Heaven Sent Closes Race Year
Last Friday, the year-ender treat for racing fans was to have been the Farewell Stakes race for retirable horses. It would be their last race before “graduating” from the racing ranks and going on to new lives as stallions, broodmares, riding horses, or simply as paddock population on the ranches of their owners.
However, according to Rolando Lansangan, sports and games officer of the sport’s governing body and the race’s sponsor, the Philippine Racing Commission, only two signed up for the race and one died before the date.
So the race was scrapped – it wouldn’t have been run anyway for lack of entries – and another was substituted, open to local-bred mares 4YO and above. The special race was run at the Manila Jockey Club’s San Lazaro Leisure Park last December 31, over a distance of a mile.
The winner was stellar competitor Rita Pilapil’s Heaven Sent, ridden by Rodeo Fernandez, winning by two lengths over the Jonathan Hernandez-steered Eternal Flame. Anonymous checked in third, while Speedy McKie brought up the rear. Total time for the race was 1:44, with quarters of 25-23’-26’-29.
Heaven Sent (Heza Gone West x Kiss and Run) won the first and third legs of last year’s Triple Crown series for elite 3YO, running both against fellow fillies and colts. She was denied a sweep by only quirky pacer Dream Supreme.
Her career after that has been marked by highs and lows (coming in third to longshot Defiant and Eternal Flame in last October’s Sampaguita Stakes; losing to Go Army in the MARHO Kinse Classic), but the versatile gray with an American lineage continues to surprise in any race she enters. Now that’s a heaven-sent horse.
What’s in store for speed freaks in the coming weeks? The Philracom Garnet I, first leg of the Imported/Local Challenge series, will run over a mile at SLLP on January 9, featuring Fierce Fighter carrying a heavy 58 kgs. impost, coupled entries Indy Hay (54) and Juggling Act (57), Mr. Diamond (56), Multiply (57), and Big Thing (56).
SLLP will also play host to the Garnet II (January 15) for fillies and Garnet III (January 16) for colts. The Garnet II lineup includes Constatic, Ella Enjoy, Gandang Pinay, Herran, Immaculate, Restless Heart, Rhea’s Angel, and Sha Na Na. The weight allowance is ‘set weight” – all entries will carry 52 kgs.
Juvenile standout Barkley is likely to dominate in the Garnet III for colts, but he has to contend with the challenge from Pritil, who won the Philtobo Juvenile Championship last December. Also out to try their luck in that mile race are Bosbarawana, Hi Money, Midnight Myth, My Keys, Prince Isiah, Sulong Pinoy, and Whistler. All will carry 54 kgs.
Philracom’s Lansangan also mentioned that they are compiling the list of top horses of 2010, which should be released soon, along with the figures for total industry sales, which are to be provided by the two existing racetrack operators, MJC and Philippine Racing Club. The effectivity of handicapping rules are also being discussed; for instance, the class-division exit points for last year’s 3YO, with earnings determining which group the horse will enter as an incoming 4YO.
Overall, 2010 was a better year for the sport compared to the previous. But when seen in the context of world racing, where sales in the US and Japan, strong racing nations, have taken severe blows to their income figures, the Philippines has consistently been able to weather the storms of the global recession and come out fairly unscathed, thanks to strong government, private sector, and, above all, racing fan support.
A joyous new year and happy racing as we look forward to more track-bound speed and excitement in 2011! ***