Weekend racing wrap
Sharp Azteca. Photo by Jim McCue, Maryland Jockey Club.
Sharp Azteca dominant in Gulfstream Park
Sharp Azteca — dominant winner of last November’s City of Laurel Stakes at Laurel Park — continued to stamp himself as a top one-turn runner this past weekend.
In the Grade 2 Gulfstream Park Handicap, a race contested at a one-turn mile distance, Sharp Azteca posted a dominant, five-length win under jockey Edgard Zayas, completing the course in a sharp 1:34.55. That time earned the Jorge Navarro trainee an Equibase speed figure of 125 — the highest recorded in the United States so far this year.
Sharp Azteca now has won five of 10 career starts, with two graded stakes scores, and earned $576,740…
Half-brother to Irish War Cry earns graded placing
Not one to let little bro outdo him, New Jersey-bred Irish Strait ran a big one Saturday at Tampa Bay Downs, finishing third — beaten just a length — in the Grade 3 Tampa Bay Stakes on the lawn. It was his first stakes placing in just his second stakes try.
The son of English Channel is a half-brother to top Kentucky Derby contender Irish War Cry. Both are out of the Polish Numbers mare Irish Sovereign.
Like his younger half-brother, the five-year-old was bred by his owner, Isabelle de Tomaso, and is trained by Graham Motion. He has not — yet, anyway — been quite as successful as Irish War Cry, who has three wins from three starts. Irish Strait has won four of 14 career starts with purse earnings of $169,218…
Maryland-bred Sonny Inspired has enjoyed his best results over his home track at Laurel Park, where he owns two stakes wins and a third-place finish in last year’s Grade 3 General George.
But on Friday, he took his show on the road, heading to Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races for a $30,000 handicap contested at seven furlongs. Under jockey Jevian Toledo, Sonny Inspired won by a length in 1:25.55 as the 1-2 favorite.
Trained by Phil Schoenthal for D Hatman Thoroughbreds, Sonny Inspired now has seven wins and $430,674 in purse earnings from 36 starts…
Saturday at Charles Town, Follow the Notion, winner of last year’s Onion Juice Breeders Classic, narrowly made his season debut a winning one.
The West Virginia-bred Great Notion gelding, trained by owner Gary Williams, Jr., won a $24,000 allowance test by a neck as the even-money favorite under jockey Jose Montano. He now has six wins and career earnings of $131,652…