Jumong

Weekend Preview: Tough Win Headlines KRA Cup Classic While Top Juveniles Face Off At Busan

Tough Win, Jumong, Haedongcheonwang in Cup Classic / Gyeongnam Sinmun Cup at Busan

It’s a big weekend of Stakes action in Seoul as Seoul’s best horses compete against one another in the KRA Cup Classic, while down at Busan, the end of season Juvenile championship races get underway in the shape of the Gyeongnam Sinmun Cup.

Tough Win heads the KRA Cup Classic (KRA)

In the Classic, current Grand Prix Stakes champion Tough Win will face arguably his two greatest rivals – at least from Seoul. He saw off both Jumong and Haedongcheonwang when the three of them met under handicap conditions in early September and, while the three-year old Haedongcheonwang can be expected to show improvement, an on-form Tough Win should still have too much for both of them again.

With the outstanding Smarty Moonhak’s career still hanging in the balance as he undergoes stem-cell treatment for tendonitis, his sire, Smarty Jones is represented in the Classic after all as four-year old Es Four, newly graduated to Class 1, takes his chance with the best.

Here is a full run-down of the runners and riders, with pedigree, age and race records:

KRA Cup Classic (KOR G3) – Seoul Race Park – 2000M – Sunday October 21, 16:20

1. Captain Cugat (AUS) [King Cugat – Shiva Angel (Marauding)] 8 (42/5/6/1) – Kim Ok SUng
2. Cheonnyeon Dolpung (NZ) [Sakura Seeking – Firenza (Val D’Arno)] 6 (24/2/5/2) – Lee Gi Woong
3. Tough Win (USA) [Yonaguska – Maggie May’s Sword (Sword Dance)] 5 (23/18/2/0) – Cho Kyoung Ho
4. Es Four (USA) [Smarty Jones – Golden Honor (Mr. Prospector)] 4 (21/4/2/3) – Yukio Abe
5. Gippeun Sesang (CAN) [Behrens – Bellus (Saint Ballado)] 6 (50/4/4/4) – Choi Bum Hyun
6. Sing Sing Cat (USA) [D’Wildcat – Freddy Fenter (Fenter)] 4 (19/8/3/1) – Lee Sang Hyeok
7. American Revival (USA) [Put It Back – American Saint (Saint Ballado)] 4 (28/3/3/1) – Jung Pyeong Soo
8. Berongi (USA) [Action This Day – Hot Match (Mr. Prospector)] 3 (12/3/4/0) – Lee Dong Kug
9. Ace Galloper (KOR) [Chapel Royal – Explicitly (Exploit)] 5 (27/17/6/1) – Shin Hyoung Chul
10. Tiger Wing (USA) [Repent – Tiger’s Missy (Tiger Ridge)] 4 (20/4/1/3) – Jamg Chuyoul
11. Haedongcheonwang (USA) [West Acre – Sienna’s Honor (Honor Grades)] 3 (9/6/3/0) – Park Tae Jong
12. Jumong (USA) [Johar – Foreign Aid (Danzig)] 5 (32/9/7/6) – Jo In Kwen
13. Nolbu Manse (USA) [Simon Pure – Reason To Fear (Kris S)] 3 (14/5/2/3) – Ham Wan Sik
14. Moby D (USA) [Unbridled Energy – Southern Breeze (General Royal)] 4 (9/2/3/1) – Lee Gi Hweoi

Meanwhile at Busan, the track’s top juveniles meet for the first time in the Gyeongnam Sinmun Cup. The best performers will qualify for the Korean Breeders’ Cup at Seoul next month when they will face the top two-year olds from the capital.

Last year’s winner Gyeongbudaero didn’t go on to win the Breeders’ Cup but he did train on as a three-year old, winning the KRA Cup Mile, the first leg of the Triple Crownn in April, and coming third in the final leg, the Minister’s Cup, just last week.

Menifee, who is streets ahead in the leading sire race this year, accounts for five of the ten entries. Fantastic Jazz, a half-brother of 2008 Korean Derby winner Ebony Storm (who, now a gelding, and still running at the top-level will be running a race later) goes into the race unbeaten from three starts.

Here are the runners and riders with pedigrees and race records. As per Triple Crown rules, all are Korean bred:

Gyeongnam Sinmun Cup – Busan Race Park – 1200M – October 21, 15:50

1. Rising Joy [Forest Camp – Joy Ride (Future Quest)] (4/1/2/0) – Jo Sung Gon
2. Long Speed [Commendable – Speed Bag (Abaginine)] (3/1/1/0) – Lee Hee Cheon
3. Choesin Mujeok [Forest Camp – Geumseong (Psychobabble)] (2/2/0/0) – Kim Young Min
4. Yapung [Menifee – Wild Life (Wild Again)] (4/2/1/0) – Park Geum Man
5. Pureun Energy (filly) [Menifee – Cheongsan Ilho (Nediym)] (3/1/2/0) – Lim Sung Sil
6. Fantastic Jazz [Menifee – Sorority Jazz (Dixieland Band)] (3/3/0/0) – Kim Yong Geun
7. Jeongsang Jeongbok [Menifee – Benbane Head (Giant’s Causeway)] (5/2/0/1) – Song Keong Yun
8. Gangjaui Miso [Volponi – Watch Me Raw (Encosta De Lago)] (2/1/0/1) – You Hyun Myung
9. Global Gangja [Pico Central – Gosokcheol (Big Sur)] (4/3/0/0) – Choi Si Dae
10. Miss Quick [Menifee – Regal Heir (Regal Intention)] (2/1/0/0) – Kanichiro Fujii

It’s going to be a busy weekend. Here’s what’s happening when and where:

Friday October 19

Busan Race Park: 11 races from 11:50 to 18:00
Jeju Race Park: 9 races from 13:45 to 17:40

Saturday October 20

Seoul Race Park: 12 races from 11:00 to 17:45
Jeju Race Park: 9 races from 12:20 to 17:10

Sunday October 21

Seoul Race Park: 11 races from 11:00 to 18:00 including the KRA Cup Classic at 16:20
Busan Race Park: 6 races from 12:15 to 16:45 including the Gyeongnam Sinmun Cup at 15:50

Tough Win Roars Back Into Form At Seoul

Grand Prix Champ Sees Off Rivals Haedongcheonwang and Jumong

After a difficult couple of months which saw a bleeding attack and then a disappointing defeat in the Busan Metropolitan Stakes, Tough Win (Yanaguska) returned with what was perhaps one of his most impressive performances to date to win the feature race at Seoul Race Park on Sunday.

In doing so he not only beat his regualr foe Jumong (Johar) but also Haedongcheonwang (West Acre) the three-year old with six wins from right starts to his name and the horse now thought most likely to be able to wrest Tough Win’s Grand Prix crown from him.

Tough Win did it the hard way. After Jung Pyeong Soo set a seemingly inadvisable early pace on 25/1 chance Kkochyeoul, Cho Kyoung Ho found himself a full 25 lengths off the pace as they began the turn for home. After receiving a couple of gentle reminders, Tough Win started to make up ground but he still had an awful lot of traffic to get though as they entered the straight with Haedongcheonwang clear in front and seemingly headed for the win.

Once Tough Win found his run though he was irresistible. he passed six horses in the final furlong and still managed to sweep home two lengths ahead of Haedongcheonwang, who was carrying five kilos fewer. Jumong tagged along in third.

Haedongcheonwang will surely improve but he’s not likely to get such a weight advantage again as the weights will be much more evenly distributed the next two times these horses meet; likely to be the KRA Cup Classic and the Grand Prix itself.

Meanwhile, Dangdae Bulpae (Biwa Shinseiki), who bested both Tough Win and an injured Smarty Moonhak in the Busan Metropolitan returns to action next weekend in the Busan Owners’ Cup. While it is questionable as to whether the Korean bred horse will come to Seoul for the KRA Cup Classic – a tilt at an unprecedented third consecutive President’s Cup looking more likely – with any luck a Grand Prix appearance and another meeting with Tough Win will be on his agenda this year.

Class 1 Handicap – Seoul Race Park – 2000M – Sunday September 2, 2012

1. Tough Win (USA) [Yonaguska – Maggie May’s Sword (Sword Dance)] – Cho Kyoung Ho
2. Haedongcheonwang (USA) [West Acre – Sienna’s Honor (Honor Grades)] – Park Sang Woo
3. Jumong (USA) [Johar – Foreign Aid (Danzig)] – Jo In Kwen
Distances: 2.5 lengths/2 lengths – 12 ran

Weekend Preview: Tough Win Returns

Grand Prix Champion Back at Seoul

In December last year, Tough Win crossed the finishing line of the Grand Prix Stakes just ahead of the previous year’s winner Mister Park and the two-year old phenom, Smarty Moonhak.

Tough Win – back at Seoul

Racing fans looked forward to a year when “The Troika” would do battle against each other for the biggest prizes the peninsula has to offer.

Fast forward eight months and Tough Win is the only one left. Mister Park lost his life after a race in June and then less tragically last month, Smarty Moonhak was diagnosed with tendinitis following his defeat in the Busan Metropolitan Stakes.

Tough Win has not been without his problems though,. Suffering a bleeding attach in June, he was a long way of his best as he ran fourth in that same Busan Metropolitan but this Sunday, he’s back on home sand in the feature event at Seoul Race Park.

If he’s at anywhere near his best, he will win although the ever dangerous Jumong is likely to give him a good race while it will be very interesting to see what young US import Haedongcheorwang (West Acre), with 6 wins from his 8 starts including 2 at the elite level already, can do with a big weight advantage against a really top class horse. It should be a fascinating race.

Busan has a pair of class 1 feature races on Sunday while all three south-coast based foreign jockeys; Gerrit Schlechter, Narazaki Kosuke and Joe Fujii all have plenty of decent looking rides over the weekend.

Here’s what’s happening when and where on what looks set to be a very wet weekend:

Friday August 31

Busan Race Park: 11 races from 12:00 to 18:00
Jeju Race Park: 9 races from 13:40 to 17:30

Saturday September 1

Seoul Race Park: 12 races from 11:00 to 17:20
Jeju Race Park: 9 races from 12:20 to 17:20

Sunday September 2

Seoul Race Park: 11 races from 11:00 to 17:50
Busan Race Park: 6 races from 12:15 to 16:35

Dangdae Bulpae Stuns Smarty Moonhak, Tough Win in Busan Metropolitan

Dangdae Bulpae (Biwa Shinseiki), the two-time President’s Cup winner, stunned favourites Smarty Moonhak (Smarty Jones) and Tough Win (Yonaguska), to win the Busan Metropolitan City Mayor’s Cup on a hot and humid night under the floodlights at Busan Race Park this evening.

Smarty Moonhak ran second but Tough Win was a disappointing fourth.

Busan Metropolitan City Mayor’s Cup (K.G3) – Busan Race Park – 2000M – July 22, 2012

1. Dangdae Bulpae (KOR) [Biwa Shinseiki – Indeed My Dear (Alydeed)] – Jo Sung Gon – 9.7, 1.7
2. Smarty Moonhak (USA) [Smarty Jones – Madeira M’Dear (Black Tie Affair)] – Park Tae Jong – 1.1
3. Jumong (USA) [Johar – Foreign Aid (Danzig)] – Ham Wan Sik – 5.1

Distances: 2 lengths / 0.5 lengths
Also Ran: 4. Tough Win (USA) 5. Smoking Gun (USA) 6. Jeonseong Sidae (AUS) 7. Sangseung Geotap (USA) 8. Yeonseung Daero (KOR) 9. Lion Santa (USA) 10. Cheonjidolpung (USA) 11. Adam One (USA) PU. Ghost Whisper (KOR)

Punters sent off Smarty Moonhak as the 1/2 favourite with Tough Win second in the betting market at 3/1 against. Dangdae Bulpae was the next fancied at 9/1.

It was Dangdae Bulpae who was quickest out of the gate, jockey Jo Sung Gon harrying him over to the rail and into the lead heading into the first corner. Smarty Moonhak went with him. A year ago it was Tough Win who followed Dangdae Bulpae into the corner and the two began racing each other far too early and ended up taking themselves out of the race.

This time they settled into a much more sensible – bordering on the slow – pace as they entered the back straight. It was then that things got interesting. As expected, Cho Kyoung Ho asked Tough Win to improve his position and as he did so, everyone else tried too. Entering the home straight, Dangdae Bulpae still had the lead with Smarty Moonhak on the rail and Tough Win coming down the centre.

In the penultimate furlong Cho on Tough Win made his move and looked set to go past everyone. On the rail, Park Tae Jong did likewise on Smarty Moonhak. But Dangdae Bulpae was not for catching. Tough Win’s challenge stalled in the final furlong and he couldn’t improve his position while Smarty Moonhak, while faster than the winner just couldn’t make up the ground, Jumong finishing quickly to split the two favourites.

Jo Sung Gon reacts as Dangdae Bulpae crosses the finish line (Pic: Newsis)

It was a 15th career win for five-year old Korean bred Dangdae Bulpae, and his 7th Stakes victory, a Korean record. While everyone knew he could beat the best Korean bred horses, today for the first time, he beat the imported ones too. Dangdae Bulpae is now a true champion.

Tough Win doesn’t like Busan. He won narrowly two years ago and was badly beaten last year. How much his bleeding attack in his last outing took of him is still unclear but he wasn’t at his best today.

Then there is Smarty Moonhak. He ran well but, when chased after by his jockey for the first time in his career, he couldn’t quite do it. He was well placed in the home straight but surprisingly was found wanting. He will come back to Seoul and will be aimed at the season ending Grand Prix.

So is Smarty Moonhak not as good as we thought or is Dangdae Bulpae better than we thought? Maybe both but a few months ago, most observers had Smarty Moonhak gradually improving throughout the year before winning the Grand Prix in December.

He is ahead of schedule in that regard and is only three years old which in Korea, unlike in other parts of the world where the breeding shed is more important than the racecourse, is still very young. He has a long career ahead of him. With that in mind it is better for us, as fans of Korean racing to celebrate a great performance by an excellent Korean bred horse, Dangdae Bulpae.

Tough Win vs Smarty Moonhak – The Preview

It’s time! The race that we’ve been waiting for all year will take place under the floodlights at Busan Race Park this Sunday evening as Tough Win and Smarty Moonhak square-off in the Busan Metropolitan City Mayor’s Cup. Informally billed as the Summer Grand Prix, it’s the climax of the first half of the season in the same way that the actual Grand Prix – at Seoul in December – rounds off the year.

Tough Win takes the Grand Prix (KRA)

It was in the Grand Prix that Tough Win and Smarty Moonhak met for the first and only time to date. Tough Win won that day, with the late Mister Park beating the then two-year-old Smarty Moonhak into third place. Seven months on and things could very well be different this time.

It’s not a match-race. Last year’s winner Yeonseung Daero returns to try to defend his title while double President’s Cup winner Dangdae Bulpae is also among a field of twelve who will contest the 2000 metre race on Sunday.

Here is a full run-down of all the runners, starting with the big two (gate, name, pedigree (runs/1/2/3) sex, age, weight to carry):

Busan Metropolitan City Mayor’s Stakes (K.G3) – Busan Race Park – 2000M – Sunday July 22, 19:40

Tough Win (KRA)

6. Tough Win (USA) [Yonaguska – Maggie May’s Sword (Sword Dance)] (21/17/2/0) G 5 58Kg – Cho Kyoung Ho (Seoul)
Reigning Grand Prix champion and the best horse in Korea at the moment. He won this race as a three-year old in 2010 but then last year inexplicably got sucked into an early speed duel with Dangdae Bulpae and was exhausted by the time he reached the home straight.

That’s unlikely to happen this time as Cho Kyoung Ho has tended to keep him well back in the early stages of recent races. Tough Win suffered his first bleeding attack last time out while carrying a ridiculous 64kg and while the weight won’t be an issue here, just how much that race took out of him might be. He’s worked well though and is the one to beat.

Smarty Moonhak (KRA)

9. Smarty Moonhak (USA) [Smarty Jones – Maderira M’Dear (Black Tie Affair)] (10/8/1/1) C 3 55Kg – Park Tae Jong (Seoul)
We still have no idea how good this colt is. Aside from his debut, the only time he has had to work in a race was in the Grand Prix and, bearing in mind the distance of the race and his tender age at the time, he wasn’t pushed. His races this year have been little more than public workouts.

This will be his first run at Busan where the back straight is more undulating and the home straight longer than that at Seoul and how he deals with these will be key. With regular jockey Moon Jung Kyun injured, Park Tae Jong, who has ridden more winners than anybody else in Korean racing history, gets the ride. With no disrespect intended to Moon, this can only help his cause. In Korea, jockeys wear their own colours, so Park will be wearing blue.

1. Lion Santa (USA) [Lion Heart – Santa Fe Strip (Phone Trick)] (13/10/1/0) C 4 58Kg – Gerrit Schlechter (Busan)
Won his first nine starts but has only won once from three tries this year and has never even attempted further than 1800M. In Gerrit Schlechter, he has the track’s in-form jockey in board and the South African has picked this one over two others.
2. Cheonjidolpung (USA) [Tactical Cat – Luminate (A.P.Indy)] (34/5/0/4) G 7 58Kg – Seo Do Soo (Seoul)
His third consecutive year running in the race, he took advantage of the favourites’ mistakes to finish fourth last year. He will be hard pushed to equal that this year.
3. Yeonseung Daero (KOR) [Creek Cat – Sensationalkris (Cryptoclearance)] (42/16/8/5) H 6 55kg – Choi Si Dae (Busan)
A wonderful horse, one of the best ever at Busan. Took full advantage of Tough Win and Dangdae Bulpae’s mistakes last year to claim a career capping victory and his been winning since. He can never ever be counted out.
4. Adam One (USA) [Sligo Bay – Toddles (Real Courage)] (30/3/3/3) G 5 58Kg – Lee Gi Hweoi (Seoul)
Smarty Moonhak’s work and stablemate, he’s here because there was space both in the race and in the horsebox on the way down. The only horse in Ko Ok Bong’s stable who can keep up with Smarty Moonhak in trackwork, he’ll not be able to in the race.
5. Jeonseong Sidae (AUS) [Stromberg Carlsen – Jessie’s Journey (Crown Jester)] (13/6/4/3) C 4 58Kg – Jo Chang Wook (Busan)
Without a win this year but with plenty of talent. However, an outside chance of a place at best.
7. Dangdae Bulpae (KOR) [Biwa Shinseiki – Indeed My Dear (Alydeed)] (24/15/2/1) H 5 55Kg – Jo Sung Gon (Busan)
Last year’s favourite and the two-time President’s Cup winner. An in-form Dangdae Bulpae should be able to live with anybody, including Tough Win and Smarty Moonhak. Whether he can beat them though is another question entirely. Looking at it objectively, the conclusion must be that he can’t.
8. Sangseung Geotap (USA) [Indian Charle – Mirta (Theatrical)] (19/7/2/1) F 4 56Kg – Kanichiro Fujii (Busan)
The only filly in the race won the KNN Trophy last time out but the fact that Gerrit Schlechter has decided to get off her may say somethng about her chances here.
10. Smoking Gun (USA) [Hat Trick – Desdemona’s Dream (Announce)] (5/4/1/0) C 3 55Kg – Yukio Abe (Busan)
The wildcard. Lightly raced but very impressive, this may appear to be too much too soon. However, with Yukio Abe on board and a confident trainer (who also trains Lion Santa), he may be worth an outside bet for a place.
11. Jumong (USA) [Johar – Foreign Aid (Danzig)] (30/9/7/4) H 5 58Kg – Ham Wan Sik (Seoul)
A very solid competitor and half-brother to the late Subsidy, Jumong runs in all the big races. He looks overmatched but has every chance of finishing in a moneying position.
12. Ghost Whisper (KOR) [Gotham City – Emmy’s Lullaby (Unbridled’s Song)] (11/7/3/0) G 4 56Kg – Kim Yong Geun (Busan)
Australian trainer Peter Wolsley lets his new stable star take his chance here, the grey was disqualified last time but otherwise was on a run of three straight wins inclusing two at class 1. Kim Yong Geun is an able rider and he may be worth backing for a place.

Verdict: Tough Win is a very strong competitor and most believed that it would not be until later in the year that Smarty Moonhak would be able to challenge him. Neither has put a foot wrong this year but his progress has been such that Smarty Moonhak can be the one who leaves Busan with the title “Best Horse in Korea”.

* Last year’s Busan Metropolitan was a disaster for jockeys Cho Kyoung Ho and Jo Sung Gon on Tough Win and Dangdae Bulpae respectively. They both get a chance to put things right this year – here’s what happened:

Weekend Round-Up: Abe, Kosuke, Schlechter In-Form at Busan

Foreign Jockeys Win Five Of Six

It wasn’t a good Sunday for the local Jockeys’ Union in Busan. While apprentice rider Jeong Dong Cheol did manage to win race 2, he was the only Korean rider to score on the six-race card at the south-coast track as the visiting jockeys continued to show how things are done.

Winners: Yukio Abe

Yukio Abe, Narazaki Kosuke and Gerrit Schlechter had all ridden winners on Friday and it was the Japanese pair who led the way again today, each landing a double.

Abe guided one-time Korean Derby hopeful Predict (The Groom Is Red) to a five-length win in race 3 before landing the afternoon’s feature race on Champion Belt (Exploit).

Winners: Narazaki Kosuke

Kosuke meanwhile bookended the card with wins in race 1 on US filly Damyang Jukbuin (Harlan’s Holiday) and in race 6 on hot favourite Tamna Hwangje (Montbrook).

As for Schlechter, the South African came very close to pulling off a shock in the feature race on Peter Wolsley’s Khaosan (Sundaw Well), however, Champion Belt just had enough in him to hold off the ever-game seven-year old by a nose. Schlechter was not to be denied in race 4 though, partnering Jeoldae Jijon (Dixieland Band) to a similarly narrow win.

Although all three are relative newcomers to the track, Abe, Kosuke and Schlechter now make up three of the top four riders at Busan with Jo Sung Gon the only local able to compete with them. Wherther this inspires the local riders or simply fosters resentment remains to be seen. One thing that is for sure though, is that the visitors are getting the best rides because connections believe they are far more likely to help their horse win than the locals.

Winner: Gerrit Schlechter

How different to Seoul where Makoto Noda, who has been plugging away manfully for nearly a year now with little success, must look at his countrymen down south with something approaching envy. On the plus side, his license keeps on getting renewed, on the minus side, that may be because he doesn’t win very much. At least he gets plenty of rides. Some of the visitors, such as young JRA jockey Sho Ueno who went back to Japan last week, don’t even get that. Today, Noda was on plenty of horses but for the most part, they were slow horses.

Winner: Prime Galloper

Not slow was Prime Galloper (Strodes Creek), winner of the Sports Kyeonghyang Cup, Seoul’s Sunday feature race. Under veteran jockey Park Tae Jong, the four-year old scored a narrow win over Geuma Champ (Vicar) and Andy’s Runner (The Groom Is Red). It was his seventh win from eighteen career starts.

Saturday at Seoul saw feature race favourite Jumong (Johar) struggle under top weight for the second consecutive start. This time he went down to a four-length defeat at the hands of fellow US import Sing Sing Cat (D’Wildcat).

Stakes action returns to Seoul next Sunday in the shape of the Sports Chosun Cup. We also have potential appearances at Seoul by Tough Win and at Busan by Mister Park – the two top-rated horses on the peninsula.

Weekend Preview

Useung Touch Is Back / Jumong Carries Big Weight At Seoul / Grand Niner Bids For Fourth Win

It’s set to be the warmest weekend of the year so far and we’ve got plenty to keep us occupied across the peninsula.

Oaks Winner: Useung Touch is back at Busan this weekend

South African jockey Gerrit Schlechter will make his Busan debut on Friday and has a promising book of rides across the weekend including on Peter Wolsley’s Pnata Rhei (Stormy Atlantic) in Sunday’s feature.

That race sees 2011 Korean Oaks winner Useung Touch (Menifee) make her first appearance of the season while the impressive late developer Quantum (Ecton Park) is among a host of well-known names being dropped back for a a rare chance to race for a big prize over 6 furlongs.

Up at Seoul, there are class 1 tests on both Saturday and Sunday. Saturday’s looks more interesting with top weight Jumong (Johar) heading a reasonably challenging field that includes one-time Grand Prix Stakes runner-up Larrycat (Fantasticat) as well as the now past his best former Grand Prix winner Bally Brae (Yarrow Brae).

On Sunday at Seoul, plenty of eyes will be on US import Grand Niner (Any Given Saturday) who will be bidding to make it four wins from four starts in race 9.

Meanwhile down on Jeju Island, the ponies have one of their biggest races of the year in the shape of the Halla Ilbo Cup on Saturday afternoon.

Here’s what’s happening when and where:

Friday April 13

Busan Race Park: 10 races from 12:00 to 18:00
Jeju Race Park: 9 races from 13:30 to 17:30

Saturday April 14

Seoul Race Park: 12 races from 11:00 to 17:40
Jeju Race Park: 9 races from 12:20 to 17:10

Sunday April 15

Seoul Race Park: 10 races from 11:00 to 17:40
Busan Race Park: 6 races from 12:15 to 16:40

Tough Win Toys His Way To Easy Win

Anything Smarty Moonhak can do, Tough Win can do too. While the young upstart had romped to two easy victories already this year, the horse who beat him in the Grand Prix Stakes remained in the stables until today.

The Eyes Have It: Tough Win

Eleven rivals showed up to face him, chief among them Jumong (Johar) but Tough Win, despite carrying the maximum 63kg, was sent off long odds-on favourite.

Just as in the Grand Prix last year and in contrast to his earlier starts, Cho Kyoung Ho kept Tough Win right at the back of the field. At one point, the pair were at least 20 lengths off the pace although with Jo In Kwen keeping Jumong well back too, there was little in front to concern the favourite.

They improved around the home turn and then, after a couple of taps entering the home straight, Tough Win sprinted away from the field. Cho eased him down throughout the final furlong and the favourite was practically down to a trot as he crossed the line five lengths ahead of Jumong.

It’s 15 wins from 19 starts for Tough Win now but other than knowing he’s in godd shape, we learned very little today. Indeed, everything he and Smarty Moonhak do in these handicaps seems little more than empty posturing leading up until the time they finally clash again.

Two years ago, eveyone was anticipating Dongbanui Gangja vs Tough Win. When it arrived, it was a disappointment as the unruly double Grand Prix winner pulled an Orfevre. The anticipation for this next one, with Mister Park in the mix too, is far greater.

The clash could come at Busan and, down on the south coast today there were co-feature races. Akane Yamamoto continued her recent run of form in big handicaps by winning the first on Money Tree (Medallist). Running third in the race was 2009 Minister’s Cup winner Namdo Jeap (Ft. Stockton). It was the former champion’s first placed finish for a year and the first on Korea for his jockey, Narazaki Kosuke.

* Next week it’s Seoul vs Busan for the first time in 2012 as some of the peninsula’s best fillies and mares come to the capital for the Ttukseom Cup.

Weekend Preview: Tough Win Returns

Reigning Grand Prix Stakes champion Tough Win makes his 2012 debut in the pick of the action on a busy weekend of racing in Korea.

Tough Win takes the Grand Prix ahead of Mister Park (r) and Smarty Moonhak (l) Pic: Newsis

Now five-years old, Tough Win (Yonaguska) is making his first appearance since ending the record-breaking win-streak of Mister Park and downing the young upstart Smarty Moonhak in the finale to last season at Seoul Racecourse.

With 14 wins from his 18 career starts, Tough Win is one of the biggest stars of recent years and he will, as ever, be partnered by jockey Cho Kyoung Ho who is himself returning from a six-week injury lay-off.

Up against Tough Win will be Jumong (Johar) and the pair of them will be carrying significantly more weight then the rest of the field; Tough Win the maximum 63Kg and Jumong 60.5Kg.

Both have proved more than capable of dealing with these imposts in the past although should they have problems, Sing Sing Cat (D’Wildcat) and Mass Media’s Tea (Mass Media) could be outside picks to take advantage in the 1900 metre Handicap.

There’s plenty of other action to keep us occupied too on what is set to be the warmest weekend of the year so far (although that is not saying a whole lot), including Japanese jockey Narazaki Kosuke debuting at Busan as well as the first Stakes race of the year for the ponies on Jeju Island.

Here’s what’s happening when and where:

Friday March 16

Busan Race Park: 10 races from 12:00 to 18:00
Jeju Race Park: 9 races from 13:30 to 17:30

Saturday March 17

Seoul Race Park: 12 races from 11:00 to 17:20
Jeju Race Park: 9 races from 12:20 to 17:20

Sunday March 18

Seoul Race Park: 11 races from 11:00 to 17:40
Busan Race Park: 7 races from 12:15 to 16:40

Geumbi Gets The Glory At Last

She was a Stakes runner-up on three occasions last year but today at Seoul Race Park, Geumbi was a Class 1 winner at last.

Geumbi and Moon Se Young Return Winners at Seoul

The Segye Ilbo Cup, The Owners’ Trophy and the Gwacheon Mayor’s Cup all ended in second place finishes for Geumbi as she went through 2011 without a win but never being lower than third in her six starts.

She began 2012 finishing fourth to Jumong last month and today was sent off as second favourite in the feature race to the same horse.

However, this time Jumong (Johar) was carrying an extra 3Kg. It proved to be too much for the five-year old. Geumbi (Ecton Park) broke last of the full field of fourteen but, under a perfect ride by Moon Se Young, was kept on the rail throughout and quickened as they entered the home straight before eventually running out as winner by a length and a half from Jewang Tansaeng (Petionville).

This may have been her first win since the autumn of 2010 but it was Geumbi’s fifth triumph from fifteen career starts and she has never been out of the money. A big year could lie ahead.

On the subject of big years, it seems almost certain that Champion jockey Moon Se Young is going to have another one. Although he had to wait until race 7 to get off the mark today, he was in imperious form, winning a further two to take his total for the season to sixteen.

Seungniuihamseong gives Moon Se Young the second of his three wins

As has been mentioned on this blog time and again recently, the standard of riding at Seoul is getting better all the time and Moon is doing his part to make sure the bar the newcomers need to reach is being set higher and higher.

Finally today, a mention for five-year old Seolmaseolma (Sunday Well). She went into today’s final race a 36/1 outsider having failed to triumph in any of her previous twenty-seven starts. The tiny little mare made a mockery of those odds by swooping late to grab her first ever victory by a full length. Sometimes in this game, persistence pays off.

Tomorrow sees attention turn to Busan as the record-breaking Mister Park makes his season debut, carrying a back-busting 62.5Kg in the track’s feature. Meanwhile at Seoul, colt Magnifique will be looking for his fourth straight win in the feature race while Classic hopeful Cheoneun makes her first attempt at the Derby distance of 1800M. It promises to be another fascinating day.

Sunday February 5

Seoul Race Park: 11 races from 11:00 to 17:40
Busan Race Park: 8 races from 11:50 to 16:40