In 2006, Uruguayan import Invasor burst on the racing scene with a victory in the Pimlico Special. Six consecutive grade I wins later, Invasor was the Horse of the World and Horse of the Year in America, with scores in such prestigious races as the Breeders’ Cup Classic, Dubai World Cup, and Whitney.
Prior to that, few in America even knew where Uruguay was. Top-class imports from South America came from Argentina, Brazil, or Chile. But after Invasor, this tiny hidden jewel, a mere appendage on the southern tip of Brazil, proved it was capable of producing stars who could compete on an international scale. Its main racetrack, Maronas, in Montevideo, stacks up with the world’s top facilities, with multiple grandstands, numerous amenities, first-class racing surface, high-tech simulcasting (betting parlors are also located in shopping malls), and large crowds of enthusiastic racing fans.
Since Invasor, a number of classy North American horses have been purchased as stallions, and several others, such as Smarty Jones and Real Quiet, have shuttled to Uruguay.
So, it should come as no surprise that another potential star has shown up in the United States from Uruguay. Although Brujo de Olleros doesn’t possess credentials as impressive as Invasor, who was an undefeated winner of the Uruguayan Triple Crown, the Brazilian-bred son of Wild Event is coming off a brilliant string of victories at distances of seven furlongs and a mile. He is scheduled to make his U.S. debut in the 1 1/16-mile Majestic Light Stakes at Monmouth on Haskell day, July 29.
A winner of four of his five career starts, it was his last start on Jan. 6, an easy 14 1/4-length romp in the grade I Gran Premio Pedro Pineyrua in a record-shattering 1:33 1/5 for the mile that attracted the attention of Team Valor International’s Barry Irwin, who has had experience importing horses from Uruguay.
Brujo de Olleros has won his four starts by an average margin of 8 ¾ lengths. His only loss came in the mud at the hands of Boby di Job, who was coming off a 17 ¼-length victory in the Gran Premio Criterium. After defeating Brujo del Olleros by a hard-earned three-quarters of a length, he went on to win the Uruguayan 2,000 Guineas by 5 ¾ lengths and the Gran Premio Jockey Club by 8 ½ lengths. He has since been sent to France.
The deal for Brujo de Olleros was finalized in February, and the colt was released from quarantine in Miami the first week of March. In early April, he was at Palm Meadows training center under the care of Graham Motion.
Team Valor owns the 4-year-old in partnership with Richard Santulli. “This is the first time (Santulli) has joined up with Team Valor in a horse,” said Team Valor’s Jeff Lowe. “Brad Weisbord, Team Valor’s COO, obviously has strong ties with Santulli from his dad (and longtime partner), Barry, and actually got his start managing the Colts Neck stallion share portfolio that Santulli and Barry Weisbord own together.”
Brujo de Olleros’ previous owner, Luiz Fernando Cirne Lima, is from Brazil, where he was the Minister of Agriculture in the ‘70s. Lowe said he has called on several occasions to see how the horse is doing.
“The agent, Victor Azambullo, also posts updates on Facebook every time the horse works, and it seems like there is a big following,” Lowe said. “Barry came across the video of the horse winning his last start in Uruguay and worked hard for almost a month to buy him. Barry wanted to give him plenty of time to acclimate and he really hasn’t missed a beat. There was a little break in his works last month when he had skin disease, but Graham had a lot of time to play with to get him ready.”
Brujo de Olleros, which means "Wizard of Olleros" after a legendary Argentine trainer who conditioned his horses adjacent to Olleros street, is coming off a pair of track-record performances, including the aforementioned tour-de-force, in which he ran the fastest mile on dirt at Maronas in 75 years. He was named champion miler in Uruguay as a 3-year-old. Like Invasor, he became a 4-year-old after arriving in the Northern Hemisphere.
“We are thrilled to be able to have a horse with such immense talent join our stable,” said Irwin, CEO of Team Valor. “Bradley Weisbord was instrumental in bringing Richard Santulli aboard and I hope Mr. Santulli’s confidence in our outfit is rewarded.”
If Brujo de Olleros, who is out of Hot Oil, a daughter of Fappiano’s son Roy, runs big at Monmouth, he likely will remain at two turns, possibly stretching out to 1 1/8 miles.
“We feel he’s more of a miler type who wants to go turns, so we’ll see how it works out at Monmouth,” Motion said. “He’s been a very straightforward horse since he arrived and he’s just a neat horse to be around. He’s handled everything we’ve asked of him and is very uncomplicated. He’s filled out some and isn’t overly aggressive, which you like to see. He just does what he has to do.”
In his last three works at Fair Hill, he has gone six furlongs in 1:13, five furlongs in 1:00, and six furlongs in 1:14, so he should be fit, despite being out for almost seven months.
Said Leonardo Ferber, one of the leading journalists in Uruguay: “We are hopeful about Brujo. I really think he's very special.”
Brujo de Olleros - Photo Megan Jones/Team Valor