Jockey Jessie B. Guce’s expectations were met recently when he rode longshot Underwood past two favorites at the last turn to win the P3-million 2016 Philracom Triple Crown Stakes Race third leg at the San Lazaro Leisure Park.
With Guatemala scratched, only four contenders battled in the last event of the Philracom’s most important series for elite 3YO.
In the end, Underwood, guided by star jockey Guce, ran on the inside to dash past Dewey Boulevard down the stretch and win by three lengths.
The colt owned by Stoney Road Horse Farm and trained by Dave de la Cruz earned the P1.8 million first prize for its connections. The breeder’s purse was claimed by Herma Farms and Stud, which bred Underwood from Real Spicy, a champion during his racing career, and dependable mare Kayumanggi.
“Expected namin ito dahil sa distansiya at kumonti ang kalaban,” said Guce.
Dewey Boulevard, the second-leg winner, placed second, while first-leg champ Radioactive ranked third. Homonhon Island was fourth and last.
The lead in the 2,000-meter race was taken by the fast-stepping Dewey Boulevard, followed two lengths off the pace by Radioactive, Underwood four lengths behind, and Homonhon Island last.
This was the scenario until the far turn, when Radioactive and Underwood rallied to close the gap between them and Dewey Boulevard. Underwood first slipped behind Radioactive’s left, before picking up speed to sneak past Dewey Boulevard with 125 meters to go.
“Expected kong maghahabulan sila at masundan ko lang sila, at ‘pag pinabayaan, may bibitaw. Ako, nanood lang. Sa diretso ko na inabot,” said Guce.
The Triple Crown is the ultimate test for 3-year-old, island-born thoroughbred horses, having started its first leg in May, running a monthly series consisting of three races.