A week after Busan’s leading three-year-olds both suffered reverses, at Seoul on Sunday it was the turn of the capital city’s champion juvenile of last year to taste defeat for the first time. Yet just like Winner’s Man and Heat Yegam on the south coast a few days earlier, Heungbaragi produced an extremely encouraging performance and remains on course for whatever Triple Crown season ultimately ends up being offered.
There was certainly no disgrace in Heungbaragi being beaten by Raon Tough Man. The four-year-old ran 2nd to Save The World in last year’s delayed Korean Derby and was well-fancied in the Minister’s Cup before parting company with jockey Choi Bum-hyun on the second corner.
After a couple of mediocre showings, Raon Tough Man returned to something close to his best on Sunday, racing prominently throughout the class 3 1800M handicap before passing a tired Heungbaragi close to the line and go on to win by over two-lengths.
Heungbaragi was tackling two-turns for the first time and having never seen the back of a horse at any time in his previous four outings, it was no surprise when jockey Lee Joon-che took him straight to the front from gate 12. He would maintain his lead until just over half a furlong to go when Roan Tough Man proved too strong, but still had enough left to hold off a fast-closing pack and secure 2nd place.
A stablemate of Cheongdam Dokki, the Park Jong-kon trained Heungbaragi is by Old Fashioned and is the first foal out of Grand Marketing (by Marketing) who did her racing in Korea.
Both Seoul and Busan held Class 1 races at one-turn distances over the weekend. At Busan on Saturday, A Pure Good Man (by Simon Pure) saw off a tough field that included the likes of Ace Korea and Baengmunbaekdap to register his first every class 1 victory over 1200M. At Seoul a day later US-import Medici Glory (by Gemologist) was victorious at the same level over 1400M to pick up his fifth win in eleven career starts. Medici Glory was one of four winners on the day for jockey Yoo Seung-wan.
In other Korean racing news, Dolkong, who won the Curlin Handicap at the 2019 Dubai World Cup Carnival, successfully trialed at Seoul Racecourse on Friday. Now seven-years-old, Dolkong had returned to Korea and won the Busan Mayor’s Cup and KRA Cup Classic before suffering a fractured sesamoid a week before the Grand Prix Stakes in late 2019.
Having been successfully treated, Dolkong returned to light training at the end of last year and made sufficient progress to take part in his first official trial. Under Antonio Da Silva, he was given an easy time in the 1000M heat, going back before running on well for 7th place in a fast time. Dolkong is officially now re-qualified for racing but isn’t expected to make his competitive return just yet.
Racing will return to Busan this coming Saturday and Seoul once more on Sunday. Mark Story, a US import by Currency Swap and winner of three from four before setbacks struck, is set to make his long anticipated comeback in Seoul’s Sunday class 2 feature race.