Azeri, the magnificent 5-year old mare who ruled racing last year, will attempt to extend her victory string to ten on Saturday when carrying an imposing 127 pounds in Hollywood Park's $250,000 Vanity Handicap (gr. I).
Trainer Wally Dollase watched rival Azeri gallop on the main track at Hollywood Park Wednesday and conceded the enormity of his mission Saturday. He plans to enter two of his distaffers against the reigning Horse of the Year in the $250,000 Vanity Handicap (gr. I) for fillies and mares at 1 1/8 miles.
Azeri, reigning Horse of the Year, seeks her 10th straight victory in defense of honors in the $250,000 Vanity Handicap (gr. I) for fillies and mares at 1 1/8 miles Saturday at Hollywood Park.
Select Stable's Take Charge Lady, who was scratched from the Louisville Breeders' Cup (gr. II) on Kentucky Oaks Day when she suffered a bruised foot on the eve of the race, returned to serious training on Monday with a sizzling four-furlong breeze at Churchill Downs.
Trainer Laura de Seroux was still in the clouds while going through her training routine at Hollywood Park Sunday morning.
Reigning Horse of the Year Azeri toyed with her opposition in Saturday's $211,800 Milady Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. I) at Hollywood Park, easily winning her ninth consecutive graded stakes with Mike Smith in the irons.
Trainer Laura de Seroux hopes to repeat the memorable Memorial Day weekend she experienced last year when Azeri won the Milady (gr. I) on Saturday and Astra captured the Gamely Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. IT) for fillies and mares on turf on the following Monday. With Astra retired, de Seroux will send out highly regarded Dublino in the $350,000-added Gamely.
Five fillies and mares have dared to challenge reigning Horse of the Year Azeri on Saturday when the brilliant 5-year-old mare returns to Hollywood Park for the $200,000-added Milady Breeder's Cup Hanidicap (gr. IT).
Azeri, who seeks to defend honors in the $200,000-added Milady Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. I) Saturday, will be the first reigning Horse of the Year to run at Hollywood Park since Sunday Silence in 1990.
Hall of Fame trainer Ron McAnally has deferentially called Horse of the Year Azeri a "monster." After finishing behind the superstar mare with Affluent in all five previous meetings, McAnally knows what he's talking about.
Azeri, reigning Horse of the Year, worked five furlongs in :57 3/5 Friday at San Luis Rey Downs in her final drill before defense of her victory last year in the $200,000-added Milady Breeders' Cup Handicap for fillies and mares May 24 at Hollywood Park.
Owner George Krikorian said that Starrer, winner of her last three starts, will be forced to miss the $200,000-added Milady Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. I), expected to showcase Horse of the Year Azeri at Hollywood Park on May 24.
Reigning Horse of the Year Azeri will make her next start in the $200,000-added Milady Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. I) at Hollywood Park on May 24, trainer Laura de Seroux said from her training base at San Luis Rey Downs on Sunday.
Horse of the Year Azeri has been declared from the list of fillies and mares nominated to the $300,000-added Louisville Breeders' Cup (grade II) on Kentucky Oaks Day, a move that leaves Select Stable's Take Charge Lady as the likely starting highweight in the handicap for older fillies and mares.
Making her first start since being crowned Horse of the Year for 2002, Azeri wore down pacesetter Take Charge Lady for a game head victory in Saturday's grade I, $500,000 Apple Blossom Handicap at Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs, Arkansas.
Reigning Horse of the Year Azeri returns Saturday at Oaklawn Park against a solid field that includes multiple Grade 1 winner Take Charge Lady.
Jockey Mike Smith received a three-day suspension from Santa Anita stewards for his ride aboard Ulloa in Saturday's second race.
Nominations have closed for the four races at Oaklawn Park during its Racing Festival of the South. Medaglia d'Oro and Congaree are nominated to the Oaklawn Handicap.
Alex Solis, who won the Santa Monica Handicap (gr. I) aboard Affluent but opted to get off of her to ride Got Koko in the Santa Margarita Invitational Handicap (gr. I), will be back aboard the daughter of Affirmed when she meets Horse of the Year Azeri in the April 5 Apple Blossom Handicap (gr. I) at Oaklawn Park.
- By Jack Shinar
The final legal hurdle that will allow 2002 Horse of the Year Azeri to race again this year was cleared when a California judge set into motion a settlement reached in February in the Allen E. Paulson Living Trust case.
Making hay while Azeri works toward her return, Starrer wins her third graded stakes in a row by taking the Santa Margarita Handicap at Santa Anita.
Horse of the Year Azeri drilled four furlongs in :47 flat Saturday morning at San Luis Rey Downs, the first work for the 5-year-old daughter of Jade Hunter since she won the Breeders' Cup Distaff (gr. I) last Oct. 26 at Arlington Park.
Horse of the Year Azeri is scheduled to make her 5-year-old debut in the $500,000 Apple Blossom Handicap (gr. I) at Oaklawn Park on April 5.
The simmering dispute that took some of the joy out of Azeri's Horse of the Year announcement at the 32nd annual Eclipse Awards dinner has been settled.
The Dubai World Cup committee has issued more than 80 invitations for the March 29 World Cup races at Nad Al Sheba Race Course in the United Arab Emirates. The second round of nominations closed Jan. 15 with 1,401 horses, representing 25 countries, being nominated to one of the seven World Cup series races.
There were no standing ovations and only a handful of laughs at the 32nd annual Eclipse Awards Dinner held at the Regent Beverly Wilshire Hotel in Beverly Hills, Calif., on Monday night. But emotions ran high during many of the presentations, not the least of which during Michael Paulson's tearful acceptance of the Horse of the Year trophy for Azeri.
With all the debating about Azeri's Horse of the Year credentials, it turned out to be a landslide. The daughter of Jade Hunter did not defeat males during her 2002 campaign, but she certainly dominated them in the voting for racing's highest honor.
Central Kentucky veterinarian David H. Lambert has sued the Allen Paulson Living Trust for reneging on a deal that Lambert claims gave him a half-interest in two horses -- Horse of the Year candidate Azeri and 2001 Kentucky Derby starter Startac.
The list of horses included in the Allen E. Paulson Living Trust Dispersal to be held Tuesday, March 4 in conjunction with the 14th annual Barretts Equine Ltd. March Sale of Selected Two-Year-Olds in Training has been posted on the sales company's Web site.
Azeri, impressive winner of the Breeders' Cup Distaff (gr. I) at Arlington Park on Oct. 26, was a unanimous selection for champion older female of 2002 when finalists for Eclipse Awards were announced Friday by the National Thoroughbred Racing Association, National Turf Writers Association, and Daily Racing Form.
Allen E. Paulson Living Trust's Horse of the Year candidate Azeri and multiple grade I winner Astra will be sold at public auction in 2003 as part of the remaining disperal of the trust's bloodstock. An out-of-court settlement to sell the trust's remaining bloodstock interests was reached Dec. 9 between co-trustees Michael Paulson and Dr. Nicholas Diaco.
Voting is underway at the National Thoroughbred Racing Association's Web site, www.ntra.com, for the fourth annual "NTRA Moment of the Year."
The first round of nominations to the 2003 Dubai World Cup closed Nov. 13 with 810 runners representing 23 countries being nominated to the seven races. The 2003 World Cup will be held March 29 at Nad Al Sheba.
The last two races "were disastrous" he agrees, but trainer Bob Baffert says he wouldn't trade War Emblem's year for Azeri's.
When Azeri decimated the field in the Breeders' Cup Distaff (gr. I), she represented another pinnacle in the legacy left by Allen Paulson.
Six of the eight winners on the Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships card at Arlington Park Oct. 26 are expected to race in 2003, if all goes according to plans. Three winners--Orientate, Domedriver, and Starine--could run again this year.
Trainer Laura De Seroux was politicking Sunday morning to persuade Turf writers and other Eclipse Award voters that Breeders' Cup Distaff (gr. I) winner Azeri deserves the Horse of the Year title.
The Allen E. Paulson Living Trust's Azeri solidified her bid for Horse of the Year with a dominating win in the $2-million Breeders' Cup Distaff at Arlington Park.
Three trainers will make their first starts in a Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championship when the gates open for the Distaff (gr. I). But none of them feel the weight of the championship because they have so much of their confidence in their horses.
Two Item Limit, who finished third in last year's Breeders' Cup Distaff (gr. I) is on track to take on a very deep field of eight. She's come a long way since the beginning of the year when a return to the Distaff was a distant hope.
Laura de Seroux barely had time Wedneday morning to train her horses. She was busy doing interviews. De Seroux has three horses running Saturday at Arlington in the Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships.
Allen Paulson died in July of 2000, but the legacy of his breeding successes continues. Paulson, the leading breeder of Breeders' Cup horses by earnings, will be represented by two runners Saturday at Arlington Park in the Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships.
The 2002 Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships has so many scenarios regarding the Horse of the Year title, it should provide several intriguing subplots as the afternoon of Oct. 26 at Arlington Park progresses.
History will be on Azeri's side when she steps into Arlington Park's starting gate Oct. 26 for the Breeders' Cup Distaff (gr. I).
The Breeders' Distaff actually is quite simple this year: Azeri vs. the East.
- By Ray Paulick
By Ray Paulick -- If she adds the Breeders' Cup Distaff to her list of credentials, Azeri deserves consideration for Horse of the Year honors.
Maturing filly stamps herself as the one to beat in Breeders' Cup Distaff.
How the Breeders' Cup Distaff (gr. I) shakes out will largely be determined this week when the country's top fillies and mares enter their final preps for the Oct. 26 championships.
The Paddy Gallagher trained Angel Gift is due for a win after running second in three consecutive races, including falling two lengths shy of Azeri in the Aug. 11 Clement Hirsch Handicap (gr. II) at Del Mar. Gallagher is hoping that win will come in Wednesday's $200,000 Lady's Secret Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. II) on opening day of the Oak Tree at Santa Anita meet.
Take Charge Lady, runner-up in the Gazelle Handicap (gr. I), provided some off-track excitement Sept. 22 in the distaff division of the Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships.
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