THE HOARSE WHISPERER
By Jenny Ortuoste for Manila Standard-Today, 4 June 2008, Wednesday
Copper Dew Takes Pearl I
That’s the phrase that popped from my lips when speedster Copper Dew delivered the performance of her life so far to win the Philippine Racing Commission Pearl I stakes last Sunday at the Philippine Racing Club’s Santa Ana Park.
The 4YO racemare, steered by jockey Jonathan Hernandez, broke cleanly from the gate, took the lead, and never looked back, crafting a wire-to-wire win over 1,800 meters in 1:53.6.
Her feat is considered all the more remarkable since common wisdom expects speedsters to fade in the later stages of a long-distance race, allowing stayers to come from behind. Copper Dew is perceived to be better over shorter distances: she holds the national record for the mile (1,600 meters) at 1:38, and a 2,000-meter foray in the 2007 Don Juan Derby bagged her only third place.
But as a racing analyst confidently predicted, “If she gets the lead, and isn’t hounded, she’ll win.” Sure enough, Copper Dew’s ten other opponents – none of them sprinters of her caliber – couldn’t get close. This allowed her to cruise in front by as much as four lengths in the backstretch and avoid traffic snarls to still come in a length ahead of Traditional. Longshot Fierce Fighter managed third, while Sweet Xarah, who had chased the Ruben Clor-trained Copper Dew in second for most of the race, came in fourth.
Initially, the race was to have been run over 1,750 meters at the Manila Jockey Club’s San Lazaro Leisure Park. But contractual disputes between MJC and totalizator (betting computer system) providers United Tote Company (based in the US) and local Global Versatech, Inc. led to the cancellation of races at SLLP on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Philracom chairman Atty. Jose Ferdinand M. Rojas II then issued a directive last Wednesday to both MJC and PRC transferring the venue of last week’s remaining races to PRC. With no 1,750-meter chute at Santa Ana Park’s racetrack, the distance of the Pearl I stakes had to be changed to 1,800 meters.
Copper Dew (f. 2005, Stravinsky-Copper Eyes) has racing champions Deputy Minister and Nureyev in her lineage, giving her a heavy Northern Dancer influence on both sides, which could account for Copper Dew’s stamina.
The stocky little Canadian-bred Northern Dancer overcame cracked heels and other physical adversities to win various G1 stakes races including the 1964 Kentucky Derby, where he beat archfoe Hill Rise by a neck and set a time record. Northern Dancer also won that year’s Preakness stakes but faltered in the third leg of the US Triple Crown, coming in third in the Belmont. He went on to gain more prominence as a sire.
Northern Dancer beating Hill Rise to win the 1964 Kentucky Derby
It has been claimed that “an estimated 75% of current racing thoroughbreds” can be traced back to Northern Dancer, who has been hailed as one of the foremost studs of the 20th century.
After Copper Dew’s Pearl I win, owner Jose Mari A. Franco commented, “I thought she was spectacular. She’s a very smart, cool-headed horse who knows what she’s doing.”
Franco, who is also a thoroughbred breeder, purchased Copper Dew at a horse auction in Kentucky, attracted by her pedigree. “It’s not easy to find a Stravinsky that is reasonably well-priced. In New Zealand, you can’t buy a Stravinsky today for less than $60,000. Stravinsky’s stud fee is about the same. I was fortunate to get Copper Dew at an affordable price.”
Franco adds, “I really wanted her for breeding; that’s the end result. Now that she’s winning stakes races, it drives up the value of her foals.”
Future plans? “I’ll get her into all the stakes races I can,” says Franco, “just as long as they’re not too close to each other. I want her well-rested.” Showing versatility and endurance as she matures, this speedy imported racehorse is one to watch out for. ***