THE HOARSE WHISPERER By Jenny Ortuoste for Manila Standard-Today, 25 March 2009, Wednesday
Aquamarine II on Sunday
Once in a while, a racehorse comes along who’s so good that he has dominated the local scene, causing his connections to think of racing him abroad for the challenge of besting other opponents and for fame and fortune.
In recent memory, two horses come to mind – Wind Blown (Hazm-Wind in My Hair) and Ibarra (Yonaguska-Fire Down Under). Their owners – businessman Hermie Esguerra and Mandaluyong Mayor Benhur Abalos respectively – thought of bringing these champions to race in Malaysia or Singapore.
It’s too late now for Wind Blown, who was retired some years back, and is proving to be a popular sire at Esguerra’s Herma Stud in Batangas. But Ibarra, who is still an active runner, has a chance to look for a larger arena for his skills.
And now comes Lim Expensive Toys (Giant’s Causeway-Prophet’s Kiss), who has been doing well enough lately that his owner is contemplating racing him in Singapore as well.
Last Sunday at Santa Ana Park, Australian import Lim Expensive Toys was the super outstanding favorite for the Philippine Racing Commission Aquamarine I stakes, the third leg of the Import/Local Challenge series. Run over a mile, there were only four horses in the Aquamarine I – the others were fellow Aussies Ziraz (Aberet-Zariz) and Leave No Doubt (Seignorial-Merbla), as well as Traditional (Traditionally-Another Roof) from New Zealand.
“Aaand they’re off!” in the Philracom Aquamarine I stakes.
Railbirds said, “Segundo nalang ang pinaglalabanan diyan,” and sure enough, the favorite had an easy time, winning handily with a time of 1:42.6 over Santa Ana Park’s heavy track.
Lim Expensive Toys (#4) takes the outside position right after the start.
Third choice Ziraz snagged second place, Leave No Doubt was third, and Traditional, the second favorite, checked in last.
Lim Expensive Toys comes in lengths ahead of the rest of the field.
Ridden by promising young rider John Alvin Guce and trained by Lito Tornandizo, the 4YO chestnut colt owned by Roland Lim is touted to be one of the best imports running today. As the proud connections, their desire is to see Lim Expensive Toys face new challenges by racing abroad.
Guce receives his trophy from Philracom chairman Atty. Joy Rojas. With them are PRC SVP-Finance Allan Abesamis, Tornandizo, and Philracom commissioners Dr. Eyo Fernando and Boboc Domingo.
Sports writer Andy Sevilla accepts the owner’s trophy in behalf of Roland Lim. Sevilla accompanied Lim to the Magic Millions sale at the Gold Coast, Australia, two years ago and recommended the purchase of the Giant’s Causeway colt they named Lim Expensive Toys. With Sevilla are trainer Lito Tornandizo and jockey John Alvin Guce.
However, it will take some time before this is accomplished. The Philippines does not have accreditation yet from international horseracing bodies for quarantine. Meaning, horses from the Philippines cannot be directly exported or sent out of the country.
One way of getting around this is for a horse to be brought to Malaysia, undergo the quarantine procedures there, and proceed to Singapore, with its glitzy tracks and hefty purses.
It’s a logistical challenge.
Meanwhile, speaking of 5YO Ibarra, who last showed off his skills two Sundays ago at San Lazaro Leisure Park by winning the 1900-meter Philracom Commissioner’s Cup, his owner, Mayor Abalos, has high hopes for him this season.
Said Abalos, “We’re waiting for news about the PCSO First Gentleman’s Silver Cup, where we may race Ibarra next. Ngayon bakasyon muna siya, ibabalik ko sa farm for at least two weeks’ rest.”
He revealed that his horse was suffering from pharyngitis the week before the Commissioner’s Cup. “Our veterinarian administered antibiotics, but I had decided to scratch Ibarra from the race if his condition did not improve by the Friday before the race. On that day, a blood test was performed that showed that his system had normalized. So we ran him, and thankfully he won. It’s a redemption for the horse.”
This Sunday, the Philracom Aquamarine II stakes will be held at SLLP over 1500 meters. Open to all local-bred 3YO, it’s a chance for other horses to shine and prove themselves champions of the track as well. ***