THE HOARSE WHISPERER
By Jenny Ortuoste for Manila Standard-Today, 25 June 2008, Wednesday
Ibarra, Back on Track!
After a year-long hiatus, 2007 “superhorse” Ibarra ran yesterday at San Lazaro Leisure Park in a barrier trial as a prelude to participating in more races in the coming months.
Owned by Mandaluyong mayor Benhur Abalos, Ibarra (Yonaguska-Fire Down Under, by Dixie Brass) won two races as a 2YO.
Ibarra with jockey Antonio B. Alcasid Jr. winning the 2007 Triple Crown second leg; owner Mayor Benhur Abalos
As a 3YO in 2007, he won a 1,400-meter race on June 10 clocking a time just a fraction of a second off the record for that distance. On May 20, he easily won the Juanito V. Macaraig Cup, first leg of the Triple Crown. On June 24 – a year ago – he blazed through the Jaime V. Ongpin Cup, second leg of the Triple Crown, tieing the time record of 1:48 for 1,750 meters.
He ran with grace and speed, a gangly bay colt who broke cleanly from the gate and preferred to run in front. Hounding by an opponent never fazed him; in fact, according to his trainer Ruben Tupas, Ibarra preferred being challenged, the herding instinct goading him to run on and on.
Undefeated in seven starts, he was expected to sweep the Triple Crown that year. But Fate has an unlimited supply of monkey wrenches, one of which brought the Ibarra machine to a grinding halt.
It was a chip bone in the radial carpal area above the right knee. A fairly common problem among young horses, the usual remedy is an operation to remove the chip and plenty of rest. On a scale of one to ten, said Mayor Abalos, Ibarra’s was “at the most two.” Many urged him to run the horse, saying the TC sweep was a once-in-a-lifetime chance.
Abalos decided to put his horse’s safety paramount. “We were blessed with two crowns of the TC,” he said at the time, “and we are very much grateful to the good Lord and to those who believed in Ibarra. Although sweeping the series is a lost dream, the injury would have been worse if he ran.”
It’s been one year since, and fans are clamoring for the Kentucky-bred Ibarra’s return. With yesterday’s BT in the bag, we can look forward to more stakes races as Ibarra builds up his competitive spirit. Said Mayor Abalos last Monday, “I could have run Ibarra much earlier, but I was very careful with him. He’s in very good shape now, has clocked impressive workouts, at sa tagal ng pahinga niya, siguro parang bakal na ang paa niya ngayon.”
Yonaguska (1998), Ibarra’s sire, was sired by Cherokee Run out of Marital Spook. On his sire’s side he has Nasrullah blood, while from the dam side he has an infusion of Mr. Prospector and Buckpasser.
To the mix, Ibarra’s dam Fire Down Under (1995) adds Sham blood for speed and stamina with generous dashes of Princequillo for staying power. This assures Ibarra doses of St. Simon, a descendant of Pocahontas.
Racing champions Sham, Secretariat
Pocahontas (1837) was the blue-hen mare said to be the source of the “X-factor”, the large heart that was the secret of success for champions such as Secretariat. Ibarra also has Stockwell in his pedigree, Pocahontas’ son through whom the X-factor was passed.
Pocahontas with Stockwell as a foal; Yonaguska
So in terms of pedigree and past performance, Ibarra shows definite superiority. Let’s see if he can get back on the victor’s track after that year-long recuperation.
Meanwhile, races at Santa Ana Park last Sunday were cancelled due to Typhoon Frank. The Philippine Racing Commission’s sponsored G1 races have been reset: the Pearl II on July 4, Friday; 2YO Stakes on July 5, Saturday; and the second leg TC (Don Enrico vs. Indelible Ink vs. everyone else) and Hopeful Stakes on July 6, Sunday, still at Santa Ana Park. ***