Azeri starts next in Milady.

Azeri starts next in Milady.

Barbara D. Livingston

Azeri to Run In Hollywood's Milady May 24

(from track report)
Reigning Horse of the Year Azeri will make her next start in the $200,000-added Milady Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. I) at Hollywood Park on May 24, trainer Laura de Seroux said from her training base at San Luis Rey Downs on Sunday.

"There is no point to traveling to Kentucky and subjecting her to all that Derby week craziness," said de Seroux, who had considered the $300,000 Louisville Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. II) on May 2 for the 5-year-old mare.

"She has been eating well and training well, but the Apple Blossom was a hard race," said de Seroux of Azeri's gutsy victory at Oaklawn Park in her 2003 bow on April 5. "She has a great mind, but the best thing for her is just to travel up the road to Hollywood Park."

Victories in the Milady and Vanity (gr. I) handicaps at Hollywood helped Azeri to Horse of the Year honors. The last horse to repeat in the Milady was the champion Paseana in 1993. Leading opposition is expected from Starrer, who scored her third straight graded stakes victory in the Santa Margarita Handicap (gr. I) at Santa Anita last month.

"The Milady gives her more time, and she won't have to get on any airplanes," continued de Seroux. Azeri is scheduled for her second half-mile work back since the Apple Blossom on Monday at San Luis Rey.

Regular rider Mike Smith is doing well after being involved in an ugly spill yesterday, according to his agent Bob Meldahl, and will be aboard Azeri. He sustained a sore groin and toe when thrown as his mount Prized Friend crashed through the collapsing rail in the stretch run of the TVG Khaled Stakes.

Starrer worked six furlongs Sunday in a bullet 1:13.60 for trainer John Shirreffs .

De Seroux expects to remain busy here during the next two weeks. Newcomers Freefourinternet and possibly Shacane could run in the $100,000-added Inglewood Handicap next Saturday.

Ballingarry will compete in the $400,000 Jim Murray Handicap on May 10, the same day as Total Impact and possibly Shacane (if he does not run in the Inglewood) compete in the $150,000 Mervyn LeRoy Handicap.