Secret Whisper ran the final furlong of her life to win the Gyeongnam Governor’s Cup, the final leg of the 2013 Queens’ Tour, at Busan Race Park this afternoon.
With Korean Derby and Oaks winner Speedy First out of sorts to the extent that she was tailed off in the home straight, it was left to Joy Lucky to throw down the gauntlet to Secret Whisper.
For a time, it looked like she might just run off with the prize. Seoul’s Champion filly took the lead early and battled gamely to keep it the whole way around.
But Secret Whisper was relentless.
Under Busan’s champion jockey Jo Sung Gon, she got into her rhythm at the top of the home straight and pressed and pressed until finally, just yards from the line, she collared Joy Lucky and crossed the line in front by the narrowest of margins.
It’s a 3rd Stakes win – and only a 2nd Group win – for Australian trainer Peter Wolsley. Indeed, it’s the first time that the Melbourne native has saddled a horse who has crossed the line first in a Group race – his previous winner, Khaosan in the 2011 Owners’ Cup, being promoted after an inquiry.
Less well noticed today but still significant was that the win took Wolsley up to 2nd in the 2013 trainers’ Championship with 49 in total. He looks to have every chance to maintain that position to win the race to be 2nd to runaway leader Kim Young Kwan.
Kim has the resources, firepower and influence that have never been available to any trainer in Korea before. He will continue to win the title for as many years as he chooses.
But while Kim is very much the stereotypical modern trainer – primarily a businessman who leaves the day-to-day running of the stables to his staff – Wolsley is a horseman. In the build-up to this race, he rode Secret Whisper himself in trackwork and he still breaks in the 2-year olds that get sent to him. Today the horseman won.
After the race, the camera shy (on this blog we’re still using a picture of him from 5 years ago) and ever-modest Wolsley, instead of talking about his own achievement, preferred to focus on what a good filly the 2nd placed Joy Lucky is.
It’s that self-deprecating character that saw him through his tough first 2 years in Korea. Now finally, he is reaping a well deserved harvest.
As for the Queens’ Tour, the first leg was all the way back in March so it’s hard to say just how much we should trust it in choosing our champion filly & mare of the year. Ttukseom Cup winner Useung Touch was nowhere while KKN Cup winner Yodeongseong didn’t even bother to line-up.
Secret Whisper, bred and owned by Peter Hill’s Pegasus Operation on Jeju Island, has been in Wolsley’s barn her whole career. She could now be in line for a tilt at next month’s Grand Prix Stakes in Seoul, after which there is a potential race abroad before broodmare duties beckon.
Gyeongnam Governor’s Cup (KOR G3) – Busan Race Park – 2000M – November 17, 2013
1. Secret Whisper (KOR) [Sea Of Secrets – Generals Passion (General Meeting)] – Jo Sung Gon – 2.8, 1.4
2. Joy Lucky (KOR) [Vicar – Proper Gun (Prosper Fager)] – Seo Seung Un – 1.7
3. Sangnyu (USA) [Broken Vow – Midtown Miss (Yes It’s True)] – Jang Chu Youl – 2.5
Distances: Head/2.5 lengths
Also Ran: 4. Grand Teukgeup (KOR) 5. Dehere Queen (USA) 6. Choichoro (KOR) 7. Seungniuihamseong (KOR) 8. Imperial Star (KOR) 9. Fine Gongju (KOR) 10. Useung Touch (KOR) 11. Kkon Maru (USA) 12. Silver Classic (USA) DQ. Miracle Wonder (KOR) DQ. Dongseo Daeruk (USA) DQ. Imperial Girl (USA) DQ. Speedy First (KOR).
Winning Jockey: Jo Sung Gon
Winning Owner: Pegasus Stables
Winning Trainer: Peter Wolsley