There they go.
For old-time racehorse goers, these are very familiar words from the race announcer, signalling the start of every race, and so there we went.
With my wife Marissa and her niece Ella, we went to the Silver Cup Stakes Race at the San Lazaro Leisure Park in Carmona, Cavite last Sunday afternoon, a deja vu experience for the missus, a very first time experience for Ella, while for me, I have only seen a few live races as horse racing was not among my regular beats in sports — even as I dream of interviewing a winning horse together with the winning jockey.
The nice part, we were among the guests of Philippine Racing Commission chairman Reli de Leon, an old friend from way back when he was still marketing giant sports shoes brands here, until he hit the jackpot in a race in 1999 by picking seven straight winners, netting him over a million pesos, part of which he used to buy his first race horse.
And to prove it was not a fluke, he repeated it in 2007, and won over a million pesos again, but when he became the PHILRACOM Chairman last year, he had to sell all his seven horses to maintain his impartiality.
Anyway, as his guests, we were at the VIP room at the 3rd floor, with free-flowing food and cold drinks to the delight of my wife and niece, arriving there on time for Race 3, ended up watching five races in all, including the Philippine Sportswriters Association Cup in Race 5, and the much awaited Silver Cup, the country’s second biggest stakes race in Race 7.
Second only to the Presidential Gold Cup race slated on December 12 and that offers P10 million as top prize, the Silver Cup put up a P4 million total cash prize, with P2.4 million to the winning entry.
I gave my wife 100,000 cents, to place her bets, having done horse betting in her much younger life, and I wanted to make her happy, but not at my expense, got a racing program from Reli’s assistant Ronald Santos, and without any logic or science at all, my wife started betting, losing her initial bet in race 3.
She won in Race 4 with her bet on Greatest Joy which brought her a lot of joy as she recouped her loss, then lost back-to-back in Races 5 and 6, all this time, shouting her encouragement to her bets while watching live from the balcony.
Then time for the big race, the Silver Cup, with 11 entries and ran over 1750 meters. She placed all her money on 5 different combinations, you have to guess the winning horse and the second placer.
And guess what, Super Swerte owned by Mayor Sandy Javier, trained by Ruben Tupas, with jockey Bom Boom Villegas on top, won the race, followed by rival Boss Emong, entry numbers 6 and 8, one of the combinations fortunately picked by my wife and Ella.
My wife was ecstatic as we ended up winning in the end, maybe 10,000 centavos, she even had a photo taken with the winning jockey, who won big time for the very first time in his long career at 35 years old. When I asked him his plans for his winnings, he said everything has been planned already, by his wife.
Reli, who presented the trophies to the winners of the Juvenile Stakes Race, then the PSA Cup, and the Silver Cup, came complete with face mask and shield, plus a fedora hat, that I could not recognize him at first.
According to him, horse racing here is steadily improving but still not at pre-pandemic level for sure, but as far as that Sunday race was concerned, he said it delivered more than what was expected.
Earlier, Ronald said one problem area in the industry was the need for more Off Track Betting booths as this is subject to the different LGUs with differing guidelines.
Like most of those who were with us in the VIP Room, we also left after the Silver Cup race. I was happy because I made the missus happy and provided Ella a good first time experience watching horse racing live.
Now I believe what champion horse breeder Benhur Abalos and Reli when they said horse racing can be a family oriented activity. But for me, as long as I can watch it from the VIP section and my wife limits her bets to 20,000 centavos per race.
And that my readers, is the bottom line.