How Good is Sharp Azteca?

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D.S. Williamson

December 18th, 2017

One of the possible entrants for the second annual Pegasus World Cup is Sharp Azteca. Sharp Azteca, who almost won the 2017 Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile, was sensational when  winning the 2017 Cigar Mile in his last. Per Sharp Azteca's trainer, Jorge Navarro, the the four-year-old colt "deserves a shot" in the Pegasus World Cup.

If entered, would Sharp Azteca really have a chance to beat the world's best racehorse, Gun Runner? How good, really, is Sharp Azteca?

2017 Cigar Mile

I want to start with what I believe is the most impressive win I've seen this year. What Sharp Azteca did in the Cigar Mile a couple of weeks ago was close to awe-inspiring. How can I write that? Sharp Azteca, a known speedball, laid behind front runner Seymourdini and Americanize. He then easily took off to the wire.

What was impressive is how relaxed Sharp Azteca looked laying behind the front runners. Then, when he took off towards the wire, it was even more impressive. Jorge Navarro has taught Sharp Azteca how to ration his speed. That's going to serve him well against Gun Runner in the Pegasus World Cup.

2017 Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile

It's also important to check out Sharp Azteca's second-place finish in the 2017 Breeders'  Cup Dirt Mile. Sharp Azteca took the lead from the outset. He beat everyone save for Battle of Midway. What's impressive about this race is how Sharp Azteca kicked it into gear at the top of the stretch. He just couldn't hold off the Jerry Hollendorfer charge even though he had already buried horses like Mor Spirit, Practical Joke, and Accelerate.

After watching the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile, it's obvious to me that Sharp Azteca actually improved in the Cigar Mile. He definitely appeared more focus. If Navarro has him even more focused at Gulfstream Park for the Pegasus, he might have a shot against Gun Runner and Bob Baffert's likely duo of West Coast and Collected.

Can Sharp Azteca Get 1 1/8 Miles?

Sharp Azteca won the Grade 3 Monmouth Cup Stakes at 1 1/16 miles over the summer. He easily won that race. The field he faced that day isn't close to what he'll face in the Pegasus World Cup. So, yes, the question remains whether or not Sharp Azteca wants to run that far.

Sharp Azteca's breeding implies that he should have no trouble running 1 1/8 miles. His sire is Freud. He's from a Saint Liam mare. Although Freud was a sprinter-miler type, Freud's sire is Storm Cat. Storm Cat sired all types. If Sharp Azteca can relax behind Gun Runner and Collected in the Pegasus World Cup, I think he has a great shot of running by both of those for first place. Let's not forget that trainer Jorge Navarro's base of operations is at Gulfstream Park.

How good is Sharp Azteca? He might be good enough to win the world's richest horse race.