Moon Jung Kyun

Weekend Preview: Weighty Task for Smarty Moonhak / Gukje Sinmun Stakes at Busan

Smarty Set To Extend Winning Streak At Seoul / Lion Santa Defends Gukje Sinmun At Busan

Smarty Moonhak (Smarty Jones) makes his fourth appearance of 2012 at Seoul Race Park this coming Sunday and the three-year-old phenom will need to be strong as he will carry 61Kg over 2000 metres in the feature handicap.

Smarty Goes Again: Smarty Moonhak runs on Sunday

Regardless of the weight, he still shouldn’t have much trouble seeing off the 13 horses who will challenge him. The best class 1’s have stayed away leaving Jewang Tansaeng (Petionville) the next highest rated in the race.

Few will bet against Smarty Moonhak extending his record to 8 wins from 10 starts, nor against jockey Moon Jung Kyun once more not needing to use his stick, as he builds up for his eventual showdown with Grand Prix champion Tough Win.

Down at Busan there is Stakes action on Sunday in the shape of the Gukje Sinmun Cup. This time last year, Lion Santa (Lion Heart) won this race to maintain his then unbeaten record and have people talk about him in the same way that they talk about Smarty Moonhak now.

It didn’t quite work out though and he proved to be beatable. However, he’s only lost twice in twelve career starts and has every right to be favourite here. The evergreen Yeonseung Daero (Creek Cat) will be out to stop him as will proven winners Full Forest (Full Mandate), Dangdae Champ (Falkirk) and Jeonseong Sidae (Stromberg Carlson).

Yeonseung Daero – out to beat Lion Santa in the Gukje Sinmun

It should be a cracking race. Yukio Abe is suspended this weekend, but both Gerrit Schlechter and Narazaki Kosuke have rides in the big race.

Schlechter, who has 10 rides across the weekend will ride venerable old-stager Admiral Reigart (General Royal) while Kosuke (who has 13 rides) gets the mount on the in-form Sand Hi (Stormy Atlantic) who, on recent form, must be in with as chance.

Here’s what’s happening when and where on what is set to be a beautiful weekend in Korea:

Friday May 4

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

Saturday May 5

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

Sunday May 6

Seoul Race Park: 10 races from 11:00 to 17:45 – Smarty Moonhak will race at 17:15.
Busan Race Park: 6 races from 12:15 to 16:45 including the Gujke Sinmun Stakes at 15:50

Smarty Moonhak Strolls In The Sunshine

Smarty Moonhak went for a jog in the Spring sunshine at Seoul Race Park this afternoon and returned with his third class 1 win of 2012.

The three-year old colt was sent off the long-odds on favourite for the 2000 metre feature race and, despite carrying more than 4 kilos more than any of his rivals, led from gate to wire to score victory by five lengths.

As in his last outing race last month, Smarty Moonhak [Smarty Jones-Madeira M’Dear (Black Tie Affair)] barely needed to raise a canter and jockey Moon Jung Kyun was able to remain motionless throughout what was in the end was little more than a timed workout.

Behind him, Jisanggunju (Eddington) held off KJ Khan (Squirtle Squirt) for second in what might as well have been a different race.

Since getting beaten in his first start, Smarty Moonhak has won seven races with the Grand Prix being his only defeat. He hasn’t been pushed in any of these – even in the Grand Prix, given his tender age and the distance he was running, his jockey was careful not to push him too hard.

Only Tough Win, the horse who beat Smarty Moonhak in the Grand Prix Stakes last December, is now ranked higher than him at Seoul. At Busan Mister Park, who finished second in that Grand Prix, could perhaps still give him a race. Until these three meet again though, likely to happen in the Busan Metropolitan Stakes in the summer, there is little to keep him amused in the capital.

And until they meet again, we won’t have any clue as to how good Smarty Moonhak really is. The $14,000 purchase from the 2010 Keeneland September Yearling sale has now amassed nearly 400 Million Won of prize money. If he stays sound, he could go on to break all sorts of records.

At Busan tomorrow it is the big one. The KRA Cup Mile – the “Korean 2000 Guineas” – is the first leg of the 2012 Korean Triple Crown (which is only open to Korean bred horses) and comes under orders at 3:50pm.

Immediately after the Cup Mile is the Macau Jockey Club Trophy which brings together two highly rated unbeaten imports Pure Future (Simon Pure) and Smoking Gun (Hat Trick). Could one of those two go on to challenge Smarty Moonhak later in the year? We’ll know a little more tomorrow afternoon.

Sunday April 8

Seoul Race Park: 10 races from 11:00 to 17:50
Busan Race Park: 6 races from 12:15 to 16:50 including the KRA Cup Mile at 15:50 and the MJC Trophy at 16:50

Too Simple For Smarty Moonhak

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.

Smarty Moonhak in the Winner's Circle at Seoul today

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.

Weekend Preview: Smarty Moonhak at Seoul, Classic Hopefuls at Busan

It’s March and there has been a definite spring-like feel to the weather on the peninsula over the past few days. On the track it’s set to be a big start to the month as Korea’s current hottest racing property, Smarty Moonhak (Smarty Jones) makes his second appearance of 2012.

After dispatching two-time Grand Prix Stakes winner and former horse of the year Dongbanui Gangja by ten lengths in his last outing, the three-year old should have little difficulty seeing off a less than daunting class 1 field in Sunday’s 2000 metre feature handicap.

Moon Jung Kyun gets the mount on Smarty Moonhak

Smarty Moonhak will be carrying 59Kg and will for the first time be ridden by Moon Jung Kyun instead of previous regular Shim Seung Tae.

Best known for riding J.S. Hold to the Korean Triple Crown in 2007, Moon has taken over as stable jockey for trainer Ko Ok Bong with Shim moving to Kim Ho. As jockeys in Korea ride in their own colours instead of those of the owners, it will mean a slightly different look for the horse.

So long as the weight isn’t a problem few of his rivals seem likely to be.

On Saturday, Singgeureounachim (Exploit) headlines the feature race while top-rated three-year old filly Cheoneun (Forest Camp) goes over the Derby distance of 1800 metres in race 9.

Down at Busan, Friday sees Classic prospects Gyeongbudaero (Menifee) and Good Time (Yehudi), last year’s champion Juvenile, attempt the Derby distance for the first time in race 9.

There are co-features on Sunday. Aussie colt Jeonseong Sidae (Stromberg Carlson) headlines the first of these while both Peter Wolsley and Joe Murphy saddle contenders in the second in the shape of Pnata Rhei (Stormy Atlantic) and Ganghan Yeoja (Lethal Instrument) in the six furlong sprint.

Here’s what’s happening when and where:

Friday March 2

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

Saturday March 3

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

Sunday March 4

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