AMAZING HORSE Series: INGAY-INGAY
Horseman’s Digest #3 April-May 2007
by Jenny Ortuoste
Certified Gold Mine
They’re sometimes called “taxis”, the horses whose names we see in the programa week after week, running constantly, usually belonging to the lower divisions. Unlike those in the rarefied strata of Groups 2 or 3 who compete only in stakes races, if at all, indulging in the occasional class-division race as a prep run, the “taxis” are the iron horses with the stamina and endurance to go on, earning their keep, sometimes being the “breadwinner” for their entire stable.
These are the steadfast and dependable money earners who, without reaping trophies, are still the horses that an owner can count on to sustain his racing operations. If an owner has even one of these “gold mines”, then he can count himself lucky indeed.
Take Roger Gabutan. Very few have been as fortunate as this fellow who is the registered horseowner of one of these dependable iron horses, Ingay Ingay. Shy and reserved, Gabutan is a man of few words and prefers to have his brother-in-law, Alexis Sevidal, who is the stable overseer, tell the tale of how they acquired this stellar runner.
Sevidal, at 47, comes across as a serious person but as he warms up, he reveals an endearing sense of humor and a flaming passion for horses. “Even when I was young,” he says, “my dad was betting on the famous horses of the ‘70s, Sun God, Cavite Starlet, Reporter. I was in grade 5 then, and I acted as his runner. We went to both tracks, but San Lazaro Hippodrome more frequently as it was near where we lived then. This developed my love of horses.”
Times were tough for Sevidal as a youth, and the interest in horseracing took a back seat to his studies and career. A well-educated man, he put himself through school as a working student – the University of the East (BSBA), De La Salle University (MBA), Ateneo de Manila University (one year of law school), and the University of Asia and the Pacific (where he obtained a scholarship to pursue an MA in Applied Business Economics).
After establishing himself in his career and doing well, Sevidal and Gabutan were able to relax and indulge in horseracing once again, this time with horses actually under their care.
”We looked for horses that were already running because we didn’t want to have to raise a novato from scratch,” Sevidal remarks. In January 2006 they acquired Tini Bambini. Sevidal was still on the lookout for a good buy, so he applied concepts that he learned in school, networking being one of them.
”I’d go to stables, sit with jockeys and grooms. I’d ask who they’d buy if they had money. More than once I got the answer, “Boss, I’d go for Ingay Ingay, she runs twice a week, matibay siya.’ I heard that this horse was something else.” So they acquired Ingay Ingay in May for P550,000 from horseowner and trainer of iron horses, Ricardo “Jun” Paman. (See article on Paman’s horse Kitana in the previous issue of Horseman’s Digest.)
Looking back on the deal, Sevidal is certain that there was an element of luck. “We also found a team na may malasakit – riders John Alvin Guce, John Paul Guce, and Gilbert Francisco, as well as veterinarian Dr. Romy Modomo and trainer Arturo “Atoy” Sordan Jr.”
Trainer Sordan is “flexible, with seasoned talent and street smarts. He’s good. I balance it with the formal knowledge of Dr. Modomo. Given that, it’s a great tandem.”
Upon acquiring Ingay in May, she was taken to a farm to rest for one month. When she came back in June, she didn’t win but placed several times. She was raced once a week. Sevidal insisted that she be given the best – food, vitamins, regular vet visits. The investment paid off when Ingay bagged the first win for her new connections, on August 13.
Then the break came – six consecutive wins from 11 October to 2 November. “That did it. Ingay improved a lot. When we bought her she was at (class-division) 4-5A, then she became competitive and was beating those in 4-4, 4-3B. In December she won two consecutive times. Since then she’s been running once or twice a week.” To date, Ingay has earned over P2 million for her very happy team.
The secret to Ingay’s breakthrough performance? “It’s a matter of horseracing management,” Sevidal says. “Trainer, food, vets, keep the horse healthy. We don’t feel the expense is a waste because cost-benefit wise, it paid off after two or three months.”
Musing on Ingay’s quirks, he says, “One thing I’ve noticed, she takes a rest lying down. For a long time. So before she runs, she has a good chance of winning. If she breaks out into a sweat before she runs that’s a sign that she’ll win. She’s an unusual horse.”
Another characteristic of Ingay’s that has endeared her to Sevidal is her resilience. Hit in the eye by a stone, the incident left her unfazed. “She runs even without blinkers,” says Sevidal with pride.
He adds, “She’s very competitive, and her mindset is, if I run, I want to win.”
Ingay Ingay (the name in Tagalog means, literally, “noise noise”), he says, is “a determined horse. She doesn’t show weakness. She’s just four years old, but she performs up to and beyond our expectations.” High praise indeed, but these are not mere words. Her statistics are unassailable, as one of the top five earners for 2006.
”We got a gold mine in Ingay, compared in general to other horses, earning almost as much as Real Spicy even without the stakes races. We’re lucky to have her. She helps subsidize our racing operation; she’s the cash cow.”
Sevidal’s academic background stands him in good stead as a stable overseer. He runs a tight ship according to his notions of proper stable management. But despite his expertise in finance, his focus is on relationships. “The stable team should feel ownership in the horse,” he says. “No negatives, just encouragement. After all the hard work, the finished product is the horse, product of all the industry, perseverance, and analysis.”
Pulling Ingay’s race records from his pocket, Sevidal points to her collection of wins and places. “Horse management is the key. We believe that Ingay is still peaking. So we discuss everything; it’s a group effort.”
Plans for the future? “The role of the owner is to take good care of her, maintenance-wise. Long-term, she’s still young and has lots of things to offer in terms of rewards. As Mr. Puyat told me, ‘I wish I could have ten Ingay-Ingays. I’m happy for you, because you’re a young horseowner with all the passion for racing.’”
Sevidal’s take on the entire thing? “I’m having fun. And that’s the bottom line.” ***
Photo: Ingay Ingay at her stable