Race of the Week 2017

HRN Original Blog:
Zipse At The Track

ZATT’s Star of the Week, is … Sharp Azteca!

Sharp Azteca wins 2017 GP Handicap
Photo: Leslie Martin

I bet you expected me to say McCraken, didn’t you? With all due respect to the unbeaten son of Ghostzapper, who likely has moved to the top as the current favorite for the 2017 Kentucky Derby, his track record performance, in winning the Sam F. Davis, was not the performance of the week. That honor instead goes to Sharp Azteca, the sensational winner of yesterday’s Grade 2 Gulfstream Park Handicap. Before you string me up in the town square by my toenails, let’s take a look at what some of the speed figure gurus had to say about the respective races from Florida …


Beyer Speed Figures: Sharp Azteca (107) … McCraken (95)


TimeformUS Speed Figures: Sharp Azteca (131) … McCraken (116)


Granted, my weekly ZATT’s Star of the Week designation is more than just about speed figures, and at this stage of their careers, it’s not surprising that the four-year-old has higher figs than the three-year-old, but still, when I considered everything, I could only come to the conclusion that Sharp Azteca was the right choice. McCraken was super solid once again, but Sharp Azteca's blitz was an absolutely dominating performance in one of the week’s best races.


After pinballing between horses for the few steps out of the starting gate, Sharp Azteca joined Blofeld for a little duel down the backstretch. As if bored with that good horse, the son of Freud dispatched him with surprising ease. After the head-and-head down the backstretch, it would have made sense if the next two good horses in line would have been ready to pounce on the softened up leader approaching the stretch. Quite the opposite happened. Tommy Macho and Awesome Banner had absolutely no answer for the talent laden burst of Sharp Azteca. His acceleration away from the field, on the way to an easy victory, was electrifying.


After yesterday’s huge performance, his trainer, Jorge Navarro plans to point Sharp Azteca to the $1 million Godolphin Mile in March, and then the Grade 1 Metropolitan Handicap on Belmont Stakes Day. It’s an ambitious schedule to be sure, but after yesterday’s lights out performance, I can’t blame him in one bit. This horse is the real deal. He is also ZATT’s Star of the Week!



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Meet Brian Zipse 

Brian has been a passionate fan of horse racing his entire life. Taken to the races at a very young age, he has been lucky enough to see all the greats in person from Secretariat, Forego, and Ruffian through Rachel Alexandra, Zenyatta, and American Pharoah. Before coming to the Nation, Brian displayed his love for the sport through the development of his horse racing website, which quickly became one of the most popular blogs in the game. 

The Editor of Horse Racing Nation from 2010-2017, Brian authored a daily column as Zipse at the Track, or ZATT for short, and added his editorial flare to the overall content of the website. Now a Senior Writer for HRN, Brian continues to contribute his thoughts on racing, as well as co-hosting the popular racing show, HorseCenter. A big supporter of thoroughbred aftercare, he serves as the President of The Exceller Fund.

Brian's work has also been published on several leading industry sites. He has consulted for leading contest site Derby Wars, is both a Hall of Fame and NTRA poll voter, and is a Vox Populi committee member. 

A horse owner and graduate of DePaul University, Brian lives just outside of Louisville with his wife Candice and daughter Kendra.


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