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Eunpa Sarang stuns in Korean Derby

3 minute read

Eunpa Sarang stalked and then pounced, and then won the Korean Derby (1800M KOR-G1), the second leg of the 2024 Korean Triple Crown, at Seoul Racecourse on Sunday afternoon, at odds of 47/1.

Not only was it a fine win for a hitherto undervalued three-year-old, it was also a redemption of sorts for jockey Moon Sung-hyeok.

EUNPA SARANG winning the Class Open Special Weight A
EUNPA SARANG winning the Class Open Special Weight A Picture: Korea Racing Authority

Having run 5th in the KRA Cup Mile, Eunpa Sarang settled right back among the fifteen-strong field, improving only in the back straight to race handy on the turn and then prove too strong by some margin at the business end. 20/1 chance World Dragon was 2nd, with KRA Cup Mile winner and pre-race favourite Success Baekpa  in 3rd, the latter remaining in pole-position for overall Triple Crown honours.

"Is it true that I won? Am I right that we were first?" a disbelieving jockey Moon Sung-hyeok asked his in-house broadcaster KRBC inquisitor immediately after the race.

Last autumn, jockey Moon's career seemed in the abyss after he mistook the 100M pole for the winning line and eased down what should have been an easy winner to an embarrassing beaten on the line 2nd. He served 3 months on the sidelines as a result.

"(Eunpa Sarang ) was in great condition and after he was 2nd in the Sports Seoul Cup, he was 5th in the Cup Mile, but to be honest, he improved in that race" an enthusiastic Moon continued. "This horse is a slow starter, so I decided I will go outside and then wait for an opportunity. It came at the 3rd corner, and I thought that it was then or never, so I went for it. And he responded so well."

Reflecting on his own comeback, Moon said "There weren't many opportunities to ride, and it was hard to control my weight. Of course, it was my fault, but I had been worrying a lot about what I should do. I haven't been able to show my good side. I am really grateful to those who supported me and to those fans who called my name out today."

"It doesn't feel real, but it feels good," Trainer Seo In-seok told KRBC. "I thought Eunpa Sarang was improving, but I thought the same about a lot of the other horses here. I thought the jockey rode a great race and so we have won."

Eunpa Sarang is by Hansen and out of Achim Sarang (by Broken Vow). He was purchased for just 10 Million Korean Won by his owner Lee Mi-gyeong in April 2023. The Derby was his third career win on his ninth start.

The final leg of the Triple Crown is the Minister's Cup (2000M KOR-G2) at Soeul Racecourse on Sunday June 16th.

Next week the focus shifts to the sprinting division and the SROA Chairman's Sprint (1200M KOR-G2), a race which will have international Listed status for the first time.

Race Video:

Korean Racing Authority

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