Can a Two-Year Old Really Win The Grand Prix? Smarty Moonhak Could Be The First To Try

Smarty Jones Colt is First Juvenile in History to be voted into Grand Prix

The season ending Grand Prix Stakes is the most prestigious race on the Korean calendar. The President’s Cup may be richer but it is only open to Korean bred horses whereas the Grand Prix is open to any horse nominated by their connections and then voted in by the punting public.

Could Smarty Moonhak really find his way into the Grand Prix winner's circle?

With the odd exception when a motivated owner has run an enthusiastic campaign to get their lesser-known horse in, there are usually few surprises. However, this year when punters received their ballot papers just over a week ago, they were greeted with something few thought likely to ever happen. A two-year old colt was on the list.

The colt was US import Smarty Moonhak. Intrigued, they naturally voted him in and now he is, in just his fifth lifetime start, set to line up against the very best on the peninsula in a race that is not only the nation’s biggest, but at 2300 metres, is also the longest.

Eyebrows had already been raised last month when Smarty Moonhak [Smarty Jones-Madeira M’Dear] was entered in the Turkey Jockey Club Trophy. Not because it was a race he couldn’t win – he did, easily – but that in winning it, he would be bumped up in class prematurely and miss the chance of winning his owners some easy money as he gradually progressed through the ranks. Now it seems that all along, the Grand Prix was the ultimate goal. If so, they evidently believe that in Smarty Moonhak, they have something special on their hands.

In its thirty year history, a two-year old has never even run in the Grand Prix, let alone won it. While double President’s Cup winner Dangdae Bulpae and unbeaten US three-year old Lion Santa were both withdrawn from nominations, if he runs, Smarty Moonhak will still face a formidable field at Seoul Race Park at dusk on Sunday December 11.

Last year’s winner Mister Park, unbeaten in his last seventeen races – the longest winning streak in Korean racing history – will be the favourite but he’ll be running into Ace Galloper, Seoul’s best horse, on home territory. Then there is Tough Win and also the 2010 Korean Derby winner Cheonnyeon Daero, aiming for one last hurrah before being retired to stud while Busan Metropolitan winner and last year’s third place finisher Yeonseung Daero comes back for another go.

Minister’s Cup Winner Dongseo Jeongbeol represents this year’s dreadful domestic three-year old crop while Peter Wolsley’s best ever horse in Korea Gyeongkwaehanjilju, who gives the Australian trainer his first ever runner in the Grand Prix.

Could Smarty Moonhak do it? Or are we dealing with over-enthusiastic connections? Having been on the winning line when he won the 1800 metre Turkey Jockey Club Trophy without breaking into a gallop, I thought he could have run another lap. Regardless of the distance, the Grand Prix will be a very different prospect. Everything he’s done so far suggests Smarty Moonhak is the real deal. We’ll see on December 11.

While some will no doubt drop out before the big day, here’s the full line-up of the fourteen horses to receive invitations Name [Pedigree] Sex, Age, Home Track (Runs/1st/2nd/3rd):

Grand Prix (G1) – Seoul Race Park – 2300M – December 11, 2011

1. Dongseo Jeongbeol (KOR) [Vicar-Rendexvous Bay (Wonderloaf)] Colt, 3, Busan (13/7/1/0)
2. Mister Park (KOR) [Ecton Park-Formal Deal (Formal Gold)] Gelding, 4, Busan (18/17/0/1)
3. Cheonnyeon Daero (KOR) [Creek Cat-Doneitmyway (Northen Flagship)] Colt, 4, Busan (27/7/14/3)
4. Yeonseung Daero (KOR) [Creek Cat-Sensationalkris (Cryptoclearance)] Horse, 5, Busan (37/15/7/5)
5. Queen Of Rain (USA) [Lion Heart-Prosperous Move (Arch)] Filly, 3, Busan (13/4/2/3)
6. Tamna Ace (KOR) [Thunder Gulch-Eacape (A.P. Indy)] Colt, 3, Busan (12/9/2/0)
7. Gyeongkwaehanjilju (KOR) [Tapit-Cozzie Maxine (Cozzene)] Colt, 4, Busan (15/9/3/0)
8. Triple Sinhwa (KOR) [Capital Spending-Claudia’s Secret (Crafty Prospector)] Colt, 4, Busan (20/6/7/2)
9. Gippeun Sesang (CAN) [Behrens-Bellus (Saint Ballado)] Horse, 5, Seoul (40/4/4/4)
10. Tough Win (USA) [Yonaguska-Maggie May’s Sword (Sword Dance)] Gelding, 4, Seoul (17/13/2/0)
11. Yodongjewang (KOR) [Field Asuka-Mary Wonder (Shahrastani)] Colt, 4, Seoul (14/5/4/1)
12. Ace Galloper (KOR) [Chapel Royal-Explicitly (Exploit)] Colt, 4, Seoul (21/15/3/1)
13. Smarty Moonhak (USA) [Smarty Jones-Maderia M’Dear (Black Tie Affair)] Colt, 2, Seoul (5/4/1/0)
14. Jumong (USA) [Johar-Foreign Aid (Danzig)] Colt, 4, Seoul (24/8/4/4)

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