HORSEMAN’S DIGEST March-April 2008, by Jenny Ortuoste
Philracom CHAIRMAN’S CUP
24 February 2008, San Lazaro Leisure Park
Don Enrico Erases Indelible Ink
It was a race that had the entire racing community abuzz with excitement and speculation – the 2008 Philippine Racing Commission (Philracom) Chairman’s Cup. For it pitted the almost unbeatable chestnut filly Indelible Ink, the most accomplished juvenile of 2007, against the humble but talented Don Enrico, who was frequently a runner-up to the precocious filly in most of their matches.
The two three-year-olds grew up together on the same ranch in Batangas – Herma Farms and Stud. The “rising sun and waves” brands on their right shoulders were testament to that. Perhaps they shared the same paddock, and galloped on the grass together, the bright sun glinting off their hides, the wind lifting their manes.
But there the commonalities ended. Indelible Ink, being island-born, boasted an imported pedigree, being by Best Of Luck out of Seaquin. Don Enrico, on the other hand, was Filipino through and through, a spawn of mighty champion Wind Blown out of stakes runner Kayumanggi. Later on, Don Enrico was acquired by Lee Uy Wi, while Herma Farms owner Herminio S. Esguerra kept Indelible Ink.
The differences kept piling up. Indelible Ink was valedictorian of her juvenile class, with earnings of P5.65 million in 2007. Out of twelve starts, she won eleven and had one third place finish.
Don Enrico, on the other hand, was a very smart student but didn’t get all the answers right. Out of eight runs, he won six and placed second twice to bag P2.57 million.
Indelible Ink entered 2008 hoping to dominate this season as well. She was sent off in the Chairman’s Cup as outstanding favorite. Formerly coached by Ruben Clor, she was recently placed under Nestor Manalang’s tutelage.
But Don Enrico, trained by Arturo C. Sordan, had matured in skills and physical condition since their last encounter and proved himself to be Indelible Ink’s worst nightmare, handing the almost unerasable filly her second career defeat.
The 1500-meter race, sponsored by Philracom, was in honor of former chairman and now Philippine Ambassador to Mexico Antonio M. Lagdameo, who made many significant contributions to Philracom and the industry during his term in office.
Nine well-bred three-year olds had signed up for the fight: colts Don Enrico, Bohemian Dave, Shining Fame, Unopposed, and Imperial Ballet all carried 54 kg., while fillies Indelible Ink, her coupled entry Anonymous, Security Queen, and Diamond Duchess carried 52 kg.
When the gates flew back, sprinter Security Queen jumped for the lead. One-and-a-quarter lengths behind was Don Enrico, while Indelible Ink was in third three lengths back. Imperial Ballet, Shining Fame, Anonymous, Unopposed, and Bohemian Dave ran right behind them, while Diamond Duchess trailed the field.
At the 5/8 mark, Security Queen still had a 2-1/2 length lead over Don Enrico, while Indelible Ink had inched up to a length behind the colt in third. Imperial Ballet struggled to keep fourth position. As the horses whipped round the curve into the backstretch, the frontrunner started to fade; Don Enrico’s young jockey John Alvin A. Guce saw his chance to take point while Indelible Ink’s rider Jeffril T. Zarate hugged the rail in second, Imperial Ballet still in third.
The three took the far turn almost as one, in a move so fluid it looked almost practiced. Indelible Ink crept closer to half-a-length behind Don Enrico, still in front. Imperial Ballet lagged to two behind.
Down the stretch Don Enrico and Indelible Ink pulled away from the pack and made it a grudge match between them. Jockeys Guce and Zarate gritted their teeth as they scrubbed the reins and plied their whips, each refusing to give up.
Jockey Jeffril Zarate on Indelible Ink (left) pushes his mount to the limit in a vain effort to catch the pacesetting Don Enrico, guided by John Alvin Guce.
Fifty meters from the wire, Indelible Ink kicked in with extra energy on the outside but couldn’t weaken Don Enrico’s tenacity, who stubbornly held on to win by a long nose in one of the most hotly-contested fights that racetrack has ever witnessed.
Team Don Enrico, which had the support of many in the racing community, exploded into noisy rejoicing when their colt crossed the wire first with a time of 1:32, clocking splits of 17′-24-24-26′.
Guce seems stunned by their victory, while the grooms bask in reflected glory. Don Enrico endears with a lock of his mane tumbling over his glossy forehead.
From the total P2 million in prize money Philracom allotted for the top four finishers, Don Enrico took home P1.2 million. Indelible Ink settled for P450,000, while Imperial Ballet earned P250,00 for third. Fourth placer Anonymous bagged P100,000. As breeder of the winning horse, Herma Farms was awarded P70,000 as part of the Philracom’s incentive program for the local thoroughbred breeding industry. ***