Smarty Moonhak

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:

Tough Win, Smarty Moonhak Set For Busan Metro Showdown

Dangdae Bulpae, Yeonseung Daero, Lion Santa, Smoking Gun Also Go In “Summer Grand Prix”

It’s been confirmed that Grand Prix Stakes winner and current top-rated horse in Korea Tough Win (Yonaguska) and the horse considered his closest challenger, Smarty Moonhak (Smarty Jones), will both travel to Busan on July 22nd for the Busan Metropolitan City Mayor’s Stakes.

The “Troika”: Tough Win (centre) will be up against Smarty Moonhak (left) in the Busan Metropolitan. The late Mister Park (right), who split them in the Grand Prix, is sorely missed

The race, the south coast’s richest is also known as the “Summer Grand Prix” and it will see Tough Win and Smarty Moonhak face each other for the first time since last December when the then two-year-old Smarty Moonhak finished third behind the victorious Tough Win in the nation’s most prestigious race.

Tough Win was a narrow winner of this race as a three-year-old in 2010. However returning to Busan last year and sent off as the heavy favourite, he inexplicably became involved in an early speed duel with Dangdae Bulpae. This left both horses exhausted in the home straight and allowed Yeonseung Daero to come through for the win.

Yeonseung Daero (Creek Cat) will also be back this year as will Dangdae Bulpae (Biwa Shinseiki), now a two-time President’s Cup winner. Aussie-bred Jeonseong Sidae (Stromberg Carlson) will be there as will prolific winner Lion Santa (Lion Heart) and young US import Smoking Gun (Hat Trick).

While this race is the biggest of the year so far and the clash between Smarty Moonhak and Tough Win the most eagerly awaited since Tough Win himself then the upstart, faced Dongbanui Gangja in the same race two years ago, there is nevertheless a touch of sadness surrounding the occasion.

Were it not for the break-down and death of Mister Park during his tune-up race last month, this would have been a three-way rematch from the Grand Prix. We still have a great race but we will also be remembering the record-breaking champion.

Here are the entries:

Busan Metropolitian City Stakes – Busan Race Park – 2000M, July 22, 2012

Jeonseong Sidae (AUS) [Stromberg Carlson-Jessie’s Journey (Crwon Jester)] (13/6/4/3) Busan
Yeonseung Daero (KOR) [Creek Cat-Sensationalkris (Cryptoclearance)] (42/16/8/5) Busan
Sangseung Geotap (USA) [Indian Charlie-Mirta (Theatrical)] (19/7/2/1) Busan
Smoking Gun (USA) [Hat Trick-Desdemona’s Dream (Announce)] (5/4/1/0) Busan
Lion Santa (USA) [Lion Heart-Santa Fe Strip (Phone Trick)] (13/10/1/0) Busan
Dangdae Bulpae (KOR) [Biwa Shinseiki-Indeed My Dear (Alydeed)] (24/15/2/1) Busan
Gamdonguibada (USA) [Werblin-Radyla (Country Pine)] (7/4/2/1) Busan
Smarty Moonhak (USA) [Smarty Jones-Madeira M’Dear (Black Tie Affair)] (10/8/1/1) Seoul
Tough Win (USA) [Yonaguska-Maggie May’s Sword (Sword Dance)] (21/17/2/0) Seoul
Adam One (USA) [Sligo Bay-Toddles (Real Courage)] (30/3/3/3) Seoul
Jumong (USA) [Johar-Foreign Aid (Danzig)] (30/9/7/4) Seoul
Cheonjidolpung (USA) [Tactical Cat-Luminate (A.P.Indy)] (34/5/0/4) Seoul

Haedongcheonwang Looking Smart In MBN Cup

Impressive Win By US Colt Some Feel Could Challenge Smarty Moonhak

Haedongcheonwang announced his arrival among the elite at Seoul Race Park today as he cruised to a six-length win in the MBN Cup.

One of the most highly rated three-year old imports in Korea, Haedongcheonwang was surprisingly beaten in the JRA Trophy last month. However, he made no mistake today as he left the rest of the class 1 MBN Cup field trailing with a sharp burst of acceleration at the top of the home-straight.

Filly Kkochyeoul, who had set the early pace, was second while old-stager and outsider Mr. Loving Life finished third.

Haedongcheonwang moves on to five wins from seven starts and is looked on by some as a possible challenger to Smarty Moonhak, currently the most exciting horse at Seoul, later in the year. That is a little way off and at the moment Smarty Moonhak would definitely have the edge. However, on today’s form, if Haedongcheonwang continues to improve, he is going to be very dangerous.

MBN Cup – Seoul Race Park – 1900M – June 17, 2012

1. Haedongcheonwang (USA) [West Acre – Sienna’s Honor (Honor Grades)] – Lee Joon Chel – 1.6, 1.0
2. Kkochyeoul (USA) [Essence Of Dubai – A Star Has Rosen (Rock Band)] – Park Sang Woo – 2.1
3. Mr. Loving Life (USA) [Full Mandate – Indeed Yes (Shadeed)] – Lee Hyeok – 3.1

Distances: 6 lengths/2.5 lengths – 8 ran

Down at Busan where it was just as hot as the sweltering capital, there were co-features races. The first of those saw an eye-catching win by Pokpung Jilju (Greatness). The US bred four-year old led from gate to wire in the 2000 metre handicap to score a twelve length win.

The second co-feature was a 1300 metre sprint and it was a slightly closer affair as filly Haengunui Mannam (Creek Cat) landed victory by just under a length from Money Hunter (Golden Missile).

It was a surprisingly quiet day on the foreign jockey front with only Yukio Abe recording a winner. Gerrit Schlechter had recovered from the sickness that ruled him out of all but the first of his rides on Friday, however, the South African didn’t come close to a winner today.

Next week, Stakes action returns to Seoul in the shape of the Sports Seoul Cup, the track’s primary trial for the Korean Oaks which will be run at Busan in August.

Gamdonguibada Lands The Gukje Sinmun Cup While Smarty Moonhak Keeps On Winning At Seoul

The only filly and one of just three three-year-olds in a field of thirteen, Gamdonguibada (Werblin) announced her arrival in Korean racing in fine fashion by winning the Gukje Sinmun Cup at Busan this afternoon.

Coming into the race off the back of a fine second place in the Ttukseom Cup at Seoul, Gamdonguibada was sent off the 5/1 third-favourite behind last year’s winner Lion Santa (Lion Heart) who entered the race not only as defending champion, but also with a record of 10 wins from 12 career starts.

Today never looked likely to be win number 11 for Lion Santa though. After getting caught out of position on the final turn, the four-year old offered nothing in the sprint and finished a shocking second from last.

Up at the business end of the race, Gamdonguibada, always well-placed, came with a fast run down the rail to overhaul long-time leader Prince Kingdom (Roar Of The Tiger) in the final furlong and stretched out to a two-length win. Aussie import Jeonseong Sidae (Stromberg Carlson) was third.

With the win, Gamdonguibada, a $31,000 purchase from Ocala last year, has cemented her position as the top three-year old import at Busan so far this season.

Gukje Sinmun Cup – Busan Race Park – May 6, 2012

1. Gamdonguibada (USA) [Werblin – Radyla (Country Pine)] – Kim Yong Geun – 5.7, 2.0
2. Prince Kingdom (USA) [Roar Of The Tiger – Special Wife (Husband)] – You Hyun Myoung – 3.6
3. Jeonseong Sidae (AUS) [Stromberg Carlson – Jessie’s Journey (Crown Jester)] – Choi Si Dae – 1.8

Distances: 2 lengths/0.5 lengths
Also Ran: 4. Sand Hi (USA) 5. Gulf Grouper (USA) 6. Admiral Reigart (USA) 7. Dangdae Champ (NZ) 8. Full Forest (USA) 9. Seonnyang Yongsa (AUS) 10. Jungwon Jepae (AUS) 11. Yeonseung Daero (KOR) 12. Lion Santa (USA) 13. Killian’s Tiger (USA)

On a bright but blustery day in Seoul the main attraction was, of course, Smarty Moonhak (Smarty Jones). The three-year-old was making his fourth appearance of the year and, having been sent off at odds of 1/9, he made light of his 61kg impost and short work of thirteen rivals to win the 2000 metre handicap by nine lengths.

On The Turn: The only time the field were level with Smarty Moonhak was in the paddock

The general feeling among the track is that if his rematch with Tough Win, the horse who beat him in the Grand Prix in December was to take place at level weights tomorrow, the older horse may still just about have the advantage.

Given an extra month or two, if Smarty Moonhak continues with his current development, there will be no contest. Smarty Moonhak moves onto 8 wins from 10 career starts.

We’re just two weeks away from the Korean Derby. Unfortunately, Smarty Moonhak, as an import, will not be allowed to compete. On Kentucky Derby weekend, many have questioned whether a horse of his talent would have been better served being shipped back to the US to take his chances on the Derby trail.

In reality, the time he spent in Korea being trained for Korean racing would have put him at a massive disadvantage compared with his native contemporaries. He is naturally very gifted and, had he stayed home, who knows what may have happened. Of course, we can ask that question about any horse who goes anywhere. As it is, it’s unlikely we’ll ever be seeing Smarty Moonhak able to compete internationally.

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

Oaks Winner Back In Touch

Useung Touch Makes Successful Return At Busan / Grand Niner Wins Again / Lee Ah Na, Kim Hae Sun Double At Seoul

Useung Touch returned to action for the first time in five months and last year’s Korean Oaks winner didn’t disappoint as she got the best of a stretch duel with older horse Quantum to win the feature race at Busan this afternoon.

The outstanding Korean filly of last year, Useung Touch (Menifee) finished second in both the Korean Derby and in the final classic of the season, the Minister’s Cup.

Despite her last appearance having been in the President’s Cup at Seoul last November, punters were confident enough in her ability to send her off second favourite behind Quantum (Ecton Park), a later-starting five-year old who had won six of his nine starts to date, in the 1400 metre feature race.

It would be those two who would battle it out over the final furlong with Useung Touch just managing to get her nose in front at the right time to claim victory by a head.

Useung Touch now has six wins from her twelve career starts and could be an interesting addition to the big summer handicaps.

Lee Ah Na returns to scale after landing the second of her two winners at Seoul today

Up at Seoul there was a little bit of history as two female jockeys landed doubles for what was, as far as anybody at the track could remember, the first time ever.

First year apprentice Lee Ah Na won race 1 on racecallers’ nightmare I Love You (Chief Pete) before following up with a fine ride on Cheonseung (Chief Pete) to claim race 6 and take her career tally to ten winners.

This means that she has ridden out the first of her weight allowances and from now on will only be able to claim 3Kg.

Earlier this year, Kim Hae Sun rode out her allowance completely – the quickest Korean woman ever to do so. Naturally, things have been a little tougher since, but she has continued to consistently ride winners. Today she got two more, first on Miracle Party (Biwa Shinseiki) in race 2 (for Korea’s only female trainer, Lee Shin Young) and then in the last on Cheopgyeong (Vicar).

Kim and Lee are at the forefront of the new wave of very good young riders at Seoul (so far it’s not been repeated so much at Busan) and look on course to become the first Korean women to really break through to challenge the top riders for the top rides.

While the official feature race at Seoul was won by favourite Khanui Huye (The Groom Is Red) most eyes were on race 9 and the fourth appearance for the as yet unbeaten US import Grand Niner (Any Given Saturday).

He’s still unbeaten. Under Oh Kyoung Hoan, he led from gate to wire and while the jockey did chosse to give him some reminders in the home straight, he recorded a relatively comfortable two length win.

Runner-up was in the 1900 metre race was Es Four (Smarty Jones). There is currently only one other horse by Smarty Jones running in Korea and while Smarty Moonhak’s connections will not be overly intimidated by what they saw today, if Grand Niner continues to improve, he will be competing at the highest level very soon.

* South African Gerrit Schlechter was unable to land a winner on his first weekend of riding at Busan, however, Japanese newcomer Yukio Abe was on target, guiding Lunar Spike (Malibu Moon) to a battling victory in race 3.

* Busan’s co-feature race went the way of US four-year old Viva Ace (Macho Uno) – his eigth win in sixteen starts.

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

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.

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.