Making just her fourth career start and first around two turns, Sweet Azteca became racing’s newest Grade I winner with a front-running victory in Saturday’s $300,000 Beholder Mile at Santa Anita.


Trained by Michael McCarthy, Sweet Azteca broke the quickest of all under Flavien Prat and led what was a bunched field through an opening quarter mile in 23.40 seconds. Down the backstretch, Sweet Azteca was pressed by Eastern invader Green Up for Todd Pletcher when posting a half-mile split of 47.40 seconds. Tracking that pair were Interstatedaydream, also for Pletcher, and 6-5 favorite Adare Manor, who was racing on the rail under Santa Anita leading rider Juan Hernandez.

Sweet Azteca continued to race comfortably around the second turn, extending her advantage to two lengths when reaching the quarter pole in 1:11.36. At that point, Adare Manor and Juan Hernandez angled out for clear sailing, but they could not get to the winner. Despite having never gone beyond 6 ½ furlongs, Sweet Azteca had enough left in the tank late to fend off the favorite and score by three-quarters of a length.

Dispatched as the 3-1 second choice, Sweet Azteca returned $8.80, $4 and $3.60. Adare Manor paid $2.80 and $2.30. Green Up, off at 4-1, finished 5 ½ lengths back of Adare Manor in third and paid $3.20.

Sweet Azteca races as a homebred for Pamela Zeibarth. She is by Sharp Azteca out of multiple stakes winner So Sweetitiz, by Grand Slam, who Zeibarth also bred.

Sweet Azteca was a debut winner sprinting last May at Churchill Downs then was sidelined the remainder of the year. She resurfaced Jan. 1 in the GIII Las Flores here going six furlongs and had to settle for third after drifting out badly in the stretch. Sweet Azteca got back on the beam when dropped into a 6 ½ furlong allowance here Feb. 2, which she dominated by 12 lengths.

Sweet Azteca is now 3-0-1 in four starts and the $180,000 winner’s share pushes her earnings to $301,200.

Santa Anita 

© 2009 All rights reserved.