After 72 years on this site, the Santa Ana Park of the Philippine Racing Club is being razed to make way for new developments on the prime property in Makati City, the country’s premier business and commercial district.
Racing operations were transferred to a new facility at Naic, Cavite, last January 6. Today, structures at the old track are coming down – grandstands, betting windows, paddocks, stables. Everything is being reduced to piles of rubble and stacks of wood.
The turnstiles at the pedestrian entrance (Gate 3).
The right-hand grandstand (facing the track). It used to have badminton courts and a Savory Restaurant. Before that, there were rows of betting windows and open-air canteens.
The bridgeway between the two grandstand buildings. The structure behind it had the weighing scale, viewing deck, racecaller’s booth, and stewards’ stand.
The main grandstand, with the ballroom with the painted horses on the wall and the VIP boxes for horseowners and well-heeled patrons.
You can still see the green staircase to the upper floor, now choked with rocks and leading to nowhere.
My children and I live just behind this former racetrack, on my father-in-law’s property, most of it given over to a twelve-stall stable, now empty, as the horses have all been moved to Naic.
The once-vibrant and noisy neighborhood is quieter. Yes, that’s a good thing, but we were used to the racket – the chatter of grooms and their families, the neighing and snorting of horses, the clatter of hooves on the street in the morning, the faintly-heard voice of the racecaller over the PA system during race meetings.
All gone from here, now.
PRC management says that part of the property, around four hectares, has been purchased by taipan Lucio Tan’s group, perhaps for an Allied Bank data center, or some other purpose. The rest of the property, maybe 21 hectares, will also be developed in time, into a mixed-use residential and commercial area much like the Rockwell area, also in Makati.
It’s hard to imagine a Rockwell here, but if it does happen, it’ll be good for the ‘hood. Property prices will rise. There’ll be jobs and other economic benefits.
Call me a sentimental fool, but I’ll miss the old track. It’s where I trained every morning for two months back in 1990 as the country’s first female apprentice jockey. It’s where my husband asked me on our very first date, to marry five months later. It’s where I sunned my babies; it’s where they learned to walk, on the strip of grass beside the rail, while their father exercised horses in the mornings, all of us coming home smelling of sun and dust and the sweat of horses. It’s where I picked up my career when I had to go back to work after my marriage faltered.
Murals still on the wall, barely glimpsed.
Murals of Gypsy Grey and Little Morning, champions my father-in-law trained.
The jockeys’ quarters, once so noisy and alive, now silent, yawning, empty.
When a mall or condo is built here, right on the track, will the ghosts of gone horses still race, silently, where they used to run free? Shall phantasms of riders and horses, or their manifestations of psychic energy remaining in the rocks, in the soil, and carried on the breeze, still run races until entropy consumes the sun and time runs backward?
Now my eldest, Alex, is nearly 18, and in college; she took these pictures. Erika is 10. Where did time go?
And the racetrack, that stood here for many generations, and that some thought would never be torn down in our lifetime, is no more. You know what they say about change. And in fact, it’s for the better – the new Santa Ana Park in Naic is modern, roomy, and with an excellent cushiony track.
But I never thought, when I married a jockey almost twenty years ago, that the time would ever come that I would be a historian of this track’s demise.
The far end of the main building.
The white stripe divides the part that the Lucio Tan group bought (the right) from the Prime Channel and PRC corporate offices, and the rest of the property. The line extends to where the outer rail of the track used to be.
PRC corporate offices; on the left, what used to be the PRC Motorpool.
Lush vegetation frames a view of the bridgeway.
The side of the main grandstand. Here used to be carinderias (eateries) with tables, chairs, and cases of San Miguel beer.
The side of the grandstands facing the track. People used to stand and watch races from here.
The tote board gapes with holes. Well, it hadn’t been working properly for years, anyway. The rails beside the track have been removed and taken to Naic. This grassy area, where my children learned to walk, is now overgrown and unkempt.
The saddling paddock, with the jockeys’ quarters at the end.
Right across the saddling paddock was this viewing area where horses were walked for warmup/cool down. People came right up to the fence, where the stacks of wood are now.
This is what it looks like from the other side of the fence.
Open-air grandstand and private boxes being stripped of anything usable.
Photo credit: All photos taken by Alex Alcasid with a Nikon D60.