Azeri to Make Keeneland Debut in Spinster Stakes

Azeri to Make Keeneland Debut in Spinster Stakes
Photo: Barbara D. Livingston
Azeri makes Keeneland debut in Sunday's Overbrook Spinster Stakes.
Azeri, the 2002 Horse of the Year, has crisscrossed the country piling up 16 victories in 22 starts thus far in her career. She never has raced at Keeneland, but that will change Oct. 10 when she takes on six fillies and mares in the $500,000 Overbrook Spinster Stakes (gr. I) at the Lexington racetrack.

Owned by the Allen E. Paulson Living Trust, Azeri, a 6-year-old Kentucky-bred mare by Jade Hunter, cuts back to 1 1/8 miles, one of her better distances, for the Spinster. She'll carry 123 pounds and be ridden by Pat Day.

In her last start, Azeri, trained by D. Wayne Lukas, finished a tough second in the 1 1/4-mile Personal Ensign Handicap at Saratoga after chasing a very fast early pace. She took the lead past the three-quarter-mile mark but couldn't contain Storm Flag Flying, who was reserved early in the race.

Azeri has won five times and finished second once in six starts at the Spinster distance. She has banked $605,000 this year, with career earnings thus far of $3,649,820.

One of Azeri's losses this year came at hands of Mayo On The Side (by French Deputy) in the Humana Distaff Handicap (gr. I) at Churchill Downs. Mayo On The Side, owned by Lothenbach Stables and trained by Carl Nafzger, is entered in the Spinster with Robby Albarado named to ride at 123.

The Humana Distaff was at seven furlongs, and Azeri, who lost by only a head, gave the winner 11 pounds. Azeri appears much better around two turns, and in the Spinster, the weights are equal.

The lone 3-year-old in the Spinster field is Arnold Zetcher's House of Fortune, who's trained by Ron McAnally and will be ridden by Gary Stevens at 120. House of Fortune, by Free House, won the Fantasy Stakes (gr. II) and Hollywood Breeders' Cup Oaks (gr. II) this year, and in her last start finished second to Miss Loren in the Clement L. Hirsch Handicap (gr. II) at Del Mar.

The Spinster is the eighth race on a nine-race program. Probable post for the event is 4:45 p.m. EDT. Here's the field, in post-position order, with jockeys and weights:

1 Azeri Pat Day 123 pounds
2 One For Rose Emile Ramsammy 123
3 Tamweel Rene Douglas 123
4 Angela's Love Mark Guidry 123
5 Mayo On The Side Robby Albarado 123
6 La Reason Rafael Bejarano 123
7 House Of Fortune Gary Stevens 120

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