THE HOARSE WHISPERER
by Jenny Ortuoste for BusinessWorld
Thursday, 13 July 2007
Empire King vs. Wild Orchid
Sunday at Santa Ana Park will see track champions face off in the 1800-meter Philippine Racing Commission (Philracom) Imported Stakes 4. Track icons Empire King and Wild Orchid, as well as quality challengers Armidale, Fairy Queen, Glory and Honour, Hear Me, Irene’s Fantasy, La Tienne, and second leg winner Stop Talking will compete for the top purse of P480,000 and trophies for owner, trainer, jockey.
Wild Orchid holds the record for the 1,400-, 1,500-, and 2,000-meters and won the 3rd leg of the Imported Stakes series at San Lazaro Leisure Park (SLLP) last June 10 with ease.
Empire King ruled the May 20 PCSO First Gentleman’s Silver Cup. He completely dominated the 2,050 meter race, effortlessly defeating a field of six that included the island-born sensation Real Spicy.
Empire King also happens to be the only local-bred horse in a lineup of imported runners. Again, fans are disoriented by the odd race eligibility rules set by Philracom that allows locals to join a race dubbed the “Imported” Stakes.
Now why not just be firm and limit the field to importeds? There are many that are eligible to enter. Race organizers need not be afraid that the lineup would be sparse considering the hefty prizes up to fourth place.
Or why not call it the “Open” series and do away with the brain-bending misnomer?
Well, the 4th leg on Sunday is the championship match and the last of the series, so I guess that’s the last we’ll hear about that – for now.
Another major stakes race will also take place on Sunday – the 3rd leg of the 2-Year-Old Stakes, with the distance increased to 1,450 meters from the 900-meters of the first two legs, which were won by Tabako and He’s the Man respectively, both owned and bred by Hermie Esguerra.
The 3rd leg will star nine contenders – fillies Arithmetic, Canon Rising, Capretiosa, Prying Eyes, and Victorian Stone, and colts Black Mamba, He’s the Man, Tabako, and Treasure Hunter.
He’s the Man beat Black Mamba by four lengths in the 2nd leg, while Capretiosa came in second to Tabako in the 1st episode. Treasure Hunter has also shown up in one of the legs. The others are newbies. Since they are all young runners, it’s a fairly evenly-matched race and should give fans a lot of thrills.
As a breeder, Mr. Esguerra figures prominently in this particular race, since Black Mamba, Canon Rising, Capretiosa, and Victorian Stone are also graduates of his Herma Farms & Stud in Lipa, Batangas.
Meanwhile, here’s a peek at the lineup of the 3rd leg Triple Crown championship on July 22 at SLLP: colts Afternoon Delight, El Terrible, Golden Sutter, Henry D’ Eighth, Ibarra, Ididitmyway, Iron Tower, and Superamerica will carry 54 kg, while fillies Treasured Ack and Es Twenty Six, 52 kg.
Ibarra, who won the first two legs convincingly, is expected to grab the championship as well and be only the ninth horse to sweep all three episodes. The last was Silver Story in 2001.
Also on July 22, the Hopeful Stakes 3: fillies Sexy Eyes and Defiant will carry 52 kg, while colts Dynamic Duo, Kai Jason, Legendary, Miguelito, and Runnin’ Rebel, 54. kg. This is going to be a very interesting race compared to the 3rd leg of the Triple Crown because it’s more evenly matched.
With all these classy runners out in full force, it’s a great month to go racing and experience firsthand the incomparable rush of thoroughbred speed and grace. ***
Photo: Wild Orchid wins the 3rd leg Imported Stakes with jockey Jonathan B. Hernandez.