By Del Mar Racetrack
New York/New Jersey-based trainer Jorge Navarro, like many horsemen a first-time visitor to Del Mar, was among a group who put horses through their final major exercises Saturday morning in preparation for the Breeders’ Cup World Championships next Friday and Saturday.
Navarro is here with Sharp Azteca in the Dirt Mile, and War Story in the Classic. They both worked five furlongs under jockey Paco Lopez, Sharp Azteca in :58.60, the fastest of 13 at the distance, and War Story in :59 flat.
The saying goes: “You never get a second chance to make a good first impression.” And the Del Mar surface certainly did impress Navarro.
“I fell in love with it,” Navarro said. “I had heard some complaints about it being speed favoring in the summer, but I’m coming from a speed favoring track (Monmouth) and this was fine to me. Both horses worked well, it took enough out of them, but they recovered quickly. I’m walking Sharp Azteca as we speak (45 minutes after the work), he wasn’t blowing hard after and he’s cooled out already.”
Sharp Azteca, a 4-year-old son of Freud, could pose a major threat in the Dirt Mile. He comes in off wins in the Grade III Monmouth Cup in July and the Grade II Kelso Handicap in September at Belmont Park.
A $220,000 purchase at the Ocala Sale in April of 2015, Sharp Azteca didn’t make his racing debut until December of his 2-year-old season. An eight-race campaign last year as a 3-year-old was highlighted by three straight wins from February-May capped by the Pat Day mile on Kentucky Derby Day at Churchill Downs and a runner-up to Mind Your Biscuits in the Grade I Malibu in December on the opening day of the Santa Anita winter/spring meeting.