Azeri Scorches Half at Churchill Downs
by Steve Haskin
Date Posted: 6/29/2004 11:31:43 AM
Last Updated: 6/30/2004 5:23:20 PM

Azeri, with trainer D. Wayne Lukas, at Oaklawn Park earlier this year.
Photo: Coady Photography/Jeff Coady
Azeri, who bled in the recent Ogden Phipps Handicap (gr. I), bounced back with a blazing half-mile breeze in :45 3/5 at Churchill Downs Tuesday, the fastest of 46 works at the distance.

The 2002 Horse of the Year, who has lost her last three starts after winning the Apple Blossom Handicap (gr. I) for the third year in a row, may make her next start in the Go For Wand (gr. 1 ) Handicap at Saratoga on Aug. 1.

"She worked great," said Larry Kelly, assistant to trainer D. Wayne Lukas. "She went so easily we couldn't believe it. I thought she had gone in :47 and change, and when I heard the time I almost fell off my pony."

In the Phipps, Azeri rushed up to set the early pace, but was no match for Sightseek around the far turn, and quickly dropped out it, finishing last in the four-horse field. In the Go For Wand, she is expected to tackle Sightseek once again.

At Belmont Park Tuesday, Congrats turned in a bullet half-mile work in :46 3/5, prepping for a possible start in Saturday's $500,000 Suburban Handicap (gr. I).

Those expected to enter the 1 1/4-mile race are Dynever, Bowman's Band, Peace Rules, Colonial Colony, Devil Time, Newfoundland, and Sarava. If the track comes up sloppy, however, Dynever and Peace Rules will scratch and run instead in the $750,000 Hollywood Gold Cup (gr. I) July 10. The long-range forecast does call for showers on Saturday.

Also at Belmont, Brooklyn Handicap (gr. II) winner Seattle Fitz breezed a half in :49 for the Whitney Handicap (gr. I) on Aug. 7.

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