I’m an equine enthusiast. I have ridden and loved horses all my life. My childhood bedroom (which remains nearly unchanged) was covered with horse posters, model horses that I collected, and blue ribbons that I won. So I jump at the chance to do anything horse related when I travel – though I try to be discerning when it comes to riding; I really don’t want to give money to any place that doesn’t treat their horses right.
When I was a kid, I dreamed I could get famous for riding. My main dream was to ride for the US in the Olympics, but my secondary one was to become a racing jockey. I knew I was too tall, too heavy for that, but hey, I have a history of doing things I’m too big for (for instance, I was a coxswain for my high school crew team. I could barely cram my 5’7″ self into the cox seat in some shells, but I did it anyway).
Despite my dream of someday riding a racehorse, I didn’t watch races much. But I did go to the races a few times. I discovered in Korea that horse racing is somewhat popular, and there’s a track in Gwacheon, not far from Seoul.
On a lovely April day, Jeff and I headed over to Seoul Race Park and paid the 800 Won admission fee. We also picked up one of the race pamphlets that are everywhere for 1000 Won (pro tip: wait until you get into the park and pick up the free English version!).
We found a nice spot on the grass near the home stretch and sat and watched the races. We were able to stand at the rail and see everything, which was cool. It wasn’t too crowded.
I also took some time to watch them warming up a little.
Some women in tan coats escorted the racehorses to the starting gate on big grays.
And then, as they say, they were off! Horse races go fast; if you’re not quick you’ll miss it.
We took a break from watching to eat some tasty fried mandu (dumplings).
The Seoul Race Park has a museum inside on the history of horses in Korea. It’s small but pretty decent, and not to mention free. It’s in a separate building from the grandstand.
After walking through the main building (and picking up a “how to betting” pamphlet), which is pretty much just full of betting machines, we walked down so we could watch the horses rounding the last turn.
This, apparently, is where all the professional photographers hang out. At least based on their gigantic lenses and clearly very expensive gear.
We left after a few hours. We decided to skip out on betting; we’re not much for gambling, though there is something like a 1000 Won (about US $0.86) minimum so you don’t have to spend much for betting! There is also a very small trick-eye painting area in the main building which we did not neglect to pose with.
Seoul Race Park is easy to find; it’s at the Seoul Race Park stop on line 4 (close to the zoo and Seoul Land). Again, it costs 800 Won to get in – you can even pay with your T-Money card! Something to note is that unlike horse racing in America (and unlike many activities in Korea), there is no drinking at the race track. I guess gambling and drinking don’t mix in Korea.
Do you enjoy horse races?