THE HOARSE WHISPERER By Jenny Ortuoste for Manila Standard-Today, 9 June 2010, Wednesday
Yes Pogi – Racing’s Vacuum Cleaner?
For the first time in nine years, Philippine thoroughbred racing has a strong chance of seeing its Triple Crown sweep champion drought come to an end.
With 3YO roan colt Yes Pogi’s crowd-pleasing victory in the second leg of the Philippine Racing Commission Triple Crown series last Sunday at Santa Ana Park, sweep hopes surged high on the part of the horse’s connections and supporters.
Yes Pogi won the first leg last month in dramatic fashion, coming from the tail end of the pack to forge a blazing rally down the lane to win by nearly two lengths. With jockey Fernando Raquel Jr. aboard, he humiliated the other eight other runners, flashing past them as if they were standing still.
After that race, railbirds speculated on the gray’s chances in the second leg. Many said the outcome might have been different in the first leg if jockey Jeffril Zarate had not fallen off third favorite Scotland Yard, seen as the best bet to nip Yes Pogi’s chances.
Sure enough, last Sunday, Scotland Yard and coupled entry Lakota Creek emerged as second favorites after Yes Pogi. First leg second placer Well Well Well was third pick.
Out of the gate, Yes Pogi hung back in third to the last position in the seven-entry field. Scotland Yard had a bad start and was forced to catch up a bit, galloping off the pace behind frontrunner Thotis Best, while Righthererightnow ran in third.
At the back stretch, Yes Pogi maneuvered into fourth position until the home turn. As in the first leg, faced by a wall of horseflesh, he was forced to race very wide as rider Raquel scrambled to find a good position. With the Jeffril Zarate-piloted Scotland Yard in the lead and Thotis Best in second, veteran jockey Raquel took a calculated risk and swung Yes Pogi in between Thotis Best on the outside and Righthererightnow by the rail.
It was an intuitive move that brought Yes Pogi closer to Scotland Yard. Matching his bay nemesis stride for stride, the gallant gray found extra reserves to go a couple better and catch Scotland Yard at the wire in a drama-filled photo-finish ending that brought fans at the Naic track surging to their feet, screaming in hoarse abandon.
Yes Pogi was declared the winner by a nose. The splits were 13’-24-24-24’-27’ for the killer 1,800-meter race, with a total time of 1:53.4 on a fast track.
Bred by businessman Herminio Esguerra’s Herma Farms and Stud out of prolific broodmare Belle Epoque (With Approval-Seaholme) by Kentucky-bred stallion Rum Tum Tiger (Storm Cat-Aly Tigress), Yes Pogi was acquired as a yearling by owner Francis Lim at a Herma Farms auction. Under careful training from low-profile conditioner Felix Lauron, Yes Pogi has evolved from a gangling stayer into a formidable contender for a Triple Crown sweep.
Patrick Uy’s Silver Story in 2001 was the last to win all three races of the Triple Crown series for local-bred 3YO. Will Yes Pogi be the next to claim the crown? He might, with the incentive of added riches making a sweep sweeter. In an on-air interview on the cable TV live racing coverage, Philracom chairman lawyer Jose Ferdinand M. Rojas II reminded everyone of the Commission’s P500,000 bonus prize to whoever sweeps the legendary series, on top of the P1.8 million for first place.
But the third leg on July 18 at San Lazaro Leisure Park will be a punishing 2,000 meters. Again, a longer distance would favor super stayers like Yes Pogi. However, he might have to contend with Hopeful Stakes leg two winner Thief in the Nite, Eric Tagle’s freakishly fast filly who won her 1,800 last Saturday by three wire-to-wire under jockey Jonathan Hernandez. Jun Almeda’s It’s June Again, who copped the Hopeful first leg, might compete also, in addition to the usual gang.
The way Yes Pogi has been performing under Fernando Raquel’s superb handling, he’s been power-vacuuming up foes and spitting them out like so many dust bunnies. And all things staying the same, he’s going to do it all over again next month. A sweep? No problem. Plug it in and bring ‘em on. ***