Ladies’ Day Preview: Gyeonggi Governor’s Cup – Punters Try Out New Ratings

It’s Ladies’ Day at Seoul Racecourse this Sunday. The capital’s champion filly or mare will be decided in the Gyeonggi Governor’s Cup. And while punters are encouraged to wear red, the race will be one of the first opportunities for them to try out Korean racing’s new “rating” system.

Cheonnyeon Dongan won the Donga Ilbo Cup last year - She'll have a different jockey on this week but should be favourite for the Gyeonggi Governor's Cup

Cheonnyeon Dongan won the Donga Ilbo Cup last year – She’ll have a different jockey on this week but should be favourite for the Gyeonggi Governor’s Cup

For many years, Korean racing has been divided into 6 classes (5 at Busan due to there being fewer horses there) with horses receiving a fixed number of points for winning and placing and moving up the classes. There is no facility to move back down in class. Under the new system, all races will be reviewed and a horse assigned a new rating after it – if it is low they can go back down in class (more on that and its implications over the next couple of weeks).

The new system has started this month for horses in the existing class 1 only with a base rating for the top-level of 100. This Sunday, the Gyeonggi Governor’s Cup – a Korean Group 3 race for Korean-bred fillies and mares – is one such race that has a rating for all entrants. However, to be honest, there isn’t a whole lot to choose between them!

Here is a rundown of the runners and riders with [Pedigree] Age (Runs/1st/2nd/3rd) Rating – Jockey

Gyeonggi Governor’s Cup (KOR G3) – Seoul Racecourse – 2000M – Sunday October 26, 16:35

1. Pinot Noir [Capital Spending - Neungnyeokchungman (Pacificbounty)] 4 (14/4/4/2) – 103 – Park Hyun Woo
2. Mighty Forever [Yankee Victor - Redmarina (Sea Of Secrets)] 6 (38/3/6/4) – 101 – Lee Hyeok
3. Bukdaepung [Exploit - Half Fare (Half Term)] 5 (21/6/2/0) – 101 – Lee Dong Kug
4. Choichoro [Concept Win - Eunbiryeong (Mujaazif)] 6 (32/6/2/4) – 104 – Moon Se Young
5. Chowon Yeoje [Forest Camp - Navigation (Big Sur)] 5 (33/5/7/7) – 105 – Ikuyasu Kurakane
6. Chiming Vicar [Vicar - Chiming In (Fasiliyev)] 5 (29/6/2/1) – 101 – Choi Bum Hyun
7. Cheonnyeon Dongan [Ecton Park - Honeycakes (Hennessy)] 4 (16/8/2/3) – 113 – Seo Seung Un
8. X File [Exploit - Dorothy Dee (Woodman)] 5 (26/5/2/9) – 101 – Moon Jung Kyun
9. Full Moon Party [Vicar - Platinum Wildcat (Forest Wildcat)] 5 (23/7/0/5) – 102 – Yoo Seung Wan
10. Bongamsa [The Groom Is Red - Halla Yeoje (Technology)] 5 (38/4/5/2) – 101 – Jung Pyeong Soo
11. Chongal Gongju [Vicar - Isis (Didyme)] 5 (30/3/9/2) – 102 – Kim Hye Sun
12. Dangchan Miso [Concept Win - Chuwol Jasin (Road Of War)] 5 (38/6/2/3) – 101 – Lee Go Hweoi

So there you have it, the ratings say Cheonnyeon Dongan wins this one. And really, she should.

Here’s what’s happening when and where on what is forecast to be a very pleasant autumn weekend:

Friday October 24
Busan Racecourse: 11 races from 11:40 to 18:00
Jeju Racecourse: 9 races from 13:20 to 17:20

Saturday October 25
Seoul Racecourse: 12 races from 10:50 to 18:00
Jeju Racecourse: 9 races from 12:20 to 17:10

Sunday October 26
Seoul Racecourse: 11 races from 10:50 to 18:00
Busan Racecourse: 6 races from 12:45 to 17:00

It's Ladies Day At Seoul this Sunday

It’s Ladies Day At Seoul this Sunday

Ikuyasu Kurakane Wins KRA Cup Classic on Samjeong Jewang

The year just keeps on getting better for Ikuyasu Kurakane. The Japanese rider, who is 2nd in the Jockey Championship, got his first Group win or his second stint in Korea by riding Samjeong Jewang to the narrowest of victories in the KRA Cup Classic at Seoul Racecourse on Sunday.

Samjeong Jewang just gets up to beat Rush Forth (obscured) in the KRA Cup Classic (Pic: KRA)

Samjeong Jewang just gets up to beat Rush Forth (obscured) in the KRA Cup Classic (Pic: KRA)

Indian Blue, who Kurakane has had success on in the past, was sent off as the odds on favourite, but despite a change in tactics from jockey Moon Se Young, the filly still found herself left with too much ground to make up in the final furlong.

Instead, it was Samjeong Jewang who beat out a determined challenge by outsider Rush Forth and filly My Day to win by a nse on the line. Indian Blue came hom in 4th but last year’s winner Mari Daemul could only manage 10th.

Samjeong Jewang moves on to six wins from nine career starts and a possible run for the Grand Prix Stakes in December.

KRA Cup Classic (KOR G3) – Seoul Racecourse – 2000M – October 19, 2014

1. Samjeong Jewang (USA) [Patriot Act - Ms.Sadira (Dixieland Heat)] – Ikuyasu Kurakane 3/5, 1.6
2. Rush Forth (USA) [Rush Bay - Fourth Quest (Norquestor)] – Kim Ok Sung – 6.0
3. My Day (KOR) [Touch Gold - Smart Advice (Smart Strike)] – Jang Chuyoul – 3.6
Distances: Nose/0.5 lengths
Also ran: 4. Indian Blue (USA) 5. Unbeatable (USA) 6. Cheonma (USA) 7. Sun Speed (USA) 8. Him Jjang (USA) 9. Hwanggeumbiyul (USA) 10. Mari Daemul (USA) 11. Mani Income (USA) 12. Daehan Janggun (USA)

Mari Daemul Set For KRA Cup Classic Defence

Mari Daemul heads the field this coming Sunday at Seoul Racecourse as he attempts to successfully defend the Group 3 KRA Cup Classic that he won here a year ago.

Mari Daemul was in the KRA Cup Classic Winner's Circle this time last year

Mari Daemul was in the KRA Cup Classic Winner’s Circle this time last year

He will face eleven rivals. Let’s take a look at them (Name [Pedigree] Age Sex (Runs/1st/2nd/3rd) – Jockey)

KRA Cup Classic (KOR G3) – Seoul Racecourse – 2000M – October 19, 2014 – 16:35

1. Mani Income (USA) [Irish Road - Lemon Zest (Lemon Drop Kid)] 5 G (27/3/4/3) – Yoo Seung Wan
Decent horse who hasn’t finished higher than 4th this year. Probably won’t be getting a whole lot of income out of this race.

2. Samjeong Jewang (USA) [Patriot Act - Ms.Sadira (Dixieland Heat)] 3 G (8/5/0/2) – Ikuyasu Kurakane
Comes into the race off the back of three consecutive wins, including at this class and distance last time out. He beat Indian Blue in that race and while he doesn’t have the same weight advantage here, he ahs every chance of doing it again.

3. My Day (KOR) [Touch Gold - Smart Advice (Smart Strike)] 4 F (23/10/4/2) – Jang Chuyoul
The only Korean bred in the race, this filly has been in good recent form although she was found wanting in her only previous attempt against imported opposition. Good speed and likely to come from just off the pace, she is though, hard to recommend for the win

4. Unbeatable (USA) [Eddington - Baxter Hall (Rahy)] 4 C (25/4/5/6) – Ham Wan Sik
Not the most appropriate name for this one but he does usually finish in the money at least. Has a chance of doing so again but will probably find one or two too quick among this field.

5. Sun Speed (USA) [Pleasant Tap - Eva's Way (Dixie Union)] 5 H (25/3/5/2) – Kim Hye Sun
Takes his chance after finishing 2nd of 7 in a slowly run race over 1900M last time out. Should get a good position but others will be quicker in the final furlong.

6. Him Jjang (USA) [Pure Prize - Aroarable (Roar)] 4 C (13/4/2/1) – Park Byeong Yun
This one was a really promising 3-year-old but has struggled since making it up to class 1 and is unplaced in three starts since returning from a layoff in June. Will most likely be unplaced again.

7. Rush Forth (USA) [Rush Bay - Fourth Quest (Norquestor)] 4 G (14/4/2/3) – Kim Ok Sung
Another who has the ability to go close without being likely to actually win. Fourth behind Samjeong Jewang and Indian Blue last time out, that seems a reasonable ambition again here.

8. Hwanggeumbiyul (USA) [Indian Ocean - Dixieland Gulch (Gulch)] 5 G (18/6/4/2) – Oh Kyoung Hoan
Three of his six wins have come at class 1 and he comes in after two consecutive triumphs. Likely to be among the frontrunners and with good closing speed, he is not without a chance.

9. Daehan Janggun (USA) [Zanjero - Casual Friday (Fit To Fight)] 3 C (9/3/3/2) – Shin Hyoung Chul
A first try at class 1 for this 3-year-old. He’s never been out of the money in his nine starts to date and has good late speed. May meet his match in his couple of these but shouldn’t be too far away.

10. Indian Blue (USA) [Henny Hughes - Gambler's Passion (Prospector's Gamble)] 4 F (20/5/4/5) – Moon Se Young
It really is a travesty that Indian Blue has only won 5 of her 20 races. One of the quickest closers in Korea – and the quickest in this race – she does have a habit of finding just a little bit too much to do. Second place should be a minimum requirement.

11. Mari Daemul (USA) [Go For Gin - Token Beauty (Gold Token)] 5 H (27/9/4/3) – Seo Seung Un
The defending champion hasn’t been seen on the track since finishing a disappointing 9th in the Busan Metropolitan in July. His last run at Seoul ended in success though and while he may not be the favourite, he has a chance of successfully defending his title.

12. Cheonma (USA) [Langfuhr - Rash Decision (Mt.Livermore)] 3 G (11/3/4/1) – Park Eul Woon
Steps up in class and in distance after two consecutive wins at class 2. Likely to be among the front-runners and he is quick, but this field is much superior to anything he has faced before.

Friday October 16
Busan Racecourse: 11 races from 11:40 to 18:00
Jeju Racecourse: 9 races from 13:20 to 17:20

Saturday October 17
Seoul Racecourse: 12 races from 10:50 to 18:00
Jeju Racecourse: 9 races from 12:20 to 17:50

Sunday October 18
Seoul Racecourse: 11 races from 10:50 to 18:00
Busan Racecourse: 6 races from 12:45 to 17:00

Cosmos King, Rafale Take Juvenile Honours At Seoul & Busan

It was 2-year-old Championship weekend at Seoul and Busan and it will be Cosmos King and Rafale who head to the Korean Breeders’ Cup at Seoul next month as the top juveniles from their respective tracks.

Gwacheon Mayor’s Cup – Seoul Racecourse – 1200M – Oct 11, 2014

1. Cosmos King (KOR) [Ingrandire - Lovely Shine (French Deputy)] – Lee Hyeok – 2.4, 1.3
2. Dream Queen (KOR) [Creek Cat - Fine Jilju (Duality)] – Seo Seung Un – 1.6
3. Keunbada (KOR) [Menifee - Keungori (Essence Of Dubai)] – Jang Chuyoul – 1.9
Distances: 1 length / 2 lengths – 10 ran

Cosmos King was sent off as the slight favourite for the Gwacheon Mayor’s Cup at Seoul on Saturday, just ahead of fellow unbeaten colt Raon Rusa. Punters were proved right as, under Lee Hyeok, Cosmos King closed from 5th to 1st in the final furlong to win by a length from filly Dream Queen.

On Sunday, it was Busan’s turn to run its Championship race. And there was a little more of a surprise here as 9/1 chance Rafale overcame hot-favourite Doraon Hyeonpyo in a final stretch battle to take the prize. The two were a dominant 6-lengths ahead of their nearest other rival on the line.

Gyeongnam Sinmun Cup – Busan Racecourse – 1200M – Oct 12, 2014

1. Rafale (KOR) [Colors Flying - Dongbang Choego (Al Naba )] – You Hyun Myung – 9.6, 2.1
2. Doraon Hyeonpyo (KOR) [Colors Flying - Kilcoe Castle (Gone West)] – Jeong Song Cheol – 1.1
3. Yuseong Fighting (KOR) [Didyme - Maggie's Prayer (Songandaprayer)] – Jo Sung Gon – 1.5
Distances: 0.75 lengths / 6 lengths – 11 ran

The best 2-year-olds of this year’s crop from both Seoul and Busan will reconvene in the capital at the end of next month for the “Breeders’ Cup” to decide the nation’s overall Juvenile Champion.

Bart Rice Rare Raids Reap Rewards

South African trainer Bart Rice was on the mark today, sending out two runners at Busan Racecourse today and coming home with two winners.

Strike Rate: Bart Rice (KRA)

Strike Rate: Bart Rice (KRA)

It’s the kind of thing the 38-year-old has become renowned for in his short time at the track so far. When punters see a Rice horse running, they know it will be in fine order and wouldn’t be running if it can’t win. The odds usually reflect that.

Today, Rice sent out Better Than You (Ft.Stockton) in race 2 and Aussie import Ace Cheonbok (Zizou) in race 7. Both won comfortably at short-odds under Japanese rider Masa Tanaka.

The wins take Rice onto some extremely noteworthy figures. He has 22 horses in his stable and lies in 11th in the Busan Trainers’ Championship with 23 wins in 2014. However, these have come from just 102 starters. To emphasize his focus on winners, there have been a further 10 second places and just 4 thirds.

Masa Tanaka (Pic: Busan Ilbo)

Masa Tanaka (Pic: Busan Ilbo)

Only the Peter Wolsley stable and the Kim Young Kwan factory can boast a better strike rate; Rice leads the next best by some considerable distance. Wolsley has sent out 205 runners this year and Kim over 300.

Among the 32 trainers at the South-Coast track, the only ones who have sent out fewer runners than Rice are Ahn Woo Sung and Gu Young Jun and they only received their licenses this summer.

Rice looks like a man who wants to to do things properly. He’s one of very few trainers in korea who has a website and has clearly set out to train and race his own way. In Masa Tanaka, he also has a very capable de-facto stable jockey (Tanaka is officially freelance).

Whether he can sustain this strategy long-term in the face of notoriously demanding Korean owners who, with decent prize-money going all the way down to 5th place, want their horses running whether they have a chance of winning or not, remains to be seen. For now though, it has been a remarkable debut year.

Better Than You is an interesting one. The 3-year-old gelding spent a year in the United States, racing in Florida four times before returning to Korea this summer. Today was his first race in his homeland and he romped home by a full 11 lengths.

He wasn’t the only one of those who went to the US running today. Gangnam Camp (Forest Camp), who was with Better Than You on the same program in Florida, actually landed a 2nd place at Gulfstream Park earlier this year and comfortably won his Korean debut last month. He was on target again today taking race 6 by four lengths.

Weekend Preview: Juvenile Championships At Seoul & Busan

It’s that time of year already. Both Seoul and Busan host their Championship races for this year’s 2-year-old crop this coming weekend with the best performers from each race qualifying to face each other in Seoul next month in the Korean Breeders’ Cup to decide 2014’s Champion Juvenile.

Cheongnyong Bisang was Champion Juvenile in 2013. The race to succeed him begins in earnest this weekend

Cheongnyong Bisang was Champion Juvenile in 2013. The race to succeed him begins in earnest this weekend

The races also impact on next year’s Triple Crown. With the first leg, the KRA Cup Mile, being held in early April, it is vital to get points on the board now in order to qualify.

Unbeaten horses look the pick of both events. In the Gwacheon Mayor’s Cup at Seoul on Saturday, Raon Rusa is set to be favourite while Doraon Hyeonpyo is the one to beat in the Gyeongnam Sinmun Cup at Busan on Sunday.

Here are the full line-ups for both races with pedigrees, race records and riders:

Gwacheon Mayor’s Cup – Seoul Racecourse – 1200M – Saturday October 11, 16:00

1. Good Start [Limitless Bid - Yesangbaek (Pacificbounty)] (3/2/0/1) – Yoo Seung Wan
2. Always Winner [Creek Cat - Hallat'Eukkeup (Land Rush)] (2/1/0/0) – Oh Kyoung Hoan
3. Dream Queen [Creek Cat - Fine Jilju (Duality)] (4/2/2/0) – Seo Seung Un
4. The Zone Sesang [Creek Cat - Namdosarang (Chullo)] (2/2/0/0) – Jun Duck Yong
5. Raon Rusa [Pico Central - Kkumaeul (Curia Regis)] (4/1/0/1) – Moon Se Young
6. Hwanhuiuisungan [Sakura Seeking - Ma Home Cat (Tomorrow's Cat)] (1/0/0/0) – Yoon Tae Hyuk
7. Vulcan [Ecton Park - Maid Of Cognac (Hennessey] (2/1/1/0) – Ham Wan Sik
8. Keunbada [Menifee - Keungori (Essence Of Dubai)] (2/1/1/0) – Jang Chuyoul
9. Comsmos King [Ingrandire - Lovely Shine (French Deputy)] (2/2/0/0) – Lee Hyeok
10. Clean Up Queen [Officer - Hera (Archer City Slew)] (3/1/0/0) – Ikuyasu Kurakane

Gyeongnam Sinmun Cup – Busan Racecourse – 1200M – Sunday October 12, 16:10

1. Yuseong Fighting [Didyme - Maggie's Prayer (Songandaprayer)] (2/2/0/0) – Jo Sung Gon
2. Rafale [Colors Flying - Dongbang Choego (Al Naba )] (3/2/1/0) – You Hyun Myung
3. Fine Star [Volponi - T'ojong Kosu (Glorify)] (2/0/2/0) – Yang Young Nam
4. Namhae Sinhwa [Vicar – Intriga (Lord At Law) (2/1/1/0) – Kim Dong Young
5. Doraon Hyeonpyo [Colors Flying - Kilcoe Castle (Gone West)] (3/3/0/0) – Jeong Dong Cheol
6. Mac And Cheese [Menifee - Squared (Posse)] (2/1/0/1) (3/1/1/0) – Song Keong Yun
7. Special Line [Ecton Park - Rich Musique (Rizzi)] (3/1/1/0) – Jo Chang Wook
8. Ganghan Baram [Didyme - Benbane Head (Giant's Causeway)] (3/0/2/0) – Lee Sung Jae
9. Summit Myeongun [Menifee - Summit Party (Ecton Park)] (3/1/1/1) – Masakazu Tanaka
10. Kkumui Hanbal [Colors Flying - Baengman Buja (Successful Appeal)] (3/1/1/0) – Lee Hee Cheon
11. Yeonggwanguitaepung [Menifee - Grand Pass (Grand Slam)] (3/1/1/1) – Chae Gyu Jun

* There is plenty of other action across the weekend. Aussie trainer Peter Wolsley will be looking to follow-up his Minister’s Cup victory last weekend with another class 1 win when My Winner goes in Friday’s feature at Busan. Also on the south coast, Gamdonguibada takes on Beolmaui Kkum and New York Blue in a class 1 race on Sunday.

Here’s what’s happening when and where:

Friday October 10
Busan Racecourse: 11 races from 11:40 to 18:00
Jeju Racecourse: 9 races from 13:20 to 17:20

Saturday October 11
Seoul Racecourse: 13 races from 10:50 to 18:00
Jeju Racecourse: 9 races from 12:20 to 17:20

Sunday October 12
Seoul Racecourse: 11 races from 10:50 to 18:00
Busan Racecourse: 6 races from 12:45 to 17:05

Round-Up: Yeongsan II Suffers First Defeat But Watts Village Wins Prep

Queen’s Blade getting beaten in the Minister’s Cup on Sunday may have been a surprise but the Derby and Oaks winning filly’s reverse in the final Classic of the season wasn’t the biggest shock of the weekend at Seoul.

Gwanggyo Bisang - seen here after a Stakes win, became the first Korean horse to beat Yeongsan II

Gwanggyo Bisang – seen here after a Stakes win, became the first Korean horse to beat Yeongsan II

Yeongsan II had won all six of his races in Korea in dismissively easy fashion, culiminating in the Ilgan Sports Cup in September. However, on Saturday afternoon, he stepped up in class and distance and finally met his match in the shape of last year’s Ilgan winner, Gwanggyo Bisang.

Sent off as the odds on favourite, Yeongsan II set the pace under Moon Se Young and as they entered the home straight looked ready to cruise to another routine victory. That was to reckon without Gwanggyo Bisang though as while Yeongsan II was by no means slow in the final furlong, his fellow 4-year-old – depite carrying 60Kg – was able to go up a gear to reel him in and pass him to win by just under a length on the line.

The result, along with Queen’s Blade’s setback, Indie Band on the long-term injured list, and Wonder Bolt on the doubtful list, sets next month’s President’s Cup – Korea’s richest race – wide open with Busan’s Hangangui Gijeok, currently on a winning streak of seven, now the likely favourite. Gwanggyo Bisang, now with eleven wins from sixteen starts, may have to now be considered too.

Class 1 Handicap – Seoul Racecourse – 2000M – October 4, 2014

1. Gwanggyo Bisang (KOR) [Menifee - Touch Upon (Touch Gold)] – Park Tae Jong – 3.8, 1.3
2.Yeongsan II (KOR) [Menifee - Foxxy Cleo (Peintre Celbre)] – Moon Se Young – 1.2
3. Gumanseok (KOR) [Vicar – Perfect Storm (Didyme) – Ham Wan Sik 1.5
Distances: 0.75 lengths / 3 lengths – 10 ran

Another race that is on the near horizon is the Japan/Korea Interaction Cup at Tokyo Ohi on November 11. With big prizes such as the President’s Cup on offer at home in November and only Seoul horses able to make the trip, there is a diminishing pool of talent available to make the trip to defend the title so memorably won by Watts Village last year.

And it was Watts Village (Forestry) who won a preparation race for the Interaction Cup on Sunday afternoon, getting the disappointment of his performance in the Asia Challeng Cup at the end of August out of his system.

Watts Village is unlikely to go to Tokyo but back at his favourite distance of 1200M and under Moon Se Young for the very first time, the 4-year-old led from gate-to-wire to win by 7-lengths in what was one of the fastest ever recorded times over the distance at Seoul. Sing Sing Cat was 2nd with Here He Comes, who is in-line to go to Japan, a creditable 3rd.

This coming weekend it is the 2-year-olds who take centre stage with Juvenile Championship races at both Seoul and Busan. The capital hosts the Gwacheon Mayor’s Cup on Saturday with the Gyeongnam Sinmun Cup at Busan on Sunday. The best performers will re-convene in Seoul at the end of November to decided the nation’s overall champion juvenile in the Korean Breeders’ Cup.