<For HORSEMAN’S DIGEST #4>
Filipinos Shop at Fasig-Tipton
by Comm. Eduardo C. Domingo Jr. (Philracom)
Early in February this year, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) of Maryland, through the Philippine Racing Commission (Philracom), extended an invitation for a Philippine delegation to attend the May 21-22 Fasig-Tipton Midlantic Preferred Auction for Two-Year-Olds in Training at the Maryland State Fairgrounds in Timonium. The USDA also offered the Filipino delegates the chance to watch the 2nd leg of the Triple Crown, the Preakness Stakes, at historic Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore.
The Philippine delegation was composed of Philracom Comm. Atty. Vergel Cruz (Head of Mission); his horseowner-trainer wife Joji Cruz; horseowners Emmanuel Santos, Rene Villoria, Ferdie Dimaisip, and Cesar Avila Jr., along with trainers Rene Florentino, Herman Manahan, Pat Logarta, and JC Canding, as well as myself.
As soon as we arrived in Maryland on May 17, USDA officials Theresa Brophy and Laura Hayes welcomed us at the Sheraton Hotel in Annapolis. A souvenir gift pack was given to each delegate together with the catalogue for the auction to be held on May 21 and 22.
Prior to the May 19 Preakness Stakes and the auction, our hosts took us to visit the Maryland Stallion Station where we saw Rock Slide, one of the top stallions in that area. We met Stud Master Jim Steele, who toured us around the huge 400-acre farm that is under his care. He also showed off a couple of mares to be served by his stallions based in that station.
An electronic hotwalk and exercise machine was also displayed to us. It can automatically control the work given to weanlings and yearlings for a more sophisticated method of muscle development for young horses.
All of us were pretty much amazed not only by the size of this stallion station, but also with the systematic and effective methods that they practice on such a huge productive farm. When we left the site, the group pondered whether the time would ever come that such a farm would be a possibility in the Philippines in the near future.
Going back to the hotel, everyone was so excited for the following day, “Preakness Day”. Street Sense, winner of the Kentucky Derby two weeks back, was in everyone’s thoughts as having the best chance to be a US Triple Crown champion. The last winner to sweep all three legs of the US Triple Crown was Affirmed way back in 1978. Alydar was second place to Affirmed in all three outings of that year’s Triple Crown (Kentucky Derby, Preakness, and Belmont Stakes).
At 9 o’clock the following morning, all of us set out for Pimlico Race Course. The in-field was the venue for distinguished guests, us included. We were treated to free drinks and a marvelous lunch.
The group tried their luck with wagers on some of the races, particularly in the Preakness Stakes. And indeed, we were very much overwhelmed by the outcome as it was such a close fight that the result was decided via photo finish, with Curlin nosing out Street Sense who had the lead at the top of the stretch. Thundering cheers from the vast crowd were deafening as the two protagonists neared the wire. The event enjoyed record-breaking attendance this year compared to last year. All of us had a fantastic day at Pimlico.
On May 20, a day before the auction, all the horseowners and trainers went to the State Fairgrounds to examine the more than 600 colts and fillies to be auctioned off over the next two days.
Fifteen horses were acquired by the delegation: fillies by Proud Citizen (by Gone West), AP Jet (by Fappiano), Van Nistlerooy (by Storm Cat), Officer (by Bertrando), and Seeking the Gold (by Mr. Prospector), to name some. Mr. Santos bid successfully for the Seeking the Gold filly at a substantial price.
An attempt was made to buy back the horse, with a modest premium offered to Mr. Santos, who turned it down as this filly, he said, would be the first Seeking the Gold progeny to run in the Philippines.
We watched with interest as other, higher-priced, juveniles were auctioned off: a Broken Vow offspring for $550,000, and a Yonaguska (sire of local champion Ibarra) for $22,000.
After the auction’s second day, all the horses bought by Filipinos were sent to Green Willow Farm for their quarantine and stay until June 14, the day when they were all shipped to the Philippines via Korean Air Cargo.
These horses are now in training, perhaps in preparation for the forthcoming Two-Year-Old Imported Stakes race this September 23 at Santa Ana Park.
The Maryland USDA is once again inviting Filipino buyers to another sale in October. Those interested may contact the Philracom and sign up to be part of that delegation. ***
Photo: Filipino delegates pose near the Pimlico grandstand.
L-R: Pat Logarta, Manny Santos, Nory Villoria, Cesar Avila, Eduardo Domingo, JC Canding, and Andoy Florentino. (photo courtesy of Comm. Eduardo Domingo)