Raon First asserted her authority atop the filly and mare ranks at Seoul Racecourse on Sunday with a dismissively easy win in the Ttukseom Cup (1400M KOR-G2) and in doing so, moved closer to what seems an inevitable victory in the Queens’ Tour. A potential new foe has appeared, however, as a day earlier on the same track Golden Power completed a clean sweep of the filly Triple Crown with a similarly comprehensive triumph in the Gyeonggi Governor’s Cup (2000M KOR-G3).
Returned to its early spot on the calendar, the filly Triple Crown – or “Triple Tiara” as it is known locally – was a three-way affair throughout the series between the only fillies who really looked up to the task at this stage; Golden Power, who secured narrow wins in the Luna Stakes (1600M KOR-L) and the Korean Oaks (1800M KOR-G3), and rivals Raon The Spurt and Chamjoeun Chingu, who filled out the placings in both those races.
Mindful of the extended trip, punters couldn’t split Golden Power and Raon The Spurt, the latter having finished off very well in the Oaks and sent them off as practically co-favourites in Saturday afternoon’s Gyeonggi Governor’s Cup.
Outsider Lunar Silver bounded out of the gate and led for most of the way around but as they got down to business in what was unchartered territory distance-wise for the entire field in the home straight, the usual suspects amassed at the front.
Then Golden Power took control. She struck the front just inside the final furlong and eased clear to score by four-lengths on the line from Raon The Spurt in 2nd with the fast finishing Eunseong Winner edging out Chamjoeun Chingu for 3rd.
Golden Power is by Afleet Express and is out of Cherokee Sheikh (by Cherokee Run). Owned and bred by Song Boing-chul, she is trained by Kwon Sung-ju at Busan and was ridden in all three legs of the filly Triple Crown, by Choi Si-dae. She now has five wins from ten starts.
A likely target next year for Golden Power is the Queens’ Tour and potential meeting, with Raon First, who on Sunday all but wrapped up victory in this year’s series with two races to spare by winning the Ttukseom Cup as easy as her triumph in the Segye Ilbo.
Sent off as an almost un-bettable favourite in the local market, Raon First settled in 2nd place early with jockey Choi Si-dae content to allow second-favourite Wish Me, who was drawn much better, to set the pace. That’s how it remained until the home straight and once Choi asked for an effort, Raon First’s superior acceleration took her to the lead and away from the field.
Wish Me held on for a battling 2nd place four-lengths behind the winner, while Lady Kelly also stayed on well for 3rd.
Raon First is by Musket Man and is out of Pink Candy (by Southern Image). She was bred by her owner Son Chun-soo and is trained by Park Jong-kon at Seoul, who trains the majority of the “Raon” horses. The Ttukseom Cup was Raon First’s eleventh win from eighteen starts.
The third leg of the Queens’ Tour is the KNN Cup (1600M KOR-G3) which will be run at Busan on Sunday July 17th. The series then goes on hiatus for four months before the concluding race, the Gyeongnam Governor’s Cup (2000M KOR-G3) on Sunday November 27th, also at Busan. Next weekend the focus returns to the three-year-old colts and the final leg of their Triple Crown, the Minister’s Cup (2000M KOR-G2). The winners of the first two-legs, Captain Yankee (KRA Cup Mile) and Winner Star (Korean Derby) are both expected to be in the starting gate at Seoul Racecourse this coming Sunday.
The Queens’ Tour for fillies and mares gets underway on Sunday and Raon First will be hot favourite to score in the Ttukseom Cup (1400M KOR-G2). There are 11 races at Seoul from 10:45 to 18:00 and 6 at Busan from 11:35 to 16:15. Here are the previews:
Seoul Race 1: Class 6 (1300M) Allowance / KRW 40 Million
Three-year-old maidens in the opener and (11) MARUMA is the one to beat. He has the fastest time among these at the distance, recorded at his last start on April 23rd when he sat in 3rd place the entire way around. The wide draw shouldn’t be too much of an issue and he won’t need to improve too much on that to win here. (10) TRIPLE JOY has raced fairly in two starts so far, finishing in 3rd and 5th. He steps up to this distance for the first time and can make further progress. (9) OCHEONBOK has come from off the pace in both of her races to date, finishing 4th and then 2nd, the latter at this distance on April 30th. She has posted impressive final furlong times and so long as she doesn’t get too far back, can be a danger late on. (1) GEUMA CHIC and (7) KING HONOR are others to take into consideration.
(11) Maruma (10) Triple Joy (9) Ocheonbok (1) Geuma Chic
6, 8, 9, 11
Seoul Race 2: Class 6 (1300M) Allowance / KRW 25 Million
(1) ACE PLAN has looked to be working towards a win from his latest few appearances, culminating in a 3rd place last time out on May 21st when he was an on-pace 3rd at this distance. He returns just two weeks later and from a better draw, should be on or close to the pace from the start and he will be favoured to win here. Coming out of the opposite end of the gate will be (12) APPLE MINT. He has started to hit some form in his latest two and an apprentice jockey brings the weight down considerably today. He has settled midfield or worse in those two recent outings so the wide draw may not be too much of an inconvenience. (6) NEOREUL EUNGWONHAE has four to-five finishes from six outings to date and can continue her solid run of form following a last start 3rd. (7) FLYING BARBIE and (11) TORUK MAKTO others in at least the placing frame.
(1) Ace Plan (12) Apple Mint (6) Neoreul Eongwonhae (7) Flying Barbie
1, 6, 10, 11
Busan Race 1: Class 6 (1300M) Allowance / KRW 40 Million
A competitive maiden for three-year-olds gets things underway on the south coast. We’ll go with (8) WORLD FOUR A, who after participating in a fast trial to qualify in April, ran a good 2nd on debut at 1200M on May 22nd when he was on pace throughout and led in the straight. He should have come on for that run and with some natural improvement can win here. (4) TRIPLE THUNDER is yet to finish any worse than 5th in four career outings. He was an on-pace 2nd at this distance on May 8th and form a nice draw, will be expected to be on the early speed again and to be in this a long way. (11) DOCTOR PERSIA has run fairly across three starts. He got a long way back last time out but ran on well enough for 5th and if given slightly more of a chance here, can get closer. (2) MAHAMERU and (1) WIND WINNER are others to consider.
(8) World Four A (4) Triple Thunder (11) Doctor Persia (2) Mahameru
2, 4, 8, 10
Seoul Race 3: Class 6 (1200M) Allowance / KRW 25 Million
(12) GLOBAL PRIME returned from a couple of months out to run an improved 2nd in what was an admittedly slow race at this distance on April 10th. He had hinted at a bit of speed before though and despite the wide draw, in this company, he has every chance. (4) SPEED GALLOP has finished outside the top-five only once in five attempts so far. At her latest appearance back in February, she ran a good 3rd at this distance in an all-fily race having sat back from a wide draw. She comes in fresh here and can go close. (2) YONGCHEON JISANG was a much-improved 2nd at start number three on May 8th at this distance. He should have come on for that experience and can aim for at least the places again. (8) EPIPHANY and (6) KING MOUNTAIN are among others who may be considered for the minors.
(12) Global Prime (4) Speed Gallop (2) Yongcheon Jisang (8) Epiphany
5, 6, 11, 12
Busan Race 2: Class 6 (1200M) Allowance / KRW 25 Million
Fillies (and two mares) only here. It’s a full sixty-seven weeks since we saw (7) BLACK OLIVE make her one solitary appearance, but it was memorable as she led from gate to wire over 1000M scoring comfortably. Her setbacks hopefully behind, she caught the eye when fairly bolting up in a barrier trial in late April and having won first-up before, she can do so again, especially as she gets another crack at class 6 what with that race last year being run for significantly reduced prize money. (12) FANTASTIC MAGIC has hinted at ability across seven outings so far. She ran a good 4th at her latest on May 15th and can be running on well here. (9) HAPPY SONG SONG seemed to take a few goes to figure out what she’s supposed to do but she now has a pair of 3rd place finishes and a 4th from her latest three. (11) SEUNGRIUI BULGIL and (5) TAKE ADELE others who can enter the calculations.
(7) Black Olive (12) Fantastic Magic (9) Happy Song Song (11) Seungriui Bulgil
5, 6, 7, 10
Seoul Race 4: Class 5 (1200M) Handicap / KRW 60 Million
A competitive race here with two standouts. We’ll tentatively side with (2) WILD SOCKS. He was a winner at this distance at class 6 level and comes in off a good 2nd place at 1300M at this class on May 21st when he settled midfield and ran on. He draws nicely here and can win. The big danger in (5) WONDERFUL KITTY. She may be yet to win in six starts but has three-runner-up finishes to her name, including on her latest start at class and distance on May 8th when, as has tended to be her style, she went right back and finished fast. An apprentice jockey brings her weight right down today and that could be crucial when she launches her late challenge. (10) TOUCH NINE comes up in class after a good win over this distance on May 15th. He drew wide that day as well and can measure up in this company. (9) GLOBAL BOBAE and (6) RIVER TAEYANG are others in the hunt.
(2) Wild Socks (5) Wonderful Kitty (10) Touch Nine (9) Global Bobae
3, 4, 6, 8
Busan Race 3: Class 5 (1300M) Handicap / KRW 40 Million
It’s hard to go too far past (11) DONGBU WORLD here. While he does remain a maiden after five attempts, he is yet to finish outside the top-four and has three runner-up finishes. That includes his latest outing, which was at this class and distance on May 13th when he was on pace throughout and went down narrowly. He does come up 2kg in the weights and may need a touch of luck at the start, given the wide draw, but he is still the one to beat. (3) ACE GUY races for the first time since last September. He had put together a good run of form before the layoff and looked well when trialing up at the end of April. He has a strong finish on him and a bold-showing is possible first-up here. (6) YOUNG BOSS has got a bit far back in his latest two races but there is ability there and he has won at this distance. He may be worth another chance here at a probable each-way price. (5) MONEY BAG and (1) MAJOR FORCE among others with placing chances.
(11) Dongbu World (3) Ace Guy (6) Young Boss (5) Money Bag
2, 3, 8, 11
Seoul Race 5: Class 5 (1300M) Handicap / KRW 40 Million
Fillies and mares only here. (5) SIRIUS ALPHA got her maiden win two starts back over 1200M at class 6 level with an on-pace run and then overcame the widest gate to lead until the closing stages on her first try at this level over 1400M on May 1st. She looks nicely in here from a better draw to get to the lead and she may well go all the way. (3) WILD RUNNER comes up in class following smart win over 1200M when odds-on favourite at start number three on April 23rd. She stalked the leader before striking the front a furlong out and running away for a comfortable win. This is harder but she draws well to be on pace again and should measure up in this company. (4) CONCORD QUEEN weakened when in a promising position over 1400M on her first try at this class on May 1st. She was favourite that day having been a strong winner at class 6 over 1200M the time before and can be given another chance today. (8) CHEONEUNCHONG and (7) RISING HAWK others to look out for.
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.
The Stakes race season got underway at Seoul Racecourse on Sunday, and it was a mare who claimed the spoils as Raon First scored a comprehensive victory in the Listed Segye Ilbo Trophy.
The Segye Ilbo was missing from the abbreviated Stakes Calendar in 2021 but returned to its usual spot as the first big race of the year in Korea and the 1200M sprint was, for the first time, open to all Korean-bred runners, regardless of whether they are trained in Seoul or Busan.
Busan supplied a genuine contender in the shape of Classic winner Touch Star Man, and punters sent him off fourth in the market with Owners’ Cup winner Meni Hero favourite, ahead of the solitary filly or mare in the race, Raon First, and the Group-winning sprinter East Jet. Punters would prove correct with their top four, although not quite in that order.
From gate six, East Jet got the best of the start, racing into an early lead alongside outsider World Day, with Raon First sitting handy under jockey Choi Bum-hyun on the rail in 5th place. On the rail and in box seat is where she would stay as the leaders peeled off at the top of the straight and as soon as Raon First struck the front, there was only every going to be one winner.
East Jet came home in 2nd place, three-lengths in arrears, while Meni Hero came third. Touch Star Man, racing at a sprint distance for the very first time since his debut seventeen starts back, emerged from the pack for fourth with Roller Blade rounding out the prize-getters in 5th.
It was the Park Jong-kon trained Raon First’s ninth career win on her fifteenth start and followed her first Group race score in the Gyeonggi Governor’s Cup (KOR G3) in December. That race was restricted to her fellow fillies and mares, although she had already proved herself in open company when winning at class 1 last October.
Today’s opposition was a cut above those she beat in either of those races and having won at distances up to 1800M, there are plenty of options open for the five-year-old, be it in the Queens’ Tour or even the Sprint Series races.
Raon First is by Musket Man and out of the Southern Image mare, Pink Candy. She was bred by her owners, Raon Company, at their farm where they stand the American stallion Musket Man. Raon First has a four-year-old “full” sister, Raon Pink, who won the Luna Stakes in 2021 before running 2nd in the Korean Oaks. Raon have a currently unrivalled array of talent at their disposal, spearheaded by their unbeaten star, Raon The Fighter.
Earlier at Seoul, the KRA Cup Mile and Minister’s Cup placegetter Chief Indy (by Take Charge Indy) defeated Korean Oaks winner Choegang Black (by Purge), the pair coming home 1st and 3rd over 1800M at class 3 level. Chief Indy was one of four winners on the day for reigning champion jockey Moon Se-young, one of which was a dead-heat as the judges failed to split his Saryeoni Queen with Thunder Wind, ridden by Antonio Da Silva, in race 7.
At Busan, Barbarian added to his burgeoning reputation, dropping back in trip after recent successes to easily win the feature class 1 event over 1400M under You Hyun-myung. A five-year-old entire, Barbarian, who is by Competitive Edge and out of the Unbridled’s Song mare White Haven, registered his eighth win at start number sixteen and his first at class 1 level.
There is no racing in Korea this coming weekend, due to the Lunar New Year break. Racing returns to Busan on Friday February 11th and Seoul on Saturday February 12th.
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.