Among the buyers attending the Keeneland November Breeding Stock Sale is Philippine bloodstock agent Mar Tirona (pictured on right with bloodstock agent John Turner). Tirona has found success with Keeneland sale purchases, most notably the winning Dixie Brass mare Fire Down Under, who he bought for owner Benhur Abalos at Keeneland’s 2004 January Horses of All Ages Sale. Since her purchase, Fire Down Under has produced three stakes winners, including two Philippine Horses of the Year – Hagdang Bato and Ibarra.
In 2012, Hagdang Bato became the first horse since Silver Story in 2001 to sweep the Philippine Triple Crown. Acknowledged as one of the greatest racehorses in Philippine turf history, he was unanimously voted Horse of the Year at the PSA-Milo Annual Awards Night in Manila. By Quaker Ridge, Hagdang Bato was undefeated in 11 races, winning 10 stakes and 15 million (Philippine) in earnings.
Fire Down Under was carrying Ibarra, by Yonaguska, when she sold at the 2004 January Sale. Ibarra earned Horse of the Year honors following wins in two legs of the 2007 Philippine Triple Crown. He was forced to miss the final leg due to injury. Ibarra is currently standing at stud.