THE HOARSE WHISPERER By Jenny Ortuoste for Manila Standard-Today, 22 August 2012, Wednesday
Hagdang Bato Sets Record in PCSO Derby at 4th RDB Cup Event!
It was a foregone conclusion. A baby in the womb would have had no doubt that 2012 Triple Crown champion Hagdang Bato would win the August 19 Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office National Grand Derby.
The only question was, how and by far would he win?
Hagdang Bato, owned by Mandaluyong mayor Benhur Abalos, added to his considerable achievements by winning the mile PCSO Derby by six lengths at Santa Ana Park.
Sent off as the outstanding favorite, it was practically a wire-to-wire win for the half-brother of champion Ibarra. Into the final meters of the race, the reins were still double-wrapped around the hands of jockey Jonathan Hernandez, who merely gave a slight flick of the whip close to the wire to cement the win.
Stablemate Barkley took second place, a one-two finish in prize money for the owner. Darleb came in third, Purple Ribbon fourth.
Trained by Ruben Tupas, Hagdang Bato clocked splits of 25’-23’-23’-25 for a total 1:37.8, demolishing the 2007 record of 1:38 for the mile forged by the late Mari Franco’s island-born Copper Dew.
It is a triumph for a local-bred to have set a record for that highly-competitive distance. The 3YO colt was sired by Herma Farm’s stallion Quaker Ridge out of Mayor Abalos’s broodmare Fire Down Under; Hagdang Bato was therefore bred by Abalos (because the mare belongs to him, with the stud services contracted).
According to Mayor Abalos, he is preparing Hagdang Bato for the MARHO Cup races in November and the PCSO Gold Cup in December. He would like to give Hagdang Bato a really good tuneup by entering him in the MARHO Classic (for 4YO and older) and not in the MARHO Colt Mile (for 3YO). This is a risky move, but Mayor Benhur believes his colt can do it.
Now MARHO will have to decide whether this shall be allowed or not, as this has never been done before. Exciting times for racing? You can bet your last peso on it.
Congratulations to the Bagatsing family for yet another successful event in honor of their clan patriarch, the late mayor. The highlight races of the 4th Ramon D. Bagatsing Memorial Cup took place on the late mayor’s birthday, August 19, and he would have been happy to know how much help the event in his honor was giving to the racing community.
Not only were hefty prizes awarded for each race, cash prizes of P3,000 were given to each of the winning grooms, a tradition set by the Bagatsings during the first RDB Cup. “The grooms are the frontliners,” said Manila Rep. Amado S. Bagatsing, son of the late mayor, “in giving care to the racehorses. Some of them even sleep with their alagas. Such dedication and effort should be appreciated.”
His brother, former congressman Atty. Dondon Bagatsing, thanked all sponsors, participants, and racing fans. “There’s next year to look forward to,” he said. “Let’s try to make it even bigger and better.”
Among the many attendees was racing’s elder statesman Aristeo “Putch” Puyat, who looked well pleased with the success of tribute in honor of the late mayor, who was his close friend.
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The doors shut with finality on an era with the departure of Philippine Racing Club offices from the old Santa Ana Park site in Makati.
Beginning this week, employees will be packing up for the move – the racing department to a nearby office along Pasong Tamo and the rest of the administrative offices to Manila.
Workers are tearing down the remaining structures on the 25-hectare chunk of prime real estate, including the badminton court beside my house. That building used to be Hermie Esguerra’s stable, a showcase of racing operations which I managed for several months in 2005. Before that it was Eric Tagle and Raymund Puyat’s stable.
A Makati konsehal told me last week that the development on the old track will feature 13 high-rise buildings and a Rockwell Power Plant-style shopping mall.
This would mean tremendous business and job opportunities and also horrendous traffic in the area. Still, life goes on.
A tip of the hat to the old soil that over 70 years bore the imprint of champions’ hooves, felt the light booted tread of jockeys on their morning workouts, and soaked up the tears of the vanquished.
The old Santa Ana Park may be gone to make way for progress that sentimentality can’t hold back, but it will live forever in the hearts and memories of the ones who loved it best. ***