The road to the 2017 Kentucky Derby (GI) continues this Saturday with another edition of the $400,000, Grade II Xpressbet Fountain of Youth Stakes, a 1 1/16-mile event to be held at Gulfstream Park in Hallandale, FL.
Eleven three-year-olds were entered in pursuit of 50 very valuable points towards an opportunity to race in the Run for the Roses. While most of the attention is centered on Irish War Cry, Gunnevera or Practical Joke, a few will be watching an intriguing horse coming from Monterrico Racetrack in Lima, Peru — a horse that broke its maiden as a two-year-old in a 1-1/2 mile Group 1 race, unquestionably a very rare feat.
Huracan Americo is a Kentucky-bred son of 2011 Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Drosselmeyer (Distorted Humor), out of the Macho Uno mare Blushing Juliet. He was offered as a yearling at the Fasig-Tipton Kentucky Fall 2015 Sale, where he was sold for $14,000 to Doña Licha Stud, the most prominent racing operation in Peru, represented by several winners in the U.S. The strong-framed chestnut was sent to Monterrico, where he trained up to his debut race, a 6 ½-furlong maiden affair on Sep. 25, 2016. Huracan Americo came from off the pace to finish a credible fourth, beaten four lengths and showing the need for longer distances.
His second race (his last one) came six weeks later, in the 115th running of the Group 1 Gran Derby Nacional at Monterrico. The son of Drosselmeyer virtually had every possible thing against him.
- He had only one race to his credit.
- It was going to be his first effort beyond a mile.
- He was a maiden, confronting the best two-year-olds in Peru, some of them already classic winners. Only one maiden had won the Derby Nacional and that had happened 99 years prior, in 1917, when a colt named Ruso won the important race at the defunct Santa Beatriz track.
In short, it was not going to be easy for Huracan Americo, who was sent off as a 15-1 longshot in the 13-horse field.
Breaking from the outside post, Huracan Americo was not hurried by jockey Miguel Vilcarima, who kept the chestnut colt reasonably off a :22-3/5 and :46-4/5 pace, while racing ninth, some 15 lenghts back. As the pacesetters paid tribute to the quick fractions, Huracan Americo sustained his rhythm, gaining considerable ground on the far turn.
He was fifth at the 3/8-pole and looked stronger than his rivals, even though he still was some seven lengths behind Barbon, one of the favorites, who turned for home with a clear but rapidly vanishing advantage. A confident Vilcarima asked Huracan Americo for his best stride at the 3/16-pole and his mount responded convincingly, taking over the lead for good with a furlong to go. Almost three lengths separated the Dante Zanelli trainee from Ukrano, while Paso Real edged a weary Barbon for the show. The maiden chestnut was now a classic winner.
Huracan Americo was initially considered to represent Peru in the Group 1 (T) Longines Gran Premio Internacional Latinoamericano, a 1 1/2-mile race that will be held this Sunday at Valparaiso Sporting Club, in Chile, but his connections opted not to change racing surfaces and decided, instead, to send their sophomore to Florida. It will not be an easy task for the chestnut, who is the co-longest shot in the Fountain of Youth at 50/1 odds, and will be ridden by veteran Peruvian champ Edgar Prado.
With almost four months off, and having to travel from South America to his native U.S., Huracan Americo will face yet another demanding test on Saturday. He is somewhat an unknown factor and his performance in the Fountain of Youth will give us an idea of what can be expected in the near future for the peculiar horse who broke his maiden in a 1 1/2-mile classic.