THE HOARSE WHISPERER By Jenny Ortuoste for Manila Standard-Today, 12 December 2012, Wednesday
Hagdang Bato – Horse of the Year?
After the dust cleared, one thing was clear – the dominant horse of the season is a Philippine horse, bred and born on Batangas soil.
Hagdang Bato (Quaker Ridge – Fire Down Under) romped over 2,000 meters of dirt at Santa Ana Park last December 9 to win the historic 40th running of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office Presidential Gold Cup.
All seven entries jumped cleanly out of the gate, but it was the favorite Hagdang Bato who took the lead from the start, second pick Magna Carta clinging to his flank. The others were lengths behind the two rivals.
They flew over the track fleet as thought, until the backstretch when brave 4YO Magna Carta, carrying the heaviest handicap weight of 58 kgs., started a mighty surge meant to carry himself past Hagdang Bato.
But the 3YO, sensing a challenge, lengthened its strides at the far turn to put even more daylight between itself and Magna Carta to win wire-to-wire by three lengths, timing 2:09 (25.8-25.2-25.4-24-28.6).
Tensile Strength came in second, followed by a spent Magna Carta in third, while Cinderella Kid took fourth.
Chevrome, Steel Creation, and Pleasantly Perfect rounded out the cast.
Hagdang Bato’s owner and breeder, Mandaluyong City Mayor lawyer Benhur Abalos, was elated at the win of his stable’s pride.
He explained, “My game plan was successful,” Hagdang Bato having been guided by jockey Jonathan Hernandez with his signature aerodynamic style down the middle of the track instead of by the rail, which at Santa Ana Park is considered heavy going.
Mayor Abalos also said that the Ruben Tupas-conditioned Hagdang Bato is one of the few horses which have the distinction of sweeping the Triple Crown and winning the PCSO Gold Cup in the same year.
What makes this PCSO Gold Cup even more memorable is that it is the Ruby Anniversary edition. How many sports events reach such a milestone? And this coveted plum belongs to the horse that was also the valedictorian of its juvenile batch.
Present at the awarding ceremony were, from the PCSO: general manager lawyer Jose Ferdinand M. Rojas II, PCSO Draw and Races manager Carlos M. Castillo, members of the PCSO Committee on Races, and other PCSO personnel.
From the Philippine Racing Commission came Chairman Angel L. Castaño Jr., Executive Director and Commissioner Jesus B. Cantos, and commissioners lawyers Victor Tantoco and Franco Loyola, veterinarian Reynaldo Fernando, and businessman Eduardo Jose.
With them, from Philippine Racing Club (owner/operator of the host track), were President & COO Simeon Cua and EVP-COO Allan Abesamis.
Also held that day was the 13th Philtobo Grand Championship Day, which ensured a good turnout from racing fans.
Hagdang Bato’s stellar performance earned Mayor Abalos a huge one million peso prize from Philracom on top of the P3 million provided by PCSO for the winner. Placers up to fourth also received hefty purses, with a purse of P200,000 for the winning breeder.
Is Hagdang Bato the Horse of the Year? We’ll find out soon.
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The PCSO Committee on Races has released the schedule for 2013 PCSO races. With the entry of new player Metro Manila Turf Club into the picture, the schedule rotates the PCSO among the three tracks.
However, the major races will be held at Santa Ana Park (Silver Cup on June 23 and Gold Cup on December 8) and San Lazaro Leisure Park (Freedom Cup on February 17 and National Grand Derby on August 18).
Meanwhile, PCSO’s final race for the year is a special maiden race (2YO Open) on December 15 at SLLP. The winner of the November 27 race trial was Mayor Abalos’s Never Sease, who timed 1:23’ over 1,300 meters.
Herminio Esguerra’s Basic Instinct placed second, August Romero’s Boss August third, Lamberto Almeda Jr.’s Vina Anika fourth. Other participants were Aristeo Puyat’s South Apo, and Jose Y. Quiros’s Ito’s Girl which tripped at the jumpout.