THE HOARSE WHISPERER By Jenny Ortuoste for Manila Standard-Today, 12 May 2010, Wednesday
Demolishing the Field
“That is the best Triple Crown race I have ever seen!”
I was on my feet and thumping the table when I yelled those words over the live horse racing broadcast coverage last Sunday. As weekend anchor of the cable TV show, I try to analyze and commentate as dispassionately as possible. But after watching the running of the first leg of the Philippine Triple Crown Stakes at Santa Ana Park, I could not contain my emotion upon witnessing the spectacular achievement of a brave gray colt.
Sponsored by the Philippine Racing Commission, the mile race featured nine participants, the best among the local-bred 3YO produced by the Batangas thoroughbred breeding ranches. Rapt spectators saw fourth favorite Brother Barack go for the early lead, with dark horse Shining Armour running just off the pace. Third favorite Scotland Yard swerved at the second bend; his rider, Jeff Zarate, fell off.
Another longshot, Kristal’s Beauty, ran in third, six lengths away from Shining Armour. Second favorite Consolidator ran second to last. The slight favorite, gray colt Yes Pogi, broke last and was trying to catch up, twenty lengths off the leader. A groan rose from the bettors who had put their money on the favorite. “He’s not going to make it,” was the consensus.
The positions were maintained going into the far turn, with Brother Barack trying to shake Shining Armour’s hounding. Yet the latter grimly held on till the home turn, when he faded, allowing another longshot, filly Well Well Well, to gain second.
If you were watching TV at that point, you would have seen, just before the horses hit the stretch, a gray galloper entering your screen, trying to find a hole in the wall of horses before him. At the stretch, the gray races wide, too wide. Brother Barack pounds the lane, only to falter and allow Well Well Well to grab point position.
Video of 2010 Philippine Triple Crown race first leg uploaded by jazellerae of thewinnersleague.com. Video includes part of commentary by myself and co-host Atty. Willy de Ungria.
But on the outside, a flash of light – Yes Pogi has not given up. His rider Fernando Raquel Jr. whips and scrubs, and the gray responds, his legs a blur above the sand. Yes Pogi is like a gas-powered riding lawnmower on full speed as he grinds down on the other horses like they were puny blades of grass. They pass the wire with a length and a quarter to spare. Raquel races his whip, shakes it in triumph.
So it was the horse owned by Francis Lim and trained by Felix Lauron that bagged the top prize of P1.8 million, not to mention top elite honors in the division. Yes Pogi’s time did not break any records – with splits of 25’-24-25’-28′, total 1:43.7 – yet it is his fantastic run, coming from dead last to win, that makes his run historic.
As a young, Internet-savvy racing fan commented about the colt: “Demolishing the field – you’re doing it right.”
By Rum Tum Tiger out of Belle Epoque, Yes Pogi was bred at Herma Farms and Stud. Belle Epoque is by With Approval (Can) out of Seaholme (USA) by Noholme (Aus). With Approval (Caro-Passing Mood) has Tom Fool blood on the dam side, as does Seaholme via her dam Tim Pam. There’s Northern Dancer blood in her from five gens back, but this is a refreshing pedigree, without the inbredness you see in other runners.
In the Triple Crown’s auxiliary race, the Hopeful Stakes, fourth favorite It’s June Again (Minsk – Lady in Red), owned by Jun Almeda and trained by Tito Alvarez, snagged the P600,000 first prize. Jockey Jonathan Hernandez, returning to the track from a one-year suspension, guided the bay colt first to the wire in come-from-behind fashion, clocking 1:44.4 for the mile journey. Their performance was good enough that the horse’s connections are considering entering him in the second leg of the Triple Crown.
And it is in that race, on June 6 at Santa Ana Park, that we will see if Yes Pogi will once more crush opposition to powder, or if he himself will taste the punishment he has meted out to others. ***