Azeri, 2002 Horse of the Year.

Azeri, 2002 Horse of the Year.

Barbara D. Livingston

Owner Says 'Everything Looks Super' With Azeri

From a Santa Anita track report

Azeri, the 2002 Horse of the Year, is progressing under new trainer D. Wayne Lukas and could defend her title in the Apple Blossom Handicap (gr. I) at Oaklawn Park on April 3, according to owner Michael Paulson, who was at Santa Anita Thursday morning.

Azeri was previously trained by Laura de Seroux and has yet to start for Lukas. Azeri was held out from the Breeders' Cup Distaff (gr. I) when de Seroux, detected heat in her left front leg. At the time, de Seroux characterized the injury as acute tendonitis.

"We're just taking our time and Wayne's going to be real patient," Paulson said. "Everything looks super. We don't see any problems whatsoever, but with a champion horse like that we're going to take our time and be real diligent in bringing her back and make sure everything's perfect."

Although a 2004 schedule has not been outlined for the 6-year-old daughter of Jade Hunter, Paulson said a logical target would be the Apple Blossom, which Azeri has won twice.

"It's on the target screen," Paulson said. "That's the first big grade I, with a nice purse, so we're looking at it but she'll dictate which race."