THE HOARSE WHISPERER By Jenny Ortuoste for Manila Standard-Today, 22 September 2010, Wednesday
Jockey Kelvin’s Status Still Shaky
Despite protracted negotiations in an effort to restore peace and harmony within the industry, Manila Jockey Club’s chairman and CEO lawyer Alfonso R. Reyno Jr. stood firm on his decision to ban jockey Kelvin Abobo from the premises of MJC’s San Lazaro Leisure Park.
However, as of presstime, the racing club has not released any notice regarding Abobo; his status is still floating and the rider has no idea when he may resume active racing or even his morning workouts with horses at the facility in Carmona, Cavite.
Several top horseowners had written to Reyno vouching for Abobo’s character. Philippine Racing Commission chairman lawyer Jose Ferdinand Rojas II had also conversed with him seeking an amicable resolution to the crisis.
The case stems from two weeks ago, when Abobo was suspended by the MJC Board of Stewards for “lack of interest” on third favorite Supreme Leader. Abobo appealed to the Philracom, as provided for by law. Upon review of the race, the Philracom review committee lifted the suspension. Whereupon MJC slapped a ban on the rider.
The New Philippine Jockeys’ Association members, appalled at the lack of guidelines and criteria in the imposition of bans, contemplated a strike for this racing week, which was averted after several industry personages stepped forward to mediate.
The jockeys have never questioned MJC’s right to ban anyone from their property. However, as riders who have a job to do on the premises, they wonder at the lack of clear criteria, the bans, they say, imposed seemingly at whim.
A jockey’s work is not confined to riding in races. His day begins at four o’clock in the morning, when he works the horses assigned to him until seven or eight o’clock. Working horses is necessary for the rider to build rapport with his mount, get to know his or her habits and quirks, perform corrective measures as necessary, and so on. That is why a total ban from premises is problematic. A jockey who is forbidden from working horses at a certain track will be unable to continue his training of the horses, and may even lose these rides should the horseowner or trainer decide to hire someone else who can proceed with the required regimen at that particular track.
That is why to place a rider on ‘floating’ status spells disaster not only for the rider, but will also cause headaches for the horseowner, trainer, and the horses. The sport of racing is synergistic system – ‘synergy’ meaning, “two or more agents working together to produce a result not obtainable by any of the agents independently.” The word comes from the Greek syn-ergos – “working together”.
In the subculture of the sport, harmonious relationships are essential for the smooth flow of activities. It is almost a dance. A misstep, and the entire pattern is thrown into disarray.
The jockeys need clear guidelines on MJC’s banning of riders and request due process in the imposition of bans. It is illogical and unjust to place a rider on ‘floating’ status. And don’t make me bring up Marxist dialectics and question whether this constitutes a class struggle – the working class against the moneyed elite.
My thanks to the Philippine Racing Club, especially AVP and racing manager Dan Valmonte who arranged a tremendously exciting Communication Research trophy race last week at Santa Ana Park in Naic, Cavite. The race was named after the social science discipline I am currently studying at the doctoral level and was meant to provide my classmates and professor from the University of the Philippines College of Mass Communication a unique communication environment experience. The visit to the track broadened the knowledge of Dr Jose Lacson and professors Bea Lapa, Rod Rivera, Julienne Baldo, and Nina Villena regarding sport communication and subcultures within mainstream society.
After I gave them tips for the first daily double (the combination Defiant-Yes Pogi paid about P22) and they collected winnings for the first time, it seems that a couple of them are hooked enough to pursue their newfound interest in the sport. That’s how some horseracing aficionados are born – after watching the races live.
The Communication Research Trophy Race, with an added prize of fifteen thousand pesos and a trophy for the owner, was won by two-leg 2010 Triple Crown winner Yes Pogi, ridden by veteran jockey Manolito Daquis, trained by Felix Lauron, and owned by Francis Lim. ***