SAN LAZARO LEISURE PARK WORLD CLASS OR WORST CLASS?

Manila, July 19, 2003 By Dante Navarro (Star) The night races at the much-ballyhooed San Lazaro Leisure Park were back last night, thanks to the prompt action by the Philippine Racing Commission (Philracom) which summoned officials of the Manila Jockey Club, Inc. and tasked them to come up with a contingency plan to address the breakdown of its power generators that forced the cancellation of the races last Wednesday and Thursday.

But the resumption hardly appeased the disgruntled racing public who lambasted the owners of the SLLP which fell short of its pre-opening hype as a world class racetrack that can measure up to the best in the world — in design, structure, distance and racing surface.

Philracom chair Jaime Dilag and commissioner Eduardo Jose met with MJCI president Alfonso Reyno, Jr. late Thursday to work out a practical course of action that could be implemented by the club to salvage its weekend race schedules.

"We understand that the MJCI has already taken steps to install a new 2,500 KVA generator to service the power requirements of the club for its weekend program," said Dilag.

The Philracom will be staging three major stakes races tomorrow, including the Horseman’s Cup, the third and final leg of the Triple Crown, the Hopeful Stakes and the Philippine-American Friendship Race with a combined pot of P2.5 million.

The STAR last night drew reactions from enraged racing fans who lambasted the owners who claimed the Carmona racetrack is of world class standard when in fact it remains unfinished and even lacks the basic operational facilities.

A power system failure forced the cancellation of the Wednesday and Thursday night race cards although the management of the MJCI said it has been working overtime to implement the necessary measures and contingencies to address the problem that has cost the government millions of pesos in revenues.

"Where in the world can you find a world class racetrack hit by a power system failure for two days?" said SAMAKA, a group of racing enthusiasts in Diliman, QC.

Disgruntled racing fans at the track also scored the venue’s lack of water supply, lack of security, the unfinished grandstand whose railing has put at risk the safety of the paying public and the stinking washrooms.

"It is very obvious that San Lazaro Leisure Park is not ready to operate. As to how it was allowed by the Philracom to operate was a great disservice to the racing aficionados," the group added.

Four race horses actually perished when the track was opened last April although MJCI officials maintained that those incidents were caused by factors other than the poor racing condition.

In fact, Peter Morrison, the noted Australian international racing announcer who has seen the best tracks in the world while covering some of the high-stake races the last 40 years, even told The STAR that he considers SLLP a first-rate racetrack.

"As it is, the SLLP can be operation only when thwe weather conditions are conducive. Otherwise, a short, heavy rainfall will render the track out of commission," according to SAMAKA.


Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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