THW: Traffic Cones on a Horse Track?

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.

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5 Comments on THW: Traffic Cones on a Horse Track?

  1. Mario
    12 March 2009 at 12:46 am (4134 days ago)

    Hello Ms. Jenny, Do you happen to know the name of the lady who awarded the trophy to the Cong Alfelor race? Thanks….

  2. Jenny
    12 March 2009 at 1:54 am (4134 days ago)

    @ Mario: That’s Ms. Cora Rigor, comm-sec of GEP. I’ve added a picture.

  3. Mario
    12 March 2009 at 2:32 am (4134 days ago)

    OK thank you very much for the info and the photo! And I appreciate what you’re doing for horse-racing. Keep it up!! May your tribe increase!!

  4. NiHAWmA
    12 March 2009 at 7:54 am (4134 days ago)

    Why not just use the concrete barriers of MMDA?

    Was the race track designed as if there is a slalom?

    I agree with the jockeys as they might accidentally missed their turn and will just paved the way for the horses to have an unnecessary habit.

    These are the kinds of decisions which sounds funny. It’s good that the race horses does not know how to make a ninety degree turn.

    Rubber traffic cones can be placed at a certain distances out from inner rail ONLY if the race track is muddy (rain soaked) to prevent horses from churning the footing along the rail.

    For the benefit of your readers, in horse racing, they call it “dogs”.

  5. NiHAWmA
    13 March 2009 at 12:40 am (4133 days ago)

    It should NOT be an excuse with regards to the physical deterioration of the race track itself. It is the responsibility of the racing club to have their facilities well maintained. That is one way of preserving their resources or assets.

    The traffic cones on a race track endangers the safety of the horses and the lives of the jockeys.

    We all know that during non-racing days, the club’s racetrack is open for workouts. San Lazaro Leisure Park should clear ANY obstacles which will constitute the danger to the racing career of the jockeys and the horses as well. Saddle and Clubs Leisure Park should be aware of this also. It is heartbreaking to hear if somebody will be injured. How much more if you see any unexpected incident.

    There should be a personnel from the Philippine Racing Commission who should call their attention to ensure their safety. The Philippine Racing Commission should see to it that the racing club adheres to the rules. They are the regulatory agency with the statutory mandate to oversee horse racing. If certain rules have been violated, there should be a corresponding penalty.

    I don’t think if there is any waiver of liability against the risk in horse racing. A good safety measures is one way of promoting horse racing.