Raon The Fighter stumbled at the gate and ultimately went down to the very first defeat of his career as Eoma Eoma won the Busan Ilbo Sprint (1200M – KOR G3) at Busan Racecourse on Sunday afternoon.
Entering Sunday’s race a perfect ten from ten and having beaten the other big guns in the field in last autumn’s SROA Chairman’s Trophy Raon The Fighter was sent off a prohibitively short-priced favourite for the Busan Ilbo, the first leg of the Korean Sprint Series.
Eoma Eoma, who had looked a picture when parading, was second in the betting while a resurgent Blue Chipper was third in the market.
Calamity struck the favourite coming out of the gate. Raon The Fighter stumbled and then dipped, losing any chance of getting to the lead. Jockey Lee Hyeok had a split-second decision to make and rather than dropping in behind, he opted to take Raon The Fighter up wide and to the speed. It was a gamble that didn’t pay off.
Eoma Eoma meanwhile got an easy tow to the lead from East Jet, who set the pace on his inside. Under Moon Se-young, Eoma Eoma would take up the running with just over a furlong left to travel and while Raon The Fighter finally appeared on the scene in the home straight and ran on bravely and gamely, he couldn’t get to the winner.
Eoma Eoma won by a full three-lengths with Raon The Fighter swooping late for a very competitive 2nd while Dixie Again was a revelation in 3rd.
Winning jockey Moon Se-young was uncharacteristically emotional after the race and, swerving questions about the run of Raon The Fighter, he talked to in-house broadcaster KRBC only about his own mount.
“I thought Eoma Eoma was working so well this week, so I really need to thank the guys who came down to Busan and prepared him so well” said Moon Se-young. “I only rode him the last two days in trackwork, so it is nothing to do with me, they prepared him perfectly – really when you guys (KRBC) asked me how he was on Thursday, well, I almost wanted to hide how good he was doing.”
Moon went on to describe what it meant to him personally to win the race. “I usually ride in Seoul, but I am from Busan. I am a Busan guy. I grew up in Milyang (northern Busan suburb) so I have desperately wanted to win a big race in Busan; in my home town. It had never happened for me before, but now it has.”
It might be a blemish on his record, and Raon The Fighter is now probably not going to break Mister Park’s unbeaten streak. However, he didn’t lose much in terms of reputation, and he will surely win many more.
Blue Chipper, who was sent off as third in the market but who ultimately crossed the line a long last, was found to have bled.
The next leg of the Sprint Series is the SROA Chairman’s Sprint at Seoul on May 22nd before the final leg in the SBS Sports Sprint, also in the capital on June 19th. The Korea Sprint itself is on September 4th.