08/17/2013 12:03PM

Delaware Park: Brujo de Olleros needs best in Hanford Memorial


South American import Brujo de Olleros just missed in a $100,000 stakes while making his first start in 9 1/2 months. Given ample time to recuperate from that effort, he will look to build upon his solid performance for new Team Valor International trainer Rick Mettee in Monday’s $50,000 Carl Hanford Memorial Stakes at Delaware Park. The Hanford was orignally scheduled for last Wednesday but that card was canceled due to local flooding.

In the last of five starts he made in Uruguay, Brujo de Olleros romped by 14 1/4 lengths in a Group 1 stakes at a mile in January 2012. Sent to trainer Graham Motion, Brujo de Olleros finished fourth in his first two appearances in the United States, both stakes.

Making his first start since last September and first appearance for Mettee, Brujo de Olleros rallied from fifth to lose by a neck in the seven-furlong Donald LeVine Memorial Handicap at Parx on June 22. He returns nearly two months later in the mile and 70-yard Hanford.

Although the horses Brujo de Olleros faced in the LeVine are a combined 0 for 7 in their next starts, that statistic may be a bit misleading. Two of the horses who finished behind Brujo de Olleros, Hello Lover and Candyman E, recorded Beyer Speed Figures of 101 and 96 in stakes at Saratoga next time out.

A pair of horses from the 2012 Triple Crown trail, Russian Greek and Tiger Walk, are among Brujo de Olleros’s seven rivals.

Russian Greek, 11th in last year’s Grade 1 Blue Grass Stakes, ran his best race since winning the California Derby in January 2012 two starts ago when he got up by a neck at 32-1 odds in a second-level optional $50,000 claimer at Delaware. He was then ambitiously spotted in the Grade 1 United Nations on turf, finishing last at 105-1. His June 26 dirt win Beyer of 89 is close to the 93 Brujo de Olleros received for his good performance in the LeVine.

Tiger Walk, fourth in the 2012 Grade 1 Wood Memorial and eighth in the Preakness, ended a nine-race losing streak when he won by a nose in a third-level allowance at Delaware on July 4, earning an 86 Beyer.

The field also includes I’m Steppin’ It Up, whose 4-for-10 record at Delaware includes a win in an overnight stakes similar to the Hanford last August, and Koh I Noor, who ran well following a 2 1/2-month layoff to get third in the Joe French Memorial at Delaware last month.