Azeri, Headed for Humana Distaff, Tops Derby Week Noms

(from Churchill Downs report)
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.

Azeri has been nominated to a pair of stakes races for Kentucky Derby Week at Churchill Downs.

The 6-year-old daughter of Jade Hunter returned to action with a record third consecutive victory in the Apple Blossom Handicap (gr. I I) at Oaklawn Park on April 3. She is nominated for both the $300,000-added Louisville Breeders' Cup (gr. II) at 1 1/16-miles on Kentucky Oaks Day (April 30) and the Humana Distaff, one of three grade I events scheduled for the following day.

Lukas said that the champion would be pointed to the Humana Distaff. "It's a grade one race versus a grade two and we'd like to keep her in grade one company," said Lukas. "I think she can handle the 7/8ths (of a mile distance) easily."

The Kentucky Derby Week stakes schedule includes 15 races with total purses of $3.55 million and nominees totaling 1,156. That number includes nominations to the $1 million Kentucky Derby (gr. I, 448 nominations), the $500,000-added Kentucky Oaks (gr. I, 145 nominations) and the $400,000-added Woodford Reserve Turf Classic (gr. IT, 98 nominations) that had been announced earlier.

Other major stars nominated to the Derby Week stakes races at Churchill Downs include grade I winners Congaree and Pico Central, both nominated to the Churchill Downs Handicap (gr. II); Sightseek, also nominated to both the Louisville Breeders' Cup and Humana Distaff; Wild Spirit, nominated to the Louisville Breeders' Cup; and Lady Tak, who is nominated to the Humana Distaff.

Supplemental nominations will be accepted to all of the Kentucky Derby Week stakes events at Churchill Downs. The Kentucky Derby, the first leg of the Visa Triple Crown, requires a fee of $150,000 on the day of entry, April 28, for supplemental nominees. All other Churchill Downs stakes races accept supplemental nominations for a fee that equals 5% of the race purse. Supplemental nominations to all handicap races on the Derby Week stakes schedule must be made by the close of entries on April 23. Racing Secretary Doug Bredar will release weight assignments for those races on April 24.

Date -- Race (Grade), Distance, Division
4/24 -- $100,000-added Derby Trial (GIII), Mile, 3 YO

4/29 -- $100,000-added Mamzelle, 5 f (T), 3 & UP F & M; $100,000-added La Troienne (gr. III), 7 ½ f, 3 YO F

4/30 -- $500,000-added Kentucky Oaks (gr. I), 1 1/8 m, 3 YO F; $300,000-added Louisville Breeders' Cup (gr. II), 1 1/16 m, 3 & UP F & M; $100,000-added Crown Royal American Turf (gr. IIIT), 1 1/16 m (T), 3 YO; $100,000-added Aegon Turf Sprint (gr. IIIT), 5 f (T), 3 & UP; $100,000-added Edgewood, 1 1/16 m (T), 3 YO F; $100,000-added Alysheba, 1 1/16 m, 3 & UP

5/1 -- $1,000,000 guaranteed Kentucky Derby (gr. I), 1 ¼ m, 3 YO; $400,000-added Woodford Reserve Turf Classic (gr. IT), 1 1/8 m (T), 3 & UP; $250,000-added Humana Distaff (gr. I), 7 f, 4 & UP F & M; $200,000-added Churchill Downs Handicap (gr. II), 7 f, 4 & UP; $100,000-added Argent Mortgage Distaff Turf Mile (gr. IIIT) Mile (T), 3 & UP F & M; $100,000-added Three Chimneys Juvenile, 5 f, 2 YO