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Sharp Aza Tack Brings Speed To Kentucky Downs | 2022 Juvenile Sprint Stakes Preview & FREE Picks
Sharp Aza Tack after winning the Tyro Stakes (Equi-Photo / Denver)

Sharp Aza Tack Brings Speed To Kentucky Downs | 2022 Juvenile Sprint Stakes Preview & FREE Picks

Aaron previews the 2022 Juvenile Sprint Stakes at Kentucky Downs, then gives his top picks and longshots. Undefeated stakes champion Sharp Aza Tack brings plenty of speed to the race, but is he in danger of being upset? Tell us YOUR thoughts in the Comments section!

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The track press release:

Millionaire Grade 1 winner and Central Kentucky first-crop sire Sharp Azteca has gotten off to a rousing start at stud and one of the best runners from his initial crop may be the horse to beat in the $500,000 Global Tote Juvenile Sprint Stakes Thursday at Kentucky Downs.

Sharp Aza Tack drew post 2 on Friday morning for the Juvenile Sprint Stakes, a 6 ½-furlong race for 2-year-olds that lured a field of eight.

Trained by two-time Kentucky Derby (G1) winner Doug O’Neill, Sharp Aza Tack has won his two career starts, both five furlongs on turf, by a combined 9 ½ lengths after leading at every point of call.

Sharp Aza Tack, at odds of 12-1, broke his maiden by 2 ¼ lengths June 10 at Santa Anita and cruised home by 7 ¼ lengths as the even-money favorite in the Tyro Stakes on July 30 at Monmouth Park.

“He’s always been a pretty precocious colt,” O’Neill said. “It’s safe to say he’s exceeded our expectations. He’s been a really super addition to the stable and we’re optimistic that we can keep it going.”

O’Neill purchased Sharp Aza Tack for $100,000 at the Ocala Breeders’ Sales Co. March Sale of 2-Year-Olds In Training. The colt now races for R3 Racing (Ron Arakelian).

O’Neill said he decided to begin Sharp Aza Tack’s career on turf because he believed the competition wouldn’t be as tough as debuting on dirt.

“I think the initial start was one where he was training good, but just thought, generally early in the year, especially with the (Bob) Baffert barn, and some of the powerful barns out here, the turf sprints are a little bit easier than the dirt sprints,” the Southern California-based O’Neill said.

“Just thought you might avoid the million-dollar horses in the turf sprints. That was kind of the mindset and so far, so good.”

Sharp Aza Tack has been based since early July at Keeneland, where he has recorded a series of swift workouts leading up to the Global Tote, a race O’Neill said he circled after the colt won his career debut.

“The purse is through the roof,” O’Neill said. “He’s a Kentucky-bred. He hasn’t done anything wrong so far, so we’re excited.”

Three-time Eclipse Award winner Irad Ortiz Jr. (2018, 2019 and 2020) is named to ride Sharp Aza Tack for the first time in the Juvenile Sprint Stakes.

O’Neill is seeking his second career Kentucky Downs stakes victory after taking the 2019 Nevada State Bank Franklin-Simpson (G3) for 3-year-old sprinters with longshot Legends of War.

“We’re fired up and optimistic,” O’Neill said.

Sharp Azteca, who stands privately at Three Chimneys Farm in Midway, Kentucky, currently ranks third among North America’s freshman sires, according to BloodHorse statistics. His offspring also include unbeaten Iowa-bred sensation and Breeders’ Cup candidate Tyler’s Tribe, who has won his four starts by a combined 53 ¼ lengths. Tyler’s Tribe is a three-time stakes winner.