By Rab Hagin
Proving he can rate and win impressively at two turns, Gelfenstein Farm’s SHARP AZTECA ($956,740) romped to a 7½-length victory under top weight in the 1 1/16-mile Monmouth Cup on Sunday, July 30, as the FREUD colt broke a 20-year-old track record in his third big-margin graded victory. Sent off at 30 cents on the dollar while spotting five-to-seven pounds to his rivals, the dark bay colt rated easily off a leisurely pace before taking command on the second turn and opening up an expanding lead while cruising home under a hand ride. Despite the slow early pace, Sharp Azteca’s final clocking of 1:40.19 broke a 20-year-old track record set by a multiple Grade 1-winning millionaire carrying two pounds less than Sharp Azteca while beating a future Hall of Famer. The record prior to that had stood for 41 years.
Winning trainer Jorge Navarro indicated Sharp Azteca is right on track for his scheduled run in the two-turn Breeders’ Cup Las Vegas Dirt Mile at Del Mar on November 3: “Mission accomplished. We put the mile and a sixteenth away,” remarked Navarro. “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.”
Winning jockey Paco Lopez commented on Sharp Azteca’s talent and willingness to rate: “He was sitting very relaxed in second early on. I waited and waited and then pushed him a little at the three-eighths pole, and he started to pick it up. I only asked him a little, and he took off. He’s a really great horse.”
Campaigned by Florida-based Gelfenstein Farm, the owner of which, Ivan Rodriguez, reportedly is from Venezuela, Sharp Azteca boosted Freud’s 2017 North American progeny earnings to over $3-million (cumulatively over $46.2-million) with his Monmouth Cup victory. Freud is the only North American-based stallion standing outside of Kentucky with 2017 North American graded winners on dirt and turf.
The next day (Monday, July 31), Freud’s 59th and 60th Northern Hemisphere winners of 2017 scored when Langpap Stables’ homebred FLY ME and owner-trainer Joseph E. Marino’s WISE GUIDE ($187,003) tallied in six-furlong contests at Finger Lakes. Fly Me, a 3-year-old, also has won on Presque Isle Downs’ all-weather track. Wise Guide, another of Freud’s indestructible sons, also has won twice at Aqueduct.
Freud’s latest maiden-breakers are Thomas Thienel’s semi-homebred MISSY’S STORM and Paul Braverman’s and Timothy Pinch’s COLONEL ANDY on Saratoga turf on July 26 and July 28 respectively and Five C’s Stable’s LITTLE CHISELER at Finger Lakes on July 29 – all beating runner-up favorites. Missy’s Storm, a 3-year-old filly, came from eighth place to beat ten rivals going 1 1/16 miles on “good” inner turf in her first effort beyond a mile. Colonel Andy, who beat 11 rivals at 5½ furlongs, is a son of Freud out of a D’Accord mare and therefore bred like Freud’s graded winners FOURSTAR CROOK ($544,050) and FRANNY FREUD ($686,029) and also Hip No. 514 at Fasig-Tipton’s upcoming Saratoga sale of New York-bred preferred yearlings. Ten Freud yearlings have been cataloged for that August 12-13 auction. Little Chiseler, who easily beat the odds-on runner-up by 3¼ lengths at equal weights going 5½ furlongs, is a 3-year-old filly and was the youngest starter in her contest.