THW: Mega-Weekend at San Lazaro

THE HOARSE WHISPERER By Jenny Ortuoste for Manila Standard-Today, 10 March 2010, Wednesday

Mega-Weekend at San Lazaro

Even as this El Niño summer’s heat has raised daytime temperatures to 39 degrees, this weekend will see even more scorching hot action at the Manila Jockey Club’s San Lazaro Leisure Park track in Carmona, Cavite.

Saturday will see track heroes Don Enrico, Ibarra, Hieroglyphics, and Shining Fame gallop over 1,900 meters for the first prize of P1.2 million in the Philippine Racing Commission-sponsored Commissioner’s Cup. While seen as a rematch between island-born Ibarra and local-bred Don Enrico, the race is still anybody’s game.

The 5YO Don Enrico and the 6YO Ibarra, considered track rivals and the elite horses in their class, last met February 21 at the Philippine Racing Club’s Santa Ana Park in the Philracom Amethyst III stakes.

Taking the home turn wide and running neck-and-neck down the stretch, they did not count on longshot Tiwi Magic, a 6YO mare, passing by the rail to pull off a length win in an explosive upset that still has racing fans in shock.

On Saturday, expect to see Ibarra take the lead with Don Enrico running just slightly off the pace to rally along the lane head-to-head against Ibarra. It’s anybody’s guess who’ll reach the wire first, especially if they once again race wide and neglect to check the rail for comers like stayer Shining Fame, a Triple Crown leg winner and stablemate of Tiwi Magic. Plucky gray Hieroglyphics is also said to be in good form nowadays.

Railbirds opine that the scenario may unfold differently on Saturday. In the Amethyst III, Jesse Guce had the ride on Ibarra, while promising youngster John Alvin Guce was given Don Enrico, whose regular rider is Fernando Raquel.

At the home turn, with Ibarra in the lead and Don Enrico at his flank, Jesse took the turn wide, forcing John Alvin to swing around further and lose ground – a positioning tactic. Veteran jockey Raquel, a contemporary of Jesse’s, will be back in Don Enrico’s saddle on Saturday, and he’s considered to be too savvy to fall for such a trick.

Sunday at San Lazaro will feature the 1,500-meter Philracom Chairman’s Cup, which pits twelve 3YO local-bred colts and fillies competing for the first prize of P720,000.

With the scratching of Carriedo, a possible favorite, the field is down to Gastambide, Kristal’s Beauty, Lakota Creek, Milenyo, No Guts No Glory, Righthererightnow, Rolling Thunder, Scotland Yard, Tiger Moon, Thoti’s Best, Well Well Well, and Yes Pogi.

Kristal’s Beauty won the February 20 Amethyst II for fillies, destroying seven opponents including favorites Well Well Well and Ice Storm. Her eyebrow-raising seven-length victory as far fourth choice was a tremendous upset.

In the succeeding day’s Amethyst IV for colts, Scotland Yard staged a shocker, winning by a head over outstanding favorite Carriedo, second pick Yes Pogi, and eight others. Thoti’s Best posted a three-length win in a mile condition race last Sunday, also at Santa Ana Park.

Among the three, Kristal’s Beauty has the best time for the mile – 1:44 compared to Thoti’s Best’s 1:44.5 and Scotland Yard’s 1:44.6. Her last quarter – 28 seconds – was the same as Scotland Yard’s.

This time, though, Kristal’s Beauty will be going up against the boys. But if she shows the same form she did in the Amethyst II, she has a good chance of creaming the field, and going on to be a favorite in the first leg of the Philracom Triple Crown, to be held over a mile on May 9 at Santa Ana Park.

The Philracom Commissioner’s Cup and Chairman’s Cup honors past officials of the agency. This year’s edition will honor former commissioner and jockey Lyndon Guce and former chairman and horseowner and breeder Andrew Sanchez. ***

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