The Manila Jockey Club is a leading horseracing enterprise located in Carmona, Cavite, Philippines. The company has a diverse portfolio and is also involved in various joint ventures with property developers for the building and sale of residential concerns and condominium units and leasing of commercial buildings.
The club is one of the oldest of its kind in the Asia-Pacific, being formed in 1867 in Manila. This club is one of the three members of the Philippine Racing Commission. If you are interested in learning more about the Manila Jockey Club (MJC), here is a brief insight into its history and racing facilities.
A Brief History of The Manila Jockey Club
Around 155 years ago, in 1867, the Governor General in the colonial Philippines, Jose De La Gandara y Navarro, and hundred other people belonging to the clans in Manila, Spain and America laid the foundation for the Manila Jockey Club in Quiapo. The 100 members of the club, also referred to as the socio fundadores, belonged to affluent families and wanted to organize recreational races for the amusement of the elite of the society.
Initially, the races held at the club were meant for recreational purposes only, and no betting was involved. The races would run from the San Sebastian Church in Manila to the Quiapo Church. In the following years, Quiapo had rapidly grown as a residential and commercial center. So, the MJC shifted to a rice field in rural Senta Mesa.
The race track started operating in 1881. It was oval-shaped with a bamboo grandstand and held race meets at least twice a day. Initially, only club members could participate in races, and professional jockeys were limited to participating in two daily races.
The Manila Jockey Club was on the verge of organizing a race, the Gran Copa de Manila, when the Battle of Manila Bay started, leading to Spanish colonization and the club’s closing until 1899.
By the early 1900s, horseracing was becoming a popular game among the masses, and betting was also introduced in the sport in 1903. Meanwhile, the MJC shifted to San Lazaro Hippodrome in Santa Cruz in 1900.
The property occupied an area of 16 hectares, and the proceeds from the races held at the venue were either donated to charity organizations or the development of the club’s assets.
MJC purchased the property in 1912 and added a new grandstand and a 1,200 meters turf racetrack to the property. The cub was incorporated as a business entity on 22nd March 1937 and was publicly listed with the Manila Stock Exchange in 1950.
In 1943, during World War II, the MJC had to close down as the country was under Japanese occupation and the Japanese soldiers used the property as their barracks. This was followed by the Battle of Manila, and the club became home to the American soldiers who used the facilities as a garrison and later as a hospital. In 1946, after a long hiatus, the club members regained control and got the club up and running within two months.
Manila Jockey Club Horse Racing
In 2003, the Manila Jockey Club bid adieu to the San Lazaro Hippodrome, which had been its home for 98 years, and shifted to the San Lazaro Leisure Park in Carmona, Cavite. Meanwhile, the San Lazaro Hippodrome was converted into the San Lazaro Tourism and Business Park.
The San Lazaro Leisure Park is a mixed-used site. It is not only home to the Manila Jockey Club but also has a casino operated by PAGCOR and is the planned venue for National Teams Training Center for the men’s and women’s football teams.
The San Lazaro Leisure Park is spread out over an area of 77 hectares. The property consists of an outstanding twin oval dirt track course. The facility also features a saddling paddock, quarters for jockeys, and stables that can accommodate 1600 horses. The grandstand can accommodate around 12,000 people.
The property features a 4-story turf building that overlooks the tracks and houses the viewing deck for the race tracks. There is a multifunction venue within the facility, The Banquets, which can be used for any kind of special event.
The turf building is also home to the Chantilly Bar and Bistro, which serves delectable gourmet food. The MJC and Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation formed a joint venture to establish PAGCOR Club San Lazaro. The venture is referred to as a RACINO, a combination of racetrack and casino, the first of its kind in the Asia Pacific Region.
The Manila Jockey Club and the San Lazaro Leisure Park are striving to make the property more attractive for tourists and developing the property further to add more recreational activities.
The Manila Jockey Club celebrated its 150th anniversary in 2017. The club marked the occasion by hosting the inauguration and turnover ceremony for the Football Turf Project with FIFA in 2017.
How old is the Manila Jockey Club?
The Manila Jockey Club was established in 1867 and has been operating for 155 years.
When was the Manila Jockey Club incorporated?
The MCJ was incorporated as a business entity in 1937 and listed on the Manila Public stock exchange in 1937.
How often does the Manila Jockey Club hold racing events?
The MCJ holds races twice a week, while on other days, racing events are held at the Philippine Racing Club and Metro Manila Turf Club.