The Hoarse Whisperer
by Jenny Ortuoste for 13 April 2007, Friday, BusinessWorld
The weekend of April 14 and 15 at the Manila Jockey Club’s San Lazaro Leisure Park will be a landmark for the horseracing world with the staging of the first racing festival organized by a community of cyber-aficionados – the Pinoy Horse Fanatics (PHF) at http://www.phf.com.ph.
Formed a year ago by an Internet-savvy IT racing fan, Ramil Uchi, the site now lists 2048 members with more signing up everyday. This group has managed to pull off a feat never done before by any group of kareristas in the history of racing – managing to solicit enough funds for trophies and added cash prizes for 16 races!
Four trophy races are slated on Saturday – the James Sazon Rabano, the Butch Maniego COMET, the FILHEIGHTS, and the ZYGY*ZYGY Friendship Race – with four more for Sunday – the Mayor Otoy Gutierrez Memorial, the Councilor Leslie Gutierrez, the UHAW (sub-group within PHF), and the TEDBOR Negros Cockers’ Friendship Race.
Sunday will see four Challenge Races, which give recognition to jockeys, trainers, and two overlooked sectors of the racing industry – grooms and their helpers, and exercise riders.
In the Romulo Henson Memorial Trainers’ Challenge, P10,000 cash and a trophy will be awarded to the victorious trainer, in memory of the late conditioner of stakes winners Marangal and Celebrated Ruler.
In the Christopher “Toto” Pagalan Grooms’ and Helpers’ Challenge, a cash prize of P8,000 and a trophy awaits the groom of the winning horse while P2,000 will be given to the grooms’ helper. Grooms are the people who care for the racehorses – wash, curry, comb, and hotwalk them, among other things – and Toto Pagalan is one of the winningest, having under his care such champions as Juggernaut and Ever Mine Now.
The Ricardo G. Aquino Exercise Riders’ Challenge, bearing the name of its horseowner-sponsor, pays tribute to ensayadors, who are responsible for a horse’s breaking and early training. They also work horses in the mornings in lieu of the jockeys who will ride them in competition. P7,000 cash and a trophy will be given to the winning horse’s exercise rider, the first time such an incentive has ever been awarded.
Four Grand Races are also set for Sunday – the Real Top Feeds Cup, Mustang Security Cup, Manilabank-phf.com.ph ROU Cup, and the Herma Farms–phf.com.ph Founder’s Cup, all offering cash and trophies to the victors.
All cash prizes for all phf.com.ph-sponsored races are added on top of the regular prizes of the day.
An extra attraction for Sunday is the Philippine Racing Commission Three-Year-Old Colts Stakes, a 1500-meter tuneup race for possible Triple Crown contenders Afternoon Delight, Ger Francis, Golden Sutter, Gypsy Grey, Ididitmyway, Lord Boni, Music King, Passing Through, Royal Scepter, Runnin’ Rebel, Sharp and Deadly, Storm Hall, and Superamerica.
In a class-division race at SLLP on March 31, Afternoon Delight edged out Superamerica at the finish, while also-rans included Golden Sutter (fourth), and Ger Francis (sixth). In another race that same day, Lord Boni shattered the record for the 1000-meter sprint with a time of 58 and 3/5 seconds.
This early, punters are divided over the possible outcome in the Colts Stakes, seeing it as an even-steven fight. Afternoon Delight and Superamerica have a slight edge of support, with Storm Hall and Lord Boni having backers as well. Track veterans advise not to discount Music King and Ididitmyway. +++