Tiergan thrives in off-the-turf Cole

Friday, September 24th, 2021

Tiergan wins a tight photo in Friday’s Ashley T. Cole Stakes at Belmont Park. Susie Raisher/NYRA Photo

Watching the weather forecast paid off for trainer Rudy Rodriguez and partners Michael Imperio and Andrew Gurdon, as Tiergan prevailed in a three-horse Ashley T. Cole Stakes for New York-breds at Belmont Park Friday.

Scheduled for 1 1/8 miles on the turf, the race moved to the dirt at the same distance and wound up a photo finish between the two main-track-only entrants as Tiergan won by a head over Three Jokers with City Man 2 1/4 lengths back in third. Turf runners Graded On A Curve, Lord Flintshire, Sanctuary City and Therapist scratched with the surface change. Ridden by Luis Saez, the winner finished in 1:51.15 and paid $6.60 to win.

Owned by Imperio, Gurdon and Rodriguez, the 5-year-old Afleet Alex gelding won for the fourth time in seven starts since being claimed for $16,000 in January. Bred by Hibiscus Stable and foaled at Waldorf Farm in North Chatham, Tiergan sold for $170,000 to Donegal Racing at the Fasig-Tipton New York-bred yearling sale in 2017 and made his first 14 starts for Donegal and trainer Bill Mott. The gray won his debut at Belmont in October 2018, but lost his next 13 – while finishing second four times. The most-recent placing came at Aqueduct in January, when risked for a $16,000 tag. Rodriguez made the claim and it’s been an upward trajectory since with an open-company starter allowance win in February, three seconds at the state-bred allowance level in the spring, an allowance win in the slop at Belmont July 3 and then another off-the-turf optional-claiming score at Saratoga in August.

Then came the Cole.

“He’s a pretty useful horse. I thought when we claimed him in the winter, we would just like to win a non-winners of three,” said Rodriguez. “He seems pretty comfortable and we’re just along for the ride.”

Rodriguez credited Saez, who won the riding title at the Saratoga summer meet, for a patient ride.

“Luis is an unbelievable rider,” the trainer said. “We’re happy to get him aboard our horses that’s for sure.”

Tiergan banked $68,750 in victory while improving his record to 21-5-7-1 and pushing his career earnings to $332,777.

Hibiscus operates racing and breeding partnerships, and purchased Tiergan’s dam Smileforamile for $24,000 at the Fasig-Tipton New York mixed sale in 2014. Bred in Virginia, the daughter of Unbridled’s Song is the dam of multiple New York-bred stakes winner Sheriffa (by Posse) and the stakes-placed Might Be (also by Posse). Smileforamile’s filly of 2020 by Midnight Lute is in the Fasig-Tipton Midlantic yearling sale Oct. 4. The mare did not produce foals in 2017, 2018 or 2021 and was bred to Vekoma for next year.

Tiergan and Three Jokers could target the $300,000 Empire Classic at Belmont Oct. 30.

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