THE HOARSE WHISPERER
by Jenny Ortuoste for Manila Standard-Today, 14 May 2008, Wednesday
1st Leg Triple Crown: Match Race?
“It’s a match race between Don Enrico and Indelible Ink!”
That’s what most analysts are saying about the first leg of this year’s Triple Crown Championship series, which kicks off on Sunday, May 18, at San Lazaro Leisure Park.
Sponsored by the Philippine Racing Commission (Philracom), each leg has a total of P3 million in prizes , with P1.8 million going to the winner, and the rest allotted to the second to fourth placers.
Coming close on the heels of the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness stakes – legs one and two of the US counterpart – the local Triple Crown will see another seismic battle between Don Enrico and Indelible Ink, currently the top 3YO in the land.
Not to discount the other entries in this race, but these two are highly-regarded for very compelling reasons. First, Indelible Ink. The island-born filly by Best of Luck out of Seaquin was valedictorian of their juvenile batch and dominated most of the Philracom 2YO stakes races in 2007, also winning the Philtobo Juvenile Fillies stakes.
Don Enrico (Wind Blown-Kayumanggi), on the other hand, acquitted himself reasonably well last year. Although fewer runs earned him less in gross prizes than Indelible Ink, he still garnered his share of championships, notably the MARHO Breeders’ Cup and the Philtobo Juvenile Colts stakes.
This year so far has seen him mature considerably in skills and attitude, besting archrival Indelible Ink in two stakes races – Philracom’s Chairman’s Cup and the Aquamarine I stakes.
Indelible Ink’s supporters say that the first loss to Don Enrico was a fluke, when the latter won the Chairman’s Cup by a long nose. Her second defeat, however, was decisive, coming in a mere third in the Aquamarine I which Don Enrico won by three lengths, Imperial Ballet coming in second.
In this mile-long Triple Crown first leg, fans are concerned with the change of Don Enrico’s rider, from regular John Alvin Guce, to hotshot veteran Jonathan B. Hernandez. The young and talented Guce is deemed to know Don Enrico’s quirks and foibles better, having ridden the gutsy colt in all his sorties until late. Others claim that Hernandez will do a better job (“umentado sa hinete“), being a Class A jockey with dozens of stakes races under his belt.
Don Enrico has other foes to face in this race. Queen Elena, a stablemate of Indelible Ink, is expected to act as a “rabbit” to tire Don Enrico out during the journey, allowing a well-conditioned Indelible Ink to pace herself and come from behind. Hieroglyphics’ chances must not be discounted. Shining Fame came in fourth in the Aquamarine I and stands a good chance at scoring an upset, as does Unopposed.
Don Enrico, Indelible Ink, Shining Fame, and Unopposed at the parade of the Philracom Chairman’s Cup (24 Feb 2008, SLLP)
While this event is being touted as a match race – and it could well be – neither of the two main contenders can be said to have a sure chance. But if pressed to the mat, I’m going to say, “Don Enrico” for this one. With all the factors seemingly against him, this colt has the heart of a champion and the will to win. ***