Top Jockey Suggests Dual Gr1 Hero Be Retired

A star performer on the Highveld

It is rare that a jockey recommends publicly that a horse be retired, but Gavin Lerena has made that suggestion after the Wernars family’s warrior Puerto Manzano’s four length third behind two very progressive 3yo’s in Saturday’s TAB Gr2 Colorado King Stakes.

The winner Pure Predator is trained by Fanie Bronkhorst and also races in the Wernars silks.

After a race where he appeared to struggle to stay in touch, the 6yo Puerto Manzano’s effort caught the attention of the Stipes.

Gavin Lerena and the Puerto Manzano team enjoy another visit to the winner’s box (Pic – JC Photos)

Lerena told the Stewards that Puerto Manzano started fairly and that he had been content to take up a trailing position in the early and middle stages.

He added that at approximately the 1100m the gelding commenced to give ground to the field and in his estimation was close to 10 lengths behind Second Base at that stage.

Lerena said that shortly after entering the straight, he had concerns with his mount’s action and had reservations if the gelding was striding out well enough for him to ask for an effort in the home straight.

Watch the replay here:


He stated that, at about the 400m, the gelding started to respond to his riding, albeit a hand and heels ride, and that he had managed to sustain a fairly strong closing effort.

Lerena concluded by saying that he felt the Argentinian-bred soldier did not stride out one hundred percent in running and that, in his opinion, the gelding should be retired from racing.

The Veterinary Surgeon reported Puerto Manzano to have pulled up ‘fatigued’.

Trainer Johan Janse van Vuuren did well with one of his favourite horses (Pic – JC Photos)

Puerto Manzano has won 10 races with 11 places from 32 starts for stakes of close on R5 million.

He was bred by Dr Ignacio Pavlovsky at Haras Carampangue and is a son of Speightstown’s Gr1 Hollywood Derby winning son Seek Again out of the two-time winning Orpen mare, Poser.

In shades of the El Picha fairytale, he was purchased as something of a berth-filler by Justin Vermaak, who loved him at first sight.

Some labelled him ‘unfashionably’ bred – we argued that.

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

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.

Dual Gr1 winner Puerto Manzano (Pic – JC Photos)

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.

Two other sons, Private Jet and Rocks 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, he is 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.

Puerto Manzano’s owner Laurence Wernars enjoyed an outstanding day on Saturday and has built a powerful string.

There’s no question he and trainer Johan Janse van Vuuren will make the right decisions for a horse that has given them so much joy.

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