Seoul Bullet

Success Story Soars To Sprint Series Opener

Success Story struck the first blow in the race to the Korea Sprint, running out the winner of a keenly contested Busan Ilbo Cup, the 1st leg of the 2017 Sprint Series at Busan on Sunday afternoon.

A top line field had been attracted by the prize-money and the prospect of a ticket to Seoul Racecourse in September to take on the internationals and it was Peter Wolsley’s Macheon Bolt who was sent off as favourite ahead of the exciting – and previously unbeaten – three-year-old prospect King Of Ace.

It was Perdido Pomeroy who broke best, last year’s Korea/Japan race winner skipping into an early lead and taking Bart Rice’s Triple Five along with him. The pair quickly opened up a significant lead – up to three lengths at the half-way point and the question became about whether they could maintain it. They couldn’t.

As the front pair weakened in the straight, it was Success Story, always prominent in the chasing pack, who got first run at them. Macheon Bolt came after him on the rail side while Seoul Bullet, King Of Ace and Baedari Bobae gave chase on the stands-side but it would be to no avail. Success Story was too strong and prevailed by a length and a half with just a further half length separating his four pursuers.

Seoul Bullet got the closest to the winner on what was his first start since returning from Dubai – the place where Success Story made his name of course last year. King Of Ace ran home a strong 3rd and while his unbeaten record is gone, he proved he is already able to mix it with the country’s best and providing he stays sound, has every chance of getting better as an exciting career develops. Macheon Bolt didn’t have the run of the race but will surely be back while Baedari Bobae defied his outsider tag to fly home for 5th.

As for Success Story, it was an 12th win in 27 Korean starts. The next leg of the series is in Seoul on the first Sunday in June when the competition will be stern from Seoul’s best Sprinters (who opted not to show up here; the three that did, while as game as possible, never stood a chance) and also from visiting Japanese raiders with three visitors from Ohi invited for the race which doubles as the SBS Sports Korea v Japan Sprint.

Then the final leg is the Korea Sprint at Seoul Racecourse on September 10th. Success Story should be there.

Busan Ilbo Cup – Busan Racecourse – 1200M – May 7, 2017

1. Success Story (KOR) [Peace Rules – Power Pack (Lil’s Lad)] – You Hyun Myung – 7.5, 2.5
2. Seoul Bullet (KOR) [Peace Rules – Wild Guess (Wild Rush)] – Ham Wan Sik – 1.9
3. King Of Ace (USA) [Malibu Moon – Cintarosa (Grand Slam)] – Jo Sung Gon – 2.1
Distances: 1.5 lengths / Head
Also Ran: 4. Macheon Bolt (KOR) 5. Baedari Bobae (KOR) 6. Beolmaui Kkum (USA) 7. Morning Daero (USA) 8. Triple Five (USA) 9. Wonil Gangja (KOR) 10. Naesarang Damyang (USA) 11. Perdido Pomeroy (USA) 12. Ace Cheonbok (AUS) 13. Smoken Joe (USA) 14. Special Sky (AUS) PU: Oreuse (USA)

Next weekend, it’s the big one for the three-year-olds: The Korean Derby is at Seoul Racecourse on Sunday May 14.

Advertisements

Curtain Closes On Landmark Dubai Carnival

Had we been told before the 2017 Godolphin Mile that Triple Nine would ultimately finish just one place behind pre-race favourite North America, we may have been very excited. Well that’s what ultimately happened. That North America weakened to finish at the back of the main group with Triple Nine, for whom it proved a race too far, many lengths further adrift, might have been disappointing but does nothing to detract from what was a wonderful Carnival from a Korean perspective.

TNscreengrab

Triple Nine at the Godolphin Mile (Screengrab from Dubai Racing TV)

Naturally, there are a bucket load of excuses that could be put forward for why Triple Nine didn’t do himself anything like justice (wrong trip, bad draw, muddy track of the type he lost to Beolmaui Kkum on last year, tired after a long campaign and so on and so forth) but it doesn’t really matter. It’s racing. It happens.

As it was, the closest Triple Nine came to a win ay Meydan was his first appearance on January 19th, when he closed strongly but just a little late to run 2nd to Hunting Ground over 2000M. The gutsy Triple Crown winner Power Blade landed consecutive 3rd places over a mile and 1900M before the pair of them both ran 5th in their respective Group races on Super Saturday.

Then, of course, there was Main Stay. He and Seoul Bullet both lined up for the 1200M Dirt Handicap on January 19th and for the first time there was real pressure not only to perform well but to actually win the race. As Dubai Racing TV pointed out as the horses came out onto the track “this race really is the Koreans’ to lose”. Seoul Bullet was slow out of the gate but ran on for 4th but Main Stay made no mistake. The race was won with a furlong to go and Terry Spargo’s “Chalk one up for Korea” call has been played at Seoul & Busan Racecourses every week since.

Seoul Bullet would pull up lame and play no further part in the Carnival as indeed would Main Stay after his second run three weeks later.

While Main Stay gets to go down in the history books, arguably the most significant result was that achieved by Diferent Dimension when he defied odds of 33/1 to come 3rd over a mile on turf on February 11th.

It was the first time for a Korean horse to run on turf at the Carnival and the race was well received back home not only because of the result but also for the way the horses ran tightly together as opposed to the wide margins on dirt. Plans are at an advanced stage for a turf track to be installed alongside the sand one at Seoul Racecourse and if the project is to be successful,  a substantial shift in mindset among horsemen in Korea in going ot be required. Actual proof that a Korea-trained (albeit by an Australian) horse can run well on turf is surely the best way to start that process.

Korea’s runners at this year’s Carnival were made possible by the performance of Success Story last year, his pair of 3rd places giving courage to owners and trainers. The unique nature of the Carnival also makes it ideal for a nation wishing to develop its racing, such as Korea. The horses get to spend a number of months in Dubai as do the grooms and workriders. They get to work alongside local grooms and riders and train alongside horses from all over the world providing an opportunity both to observe and to learn. Top international jockeys ride the horses – this year Ireland’s Pat Cosgrave handled the bulk of riding duties of the Korean string and a fine job he did too, both in work and in the races; his exhausting ride in Power Blade’s second outing standing out.

That regular Carnival races are competitive but not overwhelming also gives encouragement. The most exciting thing now is to see who emerges as a contender to make the trip in 2018.

Korea’s results at the 2017 Dubai World Cup Carnival:

Triple Nine
1/19: 2000M (Dirt) – 2nd
2/9: 2000M (Dirt) – 4th
3/4: 2000M (Dirt – G1) – 5th
3/25: 1600M Godolphin Mile (Dirt – G2) – 11th

Power Blade
1/12: 1600M (Dirt) – 3rd
2/2: 1900M (Dirt) – 3rd
3/4: 1600M (Dirt – G3) – 5th

Main Stay
1/19: 1200M (Dirt) – 1st
2/11: 1200M (Dirt) – 4th

Diferent Dimension
1/12: 1600M (Dirt) – 7th
2/11: 1600M (Turf) – 3rd
2/16: 1600M (Dirt) – 7th

Seoul Bullet
1/19: 1200M (Dirt) – 4th

Triple Nine, Seoul Bullet & Main Stay All Go At Meydan Thursday

It was Power Blade and Diferent Dimension last week, this time it’s the turn of rest of the Korean stable at the 2017 Dubai World Cup Carnival to make their Meydan debuts. Triple Nine, Seoul Bullet and Main Stay will all run at the Carnival meeting on Thursday evening (early Friday in Korea).

triple-nine-2-alex-cairns

Triple Nine is among the Korea contingent going at Meydan Thursday night (Pic: Alex Cairns/The Winning Post)

Triple Nine will take part in the 2000M race 4 while Main Stay and Seoul Bullet will try their luck at 1200M in race 6. Pat Cosgrave, who rode Power Blade to 3rd place last week, partners both Triple Nine and Main Stay while Tadhg O’Shea will ride Seoul Bullet.

Race 4 (20:15): Meydan Sobha – 2000M Handicap – USD 125,000

 

As it was for Power Blade last week, Triple Nine’s race looks very competitive. The trouble is that as joint top-rated, he will be carrying 60kg which is 1.5kg more than he has ever carried in an actual race and 3kg heavier than he has won at in Korea. Nevertheless, Triple Nine remains a best-priced 5/1 2nd-favorite with most odds-makers. Favourite with those same odds-makers is Godolphin’s Fog Of War who hasn’t raced since September 2015 but there’s little to choose between a whole host of them. Munaaser won this race last year but doesn’t enter in tremendous form. The Mikael Barzalona ridden Hunting Ground is sure to be well backed as is Doug Watson’s Etijaah.

Race 6 (21:25): District One – 1200M Handicap – USD 125,000

meydanrace6better

Race 6 is a similarly tricky puzzle. Both Korea-trained horses carry light weights in what doesn’t look a very intimidating field. Main Stay defeated Seoul Bullet over 1400M at Busan last month although the latter did stumble coming out of the gate. The Sweden-trained Giftorm is currently favourite having performed creditably at Meydan last year and winning a Swedish G3 in the Spring. The rest don’t appear to have a lot of solid recent form to go on although Shaishee, Indianapolis and Spirit Quartz have all recorded decent times, if not finishes, so at the strong risk of tempting fate, if there is a solid pace, the Korean-pair have a chance.

For those watching from Korea, it will be a late night with race 4 set for 1:15am Seoul time and race 6 coming under orders at 2.25am.

Dubai World Cup Carnival 2017: Korea’s Contenders At Meydan

Five Korea-trained horses arrived at Meydan on Christmas Eve to begin preparations for their campaigns at the 2017 Dubai World Cup Carnival. Horse Of The Year Triple Nine and Triple Crown winner Power Blade have been joined on the trip by Diferent Dimension, Seoul Bullet and Main Stay. They will be hoping to emulate the feats achieved by Success Story, who managed two 3rd placed finishes at the 2016 Carnival. 

triple-nine-2-alex-cairns

Horse Of The Year Triple Nine leads the Korean contingent in Dubai (Pic: Alex Cairns/TheWinningPost)

Diferent Dimension (USA) [Into Mischief – Pardon My Sarong (Souvenir Copy)] 4-year-old Gelding
Breeder: Larkspur Thoroughbreds (Kentucky), Owner: Mun Kyung Sook, Trainer: Peter M. Wolsley
Race Records: 15(9/2/2)
The only US bred among the Korean contingent. It’s not a spelling mistake, he’s named after a lyric in a Katy Perry song (or something like that, I’m told) and was a $30,000 purchase from OBS in April 2014 (having previously gone through Keeneland as a yearling). He’s won at distances up to 1800M but could go further. He was 3rd last month at 2200M but was giving 7kg to the pair who beat him and should be fresh having not been able to get a run in the Grand Prix. He’s saddled by Australian trainer Peter Wolsley.

1482740619157.jpeg

Diferent Dimension (Pic: Seungho Ryu)

Triple Nine (KOR) [Ecton Park – A Little Poke (Pleasant Tap)] 4-year-old Colt
Breeder: Isidore Farm (Korea), Owner: Choi Byeong Bu, Trainer: Kim Young Kwan
Race Records: 20(11/7/1)
As a three-year-old, he was 2nd in both of the final two-legs of the Triple Crown before asserting his talent with victory in the Presidents Cup. He’s now a two-time winner of that race having successfully defended his title this autumn and accordingly, Triple Nine was this past weekend crowned Horse Of The Year in Korea for 2016. He finished 3rd in the Korea Cup and 2nd in the Grand Prix Stakes and has comfortably defeated Power Blade on three consecutive occasions.

triple-nine-dubai-arrival

Triple Nine arrives (Pic: Seungho Ryu)

Power Blade (KOR) [Menifee – Cheonmacheong (Lost Mountain)] 3-year-old Colt
Breeder: Kim Jung Du (Korea), Owner: Kim Hyeong Ran. Trainer: Kim Young Kwan
Race Records: 13(8/3/1)
He was the Champion Juvenile of 2015 he then dominated the three-year-old division in 2016, comfortably winning all three legs of the Korean Triple Crown. He has gone on to show his class against older horses with 4th place in the Korea Cup, 2nd in the President’s Cup and 3rd in the Grand Prix, the latter over 2300M. Triple Nine has finished ahead of him in all three of those races. In the middle of those races, he dropped down to 1400M to beat Seoul Bullet in a valuable race at Busan.

powerblademeydan

A blurry Power Blade on the Meydan track (Pic: Seungho Ryu)

Main Stay (KOR) [Tale Of The Cat – No Bull Baby (Indian Charlie)] 3-year-old Gelding
Breeder: Nokwon Farm (Korea), Owner: SH. Baek, Trainer: Kim Young Kwan
Race Records: 16(9/3/0)
Classed as a Korean bred as he was imported in-utero when his dam was purchased for $32,000 at the 2012 Keeneland November Breeding Stock sale. As such he wasnt eligible for the three-year-old Classic races but has gone on to establish himself as one of the top sprinters in Korea with four wins from his last five starts. He is yet to run in Stakes company but has run and won at distances of up to a mile. Comes in having beaten Seoul Bullet narrowly over 1400M in December.

main-stay-dubai-arrival

Main Stay arrives (Pic: Seungho Ryu)

Seoul Bullet (KOR) [Peace Rules – Wild Guess (Wld Rush)] 5-year-old Gelding
Breeder: Kim Chae Hyung (Korea). Owner: Cho Tae Man, Trainer: Kim Young Kwan
Race Records: KOR: 10(7/2/0) USA: 4(0/0/1)
He’s had an interesting career having spent the first year of it in the United States where he ran four times for one 3rd place in Florida and even managed to get claimed out of a race at Gulfstream. He was claimed back and returned to Korea where he promptly won his first six starts. He was then sidelined for fifteen months before finally returning to action this summer. He pushed Power Blade all the way over 1400M in October before winning a class 1 race at the same distance very handily. Narrowly defeated by Main Stay last time out.

seoul-bullet-dubai-paddock

Seoul Bullet strolls at Meydan (Pic: Seungho Ryu)

Power Blade Pushed But Prevails On Busan Homecoming

Down in Australia on Saturday, only two showed up to face the phenom that is Winx. Korean Triple Crown winner Power Blade didn’t quite command that amount of respect on his return to his home track of Busan on Sunday but he came close with only four rivals venturing out against him – one of them a stablemate – in the Kookje Sinmun Cup.

In fairness, this has never been hugely supported race, despite its hefty prize money – boosted even further this year – but the whole day was very much billed as the Power Blade celebration day. This would be the first time the Busan-trained colt had races at his home track since winning the first jewel of the Triple Crown, the KRA Cup Mile, all the way back in April.

Since then, Power Blade has gone on to romp both the Derby and the Minister’s Cup, becoming the first horse to sweep the K-Triple Crown in its current format and then, despite looking as flat as a pancake in the build-up, registered a hugely creditable 4th place in the Korea Cup at Seoul last month.

A jaunt around seven furlongs at Busan was never going to be too taxing but Power Blade’s neighbour from a few boxes down in Kim Young Kwan’s barn is an interesting talent himself. As a juvenile, Seoul Bullet was part of the KRA’s “maybe the horse isn’t the problem” program, which involved sending Korean-bred horses overseas for early training and racing. He went to Florida where he actually managed to get claimed out of a race at Gulfstream Park (the KRA claimed him back the next time he was entered) and recorded one 3rd from 4 outings.

On his return from Korea Seoul Bullet joined some of the other returnees in proving that no, the Korean-bred horse isn’t the problem, winning 6 out 6 starts, including the 2015 Gold Circle Trophy ahead of a young Macheon Bolt, before injury intervened. He would be off for more than a year and finally returned in inauspicious fashion in August.

Today was expected to be better for Seoul Bullet. It was. Under Seo Seung Un, he hot the front three furlongs out to get first run in the straight. Kim Yong Geun quickly brought Power Blade alongside and for a moment the battle was joined. Power Blade quickly got the best of it and Kim’s whip use was sparing, the Triple Crown winner always in command but only winning by half a length on the line.

So Seoul Bullet is back as a force in the Busan ranks but Power Blade retains his star status.  A good day all round. A journey back to Seoul for the President’s Cup next month is possible but his stable has an embarrassment of riches for that race including Triple Nine, who bested Power Blade to finish 3rd in the Korea Cup. By virtue of their in-the-money finishes in the Cup, both Power Blade and Triple Nine can receive international ratings enabling them to be considered for the Dubai World Cup Carnival and there is no denying it would be wonderful to see a fit Korean Triple Crown winner lining up at Meydan in the New Year.

For now though, Power Blade is back home.

Seoul Bullet On Target In GC Trophy While Cheonmang Strikes In Herald Business

There was big race action in both Busan and Seoul this past Sunday and it was Seoul Bullet who produced the performance of the day to down Macheon Bolt and Diferent Dimension to win the Gold Circle Turf Club Trophy and take his unbeaten record to six.

In what was a highly-anticipated clash, Peter Wolsley’s highly thought-of pair of Diferent Dimension and Macheon Bolt were sent off as the market favorites, the two three-year-olds having a 5kg weight advantage over the four-year-old Seoul Bullet.

In the end, that didn’t count for much as Seoul Bullet swooped home on the outside under in-form jockey Kim Yong Geun for a three-length win over Macheon Bolt and the fast-finishing Diferent Dimension who was suffering his first defeat.

Seoul Bullet was sent to Florida in advance of his two-year-old season, racing four times at Gulfstream Park with one third place among them – and managed to get himself claimed along the way. Korean horses who go to the US at a young age generally do very well on their return only to see the advantage they have erode over time. So far Seoul Bullet seems to be getting better and better.

GCTC Trophy – Busan Racecourse – 1600M – May 24, 2015

1. Seoul Bullet (KOR) [Peace Rules -Wild Guess (Wild Rush)] – Kim Yong Geum – 4.7, 1.6
2. Macheon Bolt (KOR) [Old Fashioned – Beech Bag (Devil’s Bag)] – Lee Hee Cheon – 1.3
3. Diferent Dimension (USA) [Into Mischief – Pardon My Sarong (Souvenir Copy)] – Jo Sung Gon
Distances: 3 lengths/Neck – 8 ran

At Seoul on Sunday the feature race was the Herald Business Cup which attracted a full field of fourteen. And at the end of the seven-furlong race it was US import Cheonmang who came out on top, a two-length victor over the similarly named Cheon Gu.

Cheonmang was winning his fourth race on his tenth start and it was a first big race win for up and coming jockey Lee Chan Ho.

Herald Business Cup – Seoul Racecourse – 1400M – May 24, 2015

1. Cheonmang (USA) [Noonmark – Boatman Road (Lord At War)] – Lee Chan Ho – 9.8, 2.5
2. Cheon Gu (USA) [Old Fashioned – So Much  Fun (Speightstown)] – Kim Hye Sun – 2.3
3. Azul Fire (USA) [Notional – Tight Lipped (Kissin Kris)] – Moon Se Young – 2.0
Distances: 2.5 lengths/2 lengths – 14 ran

In other races on Sunday, down at Busan Rock Band maintained his 100% record with a very easy class 4 victory over 1400M. The full brother of 2013 President’s Cup and Grand Prix Stakes winner Indie band, the three-year-old Rock Band (Ecton Park) moved onto four wins from four starts.

This coming week at Busan, Cinderella Man is set to have his first start since moving to the Bart Rice stable. He is set to take on Gyeongbudaero, Nobody Catch Me and Spring Gnarly in what looks like yet another ultra-competitive class 1 race at Busan. Meanwhile it’s “Trainers’ Week” at Seoul and Sunday will see the running of a “Trainers’ Cup”.

Round-Up: Fujii Has Surgery, Korean Horses Back From US, Yongsan OTB Controversy Rumbles On

Lots to catch up on…

Lets Run

Joe Fujii underwent surgery on his broken shoulder on Monday. Fujii fell heavily coming out of the gate in race 4 at Busan last Sunday, breaking his scapula. While he was originally hopeful of being back within 6 to 8 weeks, a visit to a Seoul specialist confirmed the need for an operation which is likely to keep him out for between 3 to 4 months. The Japanese rider hopes to be back in time for either the Busan Owners’ Cup or the President’s Cup at Seoul.

Speaking of falls, Park Tae Jong, is currently sidelined from a bad one suffered a month ago. “President” Park is currently on 1881 winners, by far the most of all time by a Korean jockey. However, he could be about to have company in the “Thousand Club” after Moon Se Young’s victory on Yeongsan II on Sunday took the 33-year-old to 987.

Three Korean horses arrived back from the United States last week and will go through a Seoul sales ring in a few days time. Gangnam Camp, Seoul Bullet and Better Than You have spent the past 17 months in Ocala training and, more recently racing. None of the three actually managed to win a race Stateside.

Gangnam Camp managed a 2nd place from his 7 starts while Seoul Bullet secured one 3rd place from his 4. Better Than You, however, was unplaced in all of his 4 starts. Seoul Bullet did achieve the rather dubious honour of getting himself claimed at one point though.

2013 Minister’s Cup winner Major King, who had been racing fruitlessly in the North-East US for the past few months, joined them on the flight home, however, last year’s Derby and Oaks winning filly Speedy First remains in the US.

Meanwhile, there is no end in sight to the long-running dispute over the relocation of the KRA’s off-site betting Plaza in Seoul’s Yongsan district. The new plaza finally opened amid tight security and vehement protest at the end of June and the dispute – originally started by the fact that the new Plaza is a block closer to a school than the old one – has now become something of a political football between governing and opposition parties.

Counter protests by Unions with interests in the racing industry have also taken place at the site with the most memorable banner being one imploring the other side to “Please Stop Insulting Racing Fans”, a reference to the ongoing campaign against the Plaza which has, among other things, sought to link the presence of Plazas with a rise in sex-crimes.

Pro-Plaza counter-protestors at Yongsan

Pro-Plaza counter-protestors at Yongsan

While the KRA has been busy producing glossy videos on the history of the Plazas and the community facilities they provide on non race-days, playing those videos at Seoul Racecourse seems somewhat like preaching to the converted. It’s certainly unlikely to change the minds of the anti-Plaza campaign which has raised a petition with 50,000 signatures calling for the Plaza’s closure.

Best to finish on news from the track and this coming Sunday sees the Busan Metropolitan City Mayor’s Stakes – colloquially known as the “Summer Grand Prix”. It’s been the lowest key build-up to the Metropolitan since Seoul horses became eligible to run a few years ago although the expected presence of the likes of Oreuse, Gamdonguibada, Cheonji Bulpae, Cowboy Son and Indian Blue among others, should make for an interesting race. We’ll start the full previews later this week.