‘Sharp’ Azteca Impresses Paolucci With Five-Furlong Breeze Toward Pegasus

by | 01.13.2018 | 2:04pm
Sharp Azteca works at Gulfstream Park West on Jan. 13

Sharp Azteca breezed five furlongs in a sharp 1:00.60 over a sloppy track at Gulfstream Park West Saturday in preparation for a start in the $16 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational (G1) at Gulfstream Park Jan. 27.

The Jorge Navarro-trained son of Freud galloped out six furlongs impressively under jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. to finish off a workout that was the fourth fastest of 24 five-furlong drills.

“He was sharp – visually, very impressive. He was clipping off 12's,” said Pegasus World Cup stakeholder Ron Paolucci, who struck a deal with Sharp Azteca's owner Ivan Rodriguez last week to run the multiple graded-stakes winner in the world's richest race.

Sharp Azteca is coming off a dazzling 5 ¼-length triumph in the Cigar Mile (G1) at Aqueduct Dec. 2. The New York-bred 5-year-old launched his 2017 racing season with a victory in the Gulfstream Park Handicap (G2) and went on to finish second in the Met Mile (G1), which was followed by victories in the Monmouth Cup (G3) and the Kelso Handicap (G2). He finished second, a half-length back of victorious Battle of Midway, in the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile (G1) at Del Mar Nov. 3.

Loooch Racing's War Story turned also breezed furlongs at Gulfstream Park West in preparation for the Pegasus World Cup, covering the distance in 59.60 seconds, the fastest clocking of the morning.

“Jorge said last week this was going to be his money work for the Pegasus, and he's one of those he can work however you want him to work,” Paolucci said. “I think we got out of it what we needed.”

War Story, who finished fifth in the inaugural running of the Pegasus World Up last year, is scheduled make his first start since finishing fourth in the Breeders' Cup Classic (G1) at Del Mar Nov. 4.

Gunnevera breezed five furlongs in 1:03.60 under jockey Luis Saez at Gulfstream Park West Saturday.

The Antonio Sano-trained 4-year-old, who will run in the Pegasus World Cup for stakeholders William Gallo, Bella Inizio Farm and owner Salomon Del-Vallee, worked in company with stablemate Cheech Thunder.

“It was very good. The track was very sloppy this morning, so I told Luis to take it easy,” Sano said. “He went in 1:03 and galloped out six furlongs in 1:16.”

Gunnevera, who captured this Fountain of Youth (G1) over the Gulfstream Park track, finished in a dead-heat with inaugural Pegasus World Cup winner Arrogate in the Breeders' Cup Classic (G1) at Del Mar last time out.

Singing Bullet and Giuseppe the Great, who are under Pegasus World Cup consideration, breezed at Gulfstream Park Saturday.


Stronach Stables' Singing Bullet breezed five furlongs in 59.83, the fastest of 53 workouts recorded at the distance.

“He worked super,” trainer Dale Romans said. “We're on the bench. We're training like we might be called in to play.”

Mossarosa's Giuseppe the Great shipped from Palm Meadows Training Center for a four-furlong.-breeze in 47.85 over the Gulfstream surface. It was the fifth fastest of 93 at the distance.

“I'm very happy,” trainer Nick Zito said. “Very comfortable, very relaxing. That's all I wanted. I'll work him back next week.”

  • PointGivenTCL

    Great horse, great work, but don’t see it. Until the second half of this year, even a mile seemed like it was stretching his limit. I don’t see any evidence he can get 9F at the pace he’ll need to go at versus these horses if he couldn’t beat Battle of Midway at 8. That said, smart financial decision to run him as he could certainly hang around for third.

    • Michael Castellano

      Many years ago at Aqueduct my brother liked a quitting sprinter claimer in a 1 1/8 race. He had quit in the stretch in at least his last 4 or 5 races at 6 F. My brother’s logic was that he was by far the only speed in the race, and that the outside post would not hurt him. He further expected none of the jockeys would run with him, fully expecting him to quit. He opened an enormous lead, and although it was life and death he held on by a head. He paid $212. Here’s the rub. No OTB or internet betting in those days, and I talked my brother out of going to the track that day in favor of going to see Kelso on Saturday. Moral of the story. If the other riders let SA go too easy, he may not return to the pack.

      • PointGivenTCL

        Great story! And while it’s true that he could steal a race if handed an easy lead, nobody is going to let that happen here. Giant Expectations will want to be close, as will Collected and Gun Runner.

        • Michael Castellano

          I don’t think anyone will be able to “steal” a big lead. But Post Positions may play a big role. And SA is definitely getting to get the lead, barring a 12 post draw. Since it is a speed track someone will try to get a jump on Gun Runner. If I thought there was a good enough closer, I might look for the upset. Have to wait and study the form knowing the PPs. BTW, the horse in my story was named “Big Nash.” Happened in the late 60s.

          • PointGivenTCL

            I think he’s a likely leader but I wouldn’t be so sure, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Smith overcorrecting for last time’s disaster and send send sending with Collected.

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