THE HOARSE WHISPERER By Jenny Ortuoste for Manila Standard-Today, 28 April 2010, Wednesday
Triple Crown Sweep Unlikely
It’s a sign that Philippine breeding is improving and racing becoming more competitive, with the lack of a sure contender for three-year-old honors in the summer’s Triple Crown competition.
The Philippine Racing Commission-sponsored trilogy of races showcases elite 3YO local-breds. In years past, there would always be one or two runners who clearly outclassed the rest – Fair and Square, Sun Dancer, and Real Top, to name a few. But since Silver Story did it in 2001, no horse has swept all three legs of the event.
A sweep is now considered rare enough for the Philracom to offer a P500,000 bonus prize to whoever achieves it. This year, it seems like the purse will go unclaimed once again.
Over the past few weeks, horses nominated for the Triple Crown and its auxiliary race, the Hopeful Stakes, have been running in prep races. Among those who won their preps and are emerging as likely favorites are Consolidator and Yes Pogi in the Triple Crown on May 9, and Lakota Creek, Thief in the Nite, Hot, and Queen of Class in the Hopeful on May 8, both at Santa Ana Park.
In mile races last weekend at Santa Ana Park, Eric Tagle’s Thief in the Nite ran wire-to-wire to win by five lengths, Sandy Javier’s Hot came from behind in an easy win, and Jun Almeda’s Consolidator destroyed the field to win by 13 lengths.
The latter’s impressive run tagged it as a likely favorite for the Triple Crown, yet Consolidator ran against a lesser field of Hopeful wannabes. It’ll be a different scenario come the actual race.
Mirroring the openness of the local Triple Crown is the US version. Eskendereya, early favorite for the Kentucky Derby on May 1, was scratched the other day after incurring an injury. The “Run for the Roses”, first jewel of the US Triple Crown, is now anybody’s race.
An annual event since 1875, held on the first Saturday in May, the KY Derby attracts horseracing fans from all over the world, some dressed in their best outfits, others in their wackiest hats.
They come to savor the mint juleps, engage in horse racing betting, and watch the finest horses in the country race for honors in one of the most historic and prestigious events in the world.
The field for this year’s edition includes: American Lion, Awesome Act, Conveyance, Dean’s Kitten, Devil May Care, Discreetly Mine, Dublin, Endorsement, Homeboykris, Ice Box, Interactif, Jackson Bend, Line of David, Lookin at Lucky, Make Music For me, Mission Impazible, Noble’s Promise, Paddy O’Prado, Setsuko, Sidney’s Candy, Stately Victor, and Super Saver. (The scratches were Eskendereya, Rule, and Endorsement.)
Last year’s KY Derby was won by Mine that Bird with Calvin Borel on top. Rallying from last place, the tandem sneaked unnoticed by the rail, a tactic the jockey is known for, hence his nickname “Bo-rail”. Even the race announcer did not mention his name until he was three lengths in front and less than a hundred meters from the wire. The “monumental upset” was the second biggest in Derby history. This led to a surge in interest in Kentucky Derby betting.
This year, Bo-rail is riding Super Saver. However, it is the Bob Baffert-trained Lookin at Lucky that may be the likeliest contender, along with Sidney’s Candy who has beaten him before.
Lookin at Lucky, 2Y0 champion in 2009, started his 2010 season by winning the Rebel Stakes. He later placed third in the Santa Anita Derby. (Image from bobbaffert.com)
Both here and in the US, the Triple Crown is up for grabs by the best – and the luckiest. Given a good break from the gate, a gap in the wall of horses, and a clear path to the wire, any of the competitors may gain the gold and the glory.
A sweep? Not likely, but it would be fantastic if it happens. In any case, going by the excellent quality of thoroughbreds nowadays, horseracing as a sport is the clear winner. And that’s as good as a sweep. ***