Successful 12th Jockeys Day

 It was the most fun anyone had at the races that anyone can recall, when the jockeys of the country raced on foot to raise funds for charity last Sunday (May 31) at the Metro Manila Turf Club racecourse in Malvar, Batangas.

The first-ever jockeys footrace, patterned after similar events in the United States, was held to raise money for the Disabled Jockeys Fund, which presently supports 12 riders who suffer total and partial paralysis and debilitating injuries incurred while racing and during workout.

The favorite, jockey Jonathan Flores, who was a track champ in high school, expectedly won the 100-meter race by a wide margin, clocking 13. 2 seconds. He received a Haojie motorcycle from sponsor Norkis-Yamaha, owned by Metroturf Chairman Dr. Norberto Quisumbing Jr., who gave his all-out support to the historical event, contributing greatly to its success.

The placers, in order, were Lester de Jesus, Dan L. Camañero, and AM Basilio. All 22 jockeys in the footrace each received a medal and P1,000 riding fee from racing fans group FHREN which they donated to the fund.

A fiesta atmosphere surrounded the footrace, with television crews, racing personalities, and fans crowding on the track; for many, it was their first time to step on the sand.

The jockeys were in high spirits as they ran out for the “parade” of entries, with Valentino R. Dilema providing comic relief by pretending to be a vicious horse, donning a blindfold and kicking his two “grooms,” jockeys RR Camañero and Kelvin Abobo. (See event photos and videos on my FB page, Gogirl Racing.)

According to New Philippine Jockeys Association Director Antonio B. Alcasid Jr., the proceeds of the weekend’s 12th Jockeys Day racing festival at Metroturf netted double the average annual amount for the disabled jockeys fund. The footrace alone accounted for P167,000.

NPJA President Gilbert L. Francisco thanked the sponsors, including the Philippine Racing Commission under Chairman Andrew A. Sanchez, Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office through General Manager lawyer Jose Ferdinand M. Rojas II, the three racetracks that made an unprecedented show of cooperation and solidarity (Metroturf, Manila Jockey Club, and Philippine Racing Club), corporate sponsors (Nestle, Gran Matador, and GSM Blue), independent horseowners and members of the Tri-Org (MARHO, Philtobo, and Klub Don Juan de Manila), racing groups FRHEN and Manila Horsepower, and the Bayang Karerista of PCSO and fans all over the country who watched, cheered, and believed that the jockeys could make their dream of an outstanding event come true.

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While the footrace dominated the fans’ attention last Sunday, it was also an excellent day of racing. One of the highlights was the 3rd leg of the Philracom Import-Local Challenge.

The lone local-bred, Messi guided by John Alvin Guce, crushed five imports, including first leg winner Strong Champion who settled for second (despite carrying the heaviest handicap weight at 58 kgs.), Crucis (third), and Security Model (fourth).

Messi (Ready’s Image x Salon Lumiere), owned by Jade Bros. Farm and trained by Googie Catajan, set a time of 1:53 for the 1,800-meter race.

Meanwhile, the first NPJA-PCSO race was won by Rolando Villardo’s Son of Thunder ridden by Jeff Zarate, and the second by Jeci A. Lapus’s Windy Hour, steered by Mark Alvarez. There were also four NPJA-Philracom sponsored races.

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Congratulations to Jonathan S. Jalbuna for winning the first part of Philippine Racing Commission-Press Photographers of the Philippines photo contest held during the first leg of the Philracom Triple Crown race series last May 17.

Romeo Homillada placed second and Jose Mendoza third. They will receive cash prizes and a plaque from Philracom at the awarding ceremony on June 7 at San Lazaro Leisure Park.

The second part of the contest for PPP members will take place during the second leg of the Triple Crown on June 14 at Santa Ana Park..

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