The youngest horse in the field proved to be the toughest as Proud Azteca and rider Francisco Torres took home top honors in the 11th running of the $85,000-added AJ Foyt Stakes Wednesday, Aug. 6 at Indiana Grand Racing & Casino.
Only three-years-old, Proud Azteca was facing a field of older, more seasoned veterans in the 12-horse lineup on the turf. He was the only horse in the field with lifetime earnings less than $100,000, proving the depth of experience in the one and one-sixteenth mile race.
Breaking from post four, Proud Azteca was in the thick of the action from the start. Father Mick and rider Rodney Prescott scooted out to an early lead along the inside with immediate pressure from I’m Boundtoscore and rider Juan Saez from the outside. A host of other horses were vying for position behind the top two.
I’m Boundtoscore emerged as the leader heading down the backstretch and opened up several lengths on Father Mick, who in turn was several lengths ahead of the rest of the field. Proud Azteca was sitting comfortably in fourth on the outside of Short Round and Jeremy Rose. The field tightened up heading into the final turn and by the top of the stretch, there were several horses ready to pounce on the leaders.
“I thought he (Proud Azteca) would be further back early,” said Torres. “He was aggressive early, and I took a hold of him, but after that, he was all professional. When I called on him he was ready to go.”
I’m Boundtoscore was not giving in and maintained his position on the front. Torres had Proud Azteca rolling and after a brief battle, easily passed up the leader en route to a victory by one and one-half lengths over I’m Boundtoscore. Ironically, Unreachable Star, the oldest horse in the field at age 10, saved ground along the inside for jockey Leandro Goncalves and finished a strong third, representing both the youngest and the oldest horses in the field in the top three.
“It’s always hard for a younger horse to step up against older horses but he (Proud Azteca) proved himself today,” said Torres, who was aboard for the first time in the horse’s short career. “I think coming into this race, he probably needed a race last time out.”
Proud Azteca just missed the win in his previous start, a second place finish in the $85,000-added Snack Stakes. All seven of his career starts have been over the turf. Unraced at two, the Kitten’s Joy chestnut colt is owned by Brenda Tabraue and Jorge Herrera. The Indiana bred is now three for seven in 2014 with earnings in excess of $130,000. Proud Azteca is trained by Mike Maker.
The win in the AJ Foyt by Proud Azteca was the second on the card for Maker, who also had a win with Wild Swava in the afternoon’s seventh race, the $85,000-added Florence Henderson Stakes. Torres also rode that winner for Maker.