Sharp Azteca Eclipses Track Record In Easy Monmouth Stakes Victory

Gelfenstein Farm's Sharp Azteca cruised to a record-setting victory in Sunday's Grade 3 Monmouth Cup, crossing the wire all alone 7 1/2 lengths in front of his competition. The 4-year-old son of Freud, ridden by Paco Lopez and trained by Jorge Navarro, covered 1 1/16 miles in 1:40.19 to set a new track record on the fast Monmouth Park surface. The previous record of 1:40.20 was set on Aug. 23, 1997 by Formal Gold.

Mission accomplished,” said a relieved Navarro. “We put the mile and a sixteenth away. (Referring to having the horse win a two-turn stakes race in advance of his scheduled run in the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile, a two-turn race at Del Mar). And it was a relief to get him back in great shape. He almost got loose in the barn last night and cut his head. Then on the way over to the paddock today, he flipped. He was okay, but it was another worry. It was fantastic to see him run so well after all that.”

Classy Class was quick out of the starting gate, taking the lead right away. Lopez did not let the leader get far away, keeping Sharp Azteca just to his outside less than a half-length behind. The entire four-horse field was covered by two lengths early on as Classy Class clocked the first quarter in :23.92, but the leading pair moved two lengths ahead of the latter pair as they passed the half-mile mark in 47.13.

Lopez did not wait long to give Sharp Azteca his head, allowing him some rein as they entered the far turn. The horse eased up alongside Classy Class, then in a blink of an eye was a length in front. Sharp Azteca had a two-length lead at the head of the lane and continued to draw away through the stretch, crossing the wire 7 1/2 lengths in front of Donegal Moon. Just Call Kenny checked in third and Classy Class tired to fourth.

“He was sitting very relaxed in second early on,” Lopez said. “I waited and waited and then pushed him a little at the 3/8ths pole and he started to pick it up. I only asked him a little and he took off. He's a really great horse.”

Bred in Kentucky by Cloyce Clark, Sharp Azteca was a $35,000 yearling at the OBS August sale, then commanded $220,000 as a juvenile at the OBS April sale. It took a couple of starts to break his maiden, but Sharp Azteca immediately proved his class with a graded stakes win at Churchill on Kentucky Derby day. Later in the year he ran second to Mind Your Biscuits in the G1 Malibu Stakes at Santa Anita. In 2017, he captured the G2 Gulfstream Park Handicap, and received a bad ride in Dubai to finish a tough third in the Group 2 Godolphin Mile. Most recently Sharp Azteca was second to Mor Spirit in the G1 Met Mile. Overall, the colt boasts a record of 6-4-1 from 13 starts, with earnings of over $950,000.

The post Sharp Azteca Eclipses Track Record In Easy Monmouth Stakes Victory appeared first on Horse Racing News | Paulick Report.

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