05/07/2016 4:34PM

Sharp Azteca powers to Pat Day Mile score

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Justin N. Lane
Sharp Azteca draws away to a 2 1/2-length victory in the Grade 3 Pat Day Mile at Churchill Downs.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Sharp Azteca made his graded stakes debut count, taking command at the top of the stretch and drawing off by 2 1/2 lengths to win the Grade 3 Pat Day Mile on Saturday at Churchill Downs.

The 3-year-old son of Freud broke sharply and stayed on the outside hip of early leader Imperial Hint through an opening quarter in 22.05 seconds and a half in 44.09.

Jockey Edgard Zayas began urging Sharp Azteca as the two leaders entered the turn, well ahead of third-place Gray Sky, and gradually took over the advantage on the outside. Sharp Azteca led by about a half-length at the top of the stretch and separated from his rival under right-handed urging by Zayas.

With no one in a scramble for the minor awards stepping up to challenge the leader, Sharp Azteca pulled away to complete the one-turn mile in 1:34.37 and pay $28.20. Forevamo gained traction in the deep stretch to finish second, two lengths ahead of Star Hill.

Heavy post-time favorite American Freedom was never a serious threat and finished sixth. Early leader Imperial Hint faded to 12th in the 14-horse field.

“I thought this was the bet of the day,” trainer Jorge Navarro said. “Joe Bravo worked him for me, did me the favor, and he said, ‘Jorge, who is this?’ He said, ‘You know what? I think this is one of the best 3-year-olds in the nation.’ ”

Navarro saddled Sharp Azteca for owner Gelfenstein Farm. The colt was bred in Kentucky by Cloyce Clark Jr.

With the Pat Day Mile victory, Sharp Azteca improved his lifetime record to three wins in five lifetime starts for earnings of $196,250. He entered the race off a 7 1/2-length win in an April 3 optional-claiming race at Gulfstream Park.

“We took a chance in here because there aren’t any other two other-thans for 3-year-olds right now,” Navarro said.

The victory continued a hot day for Navarro, who saddled Catalina Red to victory in the Grade 2 Churchill Downs Stakes earlier in the card.

“Once I get home, that’s when everything’s going to hit,” Navarro said. “My body’s going crazy. Catalina Red ran a huge race. It’s amazing.”

Navarro said he did not have an immediate plan for Sharp Azteca’s next start.