Lion Santa

Yeongsan Too Good

Yeongsan strolled to victory for the 6th time in 6 starts in Korea, securing his second Stakes win in the process, in the Ilgan Sports Trophy at Seoul Racecourse this afternoon.

Yeongsan II and Moon Se Young after winning the Ilgan Sports

Yeongsan II and Moon Se Young after winning the Ilgan Sports

Unsurprisingly for a horse who had won his 5 previous starts by a combined margin of 53 lengths, Yeongsan was sent off the long odds-on favourite – indeed at 1.0, all that punters who backed him could hope for, was to get their money back.

At least they were never in any danger of losing it. Moon Se Young brought Yeongsan to the front early and controlled the race, accelerating away from the field in the home stretch and then easing down for a 7-length win on the line.

Pretty sure Se Young only did this because K-Pop girl group Dal Shabet were looking on

Pretty sure Se Young only did this because K-Pop girl group Dal Shabet were looking on

Yeongsan (Menifee) – who is officially known as “Yeongsan II” as there was an Australian filly of the same name in Korea 15 years ago – was exported to Malaysia as a 2-year-old but returned a year later. Yet to be seriously challenged by anything domestically, his next target is expected to be the President’s Cup, Korea’s richest race, in November and then a possible shot at the Grand Prix Stakes a month later.

Ilgan Sports Trophy – Seoul Racecourse – 1800M – September 14, 2014

1. Yeongsan II (KOR) [Menifee – Foxxy Cleo (Peintre Celebre)] – Moon Se Young – 1.0, 1.0
2. Citadel (KOR) [Sakura Seeking – Tropic (Danehill)] – Seo Seung Un – 1.6
3. K-Man (KOR) [Volponi – Sash Of Silver (Woodman)] – 1.5
Distances: 7 lengths / 2.5 lengths – 11 ran

* Speaking of the Grand Prix, a former winner was in action at Busan today. However, it didn’t go well for Gamdonguibada (Werblin) who, despite being sent off as a short-price favourite, was beaten a length and a half by old favourite Lion Santa (Lion Heart).

Now 6-years-old, Lion Santa won his first 9 starts back in 2010 and 2011. While never really being able to go on and win the very biggest races, he’s been a solid money winner since and his victory today was his 13th from 30 lifetime starts.

And it is at Busan where the focus will be next week when the southern track hosts the Busan Owners’ Cup. Magic Dancer, Gyeongbudaero, Joy Lucky – and back from his US jaunt – Major King, are among the entrants for this Busan vs Seoul race.

Weekend Preview: The Big Boys (& Girls) Are Back

Dangdae Bulpae, Gyeongbudaero, Jigeum I Sungan, Feel So Good, Gamdonguibada, Lion Santa, My Key All in action!

A spectacular weekend of racing by Korean standards is in store this weekend as a whole host of the nation’s top horses will be on show at Seoul and Busan.

Will Yoo Byung Bok be greeting Dangdae Bulpae like this again on Sunday?

Will Yoo Byung Bok be greeting Dangdae Bulpae like this ahgain on Sunday?

The feature race of the weekend is the Busan Ilbo Cup, the first Stakes race of 2013 to be run at Busan. Defending champion Yeonseung Daero (Creek Cat) will be there but it will be a tough ask for him to retain his title with competition in the shape of three-time President’s Cup winner Dangdae Bulpae (Biwa Shinseiki) and KRA Cup Mile winner Gyeongbudaero (Menifee). We’ll have a full preview of the race, including a run-down of each entrant’s chances, up on the blog on Friday.

Friday is when things start off at Busan and there will be a couple of horses worth keeping an eye on. Being the half-brother of US champion Game On Dude, My Key (Macho Uno) has had plenty of expectations placed on him. He’s just started living up to them with two consecutive wins. He goes looking for his 3rd in race 8.

Also on Friday, US import Yonggwanguijehyun (Rockport Harbor) will look for his 6th straight victory when he goes in the finale over 1600M.

Grand Prix Stakes winner Gamdonguibada and Joe Fujii will be reunited on Sunday

Grand Prix Stakes winner Gamdonguibada and Joe Fujii will be reunited on Sunday

In addition to the Busan Ilbo Cup, Sunday at Busan sees a big class 1 handicap and it is in that race where current Grand Prix Stakes winner Gamdonguibada (Werblin) will make her 2013 debut. The 4-year-old filly won’t have things easy though as she’ll take on Lion Santa (Lion Heart) who returned to the track in style after a long lay-off last month.

He has a record of 11 wins from 15 starts and if he’s in the kind of form he’s capable of, he’ll be tough to beat. Throw the ever dependable Viva Ace (Macho Uno) into the mix as well and ou Grand Prix Champion faces a challenging start to her campaign.

His moment again...Jigeum I Sungan

His moment again…Jigeum I Sungan

Up at Seoul there is plenty to keep us occupied too. On Saturday, 2012 Korean Derby winner Jigeum I Sungan (Ingrandire) heads the feature race. He won his season debut last month and while he faces New Year Stakes victor Global Fusion (Menifee), as well as tough campaigners Singgereounachim (Exploit) and Geuma Champ (Vicar), he should be favourite.

On Sunday at Seoul, possibly the hottest property in Korean racing right now makes his second appearance. Feel So Good (Ft.Stockton) spent nearly 2 years in the US and was a winner at Calder in Florida last autumn before being brought back home. He won his Korean debut by 10 lengths and steps up in class and distance in race 7. He should romp it.

Check back tomorrow for the full handicap of Sunday’s Busan Ilbo Cup but in the meantime, here’s what’s happening when and where this weekend:

Friday February 22

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

Saturday February 23

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

Sunday February 24

Seoul Race Park: 11 races from 11:00 to 18:00
Busan Race Park: 6 races from 12:50 to 17:05 including the Busan Ilbo Cup at 16:15

Ace Galloper Win Makes 1800 Up For Park Tae Jong

A return to the winner’s circle for one of Korea’s most prolific horses meant another milestone in the career of the nation’s most prolific ever jockey as Park Tae Jong partnered Ace Galloper to victory at Seoul Race Park on Sunday afternoon.

Ace Galloper and Park Tae JOng winning the KRA Cup Classic in 2011 - they partnered on Sunday for the jockey's 1800th career win

Ace Galloper and Park Tae Jong winning the KRA Cup Classic in 2011 – they partnered on Sunday for the jockey’s 1800th career win

Ace Galloper (Chapel Royal) had been without a win since June of last year but had been coming back into form over the winter. The six-year old duly took advantage of a relatively weak class 1 field to cruise to a 7 length triumph and remind those present while he is still rated the top Korean-born competitor at the track. He now has 18 wins from 31 career starts.

The race marked the 4th win of the weekend for jockey Park Tae Jong and more significantly, the 1800th triumph of his long career. So dominant has Park been for so long that he has ridden over 1000 more winners than any other Korean jockey in history.

The 47-year-old debuted in 1987 at the old Ttukseom Racecourse. By any standard, 1800 is a considerable number of wins but his achievement becomes all the more remarkable given the fact that for the first 18 years of his career, he was – as per the rules at the time – restricted to just 5 rides each week.

Ace Galloper wasn’t the only horse getting back to winning ways after a long time drawing a blank. Lion Santa (Lion Heart) won his first 9 races at Busan in 2010 and 2011 but had only managed to add a single additional victory to that tally in an injury ravaged 14 months since. Yesterday, in the first of co-feature races, he was back to his old self.

Although only sent off as 4th favourite, Lion Santa stormed up the rail in the final furlong to comprehensively defeat a competitive class 1 field with Yeonseung Daero (Creek Cat) and up and coming star Wild Myeongun (D’Wildcat) a full 4 lengths behind. Lion Santa is now on 10 wins from 14 starts and goes straight back into consideration for big Stakes races later in the year.

Weekend Preview: Lion Santa Back at Busan, Ace Galloper Goes at Seoul

After a slightly warmer week. the temperature is set to plunge back way below zero as another weekend of racing gets underway in Korea.

Going to be very cold and bright again this weekend

Going to be very cold and bright again this weekend

Lion Santa (Lion Heart), who’s won 10 of his 14 starts to date returns to action at Busan on Sunday after a long spell out with injury.

The 5 year old will take on Yeonseung Daero (Creek Cat) and up and coming US import Wild Myeongun (D’Wildcat) among a full field of 14 in the first of co-feature races.

Up at Seoul the biggest name on show across the weekend is Ace Galloper (Chapel Royal). The 6 year-old, who looked to be coming back into form at the tail-end of last season, headlines Sunday’s feature race at the track. Here’s what’s happening when and where:

Friday January 25

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

Saturday January 26

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

Sunday January 27

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

Gamdonguibada Lands The Gukje Sinmun Cup While Smarty Moonhak Keeps On Winning At Seoul

The only filly and one of just three three-year-olds in a field of thirteen, Gamdonguibada (Werblin) announced her arrival in Korean racing in fine fashion by winning the Gukje Sinmun Cup at Busan this afternoon.

Coming into the race off the back of a fine second place in the Ttukseom Cup at Seoul, Gamdonguibada was sent off the 5/1 third-favourite behind last year’s winner Lion Santa (Lion Heart) who entered the race not only as defending champion, but also with a record of 10 wins from 12 career starts.

Today never looked likely to be win number 11 for Lion Santa though. After getting caught out of position on the final turn, the four-year old offered nothing in the sprint and finished a shocking second from last.

Up at the business end of the race, Gamdonguibada, always well-placed, came with a fast run down the rail to overhaul long-time leader Prince Kingdom (Roar Of The Tiger) in the final furlong and stretched out to a two-length win. Aussie import Jeonseong Sidae (Stromberg Carlson) was third.

With the win, Gamdonguibada, a $31,000 purchase from Ocala last year, has cemented her position as the top three-year old import at Busan so far this season.

Gukje Sinmun Cup – Busan Race Park – May 6, 2012

1. Gamdonguibada (USA) [Werblin – Radyla (Country Pine)] – Kim Yong Geun – 5.7, 2.0
2. Prince Kingdom (USA) [Roar Of The Tiger – Special Wife (Husband)] – You Hyun Myoung – 3.6
3. Jeonseong Sidae (AUS) [Stromberg Carlson – Jessie’s Journey (Crown Jester)] – Choi Si Dae – 1.8

Distances: 2 lengths/0.5 lengths
Also Ran: 4. Sand Hi (USA) 5. Gulf Grouper (USA) 6. Admiral Reigart (USA) 7. Dangdae Champ (NZ) 8. Full Forest (USA) 9. Seonnyang Yongsa (AUS) 10. Jungwon Jepae (AUS) 11. Yeonseung Daero (KOR) 12. Lion Santa (USA) 13. Killian’s Tiger (USA)

On a bright but blustery day in Seoul the main attraction was, of course, Smarty Moonhak (Smarty Jones). The three-year-old was making his fourth appearance of the year and, having been sent off at odds of 1/9, he made light of his 61kg impost and short work of thirteen rivals to win the 2000 metre handicap by nine lengths.

On The Turn: The only time the field were level with Smarty Moonhak was in the paddock

The general feeling among the track is that if his rematch with Tough Win, the horse who beat him in the Grand Prix in December was to take place at level weights tomorrow, the older horse may still just about have the advantage.

Given an extra month or two, if Smarty Moonhak continues with his current development, there will be no contest. Smarty Moonhak moves onto 8 wins from 10 career starts.

We’re just two weeks away from the Korean Derby. Unfortunately, Smarty Moonhak, as an import, will not be allowed to compete. On Kentucky Derby weekend, many have questioned whether a horse of his talent would have been better served being shipped back to the US to take his chances on the Derby trail.

In reality, the time he spent in Korea being trained for Korean racing would have put him at a massive disadvantage compared with his native contemporaries. He is naturally very gifted and, had he stayed home, who knows what may have happened. Of course, we can ask that question about any horse who goes anywhere. As it is, it’s unlikely we’ll ever be seeing Smarty Moonhak able to compete internationally.

Weekend Preview: Weighty Task for Smarty Moonhak / Gukje Sinmun Stakes at Busan

Smarty Set To Extend Winning Streak At Seoul / Lion Santa Defends Gukje Sinmun At Busan

Smarty Moonhak (Smarty Jones) makes his fourth appearance of 2012 at Seoul Race Park this coming Sunday and the three-year-old phenom will need to be strong as he will carry 61Kg over 2000 metres in the feature handicap.

Smarty Goes Again: Smarty Moonhak runs on Sunday

Regardless of the weight, he still shouldn’t have much trouble seeing off the 13 horses who will challenge him. The best class 1’s have stayed away leaving Jewang Tansaeng (Petionville) the next highest rated in the race.

Few will bet against Smarty Moonhak extending his record to 8 wins from 10 starts, nor against jockey Moon Jung Kyun once more not needing to use his stick, as he builds up for his eventual showdown with Grand Prix champion Tough Win.

Down at Busan there is Stakes action on Sunday in the shape of the Gukje Sinmun Cup. This time last year, Lion Santa (Lion Heart) won this race to maintain his then unbeaten record and have people talk about him in the same way that they talk about Smarty Moonhak now.

It didn’t quite work out though and he proved to be beatable. However, he’s only lost twice in twelve career starts and has every right to be favourite here. The evergreen Yeonseung Daero (Creek Cat) will be out to stop him as will proven winners Full Forest (Full Mandate), Dangdae Champ (Falkirk) and Jeonseong Sidae (Stromberg Carlson).

Yeonseung Daero – out to beat Lion Santa in the Gukje Sinmun

It should be a cracking race. Yukio Abe is suspended this weekend, but both Gerrit Schlechter and Narazaki Kosuke have rides in the big race.

Schlechter, who has 10 rides across the weekend will ride venerable old-stager Admiral Reigart (General Royal) while Kosuke (who has 13 rides) gets the mount on the in-form Sand Hi (Stormy Atlantic) who, on recent form, must be in with as chance.

Here’s what’s happening when and where on what is set to be a beautiful weekend in Korea:

Friday May 4

Busan Race Park: 10 races from 12:00 to 18:00
Jeju Race Park: 9 races from 13:30 to 17:30

Saturday May 5

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

Sunday May 6

Seoul Race Park: 10 races from 11:00 to 17:45 – Smarty Moonhak will race at 17:15.
Busan Race Park: 6 races from 12:15 to 16:45 including the Gujke Sinmun Stakes at 15:50

Weekend Preview

Lion Santa, Cheonun Head Cards

It’s been another chilly week in what has been the coldest winter anyone in Korea can remember, however, just like last week, temperatures look set to rise up to around the freezing point this weekend meaning there is no better place to spend it than at the racetrack!

It's set for another cold and bright weekend at Seoul

At Busan on Friday, Lion Santa (Lion Heart) is the main attraction. The four-year old, whose connections shunned the Grand Prix Stakes only to see him beaten in what should have been a routine handicap and in the process, lose his unbeaten record on his tenth start. However, he will be favoured to get back to winning ways in the mile-long feature race.

Sunday’s big race on the South Coast is headed by Tamna Ace (Thunder Gulch), who has nine wins from his thirteen career starts. Also on show on Sunday is filly Geumdda (Officer) who, like Lion Santa, shockingly lost her unbeaten record last time out. She’s up against Peter Wolsley’s filly Perfect Jilju (Paradise Creek) who herself has four wins from her last five starts.

Up at Seoul it’s a bit of a low-key weekend but it still should be a fascinating two days of racing. The capital’s feature race is on Saturday as Nonghyup Stakes winner Cheonun (Ft. Stockton) heads a full-field of fourteen going over 1900 metres.

On the Triple Crown trail there are a few promising three-year olds to look out for. At Seoul Viva Cat (Creek Cat) goes in race 9 on Sunday, looking for his fifth win from six starts while down at Busan Good Time (Yehudi) and Predict (The Groom Is Red) both go in race 9 on Friday.

Friday February 10

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

Saturday February 11

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

Sunday February 12

Seoul Race Park: 11 races from 11:10 to 17:40
Busan Race Park: 8 races from 11:50 to 16:40

Lion Santa Delivers A Gift To Jeonseong Sidae

Low-Key Closing Day At Seoul And Busan

Just over a week ago, two formidable unbeaten records were intact. Now, as we head into the Christmas break, both are gone. Last week Mister Park saw his unprecedented 17-race winning streak come to a valiant end at the hands of Tough Win in the Grand Prix Stakes. This week a horse who skipped the Grand Prix Lion Santa, was looking to make it a perfect 10 at Busan.

The lights were on as they paraded at Seoul for the last time in 2011

He came unstuck. Maybe because it was the break before an extended break or maybe it was because Nonghyup’s sponsorship had added a few million won to the purse but this handicap attracted a stronger field than usual. Nevertheless, Lion Santa was still sent off as the odds-on favourite. He may have won it too, had he not been left in a poor position rounding the home turn. By the time jockey Kim Dong Young had found a way through, second favourite Jeonseong Sidae was uncatchable. Lion Santa rallied for second but the record was gone.

Australian bred three-year old Jeonseong Sidae (Stromberg Carlson-Jessie’s Journey) is no mug. This was his sixth win from nine starts. As for Lion Santa (Lion Heart-Santa Fe Strip) the future is still bright, but connections may be wishing they’d taken the chance to go out in a blaze of glory at Seoul last week instead of with a whimper at Busan today.

Up at Seoul it was also a quiet closing day. The feature race was won by Magnifique (Menifee-Miss Beauty) who was making his debut at class 1. Kept off the classic trail, Magnifique was a late developer but may well turn to be the best of what has been a disappointing three-year old crop in Korea his year.

So that’s it for racing in 2011. While racing returns to the Korean peninsula on the first weekend of January, there’s an awful lot of news to catch up on before that which we’ll start to do this week.