Horse of the Year Azeri and Laura De Seroux.

Horse of the Year Azeri and Laura De Seroux.


Azeri Out of Breeders' Cup Distaff

Azeri, the 2002 Horse of the Year, will not run in the Oct. 25 Breeders' Cup Distaff – Presented by Nextel, Michael Paulson announced Sunday night.

Paulson, son of the late Allen Paulson, who bred the champion, manages Azeri through her ownership by the Allen Paulson Living Trust.

The 5-year-old Jade Hunter mare won last year's Distaff in breathtaking fashion, her seventh straight victory. This year, she won her first four starts before finishing third (placed second via disqualification) in the Sept. 28 Lady's Secret Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. II).

Trainer Laura de Seroux confirmed to a Blood-Horse reporter Monday morning that Azeri would not start in the Breeders' Cup. She would not comment further on the matter.

It is unclear whether Azeri has been retired. If she is, she goes out with 14 wins in 16 starts, plus two seconds and earnings of $3,044,820.

Following the Lady's Secret, it was reported Azeri bled in the race.

"It was a hard decision to make, but I am confident it is the right decision, and in the best interest of Azeri," Paulson said in the prepared statement. "I was very concerned to see two very fast works over the last two weeks, and her response to such has not made me feel confident that she has recovered totally from whatever affected her unusual performance in the Lady's Secret.

"I do not believe that she would be 100% ready to compete in the World Thoroughbred Championship races."

Paulson said Azeri would be sent to Kentucky before a final decision is made as to whether or not she will race again. Azeri won eight grade I races during a brilliant career that emphasized the breeding of Allen Paulson and brought to prominence de Seroux's training career.