The second leg of the Stayer Series was every bit as one-sided as most expected. It just wasn’t the result most expected as Tuhonui Banseok produced a spectacular performance to beat defending Champion and Korea Cup and Grand Prix Stakes hero Winner’s Man by an astonishing eleven-lengths in the YTN Cup (2000M KOR-G3). It was a first Korean Group race win for both jockey Park Jae-I and trainer Bart Rice.

Tuhonui Banseok in the clear in the YTN Cup (Pic: KRA)

Having won the first leg of the Stayer Series, last month’s Herald Business Cup by three-lengths, Winner’s Man was sent off as a prohibitive 1.4 favourite for the YTN ahead of Tuhonui Banseok, who had been a fast-finishing 3rd in the Grand Prix and then 2nd in the Herald Business. Breaking from gate two, Park Jae-I pushed Tuhonui Banseok to the lead right from the gate. Knowing where the greatest threat was, Seo Seung-un on Winner’s Man immediately moved to track him.

Tuhonui Banseok (Pic: KRA)

Winner’s Man stayed locked to Tuhonui Banseok’s heels as the race passed through the back straight and reached its crucial stages. Passing three-furlongs and beginning to turn towards the home straight, the seeming inevitability of Winner’s Man eventually blowing past the upstart was confounded when Seo Seung-un was the first to get to work, while Park Jae-I remained stationary aboard the leader. When Park did get down to business, the gap was already up to three-lengths and rising. Between the 300M and the 200M, Winner’s Man briefly regained some ground, but Tuhonui Banseok quickly slammed the door and romped away for a devastating victory.

Winner’s Man was 2nd, eleven-lengths in arrears but still well clear of the rest, while Winner Gold, a 78/1 chance, emerged from the rear down the rail to claim an excellent 3rd.  

It perhaps shouldn’t have come as a surprise. Tuhonui Banseok was running in his fifth Graded race and the trajectory had very much been upwards. Last June he encountered the elite for the first time and ran 8th in the Busan Mayor’s Cup behind Winner’s Man. A 3rd in last October’s KRA Cup Classic behind Raon The Fighter was followed by another 3rd in the Grand Prix Stakes. That day with every stride, he was gaining on Winner’s Man and Raon The Fighter, and may have got closer were it not for his having to navigate around tired horses at the top of the straight. Then there was that 2nd in the Herald Business last month.

Park Jae-i (Pic: KRA)

This time everything went right for Tuhonui Banseok, a five-year-old American-bred entire by Verrazano and out of the Street Sense mare, Sense of Beauty. He was a $13,000 purchase at the 2019 Keeneland September Yearling Sale.

For jockey Park Jae-I, 2022 was a standout year in terms of winners when he leapt from a previous yearly best of twenty-seven, to a tally of sixty-two and 3rd place in the Premiership behind only You Hyun-myung and Sunday’s vanquished rival, Seo Seung-un. Now the twenty-seven-year-old has his first Graded race win.

It was surprising for some observers to realise it was also a first Korean Graded winner for trainer Bart Rice. The South African handler has been a fixture around the top of the Busan Trainer Premiership ever since debuting in late 2013 and sports a healthy 14%-win rate and 34% top-three rate across his time in the country.

Bart Rice finally gets his Group Race Presentation (Pic: KRA)

Previous Rice stable stars such as the fellow Lim Byung-ho owned Buhwarui Banseok were solid class 1 horses but had the misfortune to be around at the same time as the likes of Cheongdam Dokki, for his entire career, as well as Triple Nine and Power Blade at the start of it.  That said, Tuhonui Banseok has had the misfortune to be around at the same time as Raon The Fighter and Winner’s Man. Now that gap on the resume has been filled and with Tuhonui Banseok still seemingly getting better, there could be more to come.

Don’t write off Winner’s Man. He has had his setbacks before, most notably when 3rd in last November’s President’s Cup. It didn’t take him long to return to the summit. But there is plenty of intrigue now ahead of the Busan Mayor’s Cup on July 2nd and the biggest of them all, the Korea Cup, looming into view. In Tuhonui Banseok, a new heavyweight is on the scene.

Winner’s Man Heads Stayer Series 2nd Leg Field Sunday

The Stayer Series holds its second leg at Seoul Racecourse this Sunday as ten go to post for the YTN Cup (2000M KOR-G3). And with Raon The Fighter now firmly ensconced atop the sprinting ranks following his dominant wins in the Busan Ilbo Sprint in April and the SBS Sports Sprint last weekend, the path appears clear for Winner’s Man to continue his dominance over the longer trips. 

Winner’s Man won the 1st leg of the Stayer Series from Tuhonui Banseok. (Pic: KRA)

Having won the Korea Cup and Grand Prix Stakes in 2022, WINNER’S MAN, who also won the Korea Derby as a three-year-old, began the Stayer Series as the one to beat and he duly obliged in the first leg, the Herald Business Trophy (2000M KOR-G3) on April 16th when he struck the front in the home straight and ran on to win by three-lengths. Over the same distance and under a set weight scale, it is hard to see any other result on Sunday.

Winner’s Man does throw in the odd poor run though. He looked undercooked when 3rd behind Raon First in last November’s President’s Cup, and he was out of sorts when 4th on his seasonal re-appearance at class 1 level over 1800M in February. He was giving 8kg away that day but with all due respect to that day’s winner Flat Babe, Winner’s Man shouldn’t have been losing to her.

As for those who can take advantage should the favourite be below his best, TUHONUI BANSEOK looks the most likely. He was another who had an off day in that February Class 1 behind Flat Babe although in finishing 3rd, he did at least beat Winner’s Man. He ran 2nd in the Herald Business building on his breakthrough performance when 3rd in the Grand Prix Stakes, when he made excellent ground to almost catch Winner’s Man and Raon The Fighter. One of two in the race for trainer Bart Rice along with lively outsider Jessieui Kkum, Tuhonui Banseok will be a clear second-favourite again.

Tunhonui Banseok isn’t the only one in the gate to have finished ahead of Winner’s Man. SIMJANGUI GODONG did that when 2nd to Raon First when attempting to defend his President’s Cup (2000M KOR-G1) last November. He skipped the Herald Business but returned to the winner’s circle at Class 1 level over 2000M in April.  Moon Se-young returns to the ride and he is a clear place chance again.

The top-three in the Herald Business was rounded out by BARBARIAN, a length and a quarter in arrears of Tuhonui Banseok. He too will be backed to place again. BLACK MASK had a poor day at the office in the Herald Business but shapes as the next best in what will be a final Group race ride for the retiring jockey Ham Wan-sik.

The YTN Cup is race 8 on Sunday’s 11-race card at Seoul Racecourse with a local post time of 16:10.

Tiz Barows Is The Chosun One

Tiz Barows unleashed a burst of acceleration that none of his twelve rivals could match as he fully justified his odds-on status to run away with the Sports Chosun Trophy (2000M Listed) at Seoul Racecourse on Sunday afternoon.

Tiz Barows won the Sports Chosun with plenty to spare (Pic: KRA)

Having finished 4th in last year’s Korean Derby and entering off two strong wins from his last three outings, Tiz Barows was sent off at odds of 1.5 locally for the Sports Chosun, which was restricted to horses rated 80 or less, and under in-form jockey Antonio Da Silva, the four-year-old obliged in style.

Jeongmun Bolt set the early pace, but Tiz Barows was always handy and once Da Silva squeezed the accelerator in the home straight, the response was instant and devastating as the pair quickly left the field in their wake to win by a full four-lengths. Queens Tour, the only filly or mare in the race and the only runner to have won at the ten-furlong distance before, closed strongly for 2nd, half a length ahead of Choego Black in 3rd.

(Pic: KRA)

For Tiz Barows, who is by Tizway and is out of the Jambalya Jazz mare Kaylan’s Rose, it was a fifth win on his eleventh start and his third from his last four. Trained by Seo In-seok he is owned by Japanese owner Inokuma Hirotsugu, whose colours were famously sported to victory by Roger Barows in the Tokyo Yushun – Japanese Derby – in 2019. While Tiz Barows hadn’t quite reached his peak when he had his own Derby shot, he looks class 1 bound at the very least.

Antonio Da Silva speaks to in-house broadcaster KRBC after the Sports Chosun (Pic: KRA)

While all but one of Seoul’s Saturday races were lost to a flooded track, on Friday at Busan, in similarly wet conditions, a former double Classic winner did make a somewhat unexpected return to form. Hit Yegam beat Winner’s Man in both the KRA Cup Mile and the Minister’s Cup in 2021 and ran second to the future Korea Cup winner in the Korean Derby.

Since winning that Classic, which was held in December of 2021 due to pandemic restrictions earlier in that year, Hit Yegam had drawn a blank in nine consecutive outings and had finished no better than 10th in any of his latest four. With Friday’s track conditions heavily favouring front-runners though, jockey Choi Eun-gyeong took full advantage of Hit Yegam’s inside draw and early gate speed and he led from gate to wire in the class 1 1200M handicap, holding off the closing pre-race favourite Daemangui Gil by half a length to record his tenth win from twenty-one starts.

Next Sunday there is a double helping of Stakes race action at Seoul.  Raon The Fighter and Eoma Eoma renew their rivalry in the SBS Sports Sprint (1200M KOR-G3), the second leg of the Sprint series, while stablemates Raon First and Raon The Spurt headline the second leg of the Queens’ Tour, the Ttukseom Cup (1400M KOR-G2).


Fan favourite Betelgeuse justified his favourite status as the snared the first jewel of the 2023 Triple Crown with a two-length win in the KRA Cup Mile (1600M KOR-G2) at Busan Racecourse on Sunday afternoon.

Betelgeuse downs Something Lost in the KRA Cup Mile (Pic: KRA)

Boasting a resume more complete than any other in the sixteen-strong field with a higher rating and experience defeating older horses at both a mile and around two turns as well as winning Busan’s Classic trial, Betelgeuse was sent off as the 2.4 market leader. From a kind draw, while not the quickest away, the striking grey was able to set up camp in a handy position while Choice Run and Dokki Bulpae set the pace.

Seoul’s principal raider, Something Lost, who entered the race with the only intact unbeaten record and who had won the Seoul Classic trial last month, quickly joined them on the speed and took himself to the front as they began the long turn for home. Under Choi Si-dae, Betelgeuse would improve before drawing level with Something lost a furlong out and then pulling away in the closing stages as his rival tired.

Betelgeuse and Choi Si-dae return to scale (Pic: KRA)

It was an eye-catching win in a time identical to that set by Captain Yankee a year ago, although slower than those set in the race in 2020 and 2021, which were both run at a different time of year due to pandemic enforced fixture changes. Betelgeuse moved on to seven wins from nine starts and the Concord Point colt, who is quickly amassing as many fans for his looks as for his ability – and there is plenty of both – heads into the Derby as the favourite.

The winner aside, the form from Seoul’s Classic trial, the Sports Seoul Trophy, held up better than that of Busan’s Gyeongnam Shinmun Trophy, with Something Lost staying on for 2nd and chased home by Dragon Star and Nut Play, who reprised their fast-finishing Sports Seoul 3rd and 4th places. Back home in the capital, and up at 1800M in the Derby, with the way they finish off their races they may pose more of a danger to Betelgeuse. The next best Busan-trained horse was World Legend in 5th.

Busan’s “tifo” still needs a bit of work but a game effort nonetheless (Pic: KRA)

Most of the field ran to expectations with the only below par performance of the race came from last year’s champion juvenile Speed Young. The second favourite loomed up at the top of the home straight but then didn’t run on, ultimately finishing in 7th place. Breeders’ Cup winner Speed Young is proving hard to catch, with his strong win over a mile at class 3 last month, preceded by a lacklustre effort the time before.

Fantastic Kingdom was relatively well-backed but ran like a horse returning from the twenty-one layoff that he was. Dokki Bulpae was sent off at a similar relatively short-priced 11/1 and used up all his energy getting on the speed from an unlucky draw.

For winning jockey Choi Si-dae, it was a first KRA Cup Mile albeit a twelfth Group win in total. Similarly, trainer Baik Kwang-yeol sent out his first Cup Mile winner but his fifth Group winner. Trainer and jockey paired up to win the 2015 Korean Derby with Yeongcheon Ace. That was for the same owner as Betelgeuse, Lee Jong-hun.

The second leg of the Triple Crown is the Korean Derby (1800M KOR-G1) at Seoul on June 11th, before the concluding Minister’s Cup (2000M KOR-G2), also in the capital, on July 11th.  Put the plushie factory on overtime if Betelgeuse can win both of those.

KRA Cup Mile – Triple Crown 1st Leg Full Preview

The 2023 Korean Triple Crown gets underway on Sunday at Busan as a full field of sixteen head to the gate for the KRA Cup Mile (1600M KOR-G2). Eight have made the trip down from Seoul while eight represent the home track and the stage is set for the next star of local racing to emerge.

Betelgeuse (Pic: KRA)

Betelgeuse was kept off the Juvenile Series last autumn and instead racked up experience – and victories – against older horses at the Derby distance of 1800M as well as a mile. That extra bit of seasoning and toughness stood him in good stead when he did drop back to face his contemporaries in Busan’s Classic Trial, the Gyeongnam Shinmun Trophy (1400M Listed) on March 19th. He ran out an easy winner that day and will be favoured to do so again here. Choi Si-dae, who has ridden two Korean Derby winners but is yet to win the Cup Mile, will be aboard for trainer Baik Kwang-yeol.

The only unbeaten record in the race belongs to Something Lost. The Seoul raider win the capital’s Classic Trial, the Sports Seoul Trophy (1400M Listed) on the same afternoon that Betelgeuse was doing his thing in Busan. He has led all his races so far and was hanging on in the Trial, but he has done everything asked of him so far and will be one of the dangers. Lee Hyeok, who has ridden him in all his races so far, will be partnering him again.

Last year’s top juvenile Speed Young returned to form with a win over a mile at class 3 level in March and he’ll be another contender along with two-time distance winner Nut Play and impressive last start class 3 winner Dokki Bulpae.

The KRA Cup Mile is race 6 on Busan’s Sunday program with a local post time of 15:45.

1. CHOICE RUN – Since finishing down the field in the Breeders’ Cup he has won three on the spin up to class 3 level to take his chance here. They have all been at 1200M and on pace, but he draws well and could have a say.

2. SPEED YOUNG – The Breeders’ Cup winner suffered a surprise defeat on his first start of the year but returned to form with an impressive score over a mile at class 3 level on March 3rd. Proven at the distance and having already beaten plenty of these, he has solid claims.


Filly Triple Crown Gets Underway with Luna Stakes at Busan on Sunday

The three-year-old Classic season gets underway this weekend and it’s the fillies who get the first crack at it with the Luna Stakes (1600M – Listed) making up the first leg of the Triple Tiara – the filly Triple Crown – over a mile at Busan Racecourse this Sunday.

Raon Giant won the Gwacheon Mayor’s Trophy in November (Pic: KRA)

Twelve fillies, seven from the host track and five who have travelled down from Seoul, will line up for the what is the Korean 1000 Guineas, which leads into June’s Korean Oaks also at Busan, and then the Gyeonggi Governor’s Cup at Seoul in July.

Heading the Seoul contingent is Raon Giant. The Park Jong-kon trained galloper has won five of her seven starts so far, including the Listed Gwacheon Mayor’s Trophy last November. Moon Se-young comes down to Busan to ride and she has every chance.

Disputing favourite status with Raon Giant will be Jeulgeounyeojeong. She has a fast 2nd place over the Mile when a very solid 3rd at class 3 level. She will though need to overturn the form on Listed Gyeongnam DoMin Ilbo Trophy winner Doctor Oscar, who finished 2nd to her 3rd when the pair raced over 1800M. Jeulgeounyeojeong was giving away 3kg that day, but they will be at level weights this time.

Raon Forest and the so far relatively unexposed Gold Cheonsa are among others in the frame for what should be a competitive renewal:

1. JEOMSUNI GO – Only raced four times, winning one over 1200M at maiden level and was most recently 2nd over 1400M at class 5. Her times have been consistently quick, and she may appeal for a place at probable big odds.

2. FURIOSA – Runner-up to Raon Giant in the Gwacheon Mayor’s Trophy, coming from off the pace. Subsequently registered a 4th and 6th at class 4 level up to 1400M. Drawn well but will need to find more here.

3. PEOPLE POWER – One of just four who have tackled the mile before and while she only beat one home, she has since found her form again with a 2nd and then a win over 1400M, both at class 4 level in quick times. On those runs she has minor money claims here.


Donga Ilbo Trophy Form Comments: Raon First Favourite as Queens’ Tour Kicks Off but Could In-Form Flat Babe Surprise?

This year’s “Queens’ Tour” for fillies and mares is split into two separate three-race series and Raon First headlines the opener leg of the “Spring and Summer” tour in the Donga Ilbo Trophy (Listed – 1800M) at Seoul Racecourse on Sunday afternoon.

Raon First won the President’s Cup last November (Pic: KRA)

One of the most versatile horses in training in Korea, Raon First ran 3rd in the International Korea Sprint over 1200M last September before beating a field including Korea Cup winner Winner’s Man to win the Group 1 President’s Cup over 2000M in November.

Raon First is the defending champion in the Donga Ilbo, having scored by a comfortable four-lengths twelve months ago and she will be favourite, but there is no guarantee she will have things all her own way. The big danger is Flat Babe, who proved a revelation towards the end of her four-year-old season, rising from class 3 to class 1 and crowning the achievement by defeating an elite level field containing Winner’s Man in February over today’s distance. 

Flat Babe (Pic: KRA)

It will be unchartered territory for most with 58kg on their backs for the first time. All that is except for the solitary three-year-old in the race. The up and coming Sure Win has won two of her latest three and the Bernardini filly gets a whopping 6kg allowance on the rest of the field.

Twelve go in total in the Donga Ilbo which is race 8 on the 11-race Sunday card at Seoul:

1. SURE WIN – The only three-year-old in the race, she has won two of her latest three including last time out when on pace over this distance. That was at class 4 level so this is a stiff test, but she draws well and has a 6kg weight advantage over all the others.

2. QUEENS TOUR – A strong 4th in the Gyeongnam Governor’s Cup last September but well back over 2000M at class 2 level behind Eodigana and Cheonji Yeogeol on her only 2023 outing so far.  Tactically versatile and jockey booking a plus, but while she may be named after the series, others are favoured.

3. FLAT BABE – A revelation recently with 2nd place in the Gyeongnam Governor’s Cup followed by a class 1 win over Winner’s Man at this distance on February 26th. She was getting 8kg from the Korea Cup winner, but she stopped the clock in a time faster than any of these have achieved for the distance. Can settle back and run on and is the main danger here.


Raon The Fighter Cruises To Busan Ilbo Glory

Raon The Fighter made a high-class field, including the reigning Korea Sprint champion Eoma Eoma, look very ordinary as he ran out a dominant winner of the first Group race of the season, the Busan Ilbo Sprint (1200M KOR-G3) at Busan on Sunday afternoon.

Raon The Fighter and Lim Gi-won go clear in the Busan Ilbo Sprint: (Pic: KRA)

Widely acknowledged as Korea’s best middle-distance runner, Raon The Fighter had been runner-up to Winner’s Man in both the Korea Cup over 1800M and Grand Prix Stakes at 2300M in 2022.

With a Group 1 win the target for him in 2023, instead of facing Winner’s Man over that horse’s preferred 2000M in the Herald Business Trophy at Seoul later this month, Raon The Fighter was dropped back to the sprinting ranks for the first time since finishing runner-up in the first two legs of last year’s Sprint series.

The move paid off in spectacular fashion. Despite being drawn in the widest gate, Raon The Fighter was sent off as the slight betting favourite – but at odds against – ahead of Eoma Eoma. In the event, it was a race that Eoma Eoma, the defending champion, never got to grips with this time around.

Coming out of gate seven, Eoma Eoma was unable to match the opening speed of Beolmaui Star who under Jung Do-yun, raced into an early lead leaving the Moon Se-young ridden second favourite to dispute 2nd and 3rd up the short back straight with Daehan Jilju, who has so nearly beaten him in last autumn’s Kookje Shinmun. Aboard Raon The Fighter meanwhile, Lim Gi-won had the luxury of sitting wide just off the speed, allowing the rest to get on with it, clearly in the knowledge he had an awful lot of horse underneath him.

Just how much horse Lim had at his disposal became clear once into the home straight. First Raon The Fighter blew past Eoma Eoma as if he wasn’t there and then set off in pursuit of Beolmaui Star, who was still out in front to the tune of two and a half lengths with two furlongs remaining. By the three-hundred-metre mark, the lead was gone and by the furlong pole, the race was over.

As they crossed the finish line, Raon The Fighter was five lengths in front and pulling away. Beolmaui Star held on comfortably for 2nd in what was a breakout performance, while Ssonsal emerged up the rail under Franco Da Silva to snatch 3rd. Eoma Eoma finished back in 6th, eight-lengths behind the winner.

The build-up to the race had been overshadowed by the untimely death of Dolkong, after a trackwork accident on Thursday.  While Raon The Fighter’s performance did little to mitigate the sadness of that event, the manner of his victory was reminiscent of some of Dolkong’s best.

Raon The Fighter is by Bayern and out of Clarinda (by Empire Maker). He is trained at Seoul by Park Jong-kon and is owned by Son Chun-soo. He moves onto fourteen wins from eighteen starts. It was his fourth Group victory and while a Group 1 remains elusive – especially with such limited opportunities to secure one – he is now the early favourite for this September’s international Korea Sprint. Last year he held entries for both the Cup and Sprint before ultimately being sent to the Cup.

The Sprint Series will continue at Seoul on May 14th with the SBS Sports Sprint (1200M KOR-G3).

Next weekend, Son Chun-soo’s Raon machine grinds on. Raon First and her younger sister Raon Pink are both among the entries in the Donga Ilbo Trophy (1800M Listed), the first Queens’ Tour series race of the year for fillies and mares. Raon First will be the hot favourite.

Son Chun-soo then has Raon The Spurt scheduled to take on Winner’s Man in the Herald Business (2000M KOR-G3) at Seoul on April 16th, followed by Raon Giant taking her chance in the Luna Stakes (1600M Listed) at Busan on April 23rd, the first leg of the Triple Tiara for three-year-old fillies.

Raon The Spurt, Speed Young Return To Winning Ways

Raon The Spurt was a beaten favourite in the Listed Segye Ilbo Trophy in January, but the four-year-old filly went some way to making amends with an authoritative performance in Sunday’s Class 1 feature at Seoul, downing Segye victor Wow Wow by three-lengths.

Raon The Spurt won the Gyeongnam Governor’s Cup last November (Pic: KRA)

After a successful three-year-old campaign that saw her finish runner-up in the Triple Tiara series before winning the Gyeongnam Governor’s Cup at Group 3 level against older fillies and mares, Raon The Spurt was sent off as favourite in the Segye Ilbo. But on a day when the going was brutal for front-runners, she ran out of petrol in the home straight, finishing back in the pack as Wow Wow took the glory.

There were no such issues this time around in Sunday’s class 1 finale over 1400M. Punters kept faith with Raon The Spurt, sending her off as the even-money favourite. Under Lee Hyeok, who replaced the suspended Choi Bum-hyun in the saddle, Raon The Spurt was quickly into the lead and she proceeded to keep the rest of the field at arm’s length throughout, with Wow Wow ultimately getting the closest. Long-shot Preemax was 3rd.

The win was Raon The Spurt’s seventh from fourteen starts and stands her in good stead ahead of this year’s Queens’ Tour series, which begins in April. Raon The Spurt is by Musket Man and is out of Tomiken Spring (by Japanese sire Suzuka Mambo). Her three-year-old “full” sister and stablemate with trainer Park Jong-kon, Raon The Quality, has three wins from six starts and is penciled-in to race in Seoul’s Classic Trial on April 19th.

On Friday at Busan, Speed Young worked his way back into Classic contention with a fine win at class 3 level over a mile.

A Menifee colt, Speed Young, who won the Breeders’ Cup champion juvenile race over 1400M in December, had begun his three-year-old campaign in disappointing fashion, weakening badly in the final furlong over a mile in January.

By contrast over the same trip on Friday, Speed Young struck the front on the home turn and stayed on strongly to down a field that included top-rated three-year-old filly Jeulgeounyeojeong.

Trained by Bang Dong-suk, who saddled Hit Yegam to two legs of the Triple Crown in 2021, Speed Young doesn’t hold an entry into the Listed Gyeongnam Shinmun Trophy, Busan’s official Classic trial on March 19th. However, his rating is already high enough to ensure him a spot in the gate for the first leg of this year’s Triple crown, the KRA Cup Mile, at Busan on Sunday April 30th.  

Meanwhile the saga of Park Tae-jong’s 2,200th career winner will drag on into another weekend. The jockey, who has won more races than any other in Korean racing history, has been on 2,199 since February 5th and drew a blank from seven rides across the weekend, a runner-up finish on Joeun Gwangye  in race 10 on Sunday. His winless streak now stands at thirty-four.

Racing returns to Korea at Busan on Friday.

Mixed Fortunes for Korea Cup and Sprint Winners on 2023 Debuts

The winners of last year’s international Korea Sprint and Korea Cup both made their 2023 debuts on Sunday but while Eoma Eoma ran out a comfortable winner at Seoul, Winner’s Man could manage no better than 4th in the feature event of the afternoon at Busan.

Winner’s Man, who also won the season-ending Grand Prix Stakes to take his Group 1 tally to three, was sent off as the odds-on favourite for the class 1 1800M south coast feature. Always prominent, the five-year-old briefly struck the front under Seo Seung-un in the home straight but unlike in his big race wins, he failed to kick on and with half a furlong to go it was clear it wasn’t going to be his day.

Victory ultimately went to the Franco Da Silva ridden Flat Babe, runner-up in last November’s Gyeongnam Governor’s Cup, with veteran King Of Glory rolling back the years with a fast finishing 2nd and Tuhonui Banseok, 3rd in the Grand Prix edging out Winner’s Man in a photo for 4th.

A five-year-old mare by Flat Out, Flat Babe has been something of a revelation in the last few months, rapidly moving from a solid but unspectacular class 3 campaigner to class 1 winner in the space of four races since being upped to racing around two turns. She looks set to be a serious contender in this year’s Queens’ Tour for fillies and mares.

As for Winner’s Man, connections pointed afterwards to it being the first time he had carried 60kg in a race – he was giving 8kg to the winner – in addition to him racing at his heaviest ever bodyweight of 550kg – up 18kg since the Grand Prix. Winner’s Man’s anticipated next run will be in the Herald Business Trophy (2000M KOR-G3) at Seoul on April 16th. There he will renew his rivalry with Raon The Fighter, so impressive last week in his own seasonal opener.

Perhaps it was because of Winner’s Man’s performance earlier in the afternoon, as well as the disconcerting sight of regular jockey Moon Se-young’s name next to another horse, that led to Eoma Eoma being sent off at better than even money for his first outing as a six-year-old at class 1 over 1200M at Seoul.

With the race under handicap conditions, Eoma Eoma would, like Winner’s Man, have been assigned 60kg but trainer Song Moon-gil opted to use apprentice O Su-cheol and take advantage of his 2kg claim. Moon Se-young accordingly climbed aboard Jangsan Laser who was strongly backed into a close second-favourite.

Those who kept faith with Eoma Eoma were rewarded as Algorithms entire was quick out of the gate to be on the early speed with East Jet, racing very keenly and pulling hard. Apprentice O Su-cheol kept his cool though and once he let Eoma Eoma stride out in the home straight, the US-bred sped away for a three-length win with his rivals always at arm’s length.

The next five home were separated by just a length with Moon and Jangsan Laser in 2nd while the venerable Morfhis ran 3rd with a typical Morfhis late run. The victory, Eoma Eoma’s fourteenth in total, completed a treble on the day for apprentice O Su-cheol, who may not get the call once the star horse returns to Group racing, but enjoyed surely the best day of his career so far.

That next run for Eoma Eoma is likely to be the Busan Ilbo Sprint (1200M KOR-G3) on the south coast on April 2nd.