Speedy First

Jo Sung Gon & Kenny Seo Combine in Macau, Major King Flops at Pimlico

Mixed news from the overseas Korean racing diaspora over the past couple of weeks. There was an all-Korean connections winner in Macau but Minister’s Cup winner Major King was a major disappointment on his American racing debut.

Jo Sung Gon and Kenny Seo in the Taipa Winner's Circle (MJC)

Jo Sung Gon and Kenny Seo in the Taipa Winner’s Circle (MJC)

Seoul Racecourse based trainer Seo Beom Seok – better known as Kenny Seo – has been running a parallel stable in Macau for a year now, primarily training for Korean owners. Busan’s champion jockey Jo Sung Gon has been based in Macau since January.

On April 4, the Park Nam Sung owned, Kenny Seo trained and Jo Sung Gon ridden Liver Pool (All Bar One) took victory in the 1100 metre race 2 at Taipa. For trainer and jockey it was their 4th and 2nd winners respectively in the Special Administrative Region.

Taipa will host the Korea Racing Authority Trophy on May 2. The KRA Chairman will be among those making the trip from Seoul.

Seo’s attempt to make a go of things in Asia is at odds with the KRA’s seemingly never-ending fascination with the USA, a jurisdiction which despite the source of a large quantity of racehorses and breeding stock, has little in common with Korea and by their own admission, isn’t a model that authorities here are aiming to emulate.

The sending of 2-year-olds to Florida for early training has great merit and the latest batch of them will be returning to Korea next month much better for the experience. However, the habit of sending of mature Korean-bred horses to run in claiming races in the North-East is far more questionable.

2013 classic winners Speedy First and Major King headed Stateside in January and Major King (Pico Central) – who hadn’t exactly been pulling up trees in his most recent Korean outings was the first to make his debut. Korean racing fans are strongly advised to look away now.

It was hoped that the Pick Me Up and Baekpa debacles of 2008 and 2009 had been learned from but it seems we are doomed to keep repeating the same old mistakes – Horses that are bred and only trained in Korea are going to struggle when expected to race alongside animals that have been raised entirely differently.

More interaction with Asia-Pacific – of which the exchange races with Japan last year were a perfect example – is what’s needed now, not sending our Classic winners to plod around Pimlico.

Korean Classic Winners Speedy First & Major King In USA For 2014 Campaign

Korean Derby and Oaks winner Speedy First and Minister’s Cup winner Major King are in the United States where they will be trained and raced for at least the first part of the year.

Stateside: Korean Derby and Oaks winner Speedy First

Stateside: Korean Derby and Oaks winner Speedy First

The pair, who between them won 3 of the 4 Korean Classic races in 2013, arrived at JFK Airport last week and are currently in quarantine. They are then expected to transfer to Laurel Park in Maryland to enter training.

Speedy First [Menifee – Speedy Deedy (Victory Gallop)] is a 4-year-old filly who has won 6 of her 10 starts to date. In May last year, she became the 5th filly to win the Korean Derby and added another classic in August with a comfortable win in the Oaks at Busan.

Major King [Pico Central – Still Golden (Gold Fever)] was third in the Derby, but had his revenge in the Minister’s Cup, the final leg of the Triple Crown when he scored a 2-length win. An out of sorts Speedy First finishing last that day.

He might have fluffy ears, but Major King is a Classic winner. he is also in the US

He might have fluffy ears, but Major King is a Classic winner. he is also in the US

Neither finished the 2013 season especially strongly, Speedy First slumping to another defeat in the Gyeongnam Governor’s Cup while Major King was an also ran in the President’s Cup, the effects of a long season being blamed for both.

They are by no means the first Korea bred horses to run Stateside. In 2008, a horse called Pick Me Up went to the US and ran – extremely unsuccessfully – at Charles Town, Laurel and Delaware Park. A year later, 2007 Korean Oaks winner Baekpa also went across and ran similarly poorly.

That prompted the Korea Racing Authority to change their approach a little and to send a small group of yearlings and 2-year-olds to Florida each year in the hope of proving their belief that it wasn’t necessarily that Korean-bred horses could compete if trained the same way as their American counterparts.

They got their reward when Feel So Good won a race at Calder in September 2012. Now they’ve decided to try again with established horses.

If all goes to plan, Speedy First and Major King will make their American debuts in April. We’ll be following their progress.

Speedy First winning the 2013 Korean Derby

Major King winning the 2013 Minister’s Cup

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

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.

The Minister’s Cup – Runners & Riders

The final leg of the 2013 Korean Triple Crown, the Minister’s Cup is at Seoul Race Park this coming Sunday.

Speedy First and Joe Fujii will bid for a third Korean Classic on Sunday

Speedy First and Joe Fujii will bid for a third Korean Classic on Sunday

Korean Derby and Oaks winner Speedy First heads the field in what should be a fascinating race. Here’s a run down of the full field of runners and riders:

Horse Name (KOR) [Pedigree] )Starts/1/2/3) – Jockey (Home Track)

Minister’s Cup (KOR G2) – Seoul Race Park – 2000M – October 6, 2013

1. High Five (KOR) [Creek Cat – Nam’s Gulch (Gulch)] (13/4/2/2) – Choi Si Dae (Busan)
Second in the Gold Circle Trophy race last month and 3rd in the Gyeongnam Do Min Ilbo before that, it would be a surprise if he went any better here. Will get the distance but will struggle in the sprint.

2. Geumbin Mannam (KOR)
[Revere – Hwaryeohan Kkum (Sharp Appeal)] – (10/4/2/0) – Park Si Cheon (Seoul)
Comes into the race off the back of three straight victories. He will face far tougher competition here but cannot be discounted from at least a place if he makes further improvement.

3. K Tap (KOR) [Menifee – Summit Party (Ecton Park)] (9/4/2/2) – Jang Chu Youl (Seoul)
A very fragile horse, he’s only run on 3 occasions this year and hasn’t won on any of them. He won’t win this either, but could be within a shout of a place.

4. Major King (KOR) [Pico Central – Still Golden (Gold Fever)] (9/5/2/2) – Jo Sung Gon (Busan)
He was 3rd in the Korean Derby and won last time out. He must be afforded some respect here. Jo Sung Gon does not travel up from Busan unless he thinks he is going to win so Major King is worth at least a place bet.

5. Last Mudae (KOR) [The Groom Is Red – White Aloa (White Muzzle)] (18/2/5/2) – Ikuyasu Kurakane (Seoul)
Beaten into 2nd place by Geumbin Mannam last time out, there is little to suggest he will overturn it this time. Talented but not a winning prospect here.

6. Brig (KOR) [Menifee – Delicias (Deputy Minister)] (11/6/2/0) – Moon Se Young (Seoul)
No horse that Moon Se Yong rides can ever be ruled out and this is no exception. He’ll not be favourite but if the big names don’t perform as they should, Brig could pick up the pieces.

7. Speedy First (KOR) [Menifee – Speedy Deedy (Victory Gallop)] – 8/6/0/1) – Kanichiro Fujii (Busan)
The only filly in the race and the overwhelming favourite. Korean Derby and Korean Oaks winner Speedy First is a class above her rivals here and should be winning this.

8. Unhae (KOR) [Inrandire – Silver Meteor (Creator)] (11/6/2/2) – Lee Sang Hyeok (Seoul)
Seoul’s big hope. Unhae is so far unexposed, missing both the KRA Cup Mile but 2nd in the Derby. The distance is perfect and on form, only Speedy First has the beating of him.

9. Sting Ray (KOR) [Forest Camp – Straight Cash (Straight Man)] (12/4/4/1) – Masakazu Tanaka (Busan)
Since winning the KRA Cup Mile in April, Sting Ray has struggled to live up to his reputation. He can’t be ruled out here but neither will he be among the favourites.

10. Indie Band (KOR) [Ecton Park – Plie (Dixieland Band)] (9/6/1/0) – Lim Sung Sil (Busan)
A really good horse. Indie Band won the Gyeongnam DoMin Ilbo Stakes and is poised to do much more. A Quinella with Speedy First looks a good bet.

11. Rising Joy (KOR) [Forest Camp – Joy Ride (Future Quest)] (15/5/3/2) – Chae Gyu Jun (Busan)
Was 3rd over the distance last time out and will be in the mix here. He probably doesn’t have the speed to force things home though and a place is the most that can be expected.

12. Best Captain (KOR) [Revere – Onethindime (Tactical Advantage)] (6/5/1/0) – Ham Wan Sik (Seoul)
The joker in the pack, Best Captain tasted defeat for the first time in his last race. That’s enough to take him out of the top-tier here, but he could surprise.

Speedy First & Joe Fujii Complete Korean Derby/Oaks Double

Speedy First added a second Classic to her increasingly impressive record with a convincing win in the Korean Oaks at Busan Race Park this afternoon.

The Korean Derby winner was sent off as the heavy favourite for the fillies’ Classic and was close to the front from the outset. Joe Fujii made his move as the field turned for home and while Speedy First needed a little help finding top gear in the home straight, once she got into her stride, the result was never in doubt.

Miracle Wonder, who made the early-running held on for second while 120/1 outsider Lady Medal snatched third from the tiring Cheonnyeon Dongan who was, in fourth, the best placed finisher from Seoul.

Speedy First (KRA)

Speedy First (KRA)

Before today, Speedy First’s only racetrack appearance since winning the Derby had ended after just a few seconds when Fujii was unseated before the first turn of the Gyeongnam DoMin Ilbo Cup.

The filly then treated herself to a solo run around the track. She returned none the worse for wear but was kept off the track until today.

For trainer Kim Young Kwan, it is yet another top class winner. With Speedy First, he has managed the Derby/Oaks double that eluded his other great filly, Sangseung Ilro, who captured the Derby but lost the Oaks by a neck.

Ladies Man: It's Joe Fujii's 4th major win on a filly in Korea

Ladies Man: It’s Joe Fujii’s 4th major win on a filly in Korea

Jockey Joe Fujii continues his remarkable time in Korea. He has now won the Gyeongnam Governor’s Cup, the Grand Prix Stakes, the Korean Derby and the Korean Oaks. The 29 year-old Japan native with a broad Australian accent will surely go down as the most successful foreign jockey to ride in Korea to date.

Although Japanese, he has never been licensed in his home country and is now in the process of applying to the JRA.

Today wasn’t one of Fujii’s most difficult rides but anyone who has watched him over the past 15 months knows that he can compete with the best anywhere.

Speedy First has now won 6 of her 8 starts and will be a serious contender when the top three-year olds reconvene at Seoul for the Minister’s Cup, the final leg of the Triple Crown.

Korean Oaks (KOR GII) – Busan Race Park – 1800M – August 25, 2013

1. Speedy First (KOR) [Menifee – Speedy Deedy (Victory Gallop)] – Kanichiro Fujii – 1.3, 1.1
2. Miracle Wonder (KOR) [Menifee – Jeongbowang (Concept Win)] – Jo Sung Gon – 1.7
3. Lady Medal (KOR) [Volponi – Lady Ell (Flying Spur)] – Seol Dong Bok – 9.2

Distances: 7 lengths/0.75 lengths
Also Ran: 4. Cheonnyeon Dongan 5. Sand Quick 6. Winning Streak 7. Miss Quick 8. Hurricane Jump 9. Wind Leto 10. Raon Bally 11. Yuseong Hero DQ: Mery Shine DQ: Land Angel DNS: Dewma

Next week the main action is at Seoul where history will be made as foreign-trained horses run in Korea for the very first time. The SBS ESPN Korea/Japan Goodwill Cup is next Sunday.

Korean Oaks 2013 Full Race Preview: Derby Winner Speedy First Heads Field

Korean Derby winner Speedy First heads a field of fourteen in the Korean Oaks at Busan Race Park this Sunday.

Oaks Favourite: Derby winner Speedy First

Oaks Favourite: Derby winner Speedy First

She will be looking to go one better than the last filly to win the Derby, Sangseung Ilro, who was just beaten on the line as she attempted to complete the double in 2009.

Four fillies will travel down from Seoul and despite the absence of Joy Lucky, the track’s best performing filly, it looks like there are two credible challengers among them in the shape of Cheonnyeon Dongan and Dewma.

Joe Fujii gets the ride on Speedy First while Darryll Holland will be on the dark-horse of the field Raon Bally. If Fujii wins the race, even though he hasn’t matched Toshio Uchida’s total number of race wins, he will surely go down as the most successful foreign jockey in Korea ever.

The Korean Oaks is race 2 of a 6-race “twilight card” at Busan.

Here’s a full list of runners and riders with pedigrees and race records (Starts/1/st/2nd/3rd):

Korean Oaks (KOR GII) – Busan Race Park – 1800M – Aug 28, 2013 – 17:35

1. Yuseung Hero (KOR) [Vicar – Angel Party (Elusive Quality)] (9/1/3/2) – Lee Hee Cheon
Landed her only win to date over 1500 metres last time out although the company was nothing special and there’s little suggest she’ll find the necessary improvement here.

2. Miss Quick (KOR) [Menifee – Regal Heir (Regal Intention)] (12/4/1/0) – Kim Dong Young
She has two 4th places over this distance at Class 2 level which suggests that she is talented but that despite her name, she tends to always find a couple quicker than her. That will probably be the same here although she has a faster time over the distance than Speedy First.

3. Wind Leto (KOR) [Vicar – Kongnoja (Mr. Adorable)] (7/3/0/1) – Song Keong Yun
A Class 3 winner last time out and has never finished worse than 4th. Distance is a concern but she’s by no means alone in that regard.

4. Sand Quick (KOR) [Ft.Stockton – Ascend The Throne (SIlver Charm)] (7/4/1/0) – Lim Sung Sil
Impressive record but her wins have come at 6 furlongs and she found things tough over a mile last time out.

5. Raon Bally (KOR) [Pico Central – Thunder By Night (Thunder Gulch)] (4/2/1/0) – Darryll Holland
Very much a dark horse here, Raon Bally hasn’t run for 6 months and only race-trialed to qualify here last weekend. Before her lay-off, she was tipped to be quite a talent and with Darryll Holland on board, could be very interesting.

6. Hurricane Jump (KOR) [Commendable – Jenny Tudor (Gulch)] (7/3/1/0) – Ham Wan Sik (Seoul)
Was well beaten by fellow Seoul entrants Dewma and Cheonnyeon Dongan in the Sports Seoul Cup over the same distance and despite bouncing back with a win on her return, will have to improve a lot more to overcome that form. She is a half-sister to 2011 Oaks winner Useung Touch.

7. Meru Shine (KOR) [Perfect Vision II – Telequential (Kuetch)] (12/0/2/0) – Lee Ah Na (Seoul)
Took her eleven races to graduate from class 6. She’s not stopping anything else from running so there’s no problem with her being here, but she’ll not be in contention.

8. Speedy First (KOR) [Menifee – Speedy Deedy (Victory Gallop)] – (7/5/0/1) – Kanichiro Fujii
The Korean Derby winner and the obvious favourite. In her only appearance since the Derby, she was interfered with just after the start and unseated her jockey. There will be many who believe that’s the only way she’ll lose here. However, they said the same about Sangseung Ilro, who was pipped on the line in 2009. Nevertheless, a worthy favourite and very hard to beat.

9. Cheonnyeon Dongan (KOR) [Ecton Park – Honeycakes (Hennesey)] (8/4/2/0) – Cho Kyoung Ho
One of few fillies in the race with a proven record over 1800 metres. Cho Kyoung Ho coming down to ride her is a big point in her favour too as Cho is not the kind of man to travel to Busan for the nightlife. A contender.

10. Lady Medal (KOR) [Volponi – Lady Ell (Flying Spur)] (14/2/0/1) – Seol Dong Bok
An unexpected entrant and an outsider having only managed 3rd place at class 4 last time. Hasn’t impressed when asked to go around two turns

11. Miracle Wonder (KOR) [Menifee – Jeongbowang (Concept Win)] (8/4/2/0) – Jo Sung Gon
No ride of Jo Sung Gon’s in a big Stakes race can ever be discounted and this one is no exception. She was a well-beaten 5th behind the very promising colt Magic Dancer last time, but has every chance of competing for at least a place here.

12. Winning Streak (KOR) [Menifee – Black Shadow (Psychobabble)] (9/2/0/2) – Chae Gyu Jun
Her name might be Winning Steak but she’s certainly not on one as she’s not won since March. She won’t win this either.

13. Land Angel (KOR) [Forest Camp – Sheer Abandon (Peintre Celebre)] (9/2/1/2) – You Hyun Myung
Has a win over 1500 metres but that was at class 4 and she’s shown little to suggest that she will be able to compete with some her of her rivals here.

14. Dewma (KOR) [Forest Camp – Wild Cat Strike (Wild Again (8/3/3/1) – Oh Kyoung Hoan (Seoul)
A chance. Second only to Joy Lucky in her last three starts (a filly who would have rivalled Speedy First for favourite had she been entered here) albeit by substantial margins. Korea’s first female trainer Lee Shin Young has a fighting chance of saddling an Oaks winner.

Indie Band Takes DoMin Ilbo As Speedy First Goes Solo

Indie Band landed a commanding victory in the Gyeongnam DoMin Ilbo Stakes at Busan today but the story of the race was in the opening few seconds as Korean Derby winner and hot favourite Speedy First unseated her rider Joe Fujii after being interfered with.

Speedy First (Menifee) broke quickly but after only 100 metres, was cut off by Daejiuibit on his outside, on whom jockey Jo Chan Hoon had momentarily lost control. With nowhere to go, Fujii ended up on the track.

This left the way clear for Indie Band (Ecton Park), stablemate of Speedy First, to ease to a 4-length win from Major King (Pico Central).

It was a 5th win from 8 starts for the promising 3-year old colt Indie Band who has to now be in contention for big prizes this autumn, principally the Minister’s Cup when he should come up against Speedy First again. For jockey Lim Sung Sil, it was a 2nd big race win in as many months after taking victory in the KNN Cup on Yongduseong a few weeks ago.

As for Speedy First, she reportedly suffered no ill-effects from her unsupervised gallop around Gimhae and remains on course for the Korean Oaks next month.

Gyeongnam DoMin Ilbo Stakes – Busan Race Park – 1800M – July 7, 2013

1. Indie Band (KOR) [Ecton Park – Plie (Dixieland Band)] – Lim Sung Sil – 5.4, 1.6
2. Major King (KOR) [Pico Central – Still Golden (Gold Fever)] – You Hyun Myung – 1.5
3. High Five (KOR) [Creek Cat – Nam’s Gulch (Gulch)] – Choi SI Dae – 3.1

Distances: 4 lengths/2.5 lengths – 10 ran

Also suffering no ill-effects was her jockey. Joe Fujii cleaned off the sand and 45 minutes later got on board another star of the Kim Young Kwan training-machine Tamna Hwangje to win the class 1 finale over a mile with ease. Tamna Hwangje (Montbrook) was recording his 11th win from 22 starts and despite carrying 62kg is looking unbeatable at anything up to a mile.

Up at Seoul it was a relatively low-key day of racing. The feature race was won by Gumanseok (Vicar), who despite only being sent off at 8/1, followed up his success in last month’s Sports Chosun Cup with a solid class 1 win over 1800 metres.

Weekend Race Times

Derby winning filly Speedy First is the weekend headliner, making her first appearance at her home track of Busan since winning the biggest race of all in Seoul back in May. Joe Fujii will partner her as she lines up for the Gyeongnam Do-Min Ilbo Stakes on Sunday afternoon.

Back: Derby winner Speedy First

Back: Derby winner Speedy First

There is also an interesting looking feature race at Busan on Friday as KRA Cup Mile winner and beaten Derby favourite Sting Ray also makes his racecourse return. He faces established stars Wonderful Namhae (with Fujii on board), filly Dongteuja and Peter Wolsley’s Ghost Whisper, which will be ridden by Darryll Holland.

We’ll have a full preview of the big Sunday race over the next couple of days, in the meantime, here is what’s happening when and where over the weekend:

Friday July 5
Busan Race Park: 10 races from 11:50 to 18:00
Jeju Race Park: 8 races from 13:10 to 17:00

Saturday July 6
Seoul Race Park: 11 races from 11:00 to 17:40
Jeju Race Park: 8 races from 12:30 to 16:55

Sunday July 7
Seoul Race Park: 11 races from 11:00 to 18:00
Busan Race Park: 6 races from 12:50 to 17:05

Joe Fujii Wins The Korean Derby On Filly Speedy First

Speedy First romped away with the Korean Derby this afternoon, ending the Triple Crown hopes of pre-race favourite and KRA Cup Mile winner Sting Ray and became the first filly since Sangseung Ilro in 2009 to win the biggest race of all. Her jockey, Joe Fujii became the first foreign rider to win the Derby

Speedy First and Joe Fujii in the Korean Derby Winner's Circle

Speedy First and Joe Fujii in the Korean Derby Winner’s Circle

Speedy First (Menifee) came in to the race off 4 consecutive wins and was sent off the 4/1 second favourite behind Sting Ray (Forest Camp), who punters had backed into odds-on.

Outsiders Heungnyong Bisang (Ft.Stockton) and Titan (Creek Cat) made the early pace but the pack was bunched tightly together as they entered the final corner. Turning into the home straight they fanned out across the track but it still looked anyone’s race until Joe Fujii got to work on Speedy First a furlong and a half out. The pair sped away from the rest and never looked back.

The margin of victory on the line was 2 lengths with 47/1 chance Unhae (Ingrandire) finishing 2nd and Major King (Pico Central) 3rd. Sting Ray never looked likely to add the second jewel in the Triple Crown to the first and trailed home 6th.

Aussie trainer Peter Wolsley’s Amell’s Atom (Menifee) picked up some prize money by finishing 5th, however, there was disappointment for British jockey Darryll Holland who ended in 12th place on Fantastic Jazz (Menifee). Lee Shin Young, the first female trainer to have a runner in the Derby, saw both her entrants struggle with Titan in 13th and Awesome Tiger (Exploit) disqualified.

Speedy First goes clear

Speedy First goes clear

For jockey Joe Fujii
, it was the 60th winner of what has been a quite remarkable 11 months in Korea. The 29-year old won the Grand Prix Stakes on another filly, Gamdonguibada, last December becoming the first foreign jockey to do so and today he completed a unique double by achieving the distinction of being the first foreigner to win the Derby. He has now won 2 out Korea’s 3 richest races.

Fujii’s license was recently extended until September and his reputation among punters is such that he is well on the way to taking on Toshio Uchida’s title of the most popular Japanese man in Korea.

Speedy First’s win also firmly cemented Busan trainer Kim Young Kwan as the nation’s best. This was his 2nd Derby, following Sangseung Ilro’s 2009 triumph. In more general terms, Busan horses once again got the better of their Seoul counterparts in a big race.

Before the Derby, punters were treated to the charms of Sistar. currently K-Pop's top girl group (Pic: @SeoulBhoy)

Before the Derby, punters were treated to the charms of Sistar. currently K-Pop’s top girl group (Pic: @zstokes)

So just a few hours after a Triple Crown hope went down in the US in the shape of Orb, so Sting Ray’s hopes of emulating J.S.Hold in Korea have gone. Never mind, today we saw a new star emerge on to the scene.

Speedy First will automatically become favourite for the Korean Oaks, which will be held at Busan in August and then if all goes well, we should see her back at Seoul in October when the cream of this year’s generation reconvene for the Minister’s Cup, the final leg of the Triple Crown. There is a lot to look forward to.

Korean Derby (KOR G1) – Seoul Race Park – 1800M – May 19, 2013

1. Speedy First (KOR) [Menifee – Speedy Deedy (Victory Gallop)] – Kanichiro (Joe) Fujii – 5.1, 1.7
2. Unhae (KOR) [Ingrandire – Silver Meteor (Creator)] – Lee Sang Hyeok – 6.5
3. Major King (KOR) [Pico Central – Still Golden (Gold Fever)]

Distances: 2 lengths/175 lengths
Also Ran: 4. Brig 5. Amell’s Atom 6. Sting Ray 7. Last Mudae 8. High Five 9. Joy Lucky 10. K Tap 11. Suseong BR 12. Fantastic Jazz 13. Titan 14. Yapung 15 Heungnyong Bisang DQ: Awesome Tiger