THE HOARSE WHISPERER
By Jenny Ortuoste for Manila Standard-Today, 16 July 2008, Wednesday
2YO Showcase on Sunday!
It’s that time during the racing season when once again, horsemen’s fancies lightly turn to thoughts of – juvenile thoroughbreds.
True, the Philippine Racing Commission 2YO Stakes has enacted two episodes already, with reliable talent Go Army winning the first leg and precocious stablemate French Vanilla the second.
But there are horseowners and trainers who prefer to race their juveniles later on in the year, when they have matured a bit more both physically and mentally.
It’s this year’s second batch of 2YO that will see action on Sunday, July 20, at Santa Ana Park, in the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office’s Maiden Race.
The race is to be run over a comfortable 1500 meters. At less than a mile, it’s not too tiring, and not too short either, giving just enough room to challenge these newbies and let us see what they’re really made of.
The top spot comes with a purse of P300,000, with P100,000 for second, and P50,000 for third. The breeder of the winning horse gets P30,000.
I seem to remember when prizes for this race – then called the Sweepstakes race – were much higher. Everything nowadays seems to be hurting from the astronomical inflation rates, even premyo. Well, no matter.
Again, traditionally there is a trial race to screen the entries. This year’s trial was held last July 1 at Santa Ana Park, over 1500 meters.
Here’s how the six declared entries fared: Windbeneathmywings came in first, clocking 1:37.6, followed by Alisha’s Gold, 1:38; 3rd, Love You By Heart, 1:40; 4th, Go Air Force, 1:40; 5th, High Energy, 1:42; and last, Rosa’s Success, 1:45.
Do these times reflect the true capabilities of these juveniles?
I don’t think so. For one, all that’s important in a trial is to pass it, as it is not a regular race. Pushing a young horse might lead to injuries, and quite likely that’s what these runners’ handlers were trying to avoid.
The track record for 1500 meters, set in 2005 by import Wild Orchid, is 1:30.8. Certainly, with the impeccable breeding of these juveniles, they can at least come close to this time. The average 1:38 or 1:39 that they clocked in the trial is way off. I’m sure they will all do better come raceday.
Who do we back in this race, then?
Track pundits who watched the race say that although Windbeneathmywings came in first, she’s a compact little filly who might have a hard time later on going against the likes of massive colts Go Air Force and High Energy, who were not pushed in the trial.
But remember, size and sex don’t dictate victories – the crucial factor is a will to win. Yes, common backstretch wisdom says to choose a male over a female horse, a bigger one over a smaller.
But the undefeated Sun Dancer, who swept all three legs of the Triple Crown in 1989, was a feisty mid-sized mare who fed dust to larger opponents. Cover Girl, another brave filly, won the first leg of the 2004 Triple Crown without having an undue advantage in size.
Champions often win by overcoming disadvantages, compensating for a lack of size with ferocious speed. We can analyze past performances, training, feeds, and other factors till it snows in Manila, but in the end, it’s a thoroughbred’s fighting heart that will bring her to winner’s circle. ***