Mask ran out a dominant winner of the Segye Ilbo Cup, landing Korea’s first Listed race of 2019 by a commanding two-and-a-half lengths under a fine ride by reigning champion jockey Antonio Da Silva at Seoul Raceourse on Sunday afternoon.
Second in last year’s Korean Derby, Mask was dropping back to six-furlongs for the first time since he was a juvenile but having ended last season strongly, the Testa Matta colt was sent off as co-favourite alongside Cheonji Storm, 3rd in this race a year ago.
It wasn’t to be for Cheonji Storm, who scarcely threatened, and nor was it for third-favourite Gasokbulpae, for whom the wide draw led to him using up too much energy in getting to his favoured forward position; once he finally made it there, his race was done. Instead it was left to Hansen filly Sinui Myeongryeong, well drawn on the inside to set the pace with while Da Silva had the luxury of dropping Mask in just behind.
That set the race up beautifully for Mask and with Da Silva operating at his fluid finest, the Lim Bong-chun trained colt struck the front just inside the furlong pole and he ran clear for a comfortable win. Sinui Myeongryeong had enough in her to stay on for 2nd place while City Star, runner up last year was a fast finishing 3rd.
For Mask it was a fifth win in fifteen career starts and his second in Listed company. A Group win still eludes him, but he’ll get a chance to rectify that when most of the top place-getters reconvene in the G3 Owners’ Cup in March over the same distance.
Next weekend at Seoul it’s the turn of the fillies and mares to get in on the Listed action in the shape of the Donga Ilbo Cup over 1800M. Gyeongnam Governor’s Cup winner Sky Bay is expected to be among the runners.