One of Korea’s all-time great race-mares kicks off her 2019 season on Sunday afternoon and Silver Wolf, never one to be shielded from a challenge, will face stern examination as she seeks to defend her Donga Ilbo Trophy title over 1800M at Seoul Racecourse.
An Australian-bred by Oratorio, Silver Wolf was purchased as for $40,000 at the Magic Millions Gold Coast Sale in 2014. She’s since gone on to amass over US$1.5Million in prize money and in 2017 swept all three legs of the Queens’ Tour to be named Champion Filly/Mare. Competent at any distance, after winning this race last year, she went to Busan and defeated Power Blade over 1200M in the Busan Ilbo Cup.
The rest of 2018 was challenging for Silver Wolf as she plied her trade only in elite company and was 2nd to Ace Korea in the Kookje News Trophy, again at Busan in November. She’ll be favourite to retain the Donga Ilbo but it won’t be easy given the presence of a number of up and coming fillies looking to usurp her.
Chief among the pretenders is Sky Bay. Lee Shin Young’s American import by Adios Charlie is a winner of five of her nine starts so far and concluded her three-year-old campaign by winning the final leg of the Queens’ Tour, the Gyeongnam Governor’s Cup, over 2000M, at Busan in November. That victory gave handler Lee the distinction of becoming the first female trainer to saddle a Group race winner in Korea. Sky Bay will carry 3kg less than the reigning champion could well be getting better.
The overall winner of last year’s Queens’ Tour (which Silver Wolf, being aged six, wasn’t eligible for) was Cheongsu Yeogeol. She ran 4th in the Gyeongnam Governor’s Cup on what was her first try at more than a mile and while beating Silver Wolf may be beyond her, she returns here too and can challenge for a place. The same is true for that day’s runner-up Seouri Byeol, who won the Gyeonggi Governor’s Cup at this distance at Seoul in September.
The Donga Ilbo Cup is race 9 on an 11-race Sunday program at Seoul. There is also a 6-race card at Busan.
Silver Wolf, picture Korea Racing Authority