THW: A Sense of Racing History

THE HOARSE WHISPERER  By Jenny Ortuoste for Manila Standard-Today,  29 June 2011, Wednesday

A Sense of Racing History       

Filipinos in general don’t have a sense of history.

True or false?

In my experience, I’ve found this to be true, more often than not. Sadly for those who do appreciate the past, the horseracing milieu does not keep memorabilia, ephemera, pictures, clippings, and other tokens of the past. There isn’t even an archive of early races. I envy US racing, which has footage of races from as far back as the 1930s, and even older than that, perhaps. We can watch Seabiscuit and Man O’War run over and over. We can still view Secretariat race each succeeding quarter of the 1973 Kentucky Derby faster than the one before it, and be wrapped up in the display of power, speed, and sheer joy in running.

Yet we do not even have footage of our own champion horses like Triple Crown sweepsters Fair and Square, Time Master, Sun Dancer – and I’m just talking the’80s.

Thankfully, the present management of the racing clubs – Philippine Racing Club and Manila Jockey Club – have kept copies since the change of management and ownership in the ‘90s and the advent of the digital age. CDs and DVDs take up less space and are easier to manage than other forms of video storage.

However, the loss of our precious racing heritage is still deplorable. Apart from the lack of archives, there aren’t any books on racing. The gap needs to be filled. But because the racing community is so small, there aren’t a lot of people who can write about the topic with authority and creativity, who can make such a vibrant and dynamic subculture such as this one come alive for readers.

But one can always hope that this situation will change in the future.

*****

 What’s got me in a nostalgic mood? Last June 24, that’s what. Araw ng Maynila. The traditional date for the running of what used to be one of the most significant races on the calendar – the Gran Copa de Manila, once staged at MJC’s San Lazaro Hippodrome in Tayuman.

The Hippodrome was a lovely Art Deco grandstand, designed by National Artist architect Juan Nakpil, that had become unkempt and shabby through the decades and was torn down to make way for an SM Mall and other modern high-rise buildings. The development has beat back inner-city decay somewhat and contributed positively to the area economy, but yet again it shows how little Filipinos value history, and the beauty of historical artifacts and structures.

When MJC moved to a much larger site in Carmona, Cavite, in 2003, the Gran Copa was held only until in 2006. (Supercolt Real Spicy won that year.) Too bad. That’s another bit of history that’s lost in the past.   ***

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