THW: New Directions in Racing

THE HOARSE WHISPERER By Jenny Ortuoste for Manila Standard-Today, 25 April 2012, Wednesday

New Directions in Racing

Instead of twiddling my thumbs while waiting impatiently for the first leg of the Philippine Racing Commission Triple Crown race (happening on May 20 at Santa Ana Park), I scoured the racing network for the latest news on what the industry has in store for the future.

Commissioner Jess Cantos, who is concurrent executive director of Philracom, shared his thoughts on the direction that racing is, and should be, taking:

“In the past five months, 20 new horseowners have registered. They come from  a wide spectrum of occupations. We have a pilot, contractor, polo player, international movie producer, and many racing enthusiasts from diverse fields turned investors. This augurs well for the racing industry.”

Apart from the entry of new players into the sport, Cantos believes innovative approaches to doing business will result in expansion and growth.

“It’s time to link the local industry,” he said, “to tourism packages to support the Department of Tourism’s drive to spur growth, coupled with the battle cry ‘It’s More Fun in the Philippines’. Our redesigned website at hypes the slogan on a banner to help drumbeat the efforts of DoT secretary Ramon Jimenez Jr.”

The website was recently enhanced through the efforts of the Philracom information and communications technology team headed by John Timbol.

Cantos confirmed that the third racetrack (after Santa Ana Park and San Lazaro Leisure Park), owned and operated by Metro Manila Turf Club, Inc., is under construction. It straddles the towns of Malvar and Tanauan in Batangas and, he said, “might be on stream by the fourth quarter this year. Hurray! The more the merrier.”

He cautioned that collaterals need to checked, among them “the number of horses and off-track betting outlets,” while anticipating MMTC’s possible design of “new and exciting betting derivatives.”

Manila Jockey Club’s SLLP was founded in 1867 (yes, when Jose Rizal was only six years old); the Philippine Racing Club’s Santa Ana Park in 1937.

MMTC is the new kid on the block, and will be hard-pressed to set up from scratch the infrastructure that the two other clubs have had for decades – betting system and off-track stations, racing broadcast coverage, and more – and chase after their business momentum.

MMTC’s advantages are that it is owned and run by long-time horsemen whose passion for the sport will carry them through the challenges, and that the industry’s tendency is to work together rather than against each other; it’s likely that there will be sharing of resources at the start.

This is not to say there isn’t any competition. But the culture of the racing community encourages cooperation, knowing that this is the secret of its survival for nearly 150 years. ***

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