Hierro rolled through the rain-soaked stretch to win the 88th running of The Cliff’s Edge Derby Trial Stakes (G3) Saturday night at Churchill Downs.
Trained by Steve Asmussen and ridden by Julien Leparoux, Hierro covered the one-mile distance in 1:35.27 in defeating race favorite Paynter and Stealcase. The winner is owned by Stonestreet Stables.
A 3-year-old Kentucky-bred son of Hard Spun out of the Navarone mare Brief Bliss, Hierro earned $139,886 for the victory to increase his bankroll to $186,966.
“This is a horse whose last two races have been very eventful,” Asmussen told Churchill Downs Communications. “This evening with the weather earlier and then the delay in the paddock, I loved how he acted. I thought he kept his composure. I thought Julien (Leparoux) gave him a dream trip tonight and he ran extremely well against a quality field.
“We were looking for this race from him,” he added. “He had shown talent all along. The horse has developed a lot physically and I think he beat a quality field tonight. It’s what we were hoping for and hopefully there are bigger things to come.”
Leparoux was impressed with his mount’s performance.
“I got a really good trip,” Leparoux said. “He broke good. I angled him on the turn and he finished strong for me. He was really impressive when he broke his maiden here (on Nov. 9). We thought he was going to be a Derby horse. He’s a nice horse. We knew that a long time ago.”
Jockey Martin Garcia, who rode Paynter, said he felt Paynter might have needed the race.
“It was a good trip, Garcia said. “My horse needed a race. He ran a good race. He got beat by a really nice horse and I think he’ll be ready for next time. He bobbled a bit, but he wasn’t 100 percent. I don’t know if he was 100 percent it would be different.”
–Churchill Downs Communications contributed to this report.
Hierro/Reed Palmer photo
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