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ELMONT, NY – Tiergan outdueled fellow Main Track Only entrant Three Jokers to prevail for his first career stakes win in Friday’s off-the-turf $125,000 Ashley T. Cole at Belmont Park.
Originally scheduled at 9 furlongs on the inner turf for New York-bred 3-year-olds and up, the Ashley T. Cole was moved to the main track and contested at the same distance following significant rainfall overnight.
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Trained and co-owned by Rudy Rodriguez with Michael Imperio and Andrew Gurdon, the 5-year-old Afleet Alex gray was making just his second career stakes attempt in his 21st career start.
The graded-stakes placed City Man, piloted by Joel Rosario, led the three-horse field through splits of 24.11 seconds, 47.90, and 1:12.10 on the muddy and sealed main track under pressure from the multiple stakes-placed Three Jokers.
City Man maintained a precarious lead while angling wide out of the turn as Tiergan, with Luis Saez aboard, rallied outside of Three Jokers to take aim at the pacesetter.
Three Jokers put a head in front inside the final 1/16, but Tiergan found his best stride late to secure a head win in a final time of 1:51.15.
Three Jokers finished 2 1/4 lengths in front of City Man. Therapist, Graded On a Curve, Lord Flintshire, and Sanctuary City scratched.
Tiergan streaked into the Ashley T. Cole from stalking wins under Saez in a state-bred allowance on July 3 at Belmont at 7 furlongs and an off-the-turf 9-furlong test around two turns on August 21 at Saratoga on a fast track.
“I know this horse pretty well. This is the kind of horse you have to break, be relaxed and make one move,” Saez said. “He’s won three in a row the same way. I know him really well, and I love the way he ran today.”
Tiergan was claimed for $16,000 out of a runner-up effort in January at Aqueduct Racetrack and has since posted a record of 4 wins and 3 seconds in 7 starts for his connections.
“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 3,” Rodriguez said. “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 aboard the ultra-consistent gelding.
“Luis is an unbelievable rider. We’re happy to get him aboard our horses that’s for sure,” Rodriguez said.
Both Tiergan and runner-up Three Jokers could target the 9-furlong $300,000 Empire Classic on October 30 at Belmont.
“Right now, we’ll just enjoy this one and then take a look,” Rodriguez said. “We know he wants to go that far. That gives us four weeks to the Empire Classic. It’ll be different kind of horses.”
John Terranova, trainer of Three Jokers, said he was pleased with the effort from the 4-year-old Twirling Candy colt, who has won 2 of his last 4 starts along with a runner-up effort in the Evan Shipman Handicap in August at Saratoga.
“He’s been running really well this year and has been in good form,” Terranova said. “Hopefully, he comes out of it well and we can go on to the Empire Classic with him.”
Bred in the Empire State by Hibiscus Stables, Tiergan banked $68,750 in victory while improving his record to 21-5-7-1. He returned $6.60 for a $2 win bet as the 2/1 longest shot on the board.
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