens Tour” series for the country’s top fillies and mares. She never let it go.

Favourite Kkakjaengi (Put It Back) rallied late on but she was far too far behind to make an impact. Ultimately it was young Gamdonguibada (Werblin) who got the closest although she too, never looked like denying the winner.

A $13,000 purchase from the Ocala Spring Sale in 2010, Royale Embrace won four of her five starts at Busan and was talked of as being the an eventual Grand Prix contender. Her progress then stalled and while she ran in four Stakes races last year, her highest finish was seventh. With connections not believing she could stay the distance in longer races, she had been restricted to the ultra-competitive (by virtue of their rarity) high level sprints of less than a mile.

Today was one of those but, running at Seoul for the first time, everything went right.

It was no doubt a sweet moment for jockey Yoo Hyun Myung too. His finest moment as a jockey came at Seoul in December 2010 when he partnered Mister Park to the Grand Prix. He seemed at the top of his game but in racing, you are only ever seconds away from your fortunes being reversed.

An injury in early 2011 saw him sidelined for several months and by the time he came back, he found that he had lost his plum rides. Unhappy, he rejected the offer of Mister Park’s trainer, Kim Young Kwan, to ride his second string Dongseo Jeongbeol in the Grand Prix and stayed home in Busan.

As it turned out, Mister Park lost the Grand Prix and today, while Yoo Hyun Myung was winning at Seoul, the record-breaking five-year old was running at Busan with a first-year apprentice on board. Indeed it made for an odd spectacle as his main – and only – rival, two-time President’s Cup winner Dangdae Bulpae (Biwa Shinseiki) also had a newcomer in the saddle.

The reason for this was that both horses are now so high up in the handicap, that connections don’t want to run them unless they can get the weight allowance that is available to an apprentice rider. As it turned out, Mister Park, under Jeong Dong Cheol beat Dangdae Bulpae and Kim Jong Woong by just over a length. Such is their dominance at Busan that the third place horse was a full twenty-six lengths adrift.

It was a busy day of racing. Back at Seoul, 28/1 outsider Ruby Queen (Perfect Champion) won the Sports Donga Trophy while at Busan, Japanese jockey Narazaki Kosuke got his first Class 1 winner on Sand Hi (Stormy Atlantic).

Ttukseom Cup (KOR.G3) – Seoul Race Park – 1400M – Sunday March 25, 2012

1. Royale Embrace (USA) [Chapel Royal-Embracing Krissy (Kissin Kris)] – You Hyun Myung – 17.7, 5.2
2. Gamdonguibada (USA) [Werblin-Radyla (Country Pine)] – Kim Yong Geun – 2.1
3. Kkakjaengi (USA) [Put It Back-Wild Dixie Gal (Wild Event)] – Shin Hyoung Chul – 1.3

Distances: 0.75 lengths/4 lengths
Also Ran: 4. Xicar (AUS) 5. Dehere Queen (USA) 6. Gippeumnuri (USA) 7. Mighty Mammy (USA) 8. Geumbi (USA) 9. Triple Hunter (USA) 10. Imperial Girl (USA) 11. Malibu Sky (USA) 12. Chowonuibyeol (USA) 13. Kkochyeoul (USA) 14. Queen Of Rain (USA)

Filly Is Seoul’s New Year Darling

Favourite Darling Vision swooped to win the New Year Stakes on opening day at Seoul Race Park.

Darling Vision and Cho Kyoung Ho in the New Year's Stakes winner's circle

Coming into the race on the back of a strong end to her three-year old season, the four-year-old filly was always travelling well under jockey Cho Kyoung Ho and the pair came wide to win by a length from rank outsider Bon Rising, who led the rest of the field home by a nose.

It was Darling Vision’s fifth win in four starts and marked a very quick return to the Stakes winner’s circle for jockey Cho Kyoung Ho who ended last season in the best possible way with victory on Tough Win in the Grand Prix Stakes. Darling Vision is no Tough Win, but she won handily enough to suggest that she cause problems in tougher races than this later in the year.

Also winning handily was three-year-old colt Viva Cat (Creek Cat), who got the race to the Triple Crown underway with a smart victory in race 7. Racing around two turns for the first time, Viva Cat posted his fourth win from five career starts to date. There’s a long way to go until the first of the Triple Crown races, the KRA Cup Mile on the first Sunday of April, but things are off to a good start.

The afternoon’s feature handicap was a very open betting race and it was US five-year-old Jumong (Johar-Foreign Aid) who got the better of top filly Kkakjaengi (Put It Back) to take the spoils over nine and a half furlongs.

Herald Business New Year Stakes – Seoul Race Park – 1800M – Jan 7, 2011

1. Darling Vision (KOR) [Perfect Champion-Groom’s Darling (Runaway Groom)] – Cho Kyoung Ho – 3.2, 1.5
2. Bon Rising (KOR) [Volponi-Shadaroba (El Prado)] – Lee Gang Seo – 18.1
3. Summit Runner (KOR) [Capital Spending-Zeppelin Zu (Night Zeppelin)] – Jang Chu Yeol – 7.6

Distances: 1 length/Nose
Also Ran: 4. Kakamega 5. King Fighting 6. Prime Galloper 7. Fly Energy 8. Seoul Jeongsang 9. Forest Wind 10. Palgigun 11. Storm Troop 12. Manjeomhwanhui 13. Beongaegangho 14. Seungniuihamseong

Racing returns to Seoul on Sunday with 12 races from 11:10 to 17:30. There is no racing at Busan.

Weekend Preview – 2012 Opening Days at Seoul & Jeju

New Year’s Commemorative Stakes Headlines Opening Day In Capital

The 2012 fixture list is out and, while Busan remains dark for another week, racing gets underway this weekend at Seoul and Jeju.

Happyville - and Happy New Year as 2012 racing gets underway at Seoul this weekend

As is traditional, opening day at Seoul on Saturday is headlined by the Herald Business New Year’s Commemorative Stakes.

The 1800 metre test brings together a number of horses who didn’t quite fulfil their potential as three-year-olds, giving them the opportunity to start off the year with a Stakes victory.

Last year’s winner, Andy’s Runner went on to be a solid competitor at class 1 level. 2011 Sports Seoul Stakes winner Seungniuihamseong and in-form Palgigun and Summit Runner are among a full field of fourteen.

Here’s a full list of runners and riders (Name (Sire) Age, Sex (Starts/1st/2nd/3rd) – Jockey):

Herald Business New Year’s Stakes – Seoul Race Park – 1800M – Jan 8, 2012, 16:15

1. Seoul Jeongsang (KOR) (Capital Spending) 4 G (13/4/1/5) – Ham Wan Sik
2. Palgigun (KOR) (Commendable) 4 C (12/5/2/1) – Jung Pyeong Soo
3. Forest Wind (KOR) (Capital Spending) 5 H (18/4/1/3) – Moon Jung Kyun
4. Darling Vision (KOR) (Perfect Champion) 4 F (13/4/3/2) – Cho Kyoung Ho
5. Storm Troop (KOR) (Concept Win) 5 G (20/5/1/0) – Kim Dong Chul
6. Manjeomhwanhui (KOR) (Yehudi) 5 M (22/5/2/3) – Seo Seung Un
7. Fly Energy (KOR) (Dice Dancer) 4 F (12/3/1/2) – Oh Kyoung Hoan
8. Beongaegangho (KOR) (Vicar) 4 C (15/4/5/1) – Choi Bum Hyun
9. Bon Rising (KOR) (Volponi) 5 H (24/2/5/2) – Lee Gang Seo
10. Seungniuihamseong (KOR) (Vicar) 4 F (11/4/2/0) – Kim Ok Sung
11. Summit Runner (KOR) (Capital Spending) 4 C (11/3/5/1) – Jang Chu Yeol
12. Prime Galloper (KOR) (Strodes Creek) 4 C (13/4/4/1) – Toshihiko Inoue
13. King Fighting (KOR) (Concept Win) 4 C (14/3/3/0) – Jo In Kwen
14. Kakamega (KOR) (Gold Money) 4 C (16/4/4/2) – Moon Se Young

Saturday also sees a big class 1 handicap involving double Stakes winner Kkakjaengi as well as promisng newcomers to the top-tier of racing Sing Sing Cat and Ppoppai . Jumong , who is making a quick return to the track after a disappointing run in the Grand Prix, also goes.

Sunday’s big handicap will be headed by Nonghyup Stakes winner Cheonun as well as the afore-mentioned Andy’s Runner. Singgeureounachim was the underachiever of the Triple Crown trail last year and he will have an early opportunity to get his four-year old career off to a good start.

With Busan not running until next week, Seoul’s program is amended to 11 races on Saturday and 12 on Sunday – the opposite to what will be its regular program in 2012. Here’s what’s happening when and where this weekend:

Friday January 6

Jeju Race Park: 10 races from 12:30 to 17:00

Saturday January 7

Seoul Race Park: 11 races from 11:10 to 17:30
Jeju Race Park: 9 races from 12:40 to 17:25

Sunday January 8

Seoul Race Park: 12 races from 11:10 to 17:30