Archive of ‘The Hoarse Whisperer Archive (BusinessWorld)’ category

THW: Empire King vs. Wild Orchid


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.

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THW: New Santa Ana Park Soon



by Jenny Ortuoste for BusinessWorld

Wednesday, 11 July 2007

Suggested heading: New Santa Ana Park soon

The business of Philippine horseracing is growing like never before, in leaps and bounds that have given this normally static and stable (pun intended) industry fresh hope for the future. One recent sign of this progress is the impending move of the Philippine Racing Club’s (PRC) Santa Ana Park from Makati to Trece Martires, Cavite.

PRC disclosed recently that the new facility, Sta. Lucia Realty’s Saddle & Clubs Leisure Park, “is on-track for a target opening before the end of 2008”. The property is 600-hectares, with the racetrack as the centerpiece. Two golf courses, a commercial complex, and “residential estates” are added come-ons to investors. The new Santa Ana Park racecourse will occupy 70 hectares of the property, “an area that more than triples the size” of the present track.

PRC’s transfer has been gossiped about in industry circles for the past five years. Everyone keeps asking, “When exactly?” A sure answer is important so racing stakeholders – horseowners, trainers, jockeys, grooms, track employees, and their families – can make plans for moving to Cavite where the other racetrack, Manila Jockey Club’s (MJC) San Lazaro Leisure Park, has been established since 2003 in Carmona.

The sooner the exact date is known the better, especially since Filipinos are known to procrastinate and put off things till the last minute. An exodus of racing people and horses is unavoidable since a third racetrack, new entrant Metropolitan Turf Club (MetroTurf) of horseowner and banker Raymund Puyat, will soon be built in Silang on 45-hectares owned by the Puyat family.

PRC says they started construction of an initial 74 stable buildings at Trece last May, for a total of 131 stables when completed. Horseowners may also opt to buy lots should they wish to build stable complexes of their own design.

Site developments such as “earthworks, base preparation, storm drainage system, water distribution system, and concrete works for road pavement, curbs, gutter, and sidewalks” have already been completed. Also finished is an in-field access tunnel to the track, while the 1600-meter racecourse is being flattened and graded with final works underway.

Soon to be built are allied facilities such as receiving stables, a holding and testing barn, paddocks, and an equine pool. The grandstand building for spectators shall be constructed in the final phase of development. Plans for the stables were designed by international architectural firm Froehlich, Kow & Gong Architects in association with local architect W. V. Coscolluela & Associates and local engineering consultant R. S. Caparros & Associates.

The transfer of Santa Ana Park to the much roomier facility at Trece would mark a milestone in the company’s 70-year history and is a timely opportunity for an upgrade of facilities to international standards.

Questions inevitably arise – will horseowners support the revitalized PRC and stable their horses there? If they don’t, what strategies will PRC employ to shore up the weakness of a scant racehorse population? Will MetroTurf actually open by next year with its much vaunted synthetic Poly-Track? With races for MJC and PRC on alternate weeks, what will the scheduling be if MetroTurf joins the fray? How will three racetracks survive in a society where the mainstream has not even heard of horseracing?

What is certain is that PRC’s move next year to Trece represents another massive infusion of capital investment, signaling confidence in the industry. That’s a hot tip that this business is a winner. ***

Photo: Horses fly over the track as they duel to the finish at Santa Ana Park. (2007)

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THW: New Importation Rules



by Jenny Ortuoste for BusinessWorld

Friday, 6 July 2007

Suggested heading: New importation rules

My columns on the recent surge in importation of racehorses discussed the many benefits this would bring to the local racing and breeding industry. I applauded the buyers who invested time, effort, and resources into bringing in thoroughbred bloodstock from the USA and Australia. I waxed lyrical about how future races starring these runners or their prodigies would build a heightened level of excitement for sports fans. I rhapsodized over the inevitable growth in the racehorse and breeding population which can only boost the industry upward.

Imagine my disappointment when I learned that the Philippine Racing Commission (Philracom) is contemplating the implementation of guidelines that would discourage importation.

A resolution dated 14 June 2007 restricts the age of racehorses that may be imported to three years old or below. (Broodmares and stallions may be of any age, but shall not be allowed to race.) These runners would be allowed to race only until age 7. (Why should there be these age limits?)

Importers would not be allowed to buy horses that have run in races abroad (limiting the purchase of runners to those who have not proven their racing ability). Moreover, an importer may only sell a horse one year after the date of its importation (discouraging “pinhooking”, or buy-and-sell, an accepted practice around the world).

Ostensibly, this resolution is to benefit and boost the local horse-breeding industry – a worthy cause. However, the glaring reality is local breeders cannot produce enough horses. They cannot keep up with the rising demand caused by the influx of new players into the sport and by attrition of the racehorse population due to age, accident, disease, or other causes. They cannot make their produce affordable to buyers.

Since all breeders also have racing operations, what commonly happens is that many of them choose the best of the crop for their own racing stables, and sell off the “leftovers” at very high prices (the average is P650,000 for a 2-year-old). Many buyers cannot afford or do not wish to pay, and why should they, when they can buy a proven runner from Australia for a landed cost of P400,000 or even less?

Imposing restrictive importation rules would curtail the initiatives of buyers to bring in varied pedigrees that would raise the quality of local bloodstock for racing and breeding and bring more accrued benefits to the industry as a whole.

Some comments from industry players: “There should be a level playing field.” “Why unduly favor the few breeders?” “Let market forces prevail.” “The quality of races will suffer because there will be fewer horses to run and they will be of a poorer type.”

Yes, the breeding industry should be protected. Yes, it should be encouraged. But at the stage it is now, it cannot maintain, much less increase, the racing population and importation is the best solution to hike up numbers.

With a third racetrack in the offing (MetroTurf in Silang, Cavite), numbers are even more crucial. And what if the holder of the fourth racetrack franchise (Mindanao Racing Club) decides to actually build his dream facility in Davao?

In fairness, Philracom is asking for “comments/suggestions/inputs if any, on herein new guidelines prior to its implementation on 1 January 2008”. I think I can predict fairly accurately what comments will be tossed their way – none too complimentary, and I’ll bet my last peso on that. ***

Photo: Island-born champion Ibarra (Yonaguska-Fire Down Under) with jockey Antonio B. Alcasid Jr. after winning the Jaime V. Ongpin Cup (2nd leg Triple Crown championship) last 24 June 2007 at San Lazaro Leisure Park. Ibarra’s dam, Fire Down Under, was imported when pregnant with Ibarra. Philracom’s proposed new importation rules do not mention whether “in-foal” mares may still be brought into the country or not.

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THW: MARHO 33rd Founders’ Cup



by Jenny Ortuoste for BusinessWorld

Friday, 29 June 2007

Suggested heading: MARHO 33rd Founders’ Cup on Sunday

Once again showing the way to the rest of the industry, the Metropolitan Association of Race Horse Owners (MARHO) stages its eponymous 33rd MARHO Founders’ Cup this weekend at Santa Ana Park.

First celebrated as the Pearl Stakes at Santa Ana Park on the MARHO’s 30th anniversary in 2004, this event is a brainchild of former MARHO president Aristeo “Putch” G. Puyat.

The 2007 edition is expected to be an even bigger and better episode of this racing carnival that commemorates the establishment of the MARHO in 1974 and honors its 15 founding fathers – Samuel Sharuff, Asterio Favis, Jose Cojuangco Jr., Federico Moreno, Elias Coscolluela, Pedro Cojuangco, Antonio Araneta, Constante Rubio, Jose Revilla, Angel Castano Sr., Emilio Espinosa Sr., Eduardo Cojuangco Jr., Isidro Rodriguez Sr., Macario Asistio Sr., and Conrado Trinidad.

These dedicated horsemen banded together to address common concerns and find solutions that would be beneficial not only to them but to the industry as a whole.

One of their first efforts as a group was bringing over from other racing countries a professional farrier and large-animal veterinarians to disseminate their knowledge to local industry members.

Soon after, the then-president of MARHO, Amb. Eduardo “Danding” Cojuangco Jr., and other MARHO stalwarts pushed for the creation of a government agency that would oversee the growing sport of horseracing. Thus was born the Philippine Racing Commission (Philracom), created under PD 420 in March 1974.

Other achievements later on, under the leadership of Mr. Puyat and the organization’s chairman Leonardo “Sandy” M. Javier Jr., were the establishment of the MARHO Breeders’ Cup in 1996, now the most prestigious annual event in racing. Upon present president Mayor Benhur Abalos’ assumption of office in 2005, he launched a campaign against illegal bookies in 2006, an effort that continues to this day.

In light of all these contributions and many others that uplift and promote the sport, not only MARHO and its over 200 members but also the entire industry has reason to celebrate this weekend. Saturday, June 30, will showcase 7 trophy races, while Sunday, July 1, will hold 8. All races have hefty prize money, handsome trophies, and fame and glory at stake for the winners. MARHO members get additional bonuses for the victories of their entries.

The main race is the Eduardo Cojuangco Jr. Founders Cup. The 14 other races are named for the other MARHO founding fathers. As of press time, the official entries for these races have not been finalized. ***

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THW: Ibarra Set to Sweep Triple Crown



by Jenny Ortuoste for BusinessWorld

Wednesday, 27 June 2007

Suggested heading:
Ibarra set to sweep Triple Crown

After six years, the wait for a new Triple Crown champion may be over. Ibarra, a mighty 3-year-old bay colt, won the Triple Crown’s 2nd leg last June 24 at the San Lazaro Leisure Park.

The 1750-meter Jaime V. Ongpin Cup, sponsored by Philracom, starred 7 high-quality entries. Ibarra’s uncomplicated win in the Triple Crown’s 1st leg last May 20 at Santa Ana Park (Juanito Macaraig Memorial Cup) sent him off as the outstanding favorite.

Seeming to float over the dirt track, Ibarra launched clean out of the gate and grabbed the lead right away, guided by jockey Antonio B. Alcasid Jr. Fleet filly Es Twenty Six, steered by Dominador H. Borbe Jr., clung stubbornly to the lanky colt’s flank on the outside as they swept around the track. The others – colts Best Kept Secret, Golden Sutter, Lord Boni, and Passing Through, and filly Treasured Ack – struggled to keep up with the blistering pace.

On and on they raced, flashing past the grandstand to the adoring howls of the crowds that cheered them on. They rounded the first bend. Alcasid was chilly on Ibarra, almost motionless, his hands keeping a tight hold on the reins as the brave colt’s legs pumped fluidly. Still Es Twenty Six maintained a mere half length between them.

They rounded the 5/8. Spectators stared, each second almost an eternity of suspense. Would Ibarra be able to sustain the momentum? Would one of the others overtake? The colt and the filly surged on into the backstretch, their rivals forgotten, the crowds’ shouts a dim roar in their ears. Both riders were in the zone.

Now the far turn. Yet no move from Ibarra’s jockey, who was still racing with reins “in double wrap”. Es Twenty Six’s jockey started to scrub, pushing her to step on it. At the home turn, Alcasid drew his whip and gave a single stroke to the colt, who stretched mightily and started to pull away from the visibly tiring Es Twenty Six. He lengthened his lead to one, then two, then more as they raced down the stretch.

A couple more flicks with the whip ensured a straight course for the colt. Alcasid did not ease up, no, not until he was sure the finish line was passed. They had won. Effortlessly. Gracefully. And still, humbly. There was no grandstanding from Alcasid, who did a masterful job of steering what is now perhaps the most valuable runner in Philippine racing.

Ibarra won by four over Es Twenty Six, who came in second. Ibarra tied Real Spicy’s record for the 1750 meters with a time of 1:48 flat, with splits of 10’-22’-24’-24’-26 for his wire-to-wire run.

After the race, Alcasid drew in huge sighs of relief. “I was a nervous wreck,” he admitted. The pressure on him to win was tremendous, more so because another rider – Kelvin B. Abobo – had piloted Ibarra to victory in the 1st leg. “I didn’t know I could have broken the record,” Alcasid said. “All I was going for was the win. I didn’t want to push Ibarra too hard.”

Victorious trainer Ruben Tupas’ nut-brown face was wreathed with smiles. Even more ecstatic was owner Mayor Benhur Abalos, who whispered, “One more to go”.

No doubt about it after that amazing performance – Ibarra will win the last leg on July 22. He will sweep the Triple Crown. And he will bring back racing’s glory days each time he runs, nostrils flaring, legs pumping, searching for the turn home. ***

Photo: Jockey Antonio B. Alcasid and Ibarra at the parade. 24 June 2007, SLLP. (Roel Taripe)

Watch this race on Youtube at

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THW: Ibarra Favored in 2nd leg Triple Crown



by Jenny Ortuoste for BusinessWorld

Friday, 22 June 2007

Suggested heading: Ibarra favored in 2nd leg Triple Crown

All eyes will be on 3-year-old colt Ibarra on Sunday, June 24, as he seeks the the second jewel of the Triple Crown championship series – the 1750-meter Jaime V. Ongpin Cup – at San Lazaro Leisure Park (SLLP).

Named after the government financial officer who negotiated tax breaks and other incentives to boost the sport, the race pits the “superhorse” by Yonaguska out of Fire Down Under against ten other top-caliber contenders.

Ibarra easily won the 1st leg of the Triple Crown last May 20 at Santa Ana Park with a speedy stretch run to beat his rivals by six. The island-born colt also aced a tuneup race last June 10 at SLLP. He clocked 1:25-2/5, almost shattering champion imported mare Wild Orchid’s 1:25 record for 1400 meters.

Mandaluyong Mayor Benhur Abalos, Ibarra’s owner, had not seen the latter race but was very pleased to learn that the pride of his stable had almost broken the record. He had acquired Ibarra’s dam Fire Down Under (when in foal to Ibarra) from fellow horseowner Mar Tirona, who had carefully chosen her and several other pregnant mares from a mixed bag at the the January 2004 Keeneland Sale in Kentucky.

Ridden to victory by newcomer Kelvin B. Abobo in the 1st leg, Abalos has retained the services of veteran jockey Antonio B. Alcasid Jr. for the lengthier 2nd leg. Alcasid had steered Ibarra in the tuneup and was responsible for much of his early training, boosting fans’ and connections’ confidence in the new tandem.

Ibarra carries the hopes of many who want to see a new champion sweep the Triple Crown series. However, his past performances, run over shorter distances and characterized by swift finishing kicks, mark him as a natural sprinter. Many wonder how he will fare over the classic distances longer than a mile (1600 meters).

Skeptics concede his supremacy for the 2nd leg’s 1750-meters – a distance still within Ibarra’s comfort zone – but predict that he may have difficulty negotiating the 3rd leg’s 2000 meters (roughly a mile and a quarter) on July 22 at SLLP. This means that a sweep is still debatable at this point. Be that as it may, the talented and handsome Ibarra is the current darling of the track.

June 24 is a banner day for racing since it will also see the running of the mile 2nd leg Hopeful Stakes. Several who ran in the Triple Crown 1st leg and came up against the lightning-swift Ibarra have bowed out of the 2nd leg. Among them is Superamerica, whose owner Victor S. Martinez ruefully admits his entry cannot hope to match Ibarra’s speed, thus his decision to race him in the Hopeful instead also under the guidance of jockey Alcasid.

Superamerica ran disappointingly last May 20 and in a tuneup at SLLP last June 9 where he finished a mere third to Legendary and Maglev, with whom he will tangle once more on Sunday. Martinez worries that “Superamerica has a problem with halting at SLLP especially when he sees track lights,” not much of an issue though since the race will probably run late afternoon.

But both Ibarra and Superamerica, though touted to be the most likely to succeed, are up against other strong contenders and upsets may be in the offing. Also in the Triple Crown 2nd leg are Best Kept Secret, Es Twenty Six, Golden Sutter, Lord Boni, Passing Though, and Treasured Ack. The Hopeful also stars Afternoon Delight, Bravely Bold, Flyboy, Ididtmyway, Lovely Bid, Macho Man, and Miguelito. ***

Photo: Superamerica stares inquisitively into the camera. Will he finally score in the Hopeful on Sunday?

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THW : Hong Kong Racing Provides Lessons



by Jenny Ortuoste for BusinessWorld

Wednesday, 20 June 2007

Suggested heading: Hong Kong racing provides lessons

An AFP feature on the Hong Kong Jockey Club (HKJC) was printed last week in this paper, and it’s interesting to note that the HKJC has almost the same problems that we do here. Number one is illegal bookmaking, which “cuts their annual take by up to HK$25 billion [P149.3 billion]”.

According to Philracom’s current chairman, Gen. Florencio Fianza (formerly with the Philippine National Police), local bookie operations are estimated to gross as much as P22 billion annually. Since they do not pay taxes or incur the operational expenses and effort of conducting races, the illegal activities of bookies are extremely lucrative. The most conservative estimate of the bookie take places it as just the same as legal racing’s annual sales, or just over P9 billion.

The attraction of bookies lies in their offering a premium of 10-15%, which is lower than the government-imposed tax on winnings and prize deduction of 35%. (However, there is a ceiling on dividends that bookies will pay out.)

Also attractive to patrons is the convenience they offer; they will pick up your bet and deliver your winnings to your home. Despite an intense anti-bookie campaign launched by the industry and national law-enforcement agencies in April 2006, there are still many bookies especially in Manila, more than the number of legal OTBs; some operate in areas where there are no OTBs.

One of HKJC’s tactics to combat this threat was to have the government tax total HKJC profits rather than total money bet on horses (which is the way it is done here). This made betting cheaper for punters as they do not have to carry HKJC’s 17.5% takeout, thus they would be more amenable to patronizing legitimate betting stations.

Former congressman (now Mandaluyong mayor) Benhur Abalos last year filed a bill that seeks reforms in the taxation scheme for racing, but it is still stuck in the legislature. Many industry insiders believe that lowering taxes and increasing the racing clubs’ take (in the case of Manila Jockey Club, only 8.5%) will have an effect of actually boosting sales and making racing more popular as a leisure activity. Payoffs would be larger, and clubs would have more resources for infrastructure, equipment, and advertising and marketing.

Other lessons that can be learned from HKJC? They are contemplating “revolutionary reform” as they respond to other threats from football, golf, casinos, and lotteries.

Locally, substitute products also abound in the form of cockfighting, casinos, lotto, and other gaming activities. Surely racing’s bright boys can come up with their own winning strategies. For starters, an intensive marketing and promotional campaign (within the limits imposed by advertising codes) would bring the sport to the attention of the public, most of whom have never even heard of horseracing.

Next, upgrade essential track equipment currently being used such photo-finish cameras, starting gates, and the like. This is a must and is non-negotiable.

Along the way, “think global”, as HKJC is doing. Membership in an international racing organization such as the France-based IFHA (International Federation of Horseracing Authorities), which promotes “good regulation and best practices”, would help legitimize our brand of racing in the international arena and expose us to the latest methods for improvement.

Handicapping should also be more along international lines. Our system is unique and works for us, but it is flawed and can be improved.

Philippine racing still has a long way to go approach even a fraction of what Hong Kong racing is now. But we will get there. Eventually. ***

Photo: Mitsubishi Electric’s Diamond Vision installation at HKJC’s Sha Tin Racecourse won a Guiness record as the world’s longest TV. The 8 meter by 70.4 meter screen can display up to 40 individual images and three angles of the race at the same time. (2003)

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THW: 2YO Stakes Series II



by Jenny Ortuoste for BusinessWorld

Friday, 15 June 2007

Suggested heading: 2-YO Stakes Series II

The nation’s latest crop of juveniles strut their stuff on Sunday, June 17, in the second leg of the Philracom (Philippine Racing Commission) 2-Year-Old Stakes at Santa Ana Park.

The 900-meter first leg, run last May 13 at San Lazaro Leisure Park, was won by Tabako, who checked in at the wire with a speedy 0.53.5 seconds, just a bit off the 0.51.8 national time record of champion sprinter Ariba King set in 2004.

Sunday’s race will also be over 900 meters and with Tabako out of the picture (as a past leg winner), fans are looking to Black Mamba to be the one to beat, having won a regular race recently.

Just like Tabako (Mr. Sutter-Liberty At Last), Black Mamba (Principality-Spicy Tale) was bred by horseowner Hermie Esguerra at his showcase ranch Herma Farms & Stud in Lipa City, Batangas. Black Mamba shares the same dam as famous champion Real Spicy (Real Quiet-Spicy Tale), also owned by Mr. Esguerra.

Black Mamba, owned by Pierre Niles and to be ridden by JB Hernandez, will be going up against a formidable slate of juveniles comprising El Banquero (with jockey FM Raquel), He’s the Man (JB Guce), Hudson Hawk (AB Alcasid Jr.), Indelible Ink (LD Balboa), Kat’s Almighty (JG Tinte), Lover of All (DH Borbe Jr.), Princess Yana (KB Abobo), at Security Queen (VM Camanero Jr.).

Sponsor Philracom has put up P1.2 million in total prizes, with P720,000 going to the first placer, P270,000 for 2nd, P150,000 for 3rd, and P60,000 for 4th. There is also a prize of P70,000 for the breeder of the winning horse.

While it is exciting to see juveniles race because it is from their ranks that future Triple Crown champions for the following year may emerge, there are industry members who are not convinced of the wisdom of running 2-year-olds.

They say the bones of horses at this young age are still developing and are fragile. Any undue exertion or pressure could cause injury or worse, breakdown. I’ve seen it happen before – beautiful colts or fillies who suddenly snap a leg in a race or training and have to be sent back to the farm for breeding or, sadly, destroyed – and all because they were raced too soon. Because of the horseowner or trainer’s lack of patience or perhaps misjudgement on the readiness of the horse, a promising career is cut short, investment lost, and time and effort wasted.

Horseowners who race their horses as juveniles often think that by doing so they can earn back their investment faster. They say it’s just being “practical” or “business-minded”, not realizing they face higher risks and may in fact lose more money rather than earn it in the long run. It’s safer to wait a while; though expenses for maintenance may pile up, the horse will likely have a longer and more productive career ahead.

Some wonder why Philracom started the juvenile stakes series in May when it should have been July. Philracom even set March as the start date but switched upon clamor of horseowners and trainers. As the governing body for horseracing, Philracom should carefully study when it is best to hold 2-year-old races. Preferably it should be as late as possible in the year, to minimize risks and increase the safety factor, so that all concerned can derive more enjoyment – and income – from their thoroughbreds. ***
Photo: Black Mamba and JB Hernandez during the parade at SLLP, 13 May 2007. (Roel Taripe)

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THW: Importation:Racing’s Hope



by Jenny Ortuoste for BusinessWorld

Wednesday, 13 June 2007

Suggested heading: Importation: racing’s hope

Some long-time horseracing fans seek deeper involvement in the sport that they love. Obviously not everyone can be a jockey, trainer, racecaller, or what have you. But anyone with the ready cash can become a horseowner – and feel the glory in lifting a trophy at the races and the sense of belonging to this close-knit world.

Lately the industry has seen the entry of a spate of new owners, all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed with their one, two, or three runners. As they learn the ropes, they add more horses to their stables, while some even start up a ranch and try their hand at breeding.

Where do they source their thoroughbreds? There are local breeders such as Herma Farms and Stud, Paris Match Farm, Red N Ranch, Mesa Stud, and the acclaimed Royal Maverick Ranch, just to name a few. All are Lipa, Batangas-based (where the soil is said to be rich in calcium so the grass is as rich as that in Kentucky, birthplace of champions).

However, the demand is so high that local breeders cannot supply enough. Prices are at a premium, with the lowest at around P500,000. The average cost of a local-bred is P700,000.

Importation is deemed a more cost-effective way of acquiring horses. Most buyers flock to the sales in Australia and New Zealand, where they can obtain the desired pedigrees (usually American). At sales like the Magic Millions and William Inglis, a runner can be acquired for as low as Aus$5,000. Instone ships to the Philippines for as low as US$1,400. (There is also an import tax of P50,000 per horse.)

But the Mecca for buyers is still the US, where those with well-lined pockets converge at the Keeneland Sales in Kentucky or the Fasig-Tipton in Maryland. The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) is well aware of the eagerness of Filipino buyers for renowned US pedigrees, so last May, they provided incentives for them to attend the Fasig-Tipton Sales of 2-year-olds in training. The icing on the cake was free admission to Pimlico Racecourse to watch the May 19 Preakness Stakes (second leg of the US Triple Crown).

The Philippine Racing Commission (Philracom) was represented by commissioners Atty. Vergel Cruz and former star jockey and film actor Eduardo “Boboc” Domingo Jr. (of “Isang Platitong Mani” fame). Also with them were horseowners Cesar Avila who, at the sales, bought three (sired by Officer, Glitterman, and Gibson County); Rene Villoria (one); Ferdie Dimaisip (one); and Manny Santos (nine, one a Proud Citizen-Jelly Roll Frolic worth US$26,000).

On June 14, Comm. Domingo will meet USDA reps to discuss concerns such as shipping costs – it’s a stiff US$6,680 per horse via Korean Air.

Says Comm. Domingo, “More Filipinos will buy from the US if shipping is more affordable. We are also looking into easing strict importation rules, such as the one that allows only horses 7 years or younger to be imported.

“There is also a clamor for higher prize money for imports, which at present are barred from many stakes races that are open only to local-breds. The Philracom is studying these and other issues that impact the supply of horses.”

For thrilling races that draw spectators, it’s an industry axiom that the more horses, the better. While waiting on local breeders to increase production, importation is the best way to quickly, easily, and cheaply boost the population of quality runners and allow more fans to get involved as horseowners. ***

Photo: Yearlings at Herma Farm & Stud, Lipa City, Batangas. 9 December 2006.

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THW: Imported Stakes 3


By Jenny Ortuoste for BusinessWorld
Friday, 8 June 2007

Suggested heading: Imported Stakes 3

Veteran champion Wild Orchid faces the challenge of ten other rivals on June 10 at San Lazaro Leisure Park (SLLP) in the Philippine Racing Commission (Philracom)-sponsored Imported Stakes Series 3rd leg.

Wild Orchid, an import from Australia, holds several track records, in fact setting the one for 1400 meters just last May 27 at SLLP by clocking 1:25 flat in her comeback race in the class-division. She also holds the records for the 1500m (1:30.8) and the 2000m (2:04.4), both set in 2005 and the latter tied with Stowaway Lass.

Other contenders are fellow Australian imports Armidale, Fairy Queen, Golden Link, Hear Me (coupled entry of Wild Orchid), La Tienne, Leave No Doubt, Serious Susie, and Stop Talking, the winner of the second leg of the Imported Stakes series.

The sole USA import is Irene’s Fantasy, while the lone local-bred is Cool Town, who won a minor stakes race last April 15 also at SLLP, the Top Feeds Cup.

All 11 runners face a tough 1750-meter run. The record for the distance is held by Wild Orchid’s stablemate, island-born champion Real Spicy, who clocked 1:48 in June 2006 at SLLP. Up for grabs is a total of P800,000 in prizes, with P480,000 allotted to the first placer, P180,000 for second, P100,000 for third, and P40,000 for fourth.

SLLP’s twin tracks, located in Carmona, Cavite, are generally considered to be “fast” since most national records have been set there. This Sunday’s big event will certainly draw many racing fans to SLLP, some of whom anticipate another record-breaking performance from Wild Orchid, while others root for another entry to score an upset.

Also eagerly awaited by racing fans is the 2nd leg of the Triple Crown, set for June 24 at SLLP, to coincide with the Hopeful Stakes. Both races are sponsored by the Philracom. Tentatively scheduled for the same day is the 33rd Founders’s Cup of the MARHO (Metropolitan Association of Race Horse Owners), the first and oldest such organization in the country, established in 1974.

Ibarra (Yoneguska-Cherokee Run), touted as the country’s newest “superhorse”, won the Triple Crown’s 1st leg in crowd-pleasing come-from-behind fashion and is seen as the best bet to sweep the prestigious series for local-bred three-year-olds. Guided by newbie rider Kelvin Abobo in the 1st leg, veteran jockey Antonio “Oyet” B. Alcasid Jr., will be steering Ibarra in the 2nd leg.

Alcasid says he was to have ridden Ibarra in the 1st leg but had committed to ride another horse, Superamerica, as early as January, way before Ibarra was offered to him. With Alcasid responsible for much of Ibarra’s early training, Ibarra’s owner, Mandaluyong Mayor Benhur Abalos, and trainer Ruben Tupas have supreme confidence that Alcasid can pilot Ibarra to victory in his next challenge. Alcasid will still be partnered with Superamerica, but in the Hopeful Stakes where his connections have opted to run him.

The other official entries for the 2nd leg Triple Crown are Best Kept Secret, Es Twenty Six, Golden Sutter, In Excess, Lord Boni, Passing Through, and Treasured Ack. In the Hopeful, the other runners are Afternoon Delight, Bravely Bold, Cats on Fire, Flyboy, Ididitmyway, Legendary, Lovely Bid, Macho Man, Maglev, and Miguelito. ***

Photo: Jockey Oyet Alcasid

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