Azeri's First Foal Wins Comeback at Hollywood

Kaleem Shah's Take Control wins after 2 1/2-year absence for trainer Bob Baffert.

Returning for his first start in more than 2 1/2 years, Take Control, the first foal out of 2002 Horse of the Year Azeri, was a sharp winner June 30 at Betfair Hollywood Park.

Take Control won his debut at Santa Anita Park Dec. 30, 2009, but had been plagued by shin problems that required two surgeries in the past two years. Now 5, the regally-bred son of A.P. Indy brought a sales-topping $1.9 million at the Keeneland April Sale of selected 2-year-olds in training in 2009.

The chestnut horse is owned by Kaleem Shah and trained by Bob Baffert. He has been in training for his latest comeback since April and has been on the Santa Anita work tab steadily since then.

Returning in an allowance optional claiming event at 1 1/16 miles on the Cushion Track, Take Control was made the 3-1 favorite in a field of 10. Ridden by Rafael Bejarano, Take Control broke a bit tardily and bobbled early, racing in eighth for the opening half-mile. Angled out leaving the final turn, Take Control rallied five wide through the lane to prevail by 1 1/2 lengths under some left-handed urging.

Take Control, who was bred in Kentucky by The Allen E. Paulson Living Trust, was consigned to the 2008 Keeneland September yearling sale by Hill ‘n Dale Sales Agency, agent, but was bought back for a record $7.7 million.

His dam, Azeri, won not only Horse of the Year in 2002, but was also champion older female three years consecutively from 2002-04. Take Control was her second winner of the weekend, following Wine Princess, a 2-year-old by Ghostzapper  that won an allowance race at Churchill Downs June 29. Azeri's other foal to race, Arienza, was a grade II-placed winner of two races. The daughter of Giant's Causeway  was retired earlier this year.

Azeri was purchased by Katsumi Yoshida for $2.25 million at the 2009 Keeneland November breeding stock sale and exported to Japan.