There are two thoroughbred racecourses in Korea, located at Seoul and Busan. Horses, Trainers and Jockeys are based at one of the two tracks. The tracks only mix for Graded races.

Seoul races every Friday and Saturday with an average of 11-12 races each race day. Busan races every Thursday and Saturday with an average of 10 races on Thursday and 6 on Saturdays.

Betting Turnover is the 7th largest in the world and the 3rd largest in Asia (after Japan and Hong Kong). Average field size is approximately 11. Minimum field size is 7.

In addition to foreign trainers and jockeys, there is a foreign Steward at both Seoul and Busan as well as a foreign handicapper.


All races at both racecourses finish on the outer track, closest to spectators. That includes those at distances between 1 1/16 m and 1 1/4 m that begin on the inner tracks. The tracks are connected at the 2nd and 4th corners. Currently races are run with a minimum distance of 5 furlongs and currently a maximum of 1 7/16 m at Seoul & 1 /38 m at Busan.

The track surface looks very sandy…

That’s because it is. The composition of the track is as follows:

Surface (7-8cm) –Sand

Coursebed (10cm) –Decomposed Granite

Upper Substratum (10cm) –Crushed stone

Seoul Race Course has an inner track with a circumference of 1 mi and an outer of 1/8 mi. There is chute for 5f races.

Busan Racecourse has an inner track of 7 1/4f and an outer of 1 1/4 mi.It has chutes for starts at 5f and 1mi.

Kickback-One thing to watch out for with the sand is that can generate a lot of kickback. For this reason, lots of horses race wearing pacifiers. It’s not uncommon for horses who like to be early front-runners but don’t get an optimum start, to resent the kickback and race poorly, so bear this in mind when handicapping.

How does the going affect race times? Generally, the wetter it is the faster it is so it is very important to look at track condition when assessing past performances. Across the two tracks, fifteen out of the current twenty track records were set on a track that was wet to sloppy.


There are 6 classes of racing in Korea. Korean bred horses begin at class 6 and foreign at class 4. Aside from class 6 and Listed and Graded races, the vast majority of races are Handicaps.


At any one time there are approximately 1430 horses in training at Seoul and 980 at Busan.

The horses are a mixture of Korean bred and Foreign bred. Of the foreign bred racehorses, 90% are imported from the USA.

Korea has a thriving domestic breeding industry with 119 Stallions standing at Stud in the country as of July 2017.

While some of the stallions raced in Korea, many are imported and include a number who raced in the US such as:

Menifee – Multiple time Leading Sire in Korea winner

Hansen – 2011 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner

Officer – 2001 G1 Champagne Stakes winner

Ecton Park – 1999 Jim Dandy Stakes & Super Derby winner

Others include Volponi, Hawk Wing, Colors Flying, One Cool Cat, TizWonderful, Any Given Saturday, Cowboy Cal and Archarcharch.



There are approximately 60 jockeys based in Seoul and 40 in Busan. At any one time there can be up to 5 or 6 foreign jockeys at each track. Seoul Racecourse has an inner track with a circumference of 1 mi and an outer of 1 1/8 m. There is a chute for 5f races. Busan Racecourse has an inner track of 7 1/4 f and an outer of 1 1/4 m. It has chutes for starts at 5f and 1 m.



There are approximately 55 trainers at Seoul and 35 at Busan. At any one time there can be up to 2 foreign trainers at Seoul and 4 at Busan.



Korean racing is quite easy to pick up and form is reliable with horses racing each other regularly and a small pool of jockeys and trainers to become familiar with. Here are some tips for newcomers to Korean racing to bear in mind. Most will be similar to when handicapping anywhere in the world but some are more specific to Korea.

  1. Jockey - Focus on horses being ridden by jockeys who rank in the top 5. Be especially aware of a horse who was ridden in his/her previous race by a jockey ranked outside the top 15 but this time is being ridden by a jockey ranked within the top 5. Korean apprentice jockeys are generally of good standard. Pay special attention to horses which will be ridden by the top apprentice jockeys.
  2. Past Performance - Records at the same race distance are most important.
  3. Consider the track condition when assessing past performance-Focus on past performances where the track moisture content ranged from 4% to 14%, not from 15% to 19% or over 20%.This is because in Korean racing, a muddy or sloppy track runs from 1 to 2 seconds faster.
  4. Check any change in carried weight. Any rapid increase in the carried weight is to be treated with caution. Likewise a rapid decrease may be an opportunity.
  5. Consider the running style of the horse–Runners who can stay on are often more favourable so look for horses capable of recording a final furlong time within 13.5 seconds.
  6. Assess gate number and race distance-Inside gates are advantageous. Especially when it rains, a gate number between 1-4 is ideal. At Seoul Racecourse, if the race distance is 5f or 1 1/16 mi, it is difficult for a horse drawn 10 or higher to win because of the short run between the gate and the first turn. Note that in Korea, TAB number and Barrier number are always the same.
  7. Be careful of runners who are up in class for the first time.
  8. Betting on runners recently and consistently in the money is recommended.
  9. Runners whose body weight is over 1,000 lbs. are to be favored. Body weights are posted 1 hour prior to the race so check them.


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