THE HOARSE WHISPERER By Jenny Ortuoste for Manila Standard-Today, 11 March 2009, Wednesday
Traffic Cones on a Horse Track?
For about a couple of months now, jockeys and exercise riders have been picking their way around traffic cones placed on the Manila Jockey Club’s San Lazaro Leisure Park racetrack during morning workouts.
Of the SLLP twin tracks at Carmona, Cavite, the inner track is used for races and not for workouts, while the outer track is open only for workouts, not for racing, as it is undergoing rehabilitation.
The traffic cones are placed along the middle of the outer track to preserve the inner rail and the part of the track that is being overhauled. Now these are the real-to-goodness things – tall, plastic, and bright orange – and, according to the jockeys, they are spooking the horses and causing all sorts of untoward incidents.
The New Philippine Jockeys’ Association wrote MJC last month asking for “the immediate removal of the traffic cones”. In the letter, they said, “Reactions from our member jockeys towards the cones have been highly negative, in that an estimated 70% of horses being worked on those days show signs of being disturbed by the cones. Our members have reported a marked increase in behavior such as shying (pang-iilag), and incidents such as collisions.
“We understand that MJC management wishes to preserve the inner portion of the outer track currently being used. But during trangko, not all horses run at the same speed. A horse doing a slightly slower workout in front of a horse going faster will cause pile-ups behind him. With the cones being an obstruction on the track, there is no place for jockeys to move their horses into better positions.
“In addition, the horse population at SLLP has tripled since the start of the year. More horses than ever are using the track for morning workouts, leading to traffic flow concerns. The cones are in the way of the horses.
“The cones therefore do not serve their intended purpose as dividers and in fact cause more problems and accidents.”
MJC’s response was to have some of the cones painted white.
Last week, jockey Roberto Yambao was involved in an accident during morning workout at SLLP and fell, sustaining severe injuries to the face that require reconstructive surgery. An exercise rider, Rolando Diaz, was said to have broken an elbow. NPJA says that because of these accidents, the cones really have to go.
As far as I know, nowhere else in the world are traffic cones placed on any horseracing track. Another case of “onli in da Pilipins”? Horses are not cars. They often cannot be made to travel in a straight line and at a constant speed all the time, every time.
And painting the cones white does not render them invisible to the horses and does not make them less of an obstruction.
While it may have seemed a good idea at the time, it’s not working. MJC should put the cones in the SLLP parking lot instead, where they belong.
Meanwhile, last Sunday, 400-meter sprint races were run for the first time ever in the local history of the sport. Staged at the Philippine Racing Club’s new Santa Ana Park in Naic, Cavite, the two such sprint races were much anticipated by the bayang karerista.
Barako, an entry in the Cong. Pidi Barzaga race, is glimpsed between trophies.
A chute at the top of the lane made for a straight, exhilarating course to the wire. Track pundits said to watch out for the ones who jumped well out of the gate, as unang lundag is always an advantage. And with the track at Naic still heavy on the inside, horses running on the outside – from stalls five outward – were also given a chance.
Sure enough, in the first 400-meter race, named for Cong. Elpidio Barzaga, it was the horse in the #9 stall, third favorite Misty (Hombre-Sun Goddess), who won.
But in the other, the Cong. Felix Alfelor race, it was outstanding favorite Batang Bukid (Hazm-Cheong Sam) who prevailed – no surprise, said railbirds. Another top choice, Traditional, won by a narrow margin in the 1,800-meter Cong. Crispin Remulla race.
Jonathan Hernandez, atop Batang Bukid, pulls away from Sheila’s Princess with LC Lunar in the stretch to win the Cong. Felix Alfelor sprint.
Awarding ceremony for the Cong. Alfelor race: Philracom commissoner Boboc Domingo, Government Enterprises and Privatization committee secretary Cora Rigor (representing Cong. Alfelor), Games and Amusements committee chairman Cong. Amado Bagatsing, Philracom chairman Atty. Joy Rojas, winning trainer Manuel Vicente, and PRC EVP-COO Atty. Mon Ereñeta.
But it was Joshua’s Laughter (Lochrae-Bell Bottoms) who had the last laugh that day. Running as only the third pick in the arduous 1,800 meter Cong. Amado Bagatsing race, the 4YO colt won wire-to-wire by seven or eight lengths. Now that’s racing! ***
Awarding ceremony for the Cong. Amado S. Bagatsing race: Atty. Bert Jurado, chief-of-staff of Cong. Bagatsing; Philracom chairman Atty. Joy Rojas; Jun Dancel, G & A committee staffer; Cong. Amado Bagatsing handing the trophy to owner’s representative Joshua Sevidal; Mariel Lopez, Grace del Castillo, and Edna Brampio of the G & A committee; Philracom commissioner Boboc Domingo; and PRC EVP-COO Atty. Mon Ereñeta.