THW: Moving to Trece

THE HOARSE WHISPERER  By Jenny Ortuoste for Manila Standard-Today,  7 January 2009, Wednesday

Moving to Trece

Five years’ worth of speculation, suspense, and intrigue finally came to a head yesterday with the first raceday at the Philippine Racing Club’s new facility at Trece Martirez, Cavite.

Industry members – horseowners, jockeys, trainers, racing club employees, and other racing stakeholders – and racing fans have been wondering for years whether the proposed move would actually push through.

When construction of the new Santa Ana Park at the 70-hectare site south of Manila neared completion this year, the question was whether races would actually be held there.

That’s now moot, given that eight races were run there last night.

The transfer of the two racetracks from Manila started when the former owners of both raceclubs – PRC’s Reyes family and the Manila Jockey Club’s Prieto family – sold out to a consortium in the mid-1990s, prominent members of whom were the Cua family and the Reyno family. Today, the Cuas hold sway at PRC and the Reynos at MJC.

Back then, plans were already being made to transfer from the cramped city racetracks – MJC’s San Lazaro Hippodrome in Sta. Cruz, Manila, and PRC’s Santa Ana Park in Makati City – mainly for the real estate values of the city properties to be maximized by the new owners as mixed-use developments.

But many forward thinkers also acknowledged the racing industry’s need for bigger spaces to accommodate the growing horse population and to be able to build better racetracks on modern designs.

MJC made the first move, running its first race at its San Lazaro Leisure Park on 1 April 2003, in Carmona, Cavite. At that time, people said it couldn’t be done. No one would go – neither horseowners nor racing fans. No one would run their horses and no one would bet. MJC would crash and burn.

MJC has proven the contrary. Today, despite being beset by operational challenges, MJC is going strong at SLLP, which also covers around 70 hectares. Today there is a popular Casino Filipino at the SLLP Turf Club, along with function rooms and a sports bar for fine dining.

PRC took longer to firm up their plans, which first took definite shape in the early years of the new millennium. They are fully committed to making it work at their new facility at Trece.

As of last weekend, PRC racing manager Dan Valmonte says nearly 200 horses have been moved from Makati to the new stables. More are expected to follow. The main concern, say Valmonte and trainers, is the availability of sawdust used for bedding material in stalls. Most sawmills in the Manila and southern Tagalog area are tapped out.

In other news, the New Philippine Jockeys’ Association has announced its newly-elected officers for 2009. Veteran jockey Antonio B. Alcasid Jr. heads the group as president. The other Board officers are Valentino R. Dilema (vice-president), Lyndon Noel B. Guce (secretary), Dominador H. Borbe Jr. (treasurer), Manolito F. Daquis (auditor), John Ralph Saulog (PRO) and directors Edwin M. de la Cruz, Gilbert L. Francisco, Jeffrey M. Ladiana, Angelito H. Laguinto, and Domingo G. Vacal.

Alcasid was a high-school valedictorian who attended the University of the Philippines in Los Baños and has a degree in electronics and communications engineering from Don Bosco Technical College.

He said, “We will be having a planning seminar to decide our activities for the year. Definitely we will do fund raising to help disabled jockeys and continue to provide housing, retirement, and other benefits to our members.”   ***

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