THW: 38th PCSO Presidential Gold Cup on Sunday

THE HOARSE WHISPERER By Jenny Ortuoste for Manila Standard-Today, 8 December 2010, Wednesday

38th PCSO Presidential Gold Cup on Sunday

As one of the premier sporting events of the country, the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office Presidential Gold Cup is eagerly awaited by fans and participants alike. With a history of nearly four decades, it has become an annual tradition and one of the most significant events on the racing calendar.

This particular edition of the race is special to PCSO as it is the first to be held under the administration of President Benigno S. Aquino III and is the 38th in its history. It is set for December 12 at the Philippine Racing Club’s Santa Ana Park in Naic, Cavite.

The Gold Cup race was conceived in the early ‘70s by the PCSO Board of Directors headed by chairman and general manager Nereo C. Andolong. The motivation for instituting the program was in line with PCSO’s mandate to support the industry. The race and its hefty purses provide incentives for local horseowners and Thoroughbred breeders to produce more horses and attain excellence in the sport.

The first Gold Cup was held on 7 October 1973 at the Manila Jockey Club’s San Lazaro Hippodrome. In recent years, it is staged in December, highlighting the holiday racing season and serving as a fitting end to a year of action and achievement in the sport.

Among the more memorable stagings of the Gold Cup include the very first, which the incomparable Sun God, owned by Pedro Cojuangco, won virtually unopposed, capping an impressive career. In 1981 and 1982, Herminia Mamon’s Fair and Square won back-to-back, both times under the reinsmanship of the “maestro”, Jesus Guce.

The feat was duplicated in 1989 and 1990 by Toshio Abe’s Sun Dancer, a plucky filly guided on both occasions by Eduardo Domingo Jr., the “gentleman rider”.

Other track stars which have won the Gold Cup two-in-a-row are Chito Arceo’s Bulldozer (1996 and 1997), both times under Joe Noel Camu, and Wind Blown, which won in 2000 when owned by Leonardo Javier Jr. and in 2001 under the ownership of Herminio S. Esguerra.

Other highlights over 38 years of this race were the dramatic rally from last by Rolando Rojas’ Crown Colony, winner in 1994; Rojas’ Real Top setting a track record in 1998 to crown an impressive year of sweeping the year’s major stakes races including a slam of the Triple Crown; and the thrilling neck-and-neck stretch duel between Triple Crown winner West Bound of C&H Enterprises and longshot Red Star Rising of Francis Trillana, resulting in a win by the latter.

Mandaluyong Mayor Benhur Abalos’ Ibarra, the victor in 2008, was denied the chance for a two-peat in 2009 by Don Enrico. Ibarra attempts another win this year. Also trying for another Gold Cup victory is Antonio Tan’s Native Land, 2007 Gold Cup winner and the oldest horse in this race at nine years old. Tan’s Shining Fame, a 2009 contestant, is back on this year’s lineup.

Expected to emerge as favorites are Francis Lim’s Yes Pogi, a two-leg Triple Crown winner, and Esguerra’s Go Army, whose latest conquest was the San Miguel-MARHO (Metropolitan Association of Race Horse Owners) Cup 2,000-meter Classic.

Not to be discounted are the chances of Rita Pilapil’s entries – two-leg Triple Crown winner Heaven Sent and stakes-caliber contender Lively Dude - and Deemark International’s Righthererightnow.

Don Enrico winning the 2009 Presidential Gold Cup at San Lazaro Leisure Park.

The 38th PCSO Gold Cup has a distance of 2,000 meters and is open (as to age and sex) except to imports, with standard weight-for-age handicapping with sex allowance for fillies and mares.

Which of this year’s contestants shall earn the P2.5 million first place purse? The glittering prize was put up jointly by PCSO, contributing P1.5 million, and the Philippine Racing Commission, which provided P1 million for first. The second-placer shall receive P500,000; third, P250,000; and fourth, P125,000. There is also a breeder’s purse of P50,000 for the breeder of this year’s PCSO Presidential Gold Cup champion.

Also to be held on Sunday is the Philippine Sportswriters Association Cup, a stakes race sponsored by the Philracom for the benefit of the PSA, which annually stages a recognition program for the notable achievers in the realm of sports.

The event, to which all PSA members have been invited, will be the first occasion for many sportswriters to travel to Santa Ana Park in Naic, Cavite, and for many will be their first chance to witness live horseracing.  ***

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