THE HOARSE WHISPERER By Jenny Ortuoste for Manila Standard-Today, 9 December 2009, Wednesday
Don Enrico Wins PCSO Gold Cup
“So now we know,” said railbirds, “who the Horse of the Year is likely to be.”
This was the buzz after Don Enrico won the 37th Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office Presidential Gold Cup, the richest and most celebrated event on the racing calendar, last Sunday at the Manila Jockey Club’s San Lazaro Leisure Park.
Steered by Fernando Raquel Jr., the 4YO Philippine-bred colt negotiated the 2,000-meter journey with relative ease, preferring to run off the pace with island-born rival Ibarra taking the lead in the six horse-field.
The four other runners were Sword O’War, Dream Supreme, Shining Fame, and Dumadagundong. All broke well from the gate but these four were no match for Don Enrico and Ibarra, who set as much as eight lengths between them and Shining Fame who was running in third.
It looked like a match race with the two contestants way in front, with Ibarra, guided by Kelvin Abobo, slightly ahead by as much as three lengths in the backstretch.
But come the far turn, Don Enrico began to rev up and easily caught up to Ibarra. The two took the home turn almost as one. Just past the bend, Raquel gave Don Enrico a little flick of the whip on the shoulder. That faint signal was enough to send Don Enrico into overdrive. The brave bay colt flung out his legs and ran the race of his life, stride after patient stride sending him farther away from his opponents till he crossed the wire way ahead of them, crowning himself a champion and bringing home the gold.
Ibarra came second to bag a hefty P500,000 purse; Dream Supreme third to earn P250,000; and Shining Fame fourth for P125,000.
PCSO chairman Sergio Valencia himself presented the heavy gold replica cup to Don Enrico’s owners Lorraine Uy Wi and Gerardo Espina Jr., and golden trophies to jockey Raquel and trainer Arturo Sordan Jr.
Also present at the awarding ceremony were Philippine Racing Commission chairman lawyer Jose Ferdinand Rojas II, PCSO Committee on Races chair lawyer Jose Malang and vice-chair Reynaldo Empremiado, MJC chairman lawyer Alfonso Reyno Jr., Pacific Gaming’s Tan Eng Hwa, and other racing officials and guests.
Facsimile checks worth P1.5 million from PCSO and P1 million from Philracom were presented to the beaming owners. The P2.5 million total prize for first place makes this year’s PCSO Gold Cup one of the best-rewarded in its history.
”We congratulate the owners of Don Enrico,” said PCSO chairman Valencia, “on the grand performance displayed by their horse today, and look forward to the future champions that will emerge at this annual event. We hope the generous prize money put up by the two agencies may be an incentive for breeders and owners to continue producing quality Philippine-bred champions.”
Not as large a horse as his sire, the “mighty Wind Blown” (as racing commentators have named him in an oft-repeated label that has become a cliché in the sport’s circles), Don Enrico showed the legacy of the “winningest” horse in Philippine racing with his trick of pulling away from the pack in the stretch and going on to triumph by lengths.
“Parang ama niya kung tumakbo,” marveled ranch hands from Herma Farms and Stud, where Don Enrico was born to Australian broodmare Kayumanggi. Like Wind Blown, Don Enrico is considered late-maturing, getting better as he ages, like fine wine. He also has no problem with heavy handicap weights and runs well on both MJC and Philippine Racing Club tracks.
Will Don Enrico be hailed Horse of the Year? We’ll find out in just a few weeks. ***