Smarty Moonhak has been diagnosed with tendinitis. Detailed veterinary examinations after the colt was unexpectedly beaten in the Busan Metropolitan City Stakes last month revealed the three-year old to be suffering from the same debilitating injury that earlier this year brought a premature end to the US Triple Crown bid of I’ll Have Another prior to the Belmont Stakes.
The tendonitis is in Smarty Moonhak’s left-foreleg and he is to undergo stem-cell treatment in order to try to heal the injury.
It’s a procedure that has been used successfully on racehorses in Korea before, most notably on Classic winner Baekgwang, who returned to racing after a lay-off of over a year after receiving the treatment on a slightly different injury. He went on to race for a further two seasons.
The treatment course is likely to take six months and trainer Ko Ok Bong told the media that he hasn’t given up hope that Smarty Moonhak can race again. However, Korea Racing Authority Animal Hospital vets who made the original diagnosis cautioned that even if the treatment is successful, the likely of a reoccurrence is high.
Three-year old Smarty Moonhak [Smarty Jones – Madeira M’Dear (Black Tie Affair)] burst on the scene last year, winning the Turkey Jockey Club Cup by 10 lengths and becoming the first two-year old to ever qualify for the season-ending Grand Prix Stakes. He finished third in the 2300 metre Grand Prix and was unbeaten this year before his surprise defeat at the hands of Dangdae Bulpae in Busan last month.
He has eight wins from eleven starts and career earnings of just over half a million dollars.
The most exciting horse on the Korean peninsula, Smarty Moonhak had also earned an overseas following by virtue of being a son of the wildly popular Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes winner Smarty Jones.
Smarty Moonhak’s career-threatening injury comes as a major blow to Korean racing which earlier this year lost 2011 Horse Of The Year Mister Park (Ecton Park) after he broke down during a race. Smarty Moonhak’s owners have assured concerned racing fans that while no effort will be spared to get their horse to race again, his post-racing future is secure.