THW: Pearl I Stakes – Anybody’s Race!

THE HOARSE WHISPERER

By Jenny Ortuoste for Manila Standard-Today, 28 May 2008, Wednesday

Pearl I Stakes – Anybody’s Race!

It’s going to be a free-for-all on Sunday, June 1, with imported and local horses signed up to fight it out in the 1750-meter Pearl I Stakes at the San Lazaro Leisure Park.

Sponsored by the Philippine Racing Commission, this race is the 3rd leg of the Open Challenge series and has attracted eleven combatants – Copper Dew, Dancing Polly, Fierce Fighter, La Tienne, Manhattan, Miss Fantastic, Mr. Victory, Regal Boom, Sweet Xarah, Traditional, and Ziraz.

The first leg of the series – the Garnet I stakes – was won by Aly Dancer, while the second leg – the Diamond II – went to longshot Mercurio. La Tienne was declared second place, Drama Belle third, and Sweet Xarah fourth.

Copper Dew is sure to be one of the favorites in the Pearl I on Sunday. Holder of the national record for the mile (1600 meters) at 1:38, she ran an excellent tuneup at Santa Ana Park last May 23. In that race for Group 7 and 8 imported horses, she won banderang tapos (wire-to-wire) and clocked an easy 1:33.6 for the 1500-meter journey. On top of that, she came in two lengths ahead of Midnight King (2007 British Cup victor) and bested fellow Pearl I participant Dancing Polly, who came in third.

A plus factor for the Jose Mari Franco-owned Copper Dew is that the horse is stabled at SLLP, giving her somewhat of a homecourt advantage. Not having to travel an hour in a trailer to the other track ensures she gets to the gate fresh.

On the minus side, it’s been observed that she performs better at Santa Ana Park (it’s where she set the time record), and over shorter distances. The Pearl I’s 1750-meter distance might prove too long for this speedster. But as analysts say, “Iba ‘yan kung maka-solo aire na walang lulucha,” meaning, if she takes the lead without being hounded by another runner, she could very well wrap up the race and bring it home in a bag.

Copperdew_duo

Copper Dew with Jesse B. Guce, after winning the Santa Ana Park championship last 4 Nov 2007; trainer Ruben Clor, jockey Guce, and owner Jose Mari A. Franco with their trophies

Sweet Xarah has perhaps the best recent performance after Copper Dew, coming in second to a flaming hot Real Spicy in May 24′s 4th European Union Cup, also at Santa Ana Park. Coming six lengths off the leader, the veteran racemare showed stamina and form, which will stand her in good stead in the longer Pearl I.

In that same race (the EU Cup), stakes winners La Tienne came in third and Fierce Fighter fifth. Fierce Fighter, a young horse, performed erratically, languishing in last for most of the journey only to belatedly put on steam in the backstretch, too late to do herself any good. Put it down to immaturity, perhaps?

Fiercefigher_duo

Fierce Fighter with Patty Dilema winning the Philracom 2YO Imported Stakes on 23 Sep 2007; Philracom commissioner Eduardo C. Domingo Jr. hands the trophy to owner Cesar Avila

Veterans La Tienne and Regal Boom are due to retire and have been granted extensions to race until the end of the year. So the Pearl I is among their last opportunities for fame and fortune. Mr. Victory won the third leg of the Triple Crown series back in 2006 but hasn’t performed as impressively since then. Still, against this wide-open field, he can show some flash.

Traditional, considered better over longer distances, is one of the dark horses here, as is Ziraz, who had a very good 2007 season. Stakes winner Manhattan can still surprise, and so can Miss Fantastic.

While I’m going with Copper Dew, I wouldn’t discount Sweet Xarah and La Tienne; their consistent placings in past stakes races show they’re in good condition. From a wider perspective – barring scratches – this is going to be a melee with eleven horses to tear up the track, making it anybody’s race! *** (Website: http://gogirlracing.wordpress.com)

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