Azeri, seeks second Breeders' Cup Distaff.

Azeri, seeks second Breeders' Cup Distaff.

Barbara D. Livingston

De Seroux Says Azeri Has Bounced Back Better Than Expected

When Azeri was discovered to be suffering from a viral infection and raised white blood count following the Lady's Secret Breeders' Cup (gr. II), trainer Laura de Seroux had doubts about making the Breeders' Cup Distaff (gr. I). But those doubts are now gone.

"I'm an optimistic person, but I was very realistic following the Lady's Secret, and to tell you the truth, I thought I was going to be really up against it to make the Breeders' Cup," de Seroux said. "Azeri, being as special as she is to me, I would never lead her over there unless I thought she was 100%. So I was a little resigned to not even making the race. But I have to say it's been absolutely remarkable the way she has rebounded. I'm not forcing it to happen, it's just happening before my eyes every day, and I couldn't be any happier with her given all the negative circumstances we were faced with."

De Seroux said that Azeri is still the same powerhouse she was going into last year's Distaff, despite the defeat. "How fickle the world gets," she said. "She had an off day; she wasn't well. But she's been giving weight to all her rivals all year, and she hadn't lost a race since the Lady's Secret, so she's just as good as she was last year. All horses are going to have an off day sometime. It's just absolutely remarkable that she's given 100% every time she's gone over there. This is something we should never take for granted, and we have to realize how difficult it is to achieve."

De Seroux said the only reason she pre-entered Azeri in the Breeders' Cup Classic (gr. I) as well as the Distaff was because they had difficulty getting in touch with owner Michael Paulson, who was on a cruise, and decided it would be prudent to pre-enter in both just to be on the safe side. But she emphasized that the Distaff is the race Azeri is pointing for.

"My husband did reach him, but they didn't have very good reception, so it was really just a formality," de Seroux said. "The Distaff has always been my goal and my plan, and I'm sure Mike is on board with that. I've been telling Mike all year that the Distaff this year is as strong as ever. Sightseek, Got Koko, and Take Charge Lady are very serious fillies. And Azeri is a filly. Going against the males is something that's never come from me, and in my heart I never wanted to do it."

As for the horse of the Year picture, de Seroux said she is "not pre-occupied with Horse of the Year," adding that in her mind Azeri is "the horse of my life."