THE HOARSE WHISPERER By Jenny Ortuoste for Manila Standard-Today, 19 November 2008, Wednesday
MARHO Races This Weekend
When it rains, it pours.
It’s a hoary old adage, but it’s certainly been proven true at least on this occasion, the 13th running of the Metropolitan Association of Race Horse Owners Breeders’ Cup racing festival, set for 18 to 23 November at Santa Ana Park in Makati City.
The final version of the event logo that went on TVCs, tarps, and t-shirts.
Its highlights are six championship races – the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office-MBC Sprint (900 meters), Philippine Racing Commission-MBC Juvenile Colts and Juvenile Fillies (both for two-year-olds at 1,500 meters), the Santa Ana Park-MBC Colt Mile and Andok’s Filly Mile (for three-year-olds at 1,600 meters), and the main event, the San Miguel Beer-MBC Classic, pegged at an arduous 2,050 meters, the longest distance for horseracing in the country today.
A varied cast of entries gathered to contend for a total of over P7 million in prizes – and that’s just for the six championships. The entire slate of races for the raceweek at Santa Ana Park have either guaranteed prizes and/or bonus prizes to winners, both MARHO members and non-members, though members get extra and double bonuses as one of their membership perks.
In addition to the major supporters of the event, other sponsors stepped up to provide bonus prizes for trophy races – the Ciara Marie Abalos Foundation, Cong. Amado S. Bagatsing, Milestone Paper Products Inc., Esicor Inc., Transprint Corporation, Juggernaut racing stable, Good Provision racing stable, SMART Communications (for their “Karera Info Text” initiative), and Philtown Properties Inc.
The Ciara Marie Foundation, established by Mandaluyong mayor and MARHO president Benhur Abalos in memory of his late daughter, assists underprivileged sectors with health care and medical missions.
However, as game show hosts are wont to say – “But that’s not all!” This year, the MARHO Breeders’ Cup racing festival features two tribute races to honor individuals who have made outstanding contributions not only to MARHO but to the Philippine horseracing industry in general – horseman-educator George Young Stribling and racecaller Peter Morrison.
The Kentucky-born Stribling had a colorful career as a racehorse trainer and horseowner before moving to Manila in the 1980s. On the strength of his experiences, he became the director of the Philippine Jockeys’ Academy and acted as a consultant to the industry on racing matters. He is credited with having introduced the American style of flat-race riding, wherein the jockey crouches as low as he can on the back of the horse to minimize wind resistance. This is in marked contrast to the upright and bouncy European style of race riding.
George Y. Stribling (front, right) at his 90th birthday celebration last 9 March 2007. With him are MARHO past president and MBC founder Aristeo “Putch” Puyat, and graduates of the PJA.
Morrison, a native of Western Australia, is an international racecaller and has visited Manila almost every year since he first came, also in the ‘80s, upon invitation of the late Manila Mayor Ramon D. Bagatsing. Morrison has called the most prestigious races in the country, such as the Gran Copa de Manila, Triple Crown, and MARHO Breeders’ Cup events.
Peter Morrison getting ready to call a race at the 2007 MARHO Breeders’ Cup event at Santa Ana Park.
And if those races aren’t enough to whet one’s appetite for speed and endurance, Philracom and PCSO have piled on more sponsored races to make this year’s MARHO Breeders’ Cup week truly unforgettable.
Philracom weighs in with the Amb. Eduardo M. Cojuangco Jr. Cup, in honor of San Miguel Corporation’s chairman and CEO, who also happens to be the founder of both MARHO and Philracom, way back in 1974. (Both organizations will celebrate their 35th anniversaries next year.) This race is like the MBC Classic as to distance and prize money, save that imported and island-born runners are eligible, unlike the MBC championships which are open only to local-breds.
There will also be three Philracom-sponsored Cong. Amado S. Bagatsing stakes charity races, two for the benefit of the Manila Red Cross and one for the Sto. Niño de Tondo Parish.
Cong. Amado S. Bagatsing shakes the hand of Philracom chairman Atty. Joy Rojas at a charity race at Santa Ana Park last September 27.
PCSO will showcase a Special Maiden Race for juveniles.
With this downpour of horseracing action, MARHO’s theme for this year, “Raising and Racing Philippine Champions” is particularly apt. Come watch the races, and don’t forget to bring an umbrella. ***