There is no denying that Aztec Sense, a 5-year old gelding, is in the big form of his career.
He proved that once again on Saturday. Aztec Sense, owned by Joseph Besecker, romped to a four-length win in the $150,000 Pa Derby Champion Stakes race at 1 1/16 miles at Parx. The win kept Aztec Sense's 2018 record perfect as he has won all seven of his starts this year. Saturday's race was the second time he has raced this year at 1 1/16 miles.
“We have never gotten to the bottom of this horse, and today we did,” said Jorge Navarro, who trains Aztec Sense. “He is a nice horse.”
The win kept the son of Street Sense unbeaten at Parx. He has won all six of his starts at the track, including four consecutive races this year. He was ridden Saturday by Emisael Jaramillo. Aztec Sense was ridden in his last start by Kendrick Carmouche, who is out with a leg injury. Before that, the jockey had been Paco Lopez for his last four starts.
Aztec Sense was sent off at odds of 7-2. He went straight to the lead and was comfortable the whole way around the Parx oval. Four other horses were in the starting gate for the Pa Derby Champion stakes, which was eligible for 3-year-olds and up.
The horse getting all of the attention was the Bob Baffert-trained Collected, who was making his first start since a seventh place finish in the $16 Pegasus World Cup Invitational at Gulfstream Park in Florida on Jan. 27. Collected, who was second in last year's $6 million Breeders' Cup Classic, never fired as the 2-5 favorite and finished fourth.
“I had no horse, man,” Smith said as he walked back to the jockey's room. “I don't know if he was ready to run that hard. I have no excuse.”
When Smith was asked when he thought he and Collected were in trouble, he answered quickly.
“At the half mile pole.” He said.
While Collected was having trouble keeping up, Aztec Sense seemed to be was timed in 1:45.97 after setting early fractions of 24:40 seconds for the first quarter mile, 48.66 seconds for the half, 1:13.33 for six furlongs and 1:39.21 for the mile.
Zanotti, at 8-1, fnished second for jockey Angel Arroyo and trainer Juan Guerrero. They beat third place finisher Name Changer by a half-length. Name Changer was ridden by Jose Ortiz and is trained by Alan Goldberg. Collected followed and was 1 ¾ lengths in front of Prince of Hempt.
While there was disappointment for Smith and Collected, the beat goes on for Aztec Sense. Navarro said that Besecker wanted to scratch the horse out of this spot on Saturday.
Aztec Sense paid $9.20, $5.20 and $5.00. Navarro said the next stop for his gelding could be the Claiming Crown at Gulfstream Park on Dec. 1.
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