THW: Another Loss for Horseracing

THE HOARSE WHISPERER By Jenny Ortuoste for Manila Standard-Today, 4 July 2012, Wednesday

Another Loss for Horseracing

Horseracing suffers a great loss with the passing of horseowner and breeder Don Antonio Floirendo, who succumbed to pneumonia on June 29.

He was 96.

Blessed with business savvy, he was a strong promoter of the banana export industry in Southern Mindanao and expanded his empire into fruits, vehicles (Anflocars), a leisure resort (Pearl Farm Beach on Samal Island), and other ventures.

Don Antonio had been in racing for decades, and was a member of the three horseowners organizations – Metropolitan Association of Race Horse Owners, Philippine Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Organization, and Klub Don Juan de Manila.

He was the sponsor of KDJM’s annual Golden Girls Stakes race for mares, one of the highlights of their Don Juan Derby racing festival every October at the Manila Jockey Club’s San Lazaro Leisure Park.

He visited SLLP on racedays from time to time. Impeccably dressed always in a sport coat – navy seemed to be his preferred color – and not a silver hair out of place, he’d wend his way without hurry across the shiny Turf Club floors to where a special table was reserved for him. He spoke little, content to study his racing form over a glass of wine and his trademark cigars, curls of smoke rising in the air with each slight motion of his hand.

In the middle of the last decade, he obtained a franchise from Congress to operate a racetrack in Davao. Called the Mindanao Jockey and Country Club, it was to have been developed by Damosa Land, Inc. and located in the cool hills of Marapangi, Toril. Around 2008, it was said that grading and other land development had commenced, with a residential area and eco-tourism park included in the plans. But there must have been too many constraints for them to continue with the racecourse project.

Don Antonio’s interest in horseracing remained keen over the years, so much that long-time trainer and stable manager, former jockey Renato Hipolito, had his hands full taking care of all the Floirendo horses. Of those currently running, many were sired by Indy Minstrel (AP Indy x Minstrella), among them Davao Boy, Dream Minstrel, and Devoted Minstrel. Another of his most prolific stallions was Thunder Vic (Thunder Puddles x Victoria Elena).

Just last week, a shipment of around forty horses arrived from Australia. Ten were his. That shows his commitment to the sport, unwavering until the end. The racing community is grateful for his contributions to the sport and will always honor his memory.

Don Antonio’s passing comes on the heels of the death last week of retired admiral Jorge Necesito, who served as Philippine Racing Commission executive director from 2006 until 2011, and that of horseowner and breeder Jose Mari Franco last December 22. ***

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