HD#5: Training Champions

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Horseman’s Digest is one year old! We are so excited about the 1st Anniversary Issue which will be out in time for Christmas. The publishers (Dr. Norberto Quisumbing Jr., Mr. Aristeo Puyat, and Mr. Ramon Balatbat) and the editorial team (EIC me, Layout Artist Jasmine Lalog, Account Exec Jenny Aguirre, and many excellent contributors) are working hard to present you with an issue packed with articles and photos that every true-blue racing fan will enjoy.

Below, an article by my father-in-law, racehorse trainer Dr Tony Alcasid, whose record of wins in major races is unsurpassed.

Training Champions:

Memories of the Presidential Gold Cup

by Antonio C. Alcasid, DVM

 

The call came while I was waiting for my wife Glo’s cataract operation to be performed at Makati Medical Center’s operating theater. It was Ramon (Balatbat, horseowner and HD publisher), and he wanted me to write an article on “how to train champions” for this magazine’s anniversary issue. This made me think. What do I know about training? How do I go about writing the article? I am no expert, and I have no formal education that could pass for anything near any authoritative knowledge of the subject.

All I could do was draw upon my experiences as a professional horse trainer for more than thirty five years in the racing industry. During those years, I had the good fortune of having several champions in my stable. But how do you objectively assign the name “champion” to any racehorse? To me, every horse that I train is a champion on their own merit. But I can’t help having my favorites.

I got hold of an old magazine that detailed the winners of the Presidential Gold Cup since its initiation last 1973 and with that list of the most prestigious race of the country in front of me, I realized that I had ten horses included in that list for the eleven times that I won that race. No one can deny that these horses are champions in their own right and what better way to discuss training than detailing the training methods and regimen that I employed to bring these animals to their peak during the time they competed.

It is regrettable that the files associated with the training of these horses have been lost in the hard drive of my old computer. Anyway, relying on my fading memory, I will try and do justice to the memory of these champions.

 

PCSO Presidential Gold Cup Winners from 1973 to 2001

1977 – 1978: Little Morning and Gypsy Grey

Little Morning and Gypsy Grey were the reasons I got involved in horseracing and are the horses closest to my heart anytime. I was a fresh graduate from the University of the Philippines’ College of Veterinary Medicine in 1961 and started as a company veterinarian with the Yulo family, being a college scholar of C-J Yulo & Sons Inc.

 

To make a long story short, I entered horseracing as a protégé of (noted breeder and horseman) Jose “Bebo” Yulo Quiros when he took over the management of the Yulo stables. We imported an initial batch of five mares from New Zealand in the 1970’s.

 

During those times, New Zealand stock was known for their staying power, and Australian horses were known for speed. Others questioned why we selected New Zealand stock over Australian stock when Philippine races were mostly short races and the condition of the racetracks would favor speed horses.

Our theory was that we needed sturdy stock to withstand the rigors of Philippine racing. We needed athletes that would perform week after week on tracks that punish their legs. We were just careful to choose horses that had parents that won over the shorter distances. The wisdom of this decision came to light when we succeeded in producing quality horses from this importation. Little Morning and Gypsy Grey came from this importation.

 

Little Morning was a chestnut mare by Zamazaan. She was a stayer and a puller. She had a mean finishing kick which she unleashed in the last three furlongs of the race. Her running style was off the pace. Her best performance came when she was allowed to loaf during the early part of the race on a slow gallop, letting her finish off the last three furlongs of the race.

She was a puller and that gave me some concern. I hit upon the idea of using on her the double rein, which is connected to the cinch of the saddle, passing through the bit towards the jockey’s hands.

 

In the mornings, you could pick her out from among the other horses doing their workouts with her beautiful chestnut coat shining and Jockey Esting Camba straining with all his might to hold her from taking off in a full gallop. She usually did well when given a three furlong breeze on the Thursday before a Sunday stakes race. Actually the year she won the Gold Cup, it was Gypsy Grey that was favored, but the long route was favorable for her running style and she bested her stablemate, relegating Gypsy Grey for the next year’s Gold Cup.

 

Gypsy Grey was a grey mare by Sovereign Edition out of My Fiancee. We got the mare hoping to produce a colt from the mating that we could use as a stallion later on. We got a filly, and it was Gypsy Grey. She was named for an old grey riding mare in the Yulo stable that was named Hitana, meaning gypsy. Hitana had such a beautiful temperament that even a child could ride and exercise her. That same temperament turned up in Gypsy Grey.

Gypsy Grey, being out of the swift Sovereign Edition, turned out to have speed, and her best distance was up to a mile, although the Alcimedes influence allowed her to stay some distance. She turned out to be anhydrotic and we tried to help her by putting her inside an air-conditioned stall, which didn’t quite work out.

In spite of being anhydrotic, she became the first Philippine racehorse to win more than a million pesos in stakes prizes. At the time when most stakes races only had P60,000 as first prize money, it was a real accomplishment to win a total of a million pesos in stakes during her time. She was an easy mare to train, doing well with light works. Her running style was staying near the pace and then finishing at the last part of the race. She had a short run and one had to time her run in such a way as to finish well.

 

1981 – 1982: Fair and Square.

Fair and Square is now called “legendary” because of his outstanding performance as a runner and later on as a stallion. He won the Gold Cup two years in a row. The Gold Cup was formerly limited to horses that had never won the race before. When previous winners were allowed to enter again, Fair and Square became the first back-to-back winner of the prestigious race, the first horse to ever do so.

 

When his owner Capt. Cesar Mamon retired from C-J Yulo and Sons, he bought the mare Fair Sea in foal to Belgrave Square. The resulting foal was Fair and Square. Masasabing swerte ang pagkabili kay Fair Sea ni Capt. Mamon, sapagkat si Fair Sea ay masasabing pinagpilian. Of three mares imported by Mr. Lacson at the time, Fair Sea had no takers so Capt. Mamon acquired her.

 

Fair and Square won all but one of his races, and the only race he lost, he lost because of jockey’s error. In that instance he had a very short run and he lost because his jockey made the mistake of asking too much of his mount during the early part of the race.

He had speed and finishing power, traits of a true champion. Fair and Square was the first horse to sweep all three legs of the local Triple Crown. He was able to transmit his abilities to his offspring. His filly, Sun Dancer, was a champion as well. He had many other progenies who won stakes races.

 

Fair and Square was an easy horse to train. He required little fast work, keeping fit on slow long gallops. He had a wonderful temperament and could be exercised by almost any exercise rider. He had a tendency to crib-bite and colic was another of his problems brought about by his sucking in wind. It was probably because he got bored being confined to a small stall.

 

1984: Dino Bambino.

Dino Bambino was a brown colt owned by former pelotari and later Philracom Chairman Andrew Sanchez. Andrew bought him from the Yulos; the colt was out of a New Zealand mare which we had imported. He had brilliant speed and won the Gold Cup by maintaining a blistering pace right from the start. He did well when made to run off the bit. Former star jockey and now Philracom commissioner Eduardo “Boboc” Domingo Jr. was his regular rider, and they made a great tandem.

 

1985: Headmaster.

Headmaster, owned by the Yulo family’s Carmel Investments Inc., was unfortunate in having to race against Fair and Square. His rival Fair and Square dominated most of the stakes races and he was second fiddle in all of their races. He finally made his mark in the Gold Cup when Fair and Square was no longer entered.

 

1987: Time Master

Time Master, by Bold Joey out of All Girl, was a chestnut colt that ran with his head close to the ground. Ang biruan nga naming noon ay naghahanap siya ng pera sa pista. He was purchased from Carmel Investments Inc. by Andrew Sanchez and was a half brother to two-leg Triple Crown Winner Vixen.

Time Master won all of his races and during his time established a record for the mile that stood for quite some time. Just like Fair and Square, he won all three legs of the Triple Crown as well. Time Master was a very game horse. We would send him out to just coast along behind any front runner and you could be assured that come the last three furlongs of the race he would engage whoever was out front and pass him before reaching the finish line.

He was never truly extended and I believe that if there were anyone better, he would surely have broken all records. The record he established was made when we made him chase Angela’s Pet as a pacesetter.

 

1988: Thriller

By Bold Joey out of the New Zealand mare Golden Riches, Thriller was a stable mate of the fabled Time Master and was also owned by Andrew Sanchez. A stayer, Thriller was well known for his finishing kick. Although handicapped by being blind in one eye, he overcame that disability to prove himself a true winner.

 

1992: Grand Party

Grand Party was one of the most difficult horses I ever trained. He had a tendency of stopping during races especially at about the five furlong mark. We even resorted to hiring people to make noises at the place where he had a tendency to halt. However, when he made up his mind to run, he was a brilliant racehorse. Andrew Sanchez owned this horse, which he purchased from the Yulos.

 

1993: Fair Start.

Fair Start, owned by the Mamon family, was a chestnut gelding. A progeny of Fair and Square, he was known for his staying power. He did not have brilliance but he could stay. He often ended up dehado, besting some of the stakes winner of his time. His finishing kick made him a worthy opponent. Pag kumapit siya sa rekta, siguradong lalampas.

1994: Crown Colony

Although not the best of the lot, Crown Colony is perhaps the most memorable of my Presidential Gold Cup winners. She was a bay filly out of a New Zealand mare owned by the Yulos. Bebo and I bought the mare for Carmel Investments Inc. from New Zealand, and had her bred to Regent Street. I was involved with the mare right from the start, from purchase to breeding, to foaling, to raising the yearling, until she ran at the track.

When she was a yearling, I asked sportsman Rolly Rojas to purchase her and I ended up training her for Rolly’s stable. My son Oyet (Jockey A. B. Alcasid Jr.) rode her in the Gold Cup. She broke last from the gate and trailed the field by many lengths. A strong rally in the middle stages and an impressive finishing kick gave her the victory. When she won the race, no less than President Fidel V. Ramos handed us the trophies during the awards presentation.

 

Champions All

Listing my Presidential Gold Cup winners as champions does not mean that they are the only champions that I trained. Also on my list are the imported mare Early Hours; three-leg Triple Crown champion Magic Showtime; two-leg Triple Crown champions Vixen, Family Affair, Red Marshall, Wind Dancer, and American Song; Triple Crown leg winners West Bound, Cover Girl, and Mr. Victory; and stakes winners Copy Furnished along with many others all contributed to my enjoyment of racing.

What I know about training I learned by a process of trial and error. By observing my horses, living and working with them, I developed a regimen that served me well. My two month stay with the late Bill Saunders of Te Awamutu in New Zealand left me with a foundation that became my creed.

Bill used to say, “The better and the more you feed them, the more you can work them. The more you work them, the fitter they become. The fitter they become, the more they can race. The more they can race, the more chances you have of making money.”

He also often said, “If you don’t wait on them, they will make you wait.” Thus I learned to temper work with patience, observation and good horsemanship.

 

Thanks to…

As an outsider looking in into the racing industry, I was handicapped by lacking the background of people who grew up with horses and racing. However, I had the good fortune of being associated with people who were able to provide me with the materials that became my future champions.

On top of the list is Mr. Jose “Bebo” Yulo Quiros. Mr. Aristeo Puyat once called me “the greatest contribution of Mr. Quiros to horseracing.” The Yulos gave me my education and the opportunity to be involved in racing. I grew up on the Yulo farm in Canlubang, being the son of one of their employees. I studied in their elementary and high school and was their college scholar at the University of the Philippines College of Veterinary Medicine. The Yulo Family have my deep gratitude.

 

Capt. Cesar Mamon and family especially Butch Mamon, Andrew Sanchez, the Caycos of Arellano University, Aristeo Puyat, Nel Velasco, Jake Maderazo, Tony San Diego, Tito de Jesus, Rudy Mendoza and family, Jing Javier, Hermie Esguerra, Sonny Abella, the late Speaker Ramon V. Mitra, Jason and Vincent Lim, Sonny Arevalo, Toti Jayme, David So, the Chiongbians, the Borromeos, and many more were a part of my life and to them I say from the bottom of my heart, thank you.

 

Truly, as I always say, racing has been very good to me. ***

Photo: Dr. Tony Alcasid (dark shirt) beside son Oyet, wife Glo, horseowner Andrew Sanchez and sons Mark and Dino. Horse Dino Bambino is in the background. (Santa Ana Park, 1985)

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1 Comment on HD#5: Training Champions

  1. juan mari iriondo
    6 June 2011 at 9:48 pm (2241 days ago)

    Hola,
    Soy Juan Mari Iriondo y me gustaria contactar con Andrew Sanchez, ex-pelotari filipino. Si el o alguien mas me pudiera facilitar su dirección, le agradeceria mucho.
    Muchas Gracias,
    Juan Mari