Track Condition Deplored
By Jenny Ortuoste for Manila Standard-Today, Saturday, 9 May 2009
(Banner story on the Sports page.)
The largest horseowners’ organization in the country reacted strongly to a spate of accidents that occurred last week at the Philippine Racing Club’s Santa Ana Park in Naic, Cavite,
From Wednesday to Sunday last week, four horses incurred severe injuries that necessitated their humane destruction. On Wednesday, Sun Chaser suffered a complete compound fracture of the distal third metacarpal bone of the off-forelimb. On Saturday, Midnight King had a fracture of the humerus of the off shoulder and What About Andee, a complete compound fracture of the distal third cannon bone of the near-fore. On Sunday, Fantasy Angel suffered a dislocation of the fetlock joint on the off-fore.
Nine other horses – Time Deposit, Miss Malabon, Bumpy Johnson, Tiger Raffy, I Remain, Hugs and Kisses, Winking Eye, Raven, and Doña Marucha – were found to be limping after their races.
Worse were the injuries suffered by the jockeys – Mark Alvarez, unseated off Midnight King on Saturday, was unable to ride the rest of the weekend. Egay Lumagui, who fell off What About Andee on Saturday, is still in the ICU unit of M. V. Santiago Hospital in Trece Martirez, Cavite.
According to the New Philippine Jockeys’ Association, Lumagui suffered a blood clot in the brain and could not speak coherently or comprehend until yesterday. Today, one of his physicians, Dr. Pinky Isaac, says his condition has improved, and the clot is expected to diffuse on its own without need for surgery.
According to Metropolitan Association of Race Horse Owners president Mandaluyong Mayor lawyer Benhur Abalos, jockeys and trainers said heavy rains at the track last Thursday may have caused the sand of the track surface to settle unevenly, which could have led to the rash of accidents.
Abalos sent a letter in behalf of MARHO to PRC management saying, “PRC needs to be more prudent with their safety measures. These accidents are very alarming.”
He added that the racing club needs to assure horseowners that their track is in a fit condition for this coming PRC racing week, especially since three Philippine Racing Commission-sponsored stakes races will be held there on May 17 – the Emerald I, the Hopeful I, and the highly-prestigious Triple Crown I for local 3YO horses.
MARHO director Jose Mari Franco lauded Abalos’ move, and noted that “horrendous” conditions at the Manila Jockey Club’s San Lazaro Leisure Park in Carmona, Cavite, also need to be investigated. “My horse Spanish Ruler hit a lubak there two weeks ago and suffered multiple slab fractures on the right knee and can never run again.”
For their part, the racing clubs are acting to improve the condition of their tracks. The outer track of SLLP’s twin tracks have been undergoing rehabilitation for some weeks now, with repair of the inner track to follow.
PRC Racing Manager Dan Valmonte said that in coordination with jockeys Lyndon Guce and Edwin de la Cruz of the jockeys’ association, an inspection was made of their Santa Ana Park track a few days ago with the jockeys pointing to what they said were soft spots.
“We took up the surface at the spots they pointed out,” said Valmonte, “but we found nothing wrong with the layers; everything was intact.”
He added that the rains caused the track surface to harden. “What we will do is harrow the track with a roto-tiller to restore the surface to the condition it was before the rains – a bit soft. Track times may slow down, but we will do all we can to ensure the safety of race participants. Everything is being done to have the track ready for the next racing week.” ***