THE HOARSE WHISPERER By Jenny Ortuoste for Manila Standard-Today, 4 December 2013, Wednesday
Hagdang Bato Doesn’t Win the PCSO 41st Gold Cup
I could have made my lede “Pugad Lawin scores a shocking upset in the 41st Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Presidential Gold Cup,” which is what happened.
But what racing fans are still talking days after the event is the defeat of the superhypermegaoutstanding favorite – Hagdang Bato – which is what also happened.
All in all, it was an unforgettable staging of the sport’s richest and most prestigious race.
The PCSO’s flagship event, held over 2,000 meters on December 1 at the Manila Jockey Club’s San Lazaro Leisure Park, attracted ten runners with its first prize offering of P3 million from PCSO plus P1 million from the Philippine Racing Commission.
Hagdang Bato, winner of the PCSO 2012 Gold Cup, was gunning for a back-to-back win. The talented 4YO colt of Mandaluyong Mayor Benhur C. Abalos had also won the PCSO Silver Cup in June, the PCSO Freedom Cup in January, and the MARHO Classic in November, among other victories.
Hagdang Bato was sent off with over P600,000 in the Daily Double pool that totaled P674,000, with Spring Collection the far – no, the “remote” – second favorite, followed by My Champ and Pugad Lawin, who sold only P6,974 in the DD.
When the gates flew back, fans were dismayed to see Hagdang Bato’s front legs buckle under him at the jump-out, his belly almost grazing the sand. He recovered, but too late. Arriba Amor had the lead, with the Jonathan Hernandez-guided Hagdang Bato trying to find a good path from sixth position.
At the back stretch, pack runner Pugad Lawin with Patricio Dilema aboard gained the lead, followed by My Champ, Boss Jaden, Hagdang Bato, and Divine Eagle in that order, followed by the five other runners.
Down the stretch, Pugad Lawin made good ground on the inside as My Champ staged a determined rally, slowly closing the gap between them, only to lose by half-a-length to the relentless Pugad Lawin.
Jockey Patty (yes, that’s how he spells his nickname) punched a fist in the air as he crossed the wire first, winning the Gold Cup again for only the second time since 2001 when he booted the legendary Wind Blown.
Hide Away Farm’s My Champ was a close second to win P1 million, followed by lawyer Sixto S. Esquivias IV’s Boss Jaden in third for P500,000.
Hagdang Bato did not go home empty-handed, scoring P300,000 for his fourth-place finish.
The total time for the hotly-contested race was 2:11 (24-24’-27-28-27’).
The proud co-owners of 4YO colt Pugad Lawin, Tony Tan and Jun Ferrer, were wearing red shirts for luck and sported ear-to-ear grins as they received their replica Gold Cup from PCSO General Manager Jose Ferdinand M. Rojas II.
Jockey Patty Dilema pumped a fist and grinned when he received his glass trophy, while trainer Ruben S. Tupas (who also conditions Hagdang Bato) wore his usual benevolent smile.
Detdet Fernando and Bernard Bernabe received the breeder’s trophy in behalf of Tan, who bred Pugad Lawin (Refuse to Bend x Unstoppable Lady), winner of PCSO’s Anniversary Race last October.
Also present at the loud and vibrant awarding ceremony were MJC Chairman Alfonso Reyno Jr. and Racing Manager Jose Ramon C. Magboo, Philracom Chairman Angel L. Castaño Jr. and Commissioners Jesus B. Cantos and Lyndon B. Guce, PCSO Assistant General Manager for Gaming Conrado C. Zabella, Assistant General Manager for Administration and Racing Committee Chairman Jose T. Malang, and others from the PCSO Racing Committee.
Mayor Abalos was in Rome when the race was held, but his connections who were at SLLP said that Hagdang Bato is not lame, but suffered a three-inch crack in one hoof that will take time to heal.
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Herma Farms and Stud will be holding its Yearling Sale on December 9 at their showcase breeding ranch in Lipa, Batangas.
Herma Farms, owned by longtime horseowner and breeder Herminio S. Esguerra, will offer 46 broken-in and trackwork-ready yearlings sired by Bernstein, Quaker Ridge, Lookin at Lucky, Hook and Ladder, Real Spicy, Telesto, and Borobudur.
Over the past decade, Herma Farms has produced 13 champions and 35 individual stakes winners.
Perhaps the most accomplished Herma Farms stallion is Quaker Ridge (Forty Niner x Twilight Ridge), whose main claim to fame is being the sire of Hagdang Bato and stakes winners Sulong Pinoy, Arvindugo, and Spinning Ridge, among others.