Raon FIrst

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

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

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

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

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

Flat Babe (Pic: KRA)

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

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

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

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

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


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

Raon First Beats Simjangui Godong & Winner’s Man to Win President’s Cup

Raon First, the only mare in the race, produced a home stretch burst up the inside to leave defending champion Simjangui  Godong and Korea Cup winner Winner’s Man behind and score a sensational win in the President’s Cup (2000M KOR-G1) at Seoul Racecourse on Sunday afternoon. The five-year-old is the first mare to win the race in its eighteenth year.

Raon First and Choi Bum-hyun win the President’s Cup (Pic: KRA)

Coming in off his remarkable triumph in the international Korea Cup in September, Winner’s Man was sent off as the restrictive odds-on favourite for what is the most valuable race of the year that is restricted to horses bred in Korea.  Last year’s winner Simjangui Godong was second in the market, ahead of Heunghaeng Jilju and the three-year-old Captain Yankee. Raon First was fifth in the betting but that was at 30/1, such was the market skewed towards Winner’s Man.

More renowned as a sprinter, Raon First ran 3rd in the Korea Sprint over 1200M the day Winner’s Man won the Korea Cup. But Raon First had raced at 1800M in the past, winning a Class 2 handicap in May of 2021 in addition to harvesting the Listed Donga Ilbo Trophy in restricted company against hopelessly outclassed fellow fillies and mares who she would probably beat at any distance from the minimum up to two miles earlier this year.

It wasn’t close. (Pic: KRA)

She had never tackled 2000M though and she had never faced anything like Winner’s Man around two-turns. Yet she beat him with ease. Settling handy instead of leading, jockey Choi Bum-hyun kept Raon First on the fence, saving ground the entire way around as outsider Jangsan Laser set a tough pace up front, matched by Winner’s Man and in the early stages, by Captain Yankee.

That shape would remain unaltered until the home straight when Captain Yankee quickly folded while Simjangui Godong loomed up to threaten. Staying on the fence, Raon First stole a couple of lengths on the turn and was quickly to the fore, hitting the front with just over 300M to go. It was then that the challenge from Winner’s Man was expected. It came, as did that from Simjangui Godong but any hope they had as quickly extinguished as the mare built up an unassailable lead a long way from home.

Raon First crossed the line two-lengths ahead of Simjangui Godong, who was himself a length and a quarter ahead of Winner’s Man in 3rd. The very game Jangsan Laser was a revelation in 4th, but Captain Yankee, also on pace early, found it hard to cope with the pace and finished back down the field. 

Raon First has always done things a little quirkily. She came to prominence in her juvenile season in 2019 when instead of entering the traditional Juvenile Series races, she was pointed to the race that was open to imported juveniles (she is a product of Musket Man and Pink Candy, who both arrived in Korea in January 2016). She duly won it in fine style. Since then, she has mostly been kept in filly and mare company for her Group race appearances – understandable given her superiority and the value of the purses – but after an out of character but excusable well back finish in the KNN Cup at Busan, she has been let loose in the really big races. She moves on to twelve wins from twenty-one starts and six of her last eight.

It was a first President’s Cup win for veteran jockey Choi Bum-hyun and also for trainer Park Jong-kon.

Simjangui Godong ran his usual strong race in 2nd and as for Winner’s Man, who suffered his first defeat in 2022 after six consecutive wins it was a first defeat of 2022.

Calm Strong Claims KNN Cup as Raon First Well Beaten

23/1 chance Calm Strong led from gate-to-wire and held off the closing pack to win the KNN Cup (1600M KOR-G3), the third leg of the 2022 Queens’ Tour at Busan Racecourse on Sunday afternoon, with hot favourite Raon First well back down the field.

Calm Strong (right) hold off Wish Me to win the KNN Cup (Pic: KRA)

Making just her tenth career start, Calm Strong bounded out of gate eight and into the lead while Raon First, dwelt slightly and was slowly away, having to settle in an unfamiliar rear position.

While Raon First did improve to 2nd place by the top of the straight, it quickly became clear that it wasn’t going to be her day, her customary acceleration was missing and she dropped back through the field, ultimately finishing 8th.

With You Hyun-myung aboard, Calm Strong was able to hold off the determined late challenges of Wish Me and Yeonggwangui Time, taking the line a neck to the good. Filly Triple Crown winner Golden Power was 4th.

Calm Strong is a three-year-old USA-bred filly by Bayern and out of the Broken Vow mare Diva’ Seastar. Imported as a yearling, she is owned by Lee Hae-lan and trained by Kang Hyoung-gon. Sunday’s victory was just her third but takes her career earnings to KRW 329 Million (US$250,000).

As for Raon First, jockey Choi Bum-hyun reported that having loaded first, his mare had to wait a long time in the gate and then didn’t get away well. He said that having got up to join the leaders, she didn’t maintain her momentum in the way that he expected. An initial veterinary examination found no obvious issues.

The Queens’ Tour goes on hiatus again now until the end of autumn when the fourth and final leg will be the Gyeongnam Governor’s Cup (2000M KOR-G3) once more at Busan on Sunday November 27.

Next weekend Busan takes centre-stage again with the Owners’ Cup (1600M KOR-G2). It’s a race that has in the past been won by the likes of Dangdae Bulpae, Triple Nine, Power Blade and Blue Chipper. Raon First’s stablemate, Raon The Fighter, is expected to run.

KNN Cup Sunday Busan & Seoul: Race-By-Race Preview (July 17)

Korea’s top mare meets the winner of the Filly Triple Crown as Raon First and Golden Power clash for the first time in the KNN Cup (1600M KOR-G3) at Busan on Sunday afternoon. It’s the final race on a 7-race card at Busan which runs from 11:35 to 17:05. At Seoul there are 10 races from 10:45 to 18:00. Here are the previews:

Raon First won the Ttukseom Cup and is hot favourite for the KNN Cup (Pic: KRA)

Seoul Race 1: Class 6 (1000M) Allowance / KRW 60 Million

Juvenile maidens in the opener with seven of the eight making their racecourse debuts. It’s the sole one with experience though who will be the hot favourite. That’s (8) NAOL SNIPER who, following an encouraging trial, was sent off as favourite on debut over this distance on June 18th. Though on pace he had to settle for 4th, but it was a good time, and he won’t need to improve much on that to win this. (4) P N S LOOK was the fastest among the newcomers in trials. She ran a close 2nd in the heat, running on pace throughout and if she brings that form to the races, she can go well first-up. (2) DRAGON STAR beat a couple of today’s rivals on his way to winning a June 24th trial. He draws nicely here and can beat them again. (3) HAENGBOKAN MUNMAK also win a trial, overcoming a wide gate to do so and along with (7) HIGH GRAND is another to consider.

Selections(8) Naol Sniper (4) P N S Look (2) Dragon Star (3) Haengbokan Munmak
Next Best7, 1
Fast Start1, 4, 6, 8

Seoul Race 2: Class 6 (1200M) Allowance / KRW 40 Million

(2) GRAY THOR should have too much here. After two fair showings in his first two races, he was a significantly improved runner-u p at the third time of asking over this distance on June 18th when he led almost the entire way around. He carries the same weight; he draws well, and he can go all the way this time. (3) YAMUJIN WANGCHO also comes in following a 2nd place finish at his latest start on June 26th over 1300M. He too was on pace throughout the race and today he draws much better. He can go close again. (5) QUEEN OF RACING is yet to finish in the top-two but nevertheless has six top-five finishes. With an apprentice engaged, she comes down 3kg in the weights today and should be in the finish. (6) GEONGONILCHEOK and (8) CHEONMA CHAT others in the placing hunt.

Selections(2) Gray Thor (3) Yamujin Wangcho (5) Queen Of Racing (6) Geongonilcheok
Next Best8, 4
Fast Start2, 5, 6, 7

Busan Race 1: Class 6 (1000M) Allowance / KRW 60 Million

Juvenile maidens get things underway on the south coast and six of the seven are racing for the first time. As so often in these kinds of races, we are going to value the experience here of (5) FANTASTIC KINGDOM. Having won a May trial, he ran a good 3rd on debut on June 24th in a good time over this distance, settling in midfield and running on well. He should have come on for that run and can win here. (4) JEOLGEOUNYEOJEONG is the clear pick of the first-time starters. She ran on very well from a handy position to comfortably win her trial in the kind of time that would win plenty of races at this class and distance. If she brings that form to the races, she has every chance.  (7) HWANGU FIGHTER ran 2nd in his trial on a wet track while (2) TAP DREAM and (3) ADELE HORANGI, the latter a trial winner, are other first-timers who could make an impression.

Selections(5) Fantastic Kingdom (4) Jeolgeounyeojeong (7) Hwangu Fighter (2) Tap Dream
Next Best3, 6
Fast Start2, 3, 4, 5

Seoul Race 3: Class 6 (1200M) Allowance / KRW 40 Million

(7) DAPHNE should be winning this. On her return from five months out in May she parted company with her jockey but came back two weeks later on June 11th to run a solid 4th in a good time over this distance. That time was faster than anything else in this race has achieved and with Moon Se-young climbing aboard as well as the limited opposition, it would appear today is the day. (8) SWEET KAKAO needs a line drawn through her latest effort on May 29th but her form leading up to that was adequate enough to suggest she can go well here. She is up in the weights without the benefit of an apprentice claim but should be ridden forward here. (1) CUPID KOREA led over 1300M on his first start in seven months on June 11th. He ultimately weakened but should have benefited for the run and can get closer today. (5) DIVINE FUTURES and (3) GENTLE RULES other placing contenders.

Selections(7) Daphne (8) Sweet Kakao (1) Cupid Korea (5) Divine Futures
Next Best3, 2
Fast Start1, 5, 7, 8

Busan Race 2: Class 6 (1200M) Allowance / KRW 25 Million

Another race with a hot favourite here. (8) CAPTAIN GOLD won a May trial in fine fashion leading him to be sent off as market-leader on debut on June 3rd. He ran well and on pace but ultimately had to settle for 2nd place over this distance. He should have come on for that run and it would be a surprise were he to be beaten again. (6) ALPHA V is the logical second pick. She returned from five months out to run a good 3rd over 1200M on May 22nd when settling midfield and running on well. She’ll do the same here and will challenge at the business end of the race. (9) GEUMA UNO raced once without distinction last December but looked well when winning a June trial, leading all the way. The trainer/jockey combination will ensure he has backers. There are four first-time starters and the wonderfully named (4) I LOVE HANSEN looked well in trials and along with (2) MIGHTY STORM – who does have experience – looks a potential place chance.

Selections(8) Captain Gold (6) Alpha V (9) Geuma Uno (4) I Love Hansen
Next Best2, 11
Fast Start5, 8, 9, 10

Seoul Race 4: Class 6 (1400M) Allowance / KRW 25 Million

Tricky maiden this. Her last start run over 1200M was slow, but she did manage to finish 2nd and that’s enough to take a chance on (2) THAT’S MY GIRL. She comes back up to a trip at which she has a run a time as quick as any here (albeit not that quick and on a wet track) and from a good draw, she can win. (9) NEW SMART has a time equal to that achieved by That’s My Girl for the distance. She too comes back up in trip after a decent showing around 1200M last time out, in her case on when 3rd on June 19th. She draws wide but should have enough speed to get a good position and she has every chance. (5) P N S THE KING showed un uptick in form when 2nd over 1300M on July 2nd. Prior to that he had a tendency to get a bit too far back in his races so that was encouraging and Song Jae-chul getting the ride will his chances no harm. (7) BITNANEUN JILJU and (8) STAR PRINCESS among others to consider.

Selections(2) That’s My Girl (9) New Smart (5) P N S The King (7) Bitnaneun Jilju
Next Best8, 6
Fast Start1, 2, 6, 9

Busan Race 3: Class 5 (1300M) Handicap / KRW 40 Million

Several chances here. (5) HWARANG SKY is one of three up in class following a maiden win at their respective latest starts. In her case, it came over this distance on June 19th when she beat Unju Star, who went on to record a win of his own on Friday. It was a fair time, and he can measure up in this company. (4) ANY LINE made all for his maiden win at start number fifteen on June 17th, overcoming gate ten in the process. He has run well at this distance and 1400M in the past and from a good draw can get on the speed and be in this a long way. (3) HOLLYWOOD PARTY similarly led from gate-to-wire to score on June 12th, also at 1200M. She has made good progress over her three outings to date and looks nicely in here. As for those with prior experience at class 5, (1) DOCTOR PRO came from well off the pace to run 3rd at class and distance on June 26th. He draws much better today and should be in this. (2) D’LOVELY QUEEN could compete for the minors.

Selections(5) Hwarang Sky (4) Any Line (3) Hollywood Party (1) Doctor Pro
Next Best2, 7
Fast Start2, 3, 4, 7

Seoul Race 5: Class 5 (1200M) Handicap / KRW 40 Million

(9) FURIOSA ran out a comfortable winner on debut over 1000M on June 18th having previously won a trial in a similar manner. She comes up in class and in trip here, but the manner of that victory suggests more to come, and she can win again. The main danger looks set to be (11) LAST PUNCH. She has plenty of experience at this level with two placings including her last start 3rd over 1300M. She went back that day and ran on, and similar tactics might be expected here form the wide gate. (6) MYEONGJIN CANDY is up in class after an all the way win over 1200M on June 19th. The same apprentice jockey keeps her weight nice and low, and she can be a danger here again. Disregard the last start from (4) DAEMUL as it was in the Korean Derby. He returns to shallower waters today and can be competitive. (5) CLOUTER among numerous others with genuine placing hopes.


Golden Power Sweeps Filly Triple Crown while Raon First Dominates Ttukseom Cup

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).

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

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.

Raon First was an easy winner of the Ttukseom Cup (Pic: KRA)

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.

Ttukseom Cup Sunday: Seoul & Busan Race-By-Race Preview (June 5)

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:

Raon First will be favourite for the Ttukseom Cup (Pic: KRA)

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.

Selections(11) Maruma (10) Triple Joy (9) Ocheonbok (1) Geuma Chic
Next Best7, 12
Fast Start6, 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.

Selections(1) Ace Plan (12) Apple Mint (6) Neoreul Eongwonhae (7) Flying Barbie
Next Best11, 4
Fast Start1, 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.

Selections(8) World Four A (4) Triple Thunder (11) Doctor Persia (2) Mahameru
Next Best1, 9
Fast Start2, 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.

Selections(12) Global Prime (4) Speed Gallop (2) Yongcheon Jisang (8) Epiphany
Next Best6, 3
Fast Start5, 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.

Selections(7) Black Olive (12) Fantastic Magic (9) Happy Song Song (11) Seungriui Bulgil
Next Best5, 4
Fast Start5, 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.

Selections(2) Wild Socks (5) Wonderful Kitty (10) Touch Nine (9) Global Bobae
Next Best6, 1
Fast Start3, 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.

Selections(11) Dongbu World (3) Ace Guy (6) Young Boss (5) Money Bag
Next Best1, 8
Fast Start2, 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.


Raon First Dominates First Leg Of Queens’ Tour / Simjangui Godong Downs Haengbok Wangja

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.

Raon First (Pic: KRA)

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.

Jockey Choi Bum Hyun and trainer Park Jong Kon (Pic: KRA)

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.

Donga Ilbo Trophy Sunday: Seoul & Busan Race-by-Race Preview (March 27)

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:

Raon First is in action at Seoul on Sunday (Pic: KRA)

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.

Selections(5) Queenui Jilju (3) Maruma (2) Okcheon Choegang (8) Burui Jilju
Next Best1, 11
Fast Start3, 5, 9, 11

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.

Selections(5) Baro Queen (10) Golden Scoop (9) Namsan Kkot (6) Hwiparam
Next Best3, 12
Fast Start5, 6, 8, 10

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.

Selections(11) Fly Star (5) Midas Camp (4) Naol Ace (1) Munhak Forest
Next Best12, 7
Fast Start1, 4, 5, 11

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.

Selections(9) Josephine Queen (7) Flowing River (3) Great Captain (5) Doctor Persia
Next Best8, 1
Fast Start1, 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.

Selections(3) King Mountain (4) K N Park (5) Honey Punch (7) Tiffany Blue
Next Best2, 5
Fast Start1, 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.

Selections(1) Radar (2) Hwarang Ace (3) Eunbit Jilju (8) Boomy Star
Next Best5, 7
Fast Start1, 2, 3, 4