The Korea Racing Authority (KRA) and Keeneland Association July 6 announced the inaugural Keeneland Korea Cup, which will offer a purse of 1 Billion Korean Won (approximately $855,000) and be held as part of an international day of racing at Seoul Racecourse in South Korea Sunday, Sept. 11.
Also featured on the same race card will be the inaugural Keeneland Korea Sprint, worth 700 Million Korean Won (approximately $608,000).
The Keeneland Korea Cup will be contested over 1,800 meters (1 1/8 miles) and the Sprint over 1,200 meters (six furlongs), both on sand.
Both races are open to international runners. Horses representing Hong Kong, Singapore, Japan, Europe, Australasia, and United Arab Emirates are expected to compete.
"Following our recent promotion to PART II (of the International Cataloguing Standards book) and our successful hosting of international races with Japan and Singapore over the past three years, we are delighted to present the inaugural Keeneland Korea Cup, the most valuable race ever to be run in Korea. Over the coming years, we plan to build this event into one of the top weekends of international racing in Asia" said Yangtae Park, Executive Director of Racing at the KRA.
The Korea Cup is sponsored by Keeneland, which has a longstanding connection with horse racing in Korea. Many Korean horsemen attend the Keeneland sales to purchase American bloodstock to enhance their racing stables and breeding operations.
In addition to overseas-trained runners, horses sold at Keeneland sales and now based in Korea will be eligible to run in the races as representatives of the United States.
"Keeneland is pleased to team with KRA in this exciting new racing endeavor," said Keeneland president Bill Thomason. "For many years, Keeneland has enjoyed a successful partnership with Korea and its horsemen through our premier horse sales. We now look forward to supporting the KRA as they prepare to welcome the world to Seoul."
The KRA hosted its first international race in 2013 when three Japan-trained horses competed in Seoul. The race, the Asia Challenge Cup, expanded to include horses from Singapore in 2014. Singapore's El Padrino won that year while Korean-trained Keeneland sales graduate Choegang Schiller was victorious in 2015. In January of 2016, Korean horses ran for the first time at the Dubai World Cup Carnival.
"Racing in Korea is developing quickly and through the Keeneland Korea Cup we hope to give our racing fans the opportunity to see high-quality international racing here in Seoul and also demonstrate our commitment to the racing world to internationalizing Korean racing" said Park.