THE HOARSE WHISPERER
By Jenny Ortuoste for Manila Standard-Today, 24 September 2008, Wednesday
Herma Juveniles Rule!
Herma-breds proved their dominance in the 2YO arena after they ruled in both the Juvenile Colts and Juvenile Fillies stakes races sponsored by the Philippine Racing Commission, held at San Lazaro Leisure Park in Carmona, Cavite last Sunday.
Both were the second legs of the series, with the distance pegged at an easy 1500 meters.
In the Fillies, the favorite French Vanilla was scratched before the race, having suffered an injury during a morning workout about a week prior.
Horseowner and breeder Hermie Esguerra’s hopes were pinned on Nuclear Power, who was to have run as French Vanilla’s coupled entry and who had shown speed and mettle in a maiden race not too long ago.
In a short-distance race such as this, the horse that breaks best from the gate and has speed and stamina is expected to do well. As it turned out, Nuclear Power, favorite in the sales and guided by jockey Patty Dilema, jumped out cleanly and took the lead…
…and that is where she stayed for the entire journey. Amazingly, none of the other entries could muster enough gumption to race her one-on-one – she was simply too fast for them. Leading by as much as six lengths in the backstretch, she maintained that gap up to the finish line.
Heavily-favored opponent Security World, who won the first leg of the series and was thought to have a good chance of fashioning another win, ran in last for most of the race. The filly failed to fire at all and finished sixth.
Manny Santos ‘ Love You By Heart and Mind Music came in second and third, gasping for breath behind the fast-stepping Nuclear Power. Maimpok finished still in the money in fourth. Also-rans were Rhea’s Gold, Teen Titan, and Loveable Frances.
It was the same wire-to-wire scenario in the Colts. Super-heavy-mega-outstanding choice Go Army, ridden by Jonathan Hernandez and also from the Esguerra Stable, took point all the way and won by four.
Batangas Baron checked in next, followed by Elgin and Chairman and So Real. Other finishers were Oh Wacky, Far Beyond, and High Tower .
Both juvenile stakes winners are graduates of Hermie Esguerra’s Herma Farms and Stud in Lipa City , Batangas. Established just a few years ago, this breeding ranch has produced many champions and its produce are highly in demand among local buyers.
Go Army was sired by the “sire of champions” Mr. Sutter out of dependable broodmare J’approve, while Nuclear Power is out of My Sweet Girl by local champion Wind Blown.
Wind Blown is considered the “winningest” race horse in the Philippines , having earned nearly P20 million in prize money before being retired to stud in 2004. Nuclear Power is from his second crop. His first crop produced 3YO champion Don Enrico, among others.
Also last Sunday was the Sapphire Stakes, sixth leg of the Imported-Local Challenge. Punsters deemed it “anybody’s race” and said it was difficult to handicap. Sure enough, it was third favorite Great Emma who dashed past frontrunner Blind Date (likewise owned by Esguerra) in come-from-behind style, also beating the likes of Drama Belle (winner of the P3 million 2007 Eduardo M. Cojuangco Jr. Cup), who came in third, and favorite Ziraz (multiple stakes winner).
Sweet Xarah, Al-Azeem, and Frapuubvel were the other finishers in the Sapphire Stakes.
Last Sunday also marked the end of the first week of the five-racing-day experiment of MJC. Decades ago, races were held Friday to Sunday; later on a fourth day was added, then another, until in recent years, races are run six days a week from Tuesday to Sunday, with 59 races.
With the recent decline in racing sales, MJC, with the approval of Philracom, decided to go with a five-day raceweek with 45 races, which was also requested by some owners and trainers.
At this point, the experiment seems to be a success, with gross horseowners’ prizes up to around P130,000 from less than P100,000 at SLLP some weeks ago. Trainers and horseowners who approve of the scheme say that less racing days and races led to bigger field sizes and thus more exciting races, fostering renewed bettor interest.
At present, Philippine Racing Club is still keeping to a six-day racing schedule at Santa Ana Park . Let’s see what happens in the weeks to come. ***