Secret Whisper

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

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Speedy First, Secret Whisper Headline Queens’ Tour Finale

The Queens’ Tour 2013 will conclude at Busan Race Park this Sunday with the running of the Gyeongnam Governor’s Cup, the most valuable fillies & mares race of the year.

Korean Derby and Oaks winner Speedy First will line up in the Queens' Tour finale on Sunday

Korean Derby and Oaks winner Speedy First will line up in the Queens’ Tour finale on Sunday

Korean Derby and Oaks winner Speedy First heads the line up but she’ll face a tough challenge from Secret Whisper, a mare two years her senior and in the best form of her impressive career. Down from Seoul comes the capital’s champion filly Joy Lucky, with 6 wins from 8 starts to date.

Also among the full field of 16 is Useung Touch, Korean Oaks winner in 2011 and winner of the first leg of the series, the Ttukeseom Cup, a full 8 months ago.

Despite the race being open to all fillies & mares aged three to five, eleven of the entrants are Korean bred, with only five imports taking their chance. The most notable absentee is Fly Top Queen, who is in quarantine in Japan in preparation for the 2nd leg of the Korea vs Japan Challenge in Tokyo on November 26.

Here’s a full run down of the field with Name [Pedigree] Age (Starts/1/2/3) – Jockey

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

1. Useung Touch (KOR) [Menifee – Jenny Tudor (Gulch)] 5 (25/8/7/2) – Lim Sung Sil
The Korean Oaks winner in 2011 won the 1st leg of the Queens’ Tour all the way back in March. She was 2nd in the Grand Prix Stakes at the end of last year. She’s only won once from 4 starts since March but all have been in strong company. Can never be discounted.

2. Joy Lucky (KOR) [Vicar – Proper Gun (Prosper Fager)] 3 (8/6/0/0) – Seo Seung Un
Seoul’s best chance. Interfered with in the Donga Ilbo Cup, she still rallied for 4th and then easily won the Gyeonggi Governor’s Cup over this distance last month to become Seoul’s champion filly or mare. Kept off the Triple Crown trail, this is the first time she’ll face Speedy First. A chance.

3. Kkon Maru (USA) [Include – Crowned (Chief’s Crown)] 4 (23/2/0/4) – Lee Gi Hweoi
Indifferent filly in indifferent form. She won’t be competing for honours here.

4. Miracle Wonder (KOR) [Menifee – Jeongbowang (Concept Win)] 3 (10/5/3/0) – Darryll Holland
Second – a very distant second – to Speedy First in the Oaks, she bounced back to win over a mile last time. Like all Menifees, there will be a question mark over the 2000 metre distance but she is a talented filly.

5. Imperial Star (KOR) [Nihon Pillow Neil – Psychic Girl (Generous)] 5 (20/6/5/3) – Lee Gang Seo
Has only run twice this year since returning from a long injury lay-off. She hasn’t yet regained her previous form and as a result, there is very to little to recommend her here.

6. Silver Classic (USA) [Chapel Royal – Psychic Friend (Star De Naskra)] 4 (22/4/3/2) – You Hyun Myung
Fourth in the KNN Cup and winner of the Gold Coast Trophy in the summer. Comes into the race off the back of two very disappointing runs and will be hard pressed to match her 6th place in this race last year.

7. Choichoro (KOR) [Concept Win – Eunbiryeong (Mujaazif)] 5 (22/5/2/3) – Kim Dong Chul
Was the unexpected winner of the YTN Cup at Seoul in August and likes this distance. However, she could only manage 4th in the Gyeonggi Governor’s last time and will be facing much better filles and mares here.

8. Grand Teukgeup (KOR) [Menifee – Saratoga Campaign (Mt.Livermore)] 4 (22/8/3/2) – Chae Gyu Jun
She was 2nd to Useung Touch in the Ttukseom Cup but her only win this year has been at 7 furlongs. She has finished 3rd over this distance but likely won’t have the speed to challenge the favourites in the final furlong.

9. Seungniuihamseong (KOR) [Vicar – Hug And Kiss (Commander In Chief)] 5 (27/6/2/3) – Bang Choon Sik
Seoul’s champion filly & mare of 2012, she’s not won a single race since. She has come very close though and consistently places. She only has an outside chance of doing that here but she shouldn’t disgrace herself either.

10. Dehere Queen (KOR) [Dehere – Cinnamon Girl (Meadowlake)] 5 (28/3/5/3) – Masakazu Tanaka
Very difficult to recommend a mare who hasn’t won since September 2011 in a big Stakes race so we’ll not be doing that here. Some encouraging runs and plenty of prize-money won recently but not a winner.

11. Fine Gongju (KOR) [Tiz Wonderful – Blissful Kiss (Kissin Kris)] 3 (14/5/3/1) – Choi Si Dae
Looked to be set to push on into a really good filly but has struggled in two class 1 outings recently which suggests she may find herself a touch overmatched here. Has potential but should find others better.

12. Dongseo Daeryuk (USA) [A.P.Warrior – Lady Marion (Forestry)] 3 (12/3/4/0) – Park Tae Jong
That Park Tae Jong has been persuaded to come down to Busan to ride her should be a recommendation but she is not in the same class as the likes of Speedy First, Joy Lucky or Secret Whisper. Has never run at 2000 metres but she was 2nd to Choichoro in the YTN Cup in August.

13. Secret Whisper (KOR) [Sea Of Secrets – Generals Passion (General Meeting)] 5 (26/10/5/5) – Jo Sung Gon
The Peter Wolsley trained mare followed up her 2nd in the KNN Cup with a pair of wins and an unexpected reversal in a 7 furlong tune-up last time out can be discounted. Should love the distance and has the potential to give Speedy First a very strong run for her money.

14. Imperial Girl (USA) [Imperialism – Wallena (Wallenda)] 5 (31/3/2/4) – Lee Ah Na
A Stakes winner in the past but in dreadful form this year and there’s nothing to suggest that will change here.

15. Speedy First (KOR) [Menifee – Speedy Deedy (Victory Gallop)] 3 (9/6/0/1) – Kanichiro Fujii
The Korean Derby and Korean Oaks winner. She put in an unexpectedly lacklustre performance in the Minister’s Cup at Seoul last time out and will need to be back to her best to beat Secret Whisper. It’s likely that punters will make her the favourite to do just that.

16. Sangnyu (USA) [Broken Vow – Midtown Miss (Yes It’s True)] 4 (19/5/3/2) – Jang Chu Youl
One of the few entrants to hold a class 1 win over this distance, she was also 3rd to KRA Cup Classic winner Mari Daemul last time out. This suggest she must be taken seriously as a contender for a place.

Last Gasp Yongduseong Snatches KNN Cup

Yongduseong hit the front in the very last stride to grab victory in the KNN Cup by the smallest of margins at Busan Race Park this afternoon.

Ttukseom Cup winner Useung Touch (Menifee) was the heavily backed pre-race favourite and, after early pace-setter Chowonuibyeol dropped out of contention entering the home straight, she seemed poised to add the second leg of the Queens Tour to her collection.

However, upon hitting the front she stalled allowing Joe Fujii to come roaring through on her inside on Pokpung Hero (Henny Hughes). Deep into the final furlong they seemed to have it won until seemingly out of nowhere on the stands side, Yongduseong (Concept Win) and Secret Whisper (Sea Of Secrets) began closing rapidly.

They swept past Pokpung Hero metres from the line, crossing it together, the photograph revealing Yongduseong to be the victor by a nose.

A late developer, Yongduseong only debuted mid-way through her 3-year-old season and then only made 4 appearances as a 4-year old. Fragile but very talented, today’s win was her 9th from 14 starts. For trainer Kim Young Kwan, it was yet another Stakes winner with a filly.

He trained Busan greats Luna and Sangseung Ilro and still takes care of current Grand Prix champion Gamdonguibada and Derby winner Speedy First. For 32-year old jockey Lim Sung Sil, it was his 3rd Stakes win

In second, the Pegasus Stables owned and bred Secret Whisper marked a decent Stakes race result for Australian trainer Peter Wolsley as he came so close to getting his second really big race win.

As for Useung Touch, she faded to 5th after a very slow final furlong. She did, however, beat every horse from Seoul. Indian Blue (Henny Hughes) in 6th was the best placed finisher in yet another dismal showing by the capital track’s representatives.

KNN Cup – Busan Race Park – 1600M – June 9, 2013

1. Yongduseong (KOR) [Concept Win – C’Est Avie (Lord Avie)] – Lim Sung Sil – 14.9, 3.1
2. Secret Whisper (KOR) [Sea Of Secrets – Generals Passion (General Meeting)] – Jo Sung Gon – 5.9
3. Pokpung Hero (USA) [Henny Hughes – Chitka (Jade Hunter)] – Kanichiro Fujii – 3.0

Distances: Nose/0.5 lengths
Also ran: 4. Silver Classic (USA) 5. Useung Touch (KOR) 6. Indian Blue (USA) 7. Grand Teukgeup (KOR) 8. Empire World (USA) 9. Gumpo Yeowang (KOR) 10. Sangyu (USA) 11. Blueband Mama (USA) 12. Dangdae Jeonseung (CAN) 13. Imperial Girl (USA) 14. Dongteuja (KOR) 15. Chowonuibyeol (USA) NR: Kkakjaengi (USA)

* Up in the capital, the Sports Hankuk Trophy – a non-stakes trophy race – was the feature event. It ended in a comfortable win for 6/1 chance Real Victor (Biwa Shinseiki) who landed his 9th victory from 39 starts.

Real Victor and Ham Wan Sik win the Sports Hankuk Trophy at Seoul

Real Victor and Ham Wan Sik win the Sports Hankuk Trophy at Seoul

Meanwhile, Japanese jockey Ikuyasu Kurakane followed up his double yesterday with another today, taking race 1 on Jilpung Haengjin (Ecton Park) and race 7 on Jeongsang Party (Exclusive Quality).

There’s no Stakes action next week although the aforementioned Gamdonguibada is slated to be in action at Busan on Sunday. She suffered a surprising defeat last time out and will be looking to get back in form in Busan’s feature race.

Weekend Preview: Hands In Pockets Time

Punters will need to stump up an extra 200 won to get into the track from this weekend as the Korea Racing Authority raises the admission fee to the three racecourses for the first time in ten years. The new fee of 1000 won will also apply to all off-track betting facilities.

KRA Cup Mile winner Gyeongbudaero goes on Sunday (Pic: KRA)

More on that less than Earth-shattering news in a little while but given that it’s still cheaper than a basic subway fare, it is perhaps safe to assume that most punters won’t notice – especially as most use their subway card to get in.

KRA Cup Mile winner Gyeongbudaero (Menifee) makes his first appearance at Busan since running third in the Korean Derby just over a month ago. The colt goes in the second of co-feature races at the southern track on Sunday afternoon against a field of eminently beatable older horses over 2000 metres.

Among them is Peter Wolsley’s old warhorse Khaosan (Sunday Well) and Wolsley saddles another fancy in the earlier co-feature as Secret Whisper (Sea Of Secrets) takes on a very competitive field over 1400 metres.

Up at Seoul there aren’t any stars on show altough both Saturday and Sunday’s feature races are competitive class 1 handicaps.

There’s a chance the monsoon season will begin at some point this weekend so it may be best to pack a raincoat just in case. Here’s what’s happening when and where:

Friday June 29

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

Saturday June 30

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

Sunday July 1

Seoul Race Park: 10 races from 11:00 to 17:40
Busan Race Park: 6 races from 12:15 to 16:40