Herald Business Trophy: Moonhak Chief, Winner’s Man – Horse-By-Horse Preview of Stayer Series 1st Leg

Korea Cup and Grand Prix Stakes winner Moonhak Chief squares off with last year’s Korean Derby winner Winner’s Man in a battle of the generations in the Herald Business Trophy (2000M-Listed) at Seoul Racecourse on Sunday afternoon.

Can Moonhak Chief return to the top? (Pic: KRA)

In many ways it is an up-and-comers race. Five of the thirteen have yet to win at class 1 level, while three have won just the once at class 1. The remaining five have won twice or more at the top level.

Yet the old guard is headed by Moonhak Chief, who swept all before him in 2019, wining the International Korea Cup in the summer before finishing off that year by taking the season-ending Grand Prix Stakes. That was a long time ago but while failed to retain his Grand Prix title, he has remained a force to be reckoned with and was on target in a class 1 handicap three starts back and at his latest appearance, ran a good 2nd to President’s Cup winner Simjangui Godong.

Winner’s Man was a good winner of the Korean Derby and in his only start as a four-year-old so far, ran out a class 1 winner at this distance at Busan. The Herald Business marks his first real test among the elite.

Touch Star Man and Jeongmun Sai are among the others in the field likely to attract attention. Here’s a full run-down of all the runners:

1. GOOD PILSEUNG (USA) [Distorted Humor – Rossezza (Megdalia d’Oro)] – A winner of five from ten and last ran in February when he won at 1800M at class 2 level. Trialed up pleasingly in March, draws well and carries a light weight, but this is a big step up.

2. SHAMROCKER (USA) [Dublin – Portera (Lemon Drop Kid)] – A stalwart of Seoul, the nine-year-old has just the six wins but forty-two top-five finishes from fifty-two starts. Has run – and found the money – in almost every big race he has been eligible for. Excellent 4th in last year’s KRA Cup Classic but finished midfield in three starts since. Weight not ideal.

3. YAHO SMART CAT (KOR) [One Cool Cat – Fly Top (Petionville)] – It’s been a while since his last win and more than a year since his last placing finish. Has been running in sprints so hard to know what t make of him here but he will be among the longest shots on the board.

4. JEONGMUN SAI (KOR) [Simon Pure – Kayville (Giant’s Causeway)] – A revelation at the end of last year with a 4th place in the President’s Cup and 3rd in the Grand Prix. Has begun this season with 6th in the Segye Ilbo before a good 3rd at this distance at class 1 level. May not be a winning chance here but could go close. Settles back and runs on.

5. GREAT KING (USA) [Majestic Warrior – Margaret Smile (Concerto)] – Another old warrior whose best days might be behind him but is still capable of putting in a performance, including two starts back when 4th behind Winner’s Man. Can settle handy here and be in this a long way but a minor money finish would be an excellent result.

6. BOLT MAN (USA) [Midshipman – Just A Flash (Henny Hughes)] – He is the lowest rated in the race but has been prolific at the lower levels and while his wins haven’t been by huge margins, he has run good times. He comes out to 2000M, but he runs on in his races, he draws nicely and is down in the weights and could be an each-way prospect here. Tactically versatile and with a strong finish.

7. WINNER’S MAN (KOR) [Musket Man – Winner’s Marine (Volponi)] – He won the 2021 Korean Derby at this track and while he was then beaten in the Minister’s Cup, he was a winner on his only start so far this year which came over this distance at Busan on March 13th. He draws nicely, gets some weight from rivals and has every chance. Expect him to be on pace or handy.

8. MOONHAK CHIEF (USA) [Pioneerof The Nile – Tallulah Lula (Old Trieste)] – A Korea Cup and Grand Prix Stakes winner and while he is carrying 59kg, shouldn’t be ruled out. At his latest start, he led under 60kg, ultimately running 2nd to Simjangui Godong and he will be better suited under today’s non-handicap conditions. He’ll be handy in the run and could win

9. TOUCH STAR MAN (KOR) [Testa Matta – Useung Touch (Menifee)] – An excellent 2nd in the Grand Prix Stakes over 2300M at this track in December, he returned to run 4th in the Segye Ilbo at a sprint distance in January, showing his versatility. Finished an underwhelming 6th behind Winner’s Man when sent off as favourite on March 13th over this distance at Busan. At his best, he is a winning chance here, but he can be hard to catch on his day.

10. BRIGADIER GENERAL (AUS) [Tapit – Amature’s Prize (Pure Prize)] – A horse who is perhaps better than his win-record suggests. He has a tendency to get a bit far back, a bit far wide, and find a bit too much trouble. Nevertheless, he runs on well and will be doing his best work late on. With a touch of luck in running, he can be close.

11. HEUK JEONSA (KOR) [Flat Out – Ballad Of Bertie (Saint Ballardo)] – A three-time class 1 winner over 1800M and has been placed in his latest two starts at this distance, the latest of them being a 3rd behind Simjangui Godong and Moonhak Chief. He is not favoured at the weights under today’s conditions, but can run a big race, nonetheless

12. WANG BEOTKKOT (USA) [ Discreet Cat – Folk (Quiet American)] – Yet to win at class 1 level but he has proved his credentials with an excellent 3rd in the Owners’ Cup at Busan over a mile last November and then kicking off this year with a solid 2nd place over 1800M. in February when handy throughout. He steps up to 2000M for the first time and while others are favoured, he can be competitive.

13. MUNHAK TIGER (USA) [To Honor And Serve – A Precious Memory (Honor Grades)] – It’s been a long time since his attest win and his last run of note was a 4th place behind Moonhak Chief four starts back. In company with Yaho Smart Cat, he will be one of the two big outsiders.

Selections: (7) Winner’s Man (8) Moonhak Chief (11) Heuk Jeonsa (6) Bolt Man

Easy For Clean Up Joy In YTN Cup

It always looked a mismatch and so it proved as Clean Up Joy effortlessly won the YTN Cup at Seoul Racecourse on Sunday afternoon.

Ultimately it was an exceptionally well-paid workout for the 2016 Grand Prix Stakes winner who moves on to three for three this year, without being seriously tested in any of them.

This time, as expected, the only semblance of a challenge came from stablemate Shamrocker, whose jockey Kim Yong Geun pulled off a rather audacious move around the field in the back-straight to come to challenge Clean Up Joy. The two then moved well clear of the rest of the field before Clean Up Joy pulled away with a furlong to go and won with plenty in hand.

Clean Up Joy moves onto 14 wins from 24 starts and five consecutively. There’s little to challenge him at Seoul.

YTN Cup – Seoul Racecourse – 2000M – May 28, 2017

1. Clean Up Joy (USA) [Purge – Greta’s Joy (Joyeux Danseur)] – Djordje Perovic – 1.1, 1.0
2. Shamrocker (USA) [Dublin – Portera (Lemon Drop Kid)] – Kim Yong Geun – 1.2
3. Clean Up Cheonha (USA) [El Corredor – Loh Callado (More Than Ready)] – Lee Hyeok – 3.9
Distances: 4 lengths/11 lengths
Also Ran: 4. Sotong Sidae (KOR) 5. Unbeatable (USA) 6. Cheonjeok (USA) 7. Bichui Jeongsang (USA) 8. Winner Red (USA) 9. Argo Brain (USA) 10. Hwanggeumbiyul (USA) 11. Samjeong Jeguk (USA)

At Busan, Bart Rice and Darryll Holland combined to land the big race of the day, a Championship Series event over 2000M with Buhwarui Banseok.

Buhwarui Banseok (Tizway-Aim For The Moon) is a four-year-old colt who was winning for 6th time in 15 starts and scoring his second triumph at class 1.

150-Up Perovic As Shamrocker & Champ Line Win Well At Seoul & Busan

Djordje Perovic rode his 150th Korean winner at Seoul Racecourse on Sunday afternoon and not many of them will have been easier than the landmark one which arrived on Shamrocker in the 2300M Championship Series feature.


Djordje Perovic returns to scale on Shamrocker

Possibly the biggest challenge for Perovic on Sunday would have been the 52kg weight assigned to the on the up Shamrocker but once that was made there was only likely to be one winner in the race which was run over the maximum distance used at Seoul. After a steady start, Shamrocker hit the front early in the home straight and cantered away from the field to win by six lengths on the line.

It had taken Shamrocker (Dublin), a $30,000 purchase as a 2-year-old at OBS in Florida, eight starts to get his maiden victory but yesterday’s was his fifth in total and second consecutive at class 1. He could have a big summer ahead of him.

Djordje Perovic could well have a big summer ahead of him too. Shamrocker was his 31st victory of 2017 and leaves him five clear of perennial champion Moon Se Young at the top of the standings. With Moon set to spend at least three months of this year in Singapore, Perovic is in pole position to become the first foreign jockey to claim the Seoul championship.

150 wins also ties Perovic with Joe Fujii – who spent Saturday watching Winx disappear into the distance at Rosehill – in 2nd place in the all-time foreign jockey standings in Korea.

Down at Busan a foreign jockey was on top too with Yonekura Satoshi winning Sunday’s feature – also a Championship Series race – over 2200M. It came on Thomas Gillespie’s Champ Line over what was a high class Busan field.

Success Story, as ever, set the early pace but was always likely to struggle to maintain it over the extended distance and so it proved as a host of horses swept by him in the closing stages.

It was Champ Line who did it the most convincingly, running on very strongly for victory by almost three lengths. Places 2nd-6th came home within a half-length of each other, surprisingly headed by 100/1 outsider Bathsheba Park, who was given an enterprising ride by Marios Mina.

Champ Line (Curlin) moves on to 10 wins from 19 starts and is on a four-race winning streak and heads an impressively effective string that has been put together by talented trainer Gillespie.

Weekend Review: Shamrocker, Saengil Gippeum Step-Up

A couple of imports stepped up in class at Seoul and Busan on Sunday afternoon and turned in the star performances of the weekend.

At Seoul, Shamrocker [Dublin – Portera (Lemon Drop Kid)] may only have been winning for the third time in eleven starts but since he’s begun racing at distances around two turns, that figure is now three from four. On Sunday he stepped up to class 2 for the first time and cruised home from off the pace under jockey Lee Chan Ho to win the 1800M event by four lengths. Shamrocker is a 3-year-old colt who was a $30,000 purchase from Ocala last Spring.

Down at Busan Diferent Dimension, who beat Triple Nine last start, was sent off as favourite for Sunday’s feature handicap – a class 1 test for horses rated no higher than 100 – however, he never traveled well and instead it was left to the up in class pair of Saengil Gippeum and Dongbang Daero to battle it out. On the line, Saengil Gippeum got the best of their battle, taking advantage of a light weight and apprentice jockey (Lyu Gwang Hee) to win by a head.

Saengil Gippeum [Parading – Minny’s Niece (Quiet American)], purchased for $18,000 from Fasig-Tipton as a yearling in 2014, has now won five of his last six starts.

In other news, a couple of apprentice jockeys debuted at the weekend. At Busan, Lee Hyo Sik and Choi Eun Gyeung both had one ride each and were unplaced.  At Seoul, Lee Dong Ha had four rides across the two days with a 5th place finish being the best of them.

This coming Sunday, a little bit of Korean racing history is up for grabs as KRA Cup Mile and Korean Derby winner Power Blade returns to Seoul looking to win the Minister’s Cup and become the first winner of the Korean Triple Crown in its current form. Not a single Seoul horse is set to compete so Power Blade will be up against seven other visitors from Busan including stablemate and Korean Oaks winner Ottug Ottugi in the 2000M race. Full previews of the race to follow.