Puerto Manzano – Unfashionable, Not!

Taking a closer look at SA's newest Gr1 winner

In racing, horses never fail to make fools of us. A stark reminder of that adage came in last weekend’s Gr1 Betway Summer Cup at Turffontein won by Puerto Manzano.

There were plenty who doubted the five-year-old’s ability to stay the 2000m trip, after all, he could only finish six in last year’s race and had never won beyond 1800m. Add to that his disappointing run in the Gr1 Hollywoodbets Durban July, where he finished with just two behind him.

Well, he certainly silenced his critics on Saturday!

Keagan de Melo’s face says it all as Puerto Manzano edges ahead of Safe Passage (Pic – Candiese Lenferna)

As for being referred to as ‘mostly unfashionably-bred’, that unkind remark prompted a closer look at this pedigree, which, in fact, proved to be more than illuminating.

First things first. Puerto Manzano is a half-brother to Argentinian Champion juvenile, the Gr1 winner and multiple Gr1-placed Puerto Real.

Secondly, Puerto Manzano may be an Argentine-bred, yet his pedigree is essentially American and combines bloodlines nurtured at some of world’s greatest thoroughbred farms.

His sire Seek Again, by successful American stallion Speightstown, is a product of the world-renowned Juddmonte Farms. Having proved himself a useful handicapper in Britain, the chestnut really came into his own when sent to America, where he broke through at Gr1 level in the Hollywood Derby on turf, defeating none other than local stallion and Gr1 winner Admiral Kitten.

Seek Again also reached the frame in such top-level turf events as the Gr1 Turf Classic, Manhattan Handicap and Shoemaker Mile.

Seek Again – sire of the Gr1 Betway Summer Cup winner

As for Seek Again’s dam, the Danehill mare Light Jig, she was stakes-placed in France and found her best form in the States, winning the Gr1 Yellow Ribbon Stakes. Remarkably, she went one better than her own dam Nashmeel, who likewise had crossed the Atlantic after claiming the Gr2 Prix d’Astarte and finishing second in the Gr1 Prix Jacques Le Marois.

Puerto Manzano is the second Gr1 winner produced by Posera, a half-sister to Argentinian Gr3 winner Patagonia Vieja and to the Gr3-placed stakes winner Posadas.

Interestingly, Puerto Manzano’s dam is a full sister to Paraguayito who raced in South Africa. Owned by Knut Haug, he scored five times and came within a shorthead of winning the Gr3 King’s Cup at Hollywoodbets Greyville.

Posera is a daughter of the hugely successful stallion Orpen, a son of Lure who is best known in this country as the sire of that wonderful sprinter War Artist. Bred in Australia, he defeated Rebel King and champion Mythical Flight in Clairwood’s Gr1 Mercury Sprint before embarking on a successful international campaign, winning at Gr3 level in Dubai, France and Germany. However, his most notable efforts came in defeat, for he placed in all of the Gr1 Golden Jubilee, Darley July Cup and Prix de l’Abbaye de Longchamp.

Trainer Johan Janse van Vuuren gives Puerto Manzano a loving kiss (Pic – Candiese Lenferna)

Two other sons, Private Jet and Rock Off, also scored at Gr1 level in South Africa, the former winning the Computaform Sprint (also at the expense of Rebel King), while the latter captured the Premier’s Champion Stakes and was named the Equus Champion Juvenile of 2008.

Significantly, Orpen also features as the broodmare sire of Irwin, last season’s champion juvenile in Argentina and like Puerto Manzano, a son of Seek Again.

Portugal, the grandam of Puerto Manzano, raced just once, but what she lacked in racing ability, she certainly made up for in pedigree. Bred in Kentucky at the historical Claiborne farm, she was by Topsider, a speedy son of Northern Dancer and the formidable grass mare Drumtop, a daughter of Round Table from the influential Rough Shod family.

In turn, Portugal’s dam was the fine American racemare Sintra, who counted the Gr2 Test Stakes and Gr3 Bewitch Stakes amongst nine victories, in addition to which she finished second in the Gr1 Gazelle Handicap.

So, is Puerto Manzano unfashionably bred? In view of the above, definitely not!

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