THW: Don Enrico’s Revenge


By Jenny Ortuoste for Manila Standard-Today,  9 July 2008, Wednesday

Don Enrico’s Revenge

July 6′s Philippine Racing Commission-sponsored Triple Crown second leg was reminiscent of all the great sports rivalries – Crispa vs. Toyota, Ateneo  vs. La Salle, Manny Pacquiao vs. Mexican boxers. In horseracing’s 2008 season, it’s Don Enrico vs. Indelible Ink – the humble, talented colt against the brilliant, brave filly.

Their feud goes back to their juvenile season, when a precocious Indelible Ink defeated all comers including an inconsistent Don Enrico, who was a frequent runner-up in their matches.

Come 2008, though, they all turned a year older, and Don Enrico matured – physically and emotionally. No longer the immature 2YO, he was seen as an emerging champion  following in the hoofprints of 3YO greats West Bound, Empire King, and Ibarra.

Don Enrico, a local-bred son of champion Wind Blown out of racemare Kayumanggi, defeated island-born Indelible Ink (Best of Luck – Seaquin) several times this year in various Philracom stakes races, always with regular rider John Alvin Guce.

Going confident into the TC first leg, Don Enrico was given to a different jockey – Jonathan Hernandez – in hindsight an ill-advised move that was a crucial factor in the colt’s defeat in that mile (1600 meter) race. Indelible Ink won, while Shining Fame came in a close second. Don Enrico salvaged third.

Many say also that team Indelible Ink’s fielding of a “rabbit” – stablemate Queen Elena – in that race also contributed to Don Enrico’s doom, as Queen Elena wore down the colt in the initial stages of the race.

Vowing revenge for that humiliation, Don Enrico’s connections – Lorraine Uy Wi, former congressman Gerry Espina, and trainer Atoy Sordan – gave the colt back to Guce for the second leg.

As Fate would have it, Queen Elena was scratched before the race due to lameness. Don Enrico, only the second favorite in the sales, jumped cleanly out of the gate and ran the race of his life. Without a rabbit or other sprinters to increase his pace, he was able to run his own race, galloping at least two lengths ahead of Indelible Ink for most of the 1800-meter journey.

It’s almost axiomatic that sprinters will fade in the stretch. As Indelible Ink’s jockey Jeff Zarate pressed his filly for more at the home turn, fans eagerly awaited a ferocious battle down the lane between Indelible Ink and Don Enrico.

It didn’t happen. Don Enrico unleashed an extra reserve of speed and actually pulled away from a fading Indelible Ink to win wire-to-wire by three. His time of 1:52.6, with splits of 14′-22′-25-23′-27, was just one second off the record set by Irene’s Fantasy in December 2007. Shining Fame bagged third while Champion of Show came in fourth.

In the 1800-meter Hopeful II stakes that same day, also for quality 3YO, gray galloper Hieroglyphics exerted a mighty come-from-behind rally  to win the title.               

Letting the speedsters fight it out in front, Hieroglyphics ran off the pace and simply put on a sudden burst of speed at the far turn. At the top of the stretch, he raced down the center of the lane to win by a neck from Bohemian Dave.  Anonymous placed third and Security Queen fourth. Total time for the race was 1:54.6 with splits of 14-22′-25-25′-27.

The island-born Hieroglyphics (Alphabet Soup-Tejano Eyes), who disappointed in the Triple Crown first leg, shows marked improvement with this win. Owner Raymund Puyat, undismayed over a racecaller boo-boo that tagged his horse as “Physiotherapy” said, “I’m just glad my horse crossed the line first.”

Will he run Hieroglyphics in the Triple Crown’s third leg on August 3? “It will depend,” replied Puyat , “on how he comes out of the race. If he continues to show interest in his workouts in the coming weeks then I’ll probably run him.” He praised jockey Christopher Tamano, saying, “Tamano rode him well so he deserves a lot of credit; he stuck to the game plan even if he got boxed in before the ¾ pole.”

Don Enrico vs. Indelible Ink – a racing rivalry that has captured the hearts and loyalties of fans. Throw in Hieroglyphics and the other top 3YO into the mix and you have the recipe for a spectacular Triple Crown third leg.   ***

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