The long-awaited decision on where Horse of the Year Azeri will run next has been made. The 5-year-old daughter of Jade Hunter will run for a second straight year in the grade II, $300,000 Clement L. Hirsch Handicap at Del Mar on Sunday, Aug. 10.Owner Michael Paulson of the Allen Paulson Living Trust and trainer Laura de Seroux announced the decision Monday morning. The mare's connections were contemplating running in either the Hirsch, which was one of the victories that led to her Eclipse Award, or Saratoga's Whitney Handicap this Saturday.Paulson said the training schedule that had been set out for Azeri and the unpredictability of the weather in upstate New York were major factors in the decision. "Looking at the training schedule of getting to the Breeders' Cup and the other races before, we thought at this juncture that traveling all that way and with the weather being so unpredictable that it wouldn't be the prudent thing to do for the horse."We're hopeful that she won't be given too much weight in the Clement Hirsch. We're definitely going to look at that. We hope they won't penalize her."Azeri's racing schedule calls for her to defend her title in the Breeders' Cup Distaff, which this year will be held Oct. 25 during the Oak Tree meeting at Santa Anita.Azeri worked Monday morning under supervision of trainer De Seroux at her training grounds at San Luis Rey Downs in nearby Bonsall, Calif. A confident De Seroux said of the work: "She worked in her usual splendid style. She shaded 59 [seconds for 5 furlongs], galloped out [6 furlongs] in 1:11 and change and [7 furlongs] in 1:24 and change. She's in a very good holding pattern for the Clement Hirsch."The official time given the workout by the San Luis Rey Downs clocker was :59 flat.
De Seroux said the mare would work once more, probably next Monday, prior to the Hirsch.