The White Light Shines Again At Seoul
It’s almost three years to the day since Baekgwang roared up the Seoul Race Park home straight reeling in horse after horse to land the 2006 Minister’s Cup. That win completed a hat-trick of big race wins and was enough to see him crowned Champion Three Year Old of that year. Having started his 2007 campaign in much the same fashion, injury struck and has plagued him ever since.
Off the track for nearly a year, he returned in the 2008 Ttukseom Cup and ran a strong second only to return to his barn with severely damaged knee ligaments. His career looked over once and for all. However, a year of stem cell therapy and recuperation on Jeju Island saw Baekgwang make a second comeback fifteen months later in this July’s SBS Cup, the race his little sister Baekpa had won in his absence last year. Baekgwang ran fourth, keeping his record of always finishing in the money intact but most importantly, he came out of the race in fine condition.
A second place to Gi Ra Seong followed last month but today, the rehabilitation was complete. Running seventh of nine as they entered the straight, Baekgwang – the “White Light” – ran them all down to finally reclaim his rightful place in the winner’s circle. Yes he was favourite in a slightly sub-par class 1 field and yes, big danger Hwangnyongsaji was a late scratching but in winning, Baekgwang brought a smile to the face of even the most hardened punter.
Baekgwang will almost certainly be pointed next at November’s President’s Cup – a race that, had he stayed injury free, he would no doubt have been in the mix for over the past two years. While the winner of the last two editions, Myeongmun Gamun, is now out of the picture, the likes of Gi Ra Seong and Secret Weapon remain very much on the prowl and Baekgwang will be an outsider.
Whatever happens next will happen. Punters paid him the ultimate compliment by yelling his name rather than his number as he entered the stretch this afternoon – an honour that only Subsidy, Bally Brae and Baekpa have received recently. His place in Korean racing history is already assured and the best thing about it is that against all odds, it’s not over yet.
Class 1 Handicap – Seoul Race Park – 2000M – Oct 17, 2009
1. Baekgwang (KOR) [The Groom Is Red – Grey Crest (Gold Crest)] – Park Tae Jong – 1.6, 1.0
2. Free Woody (KOR) [Social Charter – Choeseonbong (Imperial Prince)] – Lee Jun Cheol – 3.4
3. Ugildongja (KOR) [Dixie Dot Com – May Roses (Incinderator)] – Moon Jung Kyun – 1.4
Distances: 0.5 lengths/0.5 lengths – 9 ran