Winner’s Man was a dominant winner of the first leg of the Stayer Series earlier this month, but last year’s Korean Derby faces perhaps his sternest test yet as he must contend with Grand Prix Stakes winner Haengbok Wangja in the second race of the series, the YTN Cup (2000M KOR-G3) at Seoul Raecourse on Sunday.
The YTN Cup was one of the races that didn’t make it into the abbreviated Stakes program that was crammed into the final three months of 2021. There is one former winner going around though, as Moonhak Chief, who bagged the 2019 edition along with the Korea Cup and Grand Prix Stakes on his way to Horse of the Year honours, returns, amplifying the test for Winner’s Man.
Haengbok Wangja will be favourite. The five-year-old ran out a three-length winner of the season-ending Grand Prix Stakes (2300M KOR-G1) on Boxing Day. In his only race so far this year, he ran a close 2nd to President’s Cup winner Simjangui Godong at the end of March and having sat out the first leg of the Stayer Series, the Herald Business Trophy, he can be ready to peak here.
Moonhak Chief has mixed his form since that stellar 2019 campaign but remains very good on his day while trainer Kim Young-kwan brings two contenders up from his Busan base. Touch Star Man won two legs of the Triple Crown in 2020 and ran a strong 2nd in the Grand Prix Stakes last December. Meanwhile the relatively unexposed King Of The Match has won five of eight starts, never finishing outside the top three, and he takes his chance against the elite for the first time.
As for Winner’s Man, he won the Herald Business by a full four-lengths. Another step up today in the YTN isn’t impossible and would almost certainly go down as his most impressive achievement to date. Here is a full look at all the runners in the YTN Cup which is race 8 on an 11-race program at Seoul on Sunday:
1. TOUCH STAR MAN (KOR) [Testa Matta – Useung Touch (Menifee) 5-H
Owner: Uh Mun-sik Trainer: Kim Young-kwan Jockey: Lim Sung-sil
(Runs/1st/2nd/3rd) 20/5/5/2 – (Career Earnings) KRW 1,031,380,000
The winner of two legs of the 2020 Triple Crown, he hasn’t actually crossed the line 1st in eleven starts since the latter of those, the Minister’s Cup, over this distance twenty-one months ago. However, he ran a big 2nd here in the Grand Prix Stakes (2300M KOR-G1) here last December and meets that day’s winner Haengbok Wangja 4kg to the better here. Beaten by Winner’s Man in both of his latest two but draws well today and could well put in a big run. Worth an each-way chance.
Recent Race Video: December 26th (2021), Grand Prix Stakes (2300M KOR-G1) 2nd: https://youtu.be/wCbShtp2pdg
2. HAENGBOK WANGJA (USA) [Daredevil – First Installment (Broken Vow)] 5-H
O: Lee Bang-hoon T: Park Youn-gu J: Kim Yong-geun
17/8/4/1 – KRW 735,510,000
A winner of eight of his last ten starts, he was runner-up in the KRA Cup Classic at this distance last November before winning the Grand Prix Stakes here in December. His only run since saw him run 2nd to Simjangui Godong at this distance on March 27th when hand and wide and going close under the same weight as today. Tactically versatile, he can be on pace or settle back and run on but given the favourable draw, is likely to go forward and he will be a big player here.
March 27th, Class 1 (2000M) 2nd: https://youtu.be/sh2es_Jl4rQ
3. GEUMA MYSTIC (USA) [New Year’s Day – Stormy Allure (Stormy Atlantic)] 5-H
O: Kuem A Industry Co Ltd T: Lee Sang-young J: Kim Cheol-ho
15/6/3/3 – KRW 251,510,000
A winner of six up to class 2 level and 1800M. He ran 2nd on his only previous try at this distance, which was at class 2 behind Power Wonderful. Well fancied for his first crack at class 1 on April 8th but finished down the pack and is one of the outsiders here.
March 6th, Class 2 (2000M)) 2nd: https://youtu.be/iYp0aPtlYxE
4. MOONHAK CHIEF (USA) [Pioneerof The Nile – Tallulah Lula (Old Trieste)] 7-H
O: Kwon Kyung-ja T: Jung Ho-ik J: Johan Victoire
30/14/5/3 – KRW 2,252,900,000
The winner of this race in 2019, the year he went on to score in both the Korea Cup and Grand Prix Stakes. He has mixed his form of late, last winning four starts back at 1800M. A good 2nd to Simjangui Godong at 2000M in February is sandwiched by two disappointing showings in the Grand Prix Stakes and then last time out in the Herald Business when he settled midfield but failed to quicken and only beat two home. Grand galloper who can still mix it with the best on his day, you just need to catch him right. A chance.
February 27th, Class 1 (2000M) 2nd: https://youtu.be/rjh7Vja5pGE
5. KING OF THE MATCH (USA) [Cairo Prince – Fought The Fight (War Front)] 4-C
O: D R M City T: Kim Young-kwan J: Choi Si-dae
8/5/2/1 – KRW 213,850,000
An up-and-comer who enters off super wins at 1800M at class 2 level and then an on-pace score over a mile on his first try at class 1 on April 15th, narrowly beating Barbarian over a mile, both in fast times. This is his first time among the elite, his first time at Seoul and his first time at 2000M, but he gets weight from the leading lights and a top jockey comes up to ride him. He’ll be on or close to the pace and a bold showing is expected. Stablemate of Touch Star Man.
April 15th, Class 1 (1600M) 1st: https://youtu.be/mv799FlK8WY
6. CONSTI SOLO (USA) [Constitution – Solo Survivor (Pleasant Tap)] 5-G
O: Park Cheol-geun T: Jeon Seung-gyu J: Jang Chu-youl
6/3/3/0 – KRW 116,550,000
A first start since last August when he ran 2nd to the then hype horse Carving Cross. A winner of three from six, his running style suggests the distance won’t be an issue for him but while he won a trial in fine style two weeks ago, this is a very stern test first-up.
August 28th 2021, Class 2 (1800M) 2nd: https://youtu.be/WiMCkuOx350
7. SHAMROCKER (USA) [Dublin – Portera (Lemon Drop Kid)] 9-H
O: Cho Mong-ju T: Song Moon-gil J: Song Jae-chul
53/6/12/10 – KRW 1,306,450,000
The old warhorse. It’s been thirty-three runs since he has saluted back in 2017, however, he has been regularly picking up a check right up until very recently, and only ever racing among the elite. At his last start he ran 7th in the Herald Business Cup and given recent form, a midfield finish will be expected but with the potential to sneak a 4th or 5th place money finish,
May 1st, Herald Business Trophy (2000M KOR-L) 7th: https://youtu.be/rxWhLswIRTI
8. MUNHAK TIGER (USA) [To Honor And Serve – A Precious Memory (Honor Grades)] 6-H
O: Hwang Bong-ki T: Park Jae-woo J: Lim Gi-won
27/5/4/2 – KRW 369,550,000
Only beat three home in the Herald Business when he had the challenge of the outside gate. That wasn’t out of keeping with recent form though and it has been eight starts since he managed to finish in the placings. He will drop back and look to pass a few in the home straight, aiming for minor money.
May 1st, Herald Business Trophy (2000M KOR-L) 10th: https://youtu.be/rxWhLswIRTI
9. LOOKING GOOD (KOR) [Federalist – Quail Run (Wagon limit)] 6-H
O: Shin Woo-chul T: Jeon Seung-gyu J: Lee Hyeok
16/4/0/6 – KRW 175,170,000
A big 3rd place in the Sports Chosun Trophy (2000M KOR-L) on March 20th at odds of 75/1 enables him to take his chance there, although with that race having been restricted to Seoul-based Korean-bred horses, this is much tougher. Nevertheless, he went right to the back that day, making up excellent ground in the home straight and similar tactics may see him pick a few off again.
March 20th, Sports Chosun Trophy (2000M KOR-L) 3rd: https://youtu.be/SQ9GDIHIgKc
10. SENSE JAENGI (USA) [Munnings – Balansense (Street Sense)] 6-G
O: Kim Jong-chul T: An Byung-ki J: Cho Han-byeol
28/1/2/0 – KRW 186,690,000
Sense Jaengi running in Graded Stakes company is probably not something many had on their 2022 bingo card. Unable to get into a full class 3 race back on January 8th, the then twenty-five-race maiden was thrown in at class 2 to get a run and duly won at odds of 130/1. In both outings since, he has run 2nd, both at 1800M. He loves to – or at least has recently discovered he loves to – go right back and run on but surely this is too hard.
March 26th, Class 2 (1800M) 2nd: https://youtu.be/fB7kIYuz2DM
11. WINNER’S MAN (KOR) [Musket Man – Winner’s Marine (Volponi)] 4-C
O: Lee Gyeong-hui T: Choi Ki-hong J: Seo Seung-un
15/10/2/1 – KRW 861,730,000
Last year’s Korean Derby winner and very hard to find fault with here. He is in terrific form, winning three of his last four starts including the Herald Business by a full four-lengths at this course and distance on May 1st. He likes to race forward, and while he draws wider and is up in weight on the Herald Business Cup win, he cannot be left out.
May 1st, Herald Business Trophy (2000M KOR-L) 1st: https://youtu.be/rxWhLswIRTI
|Rating||Win %||Quinella %||2000M Win %||2000M Time|
|1st Furlong Avg.*||Final Furlong Avg.*|
*In seconds, calculated by an average of the most recent 6 starts regardless of distance
Selections: (2) Haengbok Wangja (11) Winner’s Man (4) Moonhak Chief (1) Touch Star Man
Next Best: 5, 6