Every celebration of the Araw ng Maynila (June 24) is the running of the GRAN COPA DE MANILA. That was the days highlight for every true blooded karerista. Those days are now gone.
The idea of the staging of the Gran Copa race was initiated way back in 1898 by the prominent members of the prominent members of the Manila Jockey Club. It was to be run every 1st of May. The inaugural race was set to run but was cancelled when the Spanish -American War started on the day of the race.
The original Gran Copa was sent to the Hong Kong and Shanghai Bank for safekeeping. It was returned to the Manila Jockey Club eventually and was displayed in the trophy room. However, a fire broke out in 1971 at the old MJC that charred the original copa.
It was thru the efforts of then Manila mayor Ramon Bagatsing that a replica of the original copa was produced, and at long last the initial running of the Gran Copa de Manila in 1980.
The inaugural winner in 1980 of the COPA was LUMINARY with RCValencia. Persian Savage and GCInfantado in 1982. The great FAIR and SQUARE in 1983 with JCGuce. 1984 was the year of SKYWALKER and ESAguila. The one-eyed THRILLER won in 1988 with then promising jockey GEBiazon.
When the San Lazaro was transferred to Carmona, it signaled the end of the rich tradition of the GRAN COPA. The race was ran only 3 times. WIND BLOWN won it in 2002. HAZMOORE won 2003. There were no races in 2004 and 2005. The last winner in 2006 was REAL SPICY over Ever Mine Now and La Tienne.
During the heydays of the COPA, the SAN MIGUEL Corp was its major sponsor. In the years that followed the ASIA BREWERY also supported the annual running.
There are so many fond memories of the GRAN COPA. I was there when Luminary won the the inaugural run. I also remember calling in sick. almost every June 24 yearly, to my boss in Makati just to be able to see the races. It was one of those race days when you do not need to review the "pruweba". Every entry was out for a win. It was just a question of being able to pick the right horse.
It was also at the Gran Copa De Manila races that Australian race caller PETER MORRISON was introduced to the Filipino karerista. Each time he calls a race the chances of a longshot winners is very likely.
Congressman Amado Bagatsing would like so much to revive the glory days of the Copa. His father was well remembered in the industry as the "Father of the Gran Copa races'.
Come August 18 at the SLLP, the Philracom will sponsor 2 divisions of the Ramon Bagatsing Memorial Race Day. They would try to equal the excitement offered by the now gone GRAN COPA de MANILA races.
* Please correct my post if you find any error or inconsistencies. Thanks.
(ty jenny o, edwin villanueva, manila standard)