Reyes Begins Derby City Classic Title Defense

Efren Reyes

EFREN “Bata” Reyes aims to extend his dominance in the Derby City Classic when the star-studded tournament begins today at the Executive West Hotel in Louisville, Kentucky.

The 55-year-old Filipino billiards Hall of Famer has ruled the annual competition since 2004 and is again the top favorite to pocket the $11,000 champion's purse.

Reyes, the 1999 Cardiff World Pool champ from Puyat Sports stable, left on New Year's Eve for Los Angeles, California.

Another Filipino ace, Francisco “Django” Bustamante, and his manager Rolly Vicente left the country on Jan. 2 and later joined Reyes in Kentucky.

Also seeing in action in the Derby City Classic are rising stars Dennis Orcollo and Gandy Valle, both playing under Bugsy's Promotion. The duo left on Jan. 3.

In last year's Derby City Classic, Reyes won at the expense of American Jason Miller with Filipino-Canadian and 2004 World Pool champion Alex Pagulayan finishing third.

Reyes also competed in last year's Derby City Master of the Table where he finished second and won $3,000, Derby City 9-ball met where he settled for third place worth $4,300, and Derby City Bank tournament where he wound up in 48th place. Jose “Amang” Parica, who led the invasion of Filipino cue artists in the United States in the mid-1980s, won the 2003 Derby City Classic before Reyes took over.

According to, Reyes topped the 2006 money list with total earnings of $644,960, including a record $500,000 after winning the 2006 World IPT 8-ball in Reno, Nevada, last September.

Only a fraction of the World IPT purse has been paid, however, after organizers encountered financial difficulties.

Philippine billiards patron Aristeo “Putch” Puyat said that Reyes' impressive performance last year was largely due to the laser surgery on his eye in 2005 to enhance his vision.

File photo courtesy of Diana Hoppe - Pool Pics by Hoppe