The sisters came together at the top of the home straight but Raon First promptly asserted her authority over younger sibling Raon Pink and the rest of the filly and mare division, as she romped away for an easy victory in the Listed Donga Ilbo Trophy, the first leg of the Queens’ Tour, at Seoul Racecourse on Sunday afternoon.
Having displaced the retired Silver Wolf and Dia Road atop the filly and mares ranks, Raon First has dominated the division, and came into this race having closed out 2021 with victory in the G3 Jeju Governor’s Cup before opening her account for 2022 with a facile score in the Listed Segye Ilbo Trophy at the end of January. Having beaten the males at class 1 too, she entered a hot favourite for the 1800M Donga Ilbo, despite having done her best work at one-turn.
Raon First was sent off at odds-on but from the wide gate, jockey Choi Bum-hyun was content to let her sit just off the lead in the early stages as Raon Pink made the early running while longest shot on the board, Singsing Mary along with placing hope Florida Power were in close attendance too.
Things would stay that way until they turned towards the home straight when Singsing Mary would find her race run, leaving the sisters briefly alone together. When the question was asked, Raon Pink was no match for Raon First and the race became a formality as Raon First streaked away to win by four-lengths.
Clear Geom, runner-up to Raon First in the Jeju Governor’s Cup, would come home second-best again, while Florida Power held off a late Cheonji Yeogeol challenge to claim 3rd. Raon Pink faded and ended up in 7th place, one spot behind the filly she finished runner-up to in last season’s Korean Oaks, Choegang Black.
For Raon First, who is by Musket Man and out of Pink Candy (by Southern Image), it was a tenth win from seventeen starts. Connections will need to decide whether she remains in the comfortable environs of the Queens’ Tour, with its remaining legs being the Ttukseom Cup at 1400M in June and then the KNN Cup down at Busan over a mile in July. Given the abundance of talent at the disposal of the burgeoning Raon empire – with the phenom Raon The Fighter at its forefront – this seems her likely course.
In other races, a class 1 handicap over 1400M at Busan loaded with talent went the way of Yeongung Louis. The US-bred four-year-old (by Violence) had announced his arrival with an outstanding 3rd place in the SBS Sports Sprint at Seoul and on Sunday made his class 1 debut among a field containing KRA Cup Classic winner Mr. Afleet as well as Doctor Carson and the in-form Barbarian. Ultimately Yeongung Louis would be on pace throughout, and cruised away to score by five-lengths, taking his record to six wins from eleven starts.
Back at Seoul, Haengbok Wangja made his first appearance since winning the 2021 Grand Prix Stakes in December. It was not to be a winning one though, as Simjangui Godong, the 2021 President’s Cup winner, beat him in a straight two-horse shoot-out in the home straight.
Simjangui Godong, is by Korean-bred champion Jigeum I Sungan,and just like his father is a rare horse in Korea who wears no headgear. He moved on to ten wins from twenty-five starts and set another marker down as racing in Korea moves its sights upon the international Korea Cup in September.
Sunday is Donga Ilbo Trophy day at Seoul where there are 11 races from 10:45 to 18:00. Busan also runs a card with 6 races from 12:00 to 16:40. The Donga Ilbo is for fillies and mares and it could be something of a family affair with Raon First set to be hot favourite with her younger “full” sister Raon Pink one of her leading rivals. Also at Seoul Haengbok Wangja makes his first appearance since winning the Grand Prix Stakes in December, while at Busan there is a very tasty feature in prospect as the up and coming Barbarian takes on KRA Cup Classic winner Mr. Afleet, as well as Yeongung Louis and Doctor Carson in a cracking class 1 sprint over 1400M. All betting locations across Korea are open, however, attendance must be pre-booked through the MyCard app. Here are the previews:
Seoul Race 1: Class 6 (1200M) Allowance / KRW 40 Million
Three-year-old maidens open the card with four of the twelve racing for the very first time. We’re set for a hot favourite in the shape of (5) QUEENUI JILJU. Having finished 3rd on debut over 1000M on Boxing Day, she stepped up to this trip on February 12th and ran 2nd having been handy throughout. The time was only fair although faster than anything else here has achieved so far and a similar run here will see her hard to beat. (3) MARUMA ran 5th from a wide gate on debut over 1000M before only managing 8th second-up at this trip. He should have come on for those experiences and in this company can be given another chance. (2) OKCHEON CHOEGANG debuts following two positive trials, crossing the line 2nd and 3rd in fair times. That’s enough to see him firmly in the hunt first up. (8) BURUI JILJU and (1) NAOL SESANG perhaps have the potential to improve.
Seoul Race 2: Class 6 (1200M) Allowance / KRW 25 Million
Maiden fillies here and it’s competitive. We’ll go with (5) BARO QUEEN who seems to be figuring things out with five starts underneath her best. She comes in following back-to-back 3rd places at this distance, last time away slowly from a wide draw and then working home well. The draw is in her favour this time and she may well lead. If she does, she has every chance of staying there. (10) GOLDEN SCOOP will probably be the favourite. She beat Baro Queen when 2nd on January 22nd and followed it up with a 3rd place, again at this distance, a month ago. She’s trialed well since then and looks to have big chance. (9) NAMSAN KKOT has raced just the once, when 3rd at this distance last October in a good time. She didn’t offer too many clues when trialing earlier this month, but she should be kept safe. (6) HWIPARAM and (3) WONDERFUL HAWAII among others in the placing frame.
Seoul Race 3: Class 6 (1200M) Allowance / KRW 25 Million
It’s hard to look too far past (11) FLY STAR here. Having run 5th on debut at 1400M, he dopped back to 1300M for his second start on February 27th and led almost the entire way around, ultimately ending in 2nd, beaten by a very good winner. He comes back in trip again and while the gate is not the best, he is very much the one to beat. (5) MIDAS CAMP had a hard time from a wide draw on his latest outing over 1300M on February 20th. Disregard that and instead go on is 3rd place in a good time in January. He can sit on speed or handy here and should be a different prospect today. (4) NAOL ACE improved at start number two on January 22nd when handy throughout and finishing 4th. He comes up in trip for the first time today and there is no reason why it can’t suit. (1) MUNHAK FOREST and (12) MABAWI are among others who can enter the calculations.
Busan Race 1: Class 6 (1300M) Allowance / KRW 25 Million
Three-year-old maidens in the opener on the South-Coast. There is plenty of winning potential among them but (9) JOSEPHINE QUEEN should have a little too much. She was a good 2nd in a super time over this distance on February 13th when she sat handy then briefly led before being beaten by a good winner. She can sit handy again and a similar run will see her home on top here. (7) FLOWING RIVER has run 3rd in both starts so far at 1000M and 1200M. The little extra trip may well suit and he should have some more to offer. Park Jae-I rode Flowing River in both his races so far but today he stays aboard (3) GREAT CAPTAIN. He comes in having beaten three of these on his way to 3rd place at class and distance on February 27th. He draws a similarly good gate, carries the same weight, and can be a danger again. (5) DOCTOR PERSIA came home 5th in the same race on what was his first start, and he can build on that here. (8) INDY CHOICE another in the hunt.
(9) Josephine Queen (7) Flowing River (3) Great Captain (5) Doctor Persia
1, 7, 8, 9
Seoul Race 4: Class 6 (1300M) Allowance / KRW 25 Million
Tricky race. (3) KING MOUNTAIN weakened late on having led for much of the way around over 1700M on February 27th, ultimately finishing 6th of twelve. Two starts back, he ran a very good 2nd over 1300M behind Titan Socks, who has since won again at a higher level. He can be on pace again today and the drop back in trip should suit. (4) K N PARK showed significant improvement at his latest outing over this distance on February 20th, when going back and improving late on. The same apprentice jockey keeps the weight nice and light today and he should be working home well again here. (5) HONEY PUNCH too showed improvement at her most recent appearance on February 26th. She has gone back in all her races so far, but this time made up really good ground late on and a similar run will put her right in this. (7) TIFFANY BLUE and (2) FLYING BARBIE are others who can enter the calculations.
(3) King Mountain (4) K N Park (5) Honey Punch (7) Tiffany Blue
1, 3, 8, 10
Busan Race 2: Class 6 (1200M) Allowance / KRW 40 Million
(1) RADAR has been a beaten favourite on both starts to date, most recently at odds-on when 3rd having been a close 2nd on debut. She had the excuse of gate fourteen that day but should get a much easier run to the lead from the inside this time around and it really should be third-time lucky. (2) HWARANG ACE showed some ability as he gradually got closer across three starts last autumn, with a best of 4th at this distance in November. He hasn’t raced since but looks to have held his form if his trial two weeks ago is anything to go by when he led, crossing the line 2nd in a fast time. Expect him on speed and in this a long way. (3) EUNBIT JILJU wet right back on debut but made-up good ground for 5th. She should have come on for that run and can get closer today. (8) BOOMY STAR and (5) BABEL PHOENIX are others capable of putting in good runs.
Last year’s winner Pinot Noir put up a valiant defence of her Donga Ilbo crown but ultimately was to be denied as Meni Money came home in front in Seoul’s second Listed Race of 2017.
With the well-fancied Touch Flying found lame and declared a non-runner less than an hour before the race, it was Meni Money who was sent off as favourite and she was kept handy by champion jockey Moon Se Young in the early stages. Meanwhile, Park Hyun Woo on Pinot Noir employed the now 7-year-old mare’s familiar tactics of dropping to the rear on leaving the gate before going wide around the field in the back straight to take the lead.
Pinot Noir would lead into the straight but Meni Money came alongside with a furlong to go and ran on to prevail by just under a length and a half. Argo Champ ran on well for 3rd.
Meni Money [Menifee-Pocketful Of Money (Running Stag)] is out of a dam who for a number of years held the track record at today’s distance of 1800M. She won five and was runner-up in five of her first ten career starts, including 2nd place in the Korean Oaks in 2015. However, since then she had only added a further two victories prior to today. Her previous biggest victory came in the 2015 Sports Seoul Cup.
Donga Ilbo Cup (Listed) – Seoul Racecourse – 1800M – Feb 19, 2017
1. Meni Money (KOR) [Menifee – Pocketful Of Money (Running Stag)] – Moon Se Young – 2.3, 1.2 2. Pinot Noir (KOR) [Capital Spending – Neungnyeokchungman (Pacificbounty)] – Park Hyun Woo – 1.6 3. Argo Champ (KOR) [Menifee – Doo Dah Day (Woodman)] – Djordje Perovic – 2.1 Distances: 1.25 lengths / 3 lengths – 9 ran
The win was one of five on the day for defending champion jockey Moon Se Young. Earlier, he won on Lion Rock (Ecton Park), a three year-old “full” brother to reigning Horse of the Year Triple Nine. Lion Rock moved to three from three with a facile victory in the 1700M race 8.
Two unbeaten records came to an end at Busan though. American Power (Ecton Park) didn’t travel especially well on his first try at a mile and gave himself too much to do in race 5, ending up in 2nd place. A race later, US import Drop The Beat (Mad Flatter) also went down to his first defeat.
Those defeats were in contrast to the showing a day earlier by Final Boss (Menifee). The champion juvenile of 2016 barely required second gear to maintain his winning streak over 1800M at Seoul:
For the second time in three years, Cheonnyeon Dongan ran out victorious in the Donga Ilbo Trophy at Seoul Racecourse on Sunday. The odds-on favourite ran on for a 4-length win under champion jockey Moon Se Young.
Cheonnyeon Dongan and Moon Se Young win the Donga Ilbo
The last time she won this race, it was held in September and a change in the racing calendar meant that the past two winners of the trophy would face-off much earlier this year.
Last year’s winner, Ua Deungseon was sent off third in the betting but she never really featured, coming home in 5th as Cheonnyeon Dongan took things up in the home straight and cruised clear.
No a 5-year-old, Cheonnyeon Dongan (Ecton Park) has won 9 of her 21 career starts. This was her third big race win with a Nonghyup Chairman’s Trophy added to her two Donga’s.
Donga Ilbo Trophy – Seoul Racecourse – 2000M – February 15, 2015
1. Cheonnyeon Dongan (KOR) [Ecton Park – Honeycakes (Hennessey)] – Moon Se Young – 1.4, 1.0 2. Geumbit Hwanhui (KOR) [Peace Rules – Sincheongchun (Silent Warrior)] – Jang Chuyoul – 2.7 3. Revereduction (KOR) [Revere – Neednointroduction (Announce)] – Han Sung Youl – 14.7 Distances: 4 lengths / Head – 11 ran
It’s Valentine’s Weekend so where better to spend it than at the racecourse? The Donga Ilbo Trophy headlines at Seoul while both in the capital and at Busan there are big fields all round.
Cheonnyeon Dongan won the Donga Ilbo in 2013 with the now retired Cho Kyoung Ho on board
The Donga Ilbo Trophy is this year restricted to Korean bred fillies and mares and has attracted a field of ten. Chief among them is Cheonnyeon Dongan, who won the race back in 2013 when it was held in September, and Ua Deungseon, who took last year’s event just five months ago.
With the unrest of last week now over, Seoul will hold a 13-race card on Saturday and a 10-race card on Sunday.
At Busan there are full fields on Friday and among them are some fascinating races with horses being able to drop down in class for the first time in Korea. This looks set to give a new lease of life to those who found themselves with too many points for class 2 but not good enough for class 1.
Peter Wolsley has a solid set of runners at Busan on Friday including the exciting Macheon Bolt while jockeys Joe Fujii and Masa Tanaka are riding live chances throughout the day. Nobuyuki Oyama and Nozomu Tomizawa will also be in action. South African trainer Bart Rice will have one runner on Sunday.