The unthinkable has happened again. The once unstoppable Raon The Fighter went down to his second consecutive defeat as Black Musk swooped in the final stride to claim victory in the SROA (Seoul Racehorse Owners’ Association) Trophy (1200M KOR-G3), the second leg of the Sprint Series at Seoul Racecourse on Sunday afternoon.
Raon The Fighter had excuses for his reverse at the hands of Eoma Eoma in the first leg of the Series, the Busan Ilbo Sprint, last month. With that day’s winner currently on the sidelines, Raon The Fighter, who had previously racked up ten consecutive victories, was once more sent of as a hot-favourite among the eleven-strong field.
Just as he did in Busan, the favourite would take a bump coming out of the gate as Raon The Fighter and Black Musk came together, while Hit Yegam, the double-Classic winner from last year, bounded away and into an early lead. As he was in the Busan Ilbo, after that early setback, Raon The Fighter was ridden up hard to join the leader and the two of them hared off around the turn running wide and opening up a four-length lead on the field.
Despite those early exertions, it seemed as though this time Raon The Fighter would not be denied as Hit Yegam gave way approaching the furlong pole, but it quickly became apparent that he needed the line. Morfhis seemed to be the immediate danger, the 2020 SBS Sports Sprint winner barreling down the inside under Johan Victoire. The initially unseen and real danger though was Black Musk.
Leading just one as they entered the home straight, Black Musk went wide and moved through the gears under jockey Yoo Seung-wan. He and Morfhis, on opposite sides of the track, launched their challenge and with Raon The Fighter on the ropes, it was just a matter of whether they would run out of track. Morfhis did run out of track, passing Raon The Fighter a stride after the line. Black Musk though, got there right when it mattered, and came home the 28/1 winner.
Black Musk is a four-year-old American-bred colt by Flat Out and out of Upjumpedthedevil (by Tizdejavu). He was a $10,000 purchase by Rice Horse Stables at the 2019 Fasig-Tipton Kentucky October Yearlings sale before being sold to Korean interests for $35,000 at the Ocala Breeders’ Sales delayed Spring Sale of Two-Year-Olds in June 2020.
Owned by Kim Han-su and trained by Kim Dong-gyu, Black Musk is now a winner of eight of thirteen starts. For his trainer, it was a second win in this race after Cheonji Storm took the honours in 2018, when the race was restricted to Korean-bred runners only. It was Kim Dong-kyun’s third group success in total with the other one coming with Meni Hero in last November’s Owners’ Cup at Busan – a race over a mile in which Black Musk led, but ultimately finished last. For jockey Yoo Seung-wan, it was a ninth Group race win. Six of those previous ones were on the great mare Silver Wolf.
Morfhis rolled back the years in 3rd while again, Raon The Fighter didn’t really lose much in defeat. At the Busan Ilbo last month, he stumbled coming out of the gate and then ran hard and wide and this time, after a bump, he was ridden very hard to compete with Hit Yegam. Hindsight is a luxury, but both Lee Hyeok on Raon The Fighter and You Hyun-myung on Hit Yegam may feel that the early and prolonged speed duel was mutually destructive.
It could easily have been twelve out of twelve for Raon The Fighter, but with two runner-up finishes, he could still end up winning the series if he can go one better in the final race.
The third and final leg of the Sprint Series is the SBS Sports Sprint (1200M KOR-G3) at Seoul Racecourse on Sunday June 12th. The leading finishers in the series will be expected to take their chance in the International Korea Sprint (1200M-G3) on September 4th. Don’t rule out Raon The Fighter, but don’t rule out Black Musk either.