The sisters came together at the top of the home straight but Raon First promptly asserted her authority over younger sibling Raon Pink and the rest of the filly and mare division, as she romped away for an easy victory in the Listed Donga Ilbo Trophy, the first leg of the Queens’ Tour, at Seoul Racecourse on Sunday afternoon.
Having displaced the retired Silver Wolf and Dia Road atop the filly and mares ranks, Raon First has dominated the division, and came into this race having closed out 2021 with victory in the G3 Jeju Governor’s Cup before opening her account for 2022 with a facile score in the Listed Segye Ilbo Trophy at the end of January. Having beaten the males at class 1 too, she entered a hot favourite for the 1800M Donga Ilbo, despite having done her best work at one-turn.
Raon First was sent off at odds-on but from the wide gate, jockey Choi Bum-hyun was content to let her sit just off the lead in the early stages as Raon Pink made the early running while longest shot on the board, Singsing Mary along with placing hope Florida Power were in close attendance too.
Things would stay that way until they turned towards the home straight when Singsing Mary would find her race run, leaving the sisters briefly alone together. When the question was asked, Raon Pink was no match for Raon First and the race became a formality as Raon First streaked away to win by four-lengths.
Clear Geom, runner-up to Raon First in the Jeju Governor’s Cup, would come home second-best again, while Florida Power held off a late Cheonji Yeogeol challenge to claim 3rd. Raon Pink faded and ended up in 7th place, one spot behind the filly she finished runner-up to in last season’s Korean Oaks, Choegang Black.
For Raon First, who is by Musket Man and out of Pink Candy (by Southern Image), it was a tenth win from seventeen starts. Connections will need to decide whether she remains in the comfortable environs of the Queens’ Tour, with its remaining legs being the Ttukseom Cup at 1400M in June and then the KNN Cup down at Busan over a mile in July. Given the abundance of talent at the disposal of the burgeoning Raon empire – with the phenom Raon The Fighter at its forefront – this seems her likely course.
In other races, a class 1 handicap over 1400M at Busan loaded with talent went the way of Yeongung Louis. The US-bred four-year-old (by Violence) had announced his arrival with an outstanding 3rd place in the SBS Sports Sprint at Seoul and on Sunday made his class 1 debut among a field containing KRA Cup Classic winner Mr. Afleet as well as Doctor Carson and the in-form Barbarian. Ultimately Yeongung Louis would be on pace throughout, and cruised away to score by five-lengths, taking his record to six wins from eleven starts.
Back at Seoul, Haengbok Wangja made his first appearance since winning the 2021 Grand Prix Stakes in December. It was not to be a winning one though, as Simjangui Godong, the 2021 President’s Cup winner, beat him in a straight two-horse shoot-out in the home straight.
Simjangui Godong, is by Korean-bred champion Jigeum I Sungan,and just like his father is a rare horse in Korea who wears no headgear. He moved on to ten wins from twenty-five starts and set another marker down as racing in Korea moves its sights upon the international Korea Cup in September.