Dubai World Cup: Sharp Azteca and the Godolphin Mile
Ask Jorge Navarro about the left-front foot injury Sharp Azteca (USA) sustained and you will probably be treated to a series of gruesome cell-phone images.
There is no recognisable horse anatomy, just an abstract mass of hair and blood. The trainer does not show off these images for shock value; to him you need to see them to fully comprehend the will of his colt and the horsemanship of his team.
“They told us at first he would be away from the races for a year,” Navarro said. “He spooked from the sound of a dumpster being picked up and dropped. He was feeling good and grabbed himself.”
Navarro could not believe the misfortune. He had 70 horses at Monmouth Park in New Jersey and the one to sustain a freak injury had to be his best.
“The first 10 days we were constantly working on him,” he said. “My blacksmith did an amazing job, and my vets.”
Patched up and fully stabilised, Sharp Azteca was back working in less than a month. Two months later he was racing again and now, six months after the injury, Sharp Azteca is the top-rated prospect for the Godolphin Mile sponsored by Meydan Sobha.
Navarro nearly missed out on training Sharp Azteca but he wanted the colt so badly he convinced owner Ivan Rodriguez Gelfenstein to spend $220,000 on him. It was by far the largest purchase Navarro, primarily a claiming trainer, had ever been a part of.
“I was on the phone with Ivan and I was shaking,” Navarro said. “It’s just so much money. Ivan asked me, ‘How much do you like him?’ And I said, ‘I don’t like him, I love him.’”
A win on Saturday would help to ease the sting that still lingers for Navarro after watching his crack sprinter X Y Jet (USA) get caught by Muarrab (GB) in the final strides of last year’s Dubai Golden Shaheen sponsored by Gulf News.
“It was so hard,” Navarro said. “There were tears. I turned around and my mother’s crying, my wife is crying, the jockey’s crying, my groom is crying. But a month later we won two big races at Churchill Downs and I realised that God had other plans for me.”
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