WITH sophomore jockey O’Neal Cortez guiding him, Don Albertini trudged towards his assigned stall in slow, lazy steps, practically ignored and forgotten by bettors as he sold only a few thousands in the daily double betting.
Less than two minutes after the race, the veteran Don Albertini was on everybody’s lips, a runaway winner of the P600,000 Japan Racing Association Cup stakes race on Sunday afternoon in the biggest surprise thus far in the racing season at the Santa Ana Park in Naic, Cavite.
Don Albertini, owned by lawyer-businessman Narciso Morales and trained by Agah Matias, heroically survived a tight, interesting duel with eventual runnerup Greatwall for almost a quarter in the 1600-meter race to win as the longest shot in a field of eight.
Don Albertini sold no more than P10,000 DD betting, which was not surprising given his forgettable fifth place finish among eight runners in the PCSO Cup (Division 1) at the San Lazaro Leisure Park on September 3.
But Don Albertini and his regular jockey returned to action with payback on mind, beating top choice Greatwall by three lengths and second favorite Puting Biyaya by four with a time of 1 minute and 40 seconds on quarter times of 25-23-24-27.
“The team did a good job in preparing the horse. I know the horse will recover big after that poor showing (in the PCSO Cup),” said Morales, who’s on track of finishing on top again in the most number of wins among horse owners.
Don Albertini, also the oldest in the field at seven, finished three lengths clear of the Apoy Asuncion-ridden Greatwall and four ahead of Puting Biyaya, who rallied in the final straight to salvage third place under RM Ubaldo.
Hot from the get-go, Don Albertini built a two-length lead as he entered the final turn, only to find himself shadowed for nearly 400 meters by Greatwall before pulling away deep in the stretch to the horror of the llamadistas.
“Bumulaga. Akala ng iba, laos na ang kabayo. May ibubuga pa pala,” said Daniel Aguila, a racing fan from Fairview.’Basta kabayo ni Morales, out to win talaga, may premyo o wala”.
The win raised Morales’ tally of victories to 180 as of the first week of September, as he stayed well on track of becoming the winningest horseowner for the fourth time in the last five years.
“Hopefully, the stable makes it again (becoming No. 1 again in wins). The entire team is doing its job well. With a little more luck, we can do it again,” said Morales, while thanking the fans who continued to back his active runners numbering around 50.