Sweet Azteca Pillar to Post in Beholder Mile

Sweet Azteca | Benoit


Facing a bevy of more experienced rivals, lightly raced SWEET AZTECA (f, 4, Sharp Azteca–So Sweetitiz, by Grand Slam) led every step of the way to capture the renamed GI B. Wayne Hughes Beholder Mile S. at Santa Anita Saturday. Last summer's GI Clement L. Hirsch S. winner and even-money favorite Adare Manor (Uncle Mo) was second, while 'TDN Rising Star' and Pumpkin Pie S. winner Green Up (Upstart), an East Coast shipper, was third. Final time for the mile was 1:36.40.

A homebred for Pamela Cee Ziebarth, Sweet Azteca blasted right out of the gate and controlled the early tempo of :23.40 and :47.40 while in hand. As the dust settled with Green Up tracking just off the frontrunner's flank, Sweet Azteca showed no signs of slowing as she rounded the final turn and sailed into the stretch three lengths on top. Adare Manor blew by Green Up to chase the gray home, but couldn't catch the winner and finished three-quarters of a length in arrears.

“It felt like she was used to sprinting, so around the turn I tried to get her to relax, and she did the rest herself,” said Flavien Prat, who was aboard the winner. “At the turn for home, I felt the other horse coming and she picked it up herself.”

Sweet Azteca made one start as a 3-year-old last year for trainer Michael McCarthy, resulting in a Derby week win at Churchill Downs and an 85 debut Beyer Speed Figure. Benched until the GIII Las Flores S. at Santa Anita on New Year's Day, Sweet Azteca was outkicked for third after drifting out late, then roared back with a 12-length optional allowance win and a 91 Beyer over this surface going 6 1/2 furlongs Feb. 2. The Beholder Mile was her first try around two turns.

McCarthy previously won the Beholder Mile in 2020 with Ce Ce (Elusive Quality), who, like Sweet Azteca, was lightly raced and coming off a 6 1/2-furlong optional allowance a month prior. Ce Ce would go on to become the 2021 Eclipse champion female sprinter and a three-time Grade I winner, whose victories included the GI Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Sprint.

Pedigree Notes:

Sweet Azteca is the first graded winner for Sharp Azteca, a former Three Chimneys stallion who is standing the 2024 season at Shizunai Stallion Station in Japan. With two crops to the races, Sharp Azteca is responsible for six black-type winners. Sweet Azteca also is one of 93 stakes winners out of a mare by the late Grand Slam. Both Sharp Azteca and Grand Slam also won Grade I races at a mile during their racing careers: the first in the 2017 Cigar Mile, the second in the 1997 Futurity S.

A third-generation homebred for Ziebarth, Sweet Azteca is out of a family first nurtured by Ziebarth's late mother, Cecilia Straub Rubens. The Beholder Mile winner's fourth dam is the famed Straub Rubens mare Cee's Song. Sold for $2.6 million to Dromoland Farm in 2001, Cee's Song produced Horse of the Year Tiznow, MGSW & GISP Budroyale, GSW Tizdubai, and the dams of GISWs Oxbow and Paynter. The family is seeing a revitalization in 2024 as, in addition to Sweet Azteca, 'TDN Rising Star', GII Rachel Alexandra S. winner, and top GI Kentucky Oaks contender Tarifa (Bernardini) is a direct descendant.

So Sweetitiz has a 2-year-old colt named Mucho Dulce (Mucho Macho Man) and a yearling colt named Under the Big Sky (Tonalist). She is in foal for 2024 with a full-sibling to Sweet Azteca.


Saturday, Santa Anita Park
BEHOLDER MILE S.-GI, $301,000, Santa Anita, 3-9, 4yo/up, f/m, 1m, 1:36.40, ft.
1–SWEET AZTECA, 120, f, 4, by Sharp Azteca
           1st Dam: So Sweetitiz (MSW, $180,480), by Grand Slam
           2nd Dam: Sweetitiz, by El Prado (Ire)
           3rd Dam: Tizsweet, by Cee's Tizzy
1ST BLACK TYPE WIN, 1ST GRADED STAKES WIN, 1ST GRADE I WIN. O/B-Pamela Cee Ziebarth (KY); T-Michael W. McCarthy; J-Flavien Prat. $180,000. Lifetime Record: 4-3-0-1, $301,200. Werk Nick Rating: B. Click for the eNicks report & 5-crosspedigree or free Equineline.com catalogue-style pedigree.
2–Adare Manor, 122, m, 5, by Uncle Mo
           1st Dam: Brooklynsway (GSW-USA, MSW & GSP-Can, $724,597), by Giant Gizmo
           2nd Dam: Explosive Story, by Radio Star
           3rd Dam: Maya's Note, by Editor's Note
($180,000 Ylg '20 FTKFEB; $190,000 RNA Ylg '20 FTKSEL; $375,000 2yo '21 OBSOPN). O-Michael Lund Petersen; B-Town & Country Horse Farms, LLC & Gary Broad (KY); T-Bob Baffert. $60,000.
3–Green Up, 120, m, 5, by Upstart
           1st Dam: Green Punch, by Two Punch
           2nd Dam: Green Jeans, by Green Dancer
           3rd Dam: Duds, by Ack Ack
1ST G1 BLACK TYPE. 'TDN Rising Star'. ($10,000 Ylg '20 EASOCT). O-Team Valor International, LLC; B-Althea Richards (VA); T-Todd A. Pletcher. $36,000.
Margins: 3/4, 5HF, 3/4. Odds: 3.40, 1.10, 4.60.
Also Ran: Desert Dawn, Window Shopping, Coffee in Bed, Interstatedaydream. Scratched: Kirstenbosch, Turnerloose.
Click for the Equibase.com chart or the TJCIS.com PPs. VIDEO, sponsored by FanDuel TV.

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