Luigi Riccardi landed his biggest winner to date as a trainer in Korea as Choegang Black denied hot favourite Raon Pink to win the Korea Oaks at Busan Racecourse on Sunday afternoon.
Choegang Black was sent off as a 70/1 outsider for the filly Classic having skipped the Luna Stakes prep race and having only won up to class 5 level in Seoul. The Oaks has a habit of producing an unexpected winner though and when Raon Pink was a little awkwardly away after a start that had been delayed following the reluctance of Queens Tour to load, it was clear that the race was anyone’s.
Pureun Jangmi showed the way early with Luna runner-up Jedi for company along with Miss Indie and 2nd-favourite Doctor Fappiano. Antonio Da Silva meanwhile, kept Choegang Black just behind the leading group throughout the early and middle stages of the 1800M race.
At the top of the stretch Raon Pink, under Park Tae Jong, loomed large and one-by-one the challengers fell away. All except Choegang Black that is, who to the inside of the favourite struck the front with a furlong and a half remaining and ran on superbly to win by just over a length on the line.
Raon Pink was 2nd while Serve Ace and Alan Munro came from last to 3rd in the space of the home straight. Queens Tour was 4th and Eodigana 5th as Seoul fillies swept the top-five placings
For Luigi Riccardi, who has been licensed in Korea since the end of 2017, it was by far his biggest local win. For jockey Antonio Da Silva, it was a third Group winner in Korea following success on Dolkong in the 2019 KRA Cup Classic, and Munhak Chief in the Grand Prix the same year.
Choegang Black is by Purge and is out of Allwise (by Mr. Greeley). She was bred by Nokwon Farm and is owned by Lee Kang-woon.
The race to become Champion Juvenile took a big step towards its big decider in the Korean Breeders’ Cup in December as Yeongwanguilegend backed up his Areumdaun Jilju Stakes win by claiming the Gimhae Mayor’s Cup at Busan on Sunday afternoon. Half an hour later, Aspen Taeyang announced his arrival on the two-year-old scene with a hard-fought victory in Seoul’s NACF Chairman’s Trophy.
Yeonggwanguilegend was the only runner who participated in the Areumdaun on October 3rd to take his place in the Gimhae Mayor’s starting gate and therefore the only one to compete in all three of Busan’s prep races for the Breeder’s Cup, having also run in September’s Rookie Stakes. Several who ran in that race did return, but it was Yeonggwanguilegend who was sent off as the favourite.
Djordje Perovic, who rode Yeonggwanguilegend in the Areumdaun, got on to Man Of The Year, so Franco Da Silva climbed aboard the favourite and immediately had Yeonggwanguilegend sit handy to the lead being set by Juvenile Series newcomer Doctor Caesar and the filly Adele Rosario, 2nd in the Busan Rookie Stakes.
Having set a punishing early pace, Doctor Caesar led until the middle of the straight when, with Adele Roasrio already done, Yeonggwanguilegend took command and Da Silva’s mount had enough in reserve to see off the late challenge of Perovic and Man Of The Year, the margin of victory just under a length on the line.
Yeonggwanguilegend [Concord Point-Perfect Scip (Scipion)] moves on to three wins from five starts and will head to the Breeders’ Cup race among the top line of favourites. For Franco Da Silva, who is closing in on 250 Korean winners and won the Korean Derby in 2018 on Ecton Blade, it was a welcome return to the big race winner’s circle. With the Breeders’ Cup being run at 1400M though, Perovic, who won the Derby last year on Save The World, may be thinking his and Man Of The Year’s day is yet to come.
Seoul’s third prep race for the Breeders’ Cup race saw Aspen Taeyang, who participated in neither the capital track’s Rookie Stakes nor Munhwa Ilbo Cup but arrived a perfect two for two, maintain his unbeaten start to his career.
With Rookie Stakes and Munhwa Ilbo winner Complete Value absent, Aspen Taeyang was sent off as hot favourite in a small field of eight in the NACF Chairman’s Trophy. He was made to work hard though as Seungbusa, 3rd in the Rookie Stakes, got onto Aspen Taeyang’s shoulder and struck the front for a time from a furlong and a half out.
With just 100M to go, Moon Se Young roused another effort out of Aspen Taeyang, who retook the lead and then held off the late challenge of the fast-finishing Double Edge, the first three crossing the line with just half a length between them.
Aspen Taeyang [With Distinction – Aspen Light (Bernardini)] now has three wins from three starts, making him, along with Complete Value, who hasn’t been in work since his Munhwa Ilbo win one of only two of the leading juveniles to remain unbeaten.
The Korean Breeders’ Cup race to determine champion juvenile will take place over seven furlongs at Busan Racecourse on Sunday December 5th. Next weekend, attention shifts back to the three-year-old division with the Korean Derby, the second leg of the 2021 Korea Triple Crown, at Seoul on Sunday afternoon with Heat Yegam, the impressive KRA Cup Mile winner, set to be the favourite.
It’s becoming an unwelcome habit that we are posting these things days late, but it was a pair of “full” sisters ( I dislike that term, for some reason), who took top honours at Seoul and Busan last Sunday. Four-year-old Raon First took out Seoul’s Class 1 feature while a year here junior, Raon Pink won the Luna Stakes, the first leg of the 2021 Filly Triple Crown. Both are by Musket Man and out of the Southern Image mare, Pink Candy.
Raon First was a champion as a juvenile and has since gone on to establish herself at class 1 level, running 2nd to Dia Road in a Graded race for fillies and mares last year and finishing 2rd in her latest two, including behind Eoma Eoma. In all those races she had led, only to be taken down close to the line every time.
On Sunday though, Raon First would be no sitting duck. acing up and comers Legend Day and Carving Cross, among others, Raon First was drawn wide but instead of being ridden up hard to the pace, after being slightly slow away, Choi Bum-hyun in the saddle took a sit behind the lead and waited patiently. Choi made his move on Raon First at the top of the straight, punching through a gap with ease and the filly ran on to score by a length and a half in a fast time for the 1400M.
Outsiders Cupid Guy and Myeongpum Chukje chased Raon First home in 2nd and 3rd with Legend Day and Carving Cross both enduring poor days at the office and in the case of the latter especially, seeing their chances of qualification for any of the late season Stakes races diminishing. For Raon First it was seventh win in fourteen starts as she stakes her claim to succeed Dia Road as the top filly or mare in training in Seoul.
At Busan, younger sister Raon Pink was imperious in the Luna Stakes. Sent off as favourite in a sixteen-strong field of three-year-old fillies, who had thirty-six race victories between them coming in, Raon Pink jumped well and slowly worked to the lead and was comfortable in the pace she set. On the corner she slipped away and on straightening went well clear and was strong to the finish under Park Tae-jong. Jedi was 2nd and Smart Officer, who missed the break an excellent 3rd as Seoul fillies swept the top five finishing positions.
Raon Pink now moves on as favourite for the Korean Oaks, back at Busan over 1800M on November 14.
A little late but:It was billed as the hottest opening leg to a Korean Triple Crown ever but in the end Heat Yegam turned it into a procession with a scorching gate to wire win in the KRA Cup Mile (KOR G2) at Busan last Sunday afternoon.
The first race of the three-year-old Classic series had been delayed from its usual April spot by six months due to the ongoing impact of the pandemic on the racing industry. That delay led to what is usually green and unexposed field in the Cup Mile, reaching the starting line this time with in-excess of sixty previous race wins between them.
Heat Yegam was sent off as the betting favourite and from gate nine he got a beautiful start while some of the expected speedsters on his inside faltered and was quickly into an early and surprisingly easy lead. Big rival Winner’s Man was quickly on his shoulder but having come out of gate twelve was being made to work hard. Meanwhile Seoul’s big hope, Heungbaragi, was content to sit handy and wide with jockey Choi Bum-hyun having quickly abandoned any hopes of leading from gate fifteen.
By the top of the stretch, Heat Yegam and Winner’s Man held a four-length advantage over the rest of the field, but it was clear the latter was feeling the effects of the early pace. Heat Yegam though was fresh and while he drifted a little in the final furlong and a half, he cruised home two-lengths to the good. Heungbaragi – who having been wide for most of the race, ended up on the inside fence – ran a strong race in 2nd, while another Seoul raider, Chief Indy closed ominously for 3rd. Mr. Indie was 4th and Winner’s Man a brave 5th.
The win itself may have been soft but the performance was anything but. Heat Yegam completed the first six furlongs just one-tenth of a second outside the track record for that distance – no wonder Winner’s Man couldn’t cope any longer – and then ran on to record an overall time only a second shy of the track record for a mile, held by Blue Chipper. It was his eighth win in nine starts.
For jockey You Hyun-myung, post-race feelings were a mixture of elation and relief. “Going on my experience with this horse so far, I had to expect him to win,” You told the Korea Racing Broadcasting Channel (KRBC) after the race. “There was always going to be a lot of pressure at the start, so I just wanted to get out of the gate in a straight line with no trouble. As it happened, we got away very well and, in the end, everything was much smoother and easier than I expected.”
Next up will be the Korean Derby in Seoul on November 7th, as Heat Yegam seeks to emulate J.S. Hold and Power Blade in winning a Triple Crown. You Hyun-myung thinks the horse will be ready. “
Heat Yegam was bred by the Yeonhak Agricultural Corporation at the Yeonhak Farm on Jeju Island and was sold privately to owner Kim Joon-hyun for 150 Million Korean Won as a yearling in September 2019. Sired by Take Charge Indy, during that stallion’s brief sojourn in Korea before his American farm bought him back due to the unexpected success of his Stateside progeny, he is out of Desert Heat, a mare from the final crop by the legendary sire, Mr. Prospector.
How they ran:
1st Heat Yegam – started favourite today showed great speed to sit a tad wide but a fast comfortable rhythm, on the corner he applied some pressure to get a good break on the field and while he drifted out in the early part of the straight came back towards the finish. This was a sensational run and the fastest ever KRA Cup Mile run to date.
2nd Heungbaragi – He had a challenge from barrier 15 but showed good speed to get forward however he was very wide most of the journey lost ground on the corner and then fought on strongly in the straight making up much ground. A stellar performance
3rd Chief Indy – Settled wide and midfield then on the corner the jockey elected to go inside near the fence where he was balanced up and urged forward. It was at the 150m when he came into the picture and kept taking ground off the leaders. A great run and further distance will also suit him.
4thMr. Indie – He was ridden hard early to get a more forward position settling on the fence midfield then slotted forward just behind Mach Titan. He stayed on the rails saving much ground, into the straight and he was a clear 4th he kept fighting in the straight to maintain 4th in a strong run.
5th Winner’s Man – Ridden hard early to be on the shoulder of Heat Yegam and was wide from a less favourable gate. Couldn’t maintain that pace after such a fast opening but plenty of merit in the way he ran on for 5th. He may be a different prospect in Seoul at the Korean Derby.
Racing makes its way into August and with Seoul off this weekend there is a bumper 15-race card at Busan from 11:00 to 18:00. with some really good races along the way. Here are the previews:
Busan Race 1: Class 6 (1000M) Allowance / KRW 45 Million
Juveniles here racing for boosted prize-money and it’s wide open. (10) MAN OF THE YEAR was arguably the best in trials when sitting just off the pace and running on for 2nd in a fast time on a dry track. The wide draw may not be ideal but if Perovic can get a decent position, the Federalist colt may have too much. Both trainer Bart Rice and jockey Franco Da Silva had good Julys and they kick off August with a serious contender in the shape of (1) FLASHY CHARM. He led in his trial and finished off pleasingly enough for 5th in a decent time with some experienced horses among those ahead of him. He draws well here and has every chance. (4) WONDERFUL RAISE also trialed up alongside experienced ones and didn’t look out of place. Expect improvement from the trial and given the stable, he will have plenty of backing. There is only one runner with previous racecourse experience. (8) DONGBU STAR didn’t exactly set the world alight when 8th of 11 over 1300M a month ago but previously trialed well at today’s distance and can improve. (9) HANEUL GANGJA another to look out for.
(10) Man Of The Year (1) Flashy Charm (4) Wonderful Raise (8) Dongbu Star
1, 4, 5, 12
Busan Race 2: Class 6 (1200M) Allowance / KRW 33 Million
(2) DONGTEUJA BOY was a beaten favourite on debut at today’s distance on July 11th, but ran pleasingly enough for 3rd having briefly struck the front at the top of the stretch. He should have come on for that run and You Hyun-myung climbing aboard certainly won’t damage his chances. He is therefore favoured to overturn the form on (5) DOCTOR TEXAS, who ran 2nd in that same race. That continued an upward trajectory for Doctor Texas, who has shown improvement at each start, and who looks like the main danger here. Both should be competing for the early lead. It’s a fresh start today for (4) GLORY KING, who made one solitary start back in January without troubling the scorers. He looked a completely different prospect when bolting up in a trial in late June, leading from gate to wire. He will be expected to improve significantly on that January effort today. (9) SORI OREUM and (10) TRIPLE JILJU are others in at least the placing frame while (7) WIND HIGH looks the most promising at this stage of the three first-time starters.
(2) Dongteuja Boy (5) Doctor Texas (4) Glory King (9) Sori Oreum
2, 4, 5, 11
Busan Race 3: Class 6 (1300M) Allowance / KRW 22 Million
(8) DANCING DRAGON has mixed her form across her four starts so far but she has now run a couple of good times for this distance and today gets the assistance of Perovic in the saddle. She can sit behind the early speed here and could well prove too strong late on. The main danger and probable betting favourite is (4) UNJU EUTTEUM. He ran a very promising 3rd debut over 1200M on June 26th, when he was on pace throughout. He should have benefited from that experience and will surely be in the finish again today. (11) BAEK PUNG left himself far too much to do at his latest start on June 26th, crossing to the rail early but racing ungenerously and looking as though he resented the kickback. Once he found clear ground in the straight, he worked home well enough and while the draw is even worse today, if Seo Seung-un can keep him out of trouble, he has placing claims here. (2) QUEEN OF HEARTS has run well in her latest two starts for 5th and 3rd at 1200M and 1400M respectively and she can go well from a nice barrier here. (12) RAPIDO QUEEN is another who has been up and down but has recorded a fast time at this distance and may sneak some minor money.
Busan Race 4: Class 6 (1400M) Allowance / KRW 22 Million
(7) GALLANT WARRIOR is the pick here, coming in off a last start runner-up finish when he settled back before improving to midfield and then running on strong to record what is the fastest time of any of these who have attempted the distance. He has a good start on him too so from a central gate, You Hyun-myung should have plenty of options and the pair can go one better today. (2) ECHO LADY also comes in off a last start runner-up finish. In her case it was just her second appearance and it marked a big improvement. From the same gate as she draws today, she was quickly on the speed, only relinquishing it a furlong out and then battled on well. She has every chance here. (11) MAJOR FORCE has been consistent across his eight starts so far, finishing in 4th place on no fewer than three occasions. His times have been consistent at both today’s distance and at a mile and looks a decent shout for a place here. (9) CAL MARK has also shown consistency in terms of times and comes in off a career best 2nd on July 9th over 1300M. He tackles the 1400M for the first time and given the way he has been working home in his races, it may suit. (6) TAMNA HWANGHU is the only previous winner in the race, at this distance three starts back, and that alone must bring her into the calculations.
(7) Gallant Warrior (2) Echo Lady (11) Major Force (9) Cal Mark
2, 7, 9, 10
Busan Race 5: Class 6 (1400M) Allowance / KRW 22 Million
(9) RAON THE CAPTAIN broke through at start number three on June 26th, overcoming an even wider draw than today to get close to the pace and then then prove too strong, beating a couple of these in the process as he recorded what was an easy win on the line. That was over a mile so he is back in trip today but he gets in at the same weight and may take some beating. (12) YEONGGWANGUI SPEED has the fastest time among these at this distance. His best finish so far has come when he has gone right back and run on so the gate may not be such an issue for him. He has finished in the top four on five of his seven starts and should be in the frame here. (5) LUCAS SUN came home in 3rd place behind Raon The Captain in that June 26th race. That was his third 3rd place finish from eight starts so far and while he has seven-lengths to find on Raon The Captain, he should be beating plenty of these. (1) TRIPLE STORM and (4) SIMON TOP GUN are others with placing claims.
(9) Raon The Captain (12) Yeonggwangui Speed (5) Lucas Sun (1) Triple Storm
4, 6, 7, 10
Busan Race 6: Class 5 (1200M) Handicap / KRW 33 Million
Fillies and mares only here and (1) B J MISS is up in class on her solid last start win over 1200M in a good time when she led from gate to wire to score by four-lengths. The filly who ran 2nd to her that day (Choegang Ilse) came out last week and won herself. She draws the inside here and should measure up in this class. (2) SECOND WIND was a good winner over 1400M at class 6 level two starts back before last time on July 2nd taking a bump at the start before pulling hard and expending a lot of energy before working home well for 5th. A couple of today’s rivals finished ahead of her but with a clean getaway she can overturn that form today. (10) HAPPY YOJEONG was one of those who finished ahead of Second Wind on July 2nd. She settled midfield and then ran out well and the wide draw should fit her pattern of racing. (12) MASTER QUEEN also comes out of that July 2nd race when she was 3rd. She has now placed in all three starts at this class since getting her maiden win in April. She has led in all of those meaning the wide draw may not be helpful but she can’t be overlooked. (9) GREAT GO is another who comes out of that July 2nd race and another in the hunt.
(1) B J Miss (2) Second Wind (10) Happy Yojeong (12) Master Queen
Blue Chipper returned to the winner’s circle at long last at Busan Racecourse on Sunday afternoon as Korea’s 2019 Breeders’ Cup hero registered an effortless class 1 win over seven-furlongs.
With the Covid-induced financial crisis still biting, Sunday’s Busan feature was contested for a 1st prize of just KRW 24 Million (US$21,400). Nevertheless, in addition to Blue Chipper the race also attracted the likes of Ssonsal, the up-and-coming sprinter who came in off the back of four consecutive wins, as well as multiple winner King Of Glory and Dubai World Cup Carnival alumnus Today among a full field of fourteen.
None stood a chance as under jockey Djordje Perovic and coming out of gate five, Blue Chipper quickly assumed command of the race, before motoring away from the field in the home straight. Ssonsal, who had to overcome the widest draw, got closest, finishing three-lengths in arrears.
It’s been a long way back for Blue Chipper, who last tasted victory in the Korea Sprint (KOR G1) at Seoul Racecourse in September of 2019. Knowing that he held a Breeders’ Cup nomination, connections then opted to take a chance on him in the Big Ass Fans Breeders’ Cup First Mile at Santa Anita where, under an enterprising Flavien Prat ride, Blue Chipper finished 3rd behind Spun To Run and Omaha Beach.
Blue Chipper was then pointed at the Dubai World Cup Carnival and a tilt at the Goldolphin Mile. Disaster struck, however, when on arrival he was found to have travel sickness, the complications of which ruled him out of competing at Meydan. By the time he was passed fit to fly, he returned to a Korea where racing, with no legal remote betting, was amid the still ongoing Covid crisis.
Having returned to training in December – and moved to trainer Min Jang-ki’s stable – Blue Chipper was given a low-key return to racing in February in a race which had no legal betting markets either at home or overseas. Going over a mile he showed at the front early but visibly tired in the final furlong ultimately ending up in 5th. He came out of that race in good order though and the improvement was there for all to see on Sunday.
Where to next is the million-dollar (hopefully not the 24 Million Won) question for Blue Chipper. Now six-years-old, the Tiznow gelding seems unlikely to travel again given the risks involved and with no confirmed Stakes schedule for Korea as the pandemic continues to squeeze prizemoney, it may be some time before he even gest to face the likes of Seoul-based rising-star Eoma Eoma in Korea.
Jockey Kim Hye-sun rode her first winner back since returning from maternity leave just a week ago. The thirty-two-year-old, who is married to fellow jockey Park Jae-I, partnered Haeundae Bada to victory in race 1 at Busan on Sunday. It was career victory number 284 for Kim, who is the most successful female thoroughbred jockey in Korean history. She rode Jejui Haneul to victory in the Korean Oaks in 2017.
In the three-year-old ranks, Winner’s Man returned to winning ways at Busan on Saturday. The Musket Man colt was beaten by the very good Golden Winner on his first try around the Korean Derby distance of 1800M last month and while he suffered another scare this time around, he had enough about him to hold off long-shot Man Of Top by a head at class 3 level for his first success around two turns. Winner’s Man now has a record of five wins and two runner-up finishes from seven starts.
Eoma Eoma began 2021 the way he left off in 2020 with an easy Class 1 win over 1400M at Seoul, but Blue Chipper could only manage 5th place in his long awaited return to action at Busan as Mr. Afleet took out the feature race on the south coast.
Seoul’s feature class 1 event was essentially a Group race run under handicap conditions over 1400M. With Morfhis having taken out the SBS Sports Sprint last summer as well as a pair of full prize-money class 1 races, his rating had risen to the extent that he had to carry 60kg as was giving away 8kg to all of his prominent rivals.
Morfhis was game coming through late as usual to finish in 4th place, but he was always going to struggle to catch Eoma Eoma who, under Moon Se Young, led from gate to wire to score by three-lengths from Do Kki Blade in 2nd and Jjang Kong in 3rd.
For Eoma Eoma it is now six wins from eight starts and punters and fans alike will be desperately hoping that circumstances will allow he and Morfhis – along with the likes of East Jet – to clash at level weights for a big prize at some point this year.
At Busan, Blue Chipper was making his return to racing for the first time since running 3rd in the 2019 Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile at Santa Anita.
It wasn’t to be for the now six-year-old who missed all of his five-year-old season after getting travel sickness on the way to the Dubai World Cup Carnival. Blue Chipper led out of the gate in the Mile-long Busan feature, which like the races at Seoul, was being contested for reduced prize-money, but started to tread water once they entered the home straight.
Mr. Afleet, trained by Peter Wolsley and ridden by Seo Seung-un, went on to win the race by four-lengths from Core Blade.
For Blue Chipper, who missed his planned final gallop earlier in the week due to heavy rain, a mile was always going to be a tough ask first up and so long as he pulls up without any issues, perhaps little should be read into his performance. There will hopefully be bigger things to come for him later in the year.
This year’s juvenile crop got a rare opportunity to run for a big prize at both Seoul and Busan on Sunday with the Jeju Governor’s Cup prize split into two heats and run as what would have been the second leg of the Juvenile Series, both of them over 1200M.
At Busan there were only eight runners but still plenty of intrigue as Winner’s Man and Heat Yegam put their 100% records on the line. While Winner’s Man was favourite, it was Heat Yegam, under You Hyun-myung, who prevailed, leading gate-to-wire for a four-length victory. Winner’s Man was 2nd with Good Socks a further nine-lengths in arrears in 3rd.
Heat Yegam [Take Charge Indy – Desert Heat (Mr. Prospector)] is from the first of what will ultimately be three Korean crops by Take Charge Indy. He’s the third foal from his dam to race in Korea – the other two have both won races but Heat Yegam looks significantly better than either of them.
Up at Seoul the equivalent race attracted a full field of fourteen, including the first five home in August’s Rookie Stakes. Choegangyeongcheon, who only debuted the day before the Rookie, was sent off slight favourite but reared in the gates prior to the start and while passed fit to run, was never a factor.
Instead it was Rookie winner Heungbaragi who made light work of the widest draw to hit the front early and run on for an eye-catching two-and-a-half length win. Super Champion came home in 2nd place with the filly Jedi in 3rd.
Heungbaragi [Old Fashioned – Grand Marketing (After Market)] moves on to three wins from three starts. He is the first foal out of his dam, who did her racing in Korea. He could well be a career-defining horse for veteran jockey Lee Joon-chel.
With Busan having joined Seoul under “Level 2” social distancing rules, both tracks were devoid of spectators over the weekend. Only Jeju Racecourse and four provincial OTBs were able to accept a limited number of customers and accordingly, with the exception of the juvenile races, there was reduced stakes money all around (and horses will not be penalized by the handicapper for their successes or otherwise).
It was feared that the government may raise the level to 2 for the entire country on Sunday afternoon but instead they settled on maintaining the Seoul and Busan levels while raising the rest of the country to 1.5. This means that weekend racing can continue but there will be changes.
Only Jeju will race on Friday while Seoul and Busan will both race – with truncated cards – on Saturday and Sunday. On Saturday, Seoul will conduct its card first with Busan immediately following while this will be done in reverse on Sunday. Races will continue to be run for reduced Stake money. The only places which will be open for spectators and betting are the Jeju Racecourse and the Daegu and Daejeon Off-Course Betting centres. Attendance at all three will be limited to 20% of capacity.
Dia Road firmly established herself at the top of the filly and mare division by taking out the Ttukseom Cup (KOR G2) at Seoul Racecourse on Sunday afternoon and in doing so, beat perennial champion Silver Wolf for the second consecutive time. One race later, British jockey Alan Munro recorded his first Korean Stakes race victory when guiding East Jet to a smart victory in the Seoul Racehorse Owners’ Association (KOR G3).
Coming into the Ttukseom Cup, the first leg of the Queens’ Tour, Dia Road [Captain Coltish – Gieongnal Geunal (Menifee)] had won seven of her eight prior races, including that meeting with stablemate Silver Wolf in the Donga Ilbo Cup prior to the shutdown earlier this year when she had a 5kg weight advantage.
At level weights this time, Dia Road was slowly out of the gates but by the end of the back straight, jockey Kim Yong-geun had threaded a way through the field and was up just behind the leaders. She struck the front at the top of the home straight and powered away from the rest to record a six-length win from early pacesetter Raon First and closer Ice Marine. Silver Wolf, who took a long time to find space for a run, came home 5th.
If all goes to plan – and that is a big “if” with Korean racing in an uncertain position due to the recent COVID-19 resurgence, the four-year-old Dia Road and the eight-year-old Silver Wolf will most likely meet again in the final two legs of the Queens’ Tour – of which Silver Wolf is already a two-time winner – in the autumn.
The SROA Trophy (KOR G3) brought back together some of the nation’s top sprinters including the first five home in last month’s SBS Sports Sprint. Most pre-race attention focused on the young up and comer Eoma Eoma who after three straight wins, had suffered her first career defeat when a gutsy 3rd in the SBS Sports Sprint a month ago.
Despite a much better draw, this time Eoma Eoma had to settle for 2nd place as East Jet [Strike Again – Lend (Coronado’s Quest)], the only other three-year-old in the race, made short work of a wide draw to get right on pace with the leaders and then proved too strong in the straight, holding off Eoma Eoma by just under a length. SBS Sports Sprint winner Morfhis produced his customary late charge but had to settle for 3rd.
East Jet was ridden by Alan Munro, who was recording his first Koream Stakes race victory. Munro, who only returned earlier this month from a broken wrist suffered prior to the KRA Cup Mile has now ridden 67 winners from 570 rides in the country since debuting in February 2019.
Tiz Plan ground down Cheongdam Dokki in a seesaw stretch duel to win the Busan Mayor’s Cup on Sunday afternoon, sealing his first Group level victory and denying Cheongdam Dokki a second sweep of the Korean Stayers’ Series.
Whereas in the first two legs of the Series, the Herald Business and YTN Cups at Seoul, Cheongdam Dokki had simply run away from his rivals and put both races to bed before his , this time jockey Johan Victoire, with a furlong less to worry about, kept Tiz Plan much handier in the early stages and while Cheongdam Dokki did lead, at no time did the gap look insurmountable.
Leading by just over a length at the top of stretch, Cheongdam Dokki was reeled in by Tiz Plan and the two went nose to nose. Dokki briefly regained the upper hand before a final effort from Tiz Plan saw the younger horse draw level once more and finally pull away to win by a length and a half. As usual, Shamrocker came home in 3rd place.
Tiz Plan [Tiznow – Amusing Plan (Pleasantly Perfect)] was bred by Three Chimneys Farm and arrived in Korea as a two-year-old in 2017. His win was his tenth from twenty starts.
For trainer Park Jae-woo, who gained his license in 2011, it was a first Group race victory. Jockey Johan Victoire was winning this race for the second year in a row having been successful on Dolkong a year ago. Victoire also won the G3 SBS Sports Sprint last month.
With the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic preventing any wagering from taking place in Korea and with the Korea Cup accordingly not being run this year, the racing calendar remains somewhat up in the air. However, it is possible that Tiz Plan and Cheongdam Dokki could meet again in the KRA Cup Classic at 2000M in early October.