This story appeared in an edited and re-written version on the front page of Manila Standard Today, 21 January 2009, Wednesday.
Horses Sidelined for Three Months
By Jenny Ortuoste
”We don’t know who (did it) and how and when it will happen again.”
This was the comment of Tarlac Rep. Jeci Aquino Lapus after 11 of his racehorses were knifed last January 18 in an apparently unmotivated attack at Manila Jockey Club’s San Lazaro Leisure Park in Carmona, Cavite.
Lapus, a horseowner since 1970, said that “this is the first incident of its kind. My advice is (to) be extra careful.” His horses sustained deep puncture wounds to the head, shoulders, and ribs, according to veterinarian Dan Arreola.
Dr. Arreola was brought in to assist Dr. Anna Chavez and Dr. Fritz Ocampo, who are attending to Lapus’s horses which are “on the road to recovery,” says former. “Some of the wounds have contracted and bandages are not required.”
Rep. Lapus says he will spell his injured horses for several months to fully recuperate, but will continue to run his other horses. He has 14 others at SLLP and eight more stabled at the Philippine Racing Club’s New Santa Ana Park in Naic, Cavite.
The safety of his horses weighs on the solon’s mind since the suspected assailant, identified by Carmona police as Rolando “Longlong” Paja, who worked as a helper of groom Melvin Roxas of Panalo Farms stable, at SLLP is still at large.
According to Rep. Lapus’s head groom Gigi Dacanay, she began transferring their horses to NSAP starting yesterday.
“Inaayos ko na ang cuadra namin dito sa Naic,” she said. “Pinababa ko na si Capretiosa, at isusunod ko na rin ang iba, unti-unti.” (We are now preparing our stables at Naic. I’ve already transferred Capretiosa, and the others will follow.)
Meanwhile, the injured horses are still under treatment and remain at the holding area at SLLP.
This update on the front page of MST.
In reaction to yesterday’s story, MJC chairman lawyer Alfonso R. Reyno Jr. clarified that Panalo Farms is not owned by the Reyno family, but rather “by a group of around ten people closely associated with me. I encouraged this group to own horses that would run at SLLP in order to counter the threat of racing strikes by some horseowners some time ago.”
He added that Rep. Lapus’s horses were placed in the holding area since they had been transferred in a hurry from PRC’ s old Santa Ana Park in Makati which shut down operations at the end of last year to move to its new racetrack in Naic at the start of this month.
Said Reyno, “I received an urgent request from the congressman to accommodate his horses. Since there are no more vacant stables, with 100 still under construction, MJC management made the decision to allow him to temporarily use 20 of the stalls in the 40-stall holding paddock.”
Reyno emphasized that there was a security guard on duty as well as a roving patrol. He added that he had even forbidden drinking among the 500 grooms in the community at SLLP to discourage disturbances.
For his part, Rep. Lapus says he is “sad that there was no offer of assistance from MJC for additional security, not even a simple sympathy note.” Among those who commiserated with him over the plight of his horses were fellow horsemen Pampanga Rep. Juan Miguel Arroyo, Manila Rep. Amado Bagatsing, Mandaluyong Mayor Benhur Abalos, and businessmen Henry Cojuangco and Herminio Esguerra.
For those in the industry, it always comes back to the injured animals. Reyno commented, “It boggles me. Why would anyone inflict pain on horses?” This is the puzzle the entire industry is seeking an answer to. ***