It was oh so simple for Smarty Moonhak (Smarty Jones) at Seoul Racecourse this afternoon as the three-year old romped to his second easy win of 2012.
He was yawning in the paddock beforehand and, with nothing prepared to take him on as they came out of the gate for the 2000 metre feature handicap, his new jockey Moon Jung Kyun took Smarty Moonhak straight to the front.
There they set a very pedestrian pace, slowing to almost a halt in the back straight as Moon invited the rest of the field to have a go.
No-one accepted and the favourite ultimately accelerated away in the final two furlongs to win by seven lengths without ever being challenged or allowed to extend himself, Moon not using his stick the whole way around.
It wasn’t much of a race, the others clearly hoping that if allowed to lead, an over-eager Smarty Moonhak would tire himself out early. That was never likely to happen and Jewang Tansaeng (Petionville) was left to win the race for the minor placings ahead of Ppoppai (Rockport Harbor).
It was one of the slowest ten furlongs run at Seoul for a very long time and therefore nothing more than a workout for Smarty Moonhak. Moon Jung Kyun did his job and protected his horse. He carried 59Kg and will, inevitably, go up in the handicap again. Tough Win and Dongbanui Gangja both won up to 63Kg and it seems as though this colt will do the same.
The real test is not going to come in handicaps though. Among the crowd at Seoul today was Kwak Jong Soo, owner of Mister Park. Kwak was up from Busan in order to visit the exhibition for his record-breaking horse that is currently being held at Seoul Racecourse. That exhibition has a picture of Mister Park alongside Tough Win and Smarty Moonhak, between whom he finished in the Grand Prix Stakes in December, ending his unprecedented winning streak.
Kwak and everybody else involved knows that these three must clash again although with Tough Win yet to reappear since winning the Grand Prix, it seems some way off until the right Stakes race brings them together.
It will happen though. Until then, Smarty Moonhak, possibly the most exciting talent we’ve had in Korea for years, can only beat what races against him. Hopefully next time they won’t all decide to simply race for second place.
Class 1 Handicap – Seoul Race Park – 2000M – Sunday March 4, 2012
1. Smarty Moonhak (USA) [Smarty Jones-Madeira M’Dear (Black Tie Affair)] – Moon Jung Kyun – 1.0, 1.0
2. Jewang Tansaeng (USA) [Petionville-Awesome Joy (Awesome Again)] – Park Tae Jong – 1.6
3. Ppoppai (USA) [Rockport Harbor-Fair And Lively (Lively One)] – Lee Gang Seo – 2.9
Distances: 7 lengths/2 lengths, 11 ran
Earlier, Jigeum I Sungan (Ingrandire) continued to burnish his classic credentials. The colt beat a competitive class 3 field over 1700 metres in race 7 by a full four lengths in a decent time. It’s only his third win from nine starts, however, unlike some of his rivals, he is showing great development each time out. Whether he ventures to Busan for the KRA Cup Mile in a month’s time or is saved for Derby remains to be seen.
At Busan there were co-feature races. US import Viva Ace (Macho Uno) upset hot favourite Jewang Tansaeng (Stromberg Carlson) in the first of these while lightly raced five-year old Quantum (Ecton Park) took victory in the second. Quantum, who missed over year with injury, now has a record of six wins from nine starts.