THE HOARSE WHISPERER By Jenny Ortuoste for Manila Standard-Today, 27 January 2010, Wednesday
Monster Payoffs, New Records at Santa Ana Park
A few savvy racegoers went home with their wallets bulging after a record-setting, suspense-wracked day at the Santa Ana Park in Naic, Cavite, last Sunday.
Nine of the races on the thirteen-race card featured field sizes over seven, and the handicapping, prepared by Philippine Racing Club’s racing manager Dan Valmonte, handicapper Allan Aglipay, and team, was so well-balanced that aficionados were hard-pressed to come up with their ruta (choices).
What made picking winners even more crucial was the record P11.33 million quintuple carryover on the first set of the Winner-Take-All event, which kicked off with Race 1. The huge pool had accumulated since Thursday when no one won the challenging cards on three succeeding days.
Anticipation of more longshots - and corresponding hefty dividends – skyrocketed Sunday’s first WTA sales to P15.22 million, the biggest pool to date in the history of the sport.
Bettors at the racetrack and at over 300 off-track betting stations in Luzon crowded around each other, sharing tips, exchanging information, and pooling their bets (bakas), to cushion the cost of a betting combination padded with many choices. “We can’t leave any horses out,” said one racing fan. “In one of the races with a field of five, we chose four. The races were that hard to handicap.”
The WTA event requires choosing the winners of seven succeeding designated races. Race 1 was won by second favorite Love or Money, a fairly popular pick. Race 2 went to the favorite Now Showing, but longshot Dagger Look gave a scare by coming in second via photo finish. Heavy favorite Fuerte Materiale snagged Race 3 by six lengths, and Shemarjoh won wire-to-wire in Race 4. So far, so good. At this point, those with ‘live’ tickets breathed a bit easier.
Race 5 was a whole different story. From a full-gate field of twelve numbers (two runners were coupled entries), My Hope emerged the top favorite. A far second choice was Kenfair Special with stablemate Mooney Money. Weder Weder Lang and verteran Es Twenty Six also sold. These five were stellar performers; fans thought they had hedged their bets. But they changed their tune when Street Song, third from the pinakadehado sa lahat, won the 1,300 meter race by a head, decimating the ranks of live tickets.
Third favorite Amazing Pace won Race 6, and fourth pick Rampage, Race 7. After the betting computers finished calculating, eleven winning tickets remained, each worth a payoff of P1.92 million.
The second WTA set sold only a little over P1 million. Yet there were only two winners of P500,000 each. And after upsets scored by Doña Leonora and Gold Cugat in the WTA third set, two lucky bettors went home with P393,000 each.
There were other massive payouts in other events – over P12,000 per winning ticket in the Race 6 pentafecta, P13,000 in the Race 2 pentafecta, P68,000 in the Pick Five, and P779,000 in the Pick 6.
There was a P258,000 double carryover in the Super Six event after the last race which longshot Prince Carlo won, giving racing fans something extra to aim for when races return to PRC on February 2.
The betting frenzy overshadowed the Philippine Racing Commission Garnet IV stakes. Participated in by only four 3YO colts with three numbers, it was run between Races 6 and 7 with no betting. Caloy Villava’s favored Righthererightnow (Interrogate – Mi Sharona) with popular rider Jeff Zarate aboard, won the mile race easily from stablemate Lakota Creek, both trained by Roderick de Guzman. Final Judgement came in third, Pinakamagaling fourth.
The day’s closely-contested, well-handicapped races were a treat for racing fans, who responded by wagering with enthusiasm. Sales for the day topped P43.88 million. Racing hasn’t seen those kinds of numbers since the sport’s last golden period in 2005. The winning formula’s right there. Let’s see if the racing clubs, horseowners, and other stakeholders will consistently use it to jump-start a resurgence in the sport’s popularity – and profitability. *** (Web: http://jennyo.net)