Busan Gyeongnam Racecourse Park is the newer of the two thoroughbred racecourses in Korea, located west of Busan, the other being the Seoul Racecourse. Also referred to as the Let’s Run Busan Park, the racecourse was established in 2005.
Busan Racecourse is considered the biggest hippodrome (ancient stadium in Greek Times used for chariot and horse racing) in Busan and Gimhae. The racecourse is operated by the Korean Racing Authority, the only racing authority in Korea.
The racecourse does not host Grade 1 horse races but is home to prominent Grade II races like the KRA Cup Mile and the Korean Oaks. The Grade I races are usually held at the Seoul Racecourse, while the third track on Jeju Island hosts races for an indigenous pony breed only.
Here are a few facts about the history and facilities of Busan Racecourse:
Busan Racecourse History
Horse racing in Korea can be traced back to as early as 1898 when a government-run foreign language training centre organised a race for donkeys on the institution’s sports day. The sport slowly began to gain popularity, and in April 1914, the country had its first race, which was open to the public as well.
At that time, races were intended for recreation only, and no betting was involved. To give the sport an official status and revitalise the sport in the country, the Joseon Racing Association was named KRA (Korea Racing Association) in 1949.
The Korean Racing Association was later named the Korean Racing Authority. Today, this 108-year-old organisation is invested in developing leisure and entertainment facilities to grow tourism and increase interest in sports.
In August 2001, the Korean Racing Authority started the construction of the Busan Racecourse Park in a bid to improve the country’s racing quality and promote the sport on a national level. This new thoroughbred racecourse was operational in September 2005 in Korea’s second-largest city, Busan. Before this, thoroughbred races were only held at the Seoul Racecourse Park, while the Jeju Racecourse featured races for the native pony breed only.
Another feather in the cap for the Busan Racecourse is that it was the primary filming location in the 126th episode of the Running Man, a South Korean variety show shot in 2012.
Busan Racecourse facilities
Busan Racecourse has three oval tracks. However, only two of the tracks are used for races. The circumference of the outer sand track is 2000m and a straight of 460m. The racecourse also features a chute which can be used for 1000m races.
The racecourse has a grandstand that can accommodate around 32,000 people. The facility also features stables that can accommodate around 1,000 horses. There is plenty of sitting space inside and outside.
However, despite the grand space, the racecourse gets very crowded on Sundays when everyone heads to the park to enjoy a good family time and watch the races as well. There is a huge 13m wide screen in the park, which provides a live broadcast of the horse races.
In addition to a wide space for horses and race spectators, the racecourse has a lake and a family park in the infield. You will also find a petting area near the grandstand called the Ponyland. The racecourse park also runs various programs for family entertainment like pony riding, biking, a rose garden, and a flower carriage.
To facilitate foreign punters, a designated betting window is available with language assistance if required on the third floor of the grandstand.
The racecourse features many food options, most of which are near the main grandstand. The food court is on the third floor of the grandstand, serving western and Korean, and Chinese food. There is a fast food franchise on the first floor, while the second floor features a Chinese restaurant and a cafe.
Busan Racecourse is home to the KRA Cup Mile, the first leg of the Korean Triple Crown and considered the equivalent of the 2,000 Guineas. The race is held on the first Sunday of April. The racecourse again comes alive in July when the Busan Metropolitan takes place. Since 2008, the racecourse is also home to the Korean Oaks.
What are the race days in Busan Racecourse Park?
Since 2017 Busan Racecourse has featured 12 races every Friday and Sunday. On Friday, there are 10-11 races (from 11:30 am until 6 pm), and on Sundays, there are 6 races (from 12:30 pm until 5 pm). The races taking place on the racecourse are simulcast with the Jeju Racecourse on Friday and Seoul Racecourse on Sundays, and other centres for off-course betting.
How to get to Busan Racecourse
Busan Racecourse is located in the western part of Busan and towards the southwest of the Gimhae Airport. You can reach the racecourse by taxi or bus. The Korean Racing Authority runs a free shuttle bus service to the racecourse on race days. You can also use the shuttle service to get to the racecourse on Saturdays when the racecourse is open for simulcasting.