Betelgeuse put down a huge marker on the road to the Triple Crown, overcoming adversity to win the Gyeongnam Shinmun Trophy at Busan, while at Seoul, Something Lost overcame the market to maintain his unbeaten record and lead all the way in the Sports Seoul Trophy.
Betelgeuse skipped the one-turn Listed and Graded juvenile races last season in favour of being tested against older horses over 1800M, a strategy similar to that used by his trainer Baik Kwang-yeol with last year’s Derby winner Winner Star. Dropping back to 1400M for the Gyeongnam Shinmun Trophy, punters made the colt, a winner of five from seven, the odds on favourite.
The striking grey didn’t disappoint. Despite getting a heavy bump coming out of the gate, Betelgeuse was ridden up to within striking distance of the leaders entering the straight. He was then on the receiving end of more interference, forcing him wider and wider but once jockey Choi Si-dae managed to extricate him and find room, he powered home to win pulling away. He crossed the line a length and three-quarters ahead of World Legend in 2nd with Yeonggwangui Ace, the tormentor of Betelgeuse at the start and at the top of the straight, 3rd.
An hour later at Seoul, Breeders’ Cup 4th place getter Naol Sniper was sent off as favourite for the Sports Seoul Trophy (also over 1400M) off the back of a smart win over 1800M last month. From a wide gate he ran strongly but just couldn’t get to Something Lost who under Lee Hyeok, had got the best of the start and managed to keep the field at arm’s length all the way around.
Despite being three for three, the Hong Dae-you trained Something Lost was sent off as the 13/1 fifth choice in the betting market with punters unconvinced by those victories and with memories of plenty of previously unbeaten three-year-olds arriving at these races only to be found out. Naol Sniper was half a length back in 2nd with Dragon Star a further four-lengths in arrears in 3rd.
The focus will now turn to the KRA Cup Mile, the first leg of the Triple Crown, at Busan on April 30th. Speed Young, last year’s Breeders’ Cup winner, is set to be there but both Betelgeuse and Something Lost are sure to be in the mix.
In other news, the long standing saga of Park Tae-jong’s 2200th career winner finally came to an end as the jockey guided Sure Win to an all the way victory in race 10 at Seoul on Sunday. Since his last victory on February 5th, Park had been scoreless in more than forty rides, almost the longest losing streak in his 34-year career. Park is the all time leading jockey in Korea.
There was also a milestone winner for a jockey at the other end of her career. Kim Tae-hui partnered Seoul Spurt to victory in race 3 at Seoul on Sunday to get her 40th winner and lose the final 1kg of her apprentice claim. She isn’t the quickest to ride out her claim, but the 22-year-old, who began race riding in the summer of 2021, missed 4 months through injury following a bad fall in January last year.
The first few months after losing a claim is always a challenging time for young jockeys but Kim Tae-hui looks likely to have the support – and the ability – to continue to be successful.