THW: Juveniles in the Spotlight

THE HOARSE WHISPERER

By Jenny Ortuoste for Manila Standard-Today,  13 August 2008, Wednesday

Juveniles in the Spotlight

Until its inevitable conclusion, the world’s eyes are now turned to Beijing, watching the participants of the Summer Olympic Games play out their drama of sports achievement, with well-trained athletes testing  their skills against others.

That same drama of triumph and defeat is also enacted over and over again among the equine athletes of Philippine horseracing. The next group of horses to be so tested are the juvenile colts and fillies, 2YO thoroughbreds, who shall be competing in Sunday’s (August 17)  Juvenile Colts first leg and Juvenile Fillies first leg races at Santa Ana Park in Makati City.

Sponsored by the Philippine Racing Commission, both 1450-meter stakes races feature the best produce of local breeding ranches in Lipa City,Batangas, and elsewhere in the area. Drawing on bloodstock imported mostly from the United States, Australia, and New Zealand,breeders mix and match bloodlines to generate the perfect mix of speed and strength, spirit and stamina, that will yield champions of the track.

The Juvenile Colts stakes will see action from new horseowner Eugene Pioquinto’s Far Beyond; Hermie Esguerra’s coupled entries Go Army and Mastermind,  both bred on his Herma Farms and Stud ranch; Jun Paman’s High Tower;  Boy Mantilla’s Key Boy; Mayor Ruben Dimacuha’s Kudos; Manny Santos’s Oh Wacky; and So Real, lately purchased by Patrick Uy from breeder Eric Tagle.

Considered likely to do well are Key Boy, Go Army, and So Real, who began their campaigns earlier this year and thus have more experience than the others.

Signed up for the Juvenile Fillies stakes are Aloha, registered under Esguerra’s Herma Farms; Eugene Tan’s Ask Leikey;  Esguerra’s coupled entries French Vanilla and Frozen Margarita; Jake Maderazo’s Knockout Babe; Manny Santos’s  coupled entries Love You By Heart and Mind Music; Tonyboy Eleazar’s Security World; and Paolo Mendoza’s Windbeneathmywings.

Speedster French Vanilla is expected to dominate in this race, coming off a recent victory in which she easily polished off rivals with her frontrunning tactics. Out to give her a challenge is Security World, who can run off the pace and come from behind. Ask Leikey showed some flash earlier on this season, but seems to have misplaced her mojo, as has Windbeneathmywings.

But as they say, “apat ang paa nilang lahat“, meaning anything can happen in races that feature young horses who are still learning their trade. Expectations can be dashed, upsets are likely, and pre-race analyses may be rendered moot as weather, track conditions, and many other factors come into play.

Handicapping for both races are “set weight”, colts to carry 54 kgs, fillies 52 kgs. These races are the first legs of the Juvenile series, and setting it in the third quarter of the year is good timing, since it has been observed that juveniles raced very early sometimes do not stay sound for the rest of their campaign or even their career.

In other industry news, the Philippine Racing Club is set to transfer within this year to its new facilities inside the Saddle and Clubs development of Sta. Lucia Realty in Trece Martirez, Cavite.

PRC’s racetrack, the 25-hectare Santa Ana Park, has been situated in Makati City since the late 1930s, its airy Art Deco buildings and capacious parking space attracting racing fans who appreciate its proximity. But with the horse population steadily growing, and with better business opportunities for its prime Makati  real estate, PRC has decided to move to sprawling 70-hectare digs in the province that is also home to Manila Jockey Club’s San Lazaro Leisure Park, in Carmona.

Construction at the site is being fast-tracked. The Grandstand’s structure is complete with finishing about 40% done. The dirt course has an inner and outer track with chutes for the different distances. Perforated pipes for drainage run the length of the course, with several layers of escombro above.  On top of the layers are sheets of geotextile felt lining, and all that needs to be added is the eight-inch thick layer of fine sand, to be compacted later to six inches.

The stables-for-rent are done, save for finishing, ready for horses to move in. Lots are available for horseowners who wish to build their own stables.  Construction on the jockeys’ quarters, saddling and waiting paddocks, race marshalls’ gola (towers), and other necessary infrastructure are all proceeding at a frantic pace.

With this brand-new stage for horseracing almost complete, the same Olympian drama of athletic skill of horses and jockeys will continue to bring aficionados thrill and delight. ***

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