Nobody Catch Me

Korean Horses Return Home From Singapore

Three Korean horses who ran in the KRA Trophy at Kranji in Singapore on Sunday touched back down at Incheon Airport this afternoon.

The race was broadcast live in Korea

The race was broadcast live in Korea

The two Busan horses; Gamdonguibada and Nobody Catch Me, will stop off at the quarantine centre at Jangsu Stud & Training Farm in Jeolla Province, while Seoul-based Cheon Gu has gone straight back to the Seoul Racecourse which has its own quarantine facilities.

As for the race – the S$250,000 KRA Trophy – the horses did ok. Nobody Catch Me was 6th, Cheon Gu 9th and Gamdonguibada 11th in the twelve-strong event with the pack finishing together.

There had been some mildly silly talk in the local racing media here – not exactly discouraged by trainer Kim Young Kwan – about the possibility of one of the Korean horses actually winning the race. However, those of us who were hopeful of a decent performance, but still had nagging fears that they may be left behind in a race that was restricted to Singapore-trained horses with a rating of 90 or lower, were re-assured.

As it was, Cheon Gu led out of the gate and into the home-straight before tiring and being passed. Gamdonguibada, a little predictably for a miler dropping down to six furlongs, took a while to get going and never really fired. However, the pleasant surprise was Nobody Catch Me. Few had given him much chance of beating anything but he finished strongly on the outside to get up to 6th place, just over four lengths behind the winner.

That winner was the modestly-named Super Winner (Kaphero). Super Winner’s jockey, Soo Khoon Beng (more often known as KB Soo) has plenty of history with Korea having had a short stint at Busan in 2008 before returning and winning the Seoul International Jockey Challenge in 2012. Manoel Nunes, who also particiapted in that 2012 event, rode My Lucky Strike (Charge Forward), to 2nd place.

The race was beamed back live to racecourses and OTBs in Korea, the first time for an overseas race. While no betting markets were offered, a good number of the 40,000 crowd at Seoul Racecourse seemed to take an interest. It is to be hoped that those punters will start pushing for an opportunity to watch more overseas racing and for the necessary change in the law to allow legal betting on it. One or two races from places such as Singapore would be an ideal addition to either a Friday card at Busan or a Sunday mixed card.

There are many hurdles still to clear before that can become a reality but getting last Sunday’s race onto Korean screens means the first of those has been successfully navigated. The more exposure there is to high quality overseas racing, the better it will be for development here.

In some ways the result was a good one in that the horses did well enough to mean there is no reason to feel discouraged or embarrassed. And equally, they didn’t do well enough for anybody here to think the job is anywhere near done and there is no need to improve.

The next big event is just a little over a month away in the shape of the Asia Challenge Cup, for which the first nomination stage is this Friday. Nominations are expected from Singapore and Japan while a quarantine protocol has just been concluded in time with the UAE, however, it may be a little too late to get horses racing under that flag this time. The ACC is an invitational race but the KRA Cup Classic, held the same day, is also open to overseas runners this year.

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Gamdonguibada, Nobody Catch Me and Cheon Gu Set To Represent Korea In Singapore

Three Korean-trained horses have been nominated to run in the Korea Racing Authority Cup at Kranji Racecourse in Singapore on Sunday July 26.

Gamdonguibada

Gamdonguibada

In what is set to be a quite historic occasion, the race will mark not only the first time Korean horses have run in Singapore but also the first time that an overseas race will be beamed back live to racecourses in Korea.

The KRA Trophy will be run over 1200M on the Kranji Polytrack with a prize fund of S$250,000. Crucially, only Singapore horses with an MRA rating no higher than 90 are eligible and this could make for an interesting race.

Busan’s top trainer Kim Young Kwan will send two horses. The best known is his 2013 Grand Prix Stakes winner and 2014 Queens’ Tour champion mare Gamdonguibada. The other is the 2014 Busan Metropolitan City Mayor’s Cup winner Nobody Catch Me. From Seoul, trainer Seo In Seok sends his up and coming colt Cheon Gu.

Gamdonguibada (USA) [Werblin – Radyla (Country Pine)] 6yo mare (28/13/4/6/1/1) – She won the Grand Prix Stakes in 2013 and has gone on to become one of the most successful fillies or mares ever to race in Korea. In addition to the Grand Prix, she has won the the Gyeongnam Governor’s Cup twice, the KNN Cup and the Ttukseom Cup on the way to earning more than KRW 2 Billion in prize money. After completing a clean sweep of the Queens’ Tour races in 2014, she was expected to retire but returned as a 6-year-old and won her most recent race on May 17. She hasn’t run at such short a distance as 1200M since she was a 2-year-old in 2011. Lim Sung Sil is expected to ride her at Kranji.

Nobody Catch Me (USA) [With Distinction – Nana’s Babe (Allen’s Prospect)] 5yo gelding (20/6/4/2/0/0) – The wildcard. He was the winner of the Busan Mayor’s Cup last year at odds of over 50/1 and added one win after that but was a disappointment – and eventual disqualification – from the Grand Prix Stakes last year. He’s only run twice in 2015 and has struggled. However, he may well appreciate running at a sprint distance once more.

Nobody Catch Me won the 2014 Busan Metropolitan (Newsis)

Nobody Catch Me won the 2014 Busan Metropolitan (Newsis)

Cheon Gu (USA) [Old Fashioned – So Much Fun (Speightstown)] 3yo colt (6/4/1/1/0/0) – The only one of the three to be based at Seoul Racecourse and the only one who still looks yet to reach his full potential, Cheon Gu has won four of his six starts to date. He was beaten in his only Stakes race when second in the Herald Business Cup over 1400M in May but returned to the winner’s circle in a class 2 race at the same distance last week and is considered one of the brightest imported prospects at Seoul. Yoo Seung Wan is expected to ride him in Singapore.

Cheon Gu will carry 54.5kg, Nobody Catch Me 57.5kg and Gamdonguibada 56kg. While the Korean horses had to be nominated by Monday this week, Singapore based horses have until July 15 to enter the race.

The KRA Trophy will come under orders at 17:15 Singapore time and will be shown live at Seoul and Busan Racecourses during the normal raceday broadcast. No betting markets will be offered in Korea – the law needs to change before that can happen – nevertheless, having permission granted for it is a big step in the right direction. The Singapore Turf Club has been a great friend of Korean racing in recent years and it is fitting that Kranji hosts the first race to be beamed back.

The Singapore Turf Club has been a big supporter of the internationalization of Korean racing

The Singapore Turf Club has been a big supporter of the internationalization of Korean racing

The history of Korean-trained horses racing abroad is extremely brief. Watts Village pulled off a remarkable victory in the Interaction Cup in Japan in 2013 but the following year, the three Korean horses who went fared less well. Meanwhile, Singapore trained El Padrino came to Seoul last August and broke the track record for 1400M in the process of winning the Asia Challenge Cup.

While it remains to be seen what kind of line-up Singapore puts out, the horses nominated from Korea have every chance of acquitting themselves well. Whatever happens, it will be an important milestone in the internationalization of Korean racing.

Pinot Noir The Toast Of Ladies’ Day At Seoul

Pinot Noir produced a late run to upset hot favourite Cheonnyeon Dongan to win the Gyeonggi Governor’s Cup at Seoul Racecourse on Sunday and in doing so, be crowned the capital’s Champion filly or mare of 2014.

Pinot Noir gets up to beat Cheonnyeon Dongan to win the Gyeonggi Governor's Cup (Pic: KRA)

Pinot Noir gets up to beat Cheonnyeon Dongan to win the Gyeonggi Governor’s Cup (Pic: KRA)

Cheonnyeon Dongan was a proven winner at class and distance against colts. Pinot Noir on the other hand, was running in class 1 company for the first time after winning the Horse Racing Ireland Trophy in August and then running a creditable third in the Donga Ilbo Trophy last month.

And it was the favourite, always travelling well under Seo Seung Un, who looked to be in the box seat she hit the front as the field entered the home straight at the end of the 10 furlong race. However, Park Hyun Woo on Pinot Noir had other ideas, shifting his filly to the rail and making up ground rapidly.

The two would battle it out in the final furlong and it was the 12/1 chance Pinot Noir who just had her neck in front as they hit the line. Choichoro, a 10/1 chance ridden by Moon Se Young came home in third place, 4 lengths behind the leading pair.

It was a 5th win in 15 starts for the 4-year-old Pinot Noir and the first really big win for jockey Park Hyun Woo.

Gyeonggi Governor’s Cup (KOR G3) – Seoul Racecourse – 2000M – Oct 26, 3014

1. Pinot Noir (KOR) [Capital Spending – Neungnyeokchungman (Pacific Bounty)] – Park Hyun Woo – 12.4, 2.1
2. Cheonnyeon Dongan (KOR) [Ecton Park – Honeycakes (Hennessy)] – Seo Seung Un – 1.1
3. Choichoro (KOR) [Concept Win – Eunbiryeong (Mujaazif)] – Moon Se Young – 2.1
Distances: Neck/4 lengths
Also Ran: 4. Chiming VIcar 5. Full Moon Party 6. Dangchan Miso 7. X File 8. Chongal Gongju 9. Bongamsa 10. Chowon Yeoje 11. Mighty Forever 12. Bukdaepung

* Cheonnyeon Dongan wasn’t the only favourite to go down at the weekend. Saturday at Seoul saw a number of odds-on shots turned over, principal among them the highly rated Power City (Archer City Slew) who was beaten in the final strides of race 10 by Jeil Jal Naga (Dice Dancer), a horse he had beaten by 9-lengths just a month ago.

Also losing (again) was Call Me Rocket (Colonel John) who finished last in Saturday’s race 11 which was won by 25/1 Wahaha under a very good ride by Lee Ah Na. And in Saturday’s final race 12, Foolish Scip (Scipion) finished 2nd for the 5th consecutive race, this time losing out to up-and-coming import Clean Up Joy (Purge).

Favourites had a slightly better time of things at Busan where the feature race was, unusually, on Friday. Nobody Catch Me (With Distinction), the shock winner of July’s Busan Metropolitan City Stakes made his first start since his victory that day and indeed, nobody could catch him as he cruised to a 5-length win over veteran Viva Ace (Macho Uno) in the 1900M class 1 event.

There’s no Stakes action next weekend but we are now less than two weeks away from Korea’s richest race, the President’s Cup, which will be run at Seoul on Sunday November 9.

Nobody Catches 50/1 Outsider in Busan Metropolitan

Nobody Catch Me, a 50/1 shot, landed the Stakes race upset of the year to date with a comprehensive 4-length victory in the Busan Metropolitan City Stakes this afternoon.

Nobody Catch Me and Yang Young Nam win the Busan Metropolitan (Newsis)

Nobody Catch Me and Yang Young Nam win the Busan Metropolitan (Newsis)

In a race run on wet track after an earlier downpour, Gamdonguibada, the 2012 Grand Prix winner and victor of two big Stakes races already this year was sent off the odds-on favourite.

And she looked to be every inch value for that as she set off just behind the early pace-setter, the sprinter Cowboy Son. However, when they arrived in the home-straight, Gamdonguibada, just like when trying to defend her Grand Prix in Seoul last December, had nothing to give, turning her head towards the stands and seemingly going backwards.

That left the way free for Nobody Catch Me, Gamdonguibada’s stablemate in the formidable Kim Young Kwan operation, to make a move. Having been just behind the leaders all the way around, jockey Yang Young Nam was now able to take him to the lead. With a furlong to go, it was clear that indeed, nobody was going to catch him.

The one that came closest was Peter Wolsley’s Cheonji Bulpae. Dead-last as they entered the home straight, jockey Kim Yong Geun weaved his way between horses until he found a clear run and then flew home down the outside of the field. It was a fine run but trainer Wolsley was left to reflect on yet another case of what might have been, just three weeks after his My Winner was also 2nd in the Jeju Governor’s Cup.

Cowboy Son stayed on impressively for 3rd, silencing those who had him down as a pure sprinter who wouldn’t be able to last the distance. Heba came in 4th, with Dynamic Jilju picking up the final bit of prize money in 5th.

It was another miserable race for Seoul-based runners. Sangnyu led home the visitors from the capital in an inglorious 6th place, one ahead of Indian Blue whose formidable closing speed never materialised.

Nobody Catch Me was a $20,000 purchase at the OBS June sale in Ocala in 2012. Now a 4-year-old gelding, this was his 5th win in 16 starts to date. He’s now won nearly half a million dollars in prize money.

For jockey Yang Young Nam, it was a first Stakes win since 2005. For trainer Kim Young Kwan, it was yet another in a seemingly never-ending – or even broken – streak of big race winners. On the backstretch, nobody catches him.

Busan Metropolitan City Stakes (KOR G3) – Busan Racecourse – 2000M – July 20, 2014

1. Nobody Catch Me (USA) [With Distinction – Nana’s Babe (Allen’s Prospect)] – Yang Young Nam – 57.2, 5.6
2. Cheonji Bulpae (AUS) [Bernardini – Purrfection (Tale Of The Cat)] – Kim Yong Geun – 3.5
3. Cowboy Son (USA) [Cowboy Cal – Nosmallacheivement (Smart Strike)] – You Hyun Myung – 2.7

Distances: 4 lengths / 1.25 lengths
Also Ran: 4. Heba (USA) 5. Dynamic Jilju (USA) 6. Sangnyu (USA) 7. Indian Blue (USA) 8. Cheongchun Bulpae (KOR) 9. Mari Daemul (USA) 10. Russian To Win (USA) 11. Chogwang (AUS) 12. Gamdonguibada (USA) 13. Bichui Wangja (USA) 14. Hwanggeum Jijon (USA) 15. Star Bolt (USA)