By Rab Hagin
FREUD 4-year-olds SHARP AZTECA ($1,306,740) and TARDE O TEMPRANO narrowly missed victories while placing second in the Grade 1 Las Vegas Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile at Del Mar and the Group 2 Clasico Venezuela at Palermo in Argentina, respectively – about an hour apart on Friday, November 3. Both efforts were on dirt. Highlighting Freud’s versatility, the Dirt Mile was around two turns, and the Venezuela for fillies and mares was at about five furlongs (1,000 meters) with no turns (straightaway).
Sharp Azteca’s Dirt Mile earnings of $170,000 boosted Freud’s 2017 Northern Hemisphere progeny earnings past $5.3-million, breaking Freud’s own record of $5,272,806 in annual progeny earnings for a New York-based sire, which he set in 2013 to break the previous record set in 2000.
Gelfenstein Farm’s Sharp Azteca, facing nine rivals by some of the world’s top sires, broke on top from the third post and led to the final furlong, though his second and third quarter-mile splits were uncharacteristically slow, both slipping above 24 seconds in what might have been a tactical miscalculation. Through the final quarter-mile, Sharp Azteca dueled with a 3-year-old Del Mar stakes winner who probably benefited from a three-pound age allowance, finishing short by a half-length while more than four lengths ahead of the third-place finisher. Paco Lopez, Sharp Azteca’s jockey in the colt’s last four outings, acknowledged the race had not unfolded as hoped: “I didn’t want to go to the lead, but my horse broke sharp…I had to go to the lead,” Lopez revealed, explaining his mount’s first quarter-mile in a taxing 22.94. “The horse tried all the way. He kept running but just got caught.”
Trainer Jorge Navarro confirmed the dilemma: “When the four horse (the 67.80-to-1 last choice who broke just outside of Sharp Azteca and eventually finished seventh) went by, it stuck him down on the rail, and he had nowhere to go. But he dug in through the stretch and tried hard. I’m really proud.”
Tarde O Temprano, an Argentine-bred Freud filly racing under the purple and yellow silks of Mingo Y La Maruca Stable, had won four 1,000-meter races at Palermo, including her debut, before trying group competition in her last two outings on October 7 and November 3, placing second in both. In the Venezuela, she faced six rivals and missed winning by a nose in the blistering time of 55.72.
Freud also had three homebred winners in New York and another winner in Peru in the first two days of November: daughters AQUARIUS and HYPNOTICA on November 1 and son BORROWED DREAMS on November 2 – all at Finger Lakes – and son MR. CONNERY on November 1 at Monterrico in Lima. Aquarius, owned by Patricia L. Moseley, won by four lengths over the favored runner-up at equal weights while going six furlongs on a “good” track for her first wet track tally and second score of 2017. Hypnotica, Henry T. Waring’s 3-year-old filly, broke her maiden by four lengths at 10 cents on the dollar in her third start while going six furlongs in the slop, becoming Freud’s 89th Northern Hemisphere winner of 2017. Borrowed Dreams, owner-breeder-trainer Richard J. Lugovich’s converted former sprinter, scored by almost two lengths over the runner-up favorite for his first victory at 1 1/16 miles to become Freud’s 37th Northern Hemisphere repeat winner of 2017. Mr. Connery, racing for Agustin Gabriel Stable, led all the way for his third daylight-margin victory at 1,000 meters on Monterrico dirt.