Azeri, the 2002 Horse of the Year and 2003 champion older filly or mare owned by the Allen Paulson Living Trust, tuned up for the grade I, $400,000 Personal Ensign Aug. 27 with a sparkling breeze on the Oklahoma training track Thursday morning.The 6-year-old mare covered six furlongs in 1:11 3/5, a remarkable time for the training track, with regular exercise rider C.T. Lang aboard. NYRA clockers recorded fractions of :12 2/5, :24 1/5, :35 4/5 and a gallop-out time of 1:26 3/5 for seven furlongs."She was something else," Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas said while grazing Azeri behind his barn. "That's mind-boggling after the harrow break. Usually I breeze her early in the morning, but today I elected to go later because I wanted to see her all the way around."Lukas could tell the work was strong, but did not think the great mare broke 1:12 for six furlongs."I picked her up and rode back to the barn, then I thought, 'She was rolling pretty good, I think I'll ride up there and see what she went in because I don't have a stopwatch,'" he said. "They told me 1:11 3/5 and I couldn't believe it, but they had three watches on her, so there's no doubt about that. The rider never touched her."
Throughout the morning, other horsemen and employees commented to Lukas about the work.
"Nick [Zito] told me that's a world's record on that track," Lukas said. "One clocker said he's never seen anything like it."
Lukas usually leaves the barn soon after 9 a.m., but decided to spend extra time with the mare while she munched on some grass.
"She's special," the trainer said. "She's dancing to a different drum. I've become a bigger fan of her every time I take her out there. I've trained a lot of good horses in my day and I've had 22 world champions, yet she never ceases to impress me. Every time I take her out there, she does something that I come and tell the barn crew, 'Damn, how about that!' Today was no exception."