12th MARHO BREEDERS’ CUP RACING FESTIVAL
King of the Classic
Native Land rules in MARHO’s premier event
by Jenny Ortuoste
Racing’s foremost equine warriors enlisted to fight in the most prestigious championship races in the country – the 12th staging of the Metropolitan Association of the Race Horse Owners Inc. (MARHO) Breeders’ Cup (MBC) Racing Festival, held November 17 and 18 at Santa Ana Park.
A generous prize pool of P7 million was earmarked as booty for the successful combatants in the six divisional races, with the main confrontation the 2,050-meter San Miguel Classic for older horses. The other battles were the 1,500-meter Philracom-MBC Juvenile Colts and Juvenile Fillies races, the mile-long SMART-MBC Three-Year-Old Colts and Three-Year-Old Fillies races, and the 900-meter Santa Ana Park-MBC Sprint.
Among the MARHO officers, members, participants, and guests who attended were former MARHO president Aristeo “Putch” Puyat, current MARHO president Mayor Benhur Abalos, Butch Mamon, Tony Tan, Jing Javier, Tony de Ubago, Elias Chua, Atty. Dondon Bagatsing, Cong. Amado Bagatsing, Eric Tagle, Nap Chua, Jose Mari Franco, Sonny Arevalo, Manny Santos, and others.
On hand to join the celebration were officials from the event home track, Philippine Racing Club (PRC) – Board Member and Treasurer Santiago Cua Jr., EVP-COO Atty. Ramon P. Ereneta Jr., VP-Communications and Special Programs Jessica Villanueva, VP-Finance Lino Marcilla, Racing Manager Dan Valmonte, and others.
Everyone welcomed the presence of special guest Ron Charles, president of the Arcadia, California racecourse Santa Anita Park, who flew into Manila to be a part of MARHO’s annual festival and to study the local racing industry (see related story also in this issue).
Gross sales for Sunday’s championship day exceeded P41.6 million pesos. “I thank everyone who helped make this occasion a success once again,” said MARHO president Benhur Abalos. “Working together, we can make sure that the gains we have made can be sustained for the upliftment of the industry.”
San Miguel Beer-MBC Classic – 2,050 meters
Winner: Native Land / Owner: Antonio V. Tan Jr. / Trainer: Anthony A. Henson / Jockey: Jesse B. Guce
The multi-titled Empire King led the Classic field which included veteran runners Special Edition, Batong Silyar, coupled entries Sound of Silence and Eye Candy, 2006 Triple Crown leg winner Mr. Victory, and Native Land.
Mr. Victory, Native Land, and Empire King came off prior wins; Sound of Silence, Eye Candy, and Special Edition were beaten by Vivere in their last outing in October; Batong Silyar had come in second to Miss Fantastic also in October.
At the start, Mr. Victory jumped early and settled off the pace in fifth, behind frontrunners Batong Silyar and Empire King. At the backstretch, the stayers began moving up. Native Land took the lead before the far turn and lengthened the gap to three lengths. Mr. Victory stretched mightily and came within two, but had to settle for second behind the elusive Native Land.
Special Edition took third while Batong Silyar settled for fourth. The favorite, Empire King brought up the rear. The time for the arduous journey was 2:09, with splits of 28-25-25-25-26.
Photo: Native Land’s owner Tony Tan receives his trophy from MARHO director Tony de Ubago.