It’s long been known as the “Summer Grand Prix”, and this year’s Busan Mayor’s Cup (1800M KOR-G2) didn’t disappoint as Winner’s Man completed a clean-sweep of the Stayer Series at Busan Racecourse on Sunday afternoon, propelling him one step closer to a clash with the internationals in September’s Korea Cup while also confirming a generational change at the elite level of Korean racing.
Despite having won the first two legs of the Stayer Series, the Herald Business Trophy (2000M KOR-L) and the YTN Cup (2000M KOR-G2), Winner’s Man was only sent off as second-favourite for the nine-furlong Mayor’s Cup as punters backed Grand Prix Stakes winner Haengbok Wangja to avenge his YTN defeat.
As it turned out, the perils of anything but a low draw in a big field over the 1800M at Busan, what with its short run to the first turn, ensnared Haengbok Wangja as following a slightly below par jump from the gate, Haengbok Wangja found himself pushed wide on the first corner and trailing the field. While he would ultimately record the second fastest final furlong time of all of them, it was in vain, and he finished 9th.
That left double Classic winner and runner-up to Winner’s Man in the 2021 Derby, Hit Yegam, to claim the early lead with Winner’s Man matching him stride for stride. They would remain that way until the home straight when Winner’s Man finally shook off old rival Hit Yegam, who was the colt who beat him to Champion Three-Year-Old honours last year, and Winner’s Man strode away for a three-length win.
The always prominent Simjangui Godong ran on powerfully for 2nd with up and coming four-year-olds Success Macho and King Of The Match in in 3rd and 4th. Hit Yegam, after his early exertions, was 5th.
“I’m really happy” winning trainer Choi Ki-hong told national broadcaster KBS, which screened the race live on their N Sports channel. “The race played out exactly as we had planned but that was only possible due to the hard work of everyone at the stable who made sure everything was right for Winner’s Man today.”
“(Jockey) Seo Seung-un really played his part too, he gave Winner’s Man the perfect ride. It’s a huge achievement for the horse and for us to win all three races in this series and we’ll make sure to keep Winner’s Man happy and plan carefully for what is to come next”.
Ultimately that could be the Korea Cup (1800M-G3) in Seoul on September 4th with the international race set to return for the first time since 2019. On today’s evidence, Winner’s Man is at least worth a chance against overseas opposition and with Korean-bred runners occupying six of the first seven places in the Mayor’s Cup, there is little to fear, either in the international race or in the imminent resumption of imported racehorses.
The Mayor’s Cup also signaled a confirmation of the changing of the guard. Simjangui Godong was the only horse older then four in the top five and the only three runners aged seven or above, occupied the last three places. Longest shot on the board Super Socks was one of those but he was at least in touch with the field.
That wasn’t the case for Cheongdam Dokki and Blue Chipper. The latter bled for the second time in as many races and while he was a winner as recently as January and Dokki as recently as last autumn, it seems that retirement is the best option for both champions now.
Winner’s Man is now where Cheongdam Dokki and Blue Chipper were when they were four years old. The future is a bright one.
Race Video (English): https://youtu.be/4jRRxWA53Zc
Winner’s Man Jockey Cam: https://youtu.be/t0KB5hLmVhY