Lukas Can't Confirm Azeri's Return

(from Santa Anita notes)
Trainer D. Wayne Lukas said Friday morning he has received no confirmation from Azeri's owner, Michael Paulson, that the 2002 Horse of the Year would resume training under Lukas.

Azeri, who won 14 of 16 lifetime starts under trainer Laura de Seroux, had her career put on hold due to a tendon injury following her third-place finish in the Lady's Secret Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. II) Sept. 29.

"Until I hear it from Mr. Paulson, I haven't had it confirmed to me," Lukas said. "He visited with me about her but that was all. That was a couple weeks ago. I think if there were any announcements they would have to come from him. I think what's been published so far is pretty accurate. He hasn't really made any concrete decisions yet."

Asked if he would like to train Azeri, Lukas said, "Oh, absolutely. It's a challenge in a lot of ways but anybody would like to get her. But it's a tough challenge because she's done so well that you want to keep that thing going if you can. But I've done OK with some other mares, like Lady's Secret, Spain and Serena's Song."

Meanwhile, Lukas said will he spend the winter/spring meet at Santa Anita.

"We've always planned that," Lukas said. "I think we've got some good young horses here. We've got some we're going to have to see a little more from but I think we've got some pretty nice young horses. Our 3-year-olds could surface and be all right. I'd rather not name any and let them sort themselves out, but I think we'll be pretty competitive."