Friday, November 26, 2010

Foreign Report: Viva Ace is a winner again in Korea; two new stakes horses at Camarero in Puerto Rico

It's been a pretty good week overseas for members of the sales-tip Class of 2010, with a two-time winner on Korean soil and a pair of 2-year-olds finishing second and third in Puerto Rico Grade 1 company at Hipdromo Camarero.

Viva Ace (Macho Uno-Dancing Lake, by Meadowlake) left no doubt that he would graduate from Class 4 company in Korea at BusanKeyongnam racetrack on Friday.

Korean conditions don't advance a horse from the lowest ranks -- Class 4 allowance -- simply when he breaks his maiden. Horses continue to race in Class 4, with 2-year-olds often facing older, until their lifetime earnings reach a level that promotes them to Class 3. Horses foaled outside of Korea face one another in foreign-bred races, while domestic horses benefit from fields for exclusively Korean-breds.

Viva Ace finished second in his 1,000-meter Korean debut at Busan on Oct. 17. He broke maiden at 1,200 meters in a field of 10 on Nov. 7. Despite a packed field of 14 Friday that included two 3-year-old Australian-bred winners and a pair of U.S.-bred juveniles who both had second-place finishes on their young records, Viva Ace crushed them all going 1,300 meters (about 6.5 furlongs), winning by a dozen lengths.

The dark bay or brown gelding is owned by Hong Kyung Pyo and is trained by Kang Hyoung Gon. Though he was ridden by You Hyun Myung in his first two starts, Viva Ace benefited from a weight-break Friday by carrying apprentice rider Song Keong Yun to victory. He has now earned the equivalent of $33,339 from three starts.

I shortlisted Viva Ace when he went through the ring as Hip 90 at Fasig-Tipton's Midlantic Sale of 2-year-olds in Training this May. I was was hired to find the better prospects among the sale's least-expensive horses, and Viva Ace eventually sold to Korean interests for just $20,000, well below the average price at the sale.

I liked him for his 10.3 eighth-mile breeze, which was fairly fast for EASMAY, and because his second dam, CORMORANT'S FLIGHT won five stakes from 10 total victories for $330,138, and second dam DOUBLE SUEZ was eight times from 2 to 4, including a stakes race, for $80,161. Double Suez produced three stakes horses, including Laurel, Delaware Park and Philly Park stakes winner THUNDER FLASH and G2-placed Reef Reef.

What I didn't so much like about the colt was his lengthier pasterns, which give me some concern about long-term soundness. But he's certainly been sharp in the short term.

Two other solid early performers in a foreign market are fillies Concertos Pride and Hold Still, who finished second and third Thursday in the Clasico Dia de Accion de Gracias S.-G1 at Puerto Rico's Hipodromo Camarero. They are the 14th and 15th stakes horses from the 187-member sales class, bringing the number of stakes-placed runners to 8 percent of all selections and 13.8 percent of the 109 that have raced.

Since it takes a couple of days for charts to make their way to my inbox from Puerto Rico via Equibase, I'll detail their mutual race and update their records and accurate earnings on this blog in a couple of days.

The win by Viva Ace drives the class' overall record to 57 wins from 367 recorded starts, a strike rate of 15.5 percent. As a group, the 109 starters have at least hit the board in 45 percent of their starts. Their combined earnings are now $3,046,754, which averages to $8,302 per start and $27,952 per starter.

Follow all 187 of my 2010 sales picks (and a few pans) in the list at the end of this former post.

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