June 24, 2024

Sweet Azteca goes the distance in Beholder Mile; Kinza outclasses Santa Ysabel field

Sweet Azteca wins Beholder Mile (G1) at Santa Anita
Sweet Azteca wins Beholder Mile (G1) at Santa Anita (Photo by Benoit Photography)

Sweet Azteca stretched her speed effectively in Saturday’s $301,000 Beholder Mile (G1) at Santa Anita, while Kinza continued her domination of the local three-year-old fillies in the $101,500 Santa Ysabel (G3).

Beholder Mile (G1)

Pamela C. Zeibarth’s homebred Sweet Azteca had looked dazzling in her prior start, a 12-length allowance romp sprinting 6 1/2 furlongs. But could the lightly-raced four-year-old handle the step up to a mile, and Grade 1 competition?

Trainer Michael McCarthy believed so, and Sweet Azteca ratified his judgment with a wire-to-wire display. The Beholder Mile just received a rebranding when Santa Anita announced that the race would also honor B. Wayne Hughes, the late owner of Spendthrift Farm that had campaigned Hall of Famer Beholder.

Sweet Azteca went off as the 3.40-1 second choice, with bettors making Grade 1 vixen Adare Manor the 1.10-1 favorite. Yet Adare Manor appeared as though she’d prefer more ground at this stage of her career.

Under Flavien Prat, Sweet Azteca broke alertly and established control through fractions of :23.40 and :47.40. Her early stalker, Green Up, could not keep up passing the six-furlong mark in 1:11.36. By that point, Adare Manor, who had been tracking in fourth, began to improve.

But Sweet Azteca spurted 2 1/2 lengths clear by midstretch. Adare Manor’s stamina kicked in through the final furlong, and she gradually erased some of the gap. Sweet Azteca kept finding, though, to remain three-quarters of a length ahead in a final time of 1:36.40.

Another 5 1/2 lengths adrift came Green Up, followed by Desert Dawn; Window Shopping; Coffee in Bed, the sentimental rooting interest for Spendthrift; and Interstatedaydream. Kirstenbosch and Turnerloose were scratched.

Sweet Azteca’s resume now reads 4-3-0-1, $301,200. The gray was a sharp debut winner during Kentucky Derby (G1) week at Churchill Downs. Not seen again until the Jan. 1 Las Flores (G3), she tired to third as the 6-5 favorite. Sweet Azteca rebounded with a vengeance in the aforementioned allowance, and joined the elite bracket here.

By Sharp Azteca, whose marquee wins came around a one-turn mile, and out of multiple stakes-winning turf sprinter So Sweetitiz, Sweet Azteca may not want to go a lot further. But her dam, by Grand Slam, descends from the family of Hall of Famer Tiznow, $2.8 million-earner Budroyale, 2013 Preakness (G1) winner Oxbow, Paynter, and current Kentucky Oaks (G1) contender Tarifa.

Santa Ysabel (G3)

If Michael Lund Petersen, trainer Bob Baffert, and jockey Juan Hernandez had to settle for second in the feature with Adare Manor, the tandem earlier savored another big win with budding star Kinza.

The 1-2 favorite against an overmatched field in the Santa Ysabel, Kinza had an easier task here than in the Feb. 10 Las Virgenes (G3). In that stakes and two-turn debut, she had to outrun another well-regarded filly, the hitherto unbeaten Kopion, and she did so by a handy two lengths. With Kopion absent, and awaiting the Santa Anita Oaks (G2), Kinza ran up the score on Saturday.

She’s a Tempest, the Las Virgenes third, tried to make a race of it by prompting the speedy Kinza early. Although the favorite responded by going a bit faster, in splits of :22.52, :45.98, and 1:10.55, she still had plenty in reserve. Beginning to get away on the far turn, Kinza widened her margin to five lengths as she completed 1 1/16 miles in 1:44.16.

The Santa Ysabel is a scoring race on the Road to the Kentucky Oaks, but Kinza is ineligible for points because Baffert is suspended by Churchill Downs Inc.

Where’s My Ring rallied to earn 25 points as best of the rest. She’s a Tempest retreated to third, good for 15 points (for a total of 21). Next came Ultimate Authority (10 points), Shiloh’s Mistress (five points), Nay V Belle, and the eased Pacific Rose. Ifuaintfirsturlast was pulled up but walked off.

Now a perfect 3-for-3, Kinza has bankrolled $159,000. The $350,000 Fasig-Tipton Midlantic May juvenile is a daughter of Carpe Diem and Secret Wonder, a Quality Road mare from the family of multiple Grade 3 victress Gentle Ruler.

San Simeon (G3)

Speed also held sway in the $101,500 San Simeon (G3) on the downhill turf, as Purple Rein Racing’s Mucho Del Oro held off the doggedly pursuing Dancing Buck by a half-length. Dancing Buck was a neck up on 2.10-1 favorite Lane Way, a staying-on third after being short of room in upper stretch. Sumter came from the clouds to snatch fourth, another neck away.

Mucho Del Oro, the 2.90-1 second choice with Hernandez aboard, covered the about 6 1/2-furlong course in 1:12.76. The son of Mucho Macho Man was just denied in the Jan. 28 Clocker’s Corner S., his first start off the claim for Doug O’Neill. He was haltered for $50,000 out of a course record-setting coup here on June 3, when blitzing 6 1/2 furlongs on the regular turf circuit in 1:13.70.

Also the winner of the 2022 Cotton Fitzsimmons Mile at Turf Paradise, Mucho Del Oro sports a mark of 17-9-2-0, $355,100. The six-year-old gelding is a half-brother to Grade 3-placed stakes scorer Funtastic Again, both produced by the Broken Vow mare Repeta.