After a campaign of mainly coming off second-best when it really counts, Raon The Spurt finally got her reward in the shape of a big Group race win as she dominated the Gyeongnam Governor’s Cup (2000M KOR-G2) at Busan on Sunday afternoon, securing the final leg of the Queens’ Tour for herself and the overall series title for stablemate Raon First.
Golden Power won all three legs of the Triple Tiara, with Raon The Spurt trailing her home in 3rd in the Luna Stakes and then 2nd in both the Korean Oaks and the Gyeonggi Governor’s Cup. Since the end of that series Raon The Spurt had maintained her form better, winning back-to-back races at 1800M and 1200M before running second to Wish Me in the Jeju Governor’s Cup and punters accordingly sent her off as the favourite as the three-year-old pair faced off with their seniors.
Those favourite backers never had a moment’s cause for concern as Raon The Spurt broke well from the plum draw of gate three and quickly got to the lead. Jockey Choi Bum-hyun was able to set a tempo to suit and it proved too hot for the rest as Raon The Spurt cruised to a six-length win in a very fast time.
As for Golden Power, she began as second favourite, but at no stage did she look a danger, settling back and making it up to fifth in the home straight before ultimately weakening and crossing the line in ninth.
Jeju Governor’s Cup track-record breaker Wish Me was sent off as third-favourite and under Antonio Da Silva, was hurried along from her nightmare draw of gate sixteen to loop the field and take the early lead. That gamble was her only chance of prevailing and the question was how long she would stay on after such an early effort over an unfamiliar distance. She ran gamely but would ultimately run out of steam in the home straight, finishing seventh.
Calm Strong, the KNN Cup winner, also drew a poor barrier for a front-runner, having to navigate to the front from gate fourteen and while she was able to race prominently throughout the back straight, she was one of the first to be beaten.
Stepping up to get closest to the winner on the line were 19/1 chance Flat Babe, who settled back under Franco Da Silva and gradually improved as the race went on. She came home in second-place, two-and-a-half lengths clear of Eodigana, a Smarty Moonhak filly who won over the distance in last year’s Triple Tiara final leg. She set off in excess of 80/1.
Raon The Spurt is by Raon’s own stallion Musket Man and out of Japanese-bred mare Tomiken Spring (by Suzuka Mambo). Owned by her breeder, Son Chun-soo of Raon, she is trained by Park Jong-kon. Her victory propels Musket Man to the top of the Leading General Sire rankings despite having just 274 starters throughout 2022 compared to 899 for now second-placed Cowboy Cal. It’s not necessarily only Musket Man’s influence, but also Raon’s attention to early pre-training on their uphill track at their Jeju training centre staffed with not only some very good local, but some skilled overseas grooms too, that is coming together to pay huge dividends.
So Raon The Spurt won the race and Raon First the series for Son Chun-soo and his Raon organization. Raon First is expected to head to the Grand Prix Stakes on December 11th, where she will be joined by Raon The Fighter, the Korea Cup runner-up and KRA Cup Classic winner. The latter is then scheduled for a tilt at the Dubai World Cup Carnival. The Raon Empire is building momentum.
Next weekend, the Champion Juvenile will be crowned with the running of the Breeders’ Cup (1400M KOR-G2) at Busan. Then on December 11th it’s the traditional final Group 1 of the season, the Grand Prix Stakes (2300M KOR-G1), with Raon going in with both barrels, at Seoul Racecourse.