Raon The Fighter opened his five-year-old campaign with a statement performance, crushing a hopelessly outclassed Class 1 field over 1800M at Seoul Racecourse on Sunday afternoon.
Sent off as a prohibitive favourite under the lights in what was the final race of the day as dusk fell across the capital, Raon The Fighter was quickly in command of the twelve-strong field and had opened up a big lead even before the home straight, with the rest unable to match his tempo. Asked for a brief effort by Lim Gi-won, who was partnering him for the first time, the Bayern entire was then eased in the final stages, crossing hte line ten-lengths to the good of The Gumpu in 2nd place.
Runner-up in both the Korea Cup and the Grand Prix Stakes, the goal for Raon The Fighter in 2023 is to win a Group 1 race, and to achieve that, he is going to have to overcome the horse who beat him on both those occasions, Winner’s Man. The 2022 Horse of the Year is slated to make his first start of the year at Busan next Sunday.
Assuming that Raon The Fighter remains targeted at staying races as opposed to dropping back to the sprinting distances (at which he is still probably the best horse in the country, even including Eoma Eoma), the first race in which he and Winner’s Man could conceivably meet is the Herald Business Trophy (2000M KOR-G3) at Seoul on Sunday April 16.
Raon The Fighter delivered a consummate display of excellence at Seoul Racecourse on Sunday afternoon, effortlessly crossing to the front and proceeding to run the rest out of the race to win the KRA Cup Classic (2000M KOR-G2) in front of a raucous 27,000 strong crowd.
Having duelled with Japan’s Sekifu throughout the majority of last month’s international Korea Cup (1800M-IG3) but ultimately tire late on as Winner’s Man came through to take a spectacular victory, Raon The Fighter was sent off as the odds-on favourite to return to winning ways in the principal lead up to the season finale Grand Prix Stakes. The only questions were whether he could get a good position from the widest gate and whether he could see out the extended trip of 2000M, a distance he was tackling for the first time. Those who posed those questions, quickly regretted doing so.
Other than in the Korea Cup, Raon The Fighter’s only defeats had come in sprint races when stumbling at the start and then working too hard to get on terms. This Sunday, he broke beautifully from gate thirteen and jockey Moon Se Young was able to steer him across to the front immediately.
Had anything even wanted to take him on for early speed, it is doubtful whether they could have done such was Raon The Fighter’s authority, although King Of The Match and Tuhonui Banseok would gamely sit within striking distance exchanging 2nd and 3rd positions throughout. Two little accelerations from Raon The Fighter, first at the top of the home straight to put him firmly in the clear, and then again a furlong out when into unchartered territory distance-wise at the furlong pole, and Moon Se Young was left looking behind him to see if there were any dangers.
There were no dangers. Raon The Fighter was eased home for a five-length win with King Of The Match getting closest in 2nd and then a seven-length gap back to Tuhonui Banseok in 3rd. Behind them, 2021 Grand Prix Stakes winner Haengbok Wangja was 4th while Geuma Mystic and Moonhak Chief came home in 5th and 6th.
Raon The Fighter debuted in November 2020, just after racing resumed behind closed doors and for severely restricted prize money. He would have five wins on the board before prizes were restored to meaningful levels the following July and didn’t get to run in a Group race until November 2021 when he destroyed Eoma Eoma in the SROA Chairmans Trophy (1200M KOR-G3).
The KRA Cup Classic is Raon The Fighter’s third Group win having also won the Busan Owners’ Cup (1600M KOR-G3) this July. The four-year-old entire, who is by Bayern and out of Empire Maker mare Clarinda, is owned by Son Chun-soo of the ever-growing Raon racing empire which stands the stallion Musket Man. He is trained by Park Jong-kon, who now almost exclusively trains Raon horses. For trainer Park, it was a fourth KRA Cup Classic after Mari Daemul in 2013 and Cheongdam Dokki in 2017 and 2018. For jockey Moon Se-young, it was a third win in the race, having partnered Pocketful Of Money in 2007 and Cheongdam Dokki in 2017.
The logical next step for Raon The Fighter would be the Grand Prix Stakes in December and a possible rematch with Winner’s Man, who will most likely be contesting the President’s Cup next month. There are two big stars in Korean racing right now, and they will collide again soon enough.
One of the longest standing races on the modern Korean racing calendar returns to Seoul on Sunday when thirteen line up for the 37th edition of the KRA Cup Classic (2000M KOR-G2).
Korea Cup runner-up Raon The Fighter will be favoured to add his name to a list of winners that include Dae Kyeun, Saegangja, Tough Win, Cheongdam Dokki and Dolkong, in a race which serves not only as a big prize in itself, but also a key step towards December’s season finale Grand Prix Stakes.
A total of six emerge from the Korea Cup with Raon The Fighter, King Of The Match and Haengbok Wangja all having finished in the top-five. They are joined by up and comers Good Pilseung, Tuhonui Banseok and Daeam Janggun, while the in-form Lil’ Patron, an also-ran in the race last year, comes in looking much more dangerous this time.
The old guard is there too. Moonhak Chief, Shamrocker and Dolkong may have their best days behind them but can’t be completely ruled outr of still being able to put in strong runs:
1. CRAZY CONTI finished 7th in the Korea Cup after settling midfield. He is a recent class 1 winner over 1800M but this is much harder.
2. GEUMA MYSTIC is yet to win in Class 1 but did manage a 3rd place in the YTN Cup albeit over eight-lengths back behind the winner. That was in similar company to this and he could be thereabouts.
3. KING OF THE MATCH is an improving type who made a good impression in the Korea Cup when settling midfield and while he was well beaten, he ran on resolutely. He previously ran a bottler when dead–heating with President’s Cup winner Simjangui Godong for 2nd place behind Raon The Fighter in the Busan Owner’s Cup. Well drawn and plenty of upside.
4. HAENGBOK WANGJA ran a fair 5th in the Korea Cup after settling midfield. He was the winner of the 2021 Grand Prix Stakes over 2300M and has demonstrated solid form since. He goes better when able to settle forward and back up to 2000M, and having drawn well, he is right in this.
5. MOONHAK CHIEF is a top liner who has won the Korea Cup among many other Group races but who has been a little disappointing in recent starts. At his top, he is right in this but has to be taken on trust at the moment.
6. TUHONUI BANSEOK won his latest start by four lengths on what was his class 1 debut over 2000M with some smart ones behind him. He is very much up in class here and it is on level weights but he is a winner of five from ten and can be considered for more improvement.
7. SHAMROCKER is a grand old campaigner who always gives his best. At his last start he was a distant 4th in the YTN Cup when settled back in the field. This is equally hard but he will be running on late as ever.
8. DAEAM JANGGUN is another who won last time out on what was his class 1 debut. That was over 1800M and he raced forward, stopping the clock in a good time. This is much harder and it is at level weights.
9. LIL’ PATRON has recent form that reads extremely well with three successive wins at class 1 over 1800M. Each time he has settled midfield and run on strongly. He hasn’t had to run elite level times to win those races but he is fit, in top form and could sneak into the calculations in what is a much sterner test.
10. DOLKONG resumed in the Korea Cup after a long layoff and was well back the way. He will have derived benefit from that outing but may still need to lift at this stage. Won this race in 2019.
11. GOOD PILSEUNG ran 2nd in the JRA Trophy over 1800M on international weekend when racing forward. A truer indication of his ability was at the start before though when a close 4th in the Herald Business Cup against this type of opposition. He raced forward on that occasion and can’t be left out.
12. DORAON POPEYE ran a nice 3rd in the JRA Trophy on international weekend when midfield and running on. He is yet to win in class 1 and this is much harder. Watching brief.
13. RAON THE FIGHTER is an outstanding racehorse at seemingly any distance although this will be his first test over 2000 metres. He has huge natural speed and is able to set a pace few can match. He dueled with Japanese raider Sekifu throughout the majority of the Korea Cup at 1800M in September, ultimately seeing him off, only to be caught by local rival Winner’s Man in the very closing stages. He has drawn very wide again and the additional furlong does pose a question, but Raon The Fighter will be a justifiable favourite here.
The Group 2 KRA Cup Classic is race 8 on an 11-race card at Seoul Racecourse on Sunday afternoon with a local post time of 16:20.
Selections: (13) Raon The Fighter (3) King Of The Match (4) Haengbok Wangja (9) Lil’ Patron
Raon The Fighter roared back into the winner’s circle at Busan Racecourse on Sunday afternoon, running his rivals off their feet for a statement victory in the Owners’ Cup (1600M KOR-G3).
On his thirteenth career start, Raon The Fighter was sent off at a price greater than even-money for just the third time ever. That came off the back of two shock defeats in the Sprint Series, as he finished 2nd in both the Busan Ilbo Cup and SROA Chairman’s Cup in April and May. He was luckless both times both times, but those setbacks were enough for punters to be wary and also for connections to replace regular jockey Lee Hyeok with Moon Se-young.
From a good draw and on a hot and humid afternoon in Busan, Raon The Fighter turned the race into a procession. This time there was no stumble at the start, as there was in the Busan Ilbo. Nor was there a bump with Black Musk and then a speed duel with Hit Yegam happened in the SROA. Instead, Raon The Fighter got a clean break and an easy lead as You Hyun-myung opted to take a sit on Hit Yegam.
Hit Yegam and Simjangui Godong were still within a length at the top of the home straight, but once Moon Se-young let his mount off the bridle and asked for an acceleration, Raon The Fighter’s response was instant. Moon was able to stop riding fifty metres from the line and ease home for a four-length triumph, stopping the clock just eight-seconds outside Blue Chipper’s track record, set in this race in 2019.
Behind Raon The Fighter, King Of The Match closed significantly faster than anything else, but he couldn’t get past the ever game Simjangui Godong, the pair dead-heating for 2nd place, a full seven-lengths clear of Daemangui Gil in 4th.
Disappointments of the race were SROA winner Black Musk, who was 7th and especially Success Macho, who having suffered his first ever defeat in this race last year, was never a factor and only beat home one.
Raon The Fighter could very easily be thirteen for thirteen and closing in on Mister Park’s all time. It remains true though that he has only been beaten by Eoma Eoma and Black Musk and in mitigating circumstances.
His next outing will surely be in either the Korea Cup (1800M G3) or the Korea Sprint (1200M G3), the two international races at Seoul Racecourse on Sunday September 4th and one of the most exciting things about Raon The Fighter is we still have no idea what his best distance is. Nominations have been received from several countries for both international races, including Asian powerhouses Japan and Hong Kong, as well as from Europe. Whichever race he opts for, Raon The Fighter could very well offer the visitors a stern examination. Both King Of The Match (Korea Cup), an intriguing talent who like Raon The Fighter, is still only four-years-old, and Simjangui Godong (either Korea Cup or Korea Sprint) are likely to be involved on international day too.
Raon The Fighter is by Bayern and out of the Empire Maker mare Clarinda. He was imported in-utero although Bayern himself is now in Korea too, standing at Great Hill Farm on Jeju Island.
The Owner’s Cup marks the final Stakes race of the first part of the season. The tracks (including the Jeju Pony Racecourse) now take it in turns to take a week off. Jeju goes on vacation first meaning next week Busan goes solo on Friday, Busan and Seoul race on Saturday, and Seoul has a standalone meeting next Sunday. The next Graded races in Korea are the International Korea Cup (1800M G3) and Korean Sprint (1200M G3) at Seoul on Sunday September 4th.
The cream of Korea’s speedsters will meet the starter in the second leg of the 2022 Korea Sprint Series in the SROA (Seoul Racecourse Owners’ Association) Chairman’s Sprint (1200M KOR-G3) at Seoul Racecourse on Sunday afternoon.
Raon The Fighter will be looking to return to winning ways after suffering his first career defeat in the first leg of the series, the Busan Ilbo Sprint on April 24th. He will be hot favourite to do so with his conqueror that day, Eoma Eoma, ruled out through a sprained fetlock.
Bursting onto the elite scene with victory over Eoma Eoma in this race last year (when it was held in November due to the pandemic-affected season), Raon The Fighter was sent off a prohibitive favourite in the Busan Ilbo, only to stumble coming out of the gate and then take a heavy bump. Eoma Eoma was able to gain his revenge with Raon The Fighter a gallant 2nd in the circumstances, however, a third match-up will have to wait with Eoma Eoma not having been in work since.
That still leaves a formidable set of rivals. Morfhis won this race two years ago while East Jet is also a Group winner at the 1200M distance. Simjangui Godong won last year’s President’s Cup (2000M KOR-G1) and comes back to the sprinting ranks after two class 1 wins at 2000M this year. Then there is Hit Yegam, a winner of two legs of last year’s Triple Crown, yet also a formidable sprinter in the past.
Other up and comers include Yeongung Louis, Jangsan Clear and Black Musk and despite Eoma Eoma’s absence, Raon The Fighter is going to need to be on his game to return to the top.
The SROA Chairman’s Sprint is race 8 on an 11-race card at Seoul Racecourse on Sunday. Here is a full run-down of every horse:
SROA Chairman’s Sprint (1200M KOR-G3)
1. SINGSING MARY (USA) [With Distinction – Amylimehouse (Limehouse)] 6-M
Owner: Jeon Seok-ho Trainer: Bae Hou-jun Jockey: Park Eul-woon
The only filly or mare in the race, she was the longest shot on the board in the Busan Ilbo Cup and probably will be again here. Good draw but she probably doesn’t have the early speed to get on the pace nor the late speed to mount a strong challenge at the business end of the race. Lowest rated by some nineteen points.
The 2021 President’s Cup (2000M KOR-G1) winner drops back to this distance for the first time since November 2020. It is a distance he has won at, claiming the Segye Ilbo Cup in January of 2020, just before racing closed down for the pandemic, but is nevertheless a surprising entrant. In his last two starts at 2000M, both of which have been class 1 wins, he has sat on the pace, and he is drawn very nicely to do similar here. Can go close and is a candidate for second-favourite status.
O: Kim Joon-hyun T: Bang Dong-suk J: You Hyun-myung
13/9/3/0 – KRW 872,700,000
Wins in the KRA Cup Mile and Minister’s Cup along with a narrow 2nd place in the Derby made Hit Yegam (no longer “Heat”) last year’s Champion Three-year-old having been Champion Juvenile the year before, when he won the Breeders’ Cup at this distance. He suffered a surprise defeat to Daemangui Gil on his only start so far this season which was at this distance at class 1 level in Busan on February 27th, but it was probably only intended as a pipe-opener for a horse who has been very sensibly campaigned. He led that day, as he has done in all his starts so far. He has never finished worse than 2nd and while this is his toughest ask, he gets a very good draw to be on pace again and he should be in this a long way.
4: YEONGUNG LOUIS (USA) [Violence – Don’t Stop To Shop (Unbridled’s Song)] 4-C
O: Ko Hee-chong T: Kwon Sung-ju J: Franco Da Silva
12/6/3/1 – KRW 273,740,000
Burst onto the scene on his only previous visit to Seoul when 3rd behind Eoma Eoma and East Jet on the SBS Sports Sprint in October. It’s fair to say he has mixed his form since then with an excellent win over 1400M at class 1 level in Busan followed by a slightly disappointing 7th of ten in the Busan Ilbo when he bumped with Raon The Fighter at the start and wasn’t much of a factor. Being back at Seoul may galvanize him and the draw is kind. Place line.
After a two-year enforced hiatus, the Korea International races are to return in September and the local contenders take their first step towards the first weekend in September as ten of the nation’s fastest gallopers line up for the Busan Ilbo Sprint (1200M – KORG3) on Sunday afternoon, the first leg of the three-race series that concludes with the International Korea Sprint.
The winner of the last Korea Sprint to be held in 2019, Blue Chipper, takes his place in the gate. But it is a sign of the strength of the race that the six-year-old, who went on to run 3rd in that year’s Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile at Santa Anita, won’t be in the top two of the betting, despite a bullet trial at the end of last month.
Instead, most eyes will be on Raon The Fighter, the brilliant Bayern four-year-old, who is yet to be tested in ten starts, all of which he has won effortlessly. He has usurped Eoma Eoma, who had the misfortune to emerge on the scene just as racing was closing down in early 2020 and he dominated when racing for the reduced prize money on offer in behind-closed-doors racing. He did though win last October’s SBS Sports Sprint and at five, still has plenty to offer.
East Jet is a Graded Stakes winner at sprint distances too and will be another at the head of the market, while along with Blue Chipper, the up-and-coming Yeongung Louis heads Busan’s challenge. Here is a run-down of the field.
1. EAST JET (KOR) [Strike Again – Lend (Coronado’s Quest)] – A Group winner, he began the year running 2nd to Raon First in the Segye Ilbo Cup, having led for much of the way around. He then stepped up to 1400M when he, alongside Eoma Eoma, had a testing day at the office.
The 1200M suits him better, he draws the inside gate and while a place chance might be realistic, he will be in this a long way.
2. EOMA EOMA (USA) [Algorithms – Lignite (Run Away And Hide) – A winner of ten including the SBS Sports Sprint. Disregard his last start on March 20th, when on a very wet track he uncharacteristically settled midfield and while he did make up ground in the straight, appeared to hang in a little and was well back behind the winner, Dixie Again. The time before, on January 9th, he ran 4th behind Raon The Fighter when giving away plenty of weight, and ahead of Dixie Again. He is nicely drawn today and at level weights, things might be closer
3. YEONGUNG LOUIS (USA) [Violence – Don’t Stop To Shop (Unbridled’s Song)] – an up and comer having won his last 2 starts, the last in Class 1. He is better known as a 1400m horse but has won over 1200m at lower levels At his last start on March 27th, which was at 1400M he was an excellent five-length winner over a field that contained, Doctor Carson and the former champion sprinter Doraonpogyeongseon, both of whom go again in the Busan Ilbo. If there is too much pace up front, Yeongung Louis may be the closer and while he is very much up in class, he could measure up.
4. RAON THE FIGHTER (KOR) [Bayern – Clarinda (Empire Maker)] – The current hottest property in Korean racing. He has been flawless in ten starts so far, winning them all and is now only seven short of equaling the all-time record for consecutive wins. He has run super times at this distance, eased down and at his latest start on February 20th, he overcame gate thirteen to ease to the front and win by eight lengths from one of today’s rivals, Dixie Again. The time before on January 9th, he comfortably beat a field containing Eoma Eoma and Dixie Again. He likes to race forward so and will be very hard to beat from a nice draw.
5. MIRACLE DREAMING (KOR) [Federalist – Miracle Worker (Menifee)] – Not a prolific winner but he has fifteen top-three finishes from twenty starts. Enters off a good 3rd place at this distance at class 1 level in February behind Daemangui Gil and Heat Yegam when on pace throughout. He has run solid times, but it is hard to see him being able to run the kind of time that would be needed to beat some of today’s rivals.
6. DORAONPOGYEONGSEON (USA) [Kantharos – Smartybegone (Smarty Jones)] – A two-time SBS Sports Sprint winner, the nine-year-old perhaps has his best days behind him but he is still able to run a good race, as evidenced by his 3rd place over 1400M at class 1 in January. He settles midfield or further back and runs home strong, but he will probably find himself with far too much to do against this kind of speed.
7. SINGSING MARY (USA) [With Distinction – Amylimehouse (Limehouse)] – The probable longest shot on the board and the only mare in the race. She is still at class 2 but there is space in the race, and she takes her chance here. It is a very slim chance. Does get a 2kg allowance on the rest of the field.
8. DIXIE AGAIN (KOR) [Ecton Park – Wild Dixie Gal (Wild Event)] – A winner of eight from sixteen, he took a while to get to grips with class 1 level but ran (a distance) 2nd to Raon The Fighter at this distance in February, before upsetting Eoma Eoma and East Jet on a wet track over 1400M on March 20th. He was getting plenty of weight in those races and today will ne harder. Half-brother to multiple Korean Graded winners Beolmaui Kkum and Kkakjaengi.
9. DOCTOR CARSON (KOR) [Hansen – Carson’s Cat (Mountain Cat)] – He came to prominence in a series of wins over Blue Chipper when well weighted in handicaps throughout last spring and summer during the reduced prize-money racing season but has just come up a little short in the biggest races at level. At his last start, he was 4th behind Yeongung Louis at 1700M. He has run fast times for the distance and can be competitive but minor money would be a good result.
10. BLUE CHIPPER (USA) [Tiznow – Dixie City (Dixie Union)] – The 2019 Korea Sprint winner and Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile 3rd placegetter has had his setbacks over the past couple of years but showed he remains a force on his day with victory at 2000M at class 1 level in January. He hasn’t raced since but stormed home in a trial on a wet track on March 26th. The draw is unkind, but the quality is there and at level weights, don’t rule out a good run.
Selections: (4) Raon The Fighter (2) Eoma Eoma (1) East Jet (3) Yeongung Louis
The Busan Ilbo Sprint is race 5 on the six-race card at Busan Racecourse on Sunday afternoon and has a post time of 15:55 local time.
Raon The Fighter is the main draw on Sunday as the hottest property in Korean racing seeks to make it ten wins in a row. There are 11 races at Seoul from 10:45 to 18:00 and 6 at Busan from 12:00 to 16:40. All betting locations are open, however, attendance must be pre-booked through the MyCard app and evidence of up to date vaccination against Covid-19 is required. Here are the previews:
Seoul Race 1: Class 6 (1200M) Allowance / KRW 40 Million
Three-year-old maidens go round here with five racing for the first time. One of those is set to be our top pick in the shape of (2) COMPLETE WEAPON. He has been through two trials, winning the most recent of them in a fast time in early December and while it has taken him a couple of months to get to the racecourse, this looks like a winnable assignment first up. Sticking with first timers, (4) JEONGMUN JILJU was also a trial winner, sitting handy and then running on strong in his heat and he too looks set to make a bold showing on debut. Turning to those with experience, (11) EUNHYE has a 2nd and 3rd from two three starts so far, with both the good results being at this distance. He has proven able to run well from on pace or behind, so the wide draw isn’t too much of a concern. (8) GOLDEN SCOOP was a much-improved 2nd when on pace at this distance on January 22nd and she, along with (10) CONCORDE SPURT, are others to take into consideration.
Seoul Race 2: Class 6 (1200M) Allowance / KRW 25 Million
(1) GRAND POWER will be a warm favourite here after a much-improved showing over 1000M on January 23rd when he was on pace for the first time and ran on well. He comes back up in trip here but draws nicely on the inside and won’t need to go much better to win this one. (11) LONDON POWER has shown decent consistency with four top four finishes. She has run some fair times at this distance and is likely to be on pace from the start and be in this a long way. (13) ROAD ACE was 3rd behind Grand Power in that January 23rd race. He has three top five finishes from six starts so far and despite the wide draw can be going close here. (5) QUEEN LION and (6) NUMBER ONE TARGET, the latter with the fastest time among those who have tackled the distance before, are others in the placing frame.
(1) Grand Power (11) London Power (13) Road Ace (5) Queen Lion
1, 6, 11, 13
Seoul Race 3: Class 6 (1300M) Allowance / KRW 25 Million
It’s hard to look past (6) BE CRAZY here. He has two 4ths and a last start 3rd from three appearances to date, the latest being that 3rd over this distance on January 16th when he sat on pace throughout. He can lead here and should be too good. (12) MIDAS CAMP has the fastest time among these at the distance and enters off a good 3rd place at 1200M a month ago He had an apprentice on that day so loses the 4kg claim here and draws wide but can go close again. (3) HANGANG BOSS had a hard time from a wide draw at his latest start but if you can draw a line through that, his previous two efforts were good. Coming into a better gate today, he can be given another chance. (8) OKDONG GONGJU is yet to win but has six top five finishes to his name and can aim to place here. (2) SINJURYU another in the minor money frame.
(6) Be Crazy (12) Midas Camp (3) Hangang Boss (8) Okdong Gongju
1, 6, 11, 12
Busan Race 1: Class 6 (1200M) Allowance / KRW 40 Million
Three-year-old maiden fillies only here. We’ll go with (6) DOCTOR KONGSUNI who starts for the third time having improved to 2nd at her latest start on January 21st when stepped up to this distance. She was on pace that day and should be again and may have too much. (4) SANGIM YEOWANG overcame a wide draw to run a solid 3rd on debut over 1000M three weeks ago. She comes up in trip here, gets a better gate and Seo Seung-un climbs aboard so there is plenty to like. (2) WONDERFUL CUTIE and (8) CHEONGHO BOSS came home 2nd and 3rd respectively when they raced one another at 1000M on January 16th. It was a big improvement for Wonderful Cutie while it was a debut outing for Cheongho Boss. The latter has since gone back and won a trial and both can be competitive today. In that trial, (1) PYEONGHWA CHUKJE ran 4th, a second encouraging performance, and she looks the best of the three first-time starters.
(6) Doctor Kongsuni (4) Sangim Yeowang (2) Wonderful Cutie (8) Cheongho Boss
3, 4, 6, 13
Seoul Race 4: Class 6 (1300M) Allowance / KRW 25 Million
Maiden fillies here. The two French jockeys face off on the likely top-two in the market and we’ll side with Johan Victoire and (7) GALSAEK HYANGGI to prevail. The Menifee filly comes in having run 4th at her latest start at this distance, beating a couple of today’s rivals in the process in a good time. She tends to settle back and run on and today can be her day. David Breux and (13) FIRST ROAD is the big danger. She has a 2nd place to her name, recorded two starts back at 1200M and she overcame a similarly wide draw to run 4th at that same distance at her latest start on January 16th. She has a good finish on her and will be running on here. (8) DONGSEO YEOGEOL has got a bit far back in her latest two but can be given another chance here from a better draw. (10) WONDERFUL NIKIYA and (11) TINA are others with genuine placing chances.
Busan Race 2: Class 6 (1400M) Allowance / KRW 25 Million
(12) CHAMP GO is the logical top pick here. He has the fastest time of those who have tackled the distance before and enters in excellent form with a 3rd and a 2nd from his latest two appearances. It’s true that he doesn’t draw as favourably today but an apprentice keeps his weight down and with a little luck at the start, he can win this. (1) LINE BREAKER has been doing his best work late in all three of his outings so far at shorter distances. From a much better draw and out to an extended trip, he can go very close here. (2) CHOEGANG FORCE also comes up in trip. He has three top four finishes from four starts to date and came from well back for a fast-finishing 4th last time out. He has the fastest average time for the final furlong and can be a danger here. (9) ZERAGE and (6) BAEK SEOL QUEEN are among others in the hunt.
(12) Champ Go (1) Line Breaker (2) Choegang Force (9) Zerage
It hasn’t taken long for the new season to throw up a heavyweight clash as the unbeaten Raon The Fighter once more takes on Eoma Eoma, who he beat to win the Owners’ Association Trophy a month ago in the concluding class 1 feature at Seoul. There are 11 races at Seoul from 10:45 to 18:00 and 6 at Busan from 12: 12:00 to 16:40. All betting locations are open, however, attendance must be pre-booked on the MyCard app and proof of evidence of up to date vaccination against Covid-19 is required.
Seoul Race 1: Class 6 (1000M) Allowance / KRW 40 Million
Three-year-old maidens open proceedings and (10) WILD RUNNER is set to be favourite. She ran 2nd on debut behind a couple of decent ones in a fast time. The one concern is that it was back in October but regardless, any similar kind of performance should see her winning this. If she is a bit rusty, then another filly, (6) HIWPARAM, may be one to take advantage. She too ran a very solid 3rd on debut, in her case on November 20th when she was handy throughout, completing the course in a fair time on a slower running track than Wild Runner’s time. She draws well here and should go close. (4) GEOMOON came home 6th behind a few promising ones on debut and should have benefitted from the experience, while (9) ARCH CHARM similarly didn’t do too much wrong when 5th from a wide gate at her first attempt. Among the six first-timers, (1) CHANGER is perhaps the best at this stage.
Seoul Race 2: Class 2 (1200M) Allowance / KRW 40 Million
A pair of socks should be battling this one out. We’ll side with (2) WILD SOCKS, who ran 2nd at start number two at 1000M having led for almost the entire way around. He comes up slightly in trip but draws beautifully again and could go all the way. (7) TITAN SOCKS has the same owner although a different trainer and has followed a similar trajectory so far, improving to 3rd at his second outing on December 4th. He came from off the pace though, working home well and it may be that the additional furlong is in his favour here. (12) ORGALIM comes into the calculations having beaten several of these on his way to 2nd place at this distance on December 4th in a fair time. He sat handy that day so may need a bit of luck from the wide gate (9) GEOLJAK MAN was 3rd in that race and along with (3) MUNHAK FOREST looks to have another placing chance here.
Seoul Race 3: Class 6 (1300M) Allowance / KRW 25 Million
It may be a bit risky to go all-in on anything drawn as wide as he has done but it’s not easy to see (14) TES GO DAEBO getting rolled here. He has raced just twice, registering a 4th and a 2nd, the latest at 1200M when handy and running on. The additional trip may help him find a decent position from the car park. (3) OKDONG GONGJU has five top-five finishes among ten outings so far and looks set to be one who could push the favourite here from a good draw. (10) SAENAE POWERFUL was a significantly improved 3rd at start number two on December 12th leading most of the way around and he too should be a contender here. The rest have been models of inconsistency but (7) TINA and (8) NAMSAN DREAM could potentially compete for places.
(14) Tes Go Daebo (3) Okdong Gongju (10) Saenae Powerful (7) Tina
8, 10, 12, 14
Busan Race 1: Class 6 (1000M) Allowance / KRW 40 Million
Maidens, with four of the eleven racing for the first time. (9) B. K. HANA comes in with form reading the best following a 2nd and a 3rd from her latest two appearances. The 2nd was at today’s distance when she was handy throughout from a wide gate and with a time more than second faster than any of the others have managed, she is the one to beat. (7) JATNAMUGIL is the logical second pick. He was 6th to B. K. Hana two starts back but the improved to 3rd at his latest outing when stepped up to 1200. He’ll be on pace and in this a long way. (4) EUNSEONG YEONGUNG beat a couple of these when 5th on debut at the distance on November 26th. He draws much better today and should have come on. Among the first timers, (2) KENDRICK is stand out. The Take Charge Indy colt ran a strong trial in a fast time and from a great draw can go well. (1) EUTTEUMI perhaps has potential to improve.
(9) B. K. Hana (7) Jatnamugil (4) Eunseong Yeongung (2) Kendrick
3, 7, 8, 9
Seoul Race 4: Class 6 (1300M) Allowance / KRW 25 Million
After trialing up alongside some established horses, (12) NAMSAM KKOT ran a solid 3rd on debut over 1200M, settling in midfield and running on strongly. She draws wide but her running style that day suggests it shouldn’t be too much of a problem and she could be challenging for the win here. (10) RAON THE WEEKEND had an ordinary day at the office in probably better company than this at his latest start on December 11th when he wasn’t able to get on pace from a very wide draw. The draw is only a little better today, but he should have an easier time getting to the front and the additional half-furlong can help. Continuing the theme of wide draws, (13) DONGSEO YEOGEOL was a significantly improved 2nd when going back and coming from off the pace over 1200M on December 5th. She had raced prominently in previous starts, to no avail, so expect similar tactics here. (4) REAL CONCORD is a fancy who does draw well and should be in the hunt along with (9) ONE MORE RUSH.
(12) Namsam Kkot (10) Raon The Weekend (13) Dongseo Yeogeol (4) Real Concord
4, 9, 10, 13
Busan Race 2: Class 6 (1200M) Allowance / KRW 25 Million
Fillies and mares only here. Based on her last start runner-up finish at this distance in a time quicker than anything else in this race has managed, (8) TAEPUNGI is the one to beat here. She sat midfield and ran on that day and under a light weight again, can go one better. (9) ALPHA V should have come on for her debut run when settling midfield before getting well back and then working home adequately. She had previously posted fast trial times so there is some ability there and a more mature performance can see her right in this. (2) HAMAN YEOHANGSAN returned from three months off to run a good 3rd over this distance on December 19th. She can strip fitter here and get close. (1) OMEGA GIRL and (6) WORLD FLOWER came home 2nd and 3rd respectively when they raced each other at 1400M on December 10th and both can have placing claims again.
There were super features at both Busan and Seoul this past weekend as both tracks hosted their respective Owners’ Association Cups. At Busan there was a shock with Meni Hero leading home the field, while at Seoul a new star was born as Raon The Fighter dominated an elite set of sprinters.
The Busan Owners’ Cup on Sunday saw a quality field meet the starter over a mile, headed by Blue Chipper, along with Tiz Plan and Doctor Carson then a mix of young talented horse stepping into the higher levels Including Yeongung Louis a close 3rd in the SBS Sports Sprint to Eoma Eoma at level weights, as well and the unbeaten Success Macho.
They would all be beaten. The start was even other than Yeongung Louis veering out slightly and it would be Black Musk who led from Blue Chipper and the ever-reliable King of Glory.
Black Musk’s challenge would falter in the home straight while Blue Chipper would maintain his charge but drifted wide. Tiz Plan made his way forward but closing the best was 20/1 chance Meni Hero, who struck the front just over a furlong from home under jockey Ham Wan-sik, and ran on to win by just under two-lengths from a resurgent Tiz Plan. Wang Beotkkot closed strongly for an unlikely 3rd while Blue Chipper was an always game 4th.
It was a quantum rise in results for Meni Hero, whose only previous class 1 success had come two starts back over 1400M. By the great stallion Menifee, he is out of Pocketful Of Money (by Running Stag), who was a long time holder of the 1800M track record at Seoul Racecourse. Only four-years-old, there could be plenty to come. Tiz Plan showed he is still a force to be reckoned with in 2nd while Wang Beotkkot was a revelation in 3rd. As for Blue Chipper, he briefly hit the front with 300M remaining and while he couldn’t hold on, showed he still can’t be dismissed in any company.
A day earlier at Seoul Racecourse, an elite field lined up for the SROA Trophy at 1200M, headed by Eoma Eoma, winner of the SBS Sports Sprint and of ten races from twelve starts in total and East Jet, winner of nine races including last year’s edition of this race. The 2020 SBS Sports Sprint winner Morfhis was present, as was the unbeaten three-year-old Raon The Fighter, a winner of seven from seven up to Class 2 level in very fast times.
Eoma Eoma was sent off as the odds-on favourite but after an even start, Raon The Fighter quickly headed the field ahead of East Jet and with the favourite caught wide. It stayed that way until the home straight which Raon The Fighter entered a length clear. And then he just kept going.
Eoma Eoma put in a huge effort to find the fence and to grind out 2nd place from the fast-finishing Morfhis with East Jet in 4th. But they were running a different race to Raon The Fighter, whose jockey Park Tae-jong was afforded the luxury of being able to ease his mount in the closing stages having taken a long leisurely look back over his shoulder. The margin of victory was six-lengths on the line in a time barely outside the track record.
It was a statement performance that has turned the existing order on its head. Eoma Eoma didn’t get the greatest of trips but even so, there are few similar races in history in Korea that his performance would not have won. While Raon The Fighter entered unbeaten, there is always the question in such circumstances of whether they will match up in truly elite company. The answer was an emphatic “yes”. Where Raon The Fighter goes next, or even what distance he tackles, as he has won up to 1800M already, is the hottest topic in Seoul right now.
Raon The Fighter is a three-year-old colt by Bayern and out of Clarinda (by Empire Maker). He was imported in-utero which meant that although he is officially classed as Korean-bred, he was ineligible for the three-year-old Classics this year. There is no limit on what races he can take part in from now on though, and it would seem there is no limit in his potential.