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Wow Wow Stuns Raon Pair in Segye Ilbo

Wow Wow came from off the pace to score a 46/1 upset in the Segye Ilbo Trophy at Seoul Racecourse on Sunday afternoon, leaving the green colours of the hotly fancied “Raon” pair, Raon First and Raon The Spurt, back down the track behind him.

Wow Wow came from off the pace to win the Listed Segye Ilbo Trophy under Song Jae-chul (Pic: KRA)

After a year where owner Son Chun-soo’s Raon stable had dominated, his progressive four-year-old filly Raon The Spurt, was sent off as favourite for the Segye Ilbo (1200M KOR-Listed), the first Stakes race on the 2023 calendar, with stablemate and President’s Cup winner Raon First second in the market, ahead of Jeju Governor’s Trophy winning mare Wish Me.

While Raon First was slow out of the gate, Raon The Spurt cruised into the lead alongside fellow Group winner East Jet. But on a rare day at Seoul where the track was not kind to front-runners – nine of the eleven winners on the card emerged from the rear – the leaders were in trouble entering the straight and by the furlong pole, both had wilted.

Raon First launched a home straight challenge through traffic but the longshot pair of Wow Wow and Jangsan Laser were quicker, flashing down the outside with Wow Wow, who had settled right back in the pack in the early exchanges, coming home a length-and-a-quarter to the good. Raon First was 3rd.

With the race being restricted to Korean-bred runners, the Nasca organization’s Korea Sprint winning star Eoma Eoma was ineligible but they also own Wow Wow, a four-year-old colt by Cowboy Cal and out of the Forest Camp mare Jjak Kkung, who did her racing in Korea, winning six of twenty-six starts.

Wow Wow was on last year’s Classic trail and overcame gate fifteen to run 5th in the Korean Derby before an indifferent run in the final leg of the Triple Crown, the Minister’s Cup. Before Sunday, the highest level he had won at was class 4. He is trained by Song Moon-gil and was ridden by Song Jae-chul, who was winning just his third Stakes race after successes in the YTN Cup (then not a group race) in 2015 on Areumdaun Donghaeng and then guiding Saenae Town to victory in the Listed NACF Chairman’s Trophy last November.

There are no Listed or Graded races in Korea in February, with the next big events on the calendar the three-year-old Classic trials at Seoul and Busan on March 19.  

2023 Stakes Schedule Underway Sunday as Raons Clash in Segye Ilbo

Horses with the word “Raon” in their names took home eight Korean Listed or Graded races in 2022 and as the 2023 Stakes race season kicks off at Seoul Racecourse on Sunday with the Segye Ilbo Trophy (1200M KOR-Listed), two of those winners in the green silks of owner Son Chun-soo are set to be at the top of the market as the six-year-old mare and defending champion Raon First, clashes with up-and-coming stablemate and potential heir-apparent, four-year-old filly Raon The Spurt.

Choi Bum-hyun rode Raon First to President’s Cup glory but he gets on Raon The Spurt in Sunday’s Segye Ilbo Trophy (Pic: KRA)

Last year’s winner RAON FIRST is the top filly or mare in Korea, with twelve wins from twenty-two starts and a hugely versatile repertoire as shown by her 3rd place in the Korea Sprint (1200M – IG3) last August and then her sensational victory in the President’s Cup (2000M KOR-G1) in November. It was a first ever victory for a filly or a mare in the nation’s most valuable race for older in-country bred runner, with Korea Cup champion Winner’s Man back in 3rd. Raon First finished off what had been a remarkable campaign with an in no way disgraced 6th place in the Grand Prix Stakes (2300M KOR-G1) as Winner’s Man returned to the summit.

In the early half of her three-year-old campaign, RAON THE SPURT was forced to play second fiddle in the Triple Tiara (filly Triple Crown) races, running 3rd in the Luna Stakes and then 2nd to Tiara winner Golden Power in both the Korean Oaks and Gyeonggi Govenor’s Cup. She finished off the season strongly though, winning the Singapore Turf Club Trophy at 1200M, running 2nd to Wish Me in the Jeju Govenor’s Cup (1400M KOR-G3) and then winning the Gyeongnam DoMin Ilbo Cup (2000M KOR-G3) at Busan. Her star is very much in the ascendency.

Jockey Choi Bum-hyun has ridden both of the Park Jong-kon trained pair in recent starts. For their first head-to-head meeting, he rides Raon The Spurt.

It’s not necessarily a two-horse race though. WISH ME has done something she never usually does and drawn a good gate for a front-runner. She had to contend with gate eleven when 2nd to Raon The Spurt in the Singapore Turf Club Trophy over 1200M in September, before reversing the form with a stunning track-record breaking performance in the Jeju Governor’s Cup from gate twelve. She found 2000M was not her go last time out, but back in sprinting territory and from the plum barrier two, she can’t be ruled out.

While it’s the fillies and mares who are most favoured, the race is open to males as well and a strong set have shown up. DAEHAN JILJU was a break-out 4th in the Korea Sprint last September before running 2nd to that day’s winner Eoma Eoma in the Kookje Shinmun Trophy (1400M Listed) at Busan on October. He is capable of running fast times and the wide draw should prove no distraction. Group winner EAST JET as well as the in form JANGSAN LASER, 4th in the President’s Cup, are among others who can provide testing material.

Only one Busan-trained horse has made the trip to the capital. That’s HAPPY FEVER, a six-year-old who, while he doesn’t win out of turn, enters in consistent form and has posted fast times. At his best he can challenge for some minor money. Jockey Kim Hye-sun has come with him to ride at her former track and has picked up five additional rides across the weekend.

The Segye Ilbo Cup is race 8 on an 11-race program at Seoul Racecourse on Sunday afternoon with a local post time of 16:35.

Selections: (4) Raon The Spurt (1) Raon First (2) Wish Me (12) Daehan Jilju

Haengbok Wangja & King Of The Match set for Dubai Debuts on Friday

Two Korea-trained horses are set to make their Dubai World Cup Carnival debuts this week with both Haengbok Wangja and King Of The Match among eleven declared for the inaugural Thunder Snow Challenge over 2000M on the dirt at Meydan on Friday.

Now six-years-old, HAENGBOK WANGJA (USA) [Daredevil – First Installment (Broken Vow)] is a winner of eight of twenty-two career starts and won the Grand Prix Stakes (2300M KOR-G1) in 2021. With the emergence of Winner’s Man and Raon The Fighter, he didn’t go on to have the dominant 2022 that some predicted, instead going winless in six starts but managed 5th in the Korea Cup (1800M I-G3) and 4th in the KRA Cup Classic (2000M KOR-G2).

Purchased by the Seoul Racehorse Owners’ Association for $30,000 at the 2019 Ocala Spring Sale of Two-Year-Olds, Haengbok Wangja is a half-brother to US-based Group 3 placed Bourbon Cowboy (by Cowboy Cal). He is owned by Lee Bang-hoon, who has been an owner since 2006 and has had 38 winners in that time. Haengbok Wangja’s Grand Prix was his first Group winner.

Haengbok Wangja is trained by Park Youn-gu. Training since 2004 he has sent out 337 winners from 4,280 starters. He won his first Group race with Joy Lucky in the 2013 G3 Gyeonggi Governor’s Cup with the same filly following up in the G3 SROA Chairman’s Trophy a year later. He won the G3 Jeju Governor’s Cup with Lead Money in 2018 before Haengbok Wangja became his first G1 winner.

KING OF THE MATCH (USA) [Cairo Prince – Fought The Fight (War Front)] is a five-year-old who has win five of fifteen races at distances up to 1800M. Although he is yet to win over 2000M, he did run 2nd to Raon The Fighter in the KRA Cup Classic (2000M KOR-G2) in October and also managed 4th in the Korea Cup, both times finishing ahead of Haengbok Wangja.

Owners D R M City have 24 winners from 97 starters. Their first group winner arrived last month when juvenile Speed Young won the Breeders’ Cup (1400M KOR-G2) at Busan.

King Of The Match’s trainer Kim Young-kwan is no stranger to the Dubai Carnival, having brought several to Meydan in the past, including Main Stay, a winner in 2017. Licensed since 2004 Kim has more winners than any other trainer in Korean history with 1406 from 6331 starters. He is a twelve-time Champion Trainer at Busan and hassaddled more Group winners than any other trainer in Korea.

Both Haengbok Wangja and King Of The Match will need to be forgiven their respective latest outings in the Grand Prix Stakes on December 11th when both were well down the field. For King Of The Match the distance was perhaps too far while Haengbok Wangja was out of sorts. Reports on the ground suggest that both have acclimatized to Meydan well. Dane O’Neill will ride Haengbok Wangja while Tadgh O’Shea, the ten-time UAE Champion jockey, is aboard King Of The Match.

The race is race 6 on the 7-race Friday night Carnival program at Meydan with a post time in Korea of 1:55am Saturday morning.

WINNER’S MAN SEES MUSKET MAN TO LEADING SIRE CROWN

Musket Man was Leading General Sire in Korea in 2022. Korea Cup and Grand Prix Stakes winner Winner’s Man saw his sire to the title accounting for almost 30% of his earnings of 6.5 Billion Korean Won.

Musket Man finished 700 Million Won ahead of nearest rival Cowboy Cal despite having just 304 race starters compared with Cowboy Cal’s 1,003. The late Menifee was 3rd with Hansen and Old Fashioned rounding out the top five.

Standing privately for owner Son Chun-soo, who heads up the Raon breeding and racing juggernaut, Musket Man arrived in Korea in 2016 and spent his early years covering mostly Raon’s own mares. Aside from the exceptional Winner’s Man, he has also produced the Group race winning fillies Raon Pink and Raon The Spurt, along with Seoul’s 2022 champion juvenile filly, Raon Giant.

In his first four seasons in the country, Musket Man covered no more than 64 mares in a single year. However, this jumped to 74 in 2020 and then 108 and 99 in 2021 and 2022 so he is likely to be in and around the top of the list for years to come.

The final crop of Menifee, who died in 2019, scored well enough to see their late sire to the Leading Sire of Two-Year-Olds, the bulk earned by Champion Juvenile Speed Young.

Emerging sires include To Honor And Serve and Girolamo, both of whom had their second local crops running with To Honor And Serve cracking the top-ten. The highest placed non-Korea based sire on the General list was Algorithms in 23rd place, almost all earned by Korea Sprint winner Eoma Eoma.

December saw the passing of Isidore Farm’s Ecton Park, who dueled with Menifee for years at the top of the Leading General Sire table, beating him in 2018. That was a standout achievement as Ecton Park was standing privately for a commercial fee whereas Menifee was owned and stood by the Korea Racing Authority.

See here for the full lists.

International Jockeys & Trainers Close Out 2022 With Milestones Aplenty

The overseas contingent in Korean racing had plenty to celebrate as 2022 reached its conclusion with records being smashed over the last couple of months of the year. Johan Victoire has passed the two-hundred winner mark at Seoul while down at Busan jockey Franco Da Silva and trainer Bart Rice, both breached three-hundred winners. Back in the capital, trainer Luigi Riccardi notched his century in the penultimate week of the season.

Franco Da Silva’s milestone came first, and it was for Rice, on the trainer’s Alec King Iji on October 28th. Da Silva debuted in 2016 and just like Rice, was successful in his first ever race in the country, ultimately riding a treble on his first day. Jockey Da Silva’s figures are remarkably similar to those of trainer Rice. He has a win rate of over 13%, a quinella rate of 27% and show rate of 38%.

Da Silva won the Korean Derby in 2018 on Ecton Blade for trainer Kim Young-kwan for whom he also picked up the G3 Busan Owners’ Cup on the Triple Crown winner Power Blade in 2017. On the day he cracked 300, Da Silva added another in the final race on the card and then one more on the following Sunday before heading off for an extended overseas break with family, his 60 winners across the year putting him behind only You Hyun-myung, Seo Seung-un and Park Jae-i at the top of the Busan table.

Bart Rice’s landmark win arrived on November 11th with three-year-old gelding Fusaichi, ridden by Chae Sang-hyun in the colours of owner and breeder Isidore Farm.

“I feel good, you know. Three-hundred wins, it’s ok, I’m happy.” Rice told KRBC Busan’s social media on the day. Fusaichi, who is by Purge and out of Isidore’s mare Fusaichiswonderful (by Fusaichi Pegasus) was breaking his maiden on his fourth start.

“Well done to the owner as well as he has always supported me. But the stable has done well, the staff has done well. It’s been a long road, but all good.”

Having previously trained in South Africa, Bart Rice arrived in Korea in late 2013 as the third overseas trainer to be licensed after Peter Wolsley and Joe Murphy. He sent out his first runners in January 2014 and got a winner with his first starter, an 8/1 chance called Gyeongnam Sinhwa.

Rice’s one-hundredth winner arrived in May 2017 and his two-hundredth in July 2020, the latter, Mr. Fusion, also in the Isidore colours.  He has now sent out over 2200 runners for a win rate in excess of 13%, a quinella rate of 24% and show figures of almost 35%. Fusaichi was his 38th of 43 winners in 2022 leaving him in 6th place in the Busan Trainer Premiership.

Franco Da Silva is currently the only foreign jockey licensed at Busan following the departures during the year of Djordje Perovic and Ioannis Poullis, although new additions are expected in the first part of 2023. Before leaving, Perovic broke Ikuyasu Kurakane’s record of most winners in Korea by a foreign jockey.

In the trainer ranks, Peter Wolsley, who debuted in 2007, is still going strong on and closing in his 650th winner – only Kim Young-kwan has ever trained more at the track. Thomas Gillespie, a 2015 addition, is also going well, with 280 total wins in Korea.

At Seoul, Johan Victoire crashed through the 200-winner barrier in November, when partnering Choego Race to a two-and-a-half length victory at class 3 level. Victoire is another member of the “winner in first race in Korea” club having triumphed on his first mount at Seoul in 2017. He reached 100 in 2019 and ended 2022 with 33 winners for the year.

Among those winners were Jangsan Bada in the Listed Ilgan Sports Trophy, and even more significantly, a second SBS Sports Sprint (G3) in June. Just as he did in 2020, Victoire partnered Morfhis to victory in what is the main lead-up race for the Korea Sprint. Victoire has ridden Morfhis in ten of his eleven career wins since first being paired with him in all the way back in 2018.

Antonio Da Silva finished in 6th place in the Seoul Jockey Premiership with 44 winners. David Breux notched 34 and Alan Munro 27.

Victoire’s Ilgan Sports win on Jangsan Bada was the first feature race win in Korea for trainer Tony Castanheira, one of 18 winners he sent out over 2022. Numbers-wise it was a breakout season for Luigi Riccardi, whose 42 winners saw him tie with Seo In-seok for 2nd place in the Trainer Premiership, two behind the Raon-backed Champion Park Jong-kon. Seo had more runner-up finishes but also sent out nearly double the number of starters with 443 to Riccardi’s 227, the Italian’s 18.5% win-rate the highest among trainers at either Seoul or Busan.

The new Korean racing season gets underway at Busan on Friday January 6.

Antonio Notches Four While Luigi Moves to Within One Win of Top of Seoul Trainer Premiership

Temperatures plunged below zero across Korea at the weekend, but jockey Antonio Da Silva was in red-hot form, riding four winners across Sunday’s valuable card. Meanwhile on the penultimate weekend of the season, Luigi Riccardi saddled his 100th winner in the country to move within one victory of Park Jong-kon at the summit of the capital’s Trainer Premiership.

Antonio Da Silva with Luigi Riccardi looking on back in 2019 (Pic: KRA)

Da Silva got his first on the board in race 2, partnering Tony Castanheira’s Choegang Mirae to a five-length maiden victory. He followed up in race 4, the first of six Trophy races on the day benefitting the Retired Racehorse Welfare fund.

His ride on the juvenile Nut Play, who was stepped up to a mile for the first time, was typical Da Silva, boldly settling back despite having drawn the coveted inside gate over the Mile distance that has tended to favour front-runners. He waited patiently before finding the narrowest of gaps in the home straight and then unleashing his mount, who romped to an eight-length victory.

Further successes for Da Silva would come in race 6 with Tiz Barows, who was winning for the first time since finishing 4th in this Year’s Korean Derby, and in race 8 on Wonpyeong Cod, who got the better of a final furlong duel with favourite Double Edge.

Brazilian Da Silva debuted full time in Korea in 2017 after riding in Singapore and now has 295 winners in the country. He has three Group wins on his local resume having partnered Dolkong in the G2 KRA Cup Classic and Moonhak Chief in the G1 Grand Prix Stakes, both in 2019, and then Choegang Black in the 2021 Korean Oaks.

Choegang Black was the first Korean Group race winner for Luigi Riccardi and the Italian trainer, who also debuted at Seoul in 2017, passed another milestone on Sunday by reaching one hundred winners in the country.

Having saddled juveniles Black Motion and G Motion to victory on Saturday, Riccardi sent out debut-maker Wonderful Slew in Sunday’s race 1 and the filly (whose 2nd dam is Worldly Pleasure, the dam of American champion Game On Dude) ran on for a narrow half-length win under jockey Jeong Jeong-hee, who also partnered both of Riccardi’s winners on Saturday.

Those victories temporarily moved Riccardi up to 2nd place in the 2022 Seoul Trainer Premiership, before Seo In-seok struck back with Tiz Barows to join him on 42 winners for the year and move ahead on the tie-break by virtue of having one more runner-up. The pair are just one winner behind Park Jong-kon, who backed by the firepower of Raon, heads the Premiership with 43.

There is just one more weekend of racing to come and it isn’t inconceivable that it could all come down to the final race of the year, a class 3 sprint over 1200M at 6pm on Christmas Day. That race could see one of Riccardi’s up-and-comers Trotting Riley face off with Park’s Gwacheon Mayor’s Trophy winner Raon Giant with potentially the title on the line.

Racing resumes in Korea with a nine-race program on Friday December 23rd. On Christmas Eve there are ten races at Seoul while Christmas Day itself sees eleven races at Seoul and six at Busan to round out the season.  

Winner’s Man Bests Raon The Fighter in Grand Prix Battle for the Ages

Winner’s Man and Raon The Fighter turned the 40th running of the Grand Prix Stakes (2300M) into a match race and just as in the Korea Cup, it was Winner’s Man who ultimately prevailed as the pair duelled the final two-furlongs at Seoul Racecourse on Sunday afternoon.

Winner’s Man and Raon The Fighter drive for the line in the Grand Prix (Pic: KRA)

With Raon The Fighter having blitzed the KRA Cup Classic while Winner’s Man laboured to 3rd in the President’s Cup on their respective post-Korea Cup outings, punters were predicting a form reverse and sent Raon The Fighter off as the odds-on favourite.

From the plum draw of barrier two Moon Se-young took Raon The Fighter straight to the front and immediately dictated the pace the race would be run at. By the time they left the back straight and began the long turn for home, only Winner’s Man, who as he had done in the Korea Cup, improved up the field in the back straight under jockey Seo Seung-un, along with President’s Cup winner Raon First, remained with him.

Remote of the finish with Tuhonui Banseok looming (Pic: KRA)

Raon First was promptly seen off and Winner’s Man and Raon The Fighter would duel throughout the long Seoul Racecourse home straight. Raon The Fighter held firm, but Winner’s Man loomed up alongside with a furlong to run. Still Raon The Fighter didn’t buckle and matched him stride for stride for half the remaining distance. But Winner’s Man was relentless. At the one hundred metre point, he finally struck the front and this time Raon The Fighter had no more.

It had been a battle of wills and a battle of the two best horses in the country. Winner’s Man now carries off the accolade of Horse of the Year having vanquished Raon The Fighter at 1800M in the Korea Cup and 2300M in the Grand Prix, but Raon The Fighter lost nothing in either of those defeats. And given he remains arguably both the best sprinter and middle-distance horse in Korea, yet has runner-up finishes in both those longer distance Group 1 races, the debate as to which is better won’t go away.

The rest of the field might as well have been running in a different race but there was a stand-out performance by Tunhonui Banseok. The Bart Rice trainee had only raced eleven times previously, but under Park Jae-i, he navigated his way through a tiring field in the closing stages to get within a length and a quarter of Raon The Fighter on the line. Nine-lengths further back, the three-year-old Saryeoni First led the rest home in 4th.

How quickly things change. A year ago, after Haengbok Wangja’s emphatic win in the race, aged just four, he seemed set to dominate. Yet no horse who took part in last year’s race was among the first nine home this year, Simjangui Godong, 5th last year, was best placed in 10th. Haengbok Wangja himself only beat two home, while there was disappointment too for fellow Dubai Carnival hopeful King Of The Match. He was one of those two the 2021 champion finished ahead of.

(Pic: KRA)

Winner’s Man is by Musket Man who is owned, perhaps a touch ironically, by Raon The Fighter’s owner Son Chun-soo and is the centrepiece of the emerging Raon breeding and racing empire. Winner’s Man himself is owned by Lee Gyeong-hui. He is out of Winner’s Marine (by Volponi) who was bred and raced in Korea. Musket Man is now assured of finishing the year as Leading General Sire.

For trainer Choi Ki-hong it was his first Grand Prix and his fifth Group race win – all of them with Winner’s Man. Jockey Seo Seung-un rode his first Grand Prix winner. Having already ridden a President’s Cup and Korea Cup winner, he is just missing the Korea Sprint and Korean Derby from the Group 1 set.

Seo Seung-un with owner Lee Gyeong-hui and Winner’s Man (Pic: KRA)

With the running of the Grand Prix, the 2022 Stakes race program has finished, although there are still two more weeks remaining of the season, which concludes on Christmas Day. In Winner’s Man and Raon The Fighter, racing heads into 2023 with two genuine stars on its hands.

Speed Young Downs Fantastic Kingdom For Juvenile Crown

Fantastic Kingdom came up short in his bid for a clean-sweep of top juvenile races, as Speed Young romped by for a comprehensive victory in the Breeders’ Cup (1400M KOR-G2) at Busan Racecourse on Sunday afternoon.

Speed Yong wins the Breeders’ Cup – no, not that Breeders’ Cup (Pic: KRA)

Having prevailed in the Busan Rookie Stakes, the Areumdaun Jilju Stakes and the Gimhae Mayor’s Trophy, Fantastic Kingdom was sent off a slight favourite over the filly Jeulgeounyeojeong who had pushed him all the way in the Gimhae, over the shorter distance of 1200M a month ago.

The filly was scarcely a factor though as Fantastic Kingdom sat on an early pace that was set by Sun Dragon and Lucky Sun. Both “Suns” would fall away quickly as Fantastic Kingdom took up the running three furlongs from home. He looked set to go on, only for Speed Young, who had drawn the widest but one gate and then sat back in the field, to loom up.

With just over a furlong to run, Speed Young sped by and ran on to win by a comfortable five-lengths with Nonghyup Chairman’s Trophy 3rd placegetter Nanometa also emerging from the rear to claim 2nd place ahead of a tiring Fantastic Kingdom in 3rd.

The winner, who was racing for just the third time, was sent off slightly in excess of 10/1, fourth overall in the market. The relatively short odds reflected that in addition to his Areumdaun Jilju Stakes 2nd, he was just one of four who had previously won over the 1400M, coming from off the pace and beating a filly in Smarty Dolpung who herself went on to win in fine style on Friday.

Speed Young is from the final crop by Menifee and is out of Tapestry (by Fusaichi Pegasus). He was bred by Nokwon Farm and was purchased for 100 Million Korean Won by owners D R M City at the November 2021 KTBA Yearling Sale – a sale at which D R M signed for five of the top seven sale-toppers. He is trained at Busan by Bang Dong-suk, who sent out Hit Yegam to win two legs of the Triple Crown last year. You Hyun-myung, who rode Hit Yegam to both those wins, also partnered Speed Young.

Given that it was the only Group race on the schedule, the victory was enough to see Speed Young win the Juvenile Series and for Nanometa to leapfrog Fantastic Kingdom to claim 2nd. Only time will tell but the early indications are that this year’s two-year-old crop has been a good one and we could be set for a fascinating Triple Crown series in 2023, which will kick off in April with the KRA Cup Mile.

Next week the Stakes season draws to a close with the traditional season finale of the Grand Prix Stakes (2300M KOR-G1) at Seoul on Sunday afternoon. Korea Cup winner Winner’s Man is scheduled to run as is that day’s runner-up and subsequent KRA Cup Classic winner Raon The Fighter. President’s Cup heroine Raon First is also expected to be in the starting gate as is defending champion Haengbok Wangja as well as Simjangui Godong and Dubai Carnival hopeful King Of The Match with seventeen remaining in at this stage.

Fantastic Kingdom Can Sweep Juvenile Slam on Sunday

Fantastic Kingdom can complete an unprecedented sweep of all the year’s top juvenile races when he bids to add the Breeders’ Cup (1200M KOR-G2) to his three already bagged trophies at Busan on Sunday afternoon. But with an embarrassment of riches among the juvenile ranks this year, any victory is going to be hard-earned among a full field of sixteen, who have already racked up twenty-six race victories between them.

Fantastic Kingdom and Jeulgeounyeojeong will clash again on Sunday (Pic: KRA)

First to deal with those who are not there. Betelgeuse has been sent a different route, tackling 1800M and winning up at class 4 level last weekend as he is targeted to emulate stablemate Winner Star’s successful Derby campaign. Nonghyup Chairman’s Trophy winner Saenae Town likewise swerves the race having only returned to training just over a week ago.

Of the sixteen who will line up on Sunday as Busan and Seoul’s best two-year-olds meet for the first time having been in separate races for the lead-up, eight are from the home track and eight have travelled down from Seoul. Very few could be said to be without a chance but the one to beat is FANTASTIC KINGDOM.

After running 3rd on debut, Fantastic Kingdom won second-up and then preceded to win the Busan Rookie Stakes, the Areumdaun Jilju Stakes and the Gimhae Mayor’s Trophy, all over 1200M. He steps up to the 1400M for the first time but is well drawn and will be hard to beat again.

Seoul’s Rookie Stakes was won by GIANT PUNCH, who ran on after racing handy to the lead. He hasn’t raced since his 3rd place in the Munhwa Ilbo Trophy on October 2nd when he was hampered slightly at the start before settling midfield and running on well. He will need some luck from the relatively wide barrier but looks suited to 1400M.

Filly JEULGEOUNYEOJEONG was a winner at this distance in a fast time in class 4 company at the end of September before running a huge race when a close 2nd to Fantastic Kingdom in the Gimhae Mayor’s Trophy. She’s never finished any worse than 2nd and is a big chance here.  

Then there is SUN DRAGON. A winner at class 5 over 1300M, he led almost the entire way around in the Nonghyup Chairman’s Trophy, only to be denied by Saenae Town in the shadow of the post. He gets a fantastic draw on the inside here and he shouldn’t be ruled out.

Plenty of others are in the money frame as well. LUCKY SUN is the only one in the race with an unbeaten record as he comes in two for two with the second of those having been over this distance. Another 1400M winner is NAOL SNIPER. Along with SPEED YOUNG, who was 2nd in the Areumdaun Jilju Stakes, he was the wide draw to contend with but can’t be ruled out.

The Breeders’ Cup is the concluding race on a six-race program at Busan on Sunday with a local post time of 16:40. There are also eleven races at Seoul on Sunday.

Selections: (5) Fantastic Kingdom (11) Giant Punch (6) Jeolgeounyeojeong (2) Lucky Sun

Raon Giant & Doctor Oscar Dominate Juvenile Filly Trophy Races

The juvenile filly division had their big day at Seoul and Busan on Sunday and Raon Giant and Doctor Oscar both ran out dominant winners of their respective track’s feature races.

Raon Giant spread the field out in the Gwacheon Mayor’s Trophy (Pic: KRA)

Raon Giant was only sent off as second favourite for the Gwacheon Mayor’s Trophy (1200M Listed) at Seoul with punters giving the previously unbeaten Fire Girl the nod at the top of the market.

Fire Girl wouldn’t play much of a role though as Raon Giant quickly looped across from gate ten to seize the initiative under Moon Se-young and opened up a lead that she never looked like relinquishing. Fire Girl was close in the early stages, as was the well-supported Global Changa, but they couldn’t keep up with the tempo Raon Giant set and she was ultimately three-lengths to the good at the line.

Furiosa, a 50/1 chance, ran on from the back for a fast-finishing 2nd while Medici Wolf, who had taken a sit behind the early pace, ran on solidly for a creditable 3rd. Raon Giant moved on to three wins from four starts.

Trained by Park Jong-kon and bred by her owners, Raon Giant is by Raon’s own stallion Musket Man and out of Raon Bold (by Big Brown). Raon Bold was a $65,000 purchase from the Keeneland September yearling sale in 2011 and did her racing in Korea, winning three times. Raon Giant is her third foal to make the racecourse with the other two, Raon Beat and Raon The Teukgeup both winners too.

The widest drawn filly at Busan also ended up victorious in the Gyeongnam Do Min Ilbo Trophy (1200M Listed).

Doctor Oscar was overlooked for favourite status in part for having drawn gate fourteen while the highly thought-of Atlas, third in last month’s Areumdaun Jilju Stakes against the colts, had the benefit of gate two.

Doctor Oscar was an easy winner at Busan (Pic: KRA)

Under Choi Si-dae, Doctor Oscar made extremely light of being drawn in the car park and sat handy early before taking things up approaching the first corner. She shrugged off early challengers Hansen Cod Girl and Dream Of Queen and ran on to match Raon Giant with a comfortable three-length score. 25/1 chance Magic Class was 2nd while Atlas was 3rd.

Doctor Oscar is by Old Fashioned and is out of Jangsan Yeoje (by Peace Rules) a Korean-bred who won three races. She is a “full” sister to Doctor Fashion, a winner of seven from nineteen races. She was bred by Lee Yong-dae of Youngmun Farm and was purchased by owner Kwon Hyeok-hui for 45 Million Won at the 2021 KTBA October yearling sale.

Next weekend it’s the turn of the older fillies and mares with the Gyeongnam Governor’s Cup (2000M KOR-G3) at Busan on Sunday. While the nation’s top mare, Raon First won’t be there following her President’s Cup heroics last week, Raon will be represented by Raon The Spurt. Triple Tiara winner Golden Power will also be in attendance while KNN Cup winner Calm Strong and Wish Me, who won the the Jeju Governor’s Cup in track-record breaking style, are among others scheduled to be in the starting gate.