THE HOARSE WHISPERER By Jenny Ortuoste for Manila Standard-Today, 4 June 2014, Wednesday
Pugad Lawin shocks in the 19th PCSO Silver Cup
It was like the 2013 Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office Presidential Gold Cup all over again – a shocking encounter between elite thoroughbreds with an unexpected outcome.
This year’s PCSO Silver Cup saw the two arch-rivals Hagdang Bato and Pugad Lawin meet again at Santa Ana Park last Sunday to battle for glory in one of the sport’s major stakes races, and for the fat purse of P2.5 million.
Hagdang Bato, the defending champion of the event, was considered a shoo-in and emerged the outstanding favorite in the Silver Cup despite enduring a heartbreaking loss to Pugad Lawin in last year’s Gold Cup.
He suffered a cracked heel for his efforts back then but made a good recovery, winning the Philippine Racing Commission Commissioner’s Cup last March.
Pugad Lawin, on the strength of his being a “giant killer”, was the far – it would be more accurate to say “remote” – second choice in the Silver Cup, which attracted five other entries.
When the gates flew back for the 2,000 meter race, Hagdang Bato, guided by Jonathan Hernandez, grabbed the early lead, while Pugad Lawin clung to his flank, the others running lengths behind.
But instead of dropping back a few lengths to pace the frontrunner, the Jesse Guce-guided Pugad Lawin matched Hagdang Bato stride for stride, both horses killing the pace and trying to wear each other down during the long journey.
Fans expected Hagdang Bato to step up the pace at the far turn and pull away. However, Pugad Lawin rallied too, finally pulling away from Hagdang Bato in the stretch to win by four.
A spent-looking Hagdang Bato placed second, followed by Tensile Strength, Spinning Ridge, Steel Creation, Captain Ball, and Sulong Pinoy last.
The total time for the race was a leisurely 2:07.4 (25’-24’-25’-24’-27’).
Present at the awarding ceremony were, from PCSO, Vice-Chairman and General Manager Jose Ferdinand M. Rojas II, Committee on Races Chairman Jose T. Malang, and other committee members.
The host track, Santa Ana Park, was represented by Philippine Racing Club Chairman Santiago Cua Jr., Executive Vice-President Allan Abesamis, and Assistant Racing Manager Eric Salido.
On hand to receive the heavy PCSO Silver Cup were the co-owners of Pugad Lawin, Antonio “Tony” Tan and Jun Ferrer, both wearing red for luck, like they did at last year’s Gold Cup. They were accompanied by fellow horseowner Vicente Go Bon.
Tan owned Native Land, who won the 2007 PCSO Presidential Gold Cup also with jockey Jesse Guce.
The charity proceeds of the race will benefit the municipality of Naic through the renovation and rehabilitation of the Naic Municipal Hospital, upon the request of Naic Mayor Junio C. Dualan. Naic Administrator Lito Senia represented the mayor at the awarding ceremony.
Railbirds are still shocked over Hagdang Bato’s loss, which was all the more ironic because it was to Pugad Lawin again.
According to veteran rider Antonio “Oyet” Alcasid Jr., Hagdang Bato “was in top shape a few days before the [Silver Cup], in fact his final workout was a blistering 24-24-24 for ¾ mile. Nobody else does that.”
Some say the luck was on the side of jockey Jesse Guce, who recently welcomed a baby girl to his family. ***