Jockeys’ Day at Metroturf

THIS weekend is packed with pulse-pounding horseracing action with the running of several major races and the staging of the 12th New Philippine Jockeys Association Jockeys Day racing festival at Metro Turf racecourse in Malvar, Batangas.

The heat of the sun will be rivaled by the scorching hot speed expected from the entries in the 9th NPJA-Philippine Racing Commission Cup (four races), the 7th NPJA-Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office Cup, and the 3rd leg of the Philracom Import-Local Challenge, all on Sunday, May 31.

Entered in the latter (the Import-Local Challenge) are Crucis (carrying 55kgs), Divine Zazu (54), Messi (52), Security Model (52), Star Belle (54), and Strong Champion (58). I have a soft spot somewhere on my body for Crucis, so that’s my best bet. Strong Champion looks good but is carrying a heavy handicap weight.

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Racing fans are also looking forward to the first-ever NPJA Jockeys Footrace on Sunday, a fundraising event for the Disabled Jockeys Fund.

The event is patterned after similar jockey footraces in the United States. Jockeys, like racehorses, will emerge from the starting gate and run on the racetrack to the finish line for about 100 meters.

A jockey may be “declared” by a sponsor for P5,000. “The jockeys will wear whatever the sponsor wants them to,” said NPJA President Gilbert L. Francisco. “They can wear a horseowner’s silks, a corporate t-shirt, even a dress —all in the spirit of fun and charity.”

There are 12 riders on the NPJA’s disabled list: EJ Tijam (who suffered a racing accident in 1991), CH Bernabe Jr. (racing, 1993), EA Ventura (racing, 2000), JeC “The Maestro” Guce (racing, 2005), LM Salvador Jr. (racing, 2006), JP Manalo Jr. (racing, 2007), JG Rodriguez (racing, 2009), LV Cannaoay (racing, 2012), EF Daquis (workout, 2012), RL Lagrata (racing, 2013), RV Leona (racing, 2013), and LT Cuadra Jr. (racing, 2014).

The footrace will feature 22 riders and will be run between two regular races.

The footrace sponsors who sponsored two riders each are PCSO Vice-Chairman and General Manager lawyer Jose Ferdinand M. Rojas II, PCSO Assistant General Manager for Gaming Sector Conrado C. Zabella, PCSO Bayang Karerista, Philippine Racing Club, Inc. Executive Vice-President and COO Allan V. Abesamis, Manila Jockey Club Racing Manager Jose Ramon C. Magboo, and Metro Turf Chairman Dr. Norberto Quisumbing Jr.

Sponsoring one each are horseowners Antonio G. de Ubago, Patrick Uy, and Ric Aquino; as well as Joey Villanueva, Manila Horsepower group, trainer Donie Sordan, Roger Lopez, Daniel Tan, Conrado Ong, and Rainier Leopando.

The jockeys also have other activities planned for the weekend, including fans’ meet-and-greet with the jockeys, fun bets on the footrace, and others.

“We are overwhelmed by the show of support we have received,” said Francisco, “and are grateful for the concern shown to the disabled jockeys and the entire jockey community.”

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 On the breeding front: former Tarlac representative and longtime horseowner and trainer and now breeder Jeci A. Lapus recently acquired Kenneth Causon’s champion Humble Riches as a broodmare to be matched to Lapus’s stallion Retap (Tapit x Free Spin).

This is an interesting mix. Retap is a son of Tapit, who is a son of Pulpit, son of the great AP Indy. On the sire side, he also has Unbridled. Cong. Jeci says that the dam, Free Spin, has good blood from her sire Olympio. Tapit foals are being auctioned for outrageously high prices in the United States nowadays.

Equally impressive is Humble Riches’ lineage of Tribal Rule x Starlight Wish.  Tribal Rule’s sire was Storm Cat, whose grandsire was the “sire of sires” Northern Dancer. Storm Cat was the sire of successful stallion Giant’s Causeway, and the great-grandsire of 2015 Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes winner American Pharoah.

Meanwhile, Philtobo President Manny Santos says that his Triple Crown champion Kid Molave (Into Mischief x Unsaid) is suffering tendon problems and will be retired to stud.

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