02/16/2017 3:00PM

Sharp Azteca impressive at Gulfstream

In last week's FormBlog, I discussed ST. JOE BAY, who seems destined for the Dubai Golden Shaheen after polishing off a pair of graded sprint races in Southern California.
When SHARP AZTECA drubbed a good field in last Saturday's Grade 2 Gulfstream Park Handicap, Team USA added another strong contender for the Dubai World Cup undercard. 
Sharp Azteca, a 4-year-old son of Freud trained by Jorge Navarro, burst onto the national scene last May when blitzing fellow sophomores in the Grade 3 Pat Day Mile. He was then the beaten favorite in the Grade 2 Woody Stephens Stakes, but ran very well to be fourth as one of the few pace horses hanging around at the end of the race. 
Sharp Azteca battled some foot issues, failed to stay two turns in the Prelude Stakes at Louisiana Downs, then was freshened. It turned out to be a wise move as he has returned in razor-sharp form. In his comeback, Sharp Azteca dueled odds-on winner HOT SEAT into the ground en route to taking the seven-furlong City of Laurel Stakes with a 101 Beyer Speed Figure. Shipped to Santa Anita, he was then an excellent second in the Grade 1 Malibu Stakes behind the salty late-kicker Mind Your Biscuits. 
The Gulfstream Park Handicap marked Sharp Azteca's first start against older horses and he never truly had an anxious moment. Bumped from both sides at the start, Sharp Azteca pressed defending Gulfstream Park Handicap champion BLOFELD through fractions of 23.61 and 46.21. He began to move away from Blofeld on the turn, completed six furlongs in 1:10.05 while clear on the lead and continued on under a drive to score by 4 1/2 lengths in 1:34.55. That mile clocking was good enough for a career-high 107 Beyer Speed Figure. 

Navarro has never lacked in self-confidence, and he was effusive in his praise of Sharp Azteca. "He’s a runner," the trainer told track publicity after the race. "The way this horse is, he wants to bury you down. If you look him in the eye, he’s going to bury you down. Every jockey that gets on top of him, they tell me the same thing.”
Navarro took a tough beat last year in Dubai when his sprinter, X Y Jet, was necked by Muarrab in the Golden Shaheen. X Y Jet hasn't returned from his overseas excursion as the same horse, but Navarro is confident that Sharp Azteca will not only run very well in the Godolphin Mile, but that he'll have enough in the tank to be pointed at the Grade 1 Metropolitan Handicap on the Belmont Stakes undercard. 
Sharp Azteca's early speed should play very well in the Godolphin Mile, and he would obviously be a major player in that race.
*EPICHARIS made his debut on this blog on September 15, 2016 and was profiled here on October 20, October 27, November 17, December 1, and on January 26 of this year.
The undefeated Japanese 3-year-old will get his chance to truly throw his hat into the Kentucky Derby ring as he starts Saturday night/Sunday morning as one of the favorites in the Hyacinth Stakes going one mile at Tokyo Racecourse. 
Other leading contenders include:
Winless from three starts on turf, Adirato switched to dirt and showed explosive early speed in winning two seven-furlong races. He'll have to stretch that ability to the mile, but should be a strong forward factor, at the very least.
This colt ticks many boxes. By Tapit out of Grade 1 Test Stakes and Grade 1 Acorn Stakes winner Champagne d'Oro, herself a half-sister to Belmont Stakes winner Ruler On Ice, Foggy Night is conditioned by Noriyuki Hori, who led all Japanese trainers by winning percentage and earnings in 2016. Foggy Night won his lone start, a maiden race full of first-time starters over this course and distance on November 12. The great Ryan Moore will ride. 
By Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner I'll Have Another, Hypernova rallied for second in his debut at Kyoto on October 15, then scored twice against weaker competition to close out his juvenile campaign. All of his races have come at nine furlongs, but it appears he'll get some pace to attack late.
Undefeated from two starts over course and distance, Liverdy jumps up in class for the Hyacinth. 
The two horses that completed the exacta in the first Japanese Kentucky Derby qualifying points race, MONT SAINT LEGAME and CAUCUS, are back at it again. This seems like a stronger field than the one Mont Saint Legame handled in the Cattleya Sho, however, and Caucus returned from that heat to finish off the board in two lesser affairs. 
For free video analysis of some of the weekend's major stakes races, take a look at http://video.drf.com/
Also, Mike Beer and I will be on for free and fun handicapping analysis at 4pm ET on Saturday for DRF Live!. This week, we'll discuss Aqueduct, Gulfstream, Santa Anita, Laurel, Oaklawn and Golden Gate. You can find us at live.drf.com.
You can check me out on Twitter @DRF_Dan Illman.
For up-to-date video releases from DRF, follow DRFTV on Twitter @DRFvideo.
Once again, Laura has been kind enough to plan our annual FormBlogger's convention! Here are the details. 
The 6th (or is it 7th) annual Formblogger’s Convention is slated for March 10 – 12 at Gulfstream Park.  
Special room rates at the Hampton Inn will be available & I offer shuttle service to/from Ft. Lauderdale International Airport, which is roughly a 20 min. drive. Sometimes 15 min. if I run the red lights.  I haven’t lost anyone or had an accident…yet.
As usual, our generous benefactor Mike Nyman will comp us a private suite overlooking the track. As usual, there will be laughter, serious discussions, catching up with old friends, not so old friends, and newcomers.  
Bets will be made, won and lost. Indecision, high fives, tears,whining and red boarding may be a part of the process. As usual, the betting machine will malfunction at least once.
As usual, our Fearless Leader Dan Who will join us and quietly cash in on a huge bet. He will also receive risqué blue undergarments suitable for either male or female. 
As usual, a race will be named in our honor & we’ll visit the paddock before the race and have a photo taken in the winner’s circle afterward. 
If you’d like to be a part of the mayhem, please contact Laura at lross@imtbreds.com 
Updates will be posted as the date draws near.
Hampton Inn will give us a group discount IF we can book a minimum of 8 rooms.  The rate would be $179/night, plus taxes, etc.  Minimum regular stay (with AAAA rate) is $197/night. Please contact Laura at lross@ironmaidensthoroughbreds.com  no later than Tuesday (Feb. 14) to make your reservation.
Here are the top 25 WINNING Beyer Speed Figures from 2/8/17 to 2/14/17:
1. SHARP AZTECA - 107 - Gulfstream Park Handicap (G2) - 1 Mile - 11Feb17-11GP 
2. ALMANAAR (GB) - 102 - Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap (G1) - 1 1/8 Miles (Turf) - 11Feb17-10GP 
2. INSPECTOR LYNLEY - 102 - Tampa Bay Stakes (G3) - 1 1/16 Miles (Turf) - 11Feb17-9TAM
4. BOLO - 100 - Arcadia Stakes (G2) - 1 Mile (Turf) - 11Feb17-5SA
5. AVENTADOR (FR) - 99 - Turf Paradise Handicap - 1 1/16 Miles (Turf) - 11Feb17-7TUP
5. REDNECK HUMOR - 99 - Budweiser Handicap - 6 Furlongs - 12Feb17-8SUN
7. CLASS AND CASH - 98 - OC25k/SAL25k - 1 Mile (Turf) - 8Feb17-3GP 
7. DICKINSON - 98 - Suwannee River Stakes (G3) - 1 1/8 Miles (Turf) - 11Feb17-9GP 
7. SEND IT IN - 98 - Haynesfield Stakes - 1 1/16 Miles (Inner Dirt) - 11Feb17-3AQU
10. ISABELLA SINGS - 97 - Endeavour Stakes (G3) - 1 1/16 Miles (Turf) - 11Feb17-11TAM
11. ILIAD - 96 - San Vicente Stakes (G2) - 7 Furlongs - 12Feb17-4SA 
11. MALAGACY - 96 - OC 75k/N1X -N - 6 1/2 Furlongs - 12Feb17-4GP 
11. TOP OF THE GAME - 96 - OC 62k/N2X -N - 1 1/16 Miles - 10Feb17-7SA
14. MCCRAKEN - 95 - Sam F. Davis Stakes (G3) - 1 1/16 Miles - 11Feb17-10TAM
14. UNION JACKSON - 95 - Sam Houston Sprint Cup - 6 Furlongs - 11Feb17-9HOU
16. CANDID DESIRE - 93 - Hollie Hughes Stakes - 6 Furlongs (Inner Dirt) - 11Feb17-8AQU
17. DREAMING OF NENO - 92 - OC 12k/N1X - 6 Furlongs - 8Feb17-9GP 
17. MOBILE BAY - 92 - Louisiana Bred Premier Night Championship - 1 1/16 Miles - 11Feb17-10DED
19. FEAR THE COWBOY - 91 - OC 35k/C -N - 7 Furlongs - 10Feb17-8DED
19. VALE DORI (ARG) - 91 - Santa Maria Stakes (G2) - 1 1/16 Miles - 11Feb17-4SA 
21. GO GO ROCKET - 90 - Clm 25000(25-20) - 1 1/16 Miles (Turf) - 9Feb17-9FG 
21. HARD STUDY - 90 - Alw 50000s - 1 1/16 Miles (Inner Dirt) - 11Feb17-2AQU
21. HEY JABBER JAW - 90 - OC 62k/N2X - 6 Furlongs (Inner Dirt) - 11Feb17-7AQU
21. LIAM THE CHARMER - 90 - OC 40k/N1X -N - 1 1/4 Miles (Turf) - 9Feb17-7SA 
21. POSHSKY - 91 - OC c-40k/N1X - 1 Mile - 11Feb17-1SA 
*Sharp Azteca's lifetime past performances are available at the bottom of this blog post.
*Poshky was claimed for $40,000 by trainer Eddie Truman from Ryan Hanson
Congrats to Jim Peregoy for winning the most recent HandiGambling challenge.
Rick M and SR VEGAS' HG scoreboard spreadsheet is available at the bottom of this blog post. 
Jim selected Saturday's General George from Laurel as this week's exercise.
SR Vegas and Rick M. have graciously decided to update all of the HG rules in order to make them an easier read for everyone...
HANDIGAMBLING version 2016:
Let's remember WHY we began the HandiGambling races in the first place.
The goal was to share ideas on why we like these horses and why we're betting them the way we are. We are not asking for a novel but SPARE A SENTENCE OR TWO outlining your HANDICAPPING ANGLES and/or THOUGHT PROCESSES about WAGERING.
1. Start your post with HG or HANDIGAMBLING to find your entry in a thread.
2. You have a mythical $100 to wager in whatever format you choose that is available for that HG race. Anyone going over the $100 limit will be DISQUALIFIED.
3. Post your WAGER and ANALYSIS to the blog prior to the start of the designated race. SIGN OFF WITH YOUR NAME/OR MONIKER AT THE END OF YOUR POST. Remember that posts may start as 'anonymous' or an 'alternate name'. You MUST SIGN YOURSELF AT THE END (even if it is the same) This enables the scorekeeper to identify who you are.
4. (1) ONE ENTRY per person for the Handigambling contest. If you have multiple email addresses, use just ONE for contest purposes. Multiple entries will be cause for disqualification.
5. Separate your analysis from the wager and use the PROGRAM # in your wager. Just like you would do in a real wager. No horse names.
6. If any of the rules listed above aren't met, the wager is subject to review which can lead to disqualification of your entry.
In the event of a tie, the earliest post gets first preference. Dan reserves the right to approve or deny any entries.
The winner will receive a "60-Card Quarterly Formulator Past Performance Plan"
As an example :
HG 2016
The speed in this race are #1 Alpha, #2 Beta, and #8 Ocho. I like the works for layoff horse #5 Cinco who can sit off the pace. Lots of speed in here, so this could set up for a closer like  #6 Six Flags and I like the trainer's stats in these conditions. I’ll put the closer over the speed.
HG wager:
$10 EX   6 /   1,2,5, 8  = $40
$5 TRI   6 /   1,2,5,8  /  1,2,5,8  =  $60
Total $100
Thanks Dan!
sharpazteca.pdf687.56 KB
Copy of HG 2 11 17 GP Handicap.xls50 KB
HG 2 11 17 GP HDCP notes.doc21 KB