my manila: santa ana park

Santa Ana Park is the racetrack facility of the Philippine Racing Club and was built in 1937. PRC was founded by American and Filipino horsemen and entrepreneurs in the late 1920s as a counterpart to the Manila Jockey Club, enclave of Spanish and Filipino aristocrats at its foundation in 1867 until its heyday in the ’50s.

There are three main structures on the twenty-five hectare property, all in a simple Art Deco style – two grandstands and an office building. There is a single dirt (sand) track surrounded by many stables that, over time, have mushroomed to far more than the area can comfortably hold. Stalls are built right up against the cinder-block walls that line the track.

The facade of Santa Ana Park on AP Reyes Avenue on an early morning last April

Races have been held continuously at Santa Ana Park since it was built, with a brief hiatus during the war. It is named for St. Anne, patron saint of nearby Sta. Ana town, Manila, although the racetrack itself is part of Makati. It has been the scene of countless challenging races and has seen the rise – and fall – of champion racehorses and horsemen.

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View of AP Reyes Avenue on the other side

It is also “home” to me and my children. We have lived on my father-in-law’s compound behind the track since my marriage to a jockey in 1991. A racehorse trainer and veterinarian, my father-in-law maintains his property as a racing stable with stalls for twelve. We live with the sounds of soft neighing and hoofbeats as the horses are hotwalked in the mornings after ensayo (workout), the clanking of the tin labangans as feeding time approaches. The muted thudding of horses’ hooves on the sawdust is like the hammering of my own heart.

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The parking lot is used by the community for group calisthenics

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That’s the office building on the left

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The Art Deco main building. The second level houses the parquet-floored ballroom and murals of champion horses from the ’70s and ’80s, as well as the broadcast studio, owners’ boxes, and VIP lounges

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The parade ring with the finish line in the background

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The home turn is on the far left

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The first bend; Makati office buildings in the background were built many years after the track was

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View of the left-side grandstand

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The Stewards’ Stand. The Board of Stewards watch the track with eagle eyes (aided by binoculars) from the top floor; below that is the racecallers’ perch; a viewing area; and on the ground level, the jockeys’ weighing scales

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View of the grandstand from the parade ring

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A horse trots past the finish line during morning workout

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Exercise rider Kiko Dilema asks, “Kinukunan mo na naman kami, Tita Jen?”

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A groom leans against the rail, waiting for his horse and its ensayador to finish. One trot, two canter, perhaps?

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Alex and Ik, tunay na batang karera – apo ni Doc Alcasid at anak ni jockey Oyet at ni Ms. Jen sa TV

As a young mother, I took my babies here nearly every day to catch the morning sun. When they were older, they learned to walk on the grass beside their track as their father rode by, smiling indulgently.

As a beginning broadcaster in this industry, this is where we shot many episodes of various incarnations of horseracing shows. As a former employee of PRC and of a horseowner who had two racing stables here, I know nearly every inch of this place, from the air-conditioned executive offices to the dusty stables that hug the track walls to the cockpit at the corner where the sabungeros were more vociferous in cheering than kareristas.

And all this will be gone next year, to make way for malls, condominiums, and other towers of glass and steel. The racetrack will be moved to a new, and bigger, seventy-hectare facility in Trece Martirez City, Cavite. There it can accomodate the growing number of horses in a sport that is gaining in popularity among players. It’s for the best, really.

Yet a rich part of history will disappear. Have enough photographs been taken? Videos? Interviews of old-timers who remember the place when it was still “Sampiro”, San Pedro de Makati, when the air was cool and you could faintly see blue shadows of the mountains of Rizal in the distance, before the high-rises rose up to obscure them?

But it is the way of things, that the old make way for the new, for old memories to be remembered and cherished even as new ones are created.

Read more about Philippine horseracing at gogirlracing.jennyo.net

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24 Comments on my manila: santa ana park

  1. Mau Pio
    16 October 2008 at 3:53 am (3086 days ago)

    Hello. My dad used to be a horse fanatic and he would always (and actually still does), talk about horseowner, Andrew Sanchez, and his legendary horses. According to my dad, back in the late 80s and early 90s, he was the owner to beat and had some of the greatest horses that raced in the country. Would you be able to provide an article about him? I would like to know more about Mr. Sanchez and I am sure my father would be ecstatic too if this is something you can publish. Thank you very much.

  2. Jenny
    17 October 2008 at 1:39 am (3085 days ago)

    Hi Mau! Thanks for your kind words about Tito Andrew. He’s my ninong sa kasal. My father-in-law, vet Dr. Tony Alcasid, trained his champions Dino Bambino, Time Master, Magic Showtime, etc. My husband, Oyet Alcasid, rode for him. Ask your dad if he remembers.

    I’ll see what I can do about an article about him – that’s a good idea. Meanwhile, please check out my racing blog, gogirlracing.jennyo.net, and ‘search’ Tito Andrew’s name. There are a couple of posts about him already. There are some pictures too.

  3. Cesar S. Bernardo
    26 October 2008 at 10:02 pm (3075 days ago)

    Hello Ms. Jen! I would like to congratulate your for your good article. You know, I am saddened by the transfer of Sta. Ana race track to Trese Martirez, Cavite. Bale matagal na rin akong race afficionado since I was 9 yrs. old at hanggang ngayon kahit nasa Saudi ako patuloy ko pa rin sinusubaybayan.

    Nakalulungkot isipin ung mga magagandang pangyayari sa loob at labas ng karerahan. Yung mga magagaling na kabayo at mga naglalakihang pakarera lalo na sa Sta. Ana, dahil taga-Makati kami kaya mas napamahal sa akin. Yung mga panahon nila Jockey Saulog, Arturo Sordan, Fernando “hataw” Galang (father ni kiko), Elias “eleng” at marami pa. Sana marami ka pang photos at memorable stories regarding Sta. Ana at hindi ko rin malilimutan si Mr. “Fascination” Tony Trinidad dahil inabutan ko pa noon ung radio program nya na nagbibigay sya ng mga tips sa karera…sana marami ka pang maisulat tungkol sa Sta. Ana at sa mga legend Jockeys..

    Maraming salamat ulit Ms. Jenny sa iyong article….mabuhay ka!

  4. storm
    16 December 2008 at 2:45 pm (3024 days ago)

    Hi Miss Jen, Thanks for all the pictures of Santa Ana Park. I am still remember before I work as a normal employer in Makati last time, until now which is currently in Abroad. I am 100% karerista and I enjoy staying at the paddock of Santa Ana when I was 27 , I learn how to become CLOCKER they called it tyempista nung wala pa akung work. I always present sa Santa Ana park to catch the lihis horses from 4:45am-11am kasi dun nakakadehado, I did that for almost one year ,I think that it will not help me at all, kasi minsan magaling sa trangko hindi naman ginagawa sa laban, at ska alam muna hindi linalaban ng may ari. So I decided to move on. I start mangarera when I am in Secondary School. Horse Racing is bad when don’t know how to handle it. It’s good when you use it in good way’s. My Father only finished High School but he help me to finished my study as a clocker noon. He teach me all the techniques and how tick on every quarters tips on how to recognize the horses. Until now and I remember how Horse Racing in PH help us. Now sometimes I also view how is our Horse Racing in PH, compare to other Asian countries. Malaki na pinagbago, nakikita ko may mga lahi ng sikat na kabayo sa abroad na naryan na rin sa PH, gaya nila F.Pegasus, Realquite,Budha, Giant Causeway, Thunder Gulch at marami pang iba. Pero if you as me magagaling ang lahi ng kabayo na galing sa AUS at Japan. Base on every stakes races that I watch dito sa abroad, maganda kasi I can bet sa OTB on races in Australia(Takeover Target), Japan(Super Hornet),HK (Good Baba) ,SG(Chevron & Top Spin) maski na sa isang lugar ka lang. Sana ganun din diyan para lalong lumaki ang industriya ng Karera sa atin. Makikita mo sabay sabay sila dumarating sa meta maski na 5 kabayo na papasok ng rekta hindi mo masasabi na siya ang panalo. Anyway maraming salamat uli sana ma eh upload mo yung pics ng New Santa Ana. :)

  5. aijin
    9 February 2009 at 2:30 pm (2969 days ago)

    hi…… i was really glad when i saw this site. Actually, its not only the race ang nakaka miss sa PRC. Pati ang mga ka kalugan ng mga tao. I met 1 special person there. I still remember how scared I was with horses untill this man, showed me that there was nothing to be afraid of with the horses. Everytime I go to manila, kahit wala na karerahan dun, I still give a glance to that once very special place. And i still can see the man I once knew and I can still hear the laughter there. Kahit imagination ko nalang, masaya parin ako.

  6. Pat
    21 February 2009 at 8:26 pm (2957 days ago)

    I would like to thank you for the wonderful pictures. I grew up in Sta Ana, I hung out in the offices and knew everyone. The Canteen owners, Office staff, and even the Electricians by the Garage. Of course that was during the 80′s.
    I have very fond memories here, I knew a very close friend, Tik Tik, he was a horse trainer who passed away almost 2 years ago. And Antonia Reyes the wife of the owner AP reyes, who passed away too almost 4 years ago.
    Seeing these pictures brings me back to those days– salamat!

  7. Sintea
    2 March 2009 at 10:26 pm (2948 days ago)

    Oh, I suddenly felt nostalgic learning that the Sta. Ana race Track would be moving to Cavite. I didn’t know.

    I grew up in Sta. Ana myself and I know it has always been associated with the racetracks. I only have a very vague memory of being brought inside as a young child. As I grew up, I loved seeing the horses crossing the streets in the mornings. They looked so sleek and handsome!:) I will surely miss having them around.

  8. Joseph Dattilo
    7 June 2009 at 6:54 am (2852 days ago)

    Gentlemen

    I am an americanwho is moving his company to Manila. I am vey active in Ameican racing. I would like to have some one make contac with me regarding getting in racing. I am in a position to make a serious investment . I have phone n Talaveara until I move to my condo in Global City. I need to know how to apply for a racing permit. Also generall information on your racing schudle and a good trainer. I will be living in the Phillippines for at least five years. Iam married to a local school principal. My telephne number is 411 -0693. This number is in Nueva Ecija.
    I hope to hear from someone in youra office.

  9. Joseph Dattilo
    11 June 2009 at 3:28 am (2848 days ago)

    Genlemen

    I need your help in receiving applications for an owners permit in order to buy and race horses a your racck. I race now in the uned states. I have moved my cocmpany atao Manila and want tto race ata your rack. Your help in this maaer is appreciated.

    Thank you

    Josep Dattilo
    044-411-0693

  10. david jallorina jr
    9 December 2009 at 3:48 am (2667 days ago)

    ms jen,

    i only learned to love this sport when i saw CLASSY BABE beat the favorites in a race when i was 17. i,m now 31 and much more enjoy watching the races with my favorite horse, OKO BOY. but i will be missing the races when i leave for saudi next week. see you when i come back.

    david

  11. torn
    11 April 2010 at 1:29 pm (2543 days ago)

    I dropped by Santa Ana yesterday and, although I knew the track was moving and the art deco buildings were unlikely to survive, it was still a shock to see the extent to which an important part of Manila’s urban favric has been completely erased. I borrowed one of your photos to illustrate my post on the destruction, I hope you don’t mind.

  12. Jenny
    12 April 2010 at 4:59 am (2543 days ago)

    Thanks, I’m glad you like the photos and the post. I appreciate the link you posted to Ivan Henares’s site – it was fascinating to learn a little bit more about the history of the area. It’s sad that these magnificent Art Deco buildings were torn down for progress and profit, without any effort at all made to preserve the history of the site.

  13. Jenny
    12 April 2010 at 5:26 am (2543 days ago)

    Cesar, thanks for your kind words. :)
    Storm, your story is interesting! Naging tiyempista ka pala. You can watch the races via live Internet streaming at http://www.santa-ana-park.com and at thewinnersleague.com, a racing fans’ site. Please check out my racing blog, gogirlracing (button at right side of screen). :)
    Aijin, I was touched by your post. I know what you mean about the memories attached to a place… *hugs*
    Pat, glad you liked the photos. As far as I know, no one else documented the last days of the track. As for Tiktik, he made me a better announcer by giving me this piece of advice when I was starting out: “Mag-analyze ka. Don’t be afraid to give your views. Even if you should turn out to be wrong in your analysis, it’s your job to give information.”
    Sintea, there used to be a sign at the corner of AP Reyes Ave: “Caution: Racehorses Crossing”. Nowhere else in the Philippines was there a sign like that. When the track was moved to Cavite and the sign was taken down, a little piece of me died. :(
    Joseph, please contact the Phil. Racing Commission, information is at philracom.gov.ph.
    David, I think once you fall in love with the sport, it’s for forever. :)
    Torn, I wish more had been done to preserve the historical buildings on the site. I wonder if the National Historical Institute even knew, or cared.

  14. TJ
    31 January 2011 at 6:08 pm (2248 days ago)

    Thanks for posting this. Miss the park and my dad who passed away almost four years ago. He always jogs and has coffee with his friends every morning.

  15. Jen
    15 August 2012 at 6:29 pm (1686 days ago)

    Jen ,
    It’s been a long while since you wrote your article but I still hope you can reply to my mail.
    I lived in sta Ana and I would love to see our town grow. Do you know who bought prc and what’s the plan? Seems like it’s just there and waiting for time to take it’s toll on the structures . I don’t see any developments .

    You wrote a nice article. Thank you

    Jt

  16. JennyO
    16 August 2012 at 9:40 am (1686 days ago)

    Hi, Jt, the old PRC property in Santa Ana was supposed to have been developed by Ayala Land, but the project ran into some snags with the mayor’s office. Everything is on hold as of now. The site of the former track has been graded, but that’s all.

  17. JennyO
    18 August 2012 at 3:15 pm (1683 days ago)

    Oops, I spoke too soon, Jt! Ayala Land is now going ahead with its projects, the mayor’s office has now given the necessary permits and all. Work is ongoing to take down the remaining structures. Next week, the PRC admin office will be moved to another location so that development work will go forward. I was told by someone connected with the mayor’s office that there are going to be 13 high-rise buildings and a Rockwell mall-type of shopping area.

  18. emmanuel de jesus
    6 November 2012 at 3:00 pm (1603 days ago)

    ngayon ko lang nabalitaan to maam and it saddens me na katulad ng jai alai, dinemolish na din pala to.. gusto ko lang sana maam makita yung mga pics kasi wala na yung site kung san naka-link yung mga pics.. thanks!

  19. JennyO
    8 November 2012 at 7:56 pm (1601 days ago)

    Thanks, Emmanuel. Nag-down yung host ko ng pics. Am still trying to find if I have them saved somewhere else.

  20. Ramon Jose Sebastia-Moreno
    12 January 2013 at 4:20 pm (1536 days ago)

    I was very happy to find and read your blog. Would you or your family happen to know a spanish lady named Nenuca Ibarra who used to frequent the Sta. Ana racetrack years ago? I have been looking for her for sometime now as she is related to me.

  21. JennyO
    15 January 2013 at 9:15 am (1534 days ago)

    Hi, Ramon, thanks for dropping by and reading. I’m sorry, I have never heard of Ms Ibarra nor do I know anyone in the racing community who has. Long before my time, I expect. I do hope you find her :)

  22. Chiqui
    20 March 2013 at 10:12 am (1470 days ago)

    Can’t seem to open the photos. The first one opened and the rest didn’t. Wonder if it is my computer.
    Thanks for posting this anyway.

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  1. [...] Read my sentimental article and see photos of Santa Ana Park at my other blog, gogirlcafe.jennyo.net… [...]

  2. [...] Land to develop the old Santa Park racetrack, she lifted the last four paragraphs of her story from my blog post of 2008 about the [...]

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