Gamdonguibada Glory At Busan

There was talk she was to be retired after winning the Queens’ Tour last year. Some retirement. Gamdonguibda, a six-year-old mare, romped home ahead of a whole host of big names and reputations to take the glory in the Busan City Mayor’s Cup this afternoon.

Beolmaui Kkum was out of the gate the quickest – no surprises there – and was quickly joined up front by Oreuse and Cowboy Son. However, today would not be a day for the front-runners. Gamdonguibada, under jockey Lim Sung Sil was away well and settled just behind the leaders.

She improved into 5th entering the home straight and as the early leaders fell away, took advantage and sprinted away to win by four lengths on the line. Spring Gnarly, closed from the back to take 2nd while outsider Heba put in a tremendous performace to grab 3rd. Cowboy Son clung on for 4th while pre-race favourite Gyeongbudaero got the final prize money in 5th.

Gamdonguibada was a $31,000 purchase from Ocala in 2011. Today marked her 14th career victory and took her to over US$2Million in prize money at the current exchange rate. She’s won the Grand Prix Stakes and Ttukseom Cup at Seoul as well as the Gyeongnam Governor’s Cup (twice) and the KNN Cup at her home track of Busan.

Gamdonguibada’s next engagement is scheduled to be at Kranji in Singapore on July 26. Should she go, she will be up against it, dropping down to 1200M and facing a quality of horse she hasn’t before. Tonight though, in terms of prizes and longevity, she is quite simply the most successful filly or mare to have ever run in Korea.

Busan Mayor’s Cup (KOR G2) – Busan Racecourse – 1600M – July 5, 2015

1. Gamdonguibada (USA) [Werblin – Radyla (Country Pine)] – Lim Sung Sil – 6.7, 2.3
2. Spring Gnarly (USA) [Master Command – Spring Tide (Unbridled’s Song)] – Kim Yong Geun – 3.7
3. Heba (USA) [Peace Rules – Sue’s Temper (Temperence Hill)] – Song Keong Yun – 3.7

Distances: 4 lengths / 0.75 lengths
Also Ran: 4. Cowboy Son (USA) 5. Gyeongbudaero (KOR) 6. Gumpo Sky (KOR) 7. Oreuse (USA) 8. Cinderella Man (USA) 9. Eongmandori (USA) 10. Gumpo Daeseung (AUS) 11. Beolmaui Kkum (USA) 12. Chogwang (AUS) 13. Baksuchyeo (USA) 14. Magic Light (KOR) 15. Hwanggeumjijon (USA)

As for the others, Spring Gnarly made it a one-two for trainer Kim Young Kwan while Gyeongbudaero was late arriving on the scene and is now three races without a win as is Beolmaui Kkum. Oreuse showed at the front early and will surely win plenty of races at shorter distances with the Asia Challenge Cup at Seoul in August the logical target. Cinderella Man was disappointing but will surely be back better.

On the subject of the Asia Challenge Cup, next week we have two trials for it; the Munhwa Ilbo Cup at Seoul and the Gukje Sinmun at Busan which is likely to feature Success Story and, making her first start since relocating to Busan, Fly Top Queen. Twilight racing also begins next weekend with the first race at Seoul being 13:00.

Busan Metropolitan City Mayor’s Cup: Full Preview

It’s the summer Grand Prix! Fifteen horses will line up at Busan on Sunday afternoon for one of the highlights of summer, the Busan Metropolitan City Mayor’s Cup.

Tough Win was a two-time winner of the Busan Metropolitan. We'll get a new winner today (KRA)

Tough Win was a two-time winner of the Busan Metropolitan. We’ll get a new winner today (KRA)

Only two have made their way down from Seoul – credit to their connections for having the courage to make the journey – but the home team more than makes up for it with a veritable who’s who of the track’s older horses turning out for the race.

Here’s a full rundown of the field (Name) [Pedigree] Age Sex (Starts/1st/2nd/3rd) Trainer – Jockey):

Busan Mayor’s Cup (KOR G2) – Busan Racecourse – 1600M – July 5, 2015 (16:30)

1. Magic Light (KOR) [Exploit – Savannah Miss (Broad Brush)] 7 H (33/5/5/5) Woo Chang Ku – Youn Tae Hyuk
Well done to connections for actually sending him and saving Seoul from absolute disgrace but he unfortunately has no chance here. He was last in the winner’s circle in October 2012 and hasn’t run at all since January.

2. Cinderella Man (KOR) [Southern Image – Tiza Fast Kat (Tiznow)] 4 G (13/9/3/0) Bart Rice – Jo Sung Gon
A huge chance. After five straight wins he was 2nd to Gumpo Sky but beat Gyeongbudaero and Spring Gnarly over 1800M on May 31. At just 4, he is one of the up and coming stars of Korean racing and he surely has a big race win in him. It could be today.

3. Gumpo Sky (KOR) [Vicar – Perfect Storm (Didyme)] 4 C (21/8/7/3) Sung-J Kwon – Kim Dong Young
The winner of that race against Cinderella Man, Gyeongbudaero and Spring Gnarly, he is to be respected. He led from gate to wire that day and back at a mile today will probably try to get to the front early again. He has a chance.

4. Gyeongbudaero (KOR) [Menifee – Princess Lanique (Cherokee Run)] 6 H (31/12/7/8) Oh Moon Sik – Choi Si Dae
The President’s Cup and Grand Prix Stakes winner. He is probably one of the finest racehorses ever produced in Korea and while he hasn’t won his past two races, he has been giving weight. He will be close to the pace and he has a chance of winning yet another big race here.

5. Cowboy Son (USA) [Cowboy Cal – Nosmallacheivement (Smart Strike)] 4 C (17/10/1/2) Lee Sang Young – Jo Chang Wook
He was a very creditable 3rd in this race last year when it was run at 2000M. That becomes even more creditable when you consider that if today’s race was shorter, then he would be very hard to beat. Cowboy Son is a sprinter and against this caliber of opposition, a mile may just be too far.

6. Oreuse (USA) [Smoke Glacken – Heavenly Splendor (Point Given)] 6 H (27/12/4/3) Youn Joo Hyuk – Masakazu Tanaka
A real chance. On his only start so far this year, Oreuse was second to Cowboy Son over six furlongs. Similar to Cowboy Son he is most at home as a sprinter but has won over 1800M too. Likely to be close to the front early on,this is another horse who has a big win in him.

7. Hwanggeumjijon (USA) [Medallist Milady Sadie (Meadow Monster)] 6 G (31/3/2/3) Seo Jung Ha – Lee Dong Kug
The second of Seoul’s contenders isn’t any more likely than the first although his last win was slightly more recent. Not in anything resembling form and unlikely to be competitive here.

8. Beolmaui Kkum (USA) [Put It Back – Wild Dixie Gal (Wild Event)] 5 H (22/13/3/2) Baik Kwang Yeol – Nobuyuki Oyama
He always must be considered and he is another who will surely appreciate not giving his opponents as much weight as usual. The highest rated horse in Korea, he likes to lead from the front but it has been very difficult to do that and stay on in recent big races (Jangpung Parang in the Oaks an exception). Japanese rider Nobuyuki Oyama gets a great opportunity in the saddle.

9. Gamdonguibada (USA) [Werblin – Radyla (Country Pine)] 6 M (28/13/4/6) Kim Young Kwan – Lim Sung Sil
A multiple Stakes winner, she comes in here following her first victory of 2015, beating Heba by two lengths. She drops back to a mile for the first time since winning the KNN Cup last year and will try to come from just off the pace. A chance.

10. Chogwang (AUS)[Lion Heart – Colonial Dancer (Pleasant Colony)] 6 H (33/4/6/5) Min Jang Gi – Park Geum Man
A very consistent money-winner, he comes in following a victory over Eongmandori in a quick race over this distance although he has been beaten by many of the others who go here in recent starts. He won’t be among the favourites but could provide some value for a place.

11. Eongmandori (USA) [Purim – Allbow (Rainbow Blues)] 6 H (30/4/7/4) Koo Young Jun – Nozomu Tomizawa
Beaten by Chogwang last time out, he hasn’t actually won since April 2013 and never at class 1. He won’t win this either and despite being consistently in the money – he beat Gumpo Sky over 2000M in April – will find it tough today.

12. Gumpo Daeseung (AUS) [Shaft – Vicwood Fashion (Bahhare)] 4 C (11/5/2/0) Lee Sang Young – Yang Young Nam
Still a class 2 horse, he takes his chance here but this is a big step up to what he is used to. Plenty of potential to become a class 1 winner at some point surely not today.

13. Heba (USA) [Peace Rules – Sue’s Temper (Temperance Hill)] 5 M (31/7/5/1) Sung J. Kwon – Song Keong Yun
Last seen inadvertently smoothing the way for Esmeraldina in the Ttukseom Cup at Seoul, Heba is a consistently reliable race mare who is perhaps one notch below the top level. She has been beaten by most of her rivals here in recent starts and any kind of money finish today would be an achievement.

14. Baksuchyeo (USA) [Bob And John – Say Amen (Pulpit)] 4 G (9/6/1/2) Peter Wolsley – Chae Sang Hyun
Another one making a big step up, Baksuchyeo raced for the first time this year three weeks ago, scoring his first class 1 win in the process. It was over 1400M and took him to 6 wins from 9 career starts but he will be a big outsider today.

15. Spring Gnarly (USA) [Master Command – Spring Tide (Unbridled’s Song)] 5 G (13/8/0/1) Kim Young Kwan – Kim Yong Geun
It’s risky to refer to any horse as being Kim Young Kwan’s second string as they usually have as much chance as the supposed first. However, he was beaten by Gumpo Sky, Cinderella Man and Gyeongbudaero last time out. The only real closer in the field, he has good late speed and can be a danger here.

Gamdonguibada, Nobody Catch Me and Cheon Gu Set To Represent Korea In Singapore

Three Korean-trained horses have been nominated to run in the Korea Racing Authority Cup at Kranji Racecourse in Singapore on Sunday July 26.

Gamdonguibada

Gamdonguibada

In what is set to be a quite historic occasion, the race will mark not only the first time Korean horses have run in Singapore but also the first time that an overseas race will be beamed back live to racecourses in Korea.

The KRA Trophy will be run over 1200M on the Kranji Polytrack with a prize fund of S$250,000. Crucially, only Singapore horses with an MRA rating no higher than 90 are eligible and this could make for an interesting race.

Busan’s top trainer Kim Young Kwan will send two horses. The best known is his 2013 Grand Prix Stakes winner and 2014 Queens’ Tour champion mare Gamdonguibada. The other is the 2014 Busan Metropolitan City Mayor’s Cup winner Nobody Catch Me. From Seoul, trainer Seo In Seok sends his up and coming colt Cheon Gu.

Gamdonguibada (USA) [Werblin – Radyla (Country Pine)] 6yo mare (28/13/4/6/1/1) – She won the Grand Prix Stakes in 2013 and has gone on to become one of the most successful fillies or mares ever to race in Korea. In addition to the Grand Prix, she has won the the Gyeongnam Governor’s Cup twice, the KNN Cup and the Ttukseom Cup on the way to earning more than KRW 2 Billion in prize money. After completing a clean sweep of the Queens’ Tour races in 2014, she was expected to retire but returned as a 6-year-old and won her most recent race on May 17. She hasn’t run at such short a distance as 1200M since she was a 2-year-old in 2011. Lim Sung Sil is expected to ride her at Kranji.

Nobody Catch Me (USA) [With Distinction – Nana’s Babe (Allen’s Prospect)] 5yo gelding (20/6/4/2/0/0) – The wildcard. He was the winner of the Busan Mayor’s Cup last year at odds of over 50/1 and added one win after that but was a disappointment – and eventual disqualification – from the Grand Prix Stakes last year. He’s only run twice in 2015 and has struggled. However, he may well appreciate running at a sprint distance once more.

Nobody Catch Me won the 2014 Busan Metropolitan (Newsis)

Nobody Catch Me won the 2014 Busan Metropolitan (Newsis)

Cheon Gu (USA) [Old Fashioned – So Much Fun (Speightstown)] 3yo colt (6/4/1/1/0/0) – The only one of the three to be based at Seoul Racecourse and the only one who still looks yet to reach his full potential, Cheon Gu has won four of his six starts to date. He was beaten in his only Stakes race when second in the Herald Business Cup over 1400M in May but returned to the winner’s circle in a class 2 race at the same distance last week and is considered one of the brightest imported prospects at Seoul. Yoo Seung Wan is expected to ride him in Singapore.

Cheon Gu will carry 54.5kg, Nobody Catch Me 57.5kg and Gamdonguibada 56kg. While the Korean horses had to be nominated by Monday this week, Singapore based horses have until July 15 to enter the race.

The KRA Trophy will come under orders at 17:15 Singapore time and will be shown live at Seoul and Busan Racecourses during the normal raceday broadcast. No betting markets will be offered in Korea – the law needs to change before that can happen – nevertheless, having permission granted for it is a big step in the right direction. The Singapore Turf Club has been a great friend of Korean racing in recent years and it is fitting that Kranji hosts the first race to be beamed back.

The Singapore Turf Club has been a big supporter of the internationalization of Korean racing

The Singapore Turf Club has been a big supporter of the internationalization of Korean racing

The history of Korean-trained horses racing abroad is extremely brief. Watts Village pulled off a remarkable victory in the Interaction Cup in Japan in 2013 but the following year, the three Korean horses who went fared less well. Meanwhile, Singapore trained El Padrino came to Seoul last August and broke the track record for 1400M in the process of winning the Asia Challenge Cup.

While it remains to be seen what kind of line-up Singapore puts out, the horses nominated from Korea have every chance of acquitting themselves well. Whatever happens, it will be an important milestone in the internationalization of Korean racing.

Derby, Oaks & Grand Prix Winning Jockey Joe Fujii Bows Out Of Korean Racing

After three successful years, Japanese jockey Kanichiro “Joe” Fujii has left Korea to take up a new challenge and fulfill a long-standing ambition to ride in his native Japan.

Joe Fujii after winning the Grand Prix on Gamdonguibada in 2012

Joe Fujii after winning the Grand Prix on Gamdonguibada in 2012

Fujii joined Busan Racecourse from Australia in June 2012 and he quickly made an impact, winning on his very first ride.

The Japanese jockey proved popular and continued to ride regular winners throughout the summer and autumn and in November 2012, Fujii claimed his first Korean Stakes victory, partnering Gamdonguibada to triumph in the Gyeongnam Governor’s Cup. He would team up with the same filly again in the nation’s most prestigious race, the Grand Prix Stakes, at Seoul Racecourse the following month.

In guiding her to victory once more, Fujii became the first foreign jockey to win the Grand Prix. After the race, he took the filly back down in front of the grandstand to show the racing public. It was something that hadn’t been done in Korea before but something the local jockeys would quickly start to copy after a big race win.

Speedy First in the Derby Winner's Circle

Speedy First in the Derby Winner’s Circle

Fujii didn’t have to wait long to do it again. In May 2013, he returned to Seoul and on board another filly, Speedy First, he became the first foreign jockey to win the Korean Derby. Speedy First would unseat Fujii in the opening stages of the Gyeongnam Do Min Ilbo in July but the following month, the pair re-united to claim victory in the Korean Oaks. Naturally, in victory Fujii was the first foreign jockey to win that particular race too.

Two major wins would follow in the first half of 2014. While Gamdonguibada had been unsuccessful in her attempt to defend the Grand Prix in 2013 and another jockey had ridden her to win the first leg of the Queens’ Tour, the Ttukseom Cup at Seoul, Fujii would be restored to the ride for the KNN Cup at Busan in early March and they would go on to win by eleven lengths. Three weeks later, Fujii went up to Seoul and partnered Magic Dancer to success in the Jeju Governor’s Cup.

Magic Dancer

Magic Dancer

Just a week later, however, would be the start of what would be a challenging final year in Korea for Fujii. A broken shoulder suffered in an accident coming out of the gates in a race last July resulted in a broken shoulder which would ultimately keep him out until December. During his time out, Fujii embarked on a mini-tour of the racing world, taking in Hong Kong, France, the UK and his native Japan and was also to be seen watching races in Seoul.

He returned characteristically with a winner in December and once more was a regular visitor to the winner’s circle even though he perhaps wasn’t getting the same caliber of mounts on as regular a basis as he was before his fall. Fujii then became the victim of circumstance when his saddle accidentally slipped when riding the odds-on favourite in a race at Busan. Unfortunately, it came just one week after rioting punters at Seoul extracted a payout of bets placed on a disqualified winner who had weighed in light.

Opportunists at Busan decided to try the same thing and the rest of the card was cancelled. With the government having lost revenue on four races in the space of two weeks, a police investigation was ordered as well as a public audit of the Korea Racing Authority, which is a government organisation.

He didn't always keep the best of company during his time off (Pic: Joe Fujii)

He didn’t always keep the best of company during his time off (Pic: Joe Fujii)

There was never any case for anyone to answer on a saddle accidentally slipping but the audit and investigation meant it was over a month of uncertainty for Fujii before the KRA was in a position to be able to issue the lightest possible sanction to the jockey (a “reprimand”) and a fine for the Trainer. Fujii continued riding and received a hugely positive reception from punters when in Seoul for the Korean Derby in May.

Although a Busan jockey, it was at Seoul where Fujii’s biggest race wins came and it was perhaps fitting that his final triumph in Korea – for now – would be in the capital city. And it was another historic occasion. Esmeraldina was the first JRA horse to run in Korea in what was the first International Open race to be run in Seoul, the Ttukseom Cup. Connections could have brought over their own jockey from Japan yet despite the trainer never having met Fujii before, they decided that he would be their man.

They were proved right with Fujii delivering a clinical ride as Esmeraldina cruised to victory and once again, the jockey was able to parade in front of the Seoul grandstand a winner.

Esmeraldina and Joe Fujii return to scale

Esmeraldina and Joe Fujii return to scale

As it turned out, Esmeraldina was his final winner in Korea this time around. A magnificent ambassador for the sport, he has won more races than any other foreign jockey in this country, more even than the great Toshio Uchida. Hugely popular with connections, the Korean racing media, administrators and stewards and even the majority of local jockeys, he will be missed.

Joe Fujii will be riding in Hokkaido for the foreseeable future. He will surely be successful and it is very much hoped that we see him back in the Seoul or Busan winner’s circle one day soon.

Areumdaundonghaeng On Song In YTN Cup

Areumdaundonghaeng closed in style to win the YTN Cup at Seoul Racecourse this afternoon.

Areumdaundonghaeng and Song Jae Chul win the YTN Cup (Pic: KRA)

Areumdaundonghaeng and Song Jae Chul win the YTN Cup (Pic: KRA)

Jangmi Eondeok was sent off as the favourite but it was Real Ten who would set the early pace. He faded as Mani Income hit the front with a furlong left to run but it was Areumdaundonghaeng, the 3/1 second favourite and carrying the lightest weight in the field who was the stronger, coming through under Song Jae Chul and winning going away.

19/1 chance Cheonjeok got the best of a three-way photograph for 2nd beating out Mani Income and K Ascending by a neck with Jangmi Eondeok a further nose back in 5th.

Areumdaundonghaeng was a $33,000 purchase from the Fasig Tipton 2014 Mid-Atlantic Two-Year-Olds sale last May. Today was her 4th win on her 8th career start.

For jockey Song Jae Chul it was a first big race win since he gained his appremtice license two years ago and he celebrated as such as he crossed the line, perhaps mindful that the YTN TV cameras were on him.

YTN Cup – Seoul Racecourse 2000M – June 28, 2015

1. Areumdaundonghaeng (USA) [A.P.Warrior – Legacy’s Silver (Robyn Dancer)] – Song Jae Chul  4.2, 1.7
2. Cheonjeok (USA) [Shakespeare – Celtic Song (Giant’s Causeway)] – Yoo Seung Wan – 4.5
3. Mani Income (USA) [Irish Road – Lemon Zest (Lemon Drop Kid)] – Seo Seung Un – 3.3
Distances: 1 length/neck
Also Ran: 4. K Ascending (USA) 5. Jangmi Eondeok (USA) 6. Seungbu Sinhwa (USA) 7. Dangsan Daehyeop (USA) 8. Real Ten (USA) 9. Last Mudae (KOR) 10. Chowon Yeoje (KOR) 11. No Secret More (USA)

* In other news at Seoul the long awaited return of Wonder Bolt, 2nd in both the Asia Challenge Cup and the Grand Prix Stakes last year was an anti-climax. He was sent off as the favourite for the class 1 race 10 ahead of Magic Dancer, who was making his first appearance in the capital since permanently relocating from Busan.

Neither shined though and instead it was Persia Wangja (Ghostzapper) who took the honours, beating out Ganghae by a neck. Gumanseok was in 3rd with Wonder Bolt trailing home in 4th.

Next week the focus shifts to Busan and one of the highlights of the summer schedule, The Busan Metropolitan City Mayor’s Cup.

Jarred Samuel Makes The Breakthrough At Last

It has been a long time coming but finally the hard work paid off for Jarred Samuel at Seoul Racecourse this afternoon as he rode his first Korean winner. It was his 102nd ride.

The 27-year-old South African has certainly been keeping busy since arriving in Seoul in April getting on plenty of horses. However, none of them have ever looked to be potential winners.

The same could have been said about Raon Rusa (Pico Central). The filly won three of her first four starts and was second in another but came into race 7 this afternoon a 15/1 chance following a disappointing performance last month.

Samuel would not be denied this time though. Always handy, he brought Raon Rusa through in the home straight to overtake tiring leader Super Plucky and held off the Djordje Perovic ridden Ssen Sky by a length on the line for a foreign jockey one-two.

Hopefully it’s the first of many for the ever-positive jockey.

Weekend Race Times

The YTN Cup at Seoul headlines what is an otherwise quiet week in between Busan’s two biggest events of the year; last week’s Oaks and next week’s Mayor’s Cup.

YTN generally bring their cameras to their race

YTN generally bring their cameras to their race

Sunday’s YTN Cup has attracted eleven runners and is the highlight of a ten-race card. Saturday at Seoul also sees a named race as the course pays tribute to “Korean Warhorse” Sgt. Reckless on the the 65 anniversary of the outbreak of the Korean war.

Full race cards are available here

Here’s what’s happening when and where:

Friday June 26
Busan Racecourse: 10 races from 12:50 to 19:00
Jeju Racecourse: 8 races from 13:15 to 17:05

Saturday June 27
Seoul Racecourse: 12 races from 10:50 to 18:00
Jeju Racecourse: 8 races from 12:20 to 16:40

Sunday June 28
Seoul Racecourse: 10 races from 10:50 to 18:00
Busan Racecourse: 6 races from 12:05 to 17:05