Tough Win returned to the racecourse for the first time since last September and more importantly he returned to the Winner’s Circle for the first time since July 2013 with a vintage come from behind performance under the lights at Seoul Racecourse today.
Tough Win in the paddock prior to his racing return this afternoon
Wrapping up the bumper 15-race card, Tough Win (Yonaguska) was sent off as top weight and fourth in the betting for his first race as an 8-year-old and with a new jockey in the shape of Lee Chan Ho in the saddle.
Lee took Tough Win right to the back of the field as the exited the gates for the 1900M class 1 handicap, settling a full ten lengths behind the rest as they went into the first corner.
The well-fancied Bichui Wangja was showing the way for most of the race and Lee gently brought Tough Win back in touch as they went through the back-straight and began the turn for home.
Going wide, Lee and Tough Win still had ten horses to pass in the home straight but they picked them off but by the furlong pole, the race was as good as over, Tough Win cruising home by 2-lengths ahead of the rather unfortunately named favourite Unbeatable.
One of the stars of the past decade, Tough Win won the Busan Metropolitan and KRA Cup Classic in 2010 before beating Mister Park and Smarty Moonhak in a memorable 2011 edition of the Grand Prix. He would repeat his Metropolitan win in 2013 and today’s victory was his 23rd from 36 career stars.
The handicapper may punish him for this but it was worth it.
Motion Blur: Tough Win gets ahead in the final furlong
The foreign contingent at Busan made a good start to 2015 with Aussie trainer Peter Wolsley saddling two winners and Japanese jockey Joe Fujii riding two at the first race meeting of the year in Korea.
It was Wolsley who got on the board first, sending out highly thought of colt Macheon Bolt (Old Fashioned) to break his maiden at the second attempt by a full 12-lengths in race 2 under stable jockey Lee Hee Cheon.
Fujii quickly followed by getting his first winner of 2015 when hot-favourite Wonderful Star (Northern Afleet) cruised to race 4. His next was from a more unlikely source though as he guided 66/1 chance Cheonji Hero (Volponi) to a surprise win in race 8.
Wolsley’s double also came from an unlikely source as Goliath Marine (Volponi), up in class following a very good win just two weeks ago, beat off the challenge of Jungang Haeju in the final furlong to take a 12/1 victory.
Masa Tanaka had a more mixed day. After partnering Best Myeongun to an extremely creditable 2nd place in race 10, he was then thrown from favourite Dowon Gyeolui in the gate prior to race 12, an event that in his absence saw US import Owen’s Fortune (J Be K) land his 4th consecutive win. Despite the fall, Tanaka was able to complete his later riding engagements.
Fujii and Tanaka will be back at Busan on Sunday. Today though the attention shifts to Seoul with a bumper 15-race card.