Despite setting out as one of the heavy favorites in the first two legs of the 2016 Triple Crown, Underwood was a disappointment.
Yesterday, he was a different animal.
Responding magnificently under the urgings of veteran jockey Jesse Guce, far third choice Underwood humbled three others behind a great run in the final turn to win the third leg and highlight an afternoon rich in surprises yesterday at the San Lazaro Leisure Park.
Running by the rail, Underwood overtook top favorite and second leg winner Dewey Boulevard deep in the stretch and won by three lengths in the highlight event watched by an enthusiastic crowd led by Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada.
The chestnut son of champion dam Real Spicy out of Kayumanggi clocked a good 2 minutes and 6.8 seconds in the 2,000-meter race as he made amends after falling in ambush as top pick in the first leg and a close second choice in the second.
But on this cloudy afternoon, Underwood didn’t disappoint.
The win was worth P1.8 million to the owner of Underwood, who lost by about 10 lengths as runnerup to Radio Active in the kickoff stage and finished a badly-beaten third to Dewey Boulevard in the second.
Without a doubt, his failure to deliver in these two legs sent a big number of fans going to the side of Dewey Boulevard and Radio Active, who collared a great cut of the betting pie and started off as 1-2 in the betting.
First leg champ Radio Active had an uneasy start under jockey John Alvin Guce and wound up third while Homonhon Island (Patti Dilema) never figured in the race, coming home fourth and last in a field of four, one of the leanest ever to dispute a leg in the series that started in 1978.
It marked the second straight year—and the 15th time in 38 years—that three different horses emerged winners in this annual affair considered as the most prestigious in the racing calendar.
In another startling reversal, far second pick Kanlaon rallied in the stretch under Val Dilema to capture the second Erap Cup against six others led by oustanding choice and last year’s Presidential Gold Cup titlist Dixie Gold.
Getting around 20 to 25 whips from Dilema going into the final straight, Kanlaon surged into the lead with an explosive burst down the final 75 meters to win by two lengths over Our Angel’s Dream (C. Henson).
With Rodeo Fernandez handling him, Dixie Gold didn’t figure in the fight, trailing by as many as 12 lengths at one stretch of the 2,000-m race. Turning for home, he made his move but it came too late.
Dixie Gold finished third, some five meters off the winner in a letdown for one who was coming off a runnerup finish to Low Profile in the PCSO Silver Cup two Sundays ago.
* Outstanding favorite Piskante, handled by Fernando Racquel, Jr, beat Leave It To Me by a nose (Jesse Guce) and Play It Safe (Kevin Abobo) by a head in a pulsating 3-horse race to win the 2,000-meter Philracom 3-Year-Old Locally Bred stakes event with a time of 2:11.4. He won P300,000 for the Esguerra stable.
* Pinay Pharaoh, selling no more than P23,000 in the double betting, outlasted seven others over 2,000 meters to capture the Hopeful Stakes race under Racquel in a shocking win worth P600,000 for the Esguerra team. The gray filly clocked 2:09, finishing three lengths in front of Real Flames (Rodeo Fernandez) and five ahead of top choice Space Needle (Jeff Zarate).
* In another reversal, Love To Death, ridden by Hernandez, charged past fellow longshot Holly Bear (Jesse Guce) and first pick Atomicseventynine (A. Asuncion) in the closing meters to top the Imported Challenge Cup and clinch the P600,000 prize that went with it. He timed 1:41 in the one-mile race that featured five other imported runners.