Jeulgeounyeojeong held off a determined late challenge from Raon Forest to win the Luna Stakes, the opening leg of the Triple Tiara (filly Triple Crown) at Busan Racecourse on Sunday.
Sent off as joint-favourite for the mile long first jewel, Jeulgeounyeojeong sat handy through the early stages as fellow favourite Raon Giant set the pace under Moon Se-young.
Raon Giant’s challenge would end early in the straight and it was Jeulgeounyeojeong who would take things up building a seemingly unbeatable lead in the final furlong, only for the striking grey Raon Forest, a stablemate of Raon Giant under the care of trainer Park Jong-kon to launch a blistering late run. It went to the judges but Jeulgeounyeojeong was the winner by a nose.
19/1 chance Magic Class was five-lengths adrift in 3rd while Raon Giant came home 4th.
Winning jockey Franco Da Silva was quick to acknowledge that he was fortunate to get the call up following a minor injury to declared jockey Seo Seung-un in trackwork.
“He (Seo Seung-un) got some back issue, and I was free for the race, so I was lucky. It’s a lucky winner for me.” Da Silva told in-house broadcaster KRBC.
Despite only picking up the ride at the last minute, Da Silva had a clear game plan: “I knew that number 5 (Raon Forest) and number 10 (Raon Giant) would be the best two horses and I was worried about the number 4 (Wonderful Week), I thought that she was quite nice. But I knew that they were going to be very fast, so my plan was to jump and just track the leaders and wait.”
“And everything was perfect. She jumped quite good, and I just had to control the pace and wait and take her out and she did her best until the line. I’m happy that she was 100% today.”
Such was the strong finish of Raon Forest that jockey Lim Gi-won raised his crop in seeming celebration and even the TV Producer zoomed in on the Seoul filly after the line instead of the actual winner. Da Silva was having none of it though:
“Right after the line I told that jockey that I had won.”
Jeulgeounyeojeong is by Colors Flying and is out of Says Ms Elizabeth (by Giacomo) and was bred by owners Nasca, of Eoma Eoma fame, at their farm. She is trained by Korea’s all-time leading trainer in terms of both wins and Group races, Kim Young-kwan. She moves onto four wins from ten starts.
The second leg of the Triple Tiara is the Korean Oaks (1800M KOR-G2), also at Busan on June 4th and while Jeulgeounyeojeong will rightly be among the leading contenders, the way Raon Forest finished off the race may make her the favourite to turn the tables with an extra furlong to play with. The final leg of the Tiara is the Gyeonggi Governor’s Cup (2000M KOR-G2) at Seoul on July 15th.
Next weekend it is the turn of the colts to kick off their Triple Crown with the KRA Cup Mile (1600M KOR-G2) at Busan on Sunday.