ITS schedule pushed back to the latter part of the year due to the coronavirus pandemic, the 2020 racing season kicks into overdrive on Sunday (Oct. 4), with the first leg of the Philippine Racing Commission’s Triple Crown series, considered as the most prestigious racing extravaganza for three-year-old horses at the San Lazaro Leisure Park in Carmona, Cavite.
Battling for the first-leg crown and bragging rights are Cartierruo (owner Melanie Habla, jockey KB Abobo), Four Strong Wind (Alfredo Santos, OP Cortez), Heneral Kalentong (Benjamin Abalos Sr., JB Guce), Runway (Joseph Dyhengco, MM Gonzales) and Tifosi (SC Stockfarm, JA Guce).
A total of P3 million in prizes will be up for grabs in the race over a distance of 1,600 meters, with P1.8 million going to the champion horse and P675,000 allocated for the runner-up. Third and fourth placers get P375,000 and P150,000, respectively.
To help stop spread of COVID-19, fans won’t be allowed to personally watch the races, with only the racing clubs’ employees, Philracom personnel, horse-owners, jockeys, trainers and special guests allowed at the venues, ensuring that only 25 percent of the usual crowd will be present. Jockeys will be ordered to wear special face masks and eye gear, while trainers and other horse-racing personnel at the stables will be told to wear hazmat suits and other protective equipment.
Real Gold won last year’s first and third legs of the series, with Boss Emong sneaking in a win in the 2nd leg.
Patterned after the United States’ Triple Crown, with its three legs comprised of the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness Stakes, and the Belmont Stakes, also with progressively longer distances, the Philippine edition of the Triple Crown series was launched in 1978, with Native Gift winning the first two legs and Majority Rule denying him the sweep.
Since then, there have been only 11 Triple Crown champions, namely Fair and Square in 1981, Skywalker (1983), Time Master (1987), Magic Showtime (1988), Sun Dancer (1989), Strong Material (1996), Real Top (1998), Silver Story (2001), Hagdang Bato (2012), Kid Molave (2014) and Sepfourteen (2017).
Also on tap on Sunday is the Philracom Hopeful Stakes Race offering P1 million in total prizes and the Philracom 3YO Locally Bred Stakes Race, with P500,000 at stake. Both races have a distance of 1,600 meters.
Battling for the P600,000 top prize in the P1-million Hopeful Stakes are After Party (SC Stockfarm, Jockey MM Gonzales), Batang Dragon (Alfredo Santos, JB Guce), Bourne Leader (Melanie Habla, JA Guce), Exponential (Raymund Puyat, JB Hernandez), La Republika (Mariano Tirona, AR Villegas), Maximum Risk (Peter Allan Limjoco, RG Fernandez), Prettiest Star (Ma. Theresa Floirendo, PJ A Guce), Primetime Magic (Ken Logistics Forwarders, RM Garcia), Sacred Syndicate (Running Rich Racing, KB Abobo), Spandau Ballet (Francisco Crisosotomo, FM Raquel), Sweet Spot (Paul Aguila, CP Henson) and Zenaida (Cool Summer Farm, OP Cortez).
Listed in the Locally Bred Stakes Race are Abetski (owner Abraham Alvina, jockey RD Raquel Jr.), Calbayog (Benjamin Abalos Jr., AR Villegas), Drummer Girl (Running Rich Racing, JA Guce), I Love Ninetyseven (Richard Aquino, KB Abobo), Noon Bell (Bell Racing Stable, JB Hernandez), Our Secret (SC Stockfarm, MM Gonzales), Radio Gaga (Francisco Crisostomo, RG Fernandez), Redhead Dancer (Raymund Puyat, PM Cabalejo), Sky Shot (Henedino Gianan Jr., JP A Guce), Stardust (Leonardo Javier Jr., RA Base) and Under Pressure (Ma. Teresa Lara, PJ A Guce).