THE HOARSE WHISPERER By Jenny Ortuoste for Manila Standard-Today, 20 May 2009, Wednesday
Longshot Filly Grabs Crown
Fashioning a spectacular wire-to-wire win, gray filly Heaven Sent galloped to victory in the mile first leg of the Philippine Racing Commission Triple Crown championship series held at the Philippine Racing Club’s New Santa Ana Park in Naic, Cavite, last Sunday.
The stakes race and the two others in the prestigious championship trilogy are open only to elite Philippine-bred 3YO runners.
The Rita Pilapil-owned and Willy Fernandez-trained speedster steered by jockey Rodeo Fernandez broke quick out of the gate and took the lead. Despite hounding in the stretch by the favorite, the unbeaten chestnut colt Mr. Diamond, longshot Heaven Sent held off ten other opponents to earn the P1.8 million first prize.
Mr. Diamond came in second, good for P675,000; followed by Iconic and Dream Supreme as third and fourth placers, taking P375,000 and P150,000 respectively. Quarter times were 25-23′-24′-27′ for a total time of 1:40.6.
Awarding ceremony for the 1st leg Triple Crown: PRC EVP-COO Atty. Ramon P. Ereñeta, Philracom consultant Dr. Romy Buencamino, Philracom commissioner Dr. Eyo Fernando, jockey Rodeo Fernandez, PRC president Solomon Cua, and, also from Philracom, chairman Atty. Joy Rojas and commissioner Atty. Vic Tantoco. Behind them are trainer Willy Fernandez and the Tropang Heaven Sent (Rita Pilapil connections).
The breeder’s purse of P100,000 went to horseowner and breeder Jose Mari Franco, who matched the sire Heza Gone West to broodmare Kiss and Run to produce the outstanding filly.
Said trainer Willy Fernandez, “She’s a good horse who has done very well and we are confident of even better things from her.”
Rider Rodeo Fernandez said he was surprised that no other horse attempted to run head-to-head against Heaven Sent, which might have worn her out. Given her head at the far turn, she accelerated even farther and left the rallying Mr. Diamond to win by ¾ length.
Railbirds, running the race again in hindsight, commented that the failure of the other entries to run at or near the pace proved to be an advantage for Heaven Sent. “That’s the excitement of racing,” said a veteran jockey. “People learn their lessons and the scenario is bound to be different next time.” The second leg of the Triple Crown is set for June 14 also at NSAP.
The last filly to win a leg of the Triple Crown was Indelible Ink, who won the first leg in 2008 after a brilliant career as a juvenile. The year before that, Es Twenty Six won the third leg and went on to star in other major races. Will Heaven Sent do as well? Only time will tell.
Heaven Sent’s win mirrors the outcome of the G1 Preakness Stakes, run last May 16 at Pimlico Racecourse in Maryland. Superfilly Rachel Alexandra, who won the Kentucky Oaks for fillies two weeks before, scored by a length over the boys in the second leg of the US Triple Crown. Mine That Bird, winner of the Kentucky Derby, came in second to the powerhouse filly steered by Calvin Borel, who also piloted Rachel Alexandra in the Oaks, and Mine That Bird in the Derby.
Rachel Alexandra was the first filly to have won the Preakness since 1924, and the first horse to win from the No. 13 outside stall. She garnered unanimous votes as the US National Thoroughbred Racing Association’s top 3YO. With all her accomplishments, owner Jess Jackson of Stonestreet Stable does not feel compelled to make her run the grueling distance of the Belmont S., third leg of the US Triple Crown, and at this time her participation in that race is still being considered.
Also last May 17 at NSAP, another filly led from start to finish in the local Triple Crown’s auxiliary race, the Philracom Hopeful Stakes. Herminio S. Esguerra’s Eternal Flame, ridden by Val Dilema and trained by Clarito Alvarez, did 1:41.6 for the mile to win the P600,000 first prize. Stablemate Blue Ocean checked in second. Princess Jacklyn was third and Action Sailor fourth.
Eternal Flame, a Strong Material-Tatler Cover bay filly, was bred by Esguerra at his showcase ranch in Batangas, Herma Farms and Stud.
Yet another stakes race sponsored by Philracom was held that same day, also with a wire-to-wire outcome. Don Enrico jumped cleanly from the gate to win the mile Emerald I S. by many lengths, earning P300,000. ***