Sweet Azteca sets Los Alamitos mark in Great Lady M Stakes win – Orange County Register

Sweet Azteca won the strongest race of the Los Alamitos’ early-summer thoroughbred season Saturday like a filly who could make waves in a bigger spot at Del Mar this fall.

Ridden by Juan Hernandez, the odds-on favorite powered away from the other Grade I winner in a good field to win the $200,000, Grade II Great Lady M Stakes by five lengths in a track-record 1:14.33 for 6 1/2 furlongs.

The time beat by .15 of a second the mark held for eight years by Finest City, a promising omen because that Great Lady M champion went on to win the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare sprint at 8-1 odds later in 2016.

Trainer Michael McCarthy said in the winner’s circle that the Great Lady M was “plan B” after Sweet Azteca missed a run on the Kentucky Derby undercard because she’d gashed a knee in her stall. McCarthy was happy to see the gray daughter of Sweet Azteca and So Sweetitiz continues her year-long improvement by winning from behind pacesetter Daddysruby.

“The race didn’t play out the way I thought it would,” McCarthy said. “I figured she would go ahead and establish herself (on the lead), but it was nice to see her be able to sit off that filly.”

Four-year-old Sweet Azteca (who paid $3.40), coming off an upset of Adare Manor in the Grade I Beholder Mile at Santa Anita, won for the fourth time in five career starts for owner Pamela Ziebarth.

Daddysruby, the Grade I La Brea winner at Santa Anita in December, held on for second. Super Shine got up for third after a terrible start. Olivia Twist, a 37-1 shot, was fourth.

The three-week Los Al meet ends Sunday.

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