El Azteca is one of the sharpest performers on the grounds at the moment and is the pride and joy of Marco Rios, who bred, owns and trains the 4-year-old son of Panama Hanover. He already has his share of stakes trophies on the mantle and now has sights set on the Grundy crown.
“He had a week off before the first leg of the Grundy and Marco did a great job keeping him sharp,” Cisco related. “He’s so good that he can get the job done either on the front end or from behind right now and he’s just as game as a horse can be.”
Cisco was well aware that the trotter to beat last weekend was I Love New York, and that one’s cause was helped by the fact that he was able to show the way to the far turn without a challenge. “I was definitely watching Bruce (Clarke),” Cisco noted. “At the half, my horse started to feel real sharp in the hole and I knew it was time to come out and go after the leader.
“When I Love New York started drifting out in the stretch, I ducked my horse inside and he really responded.”
At the wire, El Azteca had three-quarter lengths on I Love New York and the 1:56 clocking shaved a full second off his previous lifetime standard.
A bit earlier on the evening it was Cisco and the 3-year-old pacing filly Babe Ridge who were posing for pictures after a Sire Stakes. The John Darrah homebred is trained by Amanda Fraser and won for the third time in nine appearances on the season.
“We’ve taken our time with this filly and she’s getting better with every start. She does everything right.”
Can El Azteca and Babe Ridge keep the momentum going with Cisco at the controls? Stay tuned.
Jim Grundy, Shelly Goudreau Series continue
The second legs of the Jim Grundy Trotting Series and the Shelly Goudreau Pacing Series will headline the Friday night action at Cal Expo, with El Azteca and I Love New York getting top billing in the Grundy, while Mobil Big Gun and Ideal Smile will head the Goudreau.
El Azteca comes into this week’s action riding a five-race winning streak for owner, trainer and breeder Marco Rios and pilot Scott Cisco. The 4-year-old son of Panama Hanover is a multiple stakeswinner and scored an impressive victory in last week’s opening leg of the Grundy as the second choice.
Sitting fourth in the early stages of that event, Cisco came after the favored pacesetter, I Love New York, at the half. Dropping inside that rival for the stretch drive, El Azteca responded and prevailed by three-quarter lengths in a lifetime-best, 1:56 clocking while coming a :27.4 final quarter.
I Love New York will be gunning for some revenge after doing the heavy lifting and having to settle for second in the Grundy kick-off. A 5-year-old homebred son of Broadway Hall, the dark-hued performer carries the banner of Jack Coffey, Patricia Waldeck and Bruce Clarke, with Clarke doing the driving and training.
Ideal Smile and Mobil Big Gun accounted for the two divisions of last weekend’s Goudreau opening leg. The former is a Michael Peral colorbearer from the Randal Smith barn who has captured three of his last four trips to the post here with back-to-back, 1:53.4, career-best clockings.
Mobil Big Gun did the stalk-and-pounce to perfection last week to win going away. Toman Interprises, Inc. is the owner, George Anthrop trains and Luke Plano will once again guide the Michigan-bred 6-year-old who has really picked up his game in his last couple of starts and has to be respected right back.