THE HOARSE WHISPERER By Jenny Ortuoste for Manila Standard-Today, 13 August 2014, Wednesday
6th Mayor Ramon D. Bagatsing Racefest
At six years of continuous staging, what began as a day of racing in tribute of a horseracing personality is now an annual tradition.
“We’ve come a long way, and it’s thanks to our sponsors and the racing fans,” says lawyer and horseowner Ramon D. Bagatsing Jr., who with his brother Manila Rep. Amado S. Bagatsing established the Mayor Ramon D. Bagatsing (RDB) Racing Festival in memory of their late father, a horseowner and Thoroughbred breeder.
Mayor Bagatsing, in an effort to boost the horseracing industry, re-launched the Gran Copa de Manila race that was supposed to have been run in 1896 at the Manila Jockey Club. The Spanish-American War broke out before the event, which was not held.
The Copa, a trophy of heavily engraved silver about two feet tall, was made in Hong Kong and placed in safekeeping during the war. Afterwards it was displayed at the old MJC clubhouse in Tayuman, Manila, but was destroyed by fire in the 1970s. A replica may be seen at MJC’s Turf Club at the San Lazaro Leisure Park in Carmona, Cavite.
The Gran Copa de Manila races at MJC during the ‘70s to the ‘90s were among the most anticipated racing events of the year. Fans flocked in the thousands to Tayuman to watch the elite stars of the track run for hefty prizes.
The event was held a couple of times after MJC move to Carmona, but it was never the same again.
The Bagatsings might not be able to recapture the glory days of the Gran Copa, but they sure are trying.
This year, the major races of the RDB Racing Festival are the Philippine Racing Commission-RDB Cup for 4YOs and older, Division I for local-breds and and Division II for imports; the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office-RDB Cup Division I for 3YO fillies and Division II for 3YO colts; and the P1 million RDB Challenge to Champions Race presented by Resorts World Manila.
Resorts World Manila will also back another rich race worth P500,000.
This is perhaps the richest single-day racing event this year, with P6.5 million in total cash-and-kind prizes.
The Bagatsing family will also award a prize of P5,000 and a sack of rice to each winning groom, a tradition they began with the first edition of the RDB Cup and which mirrors the practice begun by the late Mayor Bagatsing at the Gran Copa de Manila races.
The action-crammed event will also feature support races sponsored by Solaire Resort and Casino, Manila Jockey Club, City of Dreams Manila, Midas Hotel and Casino, Tiger Resorts Leisure and Entertainment, EEG Development Corp., SMART Corp., San Juan Coliseum, Atty. Narciso O. Morales, Engr. Felizardo Sevilla Jr., Red Bull Energy Drink, and Mr. Bing Tecson.
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La Furia Roja defeated five others to win the 5th leg of the Philracom Import/Local Challenge series last Aug. 10 at Metroturf.
The race, held in honor of multi-awarded trainer and veterinarian Antonio C. Alcasid Sr., was dominated by the 6YO racemare who also won the Option Race that was held in place of the 4th leg of the series.
Ridden by Jonathan Hernandez and trained by AR Sordan, La Furia Roja carried a staggering 57 kgs. yet still managed to win by three lengths over second-placer Bentley. Excelsia placed third and Jade Avenue fourth.
The time for the mile race was 1:36 (25.2-22.4-23-25.4). This is not considered a record because Metroturf’s track is inordinately fast. Philracom only recognizes time records set at SLLP and at Santa Ana Park in Naic.
By the way, on the programa, La Furia Roja’s owner is still listed as “JMA Franco.” Mr. Jose Mari A. Franco passed away some years ago. Will the present owner of this talented racemare please stand up? ***