Freud, sire of the Nov. 2 Cigar Mile winner Sharp Azteca, is a marvel.
For one thing, Sharp Azteca was the third Grade 1 winner in the Northern Hemisphere from the stallion's lengthy and distinguished sire career, following Giant Ryan (Vosburgh) and Franny Freud (Prioress), plus the Southern Hemisphere champion Alex Rossi (Peruvian 2,000 Guineas).
And Freud is a “regional” stallion.
All three of the Northern Hemisphere G1 winners by Freud were sired from his career-long base in New York, and that makes the son of Storm Cat the most productive sire of G1 winners standing in the Empire State. The New York-based Bellamy Road is the sire of a pair of G1 winners, including 2017 Jockey Club Gold Cup winner Diversify, but both were sired when the stallion was based in Kentucky.
One reason for the difference between the G1 production of regional stallions and those based in Kentucky is that, generally, the mare population in Kentucky is higher in quality. And many of the better mares in New York, for instance, tend to be shipped to Kentucky for breeding, then returned to the state to produce “state-bred” offspring.
Freud, however, has bucked that trend, and there are good reasons why. The stallion gets sound horses with speed, and they seem to have a fair share of the Storm Cat desire to race.
Sharp Azteca is a good example. The dark brown horse has speed and has spent most of his career either setting the pace or pressing it hard. The latter inclination has cost Sharp Azteca a few victories, although he has won half of his 16 starts and more than $1.7 million.
The good-looking colt has learned to relax better in the past few months, and he has recorded victories in the G3 Monmouth Cup by 7 ½ lengths, the G2 Kelso by 4 lengths, and now the G1 Cigar Mile by 5 ¼ lengths. All those races have been on dirt at a mile or extended mile (Monmouth Handicap), including his only loss in his last four starts, the G1 Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile.
In the latter, Sharp Azteca rated on the lead and almost held the determined challenge from Battle of Midway, who prevailed by a half-length.
Sharp Azteca's battling qualities recall the racing character of his sire's full brother, multiple G1 winner and European high weight Giant's Causeway, one of the most renowned sons of the famed stallion Storm Cat, both on the racetrack and at stud.
A full sister of Giant's Causeway, G2 winner You'resothrilling, is the dam of classic winners Gleneagles (2,000 Guineas) and Marvellous (Irish 1,000 Guineas), and these three overachievers at stud are all out of the major producer Mariah's Storm (Rahy), a G2 winner during her own distinguished racing career.
Freud was the second foal out of his dam, and Sharp Azteca was the second foal of his dam, So Sharp, an unraced mare from the only crop by Horse of the Year Saint Liam (Saint Ballado). A half-sister to G2 Dwyer Stakes winner Mint Lane (Maria's Mon) and to Sister Girl Blues (Hold for Gold), who was second in the G1 Vanity Handicap, So Sharp was a $130,000 Keeneland September yearling in 2008, then fell through the cracks as a broodmare prospect at the Keeneland January sale in 2011 for only $2,500.
After Sharp Azteca had won a G3 last year, So Sharp sold for $230,000 at the 2016 Keeneland November sale. The mare was in foal to Lea (First Samurai) at the time of sale.
In addition, the family had shown further signs of current vitality because Sister Girl Blues is the dam of Firing Line (Line of David). This handsome bay became a G3 winner but gained greater acclaim for a close second to highly regarded Dortmund in the G1 Los Alamitos Futurity of 2014 and then defeated that rival when second to American Pharoah in the 2015 Kentucky Derby. Firing Line covered his first book of mares at Crestwood Farm in Kentucky earlier this year.
So, when Sharp Azteca came to the sales of juveniles in training in 2015, the dark colt worked a furlong in :10 1/5, showed a stride length of more than 24 feet, had excellent internal factors, and earned a BreezeFig of 66 from DataTrack International. Competition was strong for the colt, and he sold for $220,000 at the OBS April sale.
From that good beginning out of the de Meric Sales consignment, Sharp Azteca has progressed in a continued upward trajectory, and if he is able to maintain that momentum at the top level through 2018, he will be a strong stallion prospect with speed, consistency, soundness, and high class.
Frank Mitchell is author of Racehorse Breeding Theories, as well as the book Great Breeders and Their Methods: The Hancocks. In addition to writing the column “Sires and Dams” in Daily Racing Form for nearly 15 years, he has contributed articles to Thoroughbred Daily News, Thoroughbred Times, Thoroughbred Record, International Thoroughbred, and other major publications. In addition, Frank is chief of biomechanics for DataTrack International and is a hands-on caretaker of his own broodmares and foals in Central Kentucky. Check out Frank's lively Bloodstock in the Bluegrass blog.
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