Special Stone romps to seven length victory in Korean Oaks

Special Stone, sent off a 22/1 chance among a sixteen-strong field, raced away to win the KRW 600 Million, KOR Grade 2 Korean Oaks (1800m) at Busan Racecourse on Sunday afternoon, registering a first Classic success for Seoul Jockey/Trainer pair Kim Jeong-jun and Kang Hwan-min. 

Kim Jeong-jun salutes the victory with Special Stone, picture Korea Racing Authority

In a race that always looked fiendishly difficult to predict, Thomas Gillespie’s Yeonghui Sidae was ultimately sent off as a very slight favourite, ahead the Kim Young-kwan trained pair of Blue Flag and Gyohaksangjang while Yeongcheon Derby, 5th in the KRA Cup Mile, was also well backed. None of them would get close though with Blue Flag the best of the fancied ones in 4th. However, by the time the she crossed the line, up ahead jockey Kim Jeong-jun was already celebrating the biggest win of his career.

Special Stone began steadily as an overly keen Star Cat set the early pace. Jockey Kim kept his mount to the rail and the pair steadily gained ground in the back straight, improving to 2nd on the turn for home. Once they hit the straight and others swung wide, Special Stone found the front and then found another gear, leaving the rest trailing far down the track.

Seoul fillies completed an unlikely 1, 2, 3 with Firewind coming home in 2nd and Seouri Byeol beating out Blue Flag in the photo-finish for 3rd, the Tierce paying out on that combination at 25850/1.

Trainer Kang Hwan-min only took out his license a year ago but has quickly established himself among the leading trainers at Seoul with a win-rate in excess of 20% in 2018 and has now won a Classic having had only slightly over 100 starters. Jockey Kim Jeong-jun has partnered Special Stone in all her outings to date and is rewarded with his first big race win.

Special Stone is by Limitless Bid, a Korea-based Japanese-bred stallion by Sunday Silence. He is out of Grey Stone, Korean-bred mare who did her racing at Seoul, winning 2 of 28 starts between 2010 and 2013. Special Stone was her first foal. Grey Stone was by Walkslikeaduck (Blushing John), who was imported to Korea in 2002. It took Special Stone three attempts, and a move up in trip to two-turns to get her maiden victory and she has now won four of seven starts.