Success Story

Success Story Headlines Sprint Series 1st Leg

Success Story made his mark at a mile and at 2000M in Dubai earlier this year but he drops all the way down to 1200M for his first start back home in Busan in Sunday’s Busan Ilbo Cup, the first leg of the inaugural Korean Sprint Series.

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Back at Busan: Success Story

And what an opportunity it is for Italian jockey Paolo Aragoni who gets the plum ride on Success Story on his first weekend riding in Korea.

That said, it is a very tough race. Beolmaui Kkum – who along with Success Story is owned by Lee Jong Hun – will be there along with up and comers Indian Star and Perdido Pomeroy.  Gamdonguibada, Oreuse  and the always-game Gumpo Sky are also among those with claims..

The Sprint series is new for this year with Sunday’s Busan Ilbo Cup being followed by two international races; the SBS Korea/Japan Cup on June 5th and then the $700K Korea Sprint on September 11th, both of which will be run at Seoul. All three races are to be contested over 1200M.

Success Story placed 3rd in both his races in Dubai, exceeding expectations back in Korea where it had been hoped he would simply manage to stay with the field. Cheongu, who also went to Dubai, put in a slightly disappointing performance on his own return to domestic racing at Seoul last weekend, coming home 6th in a class 1 handicap.

Speaking of Seoul, the capital’s entry for the Busan Ilbo Cup is disappointing – although not unexpected – so credit to the connections of the three who are having a go.

We will have a full runner by runner preview of the race (along with the rest of Busan’s Sunday card) up on Saturday. In the meantime, here is the full field (Name [Sire] Age Sex (Starts/1st/2nd/3rd) Trainer – Jockey).

Busan Ilbo Cup (Listed) – Busan Racecourse – 1200M – May 1, 2016 (16:15)

1. Success Story (KOR) [Peace Rules] 5 H (20/10/2/4) JK Min – Paolo Aragoni
2. Damyang Chukje (USA) [Good Reward] 7 H (32/5/3/4) HJ Bae – Jo Jae Ro
3. Beolmaui Kkum (USA) [Put It Back] 6 H (25/15/3/3) KY Baik – Seo Seung Un
4. Indian Star (KOR) [Adcat] 4 F (11/8/1/1) JB Mun – Ikuyasu Kurakane
5. Oreuse (USA) [Smoke Glacken] 7 H (33/13/4/4) YG Yoon – Kim Dong Young
6. All Su (KOR) [Perfect Vision II] 8 H (66/9/9/10) HJ Bae – Yoon Tae Hyuk
7. Gamdonguibada (USA) [Werblin] 7 M (34/14/5/7) YK Kim – Choi Si Dae
8. Daepungnyeon (KOR) [Pico Central] 4 G (13/70/1) BH Kim – Song Keong Yun
9. New York Blue (USA) [Candy Ride] 5 M (21/7/8/1) KM Lim – You Hyun Myung
10. Perdido Pomeroy (USA) [Pomeroy] 3 C (5/4/0/1) JB Mun – Kim Yong Geun
11. Gumpo Sky (KOR) [Vicar] 5 H (28/9/8/4) SJ Kwon – Lim Sung Sil

*Starts for Success Story and Gamdonguibada include those in races overseas

Sunday Review: Welcome Home For Dubai Two While Dynamic Dash Scores Upset At Busan

Cheongu and Success Story, Korea’s first ever representatives at the Dubai World Cup Carnival were welcomed back to Korea with special ceremonies at their home tracks of Seoul and Busan today.

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Cheongu at Seoul Racecourse this afternoon

The pair could very well clash soon as both are entered in what looks a high quality Busan Ilbo Cup two weeks today. For now though it was about acknowledging their contribution to the development of Korean racing. While Cheongu didn’t race very well in Dubai, he has now taken three overseas trips. Connections could have stayed home and had him pick up plenty of prize money – the standard of Class 1 racing at Seoul right now means a horse of his ability would win plenty – but instead took the sporting option and they are deservedly recognized.

On the track the pick of the action was, at it usually is, at Busan. Doraon Hyeonpyo was sent off as the odds-on favourite for the 1800M class 1 event following three straight wins but after early leader Cowboy Son had to be eased after seemingly going lame rounding the final turn, Dynamic Dash (Pleasantly Perfect) took things up under jockey Lim Sung Sil. While Doraon Hyeonpyo (Colors Flying) would close purposefully in the closing stages, he was left wanting by just under a length on the line.

Dynamic Dash, a four-year-old American bred colt, was winning for the eighth time on what was his seventeenth start. Bathsheba Park was back in 3rd with old favourite Gamdonguibada a solid 4th.

Earlier at Busan there had been an eye-catching win for another US import. A $47,000 purchase from Ocala last June, First Magical (First Dude) finally made his debut in race 3. And he was in cruise control throughout as he made all to score by a full ten lengths. He’s one to watch. Another to watch is filly Hoseungjibyeok (Didyme). She slipped tamely to her first defeat in an Oaks trial last month but found her way back to the winner’s circle with dismissive ease in race 4. She has four wins from five starts.

At Seoul, where the annual cherry blossom festival was in full swing amidst a filthy dust-storm that has been raging for three days now, what the class 1 feature lacked in quality it made up for in in its tight finish. In the end though, favourite Space Port (Pleasant Tap) just did enough to get home by a head with the first four within less than a length of each other. Space Port was ridden by Park Tae Jong who now needs just six more to become the first Korean jockey ever to reach 2000 career wins.

Besides, there were other things to worry about at Seoul:

Stakes racing returns to Seoul next week in the shape of the Herald Business Cup.

What Have We Learned From Success Story?

Success Story brought the Korean adventure at the Dubai World Cup Carnival to a successful conclusion with a rousing run behind California Chrome last week. A second front-running performance and gutsy finish under another flawless Tadhg O’Shea ride, meant he landed back to back 3rd place finishes, this time in one of the most widely watched races of the Carnival so far.

The decision to run in that race was not without risk. Although Success Story had won at 2000M before, he is considered to be much better at shorter distances and accordingly was also entered for a 1400M race the same night. However, with California Chrome scaring off a number of potential rivals and jockey  O’Shea expressing confidence in the horse getting the trip and being competitive, the decision was made to take a chance at the greater distance. And it was a decision that paid dividends with Success Story’s front-running and then gutsy rally to get up for 3rd place earning him plenty of praise. Of course, California Chrome was much better – he finished four lengths ahead of Success Story but it could have been forty had Victor Espinoza been so inclined – putting in a performance judged to be the best in the world last week.

The wider significance is that for the second time, Success Story looked like he belonged in the race. It’s true that just as when finishing 3rd of 14 last month, he was racing against horses, Chrome aside, who are no more than solid handicappers but until last week, not many would have thought a Korean bred and trained horse could cope with even that level, let alone beat the majority of his competitors. He vindicated the decision of the Dubai handicappers to invite Korean horses and has ensured that a return trip next year – either for him or for others from here – is very much a possibility.

Success Story took to Dubai very well. He reportedly enjoyed the stables, the routine of the lengthy walk to and from trackwork each day  and the dirt track itself, as well as the general environment. At the races, he looked so much better than he generally does in Korea, having been turned out beautifully. He looked like a racehorse. His groom led him up in a shirt and bow-tie and his connections – it seemed as though the whole family was there – were dressed up as if for Royal Ascot.

In Korea, the grooms tend to wear Union issued t-shirts to the parade ring; except for big Stakes races, 90% of trainers don’t wear anything different to races than they would wear around the barn and owners rarely leave their lounge (although Busan is generally much better than Seoul in this regard, especially when their horses visit the capital). Owners will from April be permitted to have their horses run in their own colours rather than those of the jockey. With the current drive by the KRA to reboot the image of racing in this country, it would be very welcome if this was accompanied by a little more sophistication in the raceday experience.

The most important thing of course is that he ran well, exceeding the expectations of the most optimistic observers. O’ Shea deserves great credit for extracting the very maximum out of him on both occasions but he was well trained and well entered too. Mainstream Korean news outlets carried reports on the two races while the California Chrome factor ensured Success Story was mentioned in global coverage of Thursday’s race.

Success Story wasn’t the only Korean-trained horse at the Carnival. Sprinter Cheongu was actually considered the more likely of the two to be competitive. His best run prior to Dubai was a 3rd place behind Choegang Schiller and El Padrino in the Asia Challenge Cup in Seoul last August and the knowledge that he would travel fine, having previously taken trips to Singapore and Japan in his stride, meant one less thing to worry about. It was not to be. On opening night, he missed the break and then lost a plate. In such circumstances, running 5th of 8 was creditable but a lackluster performance last Thursday was less easy to explain away. He’s done his bit over the past few months but this time, he just didn’t run very well.

Seven and a half years ago, I wrote an article called  “What have we learned from Pick Me Up?” The answer then and for several subsequent years was “not a lot”. Pick Me Up was the first horse to go on what was a well-intentioned but ultimately counter-productive initiative to let Korean-bred horses race in the United States. It inadvertently became an incentive to ship horses that may otherwise have been spelled, to an unfamiliar trainer to participate uncompetitively in three races for which a subsidy was provided. Essentially, the wrong horses went to the wrong races at the wrong time and it was still continuing up until last year.

By contrast, the interactions with Japan, Singapore and now Dubai are much more positive. With connections being invited to target a particular race, the trainer is still responsible for training the horse, the grooms go with the horse and everybody involved is invested in the trip being successful. So “What Have We Learned from Success Story?”, the answer now might still be “Not a lot just yet” but with the caveat of “Watch this space…” The prospect of more nights like  last Thursday are a huge incentive to keep trying.

Success Story To Face California Chrome At Meydan

Success Story will make his 2nd Dubai Carnival start at Meydan on Thursday and it couldn’t be a tougher ask for the Korea-bred and trained five-year-old as faces the Carnival’s star attraction, California Chrome, over 2000M. 

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Tadhg O’Shea will partner Success Story again (Pic: Dubai Racing Club)

Success Story has raced three times over 2000M in the past, struggling to get the distance in two attempts at it as a three-year-old in 2014, including a 10th place in the President’s Cup at Seoul. He managed a win in his only attempt at the distance in 2015, winning a handicap by just under three lengths at Busan last April.

Provisional race cards are available at the Emirates Racing Authority’s website.

The Min Jang Ki trained five-year-old horse also held an entry in a 1400M contest, however, given the strength of that race and the presence of a lot of early speed, it was decided to allow him to take his chance at the greater distance.

As it happens, California Chrome will run in the same event, race 6 on the seven-race card, using it as his warm-up race for the World Cup. While making it that much more difficult for Success Story to improve on the 3rd place that he recorded on his Dubai debut over a mile last month, the presence of the 2014 Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner does enable the rest of the field, including Success Story to just carry 53Kg (although a Godolphin entrant has a jockey claiming a further 2.5kg which could be interesting).

The hope is that this, combined with the Meydan dirt being kinder to stay on than the Busan sand as well as the fact that it was well known California Chrome would be running here leading some other tough contenders to avoid this race  (there are only eight runners) will allow Success Story to not only stay the distance but also be able to beat some of the others home.

Cheongu, the other Korea-trained horse at the Carnival, will also race on Thursday. He finished 5th of 8 over 1200M on opening night and will go over the same distance in race 3. Having been slowly away and losing a plate in running, he certainly had his excuses in January. He’ll be up against it once more but an improved performance is possible.

Tadhg O’Shea, who won admiration in Korea for his enterprising ride on Success Story last month, will take the mount again while Royston Ffrench will partner Cheongu.

Round-up: Yoo Mira Goes Down Under, Doraon Hyeonpyo, Clean Up Cheonha, Perovic, Success Story, ARC

Plenty happening on and off the track over the past week. Doraon Hyeonpyo and Clean Up Cheonha were both impressive winners last Sunday, there has been plenty of follow-up to Success Story’s decent 3rd place in Dubai last week and Korea has been well-represented at the ongoing Asian Racing Conference in Mumbai.

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Yoo Mira was 2nd in the Arabian race at Caulfield on Tuesday (Pic: Ross Holburt)

We’ll start though in Australia and rather unusually in the HH Sheikha Fatima Bint Mubarak Ladies World Championship race at Caulfield on Tuesday. We don’t mention You Mi Ra very often on these pages but the jockey (riding as “Mina You”) managed to finish 2nd in the race, which as won by Dutch jockey Cindy Klinkenberg. Thanks to Ross Holburt for the heads-up and the picture.

On the track in Korea last weekend, stand-out performances came from Doraon Hyeonpyo and Clean Up Cheonha, who won class 1 events at Seoul and Busan respectively. Doraon Hyeonpyo (Colors Flying) had won at class 1 for the first time at the end of December but despite carrying significantly more weight this time, was once more a dismissively comfortable winner in the Sunday’s Busan feature. It wasn’t a strong race but the manner of his victory suggests there is plenty more to come.

Clean Up Cheonha (El Corredor)at age 5, also seems to be on the up. The US import was 2nd in the KRA Cup Classic last August and 5th in the Grand Prix Stakes in December. On Sunday, carrying 60kg over 2000M, he beat his Cup Classic conqueror Chief Red Can and eight others by two lengths to record his eighth career victory.

It was a bitterly cold weekend across the peninsula with conditions at Seoul especially being extreme as temperatures dipped to -14C on Sunday morning. Jockeys have a tough job at the best of times but their fortitude on Sunday was impressive to say the least.

Speaking of jockeys, Djordje Perovic reached another landmark in his impressive sojourn in Korea. The Serbian rider guided home his 50th Seoul winner on Sunday, taking the very last race of the weekend on City Hunter for trainer Lee Shin Young. The victory moved Perovic into the top ten all-time foreign jockey list here.

Success Story’s solid 3rd place at Meydan last Thursday has finally reached the Korean mainstream media. While the racing press (and the popular tabloids) covered it at the weekend, the national broadcaster KBS put it on their national news bulletin on Monday. Video here. Success Story is likely to race again in Dubai in the second week of February although things are a little less certain for Cheongu, the other Korean horse at the carnival.

Finally, Korea is being widely represented at the Asian Racing Conference in Mumbai this week. The KRA’s Seungho Ryu (who seems to get just about everywhere these days) delivered a talk on quarantine protocols while Chief Marketing Officer Ben Heo spoke about addressing racing’s not inconsiderable image problem in Korea. Racing Director Yangtae Park probably generated the most interest though, using his presentation to formally announce the $1M Korea Cup which will be run at Seoul Racecourse in September and according to Andrew Hawkins at the South China Morning Post, is already attracting interest.

Racing returns to Korea this weekend with the first big race of the season, the Segye Ilbo Cup, at Seoul on Sunday.

Success Story Runs Brave 3rd At Meydan

There were no hard-luck stories this time. Success Story led from the gate and while passed in the closing stages, battled on for a gutsy 3rd place at the Dubai Carnival meeting at Meydan on Thursday night.

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Success Story (white silks on the rail) gpes to the early lead under Tadgh O’Shea in this dodgy screen-grab of Dubai Racing TV

In what always looked a very open race, Success Story, who was sent off at 10/1 in the UK betting markets, got away to a good start and under a tremendous ride by Tadhg O’Shea, was able to set a pace to his liking.

Success Story would lead the field of fourteen into the home straight and to the furlong pole only to see 9/2 chance Top Clearance and 11/2 American Hope close strongly down his outside to best him in the closing stages.

Under the urgings of O’Shea, the five-year-old would not be beaten out of the places though and held on for a very very good 3rd. He was two and a quarter lengths behind the winner on the line and a length ahead of fourth-placed Mind That Boy.

If there was a feeling of “what-if?” after Cheongu had some bad luck at the start and then lost a shoe in running when recording a creditable enough 5th of 8 on his own Dubai debut two weeks ago, this time there can be no such thoughts.

While only 3rd in what wasn’t the strongest race there’ll ever be, the result is no doubt a special moment for those who took him there. It also vindicates the decision of the Dubai authorities who took a chance on allowing the two relatively unknown Korean horses to travel.

Watts Village won in Japan in 2013 on a night that won’t be forgotten by those who saw it. However, with all due respect, that was an invitational race on a Tuesday night at Ohi. This was Thursday at Meydan, in a race open to horses from all over the world. Furthermore, Success Story (Peace Rules) is Korean-bred as well as trained. The result should serve as an incentive for Korean racing – from the breeding shed to the racetrack – to redouble its efforts to improve. Not many owners in Korea can share a top three placing with Sheikh Ahmed Al Maktoum and Godolphin but Lee Jong Hun just did, surely others will want to as well.

Plans for both Cheongu and Success Story are unconfirmed. Cheongu was originally set to be entered again next week but that may not happen. If Success Story comes out of the race in good condition and a suitable race can be found, he will get another chance.

All we could really have asked for before they went is for them to look like they belonged there. Success Story did that and more tonight.

Success Story Faces Fourteen In Dubai

Success Story is set to face fourteen rivals when he makes his Dubai World Cup Carnival debut at Meydan this Thursday evening.

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The five-year-old will run in race 6 on the card, the “District One Mansions” 1600M Handicap on the dirt at 9.55pm local time (2.55am Friday in Seoul). Success Story will break from gate 4 and will be ridden by Irish jockey Tadhg O’Shea.

The race looks a very competitive event with some up and comers as well as some very experienced winners among the fifteen-strong field. Carrying 57kg, Success Story finds himself right in the middle of the handicap and faces a stern test. Click here for the racecard from the Emirates Racing Authority.

Success Story has been inconsistent in winning 10 of 18 starts to date. His jockey got a sore neck on his most recent start though:

Success Story gets a mention in Katherine Ford of Equidia’s piece on Korean racing at Thoroughbred Racing Commentary. Read it here.

In other news on what has been a bitingly cold few days in Korea – the cold snap is expected to last through the weekend with temperatures down at lows of -15C which should make racing fun for all concerned – the 2016 race plan, which will take effect from February, has been published.

As expected, the rating system will be adjusted (a work that has been in progress since last September) while two new race series; a Juvenile Triple Crown and the intriguingly named “Triple Tiara” are also included as well as final details for the International Weekend which this year will take place on September 10/11 with a new Million Dollar Korea Cup the highlight. More on all this over the Lunar New Year break.