Day: April 1, 2013

Weekend Round-Up: The New Troika?

Tough Win, Gamdonguibada and Feel So Good All Win

Racing might be traditionally a very conservative sport off the track, but change can come very quickly on it. A year ago, what the racing media here dubbed the “troika”; Grand Prix Champion Tough Win and the 2 horses that finished closest to him in that December 2011 showdown, Mister Park and Smarty Moonhak were set to dominate racing on the peninsula for the forseeable future.

Joe Fujii and Gamdonguibada win the Grand Prix Stakes (KRA)

Joe Fujii and Gamdonguibada win the Grand Prix Stakes (KRA)

However, within a matter of months, 3 had become 1 as first, tragically, Mister Park (Ecton Park) suffered a fatal injury in a race and then, less sad but still devastating racing-wise, Smarty Moonhak (Smarty Jones) was diagnosed with tendinitis and hasn’t raced since.

Only Tough Win (Yonaguska) remains and now, there are signs that he could be part of a new “troika” forming. All were in action this past weekend.

Gamdonguibada (Werblin) a 4-year old American bred filly took Tough Win’s Grand Prix crown off him at the end of last season. She started this year in good form and continued it at Busan last Friday, winning the 1900 metre feature handicap in convincing fashion from Prince Kingdom (Roar Of The Tiger) and Viva Ace (Macho Uno). It was her 4th straight victory and her 8th in total from 12 career starts.

Feel So Good: 3 from 3

Feel So Good: 3 from 3

One horse yet to taste defeat yet – at least not in Korea – is Feel So Good (Ft.Stockton).

The 4-year old spent a year training in the United States and won a race at Calder last autumn. He made his 3rd Korean appearance at Seoul on Sunday afternoon and, despite moving up in class again, scored his 3rd very easy victory by 9 full lengths.

Feel So Good is now just 2 races away from qualifying for the elite level where he should finally come up against horses capable of testing him.

Tough Win

Tough Win

Gamdonguibada is one of those who could test him although being based at different tracks, their opportunities to meet will be limited. One he will likely face sooner is Tough Win. While Feel So Good is a Korean bred and therefore can avoid running against foreign bred horses, the temptation to put him in against the best will be hard to resist.

And Tough Win showed that at Seoul at least, he still he is the best in Sunday’s feature race at Seoul with a routine victory over a class 1 field.

The prospect of Tough Win, Gamdonguibada and Feel So Good racing each other, joined perhaps by the likes of last year’s Derby winner Jigeum I Sungan is what makes racing so fascinating. Hopefully all will stay sound.

Next Sunday, the process of finding this year’s 3-year old champion begins with the KRA Cup Mile – the Korean 2000 Guineas – the first leg of the 2013 Triple Crown, at Busan. We begin our build-up to the big race this Wednesday.