After a campaign of mainly coming off second-best when it really counts, Raon The Spurt finally got her reward in the shape of a big Group race win as she dominated the Gyeongnam Governor’s Cup (2000M KOR-G2) at Busan on Sunday afternoon, securing the final leg of the Queens’ Tour for herself and the overall series title for stablemate Raon First.
Golden Power won all three legs of the Triple Tiara, with Raon The Spurt trailing her home in 3rd in the Luna Stakes and then 2nd in both the Korean Oaks and the Gyeonggi Governor’s Cup. Since the end of that series Raon The Spurt had maintained her form better, winning back-to-back races at 1800M and 1200M before running second to Wish Me in the Jeju Governor’s Cup and punters accordingly sent her off as the favourite as the three-year-old pair faced off with their seniors.
Those favourite backers never had a moment’s cause for concern as Raon The Spurt broke well from the plum draw of gate three and quickly got to the lead. Jockey Choi Bum-hyun was able to set a tempo to suit and it proved too hot for the rest as Raon The Spurt cruised to a six-length win in a very fast time.
As for Golden Power, she began as second favourite, but at no stage did she look a danger, settling back and making it up to fifth in the home straight before ultimately weakening and crossing the line in ninth.
Jeju Governor’s Cup track-record breaker Wish Me was sent off as third-favourite and under Antonio Da Silva, was hurried along from her nightmare draw of gate sixteen to loop the field and take the early lead. That gamble was her only chance of prevailing and the question was how long she would stay on after such an early effort over an unfamiliar distance. She ran gamely but would ultimately run out of steam in the home straight, finishing seventh.
Calm Strong, the KNN Cup winner, also drew a poor barrier for a front-runner, having to navigate to the front from gate fourteen and while she was able to race prominently throughout the back straight, she was one of the first to be beaten.
Stepping up to get closest to the winner on the line were 19/1 chance Flat Babe, who settled back under Franco Da Silva and gradually improved as the race went on. She came home in second-place, two-and-a-half lengths clear of Eodigana, a Smarty Moonhak filly who won over the distance in last year’s Triple Tiara final leg. She set off in excess of 80/1.
Raon The Spurt is by Raon’s own stallion Musket Man and out of Japanese-bred mare Tomiken Spring (by Suzuka Mambo). Owned by her breeder, Son Chun-soo of Raon, she is trained by Park Jong-kon. Her victory propels Musket Man to the top of the Leading General Sire rankings despite having just 274 starters throughout 2022 compared to 899 for now second-placed Cowboy Cal. It’s not necessarily only Musket Man’s influence, but also Raon’s attention to early pre-training on their uphill track at their Jeju training centre staffed with not only some very good local, but some skilled overseas grooms too, that is coming together to pay huge dividends.
So Raon The Spurt won the race and Raon First the series for Son Chun-soo and his Raon organization. Raon First is expected to head to the Grand Prix Stakes on December 11th, where she will be joined by Raon The Fighter, the Korea Cup runner-up and KRA Cup Classic winner. The latter is then scheduled for a tilt at the Dubai World Cup Carnival. The Raon Empire is building momentum.
Next weekend, the Champion Juvenile will be crowned with the running of the Breeders’ Cup (1400M KOR-G2) at Busan. Then on December 11th it’s the traditional final Group 1 of the season, the Grand Prix Stakes (2300M KOR-G1), with Raon going in with both barrels, at Seoul Racecourse.
Graded Stakes racing returns to Seoul on Sunday for the first time since the Korea Cup and Korea Sprint five weeks ago with the Jeju Governor’s Cup (1400M KOR-G3) for local-bred fillies and mares taking centre stage. There are 11 races at Seoul from 10:45 to 18:00 and 6 at Busan from 12:15 to 16:45. Here are the previews:
Seoul Race 1: Class 6 (1000M) Allowance / KRW 60 Million
Juvenile maiden fillies in the opener with five on the nine racing for the first time. And unlike in so many of these races where we go for experience, this time we’ll go with a first timer. (8) YUKWAEHAN SARANG won a trial in good fashion, running on pace on the bridle and responding well when asked for a brief effort. She looked well within herself and let loose on the track, has every chance first-up. (7) RAON THE FLATTER ran a creditable 4th on debut in July in a fair time before parting company with her jockey right after the start on her re-appearance on August 27th, competing the course pilotless. So long as man and beast stay united here, she should improve on that debut 4th. (2) GANGHAN QUEEN was on pace for much of her debut before weakening late on She should have derived benefit from that run and can be in this a little longer. (4) SEUNGRIUI YEONGHON and (5) VISION STAR are other newcomers who may provide some interest.
Seoul Race 2: Class 6 (1200M) Allowance / KRW 60 Million
Juvenile maidens here and based on his debut performance, it will be very hard to look past (4) NANOMETA. Having won a July trial, he came out on August 28th and came from off the pace to finish 2nd over 1000M. The additional furlong today should be ideal and with the benefit of that experience, he should take some beating. (5) MORNING PRINCESS was a decent 3rd on debut and while she found herself overmatched on her second appearance which is in the Rookie Stakes at the end of August, she finds herself back in shallower waters here and can be a big player. (2) BAEDARI WANGJA similarly ran well for 2nd on debut and while he couldn’t repeat at start number two on September 4th, he can be given another chance here. (3) HUNTER BLADE and (8) LEMON BLADE others in the placing frame.
Seoul Race 3: Class 6 (1200M) Allowance / KRW 40 Million
A big field for this maiden but another short-price favourite seems likely and again Moon Se-young rides it in the shape of (7) STRONG CHARM. He has a 2nd and a 3rd to his name from three starts to date including last time out when he ran through the line well. He comes up in distance here, but it should suit, and he should sign off from class 6 with a win. (3) ROSE GOLD beat a couple of these on his way to 2nd place two starts back and followed up with a 3rd, again at this distance, on September 18th. He has the fastest tie of any of these for the distance and from a good draw can go close. (11) DEVIL K is another who will be up to class 5 with a finish anywhere in the top three. He comes in off back-to-back 3rd place finishes in good times at this distance and can run on well here. (12) MENI ACE, who returns for the first time since February, and (2) SAMBA ZONE, are others in the frame.
(7) Strong Charm (3) Rose Gold (11) Devil K (12) Meni Ace
5, 7, 9, 12
Busan Race 1: Class 6 (1200M) Allowance / KRW 60 Million
Juvenile maidens open proceedings on the south coast, with four of the eleven racing for the first time. The hot favourite will be (2) WORLD LEGEND, a good 2nd on debut over 1000M in July and then 4th over this distance in a good time at start number two on August 28th. He draws very nicely to be on pace here and should take some beating. (10) K.AI has been on pace for 3rd and 2nd in two starts so far, both over the 1000M. The draw is a little wider than ideal, but he should handle the distance and can be a danger. So too (8) DOCTOR PANGPANG. He made good ground late to run 2nd on debut over 1000M on August 28th and should appreciate the step up in trip today. (1) ADELE HORANGI and (11) FINAL SEVEN can also be in the hunt for at least places in a race with decent form, given the lack of experience.
(2) World Legend (10) K.Ai (8) Doctor Pangpang (1) Adele Horangi
2, 6, 10, 11
Seoul Race 4: Class 5 (1200M) Handicap / KRW 40 Million
(7) MONSTER POWER ran out a comfortable winner on debut over 1000M on September 3rd, settling midfield and then running on strongly. He comes up in class and in distance, but neither should be an issue and he is the one they need to beat here. (4) STAR RUSH is yet to win in twenty-five attempts, but he has had a fair few near-misses and was a decent 4th in a fair time over 1300M last time out. He has had a couple of months off and looks a place line here. (6) JANGSU NABOM too has placing chances. He weakened having led last time out but at the start prior, he ran a solid 3rd place beating a couple of today’s rivals in the process. He has the fastest start among these and can be in this a long way. (1) COWBOY TANGO and (2) COMPLETE LUCKY are others with minor money claims.
(7) Monster Power (4) Star Rush (6) Jangsu Nabom (1) Cowboy Tango
5, 6, 7, 8
Busan Race 2: Class 5 (1400M) Handicap / KRW 40 Million
(8) ALPHA V is winless but comes up in class following a 2nd and two 3rd place finishes, all over 1200M. She carries a light weight and he running style suggests that the widest gate – of only eight – shouldn’t be a problem. This is hardly the most intimidating of class 5 fields and this could be her day. (6) GOLD TAP will probably start as favourite. While he comes in having missed the top five for the first time, when 6th over this class and distance on September 16th, that wasn’t a bad run, and the finish was tight. He can sit in pace or handy here and may prove too strong late on. (2) MY SONG is a winner over this distance at class 6 level and while she weakened to only beat one home having led over her previous start at the beginning of September, she is worth another chance today. (1) INDIAN PARTY and (7) WIND PARK others capable of sneaking a place.
(8) Alpha V (6) Gold Tap (2) My Song (1) Indian Party
2, 3, 6, 8
Seoul Race 5: Class 5 (1200M) Handicap / KRW 40 Million
Small but competitive field with two standouts. It’s time (7) GANA FASHION won a race. She has three runner-up finishes and one 3rd place from four starts so far and came close to making all at class and distance last time out. She can be on pace again and may just be a little sharper in the finish which is what makes her the very marginal top pick over (2) TIZ SUCCESS, who has similar form but with a win in the books and over one race less. She too was an on-pace 2nd last time out, stopping the clock in an identical time to that of Gana Fashion in her race. She comes up one more kilogram than her rival does and also starts here for the first time in three months. It would be a big surprise if those two don’t fill out the quinella so the rest look like battling for the minors. (3) ELITE RULES, (1) JEONGMUN PAPAGO and (4) TIZ FIGHTING all come in off the back of good latest starts.
(7) Gana Fashion (2) Tiz Success (3) Elite Rules (1) Jeongmun Papago
1, 2, 5, 7
Busan Race 3: Class 5 (1300M) Handicap / KRW 40 Million
Golden Power moved to within just one race of sweeping the Filly Triple Crown, as the Luna Stakes winner snared the second jewel in the crown, The Korean Oaks (1800M KOR-G2) at Busan Racecourse on Sunday afternoon.
The fillies who filled out the top three-places in April’s Luna Stakes, ultimately turned it into a three-way affair in the Oaks as well. Chamjoeun Chingu, nailed on the line last month, was sent off as favourite under Moon Se-young and she would set the pace.
Golden Power, after coming from almost last to first in the closing stages of the Luna, was ridden much more forward this time by jockey Choi Si-dae and immediately tracked the leader.
Raon The Spurt, instead of being ridden hard for the lead like she had been in past races, was settled gently from the widest gate by Choi Bum-hyun and gradually made progress up to 3rd.
By the top of the straight, Chamjoeun Chingu and Golden Power had opened a significant lead on the rest and when Golden Power came past her rival with a furlong and a half remaining, the race looked settled. That was to reckon without Raon The Spurt, however, who moved through the gears in the home straight and suddenly the gap was vanishing alarmingly quickly.
The line came in time though with Golden Power still a neck to the good when it mattered, with Chamjoeun Chingu a further two-and-a-half lengths in arrears in 3rd. There were nine-lengths more back to Eunseong Winner in 4th and then a further nine to a thoroughly outclassed rest.
Winning jockey Choi Si-dae felt the opening part of the race – very different from that in the Luna – today was key to the win. “Last time (in the Luna) the start wasn’t satisfactory” he told in-house broadcaster KRBC. “This time she started great, got into a good position and that was the main reason she could win the race today.”
As for her prospects of sweeping all three legs of the “Tiara” as the filly Triple Crown is known, Choi was non-committal but simply stated: “She got better today. Even better than she was last month. I am looking forward to it.”
That final race is over 2000M, and it is hard to imagine Chamjoeun Chingu posing Golden Power too many problems at the extended trip, even on her home track at Seoul. Raon The Spurt’s run was intriguing as for the first time in any of her races, she wasn’t ridden to lead. While the draw may have had a lot to do with that, it paid off and way she finished makes her a fascinating prospect back at Seoul
With regard to the rest, Wonderful Raise was backed into fourth-favourite, but having begun brightly, was on the end of severe interference at the first corner after Chamjoeun Chingu tightened onto Shy Dragon who in turn came together with Wonderful Raise, who had nowhere to go. The latter was shuffled back in the pack and lost interest in racing after that. Moon Se-young, aboard Chamjoeun Chingu was given a four-day suspension. Wonderful Raise can perhaps therefore have a line drawn through her last place.
Eunseong Winner, though too far back, posted a final furlong time only one-tenth of a second slower than that of Raon The Spurt and she may pose more of a danger at Seoul.
Golden Power is by Afleet Express and is out of Cherokee Sheik (by Cherokee Run). She is owned by her breeder, Son Boing-chul of Winner’s Farm, and is trained by Kwon Sung-ju
The final leg of the Filly Triple Crown is the Gyeonggi Governor’s Cup (2000M KOR-G3) which will be run at Seoul Racecourse on Sunday June 4. Next weekend Seoul hosts the twenty-fifth running of the Korean Derby (1800M KOR-G1).