Azeri to Ship to Hollywood for Bayakoa Dec. 12

(from Churchill Downs notes)
Azeri could next race at Hollywood Park Dec. 12 in the $150,000-added Bayakoa Handicap (gr. II), trainer D. Wayne Lukas said Wednesday.

Remaining in training at Churchill Downs in the meantime, the 6-year-old Jade Hunter mare is scheduled to ship back to California on Dec. 10, Lukas said.

Azeri was not entered in Thursday's Falls City Handicap (gr. II) at Churchill Downs because of concerns over weight assignments for the race.

"We factored in everything," said Lukas. "We're coming off a mile and a quarter race (Breeders' Cup Classic) with a lot of weight and then we pick up 126 pounds (for the Falls City). Really it got down not so much to the 126, which was a concern, but it was the spread"

Lukas admitted that the possible implications of the Falls City regarding Azeri's bid for the Eclipse Award for older filly or mare were also an important part of the final decision to pass on the race. Azeri is competing with the retired Sightseek for that honor and a Falls City loss could have created a major hurdle for the 2002 "Horse of the Year" in her bid for a fourth championship.

"I think we're in good shape right now," he said. "We don't want to do anything to jeopardize that."