THE HOARSE WHISPERER
By Jenny Ortuoste for Manila Standard-Today, 6 August 2008, Wednesday
Shining Fame Wins Triple Crown 3
After weeks of nerve-racking suspense and nail-biting anticipation for participants and punters alike, the Philracom Triple Crown Championship third leg was held last August 3, Sunday, at Santa Ana Park, unveiling a surprise winner.
Shining Fame (Royal Premiere – Harry’s District), sent off as third favorite in the sales, negotiated 2,050 meters over a muddy track in the rain, coming from second-to-last position to win the prestigious race for Philippine-bred 3YO.
It was an amazing feat, really. Fans had discussed the race to pieces over the weeks prior, with some leaning towards Don Enrico, victor of the second leg, others towards Indelible Ink, winner of the first, and juvenile champion of 2007.
Shining Fame, who had come a close second, via photo-finish, in the first leg, and third in the second leg, was also well-regarded but considered somewhat of a dark horse.
Other entries, such as Champion of Show, Hieroglyphics (winner of the Hopeful 2 stakes, also for local 3YO), and Tabako, were seen as “wild cards”, with the latter expected to be a “rabbit” for stablemate Indelible Ink, the designated winner.
But the plot twisted and turned, which in racing happens fairly often, usually when least expected.
First, Indelible Ink was said to be off her former sizzling form.
Second, Don Enrico’s regular and declared rider, John Alvin Guce, the only jockey that colt will run well for, did not recover from illness in time to participate. That raceday morning, the ride was given to John B. Cordero. Fans groaned in dismay, particularly those who had already placed their bets. Everyone knew Don Enrico would not perform well with another jockey! Talk about Murphy’s Law.
When the horses sprang out the gate, Tabako took the lead, as expected. The favorite, Don Enrico immediately clung to the frontrunner’s flank. Champion of Show was about a length behind, as were second choice Indelible Ink and Shining Fame. Hieorglyphics ran in last position.
This was the scenario, more or less, until the far turn, when Indelible Ink and Shining Fame started moving up. Shining Fame then rounded the home curve like a boomerang on its return trajectory, passing the frontrunners like they were standing still in the hoof-deep mud.
Galloping down the stretch to pull away by five, Shining Fame had himself a magnificent romp, crossing the finish line with four to spare.
Splits for the race were 28-23?-26?-24?-27 for a total time of 2:09.6, a mere six-tenths of a second from breaking the record for that distance, currently held by Indelible Ink’s senior stablemate, Real Spicy.
Said Shining Fame’s owner Antonio “Tony” V. Tan Jr., modestly: “Everything just went our way. Talaga lang siguro kanya-kanyang panahon.” He revealed that they had to psych Shining Fame up for the contest. “Shining Fame is stabled in San Lazaro Leisure Park. So a week before the race, we brought him down to Santa Ana Park. The first day there, he wouldn’t eat. But he eventually adjusted and got more used to the track. This was one of the factors that helped him win.”
Also impressive was Hieroglyphics’ performance. The plucky gray came in second, after racing in last for nearly the entire race. According to his owner, Raymund B. Puyat, “We were just lucky, I guess. I expect more from him as he gets older, that’s what his pedigree indicates. I hope he continues to improve.”
Indelible Ink placed third, and Champion of Show fourth. Shining Fame brings home the top prize of P1.8 million, his biggest win to date.
With the Philracom Triple Crown series for 3YO thoroughbreds finally over, several things are clear:
One, that anything can truly happen in every race.
Two, there was no “sweep” of this year’s Triple Crown. No one even came close.
Three, that the present batch of 3YO are pretty well-matched, with no one standing head-and-shoulders above the rest, meaning we have no Wind Blowns or Sun Dancers in this crop.
These 3YO have the rest of the season to regain lost ground and reassert – or claim – supremacy. Expect more thrilling races in the months to come. ***