Azeri: Blind Luck, Havre de Grace Clash Again

Azeri: Blind Luck, Havre de Grace Clash Again
Photo: Bill Denver/EQUI-PHOTO
Blind Luck (left) and Havre de Grace met 4 times in 2010.

Blind Luck and Havre de Grace clashed four times last year as they beceme finalists for the Eclipse Award as the nation's top 3-year-old filly. They renew their rivalry in the $150,000 Azeri Stakes (gr. III) at Oaklawn Park March 19.

Division champion Blind Luck won two of their head-to-head clashes and finished ahead of her nemesis in a third, the Breeders' Cup Ladies' Classic (gr. I), at Churchill Downs Nov. 5.

All were close. Havre de Grace's only win in last year's series, by a neck in the Fitz Dixon Cotillion Stakes (gr. II) at Parx Racing in Pennsylvania last fall, started a four-race streak of runner-up finishes for Blind Luck. Trainer Jerry Hollendorfer hopes a change of scenery for the Southern California-based Blind Luck will help end the spell.

The Azeri, for older fillies and mares at 1 1/16 miles on the main track, is the ninth on an 11-race program at Oaklawn. It is followed by the $300,000 Rebel Stakes (gr. II) for 3-year-olds. The Azeri, which attracted a field of seven, has a 5:02 p.m. CDT post.

Both Blind Luck and Havre de Grace, who will be making her first start for trainer Larry Jones, are being pointed to Oaklawn's $500,000 Apple Blossom Handicap (gr. I) April 15.

Blind Luck, owned by Hollendorfer, Mark Dedomenico, John Carver, and Peter Abruzzo, has not won since taking Saratoga's Alabama Stakes (gr. I) by a neck over Havre de Grace Aug. 21. She nosed Havre de Grace in the Delaware Oaks (gr. II) five weeks earlier.

After finishing second to Havre de Grace in the Cotillion, the Pollard's Vision   filly ran second as the favorite to Unrivaled Belle in the Ladies' Classic. She has raced twice this year, finishing second against short fields to pace-controlling Always a Princess in both the El Encino (gr. II) and La Canada Stakes (gr. II) at Santa Anita.
Garrett Gomez takes over on Blind Luck, who was ridden in her championship year by both Rafael Bejarano and Joel Rosario. She carries a feathery 115 pounds under allowance conditions and breaks from the far outside post.

Blind Luck has a win over the course, capturing last year's Fantasy Stakes (gr. II) by 2 1/2 lengths over Azeri foe Tidal Pool. Going on to win the Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) following the Fantasy, Blind Luck brings a 9-6-2 mark in 17 lifetime races into the Azeri with earnings of $2,448,712.

Fox Hill Farm's Havre de Grace has not been out since her third-place finish in the Ladies' Classic when she was part of trainer Tony Dutrow's stable. The daughter of Saint Liam has been a little slow to hit her stride in morning workouts, Jones noted earlier this month, but the bay filly has turned it up in her three most recent drills at Oaklawn.

Ramon Dominguez takes the reins on Havre de Grace, replacing her regular rider last year, Jeremy Rose. She drew post 4 and will also carry 115 pounds. Havre de Grace, making her racing debut at Oaklawn, has a lifetime mark of 3-3-2 in eight starts while banking $873,175.

Trainer Wayne Lukas entered both Tidal Pool and a second 4-year-old filly, Absinthe Minded. Both are in fine form.

Westrock Stables' Tidal Pool, third last year in both the Kentucky Oaks and Black-Eyed Susan Stakes (gr. II), has raced twice in 2011. She is coming off an impressive 8 1/2-length victory in a one-mile optional claiming allowance race at Oklawn Feb. 18. Terry Thompson retains the mount on the Yankee Gentleman   filly. She drew the rail and also carries 115 pounds.

Briland Farm homebred Absinthe Minded has won twice at the meet in front-running fashion. The daughter of Quiet American won the 1 1/16-mile Bayakoa by four lengths Feb. 19 for her first stakes win. Calvin Borel replaces Thompson aboard Absinthe Minded, who leaves from post 6 with co-high weight of 119 pounds.

Also in at 119 is Mercedes Stables' 6-year-old Spacy Tracy, making her first start for trainer Dutrow since capturing the Top Flight Handicap (gr. II) at Aqueduct Nov. 26. The Awesome Again   mare ended her 2010 campaign with three consecutive victories and wins in five in her last six races. Rose rides.

Kimber Lily has won three in a row after taking an Oaklawn optional claimer at 1 1/16 miles by nearly five lengths Feb. 21. She makes her stakes debut for trainer Kellyn Gorder.

$150,000 Azeri Stakes (gr. III, Race 9, 5:02 p.m.), Fillies & Mares 4 & Up, 1 1/16 Miles
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. Tidal Pool (KY), T J Thompson, 115, D W Lukas
2. Kimber Lily (KY), G Saez, 113, K Gorder
3. Shotgun Gulch (OK), L S Quinonez, 115, C R Trout
4. Havre de Grace (KY), R A Dominguez, 115, J L Jones
5. Spacy Tracy (KY), J Rose, 119, A W Dutrow
6. Absinthe Minded (KY), C H Borel, 119, D W Lukas
7. Blind Luck (KY), G K Gomez, 115, J Hollendorfer
 

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