THE HOARSE WHISPERER By Jenny Ortuoste for Manila Standard-Today, 8 April 2009, Wednesday
Jockey Gets One Year Suspension
For many racing fans, it was a just punishment and satisfying call by the Philippine Racing Club Board of Stewards.
Positive reactions greeted the suspension of star jockey Jonathan B. Hernandez last Saturday, when the announcement was made that he was slapped with a one-year (312 racing days) suspension for “deliberately losing the race” when he lost with outstanding favorite Blue Ocean in Race 8 last Friday at Santa Ana Park.
Hernandez; the race lineup as printed in Dividendazo racing program.
Hernandez eased up on his mount a few meters before the wire, allowing fast-charging Boot Legs to come from behind and nip him at the finish line. A photo-finish result declared the long-shot Boot Legs (Mr. Sutter-Bell Bottoms) the winner.
Blue Ocean (Mr. Sutter-Pointe de Pieds), a multiple stakes contender, had won a race two weeks before by many lengths, and was considered a shoo-in for the ordinary Class 4 Division 3B race last Friday.
The other runners in the race – Boot Legs, City of Dreams, Speedy McKie, Money for Rap, Hot Gossip, Capretiosa, and Star Turk – were lightly regarded and the 1,200 meter race should have been easy pickings for Blue Ocean.
Anger erupted among racing fans at Blue Ocean’s loss, which was assuaged only the next day with the announcement of the suspension.
Sources from the jockey community said that Hernandez admitted to “overconfidence” by standing up before the finish line but that he denied any malicious intent in his ride.
Other sources also mentioned that Hernandez has been dismissed from the Herminio S. Esguerra racing stable, owner of Blue Ocean and of Go Army. The latter lost two stakes races in February and March with Hernandez aboard. Go Army (Mr. Sutter-J’Approve) had been undefeated and the losses marred his record.
Hailed the 2008 Jockey of the Year, Hernandez last year earned P41.8 million in prize money from 651 rides with a first to fourth record of 187-124-84-66. He is considered one of the most talented riders ever in Philippine horseracing.
But the past months have not been good for Hernandez. He was suspended for 72 racing days by the Manila Jockey Club Board of Stewards for an infraction in a 26 December 2008 race aboard Macedonian. Upon appeal, in January the Philippine Racing Commission reduced his sentence to “time served” but fined him for making a sarcastic comment to the MJC BOS during the investigation.
On 10 February 2009, during the MJC racemeet at San Lazaro Leisure Park, he was replaced as rider of Panibugho for “loss of confidence” on the part of the horse’s owner. The very next day, he was suspended for 24 racing days for “lack of interest” aboard Last Hazm. The suspension was later shifted to the horse when it was found that the horse had been limping.
Hernandez may appeal his one-year suspension to the Philracom; if the penalty is upheld, he may bring the case to Malacañang for decision.
The Hernandez case overshadowed other events at Santa Ana Park last weekend. On Saturday, island-born longshot Tribal Queen (Tribal Rule-Homecoming Queen) scored an upset in Race 5 with a wire-to-wire win over 1,000 meters, coming in five lengths ahead of the favorite Big Ben. Owned by Jamaya Stables, Tribal Queen is trained by Buboy Jacob and was ridden by John B. Cordero.
On Sunday, Australian import Tiwi Magic (Hemingway-Dreamtime) won the 6th Juanito A. Macaraig Cup, sponsored by horseowner William Dagan and the Klub Don Juan de Manila. Macaraig, who died in 2007, was a star jockey during his time and later on became a trainer. Three other special races supported by Philracom were also held in his honor that same day.
The jumpout for the 6th Juanito A. Macaraig Cup. Tiwi Magic (yellow silks) broke from the outermost stall (#7).
Tiwi Magic is owned by Tony Tan, trained by Nestor Manalang, and was ridden by Jesse B. Guce. ***
Tiwi Magic pulls away from the rest of the field in the final stage of the race.
At the awarding ceremony (front, L-R): Jockey Joey Macaraig, son of the late Juanito A. Macaraig; KDJM Director Rudy Pamintuan; jockey Jesse B. Guce with his children; Mrs. Mila Macaraig, widow of the race honoree; Detdet Fernando, representative of owner Tony Tan; trainer Nestor Manalang; Odette Macaraig, daughter of the race honoree. (Back): William Dagan, horseowner and race sponsor, with his children Mark, Erilyn, and Kelly An. In an interview after the awarding ceremony, Dagan said he has made his children promise to carry on the sponsorship of this race in the future.