THE HOARSE WHISPERER By Jenny Ortuoste for Manila Standard-Today, 12 November 2008, Wednesday
MARHO Breeders’ Cup Under Way
With the withdrawal of the top contender from the MARHO Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies and a competitor from the Juvenile Colts stakes races, what is going to be the outcome of the two championship races which are the proving grounds for the future 3YO champions?
The Metropolitan Association of Race Horse Owners Breeders’ Cup championship forum was conceived by MARHO directors Aristeo G. Puyat and Leonardo M. Javier Jr. as an incentive program to encourage the growth and development of the Philippine thoroughbred industry.
It started as a championship festival in 1996 and was first run at the Philippine Racing Club’s Santa Ana Park in Makati City, which has since become the event’s home track.
Through the years, the purses got bigger and only the best and most talented 2YO, 3YO, and older runners were drawn to test their mettle in the toughest championship races in the country.
This year, the Hermie Esguerra-owned and -bred French Vanilla (Mr. Sutter – Eagle Boom), winner of the first leg of the Philippine Racing Commission Juvenile Fillies stakes last August 17, was considered as the strongest bet among the declared entries for the Philracom-MBC Juvenile Fillies championship.
Four of the eight other runners were Mr. Sutter progenies like herself – stablemate Blue Ocean, Lady Sutter, Sutter Dee Night, and Rhea’s Gold. The other entries are another French Vanilla stablemate, Eternal Flame, Heaven Sent, Sin Nombre, and Bon Jour.
But in a tune-up race last November 9 at Santa Ana Park, French Vanilla broke badly from the gate, almost stumbled, and injured herself badly enough for her connections to withdraw her from perhaps the most prestigious competition for 2YO fillies on the calendar.
French Vanilla floats over the track in a morning workout last November 5. (Photo by Alex Alcasid)
With French Vanilla gone from the lineup, the field for this race is wide-open. Railbirds are debating furiously on Lady Sutter’s chances. She ran second to Sutter Dee Night in a recent maiden race. But as a full sister of former juvenile star Juggernaut, Lady Sutter is expected to do well if her illustrious pedigree manifests.
Blue Ocean, no slouch either, trounced well-regarded Security Magic in her maiden run. Rhea’s Gold also won an allowance race last month, while Bon Jour broke her maiden last August 29. Eternal Flame and Heaven Sent are speedsters and could do well if they get the right breaks.
Meanwhile, French Vanilla stablemate Chief of Staff has also been withdrawn from the Philracom-MBC Juvenile Colts race, making a win there easy pickings for yet another stablemate, Go Army.
The undefeated colt, another Mr. Sutter offspring, is expected to crush the thin field comprising Action Sailor, Mastermind, and True Value. Although Action Sailor won his tune-up race at Santa Ana Park last November 4, he still has to display the same awesome form possessed by Go Army.
Go Army leaves the pack way, way behind in a stakes race at SLLP.
Whatever the result of these six MBC championship races, it will be another magnificent celebration of the beauty and talent of Philippine horses. The MBC was conceived solely to support local breeding efforts. Thus only horses born of matings conducted on Philippine soil are eligible to enter the MBC championships and are given their chance to shine.
For this reason, despite suggestions that imports and island-born horses (born in the country from imported pregnant mares) be accepted into the program, MARHO directors have held firm to the original concept of the MBC which seeks to promote and uplift Philippine thoroughbred breeding.
Their theme for this year, “Raising and Racing Philippine Champions”, embodies their vision of local champions holding their own with the world’s finest. ***