…and they’re off (-track Horse Racing at Walkerhill)

I’m always on the hunt for something new and exciting to do on the weekends in Korea.  In Seoul, it’s been go, go, go with new and exciting opportunities popping up all over the place.  This past weekend was one of my most luxurious and exquisite weekends yet.  If you’re looking for a real Seoulcialite experience in Korea, read on…

As someone who used to work in the online gaming industry in Vancouver, where “Thoroughbred Day at the Races” is a major yearly event, you’d think I would have spent more time watching the ponies.  While I understand the logistics, odds, and mechanics of table games (and know that the slots are your worst odds in Vegas), horse racing was completely foreign to me.  What do a Seoulcialite, a Fashionista, a Southern Belle, a Tree-hugging Mom, and a Nerd have in common?  Foreigners were exactly what the Korean Racing Association wanted to see at the brand new Sheraton Walkerhill Off-Track Betting Center in Seoul, and we bloggers got to enjoy all the benefits last weekend!  To be clear: we were invited to join a blogger open house at the Sheraton Walkerhill Off-Track Horse-Racing Center.  The OTB experience that we had is not limited to press, it is what you will get when you visit Walkerhill yourself.  Let’s Run: A case where going “Off Track” is a good thing.

The new facilities, which opened Friday June 3rd, 2016, are clean and quiet.  This is a far cry from what I would have imagined having been to some of the casinos throughout Asia.  A few juicy details to note before jumping into the nitty-gritty:

–         Entrance is free until the end of June

–         Food & Beverages will be free until the end of June

–         A free betting voucher of 5,000 Won will be provided to try out betting (at a 100 Won minimum bet this means you may bet as many as 50 times for free!)

–         Parking tickets are provided for those with cars (don’t drink and drive, however, ladies and gents!)

–         There will be on-going promotions after the current promotion ends, so make sure to sign up for a silver or gold membership to keep apprised of all the exciting events!

Hardly like Vegas, this small, well-lit space offers tons of screens with all the statistics you’ll need, and shots of the horses racing for the 10 minute in advance of each race.  Walkerhill even has a classroom for those of us who need a little extra attention and like to take an educated approach to gambling.

20160611_155204There are a variety of bets you can make!

Here’s the horse-betting guide for dummies:

20160611_154600

Win:  Choose a horse you think will win.  If it comes in first, you win! Hoorayyyy…

Place:  Choose a horse you think will place 1st, 2nd, or 3rd.  If that horse places, you win.  This is your lowest risk bet.  Lower risk means a lower reward, so choose this option if you’re nervous about betting.

Quinella:  In a Quinella, you’ll bet on the two horses you think will come in 1st or 2nd.  The order doesn’t matter.

Exacta:  Exacta is like Quinella, except the order matters.  You must select which horse will place 1st and which horse will place 2nd.

Quinella Place: Select 2 horses.  If they BOTH place (1st, 2nd, or 3rd), you win!

Trio: Select 3 horses to place 1st, 2nd, and 3rd in any order.

As far as picking the horse(s) on which you’ll bet?  That’s up to you. Apparently you’re supposed to look for a nice, shiny coat, a big booty (ho-rse), a thick neck, and vascularity for the majestic beast on which you’ll be betting.  You can check out how many times each horse has raced, and of those races how many times they have come in 1st, 2nd, and 3rd.  You’ll see the horses favoured to win as well as those thought to place by specialists and analysts, but ultimately it all comes down to lady luck.

20160611_171504
VIP at the KRA Horse-Racing OTB Sheraton Walkerhill

After trying our luck in the open-area lounge (where I broke even) we headed upstairs, with our free lattes – I might add, to the VIP lounges.  There are a variety of themed rooms designed to give each group a different experience, while still enabling each guest to engage in the betting process by having a wall FULL of TV’s with statistics floating by.  There was one main TV screen showing the race in the VIP rooms, while the other screens displayed the odds for the various bets.  In the common room, a much larger TV’s broadcast the race.

Personally, as much as I loved the theme rooms I would probably stick to the lounge.  As the venue gets busier it’ll be a great place to meet people, and is ideal for people without much prior experience with horse-betting.  As we were asking one another a ton of questions, one of the friendly staff came over to explain in even simpler terms how to pick your horse and place your bet.  The VIP rooms tend to appeal to more serious, professional horse-racing gamblers.  I think in the near future their aim is to make things a little more weekend (read: Sunday-Funday for me!) friendly  vibe with music, drinks, and more of a party atmosphere if that’s what you’re after.  What I particularly liked was that the center is very clean (non-smoking), the service is phenomenal, and the English-speaking attendants will explain any betting-related issues about which you might still be wondering.

Want the best of both worlds?  Perfect!  From 5:30 PM – 7:30 PM at the Club Lounge on the 17th Floor there’s a happy hour with tons of cheese (rare for Korea!), pastries, salads, and pour your own Wine (Red, White, and Sparkling), Beer, and Spirits if you’re a guest at the Sheraton.  I mean, doesn’t it just make sense to get all dolled up, get the adrenaline rush of the races, and then “refresh” before a night on the town?

I will definitely be back to the Walkerhill OTB Center soon!  There are too many restaurants to explore at the Sheraton as well, and I need to master my Kentucky Derby confidence before hitting any of the many tracks in Korea (or the Queen’s Plate back home!).  I’ll be partnering with the Korean Racing Association for some upcoming events, so be sure to keep your eyes peeled on torontoseoulcialite.com as well as the Toronto Seoulcialite on Facebook.  Interested in hearing more about the Sheraton Walkerhill Hotel and my awesome experience there?  Well, just wait!  It’ll be up before month’s end.

Quick Notes on The Sheraton Walkerhill Hotel (adjusted from Google):

Set next to Achasan mountain, this elegant hotel is a minute’s walk (or free shuttle bus) from the nearest bus stop and a 25-minute bus strip from the underground COEX Mall.

Chic rooms and suites include free Wi-Fi and flat-screens. Club rooms give access to a lounge with free breakfast. Suites add separate living rooms. Room service is available 24/7.

Free perks include parking and a metro station shuttle service. There’s a bakery, a cafe and 6 restaurants, 1 of which serves Italian dishes. Additional amenities include event space, an exercise room, and indoor and outdoor pools. There’s also a souvenir shop, a casino, off-track horse betting and a tennis court. Pets are welcome.

Address: 177, 워커힐로 광진구 서울특별시

Phone: 02-455-5000

Let’s Run CCC. Walkerhill Horse-Racing OTB

Center Operation Information

Days: Fridays, Saturday & Sundays

Hours of Operation:

January – March: Friday, Saturdays & Sundays 9:00am ~ 6:30pm

April – June: Friday 11:00am ~ 7:30pm; Saturdays & Sundays 9:00am ~ 6:30pm

July – August: Fridays & Saturdays: 11:00am ~ 9:30pm; Sundays 9:00am ~ 6:30pm

September: Friday 11:00am ~ 7:30pm; Saturdays & Sundays: 9:00am ~ 6:30pm

October ~ December: Friday, Saturdays & Sundays 9:00am ~6:30pm

Special thanks to the team at The Korean Racing Association, Mimsie from My Seoul Searching, Yvette at District Gal, Lily from A Travel Lady Bug, Kristina at The Nerdventurists, and Hallie from The Soul of Seoul.


52 Comments Add yours

  1. Tina says:

    Sounds like fun!! Thanks for the info ♡♡

  2. thetravelpockets says:

    I’m not much of a gambler, but this sounds like a fun place to hang out with friends. Especially while the entrance fee and food and drinks are free!

  3. I would be really curious to see this in action. I lived in Yeosu for 4 years and could only imagine something like this coming to town! I have a feeling that with the epic hotel you’ve described, it will probably be a suuuper popular spot! Next time I’m in the ROK I’ll definitely have to check it out!

  4. Chantell says:

    There is nothing like getting all dolled up for races day! Your dress is so pretty and the whole day looks super fancy. I haven’t been to the races in a long time but back then, in Brisbane, racedays seemed to be the only time it was acceptable to start drinking before noon in public (except of course of Australia Day or the end of year holidays). Looks like you had a great time!

  5. M.B. Wells says:

    I can’t wait to go myself! I’ve never done anything outside of simulated horse racing, so this would be interesting to try!

  6. This would be exciting to try! I’ve been to horse racing in the States, but this looks like an A class experience. I’ll see you on Sunday Funday 🙂

  7. This sounds so exciting! I’ve been to horse races in the USA but it looks like Korea took it to another level! I’ll definitely be meeting you for Sunday Funday! ^^

  8. Megan Indoe says:

    I actually saw you were here in instagram with the soul of seoul blog!!!! We just went to Walkerhill recently to check out the casino and had a fun night out! I think we will have to add this to our list before we leave Korea! It looks like a blast! Thanks for sharing!

  9. Emily O'Keefe says:

    Free food! Cheese! 😀 Seems like a fun place~ Next time I’m in Seoul…

    Great post Kate and love your dress <3

  10. I would love to stay here sometime!! And who can go wrong with free food and bevvys! (Wish it was longer than the month of June for the freebies though! lol) And I’m in love with your blue dress 🙂 🙂

  11. Although not a gambler by heart, this way of gambling looks much more fun than the usual betting stuff. I also like the styles of betting, very simple to understand.

    1. It really was! They made it incredibly easy to understand, plus the clean and fresh atmosphere made for a relaxed event. Who needs to get stressed out when going somewhere for the entertainment, right?

  12. Laura Nalin says:

    Sounds like fun! My boyfriend and a group of our friends went to the racetrack a couple years ago and I won a WHOPPING 8,000 won! Good times! Love that outfit – beautiful!

  13. Laura says:

    Love this post! My boyfriend and a group of our friends went to the race track a couple years ago and I won a WHOPPING 8,000 won! Fun times. Also, I love your dress – so beautiful!

  14. Shirgie Scf says:

    What an interesting place to visit in Korea. It’s a perfect place especially during Summer season because it’s too hot to go around the street and find some happy place. This one is indoor, so it’s a good excuse to stay away from the sun. I’ve never been here though and I am not familiar with the address. I hope we can make it before June ends so we can avail Free Food!. 🙂

  15. danyroko says:

    Thanks for these infos. As a non-gambler yet, these definitions for dummies are exactly how I like them! I`ve been to races before but I always felt like I had no idea what those terms meant since everyone expected me to just place a lucky bet and go home, instead of actually trying to understand the process, what`s happening and on what i`m gambling.

    Free drinks, free food and free parking? Count on me! except that I`m still in Europe…

  16. Hanani says:

    Sounds fab!
    I didn’t know horse-racing is a big deal in SoKo. I wish I live in Seoul — so much more things to do 🙁

    PS: Love the dress you had on. It’s gorgeous!

  17. I didn’t know much about gambling so this is really helpful and doesn’t make it all seem so intimidating!

  18. Cynthia says:

    This sounds so interesting! I love how different and fun it sounds! Free food is definitely a plus too haha. P.S. I love your dress! Where did you get it from?

    1. Believe it or it not I got it at Forever 21 in Myeongdong in between a whole bunch of random cotton tees!

  19. abcdeghizzy says:

    Last summer my boyfriend went to Seoul with a few of his friends to celebrate his birthday at the race tracks. I wish these facilities were open at the time so I could have treated him to a plush experience like this. I didn’t even know Off-Track horse racing existed! But I guess you can find everything in Korea nowadays 😛 I really love the Andy Warhol-esque decorations of the New York room! Too cute!

  20. I really like how they offer an experience besides just betting on the races. There’s food and drink and a really nice atmosphere. Funny think, I was just in Vegas last week and stopped by a horse race area that looked nothing like this. Interesting find in Seoul.

  21. For someone living in Vegas it might be odd but I’m not much of a gambler. However, this definitely looks like a luxurious way to see the race and might actually give it a try.

  22. I find horse racing to be incredibly stressful. I tried it once in Canada and was super overwhelmed. Although with all the extra food and perks around, I may be inclined to give it another try!

  23. Sounds like so much fun! Never done anything like it, I suppose I won’t understand any of it, LOL, but no harm in doing something for the first time! Would love to visit Korea soon.

  24. Wendy Flor says:

    The last time my husband and I were at Walkerhill was ages ago. This promo of free entrance and wine is just amazing.

    I see a very socialite future posts from you. Very interesting! And you’re all dolled up!

  25. We have a Run CCC place in Daejeon near my home and now I know how to bet there (thanks to your post!) Your outfit was super cute and isn’t it crazy and funny to be a foreigner sometimes in Korea – you get to try and do things that you probably couldn’t back home.

  26. CityGirlSearching says:

    What a fun day out! I had no idea that there was racing to see here in Korea!

  27. woshilinda says:

    Fancy! I have never been to a horse racing and this looks really cool! Everyone looked like they had a blast!

  28. Well, I never thought I’d be saying this but, I WANT TO GO! Horse betting, let alone gambling, never intrigued me, but I feel like I’d be entertained with everything else going on. The fact that there is free food and drinks, AND nicely decorated modern rooms has me all for it. Thank you for sharing your experience! And I’m really enjoying your blog and content!

  29. Sounds very very interesting! I didn’t know they had races here in Korea.

  30. Wandering JM says:

    Wow! Free f&b! That would be nice. We are heading to Seoul next year and will surely visit this place. Thanks for sharing.

  31. This is amazing. Hopefully I can go here. 😀

  32. batanguenyonggala says:

    Wow. This is great. Hopefully i can go here. 😀

  33. Vyjay Rao says:

    Horse racing is such an exciting experience and Walker Hill seems to be the ideal setting for an awesome experience.

  34. Spencer says:

    I am for sure going to have to make it to the horse races sometime soon.

    1. What I liked about OTB at Walkerhill was that there was hardly any wait time between races! I’ll definitely need to check out the races in Gwacheon soon to compare.

  35. Wow! This something new to me on what to do in Korea and it looks fun and exciting! The place is so glamorous for a horse racing/betting place. I would really enjoy staying here for sure.

  36. Marjorie G. says:

    This is such a refreshing read, I didn’t know anything about horse betting until now. I would love to try it at least once just for fun.

  37. Oeeeeh that loooks amazing and your blue dress is beautiful
    Who doesn’t 😛 love free food!!

    1. Thank you! I haven’t worn it since…i need an excuse!

  38. soumna says:

    I never knew that they had horse racing there. I am not much of a gambler but looks like you had fun. I loved your dress too

  39. Sabine says:

    This is cool. I love your “Day of the races” – Outfit. It looks amazing! Sunny greetings from Germany!
    Sabine

  40. ericatheis says:

    My mind is kind of blown by how much money they’re pouring into promotion (free bets??!) but I’m sure it will pay off 1000x over. I’ve never been to a horse race in my life but I would absolutely hang out in a place like this. Is horse racing a thing on South Korea, or are they catering almost exclusively to the foreign/expat crowd?

    PS Your outfit is perfect 🙂

    1. Ahhh thank you! Forever 21 would you believe it? Free bets pay off because if you lose then its nothing off their back, but if you win you only keep the winnings off the initial bet which most people end up putting back into the entertainment anyway. It’s actually for foreigners only as Koreans may not bet in Korea by law. It was a cool place!

  41. Hahaha I’ll be looking for a big booty Ho-rse! I would love to visit Walkerhill!

  42. wow, must have been fun! I have never been to horse racing. I love the name Quinella! What a beautiful one 🙂

  43. This place looks gorgeous. I’ll bear it in mind for my potential trip to Seoul next year.

  44. I love how clear this is, usually I find racing overwhelming as I can’t understand the complex rules, but here you have laid out a clear plan on how to do it! The hotel sounds amazing too!

    1. Thanks! They really made it easy for us in our little seminar and then with the staff. It was truly horse racing for dummies!

  45. I’m not much of a gambler. But horse gambling looks like fun. I didn’t know they do it in South Korea though! Btw love your outfit, you look beautiful 🙂

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