THE HOARSE WHISPERER By Jenny Ortuoste for Manila Standard-Today, 24 August 2011, Wednesday
3rd Bagatsing Racefest at MJC Breaks Record
Lovely lawmakers, a handsome actor, distinguished congressmen, foreign embassy officials, and racehorses – it could have been a scene from a prewar movie.
Instead, it was the happy reality last Friday, August 19, at the Manila Jockey Club’s San Lazaro Leisure Park, during the 3rd Mayor Ramon D. Bagatsing Memorial Cup.
The late mayor of Manila was a supporter of racing and breeding, as are his sons, Manila congressman Amado Bagatsing and former congressman lawyer Ramon “Dondon” Bagatsing Jr. Both have been horseowners and breeders since their twenties and are members of the Metropolitan Association of Race Horse Owners.
The sons and other family members – among them Cong. Amado’s daughter Belinda and Atty. Dondon’s sons, Sampaloc councillor DJ and TV presenter Havy – conceived of a racing festival as a tribute to the late clan patriarch, whose idea of relaxation was to clap a cowboy hat on his head and hie off to his Batangas ranch for a few hours in the company of his thoroughbreds.
On the third racefest in his honor, a vibrant party ensued at the SLLP Turf Club Gold Box, hosted by the Bagatsing family and MJC chairman lawyer Alfonso R. Reyno Jr. Among the guests were former senator Nikki Coseteng; congresspersons Lucy Torres (Ormoc) and her husband, actor Richard Gomez (who is her chief-of-staff), Jeci Lapus (Tarlac), also a horseowner/breeder/trainer, and Rufus Rodriguez (Cagayan de Oro); a couple of officials from the United States Embassy (they declined to be named) and their wives; the elder statesman of racing, Aristeo “Putch” Puyat; and many other horseowners, press people, and other guests.
There were nine races held that evening. Three were main races of the RDB Cup, reminiscent of the Gran Copa de Manila races revived by the late mayor at MJC, when the club was still based at the now-defunct San Lazaro Hippodrome in Tayuman. Six were sponsored trophy races backed by Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office, SMART Communications, horseowner Mr. Eddie Gonzalez, PAGCOR, Resorts World, and Cong. Albee Benitez.
Thanks to the skilful handicapping led by Philippine Racing Commission’s sports and games officer Rolando “Bitoy” Lansangan and MJC handicapper Nitoy Gonda, longshots dominated the day.
In the Herma Farms-ICTSI-Bing Tecson sponsored RDB Cup III, Kenneth Causon’s Cramps won under the reins of Val Dilema while trained by Francis Clor. Rain Shower came in second and Doña Nenita third (coupled entries ni Don Antonio Floirendo Sr.), while RMR Equine’s Tritanic checked in fourth. Splits and time for the 1,500-meter race were 17’-24-25-27’ = 1:34.
In the Philracom-backed RDB Cup II, Marvin Louie Villasenor’s Gastambide ruled, steered by Rodeo Fernandez and trained by Dave de la Cruz. Tarlac congressman Jeci Lapus’s Carriedo placed second, ER King’s Money Queen third, and Joseph Dyhengco’s Darleb fourth. For 1,900 meters the time was 19-24-26-25’-27 = 2:01’.
The highlight Philracom-RDB Cup I was won by Felizardo Sevilla Jr.’s hot property Tensile Strength guided by jockey Jeffril Zarate. Trained by Manuel Vicente, the filly beat four other colts including Michael Dragon Javier’s Magna Carta that settled for second, followed by Atty. Sixto Esquivias IV’s Arvindugo and Santa Clara Stockfarm’s Lord of War. Emmanuel Santos’s Hari ng Yambo, erstwhile top contender in the 3YO wars this season, straggled in last. The time for the 1,900-meter race was 19-23-25’-25’-27 = 2:00.
According to MJC racing manager Jose Ramon Magboo, sales for the day reached P29.5 million, breaching the previous MJC Friday record of almost P28 million. Atty. Bagatsing ascribed the event’s success to the support of the industry, sponsors, and especially racing fans. “The love of Mayor Bagatsing for horseracing was reciprocated by the fans – it’s a love-love relationship,” he said.
He also referred to older racing fans’ nostalgia for the Gran Copa races held every Araw ng Maynila, that were always the most well-attended at the Hippodrome from the ‘70s to the ‘90s.
“For young people who don’t know what the Gran Copa was about,” Bagatsing said, “this [Bagatsing Cup] was a reliving of those colorful glory days of the sport of kings. From the intensity of the support shown the event these past three years, it’s obvious that people are yearning for the old Gran Copa.” *** (Email: email@example.com, Web: http://jennyo.net, Facebook: Gogirl Racing, Twitter: @gogirlracing)