THE HOARSE WHISPERER
by Jenny Ortuoste for BusinessWorld
Friday, 15 June 2007
Suggested heading: 2-YO Stakes Series II
The nation’s latest crop of juveniles strut their stuff on Sunday, June 17, in the second leg of the Philracom (Philippine Racing Commission) 2-Year-Old Stakes at Santa Ana Park.
The 900-meter first leg, run last May 13 at San Lazaro Leisure Park, was won by Tabako, who checked in at the wire with a speedy 0.53.5 seconds, just a bit off the 0.51.8 national time record of champion sprinter Ariba King set in 2004.
Sunday’s race will also be over 900 meters and with Tabako out of the picture (as a past leg winner), fans are looking to Black Mamba to be the one to beat, having won a regular race recently.
Just like Tabako (Mr. Sutter-Liberty At Last), Black Mamba (Principality-Spicy Tale) was bred by horseowner Hermie Esguerra at his showcase ranch Herma Farms & Stud in Lipa City, Batangas. Black Mamba shares the same dam as famous champion Real Spicy (Real Quiet-Spicy Tale), also owned by Mr. Esguerra.
Black Mamba, owned by Pierre Niles and to be ridden by JB Hernandez, will be going up against a formidable slate of juveniles comprising El Banquero (with jockey FM Raquel), He’s the Man (JB Guce), Hudson Hawk (AB Alcasid Jr.), Indelible Ink (LD Balboa), Kat’s Almighty (JG Tinte), Lover of All (DH Borbe Jr.), Princess Yana (KB Abobo), at Security Queen (VM Camanero Jr.).
Sponsor Philracom has put up P1.2 million in total prizes, with P720,000 going to the first placer, P270,000 for 2nd, P150,000 for 3rd, and P60,000 for 4th. There is also a prize of P70,000 for the breeder of the winning horse.
While it is exciting to see juveniles race because it is from their ranks that future Triple Crown champions for the following year may emerge, there are industry members who are not convinced of the wisdom of running 2-year-olds.
They say the bones of horses at this young age are still developing and are fragile. Any undue exertion or pressure could cause injury or worse, breakdown. I’ve seen it happen before – beautiful colts or fillies who suddenly snap a leg in a race or training and have to be sent back to the farm for breeding or, sadly, destroyed – and all because they were raced too soon. Because of the horseowner or trainer’s lack of patience or perhaps misjudgement on the readiness of the horse, a promising career is cut short, investment lost, and time and effort wasted.
Horseowners who race their horses as juveniles often think that by doing so they can earn back their investment faster. They say it’s just being “practical” or “business-minded”, not realizing they face higher risks and may in fact lose more money rather than earn it in the long run. It’s safer to wait a while; though expenses for maintenance may pile up, the horse will likely have a longer and more productive career ahead.
Some wonder why Philracom started the juvenile stakes series in May when it should have been July. Philracom even set March as the start date but switched upon clamor of horseowners and trainers. As the governing body for horseracing, Philracom should carefully study when it is best to hold 2-year-old races. Preferably it should be as late as possible in the year, to minimize risks and increase the safety factor, so that all concerned can derive more enjoyment – and income – from their thoroughbreds. ***
Photo: Black Mamba and JB Hernandez during the parade at SLLP, 13 May 2007. (Roel Taripe)