THE HOARSE WHISPERER By Jenny Ortuoste for Manila Standard-Today, 7 September 2011, Wednesday
New Philracom Board
President Benigno S. Aquino III recently appointed a new chairman and commissioners for the government agency supervising the sport of horseracing, the Philippine Racing Commission.
Named as new chairman last August 10 was Angel Lopez Castaño Jr., while this administration’s slate of commissioners comprises lawyer Victor Tantoco, veterinarian Reynaldo Fernando, engineer Jesus Cantos, jockey Lyndon Guce, and Franco Loyola.
Chairman Castaño, while he has been away from the industry for quite some time, was a former chairman of the board of stewards of Manila Jockey Club, when it was still owned by the Prieto family and other shareholders and still based at the San Lazaro Hippodrome in Tayuman, Manila.
He was on the panel that, in the ‘70s, decided to allow night racing, upon the advancement of track lighting technology and that created the disqualification rule and many other rules and regulations that guide the sport today.
As for the commissioners, Atty. Tantoco and Dr. Fernando are re-appointees from the previous term; Guce had served previously but resigned; while the other two are first-time commissioners. Engr. Cantos is a horseowner; Mr. Loyola is not from the racing industry.
A simple turnover ceremony was held last August 26 at the Philracom office in Makati. Immediate past chairman lawyer Jose Ferdinand M. Rojas II administered the oath of office to the new Philracom board.
In his farewell speech, outgoing chairman Rojas asked the Philracom personnel to give Chairman Castaño the same, if not greater, support that they extended him during his own three-year tour of duty.
We thank Atty. Rojas for his dedication and service, steering the racing industry through crisis times caused by the global recession. Under his watch, racing in the Philippines remained profitable and vibrant even as racetracks in the US closed down, among them the historic Bay Meadows racecourse in San Mateo, California, that shut down in 2008.
We wish Chairman Castaño and his commissioners the best of luck as they carry on the work of supervising the sport of Thoroughbred horseracing and its allied industry, breeding.
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Among those who extended their welcome wishes to the new Philracom board were the officers and members of the Metropolitan Association of Race Horse Owners. The oldest horseowners’ group in the country, founded the same time as the Philracom, in 1974, MARHO counts as one of its 15 founding members Angel N. Castaño Sr., the late father of the current Philracom chairman.
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In other news, Constatic proved to be the fleetest mare on the track after winning the Philracom Lakambini Stakes last August 28 at Santa Ana Park.
The Christopher Garganta-guided racemare won the 1,800-meter race running wire-to-wire, setting splits of 13.8-24.2-23.6-23.6-26.4 for a total time of 1:51.6.
Prime Rate came in second, followed by Cheese Mosa in third and Coal Harbor fourth.
Constatic was sired by Ecstatic (USA) out of Consa (PHI) and is owned by Ronaldo Tan.
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Thanks to all who congratulated me for winning first prize in this year’s Carlos Palanca Memorial Awards for Literature in the category Essay (English). The title of my piece is “The Turn for Home: Memories of Santa Ana Park”. It will be published this December by the University of the Philippines College of Arts and Letters in their literary journal, Likhaan.
Here’s an excerpt, about my days as the country’s first female apprentice rider:
“The day I stopped feeling gonzo was when Alamat’s colt shied at a piece of paper on the track and galloped at top speed. I had not learned to gallop yet and could not control my mount. Jockeys and grooms yelled for others to clear the track – “Kaskas! Runaway!” as I hung on to the reins, the wind whipping my shirt against my chest.
“The colt spied a gap in the rails that led to our stables. He swerved to go through it, threw me off-balance, and I spun in mid-air, landing flat on my back on the sand.
“I felt no fear. There was no pain. The sky was very blue and the clouds were very white. The sand was gritty under my fingers, and I thought, this is not Santa Ana sand, there are no beaches here, only the Pasig River. The sand was alien to the place, trucked there from some shoreline in northern Luzon. But it had been trodden by people and horses and that made it part of the town. There I was, lying in several inches of dirt, embedded in Santa Ana in a way few people ever experienced.”
The essay will also appear online on the Carlos Palanca Memorial Foundation website. ***