THE HOARSE WHISPERER By Jenny Ortuoste for Manila Standard-Today, 3 December 2008, Wednesday
2009 Racing: Bigger and Better!
Though the 2008 horseracing season isn’t quite over, fans are already speculating on what to look forward to on next year’s calendar. Hopefully, 2009 will be crammed with big-money stakes races that will entice horseowners to sign up their best and brightest horses, for their greater glory and the entertainment of racing fans.
The Philippine Racing Commission, the industry’s staunchest and most generous sponsor, has tentatively lined up twelve solid months of “birthstone” races. Going on its second year now, this is a revival of the similarly-named stakes races of the 1980s and ‘90s. As with hemlines and heel heights, even race nomenclature seems to have its fashion trends!
For January, there are two Garnet stakes; in February, two Amethyst stakes and the Philracom Chairman’s Cup. March will feature two Aquamarine races and the Commissioner’s Cup.
In April, there are three Diamond Stakes, while May brings the anticipated first leg of the Triple Crown, its accompanying Hopeful stakes, and two Emerald stakes.
June weighs in with a formidable slate – the Philracom 2YO Stakes, the second legs of the Triple Crown and Hopeful; the Pearl stakes, and the Gran Copa de Manila divisions I and II, another revival from years past.
July is just as exciting with another 2YO Stakes, the Ruby, and the third legs of the Triple Crown and Hopeful stakes.
In August, it’s the Peridot stakes imported-local challenge, while juveniles strut their stuff in the first legs of the Juvenile Fillies and Colts stakes, while 3YO fillies show off in the Lakambini.
September will have the second legs of the Juvenile Colts and Fillies races and two Sapphires. The Opal I Stakes will run in early October, followed by the Sampaguita stakes for older racemares, the Opal II, and two races for the Klub Don Juan de Manila racing festival.
November showcases two Yellow Topaz stakes, the Ambassador Eduardo M. Cojuangco Jr. Cup (known to fans as the “ECJ Cup”), and two races for the Metropolitan Association of Race Horse Owners Breeders’ Cup championship racing festival.
December grants two races to the Philippine Thoroughbred Owners’ and Breeders’ Organization Mitra Cup races, and sees the staging of the Grand Sprint and Juvenile championships. Philracom will also add to the hefty prize money for the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office’s Presidential Gold Cup. In addition, a Grand Derby stakes open only to local-breds will be held that promises much excitement for aficionados of the “sport of kings”.
But that’s for next year. Set for this week at Santa Ana Park are the National Press Club races (Dec. 5), the Cong. Magtanggol Gunigundo birthday races (Dec. 6), and the PCSO Presidential Gold Cup (Dec. 7).
The PCSO Presidential Gold Cup is one of the eminently prestigious annual races which only the best – or bravest – horses join. Enlisted for this year’s 2,050 meter edition at Santa Ana Park are Es Twenty Six (winner of the Nov. 23 San Miguel Beer MARHO Breeders’ Cup Classic), Ibarra (champion of the Nov. 23 ECJ Cup), Indelible Ink (now a 3YO, she was a juvenile champion) Real Spicy (multi-titled stakes winner), Native Land (2007 PCSO Presidential Gold Cup winner and defending champion), Shining Fame (winner of the Nov. 23 Santa Ana Park-MARHO Breeders’ Cup Colt Mile), and scrappy fighter Henry d’Eighth.
Es Twenty Six and Ibarra have just won 2,050 meter races at Santa Ana Park. The former, a filly, did 2:11.6, while the latter, a colt, 2:09.6. Real Spicy holds the time record for that distance at 2:09, set twice in 2006 also at Santa Ana Park. The records of their other opponents are all quite impressive as well. But for this one, my money’s on Ibarra all the way.
Prizes for the 2008 PCSO Presidential Gold Cup winner and placers are pegged at P1.5 million for first, P500,000 for second, P250,000 for third, and P125,000 for fourth. There is a breeder’s prize of P50,000.
This is one race that no true-blue racing fan should miss! ***