The Hoarse Whisperer
by Jenny Ortuoste
For 18 April 2007, Wednesday, BusinessWorld
After all the rampaging colts had stormed home, one fact was clear – Afternoon Delight had polished off the rest of his rivals with a fantastic finish in the 1500-meter Philippine Racing Commission (Philracom) Three-Year-Old Colts Stakes Race held April 15 at the Manila Jockey Club’s San Lazaro Leisure Park (SLLP).
Lanky bay Afternoon Delight (Account of Grace-Belle Epoque) was bred at Herma Farms and Stud, the breeding operation of his owner, Hermie Esguerra. Ridden by veteran Jesse Guce and trained by newcomer Lito Tornandizo, Afternoon Delight’s impressive wire-to-wire performance was a revelation to track aficionados, though he was sent off as the favorite along with coupled entry Ididitmyway. He took home the top purse of P780,000.
A surprise second placer was longshot Passing Through, to bag P292,500, while Lord Boni, record holder for the 1000 meters, managed to salvage third (P162,500). Golden Sutter, owned and bred by Herma Farms, made fourth and took home P65,000.
This race and its counterpart for the distaff side, the recently-run Three-Year-Old Fillies Stakes, are tune-up races for the prestigious Triple Crown series later this summer. The first leg, a mile race, is set for May 20 at the Philippine Racing Club’s Santa Ana Park.
Herma Farms and Stud is a sprawling 40-hectare spread in Lipa City, Batangas. Run to the highest standards of excellence, Herma Farms offers the services of quality-pedigreed thoroughbred stallions Account of Grace, Mr. Sutter, Deputy Bodman, Strong Material, and Wind Blown.
Strong Material and Wind Blown are both local-breds and campaigned extensively before being retired to stud. Wind Blown, who earned almost p19 million in prize money over his five-year career, is considered the all-time leading money earner and stakes winner, with 24 stakes wins. His progeny are expected to see action next year.
Herma, in less than five years of existence, has already made a name for itself as a premier source of quality racehorses. Its produce includes stakes champions Condoleeza, Macho Man, and Pacman, among many others.
In previous interviews, Hermie Esguerra has opined on the success of his pet project Herma Farms. “I started buying good bloodlines abroad…we also keep the farm and stables as clean as possible. I overemphasize to trainers and staff the need for orderliness and cleanliness.”
Hailed for many years running as the top horseowner (in terms of money earned), Mr. Esguerra has remarked “I give the best to my horses, and I expect the best from them. That’s the formula.”
With Afternoon Delight’s strong showing, and that of Golden Sutter as well, Herma Farms and the HS Esguerra Racing Stable are expected to put up a good fight in the coming Triple Crown matches.
April 15 at SLLP was also the culminating day of the highly successful 1st phf.com.ph Racing Festival, which showcased nineteen trophy races over the weekend. Seen at the races that day was famous media personality Tony Calvento, who was an honored guest of the Manila Jockey Club. The distinguished print and broadcast journalist is also a racing expert and a respected figure in the sport.
Longshots ruled half of the major phf.com.ph races – Leave No Doubt in the Herma Farms-Founder’s Cup, Crowning Glory in the Caltex Grand Eyeball Cup, Henry the Eighth in the San Miguel Beer Cup – while favorite shone in the others – Circulation in the Manilabank-ROU Cup, Cool Town in the Real Top Feeds Cup, and Batang Bukid in the Mustang Security Cup.