Sweet Azteca Breaks Track Record in Great Lady M

Benoit Photo

By Tracy Gantz BloodHorse.com

Cypress, CA (July 6, 2024)-Not only did her nine rivals not stand a chance against Sweet Azteca in the July 6 Great Lady M Stakes (G2), neither did the Los Alamitos Race Course track record for 6 1/2 furlongs. With the polished élan of a runner with much more experience than her five starts would indicate, Sweet Azteca floated home by five lengths in 1:14.33, breaking the previous track record set by Finest City in the 2016 Great Lady M by .15 seconds.

Columbiana Farm raised Sweet Azteca, is owned and bred by Pamela Ziebarth and trained by Michael McCarthy, is practically perfect in every way. In the Great Lady M, her second graded victory, she brought her record to four wins and a third.

The Great Lady M attracted a talented field of 10 that included 2023 La Brea Stakes (G1) winner Daddysruby, multiple stakes winner Chismosa (who defeated Sweet Azteca in the Las Flores Stakes, G3), and—from her own barn—multiple graded winner Three Witches, despite their credentials, they proved no match for 4-year-old Sweet Azteca.

Jockey Juan Hernandez got her away from the gate beautifully and positioned her in second behind pacesetting Daddysruby. As Daddysruby raced up the backstretch, Sweet Azteca awaited her cue.

Sweet Azteca engaged Daddysruby for the lead as they turned into the stretch, and Daddysruby tried without success to stay with her. Sweet Azteca powered by her to score easily. Daddysruby was much the best of the rest, finishing second by seven lengths over third-place Super Shine.

“I was very happy with our position, and she was always traveling well,” said Hernandez. “She switched leads in the stretch and just took off.”

McCarthy debuted Sweet Azteca at Churchill Downs in May 2023, and she won by 2 1/4 lengths. She didn’t face the starter again until the Jan. 1 Las Flores at Santa Anita Park, that layoff most likely accounting for her sole loss. She returned better than ever with a 12-length victory over allowance optional claimers at Santa Anita Feb. 2, followed by a win against Adare Manor in the March 9 Beholder Mile Stakes (G1), also at Santa Anita.

“We had our sights set on taking her to Kentucky for the Derby City Distaff, but she busted open her knee in her stall getting excited for feed time one day,” McCarthy said. “So we had to go to plan B, and this race fit on the calendar for us. It’s always nice to win at Los Alamitos. I enjoy being here.”

Ziebarth bred Sweet Azteca in Kentucky from the multiple stakes-winning Grand Slam mare So Sweetitiz. The family goes back to third dam Tizsweet, bred by Ziebarth’s mother, the late Cecilia Straub-Rubens, and a full sister to Horse of the Year Tiznow, bred and raced by Straub-Rubens.

Sweet Azteca is a daughter of sire Sharp Azteca, a multiple graded winner and earner of more than $2 million. Now 11, Sharp Azteca won the 2017 Cigar Mile Handicap (G1) and initially entered stud at Three Chimneys Farm near Versailles, Ky. He currently stands for private treaty in Japan at Shizunai Stallion Station, which is operated by the Japan Bloodhorse Breeders Association.