Heneral Kalentong used its experience to edge relative newcomer Cartierruo in a homestretch duel by half a length and win 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 on Sunday.
Ridden by veteran jockey JB Guce, the 3-year-old colt stayed within striking distance of the lead pack majority of the way, before taking command in the final stretch and fending off the charge of Cartierruo, which ran for only the second time after a maiden appearance in a previous race.
“Mas bihasa po siya (Heneral Kalentong) tumakbo, mas may experience kumpara kay Cartierruo,” said Guce, who rode the Benjamin Abalos Sr.-owned Heneral Kalentong for the first time, but with outstanding result. “Maayos naman ang larga namin. Diniskartehan ko lang ang kabayo ko na makasunod ng magandang puwesto, kasi ngayon ko lang din sinakyan ito, hindi ko alam kung ano ang laro niya. Napanood ko naman sa mga previous na laro niya na puwede naman siya sumabay, so ganoon na lang ang ginawa ko.”
Sired by Union Rags (USA) out of Lorinda (USA), Heneral Kalentong came out of the gates running third behind initial leader Four Strong Wing and Runway, before making a move in the final 600. Heneral Kalentong timed 1:42.6 in the 1,600-meter race, with quartertimes of 24, 24, 26 and 28 seconds.
“Abang abang lang ako sa unahan, nag-safe grounds lang. Pakiramdam ko, kung reremate ‘yung dalawang nasa labas, baka maipit lang ako sa loob. Split decision na lang ginawa ko, medyo inangat ko na para mas safe ang dadanan ko. Sigurado kapag rumemate ako, makukuha ko. Bago dumating ng diretso, bandera na ako,” said Guce, who has won Triple Crown races in the past with the likes of Carriedo and Shining Fame, but never the sweep. “History ang habol namin dito (sweep), malaking karangalang sa isang hineteng katulad ko.”
Only 11 Triple Crown champions have entered the record books of Philippine horseracing, 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).
The win was worth a whopping P1.8 million for Abalos Sr. from the total pot of P3 million put up by the Philracom. Cartierruo (owner Melanie Habla, jockey KB Abobo) settled for the runner-up purse of P675,000, while Tifosi (SC Stockfarm, JA Guce) pocketed P375,000.
Union Bell, last year’s Philracom Stakes Race Horse of the Year, and the pre-season favorite for the Triple Crown, wasn’t able to join due to a toe injury.
To help stop spread of COVID-19, only the racing clubs’ employees, Philracom personnel, horse-owners, jockeys, trainers and special guests were allowed at the venue, ensuring that only 25 percent of the usual crowd was present. Jockeys wore special face masks and eye gear, while trainers and other horse-racing personnel at the stables had hazmat suits and other protective equipment.
In the Philracom Hopeful Stakes Race offering P1 million in total prizes, Prime Time Magic (owner Ken Logistics Forwarders, jockey RM Garcia) secured the victory and the top prize of P600,000. Spandau Ballet (Francisco Crisosotomo, FM Raquel) and Zenaida (Cool Summer Farm, OP Cortez) placed second and third, respectively.
The P500,000 Philracom 3YO Locally Bred Stakes, Race had Sky Shot (Henedino Gianan Jr., JP A Guce) defeating Calbayog (Benjamin Abalos Jr., AR Villegas) and Abetski (owner Abraham Alvina, jockey RD Raquel Jr.).