Champion mare Azeri worked seven furlongs in 1:24 3/5 at Santa Anita Friday, trainer D. Wayne Lukas confirming the move is in preparation for the $500,000 Apple Blossom Handicap (gr. I) at Oaklawn Park on April 3. "The Apple Blossom is the one we're looking at," Lukas said. Asked if Mike Smith would retain the mount on the 2002 Horse of the Year, Lukas said, "We haven't named any rider. No decision has been made but I don't think I'll have any trouble getting a rider for her."
Smith, who has ridden the daughter of Jade Hunter in all 16 of her races, could have a conflict. He is scheduled to ride Lion Heart in the Santa Anita Derby (gr. I) on April 3. Azeri, the 2002 Horse of the Year, galloped out a mile in 1:38 2/5.A winner of 14 of 16 races for former trainer Laura de Seroux, Azeri has not raced since being moved from third to second via disqualification in the Lady's Secret Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. II) at Oak Tree on Sept. 28.