There are at least two trainers who think the correct move with Azeri is to run in the Breeders' Cup Classic – Powered by Dodge (gr. I) rather than the Breeders' Cup Distaff – Presented by Nextel (gr. I). One is D. Wayne Lukas, who trains Azeri. The other is Patrick Biancone.
Speaking Wednesday morning at Lone Star Park, Biancone said people "may be surprised she is in the Classic but they shouldn't be surprised when she wins" the $4 million centerpiece of the Oct. 30 World Thoroughbred Championships.
"She is the best, and if Wayne runs her in the Classic, you can be assured she is in top form," Biancone said. "You're talking about one of the greatest trainers in history."
Because he is a native of France who first trained there, Biancone has seen fillies run against colts many times. But it is a much more common occurrence in Europe than the U.S.
"They certainly are more open to it (running fillies and mares against colts) in Europe. Part of that is European racing is on turf."
Biancone trained Triptych, a multiple champion who ran against colts. "She won nine group I races but I think again, the turf is the big difference from Triptych to a decision like they have made with Azeri. It is a different time and different circumstances."
Lukas, of course, knows a thing or two about running fillies against colts. He has done so successfully with such runners as Winning Colors, Serena's Song and Lady's Secret.
"All of the great fillies and mares I've had, we've always run them against colts. But these are the very very best fillies and mares," Lukas said.
Azeri, by Jade Hunter, ran against colts once already this year, finishing eighth in the one-turn Met Mile (gr. I) at Belmont. She also has run the Classic distance of 1 1/4-mile once, when second to Storm Flag Flying in the Personal Ensign (gr. I) at Saratoga.
Lukas has won a record 17 Breeders' Cup races, the next highest being the eight captured by Shug McGaughey. Runners trained by Lukas have won $18,608,400 in Breeders' Cup races, more than $10 million more than second-place Bill Mott.
Besides Azeri, who races for Michael Paulson in the name of the Allen Paulson Living Trust, Lukas has one other Breeders' Cup starter this year, Consolidator for Bob and Beverly Lewis in the Bessemer Trust Breeders' Cup Juvenile (gr. I).
Biancone has two runners this year: Sense of Style in the Juvenile Fillies (gr. I) and Magistretti in the John Deere Turf (gr. I).