Trio of Stakes Winners Work at Churchill Downs

A busy morning of training at Churchill Downs saw significant moves by 2002 Horse of the Year Azeri and 3-year-old stars Fire Slam and Victory U.S.A.

Azeri, owned by the Allen Paulson Living Trust, zipped six furlongs in 1:12.20 over a "fast" track for Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas.

The 6-year-old daughter of Jade Hunter is scheduled to run in the Metropolitan Handicap (gr. I) on Memorial Day at Belmont Park, pending an assessment of weight assignments that are scheduled to be released on Tuesday. Azeri's move was the fastest of three works at the distance.

Stan Fulton's Fire Slam zipped five furlongs in :59.20 in preparation for a run in the seven-furlong Riva Ridge Breeders' Cup (gr. II) at Belmont Park on the June 5 Belmont Stakes (gr. I) undercard. Fire Slam's Monday work, under jockey Larry Melancon, tied with two others as the fastest of 23 at the distance.

The son of Grand Slam breezed just after mid-session break for track maintenance and was tugging against Melancon's restraint when he broke off for the breeze.

Victory U.S.A. is now pointed to the June 4 Acorn (gr. I) following a sharp work on Monday. The 3-year-old daughter of Victory Gallop breezed five furlongs in :59.20 under apprentice jockey Justin Shepherd, who filled in for the injured Joe Deegan in the work. The move tied as the fastest of three at the distance.

Baffert said by telephone after the work that Victory U.S.A. would ship to New York with stablemate Friendly Michelle, the Ed Friendly-owned winner of the La Troienne (gr.III), to run in the one-mile Acorn, which is run around one-turn on Belmont's 1 1/2-mile track.

Also on the track Monday at Churchill Downs Three Chimneys Juvenile winner Lunarpal breezed five furlongs in 1:02 for trainer Steve Asmussen...Pimlico Special (gr. I) runner-up Midway Road breezed three furlongs in :35.20, which was the fastest of 18 moves at the distance...Spanish Empire breezed four furlongs in :49.

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