Viva Ace

Beolmaui Kkum Beats Gamdonguibada in Gukje Sinmun Stakes

There was a surprise of sorts at Busan Race Park this afternoon as Beolmaui Kkum handed a comprehensive defeat to Gamdonguibada to win the Gujke Sinmun Stakes.

With three-time President’s Cup winner Dangdae Bulpae (Biwa Shinseiki) a late scratching after being found lame this morning, Grand Prix Stakes winning filly Gamdonguibada (Werblin) was left as the overwhelming favourite in what was now just a seven-horse race.

However, it was 3-year old US import Beolmaui Kkum (Put It Back) who despite veering wide coming out of the stalls, took the honors in emphatic style, leading from gate to wire and crossing the line a full 5 lengths clear of the field.

Gamdounguibada couldn’t even manage second as the always game Viva Ace (Macho Uno) put in another strong performance.

Beolmaui Kkum is a full-brother of multiple Korean Stakes winner Kkakjaengi. He was bought for just $20,000 at the 2011 Fasig Tipton Kentucky Fall Yearlings sale.

In his 8 runs to date, he has won 6 of them and finished 2nd in the other 2, banking over 300 Million won in the process. He was expected to be challenging for top honours at some point this year but not this early.

Gukje Sinmun Stakes – Busan Race Park – 1800M – May 5, 2013

1. Beolmaui Kkum (USA) [Put It Back – Wild Dixie Gal (Wild Event)] – Choi Si Dae – 6.3, 1.5
2. Viva Ace (USA) [Macho Uno – Dancing Lake (Meadowlake) – Seong Keong Yun – 1.6
3. Gamdonguibada (USA) [Werblin – Radyla (Country Pine)] – Kanichiro Fujii

Distances: 5 lengths/0.5 lengths
Also Ran: 4. Prince Kingdom (USA) 5. Dehere Queen (USA) 6. New Record (NZ) 7. Isidae Gangja (KOR). NR: Dangdae Bulpae (KOR)

Tough Win Back On Form at Seoul but Gyeongbudaero is Aced at Busan

Tough Win may have lost his Grand Prix Stakes title to Gamdongubada last month but the six-year old showed he’s still the horse to beat at Seoul as he began 2013 with a routine win this afternoon.

Tough Win and Cho Kyoung Ho return as winners

Tough Win and Cho Kyoung Ho return as winners

Sent off the overwhelming favourite and back at his favoured 1800 metres, Tough Win (Yonaguska) was never troubled as he coasted to a six-length victory.

60/1 outsider Imperial Girl (Imperialism) was the well-beaten second while Stakes winners Kkakjaengi (Put It Back) and Nolbu Manse (Simon Pure) trailed in fourth and fifth.

The victory was Tough Win’s 19th from his 26 starts and jockey Cho Kyoung Ho, who missed the mount in the Grand Prix due to suspension was clearly a very happy man as they crossed the line.

One race earlier, former champion filly & mare Top Point (Tom Cruiser) made her return to racing after a 6-month lay-off. And it was an encouraging performance as, while the race was won by 66/1 Brothers (Vicar) she finished a close third just a length back. Now 9-years old, Top Point still looks as though she has a season or more’s running in her.

Down at Busan, Geyongbudaero (Menifee) made his Open company debut. In the absence of the well-fancied Prince Kingdom, last year’s KRA Cup Mile winner was backed into favouritism, however, he ran slap-bang into an in-form Viva Ace (Macho Uno) who started quickly and made all to pull-off an 8-length romp.

Viva Ace has been one of the most consistent – and underbet – horses at Busan. Very rarely sent off as favourite, he has now amassed 11 wins from his 22 starts.

Also at Busan, there was success for the new combination of the track’s best Korean jockey Jo Sung Gon and only foreign trainer, Peter Wolsley. The pair combined to win the first of the co-feature races with Secret Whisper (Sea Of Secrets). The 5-year old mare has now won 8 of 19 starts.

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.

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.