BENSALEM, PA – Joseph Besecker’s Aztec Sense kept his hot streak alive Saturday, taking the lead early and never looking back en route to wiring the $150,000 Pa Derby Champion Stakes at Parx.
Breaking well under Emisael Jaramillo as the second betting choice at 7/2 odds, Aztec Sense quickly took command and posted fractions of :24.40, :48.66, and 1:13.33 while Zanotti and the 2/5 favorite Collected kept close watch. Beginning to separate heading into the far turn, Aztec Sense steadily inched away down the stretch before crossing with a 4-length advantage in a final time of 1:45.97 for the 1 1/16-mile event over a fast main track.
Zanotti made a bid for the lead in the far turn but came up empty and was only able to stave off Name Changer by a 1/2-length for second. Collected began falling off heading into the far turn and continued to slide after turning for home, finishing a disappointing fourth ahead of only Prince of Hempt to complete the order of finish. Exulting, Grasshoppin, Small Bear, and Sunny Ridge (whose connections opted to run in the Grade 2 Kelso Handicap at Belmont Park) were scratched.
Aztec Sense’s win was his seventh straight and eighth in nine starts since Besecker and trainer Jorge Navarro claimed him here last fall for $12,500. The 5-year-old gelded son of Street Sense now carries a record of 35-11-5-1 with earnings of $436,807.
Aztec Sense returned $9.20 to win, $5.20 to place, and $5 to show. Zanotti brought back $6.80 to place and $8 to show, while Name Changer paid $6.20 to show.