Assistant trainer Yvonne Azeff brushes Kentucky Derby winner Monarchos.

Assistant trainer Yvonne Azeff brushes Kentucky Derby winner Monarchos.

AP/Gail Burton

Azeff Showing Improvement; Condition Still Serious

Assistant trainer Yvonne Azeff, seriously injured after being thrown from her pony at Gulfstream last Saturday, appears from all signs to be making improvement at Memorial Regional Hospital in Hollywood, trainer John Ward said Thursday. Azeff has been unconscious since the accident. Although Ward had heard that Azeff's condition had been upgraded, hospital spokesperson Tara Bauer said Thursday afternoon her condition still was listed as serious.

"The doctors have reduced her sedatives quite a bit," Ward said. "She's showing more response and is getting closer to coming out of it. The neurosurgeon who was in charge said it looks as if they they won't have to perform any surgery, so she's now been turned over to the trauma unit. She's been breathing more on her own and I've been told she's supposed to be taken off the respirator this afternoon. If she continues to show the same kind of progress in the next 24 hours as she has in the last 24 hours we should be in good shape."

Azeff, who was not wearing a helmet, according to Ward, suffered her injury after the stable pony, whom she was riding, got spooked while accompanying a horse back to the barn and eventually bounced off a fence, unseating Azeff and pinning her beneath him. She suffered a severe whiplash in the fall, which reportedly caused the injury.

Azeff, 41, ran Ward's barn last year, and was instrumental in the development of Kentucky Derby winner Monarchos. Ward and his wife Donna have a farm across the road from Keeneland, and spend a good deal of time there in the spring, working with the 2-year-olds.

Previously, Azeff had been an assitant to D. Wayne Lukas, Pat Byrne, and Randy Bradshaw.