Highlights of this week's report from Saratoga: Redemption for Lukas and Azeri...Anniversary of an historic Travers... No spa visit for Actxecutive... Stamina in the Family of Afleet Alex... Sir Shackleton, Zito's Sleeper.
Azeri's victory over Sightseek in the $245,000 Go for Wand Handicap (gr. I) Sunday at Saratoga Race Course not only erased many doubts about her recent form, it also made her the richest mare of all time.
The champion mare Azeri can become the all-time top-earning mare in North American racing with a victory in the $250,000 Go for Wand Handicap (gr. I) at Saratoga Race Course Sunday. But to do so, she'll have to overcome Sightseek, who trounced her in their most recent start in the Ogden Phipps Handicap (gr. I) at Belmont Park June 19.
Presidentialaffair took control out of the gate and never looked back, winning the $100,000 Salvator Mile (gr. III) by a length at Monmouth Park on Sunday.
Saturday's $500,000 Coaching Club American Oaks (gr. I), reduced in distance once again to 1 1/4 miles, drew a field of six 3-year-old fillies, highlighted by another showdown between Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) winner Ashado and Mother Goose (gr. I) winner Stellar Jayne.
Grade I winner Imaginary Lady, an 18-year-old daughter of Marfa, was euthanized July 16 after being found in the field at Spendthrift Farm near Lexington with a fractured leg.
Robert and Beverly Lewis and trainer D. Wayne Lukas had plenty to celebrate in Sunday's Independence Day $110,800 Debutante (gr. III) at Churchill Downs when their favored Classic Elegance surged past stablemate Paragon Queen in the final stages.
The D. Wayne Lukas-trained Stellar Jayne kicked away from even-money favorite Ashado in the final furlong to register a huge 2 1/2-length surprise in the $300,000 Mother Goose (gr. I) for 3-year-old fillies at Belmont Park.
Just three accepted the challenge of extending Azeri's two-race losing streak in Saturday's $300,000 Ogden Phipps Handicap (gr. I) for fillies and mares at Belmont Park, but the task figures to be far from easy for the 6-year-old champion.
Following her sharp work Wednesday, Azeri's next objective is the $300,000 Ogden Phipps (gr. I) at Belmont Park on June 19, trainer D. Wayne Lukas said.
Stellar Jayne, ridden by Robby Albarado, took the lead in the upper stretch and cruised to a 3 1/4-length win over Dynaville in Saturday's co-featured $161,400 Dogwood Breeders' Cup (gr. III) for 3-year-old fillies at Churchill Downs.
Monday's Memorial Day $750,000 Metropolitan Handicap (gr. I) kicks off Belmont Stakes week with an outstanding cast, including 2002 Horse of the Year Azeri, last year's 3-year-old champion Funny Cide and Pico Central and Strong Hope, the 1-2 finishers of Aqueduct's Carter Handicap (gr. I).
The D. Wayne Lukas-trained Stellar Jayne can break back into the victory column when she heads a field of seven 3-year-old fillies in Sunday's $150,000-added Dogwood Breeders' Cup (gr. III) at Churchill Downs.
The Metropolitan Handicap (gr. I) on May 31 at Belmont Park is expected to be the next stop for 2002 Horse of the Year Azeri, but only if trainer D. Wayne Lukas approves of the weight assignment for the 6-year-old champion.
Azeri could next race against males in the $750,000 Metropolitan Handicap (gr. I) at Belmont Park on May 31, trainer D. Wayne Lukas said from his Churchill Downs stable Friday.
Azeri came back time after time, but it wasn't enough. Mayo on the Side and Pat Day got by at the end to win the Humana Distaff Handicap (gr. I) at Churchill Downs Saturday.
Buckram Oak Farm's Last Song was an early bird who got a good track to work over at Churchill Downs Sunday morning, breezing five furlongs in 1:00 1/5 for trainer Carl Nafzger in preparation for Friday's Kentucky Oaks (gr. I).
The Allen Paulson Living Trust's Azeri, the 2002 "Horse of the Year" and champion older mare in 2003, will be pointed to the $250,000-added Humana Distaff (gr. I) at seven furlongs on Kentucky Derby Day May 1 at Churchill Downs, trainer D. Wayne Lukas said Thursday.
Allen E. Paulson Living Trust's Azeri, the 2002 Horse of the Year and a dazzling winner of the recent Apple Blossom Handicap (gr. II) at Oaklawn Park, worked a bullet four furlongs on a muddy track Wednesday at Churchill Downs.
Trainer D. Wayne Lukas brought former champion Azeri all the way back Saturday to capture the $500,000 Apple Blossom Handicap (gr. I) in smart front-running fashion over a strong field at Oaklawn Park.
Champion mare Azeri worked seven furlongs in 1:24 3/5 at Santa Anita Friday, trainer D. Wayne Lukas confirming the move is in preparation for the $500,000 Apple Blossom Handicap (gr. I) at Oaklawn Park on April 3.
Trainer D. Wayne Lukas, who did not compete in the Santa Anita Derby (gr. I) last year for the first time since 1979, will miss the West Coast's premier 3-year-old race again this year.
- By Ray Paulick
By Ray Paulick -- The victories by Tabasco Cat in the 1994 Preakness (gr. I) and Belmont Stakes (gr. I) were looked upon by the late William T. Young as his happiest moments in racing.
Tabasco Cat, who won the 1994 Preakness (gr. I) and Belmont (gr. I) Stakes as a homebred for William T. Young and David Reynolds, died at the Japan Bloodstock Breeders' Association's Shizunai Stallion Station in Japan.
Azeri breezed five furlongs in :58 3/5 Wednesday at Santa Anita under the watchful eye of owner Michael Paulson.
Feb. 18, 1995
Thunder Gulch at Gulfstream Park
D. Wayne Lukas said Sunday that he has been delighted with Azeri since the Hall of Fame trainer received the champion Dec. 28. Sunday, the 2002 Horse of the Year worked four furlongs in :48 3/5 at Santa Anita.
Azeri, the 2002 Horse of the Year, had her first official workout in the care of her new trainer, D. Wayne Lukas Sunday morning, breezing three furlongs in :35 1/5.
One of the more important starts of the year for trainer D. Wayne Lukas racing stable will take place on the first Saturday in February at Aqueduct as Overbrook Farm's Quick Action faces his first test around two turns. The $75,000 Whirlaway for 3-year-olds at 1 1/16 miles will help determine whether or not the son of Carson City continues on the Triple Crown trail.
By Cot Campbell -- The prime necessary ingredients to attract and retain horse owners are: glamour, recognition, tax benefits, and profit. In that order.
It certainly wasn't the biggest race of the season, but Monday's $81,225 Fred "Cappy" Capossela had to be special to Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas' New York operation. The winner, Quick Action is owned by longtime client Overbrook Farm, whose founder, William T. Young, died last week.
Azeri, the 2002 Horse of the Year, is progressing under new trainer D. Wayne Lukas and could defend her title in the Apple Blossom Handicap (gr. I) at Oaklawn Park on April 3, according to owner Michael Paulson, who was at Santa Anita Thursday morning.
- By Ray Paulick
"This is a major, major loss to racing," trainer D. Wayne Lukas said upon learning of the death of W. T. Young, his longtime friend and business associate.
Azeri, the 2002 Horse of the Year, arrived at D. Wayne Lukas' Santa Anita barn Dec. 28 to begin training toward a 2004 campaign. "She showed a lot of energy, so she went to the track and jogged lightly with the pony this morning," the Hall of Fame trainer said Monday.
Trainer D. Wayne Lukas said Friday morning he has received no confirmation from Azeri's owner, Michael Paulson, that the 2002 Horse of the Year would resume training under Lukas.
Be Gentle lost all chance right out of the gate in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies (gr. I). She won the $230,000 Golden Rod (gr. II) Saturday at Churchill Downs by getting out of the gate first and leading all the way. It just goes to show what racing luck can mean.
Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas, who has already saddled more winners of the $200,000-added Golden Rod Stakes (gr. II) than anyone at Churchill Downs, sends out the imposing duo of Be Gentle and Stellar Jayne in Saturday's 60th renewal of the race for 2-year-old fillies.
Tom VanMeter II hopes he has the bases covered in Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies (gr. I). A principal in Eaton Sales along with Reiley McDonald, VanMeter has sold many "home run" runners, but he has two of his own on deck for the $1-million race for 2-year-old fillies: Be Gentle and Victory U.S.A.
This Saturday marks the 20th anniversary of the Breeders' Cup, and only one trainer has saddled horses in each rendition of racing's biggest day. D. Wayne Lukas, in addition to his vast success in Triple Crown events, is by far the winningest Breeders' Cup conditioner.
Tom VanMeter II's Be Gentle, runner up to the undefeated Ashado last time out in the Spinaway Stakes (gr. I), looms large against six rivals in the $400,000 Darley Alcibiades Stakes (gr. II) Friday at Keeneland.
Michael Tabor and Derrick Smith's Pomeroy was made the 9-5 morning line choice for the Kentucky Cup Juvenile (gr. III) and Padua Stable's Class Above was given the same listing for the Kentucky Juvenile Fillies by Turfway Park oddsmaker Mike Battaglia for Saturday's 10th running of the Kentucky Cup at the northern Kentucky track.
The rain continued to come down at Belmont Park Thursday morning as several Belmont Stakes (gr. I) contenders tried to stay loose for Saturday's main event.
There was little activity at Pimlico Thursday morning, with only four Preakness horses on the grounds. The highlight of the morning was D. Wayne Lukas doing his best Don Rickles impersonation at the traditional Alibi Breakfast.
With Funny Cide and Peace Rules stabled in New York, and not expected to ship out for another day or two, Pimlico finally landed their own big two when Bob Baffert and D. Wayne Lukas arrived from Louisville early Wednesday.
Keeneland ended its 15-day spring meeting with slight declines in both total handle and on-track attendance.
Count Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas among those who are finding California an increasingly difficult place to be successful.
B. Wayne Hughes and Biscuit Stable's Atswhatimtalknbout breezed four furlongs in his first-ever workout in blinkers and Scrimshaw breezed a sharp half-mile for trainer D. Wayne Lukas shortly after Churchill Downs' track opened for training Wedneday.
D. Wayne Lukas has decided Ten Cents A Shine will race in Kentucky this weekend instead of his original plan of running the colt in Arkansas. Crowned Dancer is also slated to run at Keeneland Saturday.
Ken Ramsey's Ten Cents a Shine, who finished second in last year's Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes (gr. II) for trainer Kenny McPeek, has been turned over to D. Wayne Lukas, Ramsey said Wednesday.
A high temperature has knocked Bham out of his scheduled start in Saturday's Fountain of Youth Stakes, forcing trainer Todd Pletcher to rethink his plans for next weekend. With Bham out, Pletcher now may run Indy Dancer in the Fountain of Youth rather than the Risen Star at Fair Grounds.
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