THE HOARSE WHISPERER By Jenny Ortuoste for Manila Standard-Today, 22 October 2008, Wednesday
Klub Don Juan de Manila Derby
In 2002, all this small group of horseowners had was a dream and a whole lot of courage and determination to put up their own organization. Through the years, they’ve built on their strengths to grow their Klub Don Juan de Manila Derby racing festival into an annual event. Today, it is biggest attraction at their home track, Manila Jockey Club’s San Lazaro Leisure Park in Cavite.
The Klub Don Juan de Manila is named after a venerable racehorse of yesterday, Don Juan, as is its premiere event, the Don Juan Derby. This year’s event, held last Sunday, is the seventh edition of a festival that showcases three other championships – the KDJM Juvenile Fillies, the KDJM Juvenile Colts, and the Don Antonio O. Floirendo Sr. Golden Girls Stakes for older mares.
The 1400-meter KDJM Juveniles Fillies stakes, sponsored by the Philippine Racing Commission, saw the Hermie Esguerra owned-and-bred Nuclear Power, guided by jockey Patty Dilema, surge past frontrunner Heaven Sent and Eternal Flame at the home turn to reach the wire first.
Fans at SLLP cheer as the runners race down the stretch.
It was a dramatic stretch run; Rodeo Fernandez aboard Heaven Sent had dropped his whip just past the far turn and resorted to smacking his mount with his right hand, even as his rival was plying his stick vigorously. Some spectators say it was that bit of ill luck that cost Heaven Sent – who came in a close second to Nuclear Power in a regular race – a win that could have been hers for the taking.
But then, races, as they say, are run better in hindsight.
The KDJM Juvenile Colts stakes, also sponsored by Philracom, was a bit of a letdown, though. Only four runners were declared, with Esguerra’s Go Army, on the strength of past successes, standing head and shoulders above the rest. Only three ran; Scout Ranger, registered under Esguerra’s Herma Stud Inc., was scratched before the race. Go Army (Mr. Sutter-J’Approve), ridden by Jonathan Hernandez, romped home by many lengths, followed by coupled entry Go Marines. Jun Paman’s High Tower came in third and last, but still in the money.
The KDJM-PAGCOR-MJC-sponsored Don Juan Derby was more exciting. A punishing two-kilometer journey involving six imports and one local bred, many expected the local – Shining Fame – to win, having come of a string of successes.
But it was a plodder, Noraly Villloria’s American import Holy Ridge (Cactus Ridge-Miesques Testimony) who under the guidance of rider Louie Balboa, ran off the pace, swung a bit wide at the home turn, and had a little bit left to snag the win.
Holy Ridge was a longshot, selling only P18,000 from the over P713,000 total Daily-Double wagers. Mere fourth choice Lim’s Expensive Toys came in second, while Shining Fame settled for third.
Holy Ridge owners Rene and Noraly Villoria (both in blue and white) with family and friends celebrate their longshot’s win
Another upset occurred in the 1900-meter Golden Girls Stakes, when SC Stockfarm’s Ziraz (Aberet-Zariz), an Australian import, scored over fellow Aussie and favorite La Tienne.
Race sponsor Don Antonio O. Floirendo Sr. awards the trophy to winner rider Roderick Hipolito, as singer-actress Alyssa Alano cheers. With them are KDJM president Jun Almeda (behind Alano) and treasurer VG Martinez.
Also held that day was the Philracom’s Sampaguita Stakes for 3YO and older female horses. Champion Es Twenty Six was expected to dominate, yet the Jonathan Hernandez-steered Indelible Ink showed style as she came from behind to win by four. The island-born filly by Best of Luck out of Seaquin, also owned by Esguerra, marks her 17th win out of 21 starts.
Kudos to KDJM president Jun Almeda, vice Tonyboy Eleazar, treasurer VG Martinez, and the rest of their officers and members for a successful racing meet! ***