Astra, one of the top turf mares in the early part of this decade, was euthanized June 12 at Hagyard Equine Medical Institute near Lexington because of complications from colic. The 11-year-old daughter of Theatrical produced an El Pradofilly April 8 for Allen E. Paulson Living Trust and Liberty Road Stables. The filly has been placed on a nurse mare.
Astra was bred by Paulson and initially raced for him and later for his living trust. Trained first by Simon Bray and then by Laura de Seroux, Astra won two runnings each of the Gamely Breeders' Cup (gr. IT), Beverly Hills (gr. IT), and Santa Barbara (gr. IIT) Handicaps. She also captured the Jenny Wiley Stakes (gr. IIIT) and Matiara Stakes on grass and placed in three stakes, including the Beverly D. Stakes (gr. IT). She retired with 11 win from 16 races and earnings of $1.3 million.
"She was a pretty special filly, one of the best," said Paulson's son, Michael. "We tried everything to save her--put her in a hyperbaric chamber--but she started to worsen that Tuesday (June 12)."
De Seroux not only trained Astra in 2002, but also Azeri, who was voted 2002 Horse of the Year and champion older mare for the Paulson living trust.
"Both Astra and Azeri were the top ranked mares on the World Thoroughbred Rankings," Michael Paulson said. "Astra was on the grass and Azeri on the dirt."
"She was like a freight train, an amazingly courageous mare," de Seroux said. "I compared both of them to tennis champions Lindsay Davenport and Steffi Graf. Astra is more like Lindsay."
Azeri produced her first foal this year, an A.P. Indycolt for the Paulson Living Trust and Michael Paulson. She is boarded at John Sikura's Hill 'n' Dale Farms near Lexington.
Astra was a homebred in more ways than one. Allen Paulson not only raced her dam, Savannah Slew (by Seattle Slew), but he also won the 1987 Breeders' Cup Turf (gr. IT) with Theatrical before standing him at his Brookside Farms near Versailles, Ky.
Astra, who was boarded at Ashford Stud near Versailles, Ky., also is the dam of the 3-year-old filly Starastra and a yearling colt by Awesome Again . Starastra, by Giant's Causeway , is in training in Ireland.