Champion juvenile filly of 2011 My Miss Aurelia, who as a 3-year-old finished second in last year's Breeders' Cup Ladies' Classic Stakes (gr. I), is scheduled to begin her 4-year-old season in the $150,000 Azeri Stakes (gr. III) March 16 at Oaklawn Park.
The 1 1/16-mile Azeri is a prep race for the $500,000 Apple Blossom Handicap (gr. I) April 12 at Oaklawn.
Stonestreet Stables and George Bolton's My Miss Aurelia has not raced since finishing third in the La Brea Stakes (gr. I) at Santa Anita Park Dec. 26 over a wet-fast track. That effort followed her first career defeat when second to champion Royal Delta in the $2 million Ladies Classic at Santa Anita. Up to that point she had been undefeated in six career starts, including the 2011 Frizette Stakes (gr. I) and Grey Goose Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies (gr. I), and the 2012 Cotillion Stakes (gr. I).
Regular rider Corey Nakatani comes in from Southern California for the mount from outside post 7; My Miss Aurelia carries 119 pounds.
"It's exciting when one like her comes around," said Darren Fleming, assistant to trainer Steve Asmussen.
The Azeri won't be an easy task for My Miss Aurelia as Don't Tell Sophia enters off runaway victories in the Pippin and Bayakoa stakes at Oaklawn going the Azeri distance, and last year's winner Tiz Miz Sue will try to defend that title. Phil Sims, trainer of Don't Tell Sophia, said he'd prefer more starters than the seven entered.
"I hate short fields; mainly on principle because of the pace," Sims said. "It seems sometimes some horses find even more trouble in the small fields because they all bunch up. But she's ready."
Owned by Sims and Jerry Namy, Don't Tell Sophia will try to secure her first graded stakes win when she leaves post 6 under Robby Albarado and 119 pounds. Purchased by Sims for $1,000 at the 2009 Keeneland September yearling sale, the 5-year-old Congaree mare carries a three-race win streak into the Azeri, including the back-to-back stakes wins at Oaklawn by a combined 13 3/4 lengths.
After nailing down the first graded stakes win of her career in last year's Azeri Stakes at Oaklawn, Tiz Miz Sue will try for her second career graded stakes win in this year's edition of the Azeri.
A homebred for CresRan, Tiz Miz Sue rolled to a three-length victory in last year's Azeri which prompted trainer Steve Hobby to give the daughter of Tiznow opportunities against some of the top females in the country. While Tiz Miz Sue did not pick up another graded stakes win last year, she placed in three other graded stakes including a third in the Apple Blossom and a close runner-up finish to Royal Delta in the Delaware Handicap (gr. II).
Hobby liked a March 9 breeze by Tiz Miz Sue, who completed five furlongs in 1:02 at Oaklawn.
"She was great," Hobby said. "It was her typical work. She's so consistent. She just does the same thing most every time."
Holy Heavens, She's All In, Songs and Sonnets, and Keiai Tokyo complete the field.
$150,000 Azeri Stakes (gr. III, race 9, approximate post time 5:13 p.m. CDT) fillies and mares, 1 1/16 miles
PP, Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. Tiz Miz Sue (KY), J. Rocco Jr., 113, S. Hobby
2. Holy Heavens (FL), I. Ocampo, 113, J. Martin
3. She's All In (OK), L. Quinonez, 119, D. Von Hemel
4. Songs and Sonnets (KY), G. Gomez, 115, D. Von Hemel
5. Keiai Tokyo (KY), R. Homeister Jr., 113, E. Reed
6. Don't Tell Sophia (KY), R. Albarado, 119, P. Sims
7. My Miss Aurelia (KY), C. Nakatani, 119, S. Asmussen