Hagdang Bato destroys SMB mile field

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HAGDANG Bato underscored his mean form by ruling the San Miguel Beer 3YO Colt Mile Stakes on Sunday with plenty to spare at the Sta. Ana Park in Naic, Cavite.

The reigning Triple Crown champion hardly broke a sweat in a wire-to-wire romp over a lean, five-horse field under ace Jonathan Hernandez, who guided him to a seventh major victory this year.

The effortless win showed that Hagdang Bato is ready for the prestigious Presidential Gold Cup on Dec. 9 as he tries to join the esteemed company of legendary gallopers like Fair and Square and Sun Dancer.

Hernandez actually escaped a scary spill in a regular race earlier to mount Hagdang Bato and guide the handsome son of Yonaguska out of Fire Down Under to a time of 1-minute and 43.6 seconds on a fairly hard track.

Second three lengths behind was Penrith while Golden Empire checked in a far third in one of six major races that highlighted the 17th anniversary celebration of the Metropolitan Association of Race Horse Owners (Marho).

Hernandez fell off Pudolski in an earlier race.

In bankrolling another P500,000 for owner, Mandaluyong Mayor Benhur Abalos, Hagdang Bato, a cinch to win the Horse of the Year award from the Philippine Sportswriters Association, upped his earnings past the P11 million mark.

The other highlight races saw longshot Gastambide (John Paul Guce) rule the Classic; Fierce and Fiery (Dan Camanero) top the Sprint; Sea Princess (Patti Dilema) capture the 3YO Filly Mile; Spinning Ridge (Val Dilema) win the Juvenile Colts and Five Star (Jessie Guce) prevail in the Juvenile Fillies. Musong R. Castillo

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