Friday, November 11, 2011

Juvenile Spotlight: Hierro

One of my favorite things to do is find young horses that have the potential to be superstars. Two-year-olds I have discovered this year before they went on to bigger and better things include Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (GI) winner, My Miss Aurelia, Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Sprint winner, Secret Circle, two-time grade one winner, Weemissfrankie, and grade three winner, Pure Gossip. It is very entertaining and rewarding to discover two-year-olds before they go on to record prestigious victories. Juvenile Spotlights highlight some of the two-year-olds I have discovered.

It would be no shock to see the famous gold and maroon silks of Stonestreet Stables LLC be successful with yet another horse. Of course, the two horses best known for wearing those silks are Curlin and Rachel Alexandra. Why not add another superstar to Stonestreet’s list?
One of Curlin’s main rivals in his three-year-old year was Hard Spun, who is the sire of the Steve Asmussen-trained Hierro, a two-year-old chestnut colt. By legendary sire Danzig, Hard Spun was a four-time graded stakes winner. Though he won the King’s Bishop Stakes (GI), he just might be most well-known for finishing second in the 2007 Kentucky Derby (GI) and Breeders’ Cup Classic (GI). The son of the late stakes-winning mare, Turkish Tryst, was very versatile, having won a grade one at the distance of seven furlongs and finishing second in two classic races at the distance of ten furlongs. The young stallion looks to pass on this versatility to his offspring.
In his first crop, Hard Spun has already sired a group two winner in the two-year-old Red Duke, as well as two other stakes winners. One of those stakes winners, Hard Not to Like, recently ran a decent fifth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (GII). Hard Spun’s sire, Danzig, was capable of siring talented horses at both short and long distances on both dirt and turf. Hard Spun’s dam, Turkish Tryst, was obviously a distance horse. Her first win came at a mile and one-eighth on the dirt, her second at a mile and one-half on the turf, and her third at a mile and one-quarter on the turf.
Hierro’s dam is Brief Bliss, a mare that once placed second in the Arlington-Washington Lassie Stakes (GIII). By the talented grade one-winning turf horse, Navarone, Brief Bliss has already produced Sam’s Bliss, a three-year-old stakes-placed filly, and Cherokee Triangle, who won three ungraded stakes and placed second in the Hawthorne Derby (GIII). Brief Bliss, who only won once, was only victorious at the distance of five and one-half furlongs. However, the granddaughter of Conquistador Cielo has produced winners at up to a mile and one-eighth, as well as winners at sprint distances. The mare has also produced winners on dirt, turf, and synthetic.
Hierro clearly has plenty of versatility on both sides of his pedigree. He could be successful as a sprinter or distance horse on all surfaces.
In Hierro’s first start, the chestnut colt finished fifth in a field of ten in a Saratoga maiden special weight. That may seem unimpressive, but the winner of the race was Alpha, who went on to finish second in the Champagne Stakes (GI). Another point that proves that Hierro’s performance in his first race wasn’t as flat as it seems to be is how bad of a trip he had. The Steve Asmussen trainee broke slowly, had to travel wide, and was forced to check on the far turn.
I first discovered Hierro in the post parade for his second race. The colt’s rich chestnut coat contrasted with the muddy track beneath him as he jogged over the Belmont surface. He had quality muscling and was clearly a very balanced two-year-old that exhibited much class. He was absolutely stunning.
In that race, the son of Hard Spun put in a very good performance to finish second to Souper Speedy. He pursued on the outside to miss by three-quarters of a length. The performance, along with his conformation, garnered him a position in my Equibase Virtual Stable ©.

On Wednesday (November 9), Hierro made his first start outside of New York. In a seven furlong maiden race over the dirt track at Churchill Downs, Hierro sat off the pace under a motionless Julien Leparoux. The colt took the lead towards the end of the far turn with Leparoux remaining still in the saddle. With barely any urging, Hierro drew away from the rest of the field effortlessly to score by 5 ¼ lengths. Despite the fact that the colt was under wraps in the final stage of the race, he still managed to run the final furlong in 12.66 seconds. It was an incredibly impressive victory.
Hierro seems to have a very bright future ahead of him. His name means ‘iron’ in Spanish, which is actually quite fitting. The colt has the breeding to be an iron horse and has already shown immense talent on the racetrack. Look for him to make a huge impression on the racing scene.

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