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manila jockey club

THW: Longshot Wins Philracom Grand Derby

by Jenny on January 3, 2011

THE HOARSE WHISPERER By Jenny Ortuoste for Manila Standard-Today, 22 December 2010, Wednesday

Longshot Wins Philracom Grand Derby

It was a spectacular fight – the favorite fighting neck-and-neck against the longshot in the Philippine Racing Commission’s year-ender, the Grand Derby, held last Sunday at the Manila Jockey Club’s San Lazaro Leisure Park.

The winner of the 2,000-meter 3YO-locals only race was an upstart, Marlon Cunanan’s Shining Armour, steered by Patricio Dilema. He took the lead, lost it, and had to rally down the stretch against the favorite, Deemark International’s Righthererightnow, which placed second in the December 12 Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office Presidential Gold Cup.

They hit the wire almost in unison in a photo-finish that had fans tensed on the edge of their seats until Shining Armour was declared the winner of a trophy and P600,000, relegating the Deemark entry to second and P225,000.

Darleb took third and P125,000, Thoti’s Best fourth for P50,000. The total time for the race was 2:09.8. Cunanan also received the breeder’s prize of P30,000. Shining Armour’s lineage is American on both sides – Tempestuous Wind x Granddad’s Delight.

On December 26, the Philippine Racing Club showcases at its Santa Ana Park in Naic, Cavite, the 11th edition of the Philippine Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Organization championship races.

Philtobo Juvenile Championship declared entries: Charming Santi, Dimasalang, Fargo, Gandang Pinay, Hari ng Yambao, Herran, Hi Money, Prince Isaiah, Pritil, Sha Na Na, and Sulong Pinoy.

Philtobo Classic: Bumble Bee, Go Army, Heaven Sent, Ididtmyway, and Oh Wacky.

Philtobo 3YO Colts: Air Of Distinction, Gastambide, Haz Halo, Henry Hill, Invincible, Tayuman, Thoti’s Best, and Yes Pogi.

Philtobo 3YO Fillies: Compelled To Lead, Happy Morning, Kristal’s Beauty, Money Queen, Perfect Material, Tiger Moon, Touch Of Gold, and Woodsy Ribbon.

Kicking off next year’s initial salvo of explosive races is the Philracom Garnet I, the opener of the traditional gemstone stakes series revived by Philracom chairman lawyer Jose Ferdinand M. Rojas II in 2008. A mile race, it is the first leg of the popular Imported/Local Challenge series and will be held on January 9 at Santa Ana Park. Eligible to compete are imported and local 3YO.

The Philracom Garnet II is set for January 15 at SLLP in Carmona, Cavite, and is open to 3YO local fillies that have already participated in the regular race, while their counterpart colts will have their chance to show off their skills the next day in the Garnet III. Both are also mile races.

Slated for February are the Amethyst stakes for 3YO. The Amethyst I will be held at SLLP on February 13 as a pre-Valentine’s Day offering. It is the second leg of the Imported-Local Challenge and will test the abilities of competitors over 1,750 meters.

Both the Amethyst II (for fillies) and III (for colts) are mile races to be held at Santa Ana Park on February 19 and 20.

Philracom stakes races for juveniles aren’t scheduled until June, giving the trainers and other connections of 2YO horses a chance to toughen them up the first six months of this year before the big battles commence.

In addition to calendared races such as these, additional charity or special races may also be supported by Philracom to enliven the racing programs as need be. Philracom also supports the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office Presidential Gold Cup with an additional P1 million prize for the winner.

With so much racing action to look forward to, it’s a great time for enthusiasts of the sport. Happy holidays to all from The Hoarse Whisperer, and may you all receive your fix of speed, strength, and success via the races! ***

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THW: ‘Ber” Months and Big Races

by Jenny on September 30, 2010

THE HOARSE WHISPERER By Jenny Ortuoste for Manila Standard-Today, 29 September 2010, Wednesday

‘Ber’ Months and Big Races

Manila Jockey Club, owner-operator of San Lazaro Leisure Park in Carmona, Cavite, has placed jockey Kelvin Abobo on a three-month suspension after all, said New Philippine Jockeys’ Association president Antonio Alcasid Jr.

The suspension prevents Abobo from riding in regular races at SLLP, but he may perform ensayo (morning workouts) and enter the track. The suspension does not extend to the Philippine Racing Club’s Santa Ana Park in Naic, Cavite, nor is it a Philippine Racing Commission-sanctioned one, since the Philracom itself saw fit to lift the initial three-month suspension slapped upon Abobo last month by the MJC Board  of Stewards for alleged “lack of interest” aboard horse Supreme Leader.

The jockeys have said many times that they do not object to the track’s imposition of bans because MJC (or PRC, for that matter) may restrict the use of facilities as they see fit, since it is their private property.

What the jockeys are asking for is a clear set of guidelines for the imposition of bans, which at present are used near arbitrarily as a punitive measure. The guidelines would greatly assuage the minds of the jockeys, and uphold fairness and due process in such matters.

********

On October 12, the 2,000-meter fifth leg of the Imported/Local Challenge series at SLLP pits 3YO and older horses in the Opal I stakes sponsored by the Philippine Racing Commission. On October 17, Santa Ana Park will host the 1,800-meter Sampaguita Stakes for 3YO and older fillies and mares. The latter offers total prizes of P1.5 million, and is sure to attract the best runners from that category.

The racing community also looks forward to the 2010 Klub Don Juan de Manila racing festival at SLLP in October. Their sponsored races are eagerly awaited by racegoers, and kicks off the season of holiday racing marked by the MARHO Breeders’ Cup in November (this year on its milestone 15th staging), and December’s Philtobo racing festival  and Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office Presidential Gold Cup. ***

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THW: Jockey Kelvin’s Status Still Shaky

by Jenny on September 22, 2010

THE HOARSE WHISPERER By Jenny Ortuoste for Manila Standard-Today, 22 September 2010, Wednesday

Jockey Kelvin’s Status Still Shaky

Despite protracted negotiations in an effort to restore peace and harmony within the industry, Manila Jockey Club’s chairman and CEO lawyer Alfonso R. Reyno Jr. stood firm on his decision to ban jockey Kelvin Abobo from the premises of MJC’s San Lazaro Leisure Park.

However, as of presstime, the racing club has not released any notice regarding Abobo; his status is still floating and the rider has no idea when he may resume active racing or even his morning workouts with horses at the facility in Carmona, Cavite.

Several top horseowners had written to Reyno vouching for Abobo’s character. Philippine Racing Commission chairman lawyer Jose Ferdinand Rojas II had also conversed with him seeking an amicable resolution to the crisis.

The case stems from two weeks ago, when Abobo was suspended by the MJC Board of Stewards for “lack of interest” on third favorite Supreme Leader. Abobo appealed to the Philracom, as provided for by law. Upon review of the race, the Philracom review committee lifted the suspension. Whereupon MJC slapped a ban on the rider.

The New Philippine Jockeys’ Association members, appalled at the lack of guidelines and criteria in the imposition of bans, contemplated a strike for this racing week, which was averted after several industry personages stepped forward to mediate.

The jockeys have never questioned MJC’s right to ban anyone from their property. However, as riders who have a job to do on the premises, they wonder at the lack of clear criteria, the bans, they say, imposed seemingly at whim.

A jockey’s work is not confined to riding in races. His day begins at four o’clock in the morning, when he works the horses assigned to him until seven or eight o’clock. Working horses is necessary for the rider to build rapport with his mount, get to know his or her habits and quirks, perform corrective measures as necessary, and so on. That is why a total ban from premises is problematic. A jockey who is forbidden from working horses at a certain track will be unable to continue his training of the horses, and may even lose these rides should the horseowner or trainer decide to hire someone else who can proceed with the required regimen at that particular track.

That is why to place a rider on ‘floating’ status spells disaster not only for the rider, but will also cause headaches for the horseowner, trainer, and the horses. The sport of racing is synergistic system – ‘synergy’ meaning, “two or more agents working together to produce a result not obtainable by any of the agents independently.” The word comes from the Greek syn-ergos – “working together”.

In the subculture of the sport, harmonious relationships are essential for the smooth flow of activities. It is almost a dance. A misstep, and the entire pattern is thrown into disarray.

The jockeys need clear guidelines on MJC’s banning of riders and request due process in the imposition of bans. It is illogical and unjust to place a rider on ‘floating’ status. And don’t make me bring up Marxist dialectics and question whether this constitutes a class struggle – the working class against the moneyed elite.

*****

My thanks to the Philippine Racing Club, especially AVP and racing manager Dan Valmonte who arranged a tremendously exciting Communication Research trophy race last week at Santa Ana Park in Naic, Cavite. The race was named after the social science discipline I am currently studying at the doctoral level and was meant to provide my classmates and professor from the University of the Philippines College of Mass Communication a unique communication environment experience. The visit to the track broadened the knowledge of Dr Jose Lacson and professors Bea Lapa, Rod Rivera, Julienne Baldo, and Nina Villena regarding sport communication and subcultures within mainstream society.

After I gave them tips for the first daily double (the combination Defiant-Yes Pogi paid about P22) and they collected winnings for the first time, it seems that a couple of them are hooked enough to pursue their newfound interest in the sport. That’s how some horseracing aficionados are born – after watching the races live.

The Communication Research Trophy Race, with an added prize of fifteen thousand pesos and a trophy for the owner, was won by two-leg 2010 Triple Crown winner Yes Pogi, ridden by veteran jockey Manolito Daquis, trained by Felix Lauron, and owned by Francis Lim. ***

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THW: Jockeys Protest MJC Ban

by Jenny on September 15, 2010

THE HOARSE WHISPERER By Jenny Ortuoste for Manila Standard-Today, 15 September 2010, Wednesday

Jockeys Protest MJC Ban

The jockey community protested Manila Jockey Club’s recent banning of promising young jockey Kelvin Abobo from the premises of their San Lazaro Leisure Park in Carmona, Cavite.

The ban is for a year and is not restricted to riding in races; Abobo may not even exercise horses on the track, watch races at the grandstand, nor enjoy MJC’s other non-racing facilities.

MJC imposed the ban on Abobo after the MJC Board of Stewards suspended him last week for 72 racing days for ‘lack of interest’ on Supreme Leader. Abobo appealed his suspension to the Philippine Racing Commission, which lifted the suspension. However, MJC still proceeded with the ban and made an announcement to that effect on their race coverage last Sunday, saying that the ban was for Abobo’s violations of racing rules and regulations.

“Philracom’s lifting of the suspension,” said New Philippine Jockeys’ Association president Antonio Alcasid Jr., “is in effect a declaration that Mr. Abobo’s ride did not violate any racing rules and regulations. Therefore MJC’s ban is without basis.”

The NPJA has no objections to MJC’s bans upon jockeys if deserved and the case in question has merit. What they are questioning is the arbitrary imposition of bans “that have no criteria and no basis,” said Alcasid.

The NPJA requested a dialogue with MJC last Tuesday with the Philracom as arbitrator, “before we make any other response to the matter,” said Alcasid.

MJC sent racing manager Jose Ramon Magboo to the dialogue. When Alcasid asked him what the basis was for Abobo’s ban, Magboo asked to be given until Friday, when another dialogue will be held.

The logical conclusion: MJC itself has no solid basis for the ban. Why wait three days to give the affected party the reason for such a harsh penalty?

At present, MJC will not retract the ban. The NPJA members have vowed to refuse to ride at SLLP until the matter is resolved.

A respected horseowner of decades-long standing opined: “It is MJC’s right to ban anyone they want from their track. But it is also the jockeys’ right to refuse to ride on their track.”

The Philracom has asked MJC to “resolve the matter” by Friday, taking into account the NPJA’s point-of-view” to “preserve industry harmony and smooth operations.”

*****

The drama between the riders’ guild and MJC overshadowed other events of the week at SLLP, such as the weekend wins of juvenile stars Naugh Naugh (Rum Tum Tiger – Velocity), ridden by Jonathan Hernandez, and Cheese Mosa (Shooting Star – Magic Find), steered by Jeffril Zarate, in the final legs of the Philracom Juvenile Colts and Juvenile Fillies stakes races respectively. Both races were run over 1,500 meters.

Hard luck for Barkley (Baseball Champion – Treeline), though, in the Colts. The Jesse Guce-piloted bay was sent off as the outstanding favourite, but ran into traffic along the way in the shape of foes Prince Isiah, and Cheese Quemas, which forced Barkley to race wide.

In other news, the Metropolitan Association of Race Horse Owners (MARHO) held a general assembly and election of its board of directors last Monday. Installed as the 36-year old group’s leaders were congressmen Amado Bagatsing and Jeci Lapus, lawyer Dondon Bagatsing, city councilors Maca Asistio and Jun Ferrer, mayor Sandy Javier, and businessmen Eric Tagle, Tony de Ubago, Tony Tan, Butch Mamon, Jing Javier, Manny Santos, Jose Mari Franco, Robert Ramirez, and Vicente Go Bon.

Mandaluyong City mayor Benhur Abalos stepped down as MARHO president after five years of service, to the warm applause and gratitude of his fellow members. During his term, he fought illegal bookies, led a horseowners’ boycott of the races to protest an unpopular former Philracom chairman, and sustained the annual staging of the MARHO championship races in the face of tough economic times, among other accomplishments.  ***

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THW: Third Race Track?

by Jenny on September 9, 2010

THE HOARSE WHISPERER By Jenny Ortuoste for Manila Standard-Today, 8 September 2010, Wednesday

Third Race Track?

Headline got your attention? Of course it would. For ages since anyone can remember, there have been only two – the Manila Jockey Club (founded 1867) and the Philippine Racing Club (1937). Yet in this age of declining sales due to substitute products (other forms of entertainment), an investor is poised to set up another facility as a venue for the ‘sport of kings’.

Over breakfast last week with horseowner and businessman Norberto Quisumbing, he discussed his vision for Metro Manila Turf Club. The 25-hectare property sits on the towns of Malvar and Tanuan in Batangas, sharing the cool climate of nearby Lipa, where 80% of the country’s Thoroughbred breeding ranches are located. Building a racing facility in this area, said Dr. Quisumbing, is only logical, given the close proximity of the farms where the horses are bred and spelled.

The track surface will be of sea sand, which is plentiful in this archipelago and still has, to many minds, excellent features such as superior drainage and good cushioning, as long as it is of the right grade. It is also cost-effective. A comfortable grandstand will be built that will have restaurants and VIP boxes – think Santa Anita Park in California. Stables will be constructed close by.

Apart from the racetrack, other contemplated amenities are villas and other residential spaces, a landscaped park for rest and relaxation, and a horseback riding trail. Groundbreaking for the project is slated for the end of this year, with completion by late 2011 or early 2012.

With the existing two tracks already in stiff competition for sales, the addition of a third racecourse will up the ante on the business and marketing end. At present, neither MJC nor PRC have anything by way of a consistent, branded marketing effort that makes intensive and effective use of traditional advertising channels and professional ad agencies. Much reliance is still placed on the existing niche market, word-of-mouth, and cable television racing channels run by homegrown talents, not experienced pros from the networks.

In terms of computer-mediated communication, the racing community might as well be in the Dark Ages. Use of digital media such as the Internet are not optimized; the official websites are slow and cranky, with minimal content that is not often updated. The fan websites provide more interesting and dynamic user-generated content. Mobile phones? Social media such as Facebook and Twitter, which have proven powerful for disseminating information? Forget it.

One constraint the industry has that it perhaps does not realize is the inadequacy of competent and imaginative writers to produce quality material. Racing needs not only competent, but excellent writers.

The sport of kings is alive and thriving in the Philippines; what a pity not more than a handful of people know about it. But hope springs eternal; perhaps someday the tracks will recognize the importance of communication and use trending channels in addition to others that have been proven effective for business purposes.

However, it must be mentioned that the industry also operates under heavy burdens, among them taxation. Philippine racing is among the highest taxed in the world while track take is low, leaving little left over for the tracks after operations to improve their facilities with.

A pending bill in Congress, authored by Tarlac representative Jeci Lapus and left over from last year, which was written by Palawan congressman Abraham Mitra and supported by Manila lawmaker Amado Bagatsing, seeks to reduce some racing taxes in a move to boost the sport’s sagging revenues by making it more attractive to bettors.

Maybe this year that law will finally be passed and bring some relief to an industry filled with passionate supporters like Dr. Quisumbing and stalwart institutions like PRC and MJC. ***

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THW: Mega Red Wins PSA Cup

by Jenny on July 7, 2010

THE HOARSE WHISPERER By Jenny Ortuoste for Manila Standard-Today, 7 July 2010, Wednesday

Mega Red Wins PSA Cup

He’s the 3YO son of the highest-earning Philippine champion racehorse of all time, and is as red as a roasted chestnut all over. Named Mega Red, this emerging star is one to watch in the days to come after winning last Sunday’s Philippine Sportswriters Association Cup.

Trophies for winning owner, trainer, and jockey at the awarding area at SLLP

Held at the Manila Jockey Club’s San Lazaro Leisure Park, the 1,500-meter condition race for local-bred 3YO of both genders was the revival of a venerable tradition, spearheaded by the present leadership of the PSA with the support of the Philippine Racing Commission.

Ridden by jockey Jesse Guce, Mega Red beat ten other runners and clocked quarters of 18-24′-25′-28′ for a total time of 1:36.6 to win by four lengths over Rene See’s Winner’s Lane. Tierra Sagrada de Maria’s Skyline Pigeon came in third and Don Antonio Floirendo Sr.’s Indy’s Gift fourth.

Mega Red, with Jesse Guce aboard, wins by four.

According to Philracom chairman lawyer Jose Ferdinand M. Rojas II, the Commission “is pleased to bring back this race for the enjoyment of racing fans and to support the PSA which is a valued partner of the racing industry.”

As in previous occasions of the PSA Cup, the proceeds of the race will fund the organization’s various projects and activities, among them the annual PSA Awards Night, the only recognition program in Philippine sports.

On hand to present the trophies at the awarding ceremony were PSA president Teddyvic Melendres (sports editor, Philippine Daily Inquirer) and treasurer Joe Antonio (sports editor, People’s Journal). Winning trainer Dave de la Cruz accepted the owner’s trophy in behalf of Mega Red’s owner Herminio Esguerra, who was in Canada at the time but sent his best wishes to the PSA officers and members.

Joe Antonio, Teddyvic Melendres, and Philracom’s Dr Romy Buencamino watch the races from the SLLP Turf Club balcony.

With them were Chairman Rojas, Philracom racing consultant veterinarian Romeo Buencamino, MJC racing manager Jose Ramon C. Magboo, and guest Michael Milbier.

Melendres presents a trophy to Dave de la Cruz. With them are Dr Buencamino, Magboo, Milbier, Chairman Rojas, and Antonio.

Bred by Esguerra’s Herma Farms & Stud, Mega Red was sired by Philippine champion Wind Blown out of broodmare Excel Prime (by Al Bashaama).

Upon discussion with Melendres and Antonio, Chairman Rojas says plans may go forward for another Philracom-sponsored PSA Cup in late December, to be tentatively held on the same day as the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office Presidential Gold Cup.

The PCSO Gold Cup is regarded as the most prestigious on the racing calendar. Holding both events on the same day would afford PSA members – editors, sportswriters, and photographers – the rare chance to witness two top-drawing races in one visit.

Melendres and Antonio thanked Chairman Rojas, the Commission, MJC, and the participants and racing fans for their support of the PSA Cup. In an interview aired over the live racing show on cable TV, Melendres added that he looks forward to increased press coverage of racing events from now on.

Antonio, Melendres, Milbier, Chairman Rojas, Magboo, and Dr Buencamino at the Gold Box of the SLLP Turf Club

It’s great that this yearly tradition has been resurrected. In former days, when sports editors and kareristas Rudy Navarro and Jimmy Cantor were among the PSA officers, racing news was given more space in the dailies. Nowadays only a handful of sportswriters who also happen to be staunch karera fans write about track happenings, among them Joe Antonio.

Let’s hope that with more exposure to the sport, the current crop of PSA officers and members will get wrapped up in the mega-action, mega-speed, and mega-power that only a field of thoroughbreds thundering around a track can deliver. Mega Red would approve.  ***

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