MANILA, Philippines -- The 49th edition of the Presidential Gold Cup, set for Sunday at the Metro Manila Turf Club in Batangas, is shaping up to be a wide-open affair.
Defending champion Pangalusian Island, along with this year’s Triple Crown winners Nuclear Bomb and War Cannon, are among the top bets expected to vie for the top prize of P6 million out of the total P10 million purse being put up by the Philippine Racing Commission (Philracom) in coordination with the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO).
Philracom chairman Reli De Leon announced in the online Philippine Sportswriters Association (PSA) Forum on Tuesday that a full gate will be on hand with 14 horses vying in the main race.
"This will be the crème of the crop. The best of the very best thoroughbreds in the country today, gunning for the first prize of P6 million," de Leon said. "All of the best horses are in."
With Mark Alvarez on the saddle, Pangalusian Island, owned by Wilbert Tan, overtook Super Swerte in the final 10 meters of the race to win last year’s Gold Cup edition. It is a feat it will try to repeat before the end of the year as it aims to become only the fifth horse to win the annual event in back-to-back fashion.
Aside from Nuclear Bomb (winner of 2021 Triple Crown’s first two legs) and War Cannon (third leg winner of Triple Crown), also crowding out the defending champion are Chairman Cup and Sampaguita Stakes winner Sky Shot, Boss Emong, Silver Cup winner Super Swerte, Greatwall, the returning Union Bell, Summer Romance, Obra Maestra, and Stardust.
Completing the field are Gusto Mucho, Isla Puting Bato, and Prosperity.
"This is the biggest race of the year. Pero mas malaki next year kasi golden anniversary (50th) ng Presidential Gold Cup 'yun," De Leon also said.
Although Batangas is already in Alert Level 2, De Leon said Philracom may not yet admit the bayang karerista at the race venue, which according to him can accommodate to as much as 6,000 to 8,000 people.
However, Philracom may consider admitting people who are fully vaccinated to watch the races live.
"Puwede siguro 'yung may mga vaccines na. Siguro at the most 5 percent or 10 percent of the total capacity the race venue can accommodate," he said.
The Gold Cup was founded in 1973 through the efforts of late PCSO chairman Nereo Andolong, with Sun God, owned by Don Pedro Cojuangco, winning the inaugural race.