THE HOARSE WHISPERER
By Jenny Ortuoste for Manila Standard-Today, 30 April 2008, Wednesday
2008 Triple Crown: Not a Sure Bet
AS THE heat of summer intensifies, so does the preparation for this year’s Philippine Racing Commission (Philracom) Triple Crown championships series. Patterned after the prestigious campaign in the United States, the local version is also for home-bred three-year-olds and is acknowledged as the breeding ground for emerging track champions. The first leg is set for May 18 at San Lazaro Leisure Park (SLLP), while the other two legs, in June and July at Santa Ana Park.
Considered this season’s top contenders are colt Don Enrico and filly Indelible Ink, arch-rivals since their juvenile days. Owned by Herminio Esguerra, Indelible Ink was born on his Herma Farm and Stud to Seaquin, an imported mare who was in foal to stallion Best of Luck. Last year, Indelible Ink dominated the two-year-old stakes races, establishing a race record of eleven wins and one third place finish out of twelve starts, with total earnings of P5.65 million.
Don Enrico, on the other hand, is a true Filipino thoroughbred, likewise a product of Herma Farm, and sold to Lee Uy Wi and former congressman Gerry Espina. A son of accomplished champion Wind Blown out of racemare Kayumanggi, Don Enrico earned P2.57 million by winning six and placing second twice in eight runs.
Don Enrico (with John Alvin A. Guce up) and Indelible Ink (Jeffril T. Zarate up) at the parade for the Philracom Aquamarine 1 Stakes. (SLLP, 9 Mar 2008 )
This year, however, belongs to Don Enrico. The bay colt’s skills have matured and it shows in the victories he has racked up so far: The Philippine Racing Commission-sponsored Chairman’s Cup, Aquamarine I Stakes, and Diamond I Stakes. Don Enrico beat Indelible Ink in the two former races, which perhaps was the reason for the chestnut filly’s non-participation in the Diamond I.
Indelible Ink’s recent tuneup in a class-division race two weeks ago at San Lazaro Leisure Park did not impress. Almost unerasable last year, she has been faltering this season. Can she stage a comeback in the first leg of the Triple Crown?
Philracom has put up a reward of P500,000 and a commemorative trophy for the owner of the horse that can sweep the Triple Crown this year. The last one to do so was Silver Story in 2001. Last year, the talented Ibarra, owned by Mandaluyong Mayor Benhur Abalos, almost made it, winning the first two two legs before being struck down by injury before the third leg.
“The Great Gray”, Silver Story, traversing a muddy track.
Ibarra, at the parade for the 2007 Triple Crown 2nd leg; at his stable
Don Enrico and Indelible Ink will not be the only participants of the Triple Crown. There are other 3YO runners who stand a good chance as well. The nomination of entries was held yesterday; the full slate won’t be revealed till Friday, and the final lineup the week after upon declaration of entries on May 6.
Until then, speculation is rife among racing fans, who pore over past racing programs or Google videos of the races to analyze who has the best chance at victory.
But as track pundits have said, time and again – “Apat ang paa nilang lahat. Ang mananalo diyan, ay kung sino ang ituro ng Itaas.” (“They all have four legs. The winner will be whichever Heaven chooses.”)
In this batch of 3YO likely dominated by two runners, anything can still happen, and, as usual every year, each leg of the Triple Crown is a revelation, and there is no such thing as a “sure bet”.