Astra, one of the top turf mares in the early part of this decade, was euthanized June 12 at Hagyard Equine Medical Institute near Lexington because of complications from colic.
Former jockey Pat Day took a recent trip to three Korean tracks in behalf of the Race Track Chaplaincy of America and solidified his status as one of horse racing's best known ambassadors.
Horse of the Year Azeri delivered her first foal, an A.P. Indy chestnut colt, Feb. 14.
Four-time champion Azeri, who came up barren last year in her first season as a broodmare, is in foal to A.P. Indy.
Thoroughbred Women will honor Penny Chenery and Horse of the Year Azeri at this year's Thoroughbred Women Awards Aug. 19 at Saratoga Race Course.
Following a successful opening month at Oaklawn Park, including record growth in the Instant Racing pari-mutuel wagering system, the track announced an across-the-board purse increase, beginning with the races of Feb. 24.
Hers is a familiar name in these pages, and her star has not diminished over time. Azeri, 2002 Horse of the Year and champion older mare in 2002 and 2003, has now made it a three-peat in that category. The 2004 Eclipse puts North America's all-time leading money earner for fillies and mares on her own plateau--ahead of Paseana (1992, 1993), Bayakoa (1989, 1990), and Susan's Girl (1973, 1975), the only other two-time Eclipse Award-winning older mares.
The deal to send Azeri to the court of Storm Cat is nearly completed.
- By Steve Haskin
The Eclipse Award finalists, announced Jan. 5, reveal many familiar names in the human categories, with several big-name horses appearing in more than one category. Although most of the winners look like sure things, there are still some potential drag-out battles in the Sprint and 4-Year-Old and Up Female categories.
By Lenny Shulman -- For the past few years, Michael Paulson has been busy watching a reality show on TV in his Las Vegas home. His tastes don't necessarily run to "Survivor," "American Idol," or the other garbage that passes for entertainment in the 21st century. Paulson's viewing has been taken up by a horse--Azeri--whom he's watched race by race, frame by frame; remote in one hand, stopwatch in the other.
Azeri, North America's all-time leading money-earning female, has been retired from racing. Michael Paulson, who heads his father's Allen Paulson Living Trust that raced Azeri, made the decision to retire the 6-year-old daughter of Jade Hunter rather than race her a few more times, as was under consideration.
The Azeri Horse Club, MAG Company Ltd., and Cedar Meadow Inc. [CMI) announced that 11-year-old Irish Conquest will stand at the Azeri Horse Club facility in Baku in Azerbaijan in 2005.
Azeri could next race at Hollywood Park Dec. 12 in the $150,000-added Bayakoa Handicap (gr. II), trainer D. Wayne Lukas said Wednesday.
Azeri, who figured to be the brightest star to shine over the holiday weekend at Churchill Downs in Thursday's Falls City Handicap (gr. II), has not been entered by trainer D. Wayne Lukas. Lukas, along with owner Michael Paulson, wasn't overly concerned with the 126-pound assessment, it was the spread in the weights that will keep her on the sidelines.
Trainer D. Wayne Lukas says he's undecided about whether to run Azeri in the $300,000-added Falls City Handicap (gr. II) at Churchill Downs on Thanksgiving Day due to concern over weight assignments.
Three-time champion Azeri was assigned high weight 126 pounds for the $300,000-added Falls City Handicap (gr. II) for fillies and mares at Churchill Downs on Thanksgiving Day. In the $500,000 Clark Handicap (gr. II) on Nov. 27, South African import Lundy's Liablility was assigned top impost of 120 pounds.
The $1.2 million "Big Four Weekend" stakes races at Churchill Downs Nov. 25-27 have attracted an outstanding group of nominees that includes Perfect Drift and Colonial Colony, the last two winners of Churchill Downs' Stephen Foster Handicap (gr. I); 2002 "Horse of the Year" Azeri; and some of the most promising 2-year-olds in racing.
Azeri is doing so well after her fifth-place finish in the Breeders' Cup Classic (gr. I) at Lone Star Park she may come back for the $300,000 Falls City Handicap (gr. II) on Thanksgiving Day Nov. 25, trainer D. Wayne Lukas said Wednesday.
Allen E. Paulson Living Trust's Azeri, the all-time leading money earner among females with $4,079,820, will be retired to be bred in early 2005 after possibly making one or two more starts.
Several trainers immediately began plotting strategy following Wednesday's post position draw for the $4 milllion Breeders' Cup Classic - Powered by Dodge (gr. I), which likely will affect the two likely favorites, Pleasantly Perfect and Ghostzapper.
Diamond A Racing's Pleasantly Perfect was installed as the 5-2 favorite and drew the 12 post position as he attempts to defend his title in the Breeders' Cup Classic – Powered by Dodge (gr. I) at Texas' Lone Star Park Saturday.
There are at least two trainers who think the correct move with Azeri is to run in the Breeders' Cup Classic – Powered by Dodge (gr. I) rather than the Breeders' Cup Distaff – Presented by Nextel (gr. I). One is D. Wayne Lukas, who trains Azeri. The other is Patrick Biancone.
Trainer D. Wayne Lukas said Tuesday that 2002 Horse of the Year Azeri would challenge males in Saturday's Breeders' Cup Classic – Powered by Dodge (gr. I) rather than face fillies and mares in the Breeders' Cup Distaff (gr. I).
Tomiro Fukami's Personal Rush, who will run in the $4-million Breeders' Cup Classic – Powered by Dodge (gr. I), paid his first visit to the track Tuesday morning, and it was almost an hour before he finally made his way back to his barn.
Trainer Shug McGaughey is gearing up Ogden Mills Phipps' Storm Flag Flying for a historic run at the Breeders' Cup Distaff - Presented by Nextel (gr. I) at Lone Star Park. The $2-million Distaff kicks off the eight-race World Thoroughbred Championships.
Azeri is already among elite company: Horse of the Year in 2002, back-to-back champion older mare in 2002 and 2003, and all-time leading North American female earner. With a victory in the Breeders' Cup Distaff - Presented by Nextel (gr. I), she would join the brilliant Bayakoa as the only two-time Distaff winners in history.
Michael Paulson, owner of Azeri, says regardless of where the former Horse of the Year runs, all the pros and cons will be carefully weighed, and the final decision will have the full backing of trainer D. Wayne Lukas.
And you thought all the important preps for the Breeders' Cup Classic -- Powered by Dodge (gr. I) had been run. Well, sitting out there all by itself, virtually unnoticed among the morass of major stakes this past weekend was the $500,0000 Meadowlands Breeders' Cup Stakes (gr. II), just waiting to conjure up another live Classic longshot.
The champion Azeri, approaching her 2002 form when she was Horse of the Year, put on a show in her first start at Keeneland while winning the $500,000 Overbrook Spinster for fillies and mares under wraps Sunday.
Azeri, the 2002 Horse of the Year, has crisscrossed the country piling up 16 victories in 22 starts thus far in her career. She never has raced at Keeneland, but that will change Oct. 10 when she takes on six fillies and mares in the $500,000 Overbrook Spinster Stakes (gr. I) at the Lexington racetrack.
Although there are still several major preps remaining for the Breeders' Cup Classic – Powered by Dodge (gr. I), the leading players are pretty well set, with Pleasantly Perfect, Ghostzapper, and Birdstone all heading straight for Texas. But there is still one player – former Horse of the Year Azeri -- who could add a whole new dimension to the race.
It was a family affair at Saratoga on Friday when Storm Flag Flying wore down 3-5 favorite Azeri to win the Personal Ensign Handicap (gr. I) by more than a length.
Michael Paulson's Azeri, a three-time champion who became North America's all-time richest female in winning the Aug. 1 Go for Wand Handicap (gr. I) at Saratoga, was assigned top weight of 122 pounds in Friday's $400,000 Personal Ensign Handicap (gr. I).
Ogden Mills Phipps' Storm Flag Flying breezed six furlongs in 1:13 4/5 over the Oklahoma training track at Saratoga Saturday morning as the 2-year-old filly champion of 2002 prepped for Friday's grade I, $400,000 Personal Ensign at 1 1/4 miles.
Azeri, the 2002 Horse of the Year and 2003 champion older filly or mare owned by the Allen Paulson Living Trust, tuned up for the grade I, $400,000 Personal Ensign Aug. 27 with a sparkling breeze on the Oklahoma training track Thursday morning.
Steve Haskin, senior correspondent for The Blood-Horse, reports the latest developments from Saratoga.
Highlights of this week's report from Saratoga: Redemption for Lukas and Azeri...Anniversary of an historic Travers... No spa visit for Actxecutive... Stamina in the Family of Afleet Alex... Sir Shackleton, Zito's Sleeper.
Azeri's victory over Sightseek in the $245,000 Go for Wand Handicap (gr. I) Sunday at Saratoga Race Course not only erased many doubts about her recent form, it also made her the richest mare of all time.
The champion mare Azeri can become the all-time top-earning mare in North American racing with a victory in the $250,000 Go for Wand Handicap (gr. I) at Saratoga Race Course Sunday. But to do so, she'll have to overcome Sightseek, who trounced her in their most recent start in the Ogden Phipps Handicap (gr. I) at Belmont Park June 19.
Azeri, who bled in the recent Ogden Phipps Handicap (gr. I), bounced back with a blazing half-mile breeze in :45 3/5 at Churchill Downs Tuesday, the fastest of 46 works at the distance.
- By Ray Paulick
By Ray Paulick -- Currently playing across America's racing landscape are two stories that reflect the difficult decision owners of championship-level racehorses face concerning when to have their stars "call it a career."
Juddmonte Farms' Sightseek turned in a brilliant performance Saturday in winning the $300,000 Ogden Phipps Handicap (gr. I) at Belmont Park. Champion Azeri faded to finish last by 11 3/4 lengths in her third consecutive defeat.
Just three accepted the challenge of extending Azeri's two-race losing streak in Saturday's $300,000 Ogden Phipps Handicap (gr. I) for fillies and mares at Belmont Park, but the task figures to be far from easy for the 6-year-old champion.
Following her sharp work Wednesday, Azeri's next objective is the $300,000 Ogden Phipps (gr. I) at Belmont Park on June 19, trainer D. Wayne Lukas said.
Azeri's lackluster performance in her first test against males in the Metropolitan Handicap (gr. I) apparently has not dulled her enthusiasm for morning training. The champion older mare in 2002 and 2003 breezed five furlongs at Churchill Downs Wednesday in 1:00.
Monday's Memorial Day $750,000 Metropolitan Handicap (gr. I) kicks off Belmont Stakes week with an outstanding cast, including 2002 Horse of the Year Azeri, last year's 3-year-old champion Funny Cide and Pico Central and Strong Hope, the 1-2 finishers of Aqueduct's Carter Handicap (gr. I).
Azeri vs. Funny Cide in the Met Mile headline busy holiday weekend.
Last year's Triple Crown Hopeful, Sackatoga Stable's Funny Cide, breezed five furlongs in :59 2/5 beneath exercise rider and assistant trainer Robin Smullen Tuesday morning at Belmont Park. The work was the fastest of 18 at that distance.
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.
The Metropolitan Handicap (gr. I) on May 31 at Belmont Park is expected to be the next stop for 2002 Horse of the Year Azeri, but only if trainer D. Wayne Lukas approves of the weight assignment for the 6-year-old champion.
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