Two exciting colts continued their progress in Korea on Sunday, both winning but in differing styles as New Legend breezed to a third straight victory at Busan while Road Winner had to work to take out the day’s feature at Seoul.
In fairness to Road Winner, his was a considerably stiffer assignment. The Grand Prix Stakes had proved too much too soon for him in December, yet he began his four-year-old campaign as the prohibitive favourite in the class 1 handicap over 1800M and under a very light weight, was expected to dominate his thirteen rivals from the start.
Road Winner had other ideas, however, and jockey Kim Yong Geun was quickly in for a tough afternoon at the office as Gaeuli Jeonseol and Argo Brain took the early lead. At times it was an exhausting watch as jockey Kim grappled with his mount throughout the back-straight and around the home turn, simply to keep him in contention and even with just over a furlong to go, the favourite was still in 11th place.
Then suddenly, something changed. In sight of the line, Road Winner focused and with gaps opening up, unleashed a burst of speed that took him past everything else, striking the front with just a few strides to go and hitting the line with half a length in hand. They all count, and the Discreet Cat colt moves on to six wins from nine career starts and career earnings so far of well in excess of US$300,000. Not bad for a $20,000 purchase with his best days surely ahead.
Down at Busan, the talk was all about New Legend. He began his career in the United States landing a win at Arlington Park last summer before returning home in the autumn. The Menifee colt has thrived since landing on the sand at Busan and on Sunday made his third local start having breezed through his first two with ease.
At class 3 over 1800M it was never likely to be too testing for New Legend but regardless, the manner of his run, racing in company until the home straight when with the merest shake of the hands by jockey Lee Hyo-sik, he worked his way up through the lower gears – but only the lower gears - suggests there is plenty more to come. He won by six-lengths. It could have been a furlong.
In truth, New Legend is yet to face more than a glorified workout in Korea, and he isn’t the first horse to return home from overseas and blitz everything at the lower levels. Plenty of those have run out of steam once they reach class 1. New Legend looks different though. As the year progresses, we’ll find out just how different.
Jockey Kim Yong Geun with Road Winner, picture Korea Racing Authority