Azeri's Horse of Year stock rises after Distaff win.

Azeri's Horse of Year stock rises after Distaff win.

Associated Press

Trainer Says Azeri is Horse of the Year Material; May Face Males in 2003

Trainer Laura De Seroux was politicking Sunday morning to persuade Turf writers and other Eclipse Award voters that Breeders' Cup Distaff (gr. I) winner Azeri deserves the Horse of the Year title.

Speaking at the traditional post-Breeders' Cup breakfast at Arlington Park, De Seroux was among the winning trainers who reviewed Saturday's races and discussed future plans for their horses.

"My question is, who else is there at this point?" De Seroux asked in reference to the filly who won the Distaff in impressive fashion for her 10th victory in 11 career starts. "I don't know that there is a checklist of what you have to do to be Horse of the Year. She has been the model of consistency and done everything a horse is supposed to do."

The possibility of a rare Horse of the Year title for a female horse is the result of a lack of dominance throughout the year by a 3-year-old or older male.

De Seroux said the daughter of Jade Hunter will remain in training next year and could challenge males. "We will have to consider it," the trainer said. "She is just coming to the peak of her strength and maturity."

In reviewing Saturday's victory by Vindication in the Bessemer Trust Juvenile (gr. I), trainer Bob Baffert said the son of Seattle Slew lived up to expectations in the 1 1/8-mile race. "We were really high on this horse," Baffert said. "I think we saw a pretty fantastic horse yesterday."

In reference to War Emblem, the 2002 Kentucky Derby-Preakness winner conditioned by Baffert, the trainer said, "I think he is a good enough horse to fill his shoes." War Emblem was retired after finishing eighth in Saturday's Classic.

Buzz Tenney, assistant to trainer Shug McGaughey, said Long John Silver's Juvenile Fillies (gr. I) winner Storm Flag Flying will be sent to Palm Beach Downs to prepare for a 2003 campaign that will include the Kentucky Oaks or the New York Racing Association series for 3-year-old fillies.

An assistant to trainer Pascal Bary said NetJets Mile (gr. I) winner Domedriver will remain in training next year.

There was no update on John Deere Turf (gr. I) winner High Chaparral's plans because trainer Aidan O'Brien had already left the U.S. for Ireland.

At the breakfast, Breeders' Cup president D. G. Van Clief said the success of Saturday's event ensures that Arlington Park will become part of the rotation to host the World Thoroughbred Championships. "Arlington Park has established itself as a viable venue for future Breeders' Cup events," Van Clief said.

Arlington chairman Richard Duchossois said the success of the Cup was a team effort, noting the contributions from horsemen and media.

"The one thing we sell here is the mutuel ticket," Duchossois said. "If you didn't have the quality of horses to put on the show and the media to report it, we would have no reason to be here."