Winner’s Man’s stock continues to soar as last year’s Korean Derby winner defeated last year’s Grand Prix Stakes winner, Haengbok Wangja, in a home-straight joust in the YTN Cup (2000M KOR-G3) at Seoul Racecourse on Sunday afternoon.
The YTN Cup was the second leg of the 2022 “Stayer Series” but while Winner’s Man ran out the easy winner of the first race, the Herald Business Trophy (2000M KOR-L) earlier this month, he was still only sent off as second favourite for Sunday’s race. That was because Haengbok Wangja, emphatic winner of the season-ending Grand Prix Stakes on Boxing Day, joined proceedings and was locked in as the odds-on favourite.
Drawn the widest in the field of eleven, Winner’s Man was ridden hard from the gate by jockey Seo Seung-un to get up on the pace but had to yield the lead Touch Star Man, a winner of two legs of the Triple Crown in 2020, on his inside as the field headed into the first corner. Touch Star Man’s stablemate King Of The Match joined them on pace while Haengbok Wangja was settled into 4th.
Touch Star Man was the first to give way turning for home and King Of The Match’s challenge promptly folded too, leaving Winner’s Man and Haengbok Wangja to battle it out over the final two furlongs. Always on top, Winner’s Man never let his rival get to within less than a length of him and ultimately crossed the line going away. The pair were a full seven-lengths clear of Geuma Mystic in 3rd while the nine-year-old Shamrocker ran an excellent 4th.
Winner’s Man is by Musket Man and is out of Winner’s Marine (by Volponi), who was a six-time winner in Korea. He was winning for the eleventh time in sixteen starts and for the second time at Group level, following his triumph in the delayed Korean Derby last November.
Just as it was a second Group win for the horse, so too it was for trainer Choi Ki-hong, for whom Winner’s Man is turning out to by far the best horse in an eighteen-year career. Jockey Seo Seung-un, was partnering his ninth Group race winner.
The win means that Winner’s Man now has an unassailable lead in the Stayer Series with one race still to come, the Busan Mayor’s Cup (KOR G2), the most valuable leg of the series in terms of prizemoney, which will be run over the slightly shorter distance of 1800M at Busan on June 26th.