Azeri Stands Out in Del Mar's Hirsch Handicap

(Edited from track report)
Not deterred by Azeri's four straight Grade I victories, five fillies and mares will test her mettle Sunday in the $300,000 Clement L. Hirsch Handicap (gr. II) at Del Mar. The race will be run at 1 1/16 miles on the main track.

Signed up to tackle the 4-year-old daughter of Jade Hunter, owned by the Allen Paulson Living Trust and trained by Laura de Seroux, are: Amerman Racing Stables' Adoration, Ron and Susie Anson's Irguns Angel, E A Ranches' Queen of Wilshire, Marcel Zarour's Se Me Acabo and Richard Strauss and Roberta Williford's Angel Gift.

Since her only career loss, in the La Canada Stakes (gr. II) at Santa Anita Feb. 9, Azeri has reeled off Grade I wins in Santa Anita's Santa Margarita Handicap, Oaklawn Park's Apple Blossom Handicap, and Hollywood Park's Milady Breeders' Cup Handicap and Vanity Handicap.

The filly, who will be making her ninth lifetime start as she prepares once again for the $2-million Breeders' Cup Distaff, will carry high weight of 126 and will spot her foes from 10 to 13 pounds.

Azeri, who trains at San Luis Rey Downs, shipped in to Del Mar Wednesday afternoon, and took her second turn around the seaside oval this morning after going through her usual routine of getting acquainted with the paddock. Trainer de Seroux said the filly's gallop under regular rider Nuno Santos went as planned. She'll go to the track again on Saturday.

"She's so in tune with her training routine," de Seroux said, "she knows when she's getting ready to run. But as the race approaches, less is best. You want to leave some fizz in the bottle."

The $300,000 Clement L. Hirsch Handicap (gr. II)
PP Horse, Wt. (Jockey)
1. Irguns Angel, 116 (Jose Valdivia, Jr)
2. Se Me Acabo, 114 (Alex Solis)
3. Azeri, 126 (Mike Smith)
4. Adoration, 113 (Garrett Gomez)
5. Queen of Wilshire, 116 (Patrick Valenzuela)
6. Angel Gift, 114 (Brice Blanc).