By Jean Malanum

TITLE CONTENDER. Jockey John Alvin Guce steers Ghost (No. 5) to victory in the first leg of the 2024 Philippine Racing Commission (PHILRACOM) Triple Crown Series at the Metro Manila Turf Club, Inc. in Malvar, Batangas on May 19, 2024. Ghost remains the favorite in the second leg on Sunday (June 16, 2024). (Photo courtesy of PHILRACOM) 

MANILA – Expect another epic showdown this Sunday as nine elite horses compete for the title in the second leg of the Triple Crown Series at the Metro Manila Turf Club, Inc. in Malvar, Batangas.

The top three finishers in the first leg on May 19 – Ghost of SC Stockfarm (ridden by John Alvin Guce), Bea Bell (owned by Elmer De Leon and ridden by JB Hernandez), and Batang Manda (owned by Interior and Local Government Secretary Benjamin Abalos Jr. and ridden by Patty Dilema) – are also the favorites in the prestigious race that offers a total guaranteed prize of PHP2.5 million along with a breeders’ purse of PHP250,000.

Guce is the reigning Philippine Sportswriters Association (PSA) Jockey of the Year while Dilema and Hernandez are Philippine Racing Commission (PHILRACOM) Hall of Fame awardees.

Other formidable contenders are Worshipful Master, Authentikation, and Added Haha, all winners of the 3YO Maiden Stakes races this year.

Also set to challenge the frontrunners are High Dollar and Morning After, which finished third and sixth, respectively at the Hopeful Stakes race, and King James, which is Worshipful Master’s stablemate.

“All eyes in the 2nd leg of the Triple Crown this Sunday will be on first leg winner Ghost. That’s the only horse which has a chance to sweep the Triple Crown (three leg series) and be named the 15th Triple Crown champion,” PHILRACOM chairman Reli de Leon said in an interview on Friday.

“Only 14 horses in the past won the coveted the Triple Crown title. The last was achieved by Heneral Kalentong owned by Secretary Benhur Abalos in 2020.”

The race distances at the Triple Crown Series are 1,600 meters (1st leg), 1,800m (2nd leg), and 2,000m (third leg).

Equally exciting are the Hopeful Stakes Race and the 3YO Locally Bred Stakes Race, featuring total guaranteed gross prizes of PHP1 million and PHP500,000, respectively. These races are proof of PHILRACOM’s commitment to showcasing the finest local horseracing talent.

“We invite all racing enthusiasts and the general public to witness this spectacular event. Experience the thrill, the speed, and the passion of horseracing at its finest,” De Leon said.

Among the Triple Crown winners were Skywalker (1983), Time Master (1987), Magic Showtime (1988), Sun Dancer (1989), Strong Material (1996), Real Top (1998), Silver Story (2001), and Sepfourteen (2017). (PNA)