From the monthly archives:

December 2007

Chika Muna!: Summer’s Hottest Trainer, Rudy Mendoza

by Jenny on December 31, 2007

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With this entry, I start a series of personal interviews with racing personalities; if I’m lucky, I’ll get to take a picture of them as well.

Entitled “Chika Muna”, it’s Tagalog for “let’s gossip awhile”, and sounds like the term, “teka muna,” or “wait awhile”. In other words, I’ll ask them to take a little time out from their busy schedules to chat and gossip a bit about themselves and racing.

Join me as we get to know them better.

Chika Muna! with Summer’s Hottest Trainer, Rudy Mendoza

For the past couple of months, his stable has blazed a succession of wins. One of summer’s winningest trainers is certainly Rudy Mendoza, a horseowner himself who is practically an institution in local racing.

I got a chance to chat a bit with this very humble and modest man last Tuesday, May 22, when he had seven entries. After all the eight races on the card were run, his stable’s Tellmenolies notched her third consecutive win, Bloodline her second win in three outings, and 6-year-old veteran Gallant Warrior his sixth victory in a row. His longshot entry Sea of Galilee even managed to grab second place.

For the first time, his secrets are revealed – right here!

TREAT EACH HORSE AS AN INDIVIDUAL: “Actually, pinag-aaralan ko ang ugali ng bawat kabayo. Through experience, nakikita ko ang gusto nila, so yun ang binibigay ko. Si Gallant Warrior, bago naibakasyon, puro talo. Tapos, nahuli ko yung kiliti niya sa ensayo. Dati, laging sobra sa batak, pero ang gusto pala niya ang hindi napapagod sa ensayo. Si Tellmenolies, gusto niya babatakin siya. Nananalo. Ganoon din si Grand Fiesta. Kanya-kanyang estilo.”

TEAMWORK IS KEY: “Maganda rin ang alaga ng mga sota, ang magkapatid na sila Poleng at Nelson. Malaking tulong din sa pagpapabuti ng kabayo ang mga assistants ko – si jockey Randy Lagrata, na magaling pagbilinan, si jockey Sonny Vacal, at pati na rin si Steve. Teamwork ang sekreto.”

GOOD NUTRITION: “Kumpleto ang vitamins, regular ang pagkain.”

QUOTE: “Walang magaling na trainer ‘pag ‘di ka masuwerte! Kasama na rin ang dasal doon.”

Photo: Tatay Rudy Mendoza at the SLLP Turf Club balcony, just before Gallant Warrior’s run. May 22.

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THW: Ibarra, the next “superhorse”?

by Jenny on December 31, 2007

The Hoarse Whisperer

by Jenny Ortuoste

for 23 May 2007, Wednesday, BusinessWorld

Suggested Heading: Ibarra, the next “superhorse”?

Highly-regarded Ibarra showed his patented supersonic streak at the straight to win the 1st leg of the mile-long Philracom (Philippine Racing Commission) Triple Crown championship series, held May 20 at Santa Ana Park.Ibarra, who came off a fantastic finish in a class-division race two weeks ago at the same track, came from behind at the half-mile and took the lead at the far turn. He then lengthened his lead to six and never looked back from there, reaching the wire with plenty to spare under the reinsmanship of newcomer Kelvin Abobo.Ibarra’s owner, Benhur Abalos (who won in last May 14′s elections as Mandaluyong city mayor) was also the proud breeder of this magnificent colt. His comments? “Ang sarap pala ng feeling!”

Anyone would feel the same to own what is now being touted as the country’s next “superhorse”, who for this race netted his owner a cool P1.8 million purse; Abalos also took home a P150,000 prize for being the breeder of this magnificent colt. Can you say “Wind Blown”?

 

 

May 20 was a day of champions. It also saw the running of the 2007 PCSO (Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office) First Gentleman’s Silver Cup, which pitted arch-rivals Real Spicy and Empire King in their third face-off this year.

 

Empire King ruled the 2,050-meter ordeal, totally dominating the field of six by coming from behind with plenty to spare, with a time of 2:11 (two seconds off the record set by Real Spicy twice last December at the same track).

Sent off as the favorite, with rival Real Spicy a close second choice, Empire King enjoyed a weight advantage over Real Spicy, carrying 56.5 kg compared to the other’s 59 kg burden. Despite Real Spicy’s being a year younger (at five) and owning the national record for this distance, these proved to be no pluses for The Spice Horse as the King convincingly showed superior form and condition.

Jockey Jeffrey Ladiana again showed that he is the one who can read Empire King’s mind, brandishing his whip in victory meters before reaching the wire (for which he was fined P1,000 by the Philippine Racing Club Board of Stewards for “grandstanding before crossing the finish line”).

 

Empire King’s owner, David Lee, was ecstatic at having finally copped the only major stakes trophy that has eluded him all these years, as well as the P1.1 million first prize check. He says we’ll be seeing Empire King at the PCSO Presidential Gold Cup at San Lazaro Leisure Park in December. However, according to PCSO PR rep Carlo Mendez, the tables will be turned then as Empire King will be handicapped with 59 kg while Real Spicy will carry 56.5 kg.

In the Philracom Hopeful Stakes also that day, longshot My Neneng (ridden by DH Borbe Jr. and owned by FS Diño Jr) scored an upset, adding another trophy to the mantel of her trainer, number-one ranked Ruben Tupas, who is also the trainer of Ibarra.

Such championship days are eagerly attended by fans. Santa Ana Park’s total gross sales for Sunday was over P38. 5 million, well above the average for a Sunday. Million-peso prizes such as those offered by Philracom and PCSO are sure to bring out the big guns of racing, who feel it not worth the risk of injury to run in ordinary or lesser-prize races. The industry needs generous corporate sponsors other than the two mentioned to fully realize its potential as a spectator magnet. ***

Photo: The three stakes races played to packed grandstands at Santa Ana Park, May 20.

Related stories:

KL: Ibarra, Bagong “Superhorse”?

by Jenny on December 31, 2007

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KARERA LANG!

By Jenny Ortuoste for Tumbok

Monday, 21 May 2007

Ibarra, bagong “superhorse”?

Kahapon (May 20) idinaos ang milyang 1st leg ng Philracom Triple Crown championship series, tinaguriang “Juanito A. Macaraig Cup” bilang parangal sa yumaong star jockey at trainer. Nagpakita dito ng sobrang husay si Ibarra, ang 3-year-old colt (o lalaking kabayo) ng bagong mayor ng Mandaluyong City, Benhur Abalos.

Napakasaya ni Mayor Benhur noong bumaba siya sa awarding circle sa Santa Ana Park upang tanggapin ang kanyang tropeo. Ang bulong niya sa katabi ay, “Ang sarap pala ng feeling!”

Tama si mayor. Masarap talaga ang maging may-ari ng isang katulad ni Ibarra na medya-milya pa lamang, kusa nang pinilit ng kabayong mauna, at nung nakalagpas na sa may far turn ay umunat pa ng lima hanggang anim na kabayong pagitan sa rekta upang manalo ng hugandong-hugando sa pagrerenda ng baguhang si Kelvin Abobo.

Masarap talaga maging may-ari ng sinasabi ng karamihan na maari maging susunod na “superhorse” tulad nila Wind Blown, Real Top, Strong Material, at iba pang magigiting na mananakbo.

At isa na naman itong tagumpay para sa multi-awarded trainer ni Ibarra na si Ruben Tupas. Abangan raw natin si Ibarra sa 2nd leg ng Triple Crown sa Hunyo sa San Lazaro Leisure Park (SLLP)!

Araw talaga ng kampeon kahapon, dahil sinabayan ito ng PCSO First Gentleman Silver Cup, sa ubod ng habang distansiya na 2050 meters. Tingin ng karamihan ay rematch ito nila Empire King at Real Spicy. “Breaks of the game” nalang ang magdidikta ng resulta.

At malinaw na kay EK napapunta ang “breaks”. Una, mas magaan ang dala niya – 56.5 kg sa 59kg ni RS. Maganda ang pati ang pa-remate niya sa stretch, at nanalo pa ng ilang kabayo.

Siyempre tuwang-tuwa ang may-ari ni EK na si David C. Lee. Itong Silver Cup nalang daw ang kulang sa kanyang koleksiyon. Malamang raw na isasali nila si EK sa PCSO Presidential Gold Cup sa December sa SLLP.

Sa Hopeful Stakes naman, nanalong dehado si My Neneng, another Ruben Tupas-trained horse na sinakyan Dominador Borbe Jr. at pagmamay-ari ni FS Dino Jr.

Ang mga araw na tulad nito na punong-puno ng kampeonato ay siyang kinatutuwaang panoorin ng mga karerista, dahil dito nagsisilabasan ang pinaka-magaling na kabayo sa balat ng Pilipinas.

Ngunit bihira lamang ang stakes race na ganito, na sasalihan ng mga de-kalidad na kabayo. Nilalahukan nila ang mga ito dahil sa ubod ng laki ng premyo. Para sa Silver Cup, namigay ang PCSO ng total P1.75 million sa 1st hanggang 4th. Ang Philracom naman, naglabas ng total of P3,150,000 for 1st to 4th, pati na breeders’ prizes.

Kung hindi ganito ka-laki ang mga premyo, bihira ang may-ari na maglalabas ng kanilang mga kampeon dahil baka ma-injure pa o mamilay ang mga ito. Kaso, bukod sa Philracom at PCSO, walang ibang corporate sponsor na magbibigay ng ganito kalaking premyo.

Itong “marketing” ng karera o pagkuha ng malalaking corporate sponsorships ang dapat pagtuunan ng industriya. Noong araw malaki ang suporta ng San Miguel Corporation sa karera. Naaalala ba ninyo ang SMB-Gran Copa de Manila? Ito ang mga dapat ibalik upang dumami ang pagkakataon na makita natin ang mga kampeon sa pista! ***

Photo: Horseracing TV show producer and host Manny Viray interviews Mayor Benhur Abalos after Ibarra’s successful run.

Related stories:

Ibarra Makes ‘em Eat His Dust!

by Jenny on December 31, 2007

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Highly-regarded Ibarra showed his patented supersonic streak at the straight to win the 1st leg of the Philracom Triple Crown championship series, held May 20 at Santa Ana Park.

Ibarra, who came off a fantastic finish in a class-division race at Santa Ana Park two weeks ago, came from behind at the half-mile and took the lead at the far turn. He then lengthened his lead to six and never looked back from there, reaching the wire with plenty to spare under the reinsmanship of newcomer Kelvin Abobo.

Ibarra’s owner, Benhur Abalos (who won in last May 14′s elections as Mandaluyong city mayor) was also the proud breeder of this magnificent colt. His comments? “Ang sarap pala ng feeling!”

Anyone would feel the same to own what is now being touted as the country’s next “superhorse”. Can you say “Wind Blown”?

Photo shows Ibarra’s winning connections – jockey Kelvin Abobo, trainer Ruben Tupas, and owner Benhur Abalos with Mrs. Mila Macaraig, widow of the late jockey and trainer Juanito A. Macaraig (the race honoree) with her granddaughter.

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Good Sports

by Jenny on December 31, 2007

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Jockeys Jonathan Hernandez (foreground) who rode Don Exequiel and Patty Dilema who steered Don Paolo in the 2007 PCSO Silver Cup don’t look very dismayed after having lost to Empire King. Their horses were the frontrunners and faded in the latter stages of the grueling 2050-meter race.Taken as they wait for their turn to weigh in at the Weighing Area, Santa Ana Park, May 20.

 

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Empire King Rules in the Silver Cup!

by Jenny on December 31, 2007

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 Finally, he earned the one trophy that had eluded him all these years – the PCSO Silver Cup.

Empire King, former Horse of the Year awardee and multi-titled champion, reigned in this year’s edition of this rich and prestigious race, totally dominating the field of six by coming from behind with plenty to spare.

Sent off as the favorite, with rival Real Spicy a close second choice, Empire King enjoyed a weight advantage over Real Spicy, carrying 56.5kg compared to the other’s 59kg burden.

Despite Real Spicy’s being a year younger (at 5) and having set the national record for the distance at this same track, Santa Ana Park, this proved to be no pluses for The Spice Horse as the King convincingly showed superior form and condition.

Empire King’s proud owner, David Lee, says we’ll be seeing Empire King at the PCSO Presidential Gold Cup at San Lazaro Leisure Park in December.

Photo: Jockey Jeffrey Ladiana knows it’s in the bag as he raises his whip in victory several meters before the wire in the PCSO Silver Cup, May 20, Santa Ana Park. Philippine Racing Club stewards fined him P1,000 for “grandstanding before crossing the finish line”.

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Curlin Kills Street Sense’s Chances to Sweep US Triple Crown

by Jenny on December 31, 2007

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Curlin Derails Street Sense in Preakness
by Dan Liebman
Date Posted: May 19, 2007
www.bloodhorse.com

Curlin, who suffered his first defeat in the Kentucky Derby (gr. I), kept gaining down the stretch and got past Street Sense in the final strides to win the Preakness Stakes (gr. I) (VIDEO) Saturday at Pimlico.

On a day that began with beautiful spring weather in Baltimore and shifted to sporadic light rain late in the racing day, 121,263 packed Pimlico, the largest crowd to witness a sporting event in Maryland, surpassing last year’s Preakness, when 118,402 attended.

A total of $87,202,550 was bet on the entire racing card, the fourth highest in history.

In just his fourth lifetime start, Curlin ran third in the May 5 Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands. In his fifth start, the son of Smart Strike became a classic winner with his narrow defeat of the Derby victor.

Curlin — who stumbled badly leaving the gate — was ridden by Robby Albarado, who two races earlier fell when his mount had to alter course around a fallen horse.

The top three finishers in the Derby — Street Sense, Hard Spun, and Curlin — also finished one-two-three in the Preakness, though not in the same order as Hard Spun slipped back to third in the Preakness.

Xchanger made the lead out of the gate, followed by Flying First Class, Hard Spun, and King of the Roxy. The positions did not change as the field went through the first turn and straightened out down the backside, the opening quarter in :22.82 and the half in :45.75.

Finally, Hard Spun, who had led the Derby field into deep stretch, got the nudge from Mario Pino and took the lead as they went six furlongs in a fast 1:09.80. As they were in the final bend of the turn for home, Curlin was three wide and Calvin Borel brought Street Sense through on the rail and then angled out, easily going by Curlin and taking the lead.

Street Sense spurted away and looked like he might sweep the first two legs of the Triple Crown, but Curlin dug in and came back at the Derby winner. He caught him right on the wire, the margin a short head.

The final time was 1:53.46.

“Heartbreaking, that’s what it was,” said Street Sense’s trainer, Carl Nafzger. “We only needed a nose. Curlin ran a hell of a race, but we had Curlin. We should have never let him come back and get us.”
The time essentially tied the track record, set by Secretariat in 1973 when timing was done in fifths and was 1:53 2/5.

Borel said he thought he had beaten both Hard Spun and Curlin. “I thought it was all over when I got by Hard Spun turning for home,” Borel said. “I thought he was just going to gallop. But things happen. He just got to gawking 40 yards from home and he just got outrun.

“I went up on the inside of (Curlin), and (Robby Albarado) was riding already and I was sitting, so I thought he was finished. I kept hearing him, and I looked under my arm and saw him. I thought I rode a perfect race, and Carl did too.”

“(When he stumbled) I had to go to plan B,” Albarado said. “I had to use him a bit more than I wanted early, but I was always content with where I was. When Street Sense rolled up there and spurted away, I knew I had horse left and he exploded for me.”

Curlin is owned by Stonestreet Stables (Jess Jackson), Padua Stables (Satish Sanan), George Bolton, and Midnight Cry Stables (William Gallion and Shirley Cunningham Jr.). He made his first start for Midnight Cry and trainer Helen Pitts but then a majority interest was sold to the other parties and he was transferred to Steve Asmussen.

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1st phf.com.ph RaceFest Videos on Youtube

by Jenny on December 31, 2007

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The 1st phf.com.ph Racing Festival was held successfully at San Lazaro Leisure Park last April 14 and 15. Nineteen trophy races were scattered over the two days.

MJC video editor ROEL TARIPE and I made these two videos which were aired heavily over the live cable TV race coverage during that raceweek and the next.

phf.com.ph teaser tvc:http://youtube.com/watch?v=Uq3NBt1-GGE

 


phf.com.ph thank you tvc:

http://youtube.com/watch?v=FxcIT16tQzc

Photo: phf.com.ph owner and founder Ramil Uchi hands a trophy to John Alvin Guce for his win aboard Circulation in the Manilabank-phf.com.ph ROU Cup, 15 April 2007, SLLP.

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KL: Real Spicy, Defending Champion sa PCSO Silver Cup

by Jenny on December 31, 2007

Karera Lang!

by Jenny Ortuoste

for 17 May 2007, Thursday, Tumbok

Real Spicy, defending champion sa PCSO Silver Cup

Maaskiyon at makulay ang karera sa May 20, Linggo, sa Santa Ana Park (SAP), dahil tatlong matitindi na stakes race ang pasasabugin sa kanilang pista – ang Eduardo M. Cojuangco Jr. Cup, first leg ng Triple Crown; ang Hopeful Stakes; at ang PCSO First Gentleman’s Silver Cup.

Dahil sa limitasyon sa espasyo hindi ko matatalakay ng detalyado ang lahat, kaya pipili nalang ako ng isa: ang Silver Cup. Ang 1st leg Triple Crown kasi, puro mga 3-year-old local-breds iyan, ngunit medyo mahirap i-predict kung sino ang mananalo dahil mga bata pa sila kaya “anything can happen”, bagamat ang gusto ko riyan ay sila Afternoon Delight (dahil sa ganda ng pagkapanalo niya nung Colts Stakes sa SLLP nung April 15) at si Ibarra gawa nung impresibo niyang takbo sa class-division kamakailan lang sa SAP.

Sa Silver Cup, muling gagabayan ni Louie Balboa si Real Spicy, na siya ring hinete niya nung kanilang naipanalo by 15 lengths ang 2006 na edisyon ng karerang ito.

Mahaba ang distansiya, 2050 meters, at malaki ang advantage ni Real Spicy dahil siya pa rin ang may hawak ng record dito -2:09, na itinala niya dalawang beses last December 2006, nung PCSO Presidential Gold Cup (Dec 17) at Philracom Classic Open (Dec 31), parehong sa Santa Ana Park (SAP).

Hawak din ni RS ang record para sa 1750 meters (1:48, itinala noong 26 June 2006, 26th Gran Copa de Manila sa SLLP) at sa 1800 meters (1 :52, noong 12 March 2006, Philracom Commissioners’ Cup sa SAP).

Malinaw na magaling talaga sa mahahabang distansiya si RS, at kahit saan mang pista siya mapapunta, kayang-kaya niya pa ring magpakita ng husay.

Ngunit dalawang beses na siyang natalo sa taong ito – una kay Empire King noong March sa SLLP, Commissioner’s Cup, baka raw kasi hindi pinalo ng hinete sa rekta; at kay Stop Talking noong April sa SAP, Imported Stakes Leg 2, dahil sa binukahan naman raw siya ni Empire King sa rekta din.

Malamang natuto na si RS at si Louie Balboa sa mga pagsubok na ito, at sa Silver Cup tiyak na kakama riyan ng winning strategy ang Spicy Team.

Ngunit hindi magpapatalo si Empire King na dating pinarangalang Horse of the Year. Itong Silver Cup ang hindi pa niya naidadagdag sa kanyang koleksiyon ng tropeo, kaya’t tiyak na hahabulin niya ng husto ang panalo dito.

Ayon naman sa isang survey na ginanap sa website ng Pinoy Horse Fanatics (phf.com.ph) kung sino ang mananalo ng Silver Cup, out of 66 na bumoto, 30 or 45.5% ang pumili kay Empire King, at dikit naman sa segundo puwesto si Real Spicy na may 28 votes o 42.4%. Malayong tersero si Don Paolo na may 4 votes lamang o 6.1%. Dito pa lang obvious na mukhang magiging “two horse race” sa bentahan.

Bagamat “rematch” nila Real Spicy at Empire King ang tingin ng karamihan dito, makakatunggali rin nila ang mga stakes campaigner na sila Don Paolo, Don Exequiel, Native Land, at Jet Sutter.

Karera lang – walang personalan! ***

Photo: RS and EK in a frantic race to the wire at SLLP, scene of the Mar 18 Commissioners’ Cup.

Related stories:

THW: Real Spicy-Empire King Rematch

by Jenny on December 31, 2007

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The Hoarse Whisperer

by Jenny Ortuoste

for 18 May 2007, Friday, BusinessWorld

Real Spicy, Empire King rematch on May 20

Racing overload! That’s what May 20 will be, a day of in-your-face thoroughbred action with the running of three major stakes races at Santa Ana Park (SAP) in Makati. From the Philippine Racing Commission (Philracom) comes the Eduardo M. Cojuangco Jr. Cup (first leg Triple Crown championship series) and the Hopeful Stakes, while the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) presents the First Gentleman’s Silver Cup.

The mile-long (1600-meter) 1st leg Triple Crown showcases the best local-bred 3-year-olds in the land. Expected to do well are Afternoon Delight, who won last April 15’s Colts Stakes at San Lazaro Leisure Park (SLLP), and Ibarra, who last SAP raceweek streaked past the rest of the field in a class-division race as if they were standing still.

Treasured Ack, who won the Filly Stakes at SAP last month, will give good competition, as will juvenile contender Es Twenty Six who performed brilliantly in a tuneup race last week at SLLP.

The Hopeful Stakes will see runners of the same caliber as the Triple Crown entrants but whose teams opted not to run them in the main event for one reason or another.

More interesting, though, is the PCSO Silver Cup, held annually in honor of the current president’s spouse, in this case First Gentleman Miguel Arroyo. A grueling 2050-meter battle, it pits archrivals Real Spicy and Empire King against each other in their third face-off this year.

The case for Real Spicy: he was the 2006 Horse of the Year and Silver Cup defending champion, having won it last year by 15 lengths with the same rider who’ll guide him this year, Louie Balboa.

Real Spicy holds the record for the 2050 meters – 2:09, set twice in December 2006 – the 1750-meters (1:48), and 1800-meters (1:52), both notched also in 2006. He has proven himself over long distances and is adept at both racetracks.

The case for Empire King: also a former Horse of the Year titlist, he has beaten Real Spicy before, most recently in March at SLLP at the Commissioner’s Cup, snapping Real Spicy’s 14-win streak.

Of all the major stakes races, Empire King has not won the Silver Cup yet and his team will be strategizing to add it to his formidable collection of trophies.

Both are multi-awarded champions, iconic track darlings, and both lost shamefully to Stop Talking last April at the Philracom Imported Stakes first leg. Empire King, concentrating too much on his archrival, was deemed by the Philracom to have shifted out and carried Real Spicy seven-wide, making the latter lose valuable ground in the stretch.

Empire King’s rider, Jeffrey Ladiana, suspended three racing weeks for that “slight interference”, was given permission to ride him again this time since he was already the declared jockey before the Philracom ruling was handed down.

Lessons having been learned, will Real Spicy finally claim vengeance against Empire King? Or will the latter show superiority in the stretch? Or could the other runners – stakes contenders Don Paolo, Don Exequiel, Native Land, and lone filly Jet Sutter – manage to do a “Stop Talking” and score an upset? ***

Photo: Another view of the Real Spicy-Empire King battle in the March 18 Philracom Commissioners’ Cup at SLLP. RS lost to EK by a heartbreaking half-length.

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