After a six-month absence, Philippine horse-racing finally makes its much-awaited return on Sept. 6, 2020 (Sunday) at the Metro Manila Turf Club Inc. in Malvar, Batangas.
The approval to resume horse-racing was relayed to the Philippine Racing Commission by Kenneth Ronquillo, Head of Secretariat of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Infectious Diseases following the shutting down of all forms of sports and gaming in the country last March by the national government in an effort to stop the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The IATF approved the request of the Philracom for the resumption of horse-racing activities after the lifting of the Modified Enhanced Community Quarantine (MECQ) in the National Capital Region and the provinces of Batangas and Cavite last August 18, 2020. Also allowed by the IATF is Telebet and Off-Site Betting in areas under General Community Quarantine (GCQ).
In a statement, the Philracom said that a strict enforcement of all public health standards approved by the Department of Health will be observed in all the races, which will also be hosted in the succeeding weeks by the San Lazaro Leisure Park of the Manila Jockey Club in Carmona, Cavite and the Saddle and Clubs Leisure Park of the Philippine Racing Club in Naic Cavite.
This means 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.
“We will be strict in our enforcement of the health protocols set by the Department of Health, such as social-distancing, the wearing of face masks and shields, and the washing of hands,” said the Philracom. “We owe it to the sport to keep everyone involved as safe as possible. We want horse-racing to be back on its feet so that we can continue helping our government raise funds for its various programs.”
Horse-racing in the Philippines is a billion-peso industry. For the last decade, horse-racing has contributed an average of P1.3 billion to the national coffers, including P1,352,930,422 last year.
While horse-racing returns this weekend with the regular races, no stakes race is scheduled that day due to the lack of time in getting nominees.
Stakes races will actually begin on Sept. 13 with the re-scheduled 3YO Maiden Stakes Race and Road To Triple Crown (originally set last March 15, 2020), sparking a 15-week stretch, divided equally by the three racing clubs hosting five racing days each. A total prize money of P34.5 million will be allotted by the Philracom for the rest of the year’s stakes races, with the scheduled racing days at the SLLP, the Saddle and Clubs and Metroturf getting P11.5M each.
The biggest of the coming stakes races are the Triple Crown Series (Oct 4. and 31, Nov. 29), the Ambassador Eduardo “Danding” M. Cojuangco Jr. Cup (Nov. 15) and the Juvenile Championship (Dec. 13).